Star Fen, with birds

Star Fen Road

I like birds, but I’m very short-sighted and so miss a lot. Herons and owls are excellent – I can see them – along with other water birds, pheasants and indeed chickens (of which more in another post).

But smaller garden and farmland birds are a bit more challenging; so it’s always a treat, a different kind of walk, when I go out with my friend who is into birds and bird-watching. She has been visiting for a couple of days and yesterday we walked, in sun and a very strong wind, on Star Fen (see A Walk on Star Fen and Waiting for Spring). My friend spotted all the birds and then I got to see them through the binoculars (when the wind didn’t blow tears and eyelashes in the way).

We saw: a Reed Bunting, Swallows, a Skylark, Yellow Wagtails, a Yellowhammer and a Wren or two, plus lots of crows and pigeons and the odd gull. I’ve heard Yellowhammers before (the ones that are supposed to sing little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese) but not knowingly seen one, so that was the most exciting, along with a weasel running over a field very near us.

A few years ago, in one of the very, very cold winters, an escaped ferret or polecat lived at our allotments in Manchester for a while. It killed one of our chickens and several others belonging to friends of ours. I saw it close up more than once in the course of our battle to keep it out of the chicken run (people complain about foxes – huh!) and became briefly fascinated by this family (Mustelidae: including weasels, stoats, ferrets, otters) of small, carnivorous mammals. They have pretty little furry faces and their ability to kill things much bigger than themselves is impressive – though to be discouraged!

In the course of my research I found out how you tell the difference between a stoat and a weasel, so here it is:

A weasel is weasily wecognised, while a stoat is stoatally different – of course.

I hear my readers groan! Time to go.

[Really the stoat is bigger and has a black tip to its tail]

4 thoughts on “Star Fen, with birds

  1. Oh, please! Not the stoat and weasel joke! I think I first came across that one when my age was in single figures – and I doubt if I thought it very funny then. But that aside, I must say that I’m with you on the whole missing-birds-because-of-myopia thing; I have a friend who’s a twitcher who regularly points out supposedly interesting birds to me but I, alas, generally only see a tree, a bush or a telegraph pole. Perhaps I need to carry binoculars with me…

  2. I have come across that old joke several times, though only in recent years – and sadly, I find it funny every time!

    From my experience one needs both the twitcher friend and the binoculars with one on walks. On my own I never see the birds soon enough to point the glasses at them.

    The other thing I use binoculars for is to watch the bird feeders I have in the garden. I think that there are more small garden birds hanging around since I started putting food out regularly. Friend who has just been staying saw goldfinches in the garden, which is nice.

    Another friend assures me that she has many more birds in her garden than her neighbours because she puts out more food and puts it out very regularly!

    1. LOL I’ve never heard that joke, probably being an urban girl. I could check back later and see if it’s still funny later… 🙂
      On another note, I’ve noticed more smaller birds around in spite of the news reports telling us that the pigeons and magpies are scaring them all away. A lovely sight to witness!

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