Sunday, November 2, 2014

Anti-Social Birding

Sunny Sunday mornings present the problem of where to go birding in the crowded isle that is The United Kingdom - 60 million and rising daily thanks to our useless politicians and the EU. Oops, that broke a rule of “no politics” on Another Bird Blog but I made an exception for this topic as all the political parties are equally guilty. 

So, where to go? There was a Great Grey Shrike to chase 10 or so miles away, or alternatively set off on a real life wild goose chase to find the Snow Goose spotted recently amongst the thousands of Pink-footed Geese out on the Pilling mosslands. 

But then there would be dozens of birders about looking either for or at the same things, even though to me birding is best served and appreciated not in gangs but singly or in twos and threes only. And anyway a Snow Goose isn’t exactly rare and when you’ve seen one you have seen them all. Likewise, members of the grey shrike complex are easily come by in the Canary Islands so I will wait until January in Lanzarote to see Desert Grey Shrikes again. 

Snow Geese - Photo credit: A Vernon- Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Desert Grey Shrike 

So I headed inland for a walk and across the moss of Out Rawcliffe, one of the largest parishes in England and one which thankfully is usually quiet and peaceful if a little breezy today.

Out Rawcliffe

After recent rain there was a good mix of birds on a particularly flooded field - 40 or more Black-headed Gulls, 16+ Pied Wagtails, 14+ Meadow Pipits and 2 Green Sandpipers. Naturally the sandpipers flew off calling but with so many flashes of water in the sodden fields they won’t be far away and pipits and wagtails are always worth a look. 

Pied Wagtail

Along a couple of hedgerows there was a good mix of farmland birds - 35 Tree Sparrow, 18+ Chaffinch, 8 Goldfinch, 4 Linnet, 2 Yellowhammer, 2 Reed Bunting and 2 Corn Bunting. With so many small birds in the immediate area it was no surprise to see a Merlin dash low across the landscape, the falcon sighting followed quickly by a Sparrowhawk heading in the opposite direction. 

Sparrowhawk

Three Roe Deer stood ahead of me, spotted my approach and broke into a run, scattering the hundreds of Jackdaws and crows feeding in the stubble. In the woodland - 4 Buzzards, more Chaffinches, and at least one noisy Jay. The Chaffinches were fairly numerous and also vocal with almost constant chippy contact calls that pointed to their being on the move south and west, a scenario far from unknown in early November when some might imagine migration to be done. 

Roe Deer

Maybe the warm and fine morning made the Buzzards active, so after being concerned about the lack of sightings of the species lately, I actually saw a more reasonable number in my three hours of birding. On the way back home via Pilling and Stalmine mosses I clocked up 2 more pairs of Buzzards to add to the four birds seen at Out Rawcliffe. If there is one Buzzard about, there is almost certainly another one close by as pairs mate for life.

However there are still local places where Buzzards appear to have gone missing, so all bird watchers need to know their own local patch and to remain vigilant. 

Buzzard

Other birds over the moss roads - 1 Kestrel, 8 Stock Dove, 6 Pied Wagtail, 90+ Linnet and 20 or more flighty Goldfinch. 

A very enjoyable morning and guess what? I didn’t see any other birders but did wonder where many might be on such a fine morning for birding.

Linking today to  Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.

27 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

beautiful shrike, raptors and deer! and no people. :)

Linda said...

Lovely photos, Phil. I haven't seen any of these birds in my area (Montreal). Well, I see geese, but mostly Canada geese. But then again, Montreal is a big city. Thanks a lot for sharing.

eileeninmd said...

Great post, Phil. Lovely shots of the birds. I feel the same around crowds of birders..I have seen close to a hundred thousand Snow Geese and it was amazing..But, the Shrike would be a new bird for me.. Love the deer, Wagtail and the Buzzard. Happy Birding!

David Gascoigne said...

My word, you sounded grumpy at the start of your post - almost truculent. But, I am glad that a little peaceful birding restored your good humour. However, I have to disagree with your assertion that when you have seen one Snow Goose you have seen them all. Try focusing on a couple of individuals in a large flock and you will have a great chance at doing your own mini-seminar in bird behaviour.They can be fascinating to watch.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

All those birds, deer, and you have a private patch. That sounds heavenly! We had a raft of 52 coots swim by today... I thought that was a lot until I remembered your blog:))

Margaret Adamson said...

yes you chose well today. NO crowds of people and great number of birds captured on camera.

Germán Ibarra Zorrilla said...

Excelentes fotografías, amigo.

Stuart Price said...

I'd have still gone for the shrike and goose.............

Wonder how many of the recent immigrants from east Europe are birders?

If you think the UK is too generous to immigrants you should come here to Japan. All visitors get fingerprinted like criminals on arrival and can receive absolutely no welfare whatsoever (even Japanese citizens don't get much).

mick said...

Great photos and the birds are beautiful - especially the in-flight Buzzard. The landscape photo around Out Rawcliffe is lovely. Even though most of your birds are quite different from the ones out here - the behavior of people all over the world is just the same!Week-end birding is very difficult!!

Sylvia K said...

Great captures for the day, Phil, and I,too, love the birds, the deer and no people!! Thanks for sharing the peaceful beauty!!

carol l mckenna said...

Love the Sparrow hawk and deer ~ always beautiful photography here ~ makes me think about becoming a 'birder' ~

Happy Week to you!
artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

carol l mckenna said...

Love the Sparrow hawk and deer ~ always beautiful photography here ~ makes me think about becoming a 'birder' ~

Happy Week to you!
artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I enjoyed your birding today!
Our birds are changing over. The insect eaters are sadly pretty much gone.
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Fun60 said...

Excellent view of the sparrow hawk.

Karen said...

Gorgeous shot of Out Rawcliff, that Pied Wagtail is so cute. Have a great week.

Stewart M said...

Nice post - trying to dodge to crowds can be as challenging as some of the bird IDs these days! I live in a huge and lightly populated country - but most of us live in just one small part - so I know what you mean about missing the crowds.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Bill Nicholls said...

SOunds like I live in one of the other big parishes, nice to see you have the same wildlife

Wally Jones said...

This past Sunday morning I was on the beach at dawn. It was extremely crowded - 60 Red Knot, 2 dozen Piping Plover, 20 Least Sandpiper, 150 Laughing Gull, 30 Ruddy Turnstone, etc. - just awful.

I felt very guilty as I looked up and down the shoreline and could not spot another human being. Okay, that's a lie. I'm just a selfish nature freak and thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the cold wet sand with nothing but birds and waves to see and hear.

Anti-social Birder. That would be me.

Great post, Phil! I'm always impressed by all the birds you find. Today's report is heartening! And calming. And hopeful. Thank you.

Adam Jones said...

Great Sparrowhawk flight shot, and the Shrike is pretty spectacular too. I have a similar problem in choosing where to go come the weekends. Leave it to late and there will be too many people about to see anything.

Modesto Viegas said...

Very good post!

Findlay Wilde said...

Great raptor pictures. I was lucky enough to see 13 Buzzards circling together not so long ago. A great sight to see.

Gunilla Bäck said...

The deer are beautiful animals. I love the raptors and the wagtail.

Neil said...

Looks like you picked the right place to go birding.

Russell Jenkins said...

Some excellent bird pictures and I also really like the Out Rawcliffe landscape. Great colours and I can feel the lack of birders wandering ahead.

Marie said...

Loved the shrike, and the wagtail, and oh that buzzard...very different from our buzzards. More like a hawk. Lovely photos.

BumbleVee said...

okay then....I'm really interested in the Sparrow Hawk.... because I have a small hawk today ... and, don't know what mine is...I sure wish I had seen the tail so I would know.. the other colouring looks similar.........

Dave said...

love your post Phil, from the first paragraph (wink wink) to the last.

PS there will be no room for migrating birds soon the Eastern Europeans are making sure of that! we will eventually sink under the weight.

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