I was up at 0400 this morning and took my Toby for an early morning walk down to Merton. What a beautiful time this was with starlit skies and the very bright Venus rising in the eastern sky.
Following our walk, I prepared a flask of Tomato soup, packed up the car, and headed off for Houghton-on-the-Hill, some 5 miles from home.
I arrived at Houghton at 0630, there was a gentle Northerly wind and clear skies. Mist was soon burnt off by the rising sun. By about 0930, a weak front moved in bringing cloud.
The purpose of my visit to Houghton was to check for newly arrived migrant birds and witness migration/passage.
I intially walked the double hedgerow east of the church to get to the western end as the rising sun was blinding, then I walked back slowly with the sun behind me checking for movement.
It became quite clear that the most abundant migrant in the hedgerows east of the church was Blackcap (20+), with quite a few Chiffchaffs (6+) also. Most of the Blackcaps were undoubtedly recent arrivals given their need to feed upon Elderberries. Most Blackcaps were heard (including sub-song), those seen were immaculate looking males.
A light passage of Meadow Pipits was both seen and heard with birds seen flying in variable directions, however, several others were heard passing overhead in a southerly heading, many were unseen.
Hirundines included a single Swallow heading north and a couple of House Martins high west.
Visible migration by Redpolls was observed. A single Redpoll passed directly overhead in a southerly heading at 0721, this was followed by calling Redpolls (unseen), heading south at 0805.
A light overhead movement of Siskins (unseen) was heard, again, appearing to be heading south.
I expected to see movement by raptor species, however, I did not locate any in the time I was there.
Local birds included a large female Sparrowhawk being mobbed by Corvid species, initially Rooks, then Magpies and a couple of Jays moving in to join the assault. The Sparrowhawk clearly had enough when she attempted to turn the table on the Crows by performing mock attacks, she then departed and drifted east.
Local raptors also included a couple of Buzzards.
The thick hedgerows also held many common species, Dunnock, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Robin, and Goldcrest.
A few Yellowhammers were seen, also several small flocks of Linnets, although one flock numbering 30+ birds.