Saturday, July 24, 2010

What’s For Breakfast?

I thought to have a change from ringing today even though Seumus and Ian were going to the Nature Park again. I didn’t relish another 5am start because these mornings invariably turn into much earlier wake ups when I can’t sleep for fear of missing an early alarm call. So I had a moderately early breakfast then set off towards Pilling and Conder Green for a little gentle birding, rather than the hard work of ringing. Driving through Stalmine and Pilling I noticed several groups of Swallows gathered on overhead wires, a sure sign of impending autumn with "hirundine mornings" or even whole days of migration.

I wasn’t the only one taking an early breakfast as near Lane Ends I spotted a Barn Owl surveying a field dyke the energy efficient way by fence hopping rather than flying along and over the ditch. It worked of course as clearly the Barn Owl knew this stretch, and within a couple of minutes of scrutinising the rank vegetation it pounced upon a Brown Rat or a vole. The owl flew off with the animal because in late July hungry young will be waiting for a meal. I was glad I’d eaten my breakfast; I certainly didn’t fancy what the owls had on offer.





Barn Owl

At Conder Green the customary list ensued with 7 Common Sandpipers, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Wigeon, 1 Tufted Duck, 45 Redshank, 3 Curlew and 1 Grey Heron, but seeing the single Ruff made a change from the usual fare. There were lots of Lapwing on the pool, spooked by something unseen more than once before settling down again on the far islands where I estimated about 95 birds, plus 15 Oystercatchers dotted around.

Lapwing

Ruff

Lane Ends proved typically Julyish, there were birds about but hard to see in the thick growth. I managed to find 2 Reed Warblers, 2 Willow Warblers and a Reed Bunting with 4 Pied Wagtails on the shore. Here I counted another 70 Lapwings scattered across the marsh plus 30 or so Curlews, with other small groups dropping in from inland fields. The pools held growing numbers of Mallards with 3 Tufted Duck.

The walk up to Pilling Water was deathly quiet with just a couple of Skylarks a single Meadow Pipit and near Pilling Water, 2 more Pied Wagtails, 6 Linnets, and over near the wildfowler’s pools, a Reed Bunting.

In the distance towards Fluke Hall I could see Swallows feeding low over the crops, difficult to count as they whizzed haphazardly over and through the fields, but I think a minimum of 120 birds. Now and then small groups gathered on the field boundaries and as the wind blew from the south it came with a distinct touch of autumn cool in the air.

Swallow

Goodness me the forecast looks OK for the week ahead, ringing tomorrow and mid week!

22 comments:

Pete Woodruff said...

Excellent shots of the Barn Owl Phil one of which I 'borrowed', the catch looked a good one in BO terms.

Is your CG visitors permit up to date please?

Phil said...

I'm a fully paid up life member Pete.

madibirder said...

Excellent timing with the owl/rat Phil.

Fleetwood Birder said...

Cracking shots of the Barn Owl Phil.

RNSANE said...

What a wonderful locale you live in for bird shots. It is a true gold mine! The barn owl and snow owl are my favorites of the owl bunch. Beautiful shots of that one...and of all the birds, really. Yuck, I can't see thrilling to mouse pancakes...but I do love to eat all sorts of things.

Unravel said...

Great series of Barn Owl with the prey.
I like the second pic from the top, the bird looks so cute.
Barn Swallows here have started flocking up for migration as well.

Siromade said...

That's a neat looking owl, he had a treat today is that a bird? I think so...great capture looks beautiful not scary look like the black color.

Ari said...

What a beautiful shot of the Barn Owl.. I love the Lapwing shot too..

Nikki-ann said...

I love the owl shots... Such wonderful captures! :)

mick said...

A beautiful Owl and a great series of photos. A very nice trip out when you can see that great variety of birds.

Lana Gramlich said...

Nice captures. I absolutely love the owl!

Larry said...

Sounds like a great birding day Phil! The Barn Owl series is exceptional! It looks like that bird didn't mind you watching it hunt.

By the way, what is the gorgeous woodpecker in your header?

Phil said...

Hi Larry
That's a Great-spotted Woodpecker, a juvenile due to the red cap.

Thanks everyone for your positive feedback.

Phil

Johnny Nutcase said...

good call on the different schedule! You saw some cool birds and got some excellent shots - love the owl ones, awesome! Lapwing, Ruff and Swallow too - Nice!

trapper 63 said...

Great photos (and blog).

Never ceases to amaze me how the weather on the edge of Mor i cam bie Bay can be so different from that just a mile of so inland'. So drizzly, overcast and horrible can't get an exposure! It looks like you may have been struggling... but succeeded admirably; can I ask a technical question, what equipment you were using for these and what ISO and exposure you managed. If I up the ISO it goes too grainy.
Thanks

Phil said...

Hi Trapper and JN and thanks for your comments. Trapper - Canon 500D + Canon f5.6 400m at ISO 200 on this morning for BO and Lapwing but I agree about light levels generally.

Stu said...

Wonderful Barn Owl series Phil, next time I come back to Lancashire I'd love to see one..........

Mike B. @ slugyard.com said...

Great shots- love the Barn Owl. Beautiful bird. That looks like a decent meal for it!

Brian Rafferty said...

Phil. Congratulations on an excellent series of Barn Owl shots.Well worth the early breakfast. Well done.

Halcyon said...

Oh! I love your owlie. I think their faces are so expressive somehow. Great captures!

Valerie said...

I definitely need to get out more! Those birds are amazing.
I love your header shot. Is that a younger woodpecker? The face is so expressive and young looking to me! Love it!

Phil said...

Hi Valerie. yes it's a young 'pecker with a red cap.

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