The thrushes woke me this morning, Blackbirds mainly, but also a Song Thrush which has taken up residence in a neighbour’s garden and sings in ours. Whilst last winter was wet and stormy it remained very mild in temperature with negligible frost to solidify the ground where thrushes find most of their food. Blackbirds appear to be having a very successful year; I’m seeing heaps of them everywhere I go, and unlike recent years even Song Thrushes seem to be in good numbers at the moment.
After the early wake-up call I grabbed a quick breakfast and then set off north for Conder Green et al. Cockerham saw the first gathering of post-breeding season Lapwings - 25+ birds on a field near Gulf Lane. “Post-breeding gathering” is a somewhat optimistic description when the species breeding success along here is zero and where the phrase “non-breeding gathering” might be more accurate.
Afterwards the journey with window down was quiet enough to note 2 Lesser Whitethroat in roadside song between Gulf Lane and Conder Green.
Upon arrival at the creek a Barn Owl was just heading back to roost, disappearing into the building and allowing little time for a picture. It looked bedraggled, a bit “mucky” and wet underneath in parts. All that diving into dew-laden long grass does nothing for a Barn Owl’s appearance, so best to go indoors for a rest and to dry off a bit.
And yes, the midges were out in force over the hedgerow, enough to attract 20+ Swifts to feed for a while. Just a small number of Swallows and House Martins in evidence here although I did find House Martins in the early stages of nest building at a new site in Glasson Dock where blobs of "brown-tack" decorated a frontage. The usual Swallows fed around the dock gate near their hidden from view nest sites.
In song at Conder Green I found 2 Reed Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Bunting and 5 Whitethroat. Meanwhile, Meadow Pipit, Great Tit and Blue Tits were all in the throes of feeding youngsters. Also feeding youngsters were the Oystercatchers on the nearest island, 3 newly hatched chicks taking the tiniest of morsels offered to them by the adults. The Oystercatcher is unusual as the only British wader where the adults feed their young, as most wader chicks are able to feed themselves very soon after hatching.
Other wildfowl and waders, 5 Teal, 2 Wigeon, 18 Shelduck, 8 Tufted Duck, 14 Redshank, 1 Curlew, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Grey Heron.
If the Oystercatchers have succeeded the Tufted Duck have yet to do so: I watched the male cajole the female into returning to the nest when the coast was clear, the female slinking low and quiet into her den of grasses after he shouted encouragement.
A stop for Lane Ends led to a number of warblers: 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler and 1 Chiffchaff all in in song. Early arriving Chiffchaffs may be looking for their second brood by now.
A male Kestrel carried food back to the nest box at Damside, and the same thing at Fluke Hall where a second pair are in residence. I got to thinking if regular Kestrel success played a small part in the misfortunes of local Lapwings in recent years?
At Fluke Hall Great-spotted Woodpeckers were busy feeding young out of the nest, the noisy chicks scattered through the trees and almost impossible to see in the summery trees. The Tawny Owl was around again, the Blackbirds told me so but I left them to their dispute and walked to the sea wall, passing half-a-dozen Whitethroats and a Lesser Whitethroat along the way.
Still no Lapwings with young, but there’s possibly a late try from a couple of stay-behinds on the remnant stubble. A pair of Tufted Duck flew from the channel for the second time this week while a pair of Oystercatcher’s are definitely “at it” with the male giving me stick from the safety of his lookout post.
A good enough morning was had by all. It’s amazing what you can find when you put your mind to it.
Log in soon to see what Another Bird Blog will discover next. Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.