Saturday morning. A heavy layer of frost and ice covered the car. The doors were frozen solid and there was black ice on the road so best not to venture far.
Pilling shore is just a mile or two away and always worth a look for a Snow Bunting, Shore Lark or something equally sensational. More often or not, in fact 99.9% of the time, it’s the same old species which provide the buzz of birding, knowing and appreciating a regular patch.
At Fluke Hall car park a calling Reed Bunting greeted me, one of several I would see and hear during the morning. Along the shore were the usual half a dozen Little Egrets so highly visible and often vocal that I sometimes wonder if I miss other birds by always looking at the once rare egret. On the accustomed pool where the shooters leave potatoes and swedes to attract wildfowl I counted 48 Whooper Swans along with 30+ Shelduck, but no geese today.
Right alongside a drainage ditch I often walk was a dead Grey Heron, a “stiff” in more than one sense as it was covered in a layer of frost and the whole corpse solid from the overnight below zero. With their reliance on feeding in and around shallow watercourses, ditches and drains, Grey Herons are amongst the first birds to suffer during cold spells, inexperienced first year birds especially so.
There’s a stretch of Phragmites reed from where a single Teal flew off followed seconds later by a Snipe. More calls and sightings of Reed Buntings came from here and the nearby relict maize crop as I jotted 6 more “reebu” into my notebook.
A single Skylark flew over and then a flight of 80+ Linnets heading towards Fluke Hall, the birds landing out of sight somewhere in the distance. Linnets have been very hard to come by in recent months, all year in fact, in contrast to their close cousin the Goldfinch which continues to adapt and flourish in the modern world. A walk across the track to Fluke Hall Lane provided 40 or more Redshanks on the flood and a couple of Curlews but nothing out of the ordinary.
Along the lane and through the wood - a smart looking male Kestrel, a Nuthatch and the pair of resident Pied Wagtails.
It’s Sunday and raining - again. Now there’s a novelty.