Friday, August 29, 2014

It’s A Puzzle

The weather folk say next week will be better. In the meantime Friday was yet another windy morning with intermittent showers, far from perfect conditions which posed the question of where to go for best. 

I decided to give Pilling a shot in the hope that the poor weather had dropped in a few Wheatears to catch. In the event I saw only one at Fluke Hall in a spot that didn’t lend itself to leaving a trap. There were none at a favoured catching spot near Pilling Water where the tally is 17 ringed for the year. 

There was a Buzzard in the trees at Pilling Water where the crows gave the game away as they chased the Buzzard off in the direction of Fluke Hall. Despite the rain of late the wildfowlers’ pools are almost completely waterless after the dry summer so all I could find was a Grey Heron and the nearest thing to wildfowl a stranded duck decoy left over from last winter. 

On heading back to Fluke Hall I saw 3 Buzzards above the wood, a patrolling Kestrel and a lonely Chiffchaff moving west along the sea wall by virtue of the well-spaced bushes. 

Buzzard

There was a Great-spotted Woodpecker calling from high in the trees but by now I’d decided to head to Knott End and the incoming tide. 

Ravens are something of a local scarcity but with a status of increased sightings and odd breeding records in recent years, this in flat Lancashire farmland as opposed to mountainous areas where the Raven traditionally breeds. 

Despite this recent influx the species remains extremely shy and is unlikely to be seen at close quarters, the usual sightings hereabouts consisting of birds high overhead as they give out their distinctive, deep, resonant cronking calls. 

So it was rather surprising and something of a mystery to find 2 Ravens again in the car park at Knott End, hanging out on the perimeter wall, perhaps for bread and fish & chip hand-outs from the punters in their cars, just as the gulls do. 

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Both Ravens appeared to be juvenile birds but from their demeanour, worn plumage and general dishevelled appearance I suspect they may have been in recent captivity, perhaps as pets which outgrew their novelty value? 

Raven

From Wiki - “In recent years, biologists have recognized that birds engage in play. Juvenile Ravens are among the most playful of bird species. They have been observed to slide down snowbanks, apparently purely for fun. They even engage in games with other species, such as playing catch-me-if-you-can with wolves, otters and dogs. Ravens are known for spectacular aerobatic displays, such as flying in loops or interlocking talons with each other in flight. They are also one of only a few wild animals who make their own toys. They have been observed breaking off twigs to play with socially” 

A walk up Windy River produced a Wheatear struggling against the wind to stay upright, 6 “Alba” wagtails, 3 Redshank and 150+ Oystercatcher and most of the waders by now at the roost with still two hours to go. 

Wheatear

On or about the tideline, 1 windblown juvenile Common Scoter, 40+ Dunlin, 5 Grey Plover, 5 Turnstone, 3 Sanderling, 1 Grey Heron and 45+ Sandwich Tern. 

It became very windy and very wet so I called it a day until tomorrow.

Linking today to Anni's Birding Blog, Camera Critters and Eileen's Saturday Blog.

20 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

love the raven shot!

CabinGirl said...

Interesting - over here "buzzard" is a nickname for a vulture :-)

Marie said...

OK, that proves it...ravens are super smart! Wow! Loved the info, and the photos, particularly of the raven. Hope your rain lets up soon!

eileeninmd said...

Great post, Phil! Ravens are pretty smart, thanks for sharing the info.. I love the Wheatear shot.. Have a great weekend and happy birding!

Christian Perrin said...

Sadly, the only Ravens I ever saw in the UK were the captive ones at the Tower of London. They did admittedly look more sleek than this fella, and I think your theory on his origin may be spot on!

Russell Jenkins said...

Some great pics, Phil and really enjoyed the info about the ravens. I didn't know they we're so hard to see in the uk. We really shouldn't take anything for granted.

Susan (ABON) said...

Great photos, Phil. The Raven shot is my favorite. Have a wonderful weekend!

eileeninmd said...

Phil, just stopping back to say thank you for sharing your post with my Saturday's Critters... Have a happy weekend!

David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Phil: I was interested to read your comments about ravens. Here is southern Ontario they are slowly reclaiming their former breeding haunts. In northern Ontario, where it is common, ravens often hang around parking lots where as you point out they can often get hand outs. About twenty years ago a raven mated with a crow in Toronto. The offspring were referred to as "Cravens!"

EG CameraGirl said...

I didn't realize ravens were so smart! Very interesting. I see them north of where I live but rarely here. You are seeing so many birds! Here it is still quiet although this weekend's weather may bring a few migrating birds down from the north.

Adam Jones said...

I've been suffering with this unpredictable weather too. Love the Buzzard and LBB gull shots.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful shots of beautiful birds.

DeniseinVA said...

Wonderful series here and enjoyed reading your post very much. I too was fascinated about the ravens.

Gunilla Bäck said...

I love the raven. I've only seen them in captivity.

Betsy Brock said...

I've never seen a raven before! wow! And that buzzard looks like our hawks. Lovely photos!

love HAPPY Notes said...

Great shots and very informative post. Thank you so much.

Anni said...

At least you found a decoy!! I don't even get THAT lucky in the dry ponds that once were.

I would love to find the lesser black-backed gull here. They've been reported but I've never had a chance to get out to find it....yet!! Love the buzzard in flight.


Thanks for linking to I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend...it's always appreciated!!

Stuart Price said...

Ravens and Buzzards. Unknown outside of the uplands when I lived in the NW................

Kenneth Cole Schneider said...

I don't like those windy days for birding, but lately we could use a few gentle breezes here in hot and muggy Florida.

Janice Adcock said...

Sweet wheatear. Nice shots, all.

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