Birdwatch: golden plover adds sparkle to Blackford Moor

I’ve recently acquired a new local patch. Well, not exactly new, as I’ve been cycling around Blackford Moor for a few years now. But ever since we got Rosie, our red fox labrador, I’ve been doing the three-mile circuit on foot. And I’ve realised that this flat, windswept corner of the Somerset Levels can produce some good birds.

In autumn and winter, loose flocks of fieldfares and redwings feed along broad hawthorn hedgerows; while in spring and summer, skylarks pierce the sky, reed warblers chunter from the rhynes, and swallows, martins and swifts pass by on their global journeys.

Over the years, I’ve had a few surprises: a fall of whinchats and wheatears one September morning, and the flashing, fiery tail of a redstart in May. Best of all, one wintry Christmas Eve, I flushed a short-eared owl, its plumage illuminated by the snow’s reflected light.

A few weeks ago, during the cold spell, I came across half a dozen golden plovers, rising from the frosty ground on long, pointed wings. That sighting spurred me to keep a record of what I see as I walk or cycle.

This may not be the most exciting local patch, but being so close to home I come here more often than anywhere else. So hopefully, I should manage to find some decent birds.


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