Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Chiffy, First Nest

Yet another sluggish start led me to think the morning would lead to a lack of notebook entries and little substance to today’s blog. Slowly but surely birds appeared whereby I recorded a little visible migration, saw the first warbler of the Spring and then found my first nest of 2014. 

In the darkness I stopped at Lane Ends to count the Little Egrets in the roost - 47 birds scattered through the tall trees. For readers who don’t know Pilling, or the roosting habits of the Little Egret, the roost is situated within a public amenity area of pools and walkways, the birds spending the night in the safety of tall trees on an island of one of the small lakes. It’s quite a sight to see so many ghostly egrets in one location but difficult to take photographs with the birds fairly well distributed in the vegetation. They also vacate the roost in the half light of pre-dawn as they fly off to daytime feeding spots. 

It’s no good planning to see Barn Owls, they invariably don’t turn up in the anticipated spot or when they’re meant to; much better to let one happen. After the egrets I checked a “regular” owl spot with camera at the ready but no Barn Owls appeared, so I motored on up to Cockerham and Braides Farm. 

Here was quiet with just 60+ Golden Plover, 20+ Lapwing, 6 Curlew and 1 Grey Heron for my troubles. 

Grey Heron

Passing Damside I noted both Kestrels in attendance near the regular nest box. Things also picked up at Fluke Hall. On the flooded maize at least 4 Lapwings were in tumbling display mode and 40+ others moving about the wet areas. Also, 70+ Redshanks feeding and one or more birds in both calling display flight and ground chasing. 7 Dunlin and 5 Curlew completed the waders with 30+ Shelduck and 2 Little Egrets in attendance. 

Lapwing

Redshank

The sea wall gave the best count for a while of Pink-footed Goose at 750+, with both pipits and wagtails flying north across Morecambe Bay - 15+ Meadow Pipit and separate gangs of 15, 8 and then 5 Pied Wagtails. Several Skylarks in territorial song, mental notes made to check each location in more detail very soon. On and about the wildfowler’s pools I found an eclectic mix of 2 Pintail, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Buzzard, 1 Linnet, 2 Greenfinch and the third Kestrel of the morning. 

Pintail

The walk along Fluke Hall Lane was for change a pleasant one, breeze and bluster-free, a rare opportunity of recent winter days to listen out for birds without the rustle and rush of swaying trees and falling branches. 

There was a Chiffchaff singing from a garden, a regular spot of recent years but away from the denser woodland; Goldfinches, Tree Sparrows and Long-tailed Tits along the hedgerow, and when I reached the woodland the single “chick” call of a Great-spotted Woodpecker. From tall conifers I heard the contact calls of Siskins and then straining my neck almost vertically I could see four or maybe five of the tiny, fork-tailed finches moving through the dark branches above. 

 Chiffchaff

In the wood a pair of Long-tailed Tits quickly gave the game away, nest building in the fork of a roadside hawthorn, the nest in the early construction stage but with the pair constantly toing and froing with beaks full of nest material. 

Long-tailed Tits construct their nest as a domed structure of moss woven with cobwebs and hair covered on the outside with camouflaged greyish/white lichen. I took a few pictures through the maze of branches where within in a few short weeks of vegetation growth the nest will become totally invisible. 

Long-tailed Tit

Nest of Long-tailed Tit (under construction)

Nest of Long-tailed Tit (partly constructed)

A rewarding end to a fine morning’s birding, as when I later checked my notebook there were over 40 species recorded, much of the everyday stuff like Dunnocks, Robins, Wrens and Blackbirds omitted from the above. 

Please now excuse me as I must go online and record my first Nest Record of 2014, but fear not there's more soon.

And remember, you read it on Another Bird Blog first. 

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday

32 comments:

David Gascoigne said...

How encouraging to hear of nest construction, even if it is on your side of the Atlantic! Northern Cardinals are singing here and I already have a pair of Great Horned Owls nesting. American Goldfinches are regaining their nuptial plumage and Black-capped Chickadees are getting frisky. The weather is moderating somewhat and early migrants are starting to arrive. Any day now we should start to see patches of open water and waterfowl will arrive by the thousands. A great time of the year. And thanks by the way for a new descriptive for a group of birds - a gang huh? Gotta use that one!

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

Some nice shots. Good luck to you and your endeavours.

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

eileeninmd said...

Phil, sorry you missed a Barn owl sighting..It would nice if we good always count on a bird being in the right place and the same time we were there. I love your flight shots, the Lapwing is bird I would love to see. Happy Birding and have a great week!

The happy wanderer. said...

That's a great "header" shot. Some lovely birds in this post - a Long-tailed Tit is one I'd love to see. I hope spring is a good one after the winter you've had.

Gordon said...

Great post Phil and some really good finds, I think we can safely say Spring has arrived in your neck of the woods.
All the best Gordon.

Isidro Ortiz said...

Buenas capturas en vuelo.Un abrazo

Santi said...

I like long tailed tit,great shot. Best regards.

Carver said...

Fantastic shots of the birds in flight.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Love all your birds...the chiff chaff is so beautiful. Once I read that someone in the US tried to import all the birds that were mentioned in Shakespeare (I don't know if that's true, but if it is I wish he'd had a chiffchaff in one of his plays. Also an English robin.)

EG CameraGirl said...

Wonderful how you've caught the pintails in flight!

carol l mckenna said...

You not only have a great eye with the camera but also at finding wonderful birds ~ thanks, xxx

artmusedog and carol

Fun60 said...

Excellent photos of lapwings.

mick said...

Very interesting post. The photo of the Redshank in flight is especially beautiful and I love the photos and description of the nest building. That's one part of bird books that I think is seldom well done - poor descriptions and often no photos at all.

Gordon said...

In answaer to your question Phil, I took the photo on Mull, but I have found loads in Cumbria. I use to work at a house called Fellside, high up on the side of Catbells/Maiden Moor, it has the highest garden in Borrowdale, and I was always finding them there.
All the best Gordon.

Andrea said...

Wonderful birding morning and great that you caught a lot of the birds in flight ... makes for beautiful pictures. Very interesting post ...

Andrea @ From The Sol

Jen said...

That is a very well camouflaged nest. I don't think I've seen anything like it.

TheChieftess said...

Nice captures...

Mary Cromer said...

What marvelous flight shots you took of many birds and then you take us down to the always to me very special bird, the Long-tailed Tit...I always love when you share them, such sweet faces. I also really like the looks of that nest. Hoping you will get to keep up with this nest in coming weeks to see and share the young. Happy Birding Phil, take good care~

Jane said...

Beautiful captures, the weather must be getting better if these birds have arrived-its lovely to see them. Thanks for sharing:)

chai-and-chardonnay.blogspot.com said...

Amazung pictures and I learned a lot reading your blog!

Carole M. said...

hi Phil! Those Long-tailed Tits are the sweetest

HOOTIN ANNI said...

Nests...aren't they incredible works of architecture!!!?!

That long tailed tit is too darling. Love its eye color and the pose you captured of it.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Phil, this is a good one indeed. Great photos and write-up as usual.

Shey Wicklund said...

Awesome notes and photos, as usual. I especially love the flight captures and the nest being built.

Findlay Wilde said...

What a brilliant bit of birding. A really good variety of birds to enjoy. I am going to collect my trail cam later and see if there has been any interest in any of the next boxes I put up in the wood. From Findlay

EagleAye said...

Wow! I've never see a lot of these birds. That Lapwing is a gorgeous bird. Outstanding pics!

Gunilla Bäck said...

Lovely photos of the birds in flight. Sounds like you had a very successful day birding.

hannah said...

Love the Bifs. Don't think I will ever manage one of those :-)

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Hi again Phil. Your response to my comment on Shakespeare/birds imported to the US sent me off on a long googly morning! Apparently there really was an eccentric guy who at least tried to do that. Here is one link I found: He succeeded too well w/ starlings.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/01/bioinvasion_2001-01-23.html

I'm not sure that link will show up, but you can google too.

Well I didn't get much blogging done this morning, but I had a lot of fun! Thanks!

Wally Jones said...

Despite the sluggish start, you had quite a successful trip. Over 40 species!

The Lapwing header photo is a real winner! What a handsome bird.

Congratulations on the first nest of the season. Hope it's the harbinger of many more to come.

It's mid-week already?? I must have having more fun than I realized.

Take care, Phil.

Lew said...

Great shots of the birds in flight!

Chris Rohrer said...

That Lapwing shot is incredible as are your other birds. I really enjoyed the tour again today. I always enjoy finding the first nests. My first two were Verdins and Great Horned Owls. They are so much fun to observe. Nothing quite like being out in the field. Your Chiffchaff and LTTI are also incredible. The latter reminds me of Chewbacca from Star Wars....has a very Wookie look to it:)

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