Sunday, February 16, 2014

Is It Here Yet?

There are signs the end of the atrocious winter weather may be in sight, and Spring around the corner. It certainly felt like that this morning when the sun shone and the wind dropped to less than 15mph, almost perfect birding conditions. 

I set off for Pilling where a pair of early morning Kestrels greeted me on the roadside at Damside. In some years Little Owls have used the nest box so it looks like the Kestrels have first shout this time. 

Kestrel

I decided to give Fluke Hall a try where I was dismayed to find shooters on the maize fields and so above the high water mark, where as I understand it, the “season” for shooting wildfowl should have ended on 31st January. A small pile of corpses littered the sea wall but I was too far off to make out the species. 

Despite the loud guns there were a number of Lapwings and Redshanks on the flood, some 95 and 8 respectively, also 10/12 Linnet and 15 or so Skylarks. Later, and as I walked the sea wall I saw and heard a good number of Skylarks, some in song, others in obvious territorial disputes, with a morning total of 30+ birds. 

Fluke Hall Lane and the wood itself proved quite productive with 2 singing Song Thrush, a pair of Mistle Thrush, 2 Greenfinch, 1 Treecreeper, 2 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Reed Bunting, 1 Buzzard, 2 Jays, a minimum of 12 Blackbirds and 3/4 Chaffinches in song. 

Jay

By now the shooters had driven discreetly off the track in their mud spattered Land Rovers, Range Rover and Navarra so I walked the now very quiet sea wall to Lane Ends. 

A good selection of birds ensued, circa 850 Pink-footed Goose, 7 Little Egret, 3 Meadow Pipit, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Peregrine, 1 Brent Goose and a good number of the aforementioned Skylarks. The Brent was alone on the salt marsh and not in the company of Pink-footed Geese or Shelduck, species it might be expected to mix with.

Brent Goose

At Lane Ends it was good to hear the trilling of courting Little Grebes, an unmistakeable sound emanating from the pool hidden from view. A couple of Chaffinches in song here too. 

Little Grebe

Maybe Spring is finally on the way? If so Another Bird Blog will be there to record the details, so log in very soon.

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.

25 comments:

Gordon said...

I see you had a good outing Phil, and far more profitable than me. I love the Kestel, and the Jay is brill.
All the best Gordon.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, did your presence scare off the hunters. If the hunting season is over, why are they still there shooting the ducks? Love the kestrel, brant and the little Grebe. I am hoping our weather turns for the better, I am sick of snow. Happy Birding!

David Gascoigne said...

It's distressing to hear of hunters still killing birds out of season. I hope that you are able to report them. Maybe you were able to get their licence plate numbers. It's amazing that they do this with impunity, seeming not to fear getting caught by the authorities.

Tony Lawlor said...

In all fairness to the hunters, you didn`t go and identify what they were shooting. The fact that they were on maize fields would be an indication that it was possible that they were shooting wood pigeon. It is hard to imagine that they would put themselves at risk of losing their firearm licences by shooting wildfowl out of season. You got some lovely pictures. The jay is a bird which I have so far failed to get a picture of as they are quite scarce in my part of the world and those that are here are very alert and shy. However, after seeing your pics I will keep trying.

Phil Slade said...

Tony, thank you for visiting my blog. To answer your point. The maize in question abouts the sea wall, the field containing a pool to which wildfowl are attracted by regular feeding from September to January. Local people are well used to the sound of shooting and the regular visits of parties of shooters and individuals, but those same people are not necessarily aware of the law regarding the shooting season. The people I saw were not shooting Woodpigeons as the local Woodpigeons stay well clear of this and other fields. The guys were some 150 yards from me on a private field where I and others are regularly told to leave if trespassing. The vehicles were parked so that number plates were not visible from 150 yards away.

The guys were clearly in the wrong and I have reported the matter to local Police who arrived 10 minutes after the shooters had left, but I will be following it up.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

There must be something up for the hunt around here as well Phil, for while out walking the dogs yesterday on a snow walk, we heard gun fire in the distance...do not like.
Our weather is going to change about this week as well, going up to 57'...yea and with a spot of sunshine. Looking forward to that.
I love that Jay, so different than our Blue Jays, yet still intense looking like ours are too.
Hope that you have a great week~

Russell Jenkins said...

Gee, I'm glad I don't encounter shooters anywhere these days. Last time was back in the 90s in oz when I was night spotting. I feel it is a thing from centuries past.

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Phil I don't like to think that people are shooting the wildlife nowadays. Love the jay shot and you managed quite a few species on that outing.

Andrea said...

I was glad t read that you had reported the hunters. People seem to not have respect for the law any more and they do need to suffer the consequences of their illegal actions.

That said, I love your pictures. I love the little Kestrel as I have a special place in my heart for all raptors. Enjoyed your post ...

Andrea @ From The Sol

Snap said...

Glad you reported the hunters. Love the image of the kestrel and the jay ... fine day in your world. I think everyone will be glad when winter is over.

carol l mckenna said...

Phil ~ You always have wonderful bird photography ~ fascinating ~ and well photographed ~ for OWT ~ thanks,

carol and artmusedog
www.acreativeharbor.com

mick said...

Great photos and a very interesting post. I'm glad the weather was better - but I don't think you should expect summer just yet - that is if our year is anything to go by - the temps have gone way way up again and I have retreated to the air-conditioning again! It really should be cooling down a little by now!

HOOTIN ANNI said...

Beautiful photos as always...especially this week, I love the jay!!

Indrani said...

Great captures of the birds, it is a joy to see them free and flying. I hope they are not hunted any more.

Chris Rohrer said...

Strange and weird birds. A Little Grebe? Green Sandpiper? I know nothing. I've got a lot of learning to do about birds. I know the ones here.....but take me to a new shore and I'm back to the baby steps! Cool! More birds to research:) Hope migration brings in all kinds of fun stuff.

Jen said...

I'm glad you reported the poachers. Hopefully something can be done.

Fun60 said...

You spotted so many in such a short time. I liked the jay picture very much.

Wally Jones said...

It seems you may have developed a little "Spring" in your step!

Nice numbers of birds sighted and I am forever jealous of anyone reporting a Peregrine sighting.

Hopefully, the Little Grebes will be harbingers of the turning of the season.

Your mention of Skylarks brings back wonderful memories of living in Europe and being able to see what all the fuss over their song was about. All the fuss is truly warranted!

Hope your week is filled with birds and devoid of those who would kill them!

All the best Phil.

Grampy said...

All good captures. My favorite the jay

Grampy said...

All good captures. My favorite the jay

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

It's got to be time for spring. You guys have had too much winter this year. These birds are beautiful and that seems like an amazing count to me. I love the jay.,

Stewart M said...

We are having some rather wonderful cool evenings here - with just a hint of autumn - so spring may be upon you soon!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

PS: spelndid pictures and good on your for reporting the wrong doers.

Stuart Price said...

I never saw a Brent Goose in the NW...........

The happy wanderer. said...

That Brant photo looks almost "black and white". It's interesting too how closely Little Grebes resemble our Australasian Grebes too.

Jeanne said...

your photos are just lovely of these birds, but hated to hear of out of season hunters, and glad that you showed up to scare them off. For occassions like that you need a big parks and wildlife badge to stick on the top of your car. lOL. Lovely shots, and glad that spring seems to be getting closer!

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