Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The resurrection of the alfalfa

A few months ago the alfalfa field near my house, that has produced so many good birds since I moved to this region a year ago, was turned over and destroyed. The few alfalfa fields  in my region are important habitats for migrants- they host lots of meadow / grassland species such as wagtails, larks and pipits. However, a new field was planted adjacent to the old field, and it started growing nicely. Previous visits were quiet, but this morning the field was just packed full with birds - that's the way it should be. At the moment the alfalfa is mixed with some wild cereals and weeds, and as a result a huge flock of about 800 Corn Buntings was feeding on the field. This concentration is very unusual for this time of year. Apart for the buntings lots of other birds - several hundreds of Yellow Wagtails and Greater Short-toed Larks each, feeding on the millions of caterpillars. On the sprinklers about 10 Whinchats and many Red-backe Shrikes and wheatears. Few Ortolans and Tree Pipits. Montagu's and Marsh Harrier and Levant Sparrowhawk cruising over the field flushing everything up in the air every several minutes. Quite a bonanza of birds on such a small field. Best birds were two Richard's Pipits - very flighty and difficult to photograph.

Red-backed Shrike

Greater Short-toed Lark

Richard's Pipit 


  1. 'Destroyed' is perhaps a bit emotive Yoav? It is, presumably, normal practice for farmers to harvest their crop? They will probably 'rotate' the crop in order to stop the build up of unwanted pest spp as well. After all, Alfalfa is usually harvested as a fodder crop for domestic stock....

    Laurie -

    1. You must be right. For the farmer this is common practice, But I was stuck without proper habitat for several months - for me it was almost a disaster.