When LMcD asked me if I wanted to help with do a couple of tetrads around the Blagdon area I was very keen to go as despite the public footpaths I still hadn’t been before.
We started the first square at the Milkhope centre before walking along the road for a mile or so to the centre of the Blagdon estate.
All sounds were drowned out by passing lorries from the open cast as we walked along the roadside so once we entered the estate it was much easier to hear and see the birds.
Almost the first bird of the estate square was a Juv Peregrine, which flew over one of the fields opposite the entrance cottages before diving over a group of crows, which were standing in the snow covered field. As the Peregrine disappeared over the woodland to the west, 3 Buzzards appeared and began soaring.
We had just passed a farm in the centre of the estate when we could hear a large flock of birds calling from a hedgerow leading down to the woodland.
Under the hedgerow was a large amount of seed which by now had attracted over 40 Chaffinch, 20+ Yellowhammer, a few Reed Bunting and 30+ Tree and House Sparrows.
I was impressed by the amount of well-stocked feeders on nearly every house and farm on the estate. We watched one set of feeders at the central farm cottages and in 5 minutes 12 Long Tailed Tit, 10 Tree Sparrow, Chaffinches and a GS Woodpecker came to the feeders.
Access to the pond is ''strictly prohibited'' so instead we watched from a distance. The pond was 90% frozen but on the small amount of open water were 4 Mute Swan, 3 Greylag Geese, Teal and Mallard.
Once in the centre of the west plantation we found two feeders full with seed. We watched the feeders and surrounding trees for a while and saw Wren, Great, Blue and Coal Tit as well as Siskin and 2 Lesser Redpoll come to feed. The 2 Redpoll then flew into a bare tree next to us where they fed on the few buds left on the branches.
A few Mistle and Song Thrushes were amongst the flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing, which seemed to occupy every hedgerow on the estate. 7 GS Woodpeckers were recorded in total but surprising absentees were Starling and Dunnock.
Once the two hours were up and we had walked in a 3 mile circle we were pleased with what we had found and were more pleased that so many birds had survived round one of winter.