Hertfordshire is a strange place from a birding perspective as there is a significant north-south divide. Many of the birds that have long deserted the south such as Yellow Wagtails, Grey Partridges, Yellowhammers, Corn Buntings and Turtle Doves are still to be found in the north of the county. Today my quarry was Turtle Dove which I haven't seen in the county for three years.
In fact the last time I saw them was at Bygrave near Baldock which is where I was heading today. I stopped at the Manor House which is a mix of private dwellings, small industrial units and a horse paddock. Three years ago they were flying around the horse chestnuts in the horse paddock. I leaned on the rail listening for the characteristic purring call but to no avail. A walk up the lane still didn't produce anything so, after an hour, I moved on the Deadman's Hill.
Not the best time of year for this area but there is always the chance of some close-up views and photo opportunities for Linnets, Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings. As I stood by the famous green gate my ears were alerted to the the chipping call of a Quail coming from the Barley field behind me. I walked up the road in the general direction of the calls, but however fast I walked the calls were always in front of me. Either the wind was carrying the call or the bird was moving fast through the crop.
The calls eventually led me up the western side of the field at which point the calls stopped. The air was now filled with the song of a Corn Bunting which, following a quick scan with the bins, was located on the top of a stem of Hogweed growing in a ditch. I have photographed Corn Buntings here before and have found that by edging towards them very slowly they are reasonably approachable as the following shots will testify.
So, as happens quite frequently, not what I came for but a result nevertheless.