Thursday, February 2, 2012

Play It Cool

I think some birds are responding to the continuing cold weather because on my Knott End to Pilling round this morning I found a few changes to the usual scene. Although the mercury was in the red this morning, it isn’t yet down to the forecast for tonight of minus 10 degrees.

As I passed the abandoned building site at Knott End I could see a lady at the bus stop looking up at the steelwork next to the Bourne Arms, and I reckoned the Black Redstart was still about. After I parked up and went for a peek the woman had got on her bus but the redstart was still there, high up and partly hidden by the steelwork, but as I watched the bird bobbing about it flew across the road and landed on a bungalow roof opposite and then down into someone’s garden. A “good” bird for a garden list, but I don’t think you can count birds seen in other people’s gardens, unless someone knows otherwise.

Black Redstart

I found a couple of rooks in the car park, birds probably from the rookery above the village library. One of the Rooks bore a metal ring, but the bird with the ring proved too wary for me to read the inscription. I imagine there aren’t too many ringers who climb into tall rookeries in order to ring young rooks, so maybe someone has been ringing “branchies” in recent years; stand-by for one of Another Bird Blog’s occasional forays into things culinary. “Branchie” is an old name given to young rooks which leave the nest early and clamber about on nearby branches pending their fledging, until that is an unseasonal wind springs up and deposits them on the ground below the rookery. In some years I used to find a few young rooks under the Singleton Hall rookery and then ring them as 1Js before putting them back on the highest branch I could reach. “Branchies” were also the probable origin of the ancient verse, “Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye, Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie” as young Rook meat is said to be very savoury with a similar taste to Wood Pigeon meat.

Rook

Ringed Rook

The stubble at Fluke Hall Lane is frozen solid, and apart from the Jackdaws, there’s nothing much to report, just the usual half a dozen Tree Sparrows and Reed Buntings around the Hi-fly track.

Reed Bunting

The east pool at Lane Ends is now frozen solid, with not a single duck there, just the Mallards on the small patch of unfrozen water on the west pool. A walk through the plantation, taking care not to flatten the Snowdrops, gave a count of 15 + Blackbirds, 2 Redwing, 4 Moorhen and 12+ Chaffinch.

Snowdrops

Lane Ends - Frozen

Chaffinch

As a change of scenery I walked east along the sea wall and logged 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 18 Greylag, with 8 Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron flushed from the inland ditches where drainage water still trickles. It was up here I found a party of 18 Meadow Pipits, and on the inland field, 80 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Golden Plover, 10 Dunlin and 300 Curlew.

Greylag

Opposite Gulf Lane was a huge concentration of Pink-footed Geese, maybe 7,000 in all, but alongside the stretch of road where to stop is dangerous, as I found out when I drove slowly along there later to the accompaniment of car horns and angry sideways looks. All these folk rushing about like there’s no tomorrow, why don’t they just relax, chill out and take up birding?

9 comments:

Tim James said...

Lovely series of shots. I adore the Redstart shot and the first of the Rooks.

Rohrerbot said...

Beautiful shots!!! I've never seen a Rook before. Very interesting looking bird.

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Those Snowdrops are absolutely gorgeous! Interesting story about Rooks, too. The western subspecies looks so much different from the eastern one found in Japan.

grammie g said...

Hey Phil...I can't believe those Snowdrops, even thought they have that name, are in bloom, with ice on the water that is just "foreign" to me..haha ; }
My Mom used to play a card game called Rook and it had that bird on the back of the playing cards...in fact see belonged to the Rook club..and it had nothing to do with bird watching ; }
Your photo is great that bird looked just like that, and little did I know there was such a bird!!

I'm counting well.. I found if I am in my barefeet (in the house of course) I can use my toes ; } hahaha!!
Grace

Tammy said...

Lovely variety of birds! The Rook is certainly an interesting looking one! Hope you stay warm!

Christian said...

Very amusing about the garden list Phil!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Wow Phil, my Snowdrops are just about to open too, and nearly one month early for us. The weather has been like spring and the songbirds are busy...sadly...building nests, that may become very difficult if winter finally arrives. The Black Redstart is a wonderful looking bird, lovely photograph! Oh yes, my momma used to read to us about .“Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye, Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" and so on...fond memories~

Paco Sales said...

Bella pose la que te ha brindado el pinzón, buena serie fotográfica Phil, un abrazo amigo

news said...

Hi Phil: What a mine of information you are,had the same trouble re the geese could not stop to scan them due to cars flying past like angry bees.Best wishes JWB.

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