Time just flies for us retired folk. Believe it or not, there just aren’t enough days in the week to do the domestic essentials, fit in a spot of bird watching, bird ringing or photography, never mind to then blog the blog. So that’s the excuse for Sunday’s news appearing today, plus the fact that today is rain and yesterday was fine. Confused? Wait until you’re my age.
Sunday was a mossy day, Stalmine, Pilling, Winmarleigh and then Rawcliffe mosses where many times the four do meet, especially when multitudes of Woodpigeons blacken the combined skies of all. After a couple of hours surveying the moss roads and taking in the spectacular, roaming flocks I revised Thursday’s count upwards to one of 18,000/20,000 Woodpigeons. I realise that is one hell of a tally so welcome comparison counts from the many bird watchers currently travelling along or standing about the same moss roads.
At Union/Lancaster Lane junction was a Barn Owl, sitting, watching but also hunting while keeping a distance from prying eyes, as overhead small gangs of Whooper Swans fresh from their night time roost flew back and forth in search of spots to feed.
Along Lancaster Road were 3 Kestrels, one pair together in a single hawthorn tree, so obviously the closely bonded pair of recent days. Also, 30+ Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 20+ Blackbird, 20 Chaffinch, 2 Yellowhammer, 14 Tree Sparrow, and 185 Lapwing. A Brown Rat crossed the road ahead of the car - maybe there’s a plague of rats, voles and mice this year in the unkempt fields of the wet summer which might explain the number of raptors making late hay out here?
I spent so much time watching the owl and the hordes of Woodpigeons that it was almost 1030 when I arrived on Rawcliffe Moss. So followed a quick scoot around with 1 Kestrel, 2 Redwing, 1 Tawny Owl, 6 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin, 15 Corn Bunting, 40+ Chaffinch, 4 Reed Bunting and 15 Tree Sparrows, one of the latter rapidly departing a nest box as the car approached. To the east 3 Roe Deer waded shoulder deep through the abandoned wheat crop, the animal's heads just visible.
The Corn Buntings were the first seen for a while. It begs the question: where do the Corn Buntings that winter very locally actually originate from, when following the breeding season the few pairs which raise families then disappear into thin air until the winter? No one seems qualified to provide an answer about such a difficult species to monitor through the normal methods of survey or ringing. It’s a gap in knowledge which leaves yet another unsolved mystery about a threatened species. The iconic but shy Corn Bunting may have passed the point of no return, with the result that we are too late to save it from local if not national extinction. Let’s hope not.
P.S. There’s an interesting comment from Chris in Tuscon, Arizona on Saturday's post about Waxwings “You are not the only one: They're here as well and I can't seem to find the darn Waxwings. BUT that will all change once our palm trees start producing fruit. Then they get drunk and fly all over the place. It's funny and dangerous at the same time.” To a Waxwing all that fermenting red fruit must combine the taste and effect of a glass or two of red wine. I’ll drink to that.