When John Clare wrote ‘The Lament of Swordy Well’ personifying the quarry now known as Swaddywell, not half a mile from his cottage in Helpston, he was clearly deeply dismayed by the way his local patch was being defaced to produce stone for nearby Stamford and other local towns and villages in the name of progress. However, if he could see how the quarry has been transformed into a thriving nature reserve complete with open water, reed, scrub and small areas of grassland, it might have restored his faith in humanity.
Following a very foggy start to the day, the morning brightened up to an almost spring-like 8 degrees and the birds were again very vocal and showy. Despite the cacophonous din of gunfire along the northern fringe of the quarry (apparently a weekly pastime here!), the birds in and the around the reserve seemed quite oblivious thankfully! Tree sparrows were chatting in the thicket just before the entrance to the quarry and occasionally appeared on a large seed feeder hanging in front of the reception hut. There were also plenty of finches around with Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch all close by. The highlight of the day appeared as soon as I entered the site….a single Mealy Redpoll feeding on the seeds of a tall grass stem about twenty feet away. I watched it for 3 or 4 minutes amidst what can only be described as the sound and smell of the English Civil War before it flew deeper into the quarry and the smell of gunshot! I also added Skylark, Reed Bunting, Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kestrel, Buzzard plus a lot of the usual farmland birds seen in the area. On the way back to the car, a pair of Jays added a nice splash of colour rounding off a very eventful, if ironic morning!
Much later in the afternoon I took a walk on my local patch in Saltby, Leics and noted a lot of movement of Fieldfare; at least 3 flocks of 12-20 birds each plus a flock of circa 45 all flying quite high overhead. I also managed to add Yellowhammer, Linnet, Red-Legged Partridge, Redwing, numerous Hares and finally heard a screeching Barn Owl across the field, just before reaching the house.