A dawn downpour hit the bedroom window and a strengthening wind put paid to any elaborate ringing plans, but determined to get out somewhere, I did the local patch Out Rawcliffe then flew across the fast moss road to check out Pilling.
It was when I got to the moss and waded through saturated long grass that I realised the early downpour had actually been a hail storm. In sheltered, cold spots I negotiated patches of still frozen, crunching hail stones underfoot but I found that more than a couple of Whitethroat nests had now hatched. I watched adults carrying bright green caterpillars near likely looking nesting spots close to abundant Willowherb, where the nests I know of had tiny young, one with eggs not hatched and chicks just a day or two old. The Whitethroats couldn’t rely on me to find the caterpillars hidden in the vegetation, but the adult birds feed the young every few minutes with a seemingly endless supply of the bugs, and have to do the same for 7 days a week and 10-12 days.
On my circuit of part of the farm I counted lots of singing birds, 17 Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 2 Yellowhammer, 4 Sedge Warbler, 6 Skylark, 1 Corn Bunting and 6 Willow Warblers, but the recent Garden Warblers may have departed. Some Willow Warblers have already finished nesting, and I saw my first family party today keeping together with the “hooeet” calls, but it won’t be long at all before the young birds have to make their own way in life. A displaying Curlew represented the waders, with a single Lapwing calling worriedly and acting as if it had chicks in the rough grass field. May 31st and I saw the first signs of Lapwing flocks today, a couple of small parties of less than 10 birds, both here and later at Pilling. These summer groups can hold the now flying young of the season, but more often they are gangs of failed breeding adults.
Overhead today were the resident Buzzards effortlessly gliding around the warming sky, plus 2 Ravens croaking loudly as they headed inland towards the hills and Garstang.
Lane Ends to Fluke was quiet, with Reed Bunting still hanging on in the plantation and a surprise bird here for 31st May, a Lesser Redpoll that flew off calling towards Fluke until lost out of sight. Waders have been scarce along here this dry spring, with today a couple of Lapwings telling their by now enormous chicks to crouch at my passing. I reckon just three pairs of Oystercatcher here, but there is a shortage of Redshank this year, both inland and on the seaward side of the wall – two cold winters? In fact I could find only one pair of Redshanks, when normally there might be five or six pairs along this stretch of coast.
The wildfowler’s pools held little but Mallards and Shelduck with a highlight of my walk a large female Peregrine that tore through the sky above Fluke Hall in pursuit of a feral pigeon. The pigeon evaded capture and the falcon took off towards the shore down Preesall way. It was probably the female from the pair breeding at Fleetwood, a mile or two away as the Peregrine flies; just a flap and a glide back home for it and for me.