Sunday 19 January – Marshfield Leader: Nick Hawkridge

On a bright sunlit morning, 17 muffled figures met in the layby in Marshfield. Health and Safety was on everyone’s mind as we sallied forth. Hazards included many frozen puddles, rutted frozen ground and lack of attention! The first distraction was a pair of Stonechat, busy with seed heads and keeping an eye on us. Along Northfield Lane beside the horses a lone Rook flew past and at the top of a tree a pair of Fieldfares was finally identified. A variety of small birds including Meadow Pipit, Yellowhammer and Linnet were seen in front of the barns. The Skylark feeding in the furrows gave us a lot of trouble with their identification, but scores of them, who were soaring, chasing and singing, were not a problem. The “jangle of keys” song alerted us to Corn Bunting but this blunt beaked ugly was hard to find, whereas the Yellowhammer glowed in the sun and one female called from above us as we watched a Kestrel hiding among perched Woodpigeon. As we scanned the power lines above Rushmead Farm to count the Starlings, a vast flock of predominantly Linnets was spotted bounding through the air. At this point we broke for coffee. Refreshed and warmed we followed Rushmead Lane back towards the village. We passed more Stock Doves, Stonechat, spotted a Song Thrush with three Blackbirds, a singing Chaffinch and finally Raven, both calling as they flew over. What a splendid day to be out, with a final count of 30 species. (Thanks to Nick for leading – Ed). Nick Hawkridge