Mudtracks and Goldcrests – January Jaunts At Staines Moor

It’s been hard find the time to blog this year. Free weekends to bird have been the exception rather than the rule and finding the time to write up the sightings and shenanigans has been a task and a half. Needless to say, it’s been a tardy start to 2016 on the birding front. Nonetheless, when we have been able to get out, the “moors” have been our choice.

My first birding of 2016 was 23rd January at a chilly but bright Staines Moor. With unseasonably warm temperatures continuing on from the back end of 2015, there was a lot of activity on Stanwell and Staines Moor. Chief protagonists among the bare branches were busy Blue Tits and boisterous Great Tits. A single Cetti’s Warbler was calling but was characteristically concealed. The paddock on Stanwell Moor was hosting well over fifty Redwing and a smattering of Fieldfare. Robins were also in good number, making claims for territory with their tuneful warbling.

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Staines Moor itself had a number of very visible Wrens moving between the thorny hawthorns and some frustratingly skittish Stonechats teasing the camera.

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Water Pipit, a single Kingfisher and a Green Woodpecker also remained elusive to the camera but not the binoculars, while two Little Egrets allowed me to approach close enough for these shots.

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Raptor sightings included the nailed-on hunting female Kestrel, a pair of Red Kites and a Buzzard.

A return to the moor a week later brought some new rewards. I explored along the old railway lines and found a flock of around twenty or so Goldcrests flitting among the bare, low branches. A long-time bogey bird for my camera, I spent some time trying to get a clean shot. These are my best efforts of trying to shoot Britain’s smallest bird.

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Tiny, perpetually moving and despite the bare branches, fiendishly difficult for a none too fast focussing bridge camera to capture well. Nonetheless, I suppose I could claim them to be half a bogey bird now.

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It was disappointing to see far too many tyre tracks across the moor. It would seem that a few miscreants have taken to using this SSSI as a place to run their scrambler bikes.

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Not only is the potential for impact on the flora and fauna likely, the bikes turned the pathway on Stanwell Moor into a boot sucking mulch pit.

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The most recent visit was 7th February, accompanied by Mrs Sausage for the first time this year. First sighting of the day was this stoical Buzzard in the paddock field on Stanwell Moor.

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We saw it on our way in around noon and it was still in exactly the same spot on our way out at three pm. A study in avian patience!

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The Stonechats were a little more obliging despite there being a fiercely chilly breeze present on what was otherwise a lovely clear day. Mrs Sausage in particular was able to spend some time with these lovely Staines Moor residents.

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With the noon sun breaking through the Stonechats were perfectly illuminated for a short time.

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Non-bird highlight of the day was meeting Lee Dingain though. His blog on Staines Moor was the motivation for us to start visiting ourselves.

A single Goldcrest teased both our cameras at the entrance with Stanwell Moor as we left. Yet another “almost” picture was the outcome.

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It may have been a patchy start to our year but there is always something to see on the moors. With spring-like conditions maintaining a firm grip on our weather so far this year, there should be plenty more opportunities to enjoy our wildlife to come.

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