Friday, September 26, 2014

Birding Back Home

If a couple of weeks in sunny Greece and a spot or two of birding is rather good so is returning home and hitting the local patch to see what’s changed, even if the temperature is halved and the sun doesn’t shine so bright. Two weeks is a long time to be absent when migration is underway. 

At breakfast I watched a silent Jay in the garden as it examined the apple tree thinking there was still no one at home. Overhead the calls of Pink-footed Geese reminded me of missing two weeks of the UK's autumn arrivals. I set off for Pilling. 

Three raptors in the space of five minutes at Fluke Hall with the resident Kestrel, Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk, the latter as elusive as ever, drifting silently through the trees to a place unknown. There was a Jay or two in the wood here and I glimpsed them in the tree tops as they melted into the greenery. For such a brightly coloured bird our often shy European Jay can be very hard to observe, due in no part to its reputation as a killer. 

Jay

A Red Fox sauntered across the dried up pool and although its departure seemed incidental I think the animal spotted me long before I touched the camera. I have it on good authority that “lots” of foxes have been shot in the Pilling area this year, mostly by “lamping” in the hours of darkness. 

The wheat has been cut, the maize sprouted to a good height with a couple of fields partly ploughed. The wildfowlers were out on the marsh, digging and then emptying sacks of wheat as a pump filled their scrape from the water filled ditch. It’s all looking good for plenty of birding birds and many birds to shoot. Maybe the Woodpigeons have sussed out the wheat already as I counted 80+ on the roadside field. 

Last week in hard-to-bird Skiathos there were no larks, pipits or even waders, so along the Pilling sea wall I retuned my ears to the calls of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks, 40+ pipits and 90 or more Skylarks, some of the Skylarks definitely heading south as others stayed flitting about the marsh. Two Wheatears, one at Fluke Hall and the other at Pilling Water, neither of them especially catchable even though I went armed with worms and traps. 

There were Wheatears In Skiathos, the one below flycatching from a roof. Don’t you just love seeing familiar birds in unfamiliar places? 

Wheatear

It’s rather nice to see and hear Pink-footed Geese again even though it does signify that dark nights and a long winter looms. "Make the best of it" as they say, so I sat on the wall and tried to photograph some of the 1400 pinkies as they sallied back and forth across the marsh or headed inland. Very soon, and once the lookalike guns begin, a 400mm lens won’t touch these magnificent creatures. A Snipe landed on the marsh a little way out so there’s a record shot of that to fill the post. 

Pink-footed Geese

Pink-footed Geese

Snipe

The wildfowlers’ pools hold good numbers of wildfowl, mainly Teal at 800+ with smaller numbers of 40 Wigeon, 15 Pintail and 30+ Shelduck. The Teal fly back and forth from the marsh to the pools seemingly unable to resist the food the shooters leave out, the other species less so with many more Wigeon, Pintail and Shelduck out on the marsh. 

Teal

There seemed so few Swallows about today unlike two or more weeks ago with now less than 20 in total and very unlike Skiathos where thousands of both common Swallows and Red-rumped Swallows suddenly appeared on the few cloudy or thundery days we experienced.

Isn’t that just one tiny example of what makes birding at home or abroad so fascinating? It is good to be back though.

Linking today to Anni's Blog and Eileen's Saturday.

17 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

snipes always make me smile. :) the wheatear are SO beautiful. just love their subtle colors.

DeniseinVA said...

A lovely series of birds. Lovely how you've caught those pink-footed geese so perfectly in flight.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I always adore your tales and bird photos, tails... :-)

Bob Bushell said...

Oh, that's beautiful, I love the Jay and Snipe, superb.

mick said...

I can just imagine that the warmth and sunshine in Greece was enjoyable and quite a change to come back home again. The Snipe in the grass is especially beautiful.
Very interesting that you say "lots" of foxes have been shot in your area. Foxes were introduced out here by early settlers and they are a real problem for all our wildlife but I hadn't realized that their numbers are controlled by shooting in your country. If they came from Britain originally why do their numbers get out of balance there now? Or is this just another "sport" thing??

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Phil Great 'home' post. Love the shots of the Jay, Snipe and also the birds in flight. Have a great weekend.

Mary Cromer said...

Ah that Snipe and Jay, so beautiful and I love that we know what we mean when we say shoot those birds ;) Glad that you are back. We must have been gone the same time, but in different directions. Your in flight birds are wonderful as well.

David Gascoigne said...

It's good to have you back home, Phil, so that we can follow the rythyms of your local patch through your eyes.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Lovely photos! My favorite is the jay as it is very difficult to get good photos of them.

Marie said...

Love the jay and the wheatear, and oh that snipe is wonderful! Great photos! Glad you got to see a fox too.

Christian Weiß said...

Wonderful observations and a great snipe.

Karen said...

Terrific in-flight shots Phil. A very handsome jay, so different looking than ours.

mick said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog and especially for the very interesting info re foxes in your country.

eileeninmd said...

Hi Phil, is it nice to be back home..I love these photos, the Jay and the Snipe are my favorites.. Wonderful photos! Thank you for linking up, enjoy your weekend!

Christian Perrin said...

Gosh, your 'record' shots look like my very best attempts!

I always thought the Jay was a very under-rated beauty when I lived in the UK and your splendid photo only reinforces that opinion!

Nice to see how much you treasure your home patch, approaching winter not-withstanding!

Anni said...

Let me get this straight....humans are killing fox? That's a shame. You'd think the most intelligent animal on earth [but this action proves statistics wrong!!]...we'd know better.

Love the birds Phil. Welcome back. You were missed. The pink footed goose/geese you shared both in photos and commentary made me think of the movie "The Big Year" where the birders were 'chasing' around the world for a Pink Footed Goose!


Thanks for sharing your link today at I'd Rather B Birdin'!!

Anni said...

Okay....I think I did everything possible for you to read it better. :-)

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