Friday, October 11, 2013

Looking Up

When I opened the door to sniff the morning air at 0830 I knew something was afoot. A flock of Redwings were flying fairly low over the house and heading in a north easterly direction. 

In other years the exact same thing has taken place during north-easterly winds after thousands of nocturnally migrating thrushes overshot their intended direction, the birds then spending most of the following morning trying to get back on track. This all appears to be a tremendous waste of their precious energy to head back in the direction from which they came, but it’s almost as if they are pre-programmed to take a particular path even if it means finding the spot where they went wrong and then starting over again. 

I quickly jumped in the car and headed for the Pilling coast, hoping to see even more visible migration taking place. I wasn’t disappointed as during the next three hours many thousands of Redwings and Fieldfares appeared from the west and south west to then head determinedly north east over Fluke Hall before continuing along the sea wall to then eventually disappear out of sight. 

Early on the movement was almost entirely Redwings and then after an hour or more larger number of Fieldfares appeared until most of flocks were of the larger thrush. I didn’t see any of the many thousands of birds stop to feed as they all seemed to be intent on their task, driven by their communal effort. By midday the movement appeared to have stopped with my approximate numbers split at roughly 50/50 of 4000 Fieldfares and 3500 Redwings.

I tried to get some pictures of the droves of birds- not easy with mixed groups, differing flight heights and speed of individuals, but below is the general idea - a fairly inadequate way of documenting such monumental birding experiences. 

Migrating Redwings

 Redwing

 Migrating Fieldfares

Fieldfare

Things were looking up in other ways with the arrival of a good number of Whooper Swans fresh from Iceland and finding their usual spot out on the marsh where there was also a small flock of Canada Geese. I counted 90 swans today, although I may have missed some flying inland or continuing south. 

Whooper Swans

 Whooper Swans and Canada Geese

The Pink-footed Geese easily numbered 8000, joined today by small groups of Barnacle Geese numbering 13 that I could see. The geese are of course their usual wary selves and I could not reach the sea wall for fear of disturbing the geese until the Hi-Fly chaps had completely cleared them by driving across to their shooting pools. 

Pink-footed Geese

In the vicinity of the pools were 35 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Snipe, 20+ Skylark, 2 Reed Bunting and 180+ Teal. There was some evidence of an influx of other species today with Jackdaws increasing to 90, Woodpigeons to 150, and the appearance of 8 Stock Dove.

More from Another Bird Blog on Saturday. Linking up Camera Critters and I'd-Rather-b-birdin.

22 comments:

Kay L. Davies said...

I think the only birds I've seen in such large numbers are seagulls. Oh, and Canada Geese.
Sounds like you had a great day, Phil. I'm impressed, for one.
K

Carole M. said...

very experienced birding observations from you Phil and you were rewarded with the three-hour treat of viewing thousands of Redwings and Fieldfares alongwith the other birds you sighted. A very successful outing!

Wally Jones said...

Those are some incredible numbers, Phil!
Good timing on opening your door or you might have missed it all.
Interesting to ponder that many birds backtracking to find a "familiar" navigation point.

We're actually having a bit of a cool off here with drier air. Lots of reports of migrants moving south through the area. Hope I can spot a few!

All the best.

Russell Jenkins said...

Some great pictures, Phil. It's exciting when migrations are underway. I hope there is more activity here soon.

Andrew Fulton said...

It must have been a wonderful sight to witness Phill... thanks for sharing.

eileeninmd said...

Excellent timing and sightings, Phil! It is cool seeing the large flights of birds migrating. My favorite in this post are the Whooper Swans. Happy Birding and have a great weekend!

Karen said...

I love to watch flocks of migrating birds. Terrific sightings!

Snap said...

that must be exciting to see such a large number of birds migrating. love the whooper swans.

Carol L McKenna said...

Wow! Lots of beauties and wonderful nature photography ~ carol ^_^ (A Creative Harbor)

retriever said...

Interesting post,



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Anni said...

I've learned over the last few months when I decided to actually get serious on birding and bird photography...that it's not easy. A challenge well worth the effort tho!! And your photos are super, as always Phil!!

Gunilla Bäck said...

Beautiful! How amazing to see that many birds at one time.

TexWisGirl said...

your fieldfare reminds me so much of our american robin (a thrush).

EG CameraGirl said...

Amazing. I had no idea birds that have been blown off track need to find their "trail" to continue on!

HansHB said...

A great serie of photos! So nice to see!

Lou Mary said...

You did do well to get such a lovely shot of that fieldfare. I've not managed one that good before. Maybe that shall be my autumn/winter task! I do enjoy reading your birding observations!

Carol L McKenna said...

Fantastic photos of nature's migration and wonderful macro shots of beautiful bird ~ thanks, carol ^_^ (A Creative Harbor)

Findlay Wilde said...

Just brilliant, great to see flocks like that. From Findlay

Sylvia K said...

Superb captures and amazing information indeed, Phil!! Thank you for a terrific series! Hope you have a great week!

Adam Jones said...

Lovely shots. I do love the arrival of our winter birds.

Wandering Wren said...

This Little Wandering Wren is feeling quite left out, in need of joining in the mass migration on our shores to sunny Queensland for the school hols! I really enjoyed this post.
Have a great week
Wren

Our photos said...

Beautiful birds photos!

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