There were a number of old friends at Conder Green on Saturday, species I’d not seen for 3 weeks whilst otherwise engaged by a fortnight in Greece and other essentials of life.
The Kingfisher was predictable enough on such a calm and sunny morning but apart from 15 Little Grebe, a single Tufted Duck and the regular 2 Wigeon, most of the birds were found in the creeks. The Kingfisher turned its back on me and then after trying its luck elsewhere came back for another go but in a more camera friendly pose. Two Grey Wagtails tried to get in on the act as the camera focused on the main attraction.
The Little Grebes here are so wary that it’s almost impossible to get any sort of picture, and although I counted fifteen of them, they are scattered across the water and mostly distant.
As I stood at the roadside a couple of Reed Buntings dropped into the hedgerow making their characteristic autumnal call; and there seemed to be a few Meadow Pipits on the move. A few hours later would see a major rush of pipits and Skylarks heading south over Cockersands.
The creeks provided a really good selection of waders by way of a single Ruff, 12 Snipe, 4 Greenshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, 65 Redshank, 8 Lapwing, 6 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Common Sandpipers. That’s an impressive assortment by any standards and a huge improvement on one Dunlin in Skiathos.
One Goosander and 50+ Teal represented the wildfowl while 5 Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron scored for the heron team.
A walk along the old railway proved useful for finding a flock of Goldfinch, 140+ birds feeding on the saltmarsh, the finches using the tree line as a sanctuary from their sudden and as far as I could see unjustified panics. However you can be sure that a Sparrowhawk won’t be too far away from so many meals on offer.
The Goldfinch looks pretty puffed-up but then there was quite an autumn nip in the morning air which required three layers for this bush bashing birder.
Otherwise, a Great-spotted Woodpecker, 8 or 10 Greenfinch disappeared quickly from view, a number of House Martins congregated around their homes and 20ish Swallows headed clearly south without lingering.
These dark September mornings leave only an hour or two before the weekend’s fluorescent joggers and Day-Glo cyclists emerge to blight the countryside, so as they materialised in unison I headed to hopefully quieter Cockersands.
Just before the cottage and in the roadside trees I found a flock of 20+ Greenfinch. That must be some sort of a record of recent years for the once abundant finch?
By now it was 0945 with Meadow Pipits pouring off the river from the direction of Sunderland Point, over my head and beyond and then heading south. There were Skylarks too. I stayed for 30 minutes and as cloud rolled in from the south so the pipits and larks stopped as suddenly as they seemed to begin. A snapshot in time of approximately 120 Meadow Pipits and 30 Skylarks.
At the distant lighthouse a gang of crows gave stick to a Peregrine which unconcerned at the furore took up its spot on the old hand rails to survey the scene. "Click the pic" to Spot the Peregrine if you can, and needless to say there are no waders in sight after the Peregrine's sorties.
Cockersands Lighthouse - Spot the Peregrine
So, a rewarding three hours of birding and not bad for a Saturday morning. There's more birding soon on Another Bird Blog.