It's hard to sleep these light mornings but lying awake while the sun shines outside isn't an option. Or maybe I'm just a natural early bird keen to catch the birding action. Whatever it is I soon found myself heading north for a wander around the hot spots of Cockerham for a couple of hours before clouds rolled in and rain returned.
The Barn Owl is an early bird too, hunting the marsh and the roadside before most normal people are up and about. I was stood in a cloud of morning midges hence the black dots appearing to surround the owl, tiny insects which are actually whizzing around the camera lens pointed unerringly at the owl. A little more road traffic soon sent the owl back home for a daytime sleep.
The swarm of midges attracted Swifts again with 25 or more hawking the insects along the hedgerow and over my head, but only tiny numbers of Swallows and House Martins. I was to see Sand Martins later when I called at Hillam Lane where the colony now numbers 10/12 nest holes and c30 birds including this season's juveniles.
Waders and wildfowl on the pools/creek - 3 Grey Heron, 3 Lapwing, 1 Curlew, 12 Oystercatcher, 14 Redshank,1 Goldeneye, 3 Wigeon, 14 Tufted Duck, 6 Shelduck and 1 Teal.
Alongside the road were 2 pairs of Reed Buntings feeding young, 1 singing Reed Warbler, 1 Pied Wagtail and 7 Tree Sparrow. While there are mainly juvenile Tree Sparrows about, the few adults I saw were busy collecting insects to feed their nestlings. We perhaps think of sparrows as seed eaters but Tree Sparrow youngsters are fed a high diet of insects.
Jeremy Lane to Cockersands produced 4 Whitethroat, 2 Reed Bunting, 10 Skylark, 2 Sedge Warbler and several more Tree Sparrows.
The tide was well in at Cockersands helping to find a number of waders and wildfowl, including 4 Curlew, 170 Oystercatcher, 1 Grey Plover, 8 Teal and a good count of 53 Eider. The Eider count comprised a flight of 5 heading out of the estuary together with a crèching group of 48 birds, 8 adult females and 40 ducklings.
Eiders are colonial breeders. They nest on coastal islands in colonies ranging in size of less than 100 to upwards of 10,000-15,000 individuals. Female Eiders frequently return to breed on the same island where they were hatched. This can lead to a high degree of relatedness between individuals nesting on the same island, as well as the development of kin-based female social structures. This relatedness has played a role in the evolution of co-operative breeding behaviours amongst Eiders. Examples of these behaviours include laying eggs in the nests of related individuals and crèching, where female Eiders team up and share the work of rearing ducklings. The picture below shows just part of today's Eider crèche.
That's all for now folks. Look in to Another Bird Blog soon for more early news and views.
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