Sunday, July 11, 2010

Soccer Free Zone

This morning called for a quick change of plan from ringing to birding when within the space of 1/2 day the weather outlook changed from a ringer friendly “fine” with a 7 mph southerly wind to one of a birder unfriendly “rain” with 25 mph westerly. Nothing for it then but a walk up Pilling way once the early morning rain cleared but the wind still blew.

I planned a walk towards Ridge Farm but it still drizzled with rain so I stopped in the gateway along Fluke Hall Lane where 3 Whitethroats dodged about and a Reed Bunting still sang. It was very blustery but brightened a little so I parked up and walked across to the sea wall with several Swallows and 2 Sand Martin whizzing over the crops. It seems that the dry spring and summer this year has been a good one for breeding Sand Martins, which explains why I and other birders have been seeing them recently along the coast and inland away from colonies, but equally they are quite early returning migrants.

Near the sea wall a single Corn Bunting sang where only now does the growing crop offer anything. Just along from the song post I disturbed 5 Pied Wagtails that fed unobtrusively on the path but noted that Worm Pool was completely dry, despite all the rain of the last few days. I found 2 Skylarks carrying food, one with small items which indicated small young but with the wind howling around my ears and the adults acting warily, I couldn’t locate the nest. A second pair carrying large amounts of food were obviously feeding large young, perhaps even out of the nest so I didn’t follow the adults back.

Skylark

Skylark

Skylarks have an intensely fast breeding cycle, one of the shortest of any British bird. Chicks can leave the nest when only about eight days old, fledge to independence at 18-20 days of age, and are fully independent at 25 days. The whole cycle lasts 37 days.

I stumbled across a nest I’ve never found before, a Red-legged Partridge, where the adult sat tight in a clump of stinging nettles. What a shame that this gun fodder now outnumbers our native Grey Partridge, which is a species I haven’t seen for weeks and weeks and is perhaps a casualty of the severe winter.

Red-legged Partridge

Grey Partridge

Continuing up towards Pilling Water I watched 2 Kestrels surveying the marsh as the lowish incoming tide only just filled some of the ditches, but enough to flush out waders like the building numbers of Curlew which I counted as 420, and Lapwing as 70 today. From the direction of Fluke Hall I heard the call of Whimbrel, early returns indeed as five flew along the tideline towards the wader and gull roost where a single Golden Plover mixed with 20+ Redshank and 7 Dunlin, but I did hear a Snipe before it flew over me and inland.

I approached Pilling Water warily because the Common Sandpipers that hang about along the tidal channel are just so distrustful; always flicking off if anyone so much as pops a head over the wall, but the first bird along the channel today was a Little Ringed Plover - most unusual out here. But I did see 4 Common Sandpipers and 8 more Pied Wagtails, then looking out beyond the channel, 600+ Black-headed Gulls, 2 Great-crested Grebes and the beginning of duck city with more than 30 Mallards.

I estimated the same passerine numbers I have seen about here for a few weeks now, 10 Linnet, 6 Greenfinch, 8 Goldfinch, 2 Reed Bunting and 2 Meadow Pipit, so it looks like returning waders are making most of the running at the moment.

Snipe

Little Ringed Plover


Tuesday looks a possibility for ringing, but up here in the North West we aren't getting the settled weather that the south of England still enjoys.

10 comments:

Anthony Dixon said...

Lovely set of shots, especially the Snipe.

Poetic Shutterbug said...

Skylarks are beautiful and your shots are all so special. I enjoyed them very much.

Stu said...

Nice selection of waders for early July, I remember it being a very slow month in Preston for shorebirds.........

mick said...

Your description of waders makes me very happy. If yours up there are beginning to migrate south then the ones north of here (Alaska and Siberia etc) must also be doing so and hopefully will return here as soon as they can! I really miss them in the winter.

Chris said...

Beautiful Phil! I love the little ringed plover picture a lot, it is really well composed. Well done...

Errol said...

A 'cool' blog today, Phil. Not so cool down south!!!

dreamfalcon said...

How beautiful! And to find a Red-legged Partridge on a nest: great!

Unravel said...

Oh, so the Red-legged Partridge is not a native species to England? I never knew that...
Hope the Grey will catch up with it soon!

Birdringal-andalus said...

Dear Phil .. you really are lucky to have a rainy weather this month, as I give to have him here in Andalucia ...
Beautiful shots, the Ringed Plover seems alive.
Greetings Fernando.

Tabib said...

The pic of Skylark with food is nice, but the winner is that last pic - Little Ringed Plover coming out water.

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