I spent the breezy morning at Knott End looking along the tideline for waders and checking the golf course for passerines before the lure of Pilling Water and Lane Ends drew me back yet again.
Although due high tide the actual level would be quite low with the distant channel of the incoming water leaving a huge expanse of sand for birds to spread out from Knott End then across to Fleetwood on the other side of the river, and north towards far-off Heysham. A good selection and decent count of birds with 400+ Oystercatcher, 220 Redshank, 60 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone, 8 Dunlin, 6 Cormorant, 7 Eider and a single Sandwich Tern. I’ve been carrying around a little compact camera rather than constantly swapping lenses on the SLR between 35-50mm for landscape and 400mm for birds. The Panasonic is OK but I hate not having a viewfinder and it’s hard to beat the quality of SLR. The landscape below is compact camera, the birds SLR, the Redshank a distant dot towards the river, the Oystercatcher and Turnstone archives from a sunnier day and the Dunlin from earlier in the week here at Knott End.
Alongside the golf course produced a Chiffchaff in the conifers, a Pied Wagtail on the fairway of the first hole and then 15 Goldfinch, 4 Linnet and 2 Greenfinch in the bushes of the fairway rough. A small movement of Swallows, 15 + arriving from the North West and then leaving south. I was back at the car when the ever present gulls alerted me to a raptor flying in from a north westerly direction, and when I looked up it turned out to be a Buzzard. It continued up river and over the golf course, gathering more gulls as it went. Buzzards aren’t common at coastal Knott End but much more easily seen a few miles upriver at Out Rawcliffe, as they are all over the Fylde and North West England now. The camera was set for waders, not overhead raptors but I clicked away for a not very good record shot as the Buzzard flew over, but there’s a better shot from Pilling on Thursday last.
The books tell us that UK Buzzards are essentially sedentary with adults remaining in the home range and youngsters of the year dispersing from their natal areas. Here in the Fylde and with the increase in the local Buzzard population it has become obvious in recent years that some sort of autumn dispersal/migration takes place with a corresponding return/increase in numbers during the spring. The movement is nothing like the migrations that occur in other, colder parts of the Buzzard’s range with for instance a passage of over 20,000 individuals in a typical Falsterbo, Sweden autumn.
By the way, and for some US readers for whom my use of the word “buzzard” causes some difficulty; in the US “buzzard” can mean a vulture, particularly the American Black Vulture and Turkey Vulture, or as a general term for vultures or for hawks of the buzzard Buteo family which occur in the US e.g. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) or Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni). In the UK our Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) is known as “Buzzard” with the word “Common” usually omitted. If in doubt, consider the Latin name of the species and/or read “buzzards” on Wiki. This birding stuff is as technical or as unscientific as you want it to be, but the main thing is to enjoy it.
A useful digression I hope. Pilling proved very quiet, the most notable thing being the continuing Swallow movement with a number of small groups totalling approximately 60 birds heading along the sea wall into now gusty south easterly. Otherwise, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Grey Heron, 6 Goldfinch and 4 Linnet. Still no Wheatears.
More unscientific stuff and pictures on Another Bird Blog soon.