Friday, March 6, 2015

It’s Magic

This morning dawned grey and breezy so I finished a few chores, rescued the lawn mower from hibernation then cranked it up for the first cut of grass in 2015. Things are warming up for a day or two, then next week there’s more cold weather to let the lawn go back to sleep. There’s nothing quite like the delightful and mysterious British climate to keep a birder or a gardener on their toes. 

By midday there was sun and a spot of birding beckoned. While a.m. birding is mostly more productive than p.m., I set off for a few gentle hours at Pilling. 

The fields at Fluke Hall Lane seemed strangely empty with just 45 or so Lapwing including some paired birds and tumbling display. The hundreds of Golden Plovers of Wednesday had mostly gone with less than 30 remaining and even the Redshanks and Oystercatchers in single figures. A single Snipe rose from the wet stubble, calling as it flew out to the marsh. 

Then I spotted the possible cause of the almost deserted meadows, a tiny, bright-as-a-button Merlin sat motionless, quite high and partly hidden in a tree which overlooks the marsh. The falcon let me take a few shots from the car window before it shot away across the fields in pursuit of a meal, scattering a Skylark or two in the process. Merlins have been pretty scarce this winter with this one almost certainly a migrant heading north for the coming Spring. 

Merlin

Most birds are an anti-climax after catching sight of a magical Merlin, but I left the car behind and set off to walk the lane and shore in search of more birds. A silent Buzzard appeared overhead and flew towards Lane Ends but I know both birds are back on territory now. Likewise the Kestrels; the female hovered above the edge of the wood and then further along the lane a male lifted from the grass and carried a vole to a more convenient dining table. 

Buzzard

Through the wood a Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Song Thrush, a pair of Long-tailed Tit, 4 Tree Sparrows and an all too brief Sparrowhawk. The Twite flock of Wednesday was no longer in the car park field, just 190 Pink-footed Goose, 8 Curlew, 2 Pied Wagtail and a pair of Oystercatcher. 

Long-tailed Tit

More Pink-footed Geese were crammed into the fields at Braides Farm, the suspicious flock not daring to come closer than 200 yards from the road. Maybe the recent cold northerly winds have held back their migration because their numbers today were something like 10/12,000, a good number for March when by now many should be on their way to Iceland. The only interloper spotted was a single Barnacle Goose. 

Also there - a single Buzzard, 2 Little Egret, 14 Linnet and 7+ Skylark. 

It’s not an awful lot to show for an afternoon in the sun but a Merlin sure makes any day a special one. If only that Merlin could work its magic on the weather to make Winter vanish and Spring appear? 

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday Blog.



27 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

the long-tail is just a delight! you are smart to get 'chores' done first, then have relaxing time birding. :)

David Gascoigne said...

A Merlin is always a stellar sighting and I congratulate you on your good fortune. Tonight we are going to crack open a bottle of wine with dinner and I'll raise a toast to Slades and Merlins, a fine pair of Fluke Hall Lane denizens if I do say so myself. Oh, there are two of you, better have two glasses then. See what you can do for me tomorrow, will you?

eileeninmd said...

Yes, I agree the Merlin is a great sighting.. Beautiful birds and photos.. Have a happy weekend!

Linda said...

Lovely series, Phil, and I really like the wingspan on that buzzard!!!

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Phil Great that you saw a Merlin and the shots of the LT Tit is marvellous. Have a good weekend.

Rajesh said...

Beautiful shots of the birds. I love the long tailed tit.

eileeninmd said...

Good Morning, Phil, I am just stopping by to say thank you for linking up and sharing your post! Have a happy weekend!

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

I am not the calibre of birder as the majority of people at Eileen's party so I enjoy seeing a bird such as the merlin you've shared. I'm sure they must be around our rural area and now I know what I'm looking for thanks to your good photo.

sandyland said...

too high for my camera but a great owl at my home entrance these are great

HansHB said...

A beautiful serie of bird-photos!
My WTSpost at: https://hanshb.wordpress.com/

Adam Jones said...

That's a cracking looking Merlin Phil.

Madge Bloom said...

That Long-Tailed Tit is about as cute as cute can be! Thank you, Phil, for coming by sharing your creative photography on the Weekly Top Shot, #168!

Christian Perrin said...

That Merlin looks small but lethal! And yes, the Long-tailed Tit is cute as a button. They were one of my favourite London birds and were surprisingly resilient amongst all the urban development.

Hope you enjoy the warming weather and the increase in outdoors time that brings!

carol l mckenna said...

Beautiful bird photography as always!


Happy Weekend to you,
artmusedog and carol

Marie said...

Each bird so wonderful...merlin and buzzard as raptors; tit as songbird. Such great shots!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Great report...magical indeed!
~

Breathtaking said...

Hello!:) Wonderful series of bird shots. A lovely Long-Tailed Tit capture, and really great shots of the Merlin and Buzzard.

Gunilla Bäck said...

The merlin is gorgeous and I love the flight shot of the buzzard.

Germán Ibarra Zorrilla said...

Bonito post Phil, me ha gustado mucho. Saludos desde España.

Liz Needle said...

Beautiful bird shots. The long tail tit is delightful.

Lmkazmierczak said...

Wow...all are top notch shots♪ http://lauriekazmierczak.com/palmed-orb/

Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Fun to see them all, and actually be outdoors in the pretty sunshine. I had one great day of it- then the rains came back. bah humbug! Your shot of the long tailed tit is awesome. Such a pretty little thing.

mick said...

The little Long-tailed Tit is so cute. I wish I could see some of those other birds - the merlin and the kestrels - I know them best from literature - novels and poems from British authors.

Fun60 said...

What a spectacular sighting of that merlin.

Jane Hards Photography said...

Varied collection, and many I don't get my round my way, more's the pity. The Merlin is a great shot.

Daniel LaFrance said...

The detail of the tit is superb!

NewsVarsha said...

Your masthead is very nice..!

Related Posts with Thumbnails