Thursday, November 15, 2012

Woodys All Over

Woodpigeons don’t often steal the show but they did this morning. There’s been an influx in the last week or two, with noticeably large flocks building up on the mosses in particular where the poor summer has left a number of spoilt and unharvested crops for both birds and mammals. 

This morning as I drove across Stalmine Moss and then Pilling Moss towards Out Rawcliffe I noticed there seemed to be even more than the usual hundreds of Woodpigeons about. As I stopped to watch many thousands of them were flying over, pausing to look for food in the hedgerows and fields, all the time their numbers swelling into huge, massed and urgent flocks which continued south and east until many were out of sight. After a while I had estimated several thousand woodys, upwards of 10,000 in all. 

While the Woodpigeon is an essentially sedentary species in the UK, it has a very large range in most of Europe, especially in the north and east where it is largely migratory, responding to both cold weather and food shortages by travelling huge distances. Some individuals reach Spain where they target the woodland acorn crop So it appears that this year, and just like the more exotic and sought after Waxwing or Brambling, the unloved, mostly ignored Woodpigeon is the latest species to become a victim of the poor acorn, berry and beech crop in Europe. 

To put my meagre count into the larger perspective - in Europe, the breeding population of the Woodpigeon is estimated to number 9-17 million breeding pairs, equating to 27-51 million individuals (BirdLife International 2004). Europe forms 75-94% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 30-70 million individuals. 

Woodpigeon

I stopped on Union Lane where like recent weeks, yet another Kestrel posed up for a portrait. What a shame a stray branch intervened to spoil the shot. It was almost 10am but a Barn Owl was hunting too and unlike the Kestrel, the owl didn’t want to pose up so I made do with a distant record shot. 

Kestrel

Barn Owl

Rawcliffe Moss could have made for a disappointment after such drama; however a few bits and pieces made for an entertaining hour or two. Wandering through the plantation revealed my first Woodcock of the winter as it crashed from a clump of bramble to give the usual few seconds of in-flight views. “Small stuff” count: 2 Fieldfare, 1 Goldcrest, 7 Reed Bunting, 15 Goldfinch, 20+ Chaffinch, 22 Tree Sparrow, 4 Blackbird, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Skylark, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker. Non-passerines: 1 Kestrel, 3 Jay, 1 Buzzard. 

Reed Bunting

Another unwanted branch spoiled the ‘pecker shot too. 

Great-spotted Woodpecker

Better luck next time on Another Bird Blog.  Log in soon to check. 

15 comments:

Isidro Ortiz said...

Buenas capturas Phil,la que mas me gusta es la del macho de Escribano palustre.Un abrazo

eileeninmd said...

Great collection of birds and photos, Phil! The Reed Bunting shot is gorgeous and I love your woodie.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Sometimes even the common ones can "light up" a trip. Too bad of the woody shot though.

Carole M. said...

the wood-pigeon is looking very cosy and I especially like that reed bunting too

Rohrerbot said...

:) Phil, I'm with you on those branches....but still, I don't get to see many of those birds here so I appreciate them on your blog. Thanks for sharing....branch or not:) They're still cool to me.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Outstanding Reed Bunting image! The Spotted Woodpecker is very cool. Wow, now that is a huge spotting of Wood Pigeons...they are quite attractive from image shared.
Happy weekend Phil take care~

Stuart Price said...

Can't believe how many Woodpigeons there are in the UK now and now you're saying there are even more!?!?

TexWisGirl said...

all beautiful. love the bunting!

Snap said...

Lovely series of bird friends! The Reed Bunting is very impressive. Happy Critter Day!

Misty DawnS said...

LOVE the Kestrel and Reed Bunting!!! Gorgeous photos!

DeniseinVA said...

I always enjoy your lovely photos Bill. Have a great weekend!

DeniseinVA said...

Ups! Sorry Phil, a momentary laps of the old memory box! ;)

Pia said...

The Kestrel is one of my favourite birds. Would love to get him so close.

Gabi BK said...

Lovely shots of lovely birds!

Have a lovely week,

Gabi

Pam :) said...

Your UK birds never cease to amaze me, Phil. I see mostly water birds here in south Florida.
Love the Reed Buntings sweet little face:>)

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