Sunday 08 July – Marshfield Leader: Mike Jackson

On a sunny morning that promised to be very hot nine of us met in the layby on the A420 next to Marshfield, making sure to find a shady spot for each car. At 09:00 we set off along the track leading to West Littleton Road in the hope of seeing a Little Owl somewhere around the outbuilding. Although its old haunt had been disrupted by repair work the bird was back and did not disappoint; perching briefly and going in and out of a small hole with food for its young. What a delightful start to our walk! Continuing along West Littleton Road, two birds on the wire were confirmed (thanks to those who carried ‘scopes in spite of the heat) as Corn Buntings; we were pleased to find five in total. In a field on the left three Red-legged Partridges were spotted; a pleasing sight as they have been hard to find recently. Yellowhammer song dominated and soon we saw several, including a bright yellow bird adorning a power pole’s electrical apparatus. As we turned into Rushmead Lane a beautiful dark Buzzard, which had been perched, flew up the valley and a Wren sang out. Dusty farm buildings and machinery hosted a family of six Pied Wagtails. Our walk along the lane gave several Skylarks, flocks of Jackdaws, Carrion Crows and Rooks but small birds other than Yellowhammer (Dunnock, Chaffinch, and Linnet) were in ones or twos only. Before reaching Tormarton Road we turned back along the lane, pleased to hear a distant Whitethroat before we took a footpath across the field to the rough farm track, Northfield Lane. Two Swifts were spotted overhead to add to the Swallows and House Martins seen swooping over the land. The track proved to be hot and rough going but we were rewarded by the drama of a Sparrowhawk darting out of a tree mobbed by four Swallows. Back at the outbuilding the Little Owl was apparently having a rest from the unbroken sunshine. We concluded our walk soon after midday, happy with the birds we had seen and to finish on the note of a Bullfinch call. We had 26 species altogether and a most enjoyable walk. Thanks to our leader Mike Jackson.
Anne Crowe