Friday, April 17, 2015

Coming To Rocks Near You

Local birders have been reporting good numbers of Wheatears all week. There have been singles and good sized little gangs of them all along the coast and just inland with as few as one or two or up to 20 together. With the help of the trusty mealworms I decided to spend the afternoon on the Pilling patch to try and locate more Wheatears and maybe catch, ring and measure a few.

Mealworms

Near the sea wall at Fluke Hall was a gang of 7 or 8 Wheatears, all of bright colouring, large in stature and also highly mobile in their search for food. The rocks and stones of the sea wall have lots of crevices, nook and crannies where insects abound and where the high boulders provide great vantage points from which to survey the scene. The barbed wire fence and posts provide additional places to keep a lookout. 

Wheatear

Wheatear

Within a minute I’d caught a large handful of a second-year female, one with a wing and weight of 100mm and 26gms respectively. The measurements immediately put her into the category of a “Greenland” type. I released her and she re-joined the other members of the gang by now some 50 yards west and heading towards Knott End. 

Wheatear

I walked towards Pilling Water and where as a contrast to the Wheatear of Spring were 700+ Pink-footed Geese feeding on the marsh, still reluctant to head north to Iceland. A Buzzard flew from the wood and like me headed towards Pilling Water. It was about 1300 hours when a handful of Swallows arrived from the south and headed directly north across Morecambe Bay - diurnal migration in action. 

Lapwings alerted me to something wrong. There was a Stoat carrying a tiny mammal, probably a vole, and running across the ploughed field which holds a couple of Lapwing nests. The Lapwings weren’t happy. The Stoat ran down into a wet ditch carrying the prey and disappeared from view.  

Memo to self for later Googling - do Stoats eat their prey immediately? In mid to late April would they have the customary 6-10 kittens waiting for food in a nearby den? 

Stoat

There was a Kestrel and 2 Little Egrets at Pilling Water and not much else save for a few Linnets and a single Wheatear moving up and down the usual line of rocks. This Wheatear wasn’t so easy and gave me the run-a-round for a while until succumbing to temptation. Being quite grey on the mantle and crown and with wing and weight of 97mm and 22.4 respectively I suspect it was a second year male nominate Oenanthe oenanthe. But birds in the hand can be deceiving, even more so at large in the field. 

Best to let the experts out there decide next time they spot those Wheatears clambering over the rockery. 

Wheatear

Please join Another Bird blog soon. There’s sure to be more rocking and rolling with Wheatears.

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

24 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

the wheatears are striking birds!

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a great outing, Phil! I like the Stoat. But, I hope the Lapwing eggs are safe.. Great photos and post. Happy weekend!

Linda said...

What a great outing, Phil, beautiful wildlife, too!

eileeninmd said...

Hi Phil, just stopping back to say Thank you so much for linking up, have a happy weekend!

Liz Needle said...

You had a really interesting day. I love the wheatings - such pretty little birds. The stoat is a handsome fellow too.

NC Sue said...

Our bluebirds go nuts for mealworms!
I hope you'll come link up your lovely bird photos at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/04/cat-on-ladder.html

thewovenspoke said...

Very pretty birds, great post.

carol l mckenna said...

Beautiful bird photography ~ Love the stoat one! Great!

Happy Weekend,
artmusedog and carol

Britta said...

wau, beautiful bird photos!
happy weekend
greetings from hamburg
Britta

Joyful said...

Wonderful series!

Adam Jones said...

Cracking Wheatear Phil. Managed my first ones last week, but only managed to photograph them this week. Real good birds.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

They are beautiful birds .. You got quite a workout getting to them. I think the stoat is a very interesting little guy and enjoyed that picture a lot as well.

Thank you so much for the expert information on duck ID... I hope I get lots of chances to practice what I learned soon.

Sheila at WolfSongBlog.Com said...

Great post and photos. Thanks for sharing the details about measuring these birds and from thT data you can tell where they are from. I have never seen a Wheatear. Happy Birding from another birder.

Stewart M said...

Great post.

I tried to use some freeze dried meal-worms and the birds in my garden rejected them! Maybe live ones are better.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Anni said...

First....,are those LIVE worms?!!! The mealworms I have in my feeders are dried. And so far, only the sparrows enjoy 'em.

Great read again Phil...love the birds and your capturing ... and then, the stoat. They're cute as can be, but with the look on it's face, probably a bit menacing to the birds around. And to read their offspring are called 'kitten'...


I appreciate you sharing the link to this post for I'd Rather B Birdin'. Have a super week ahead!! Oh.......AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

victoria said...

Maravillosa entrada!!Amo a los animalitos son seres de Dios!!

Besitos

David Gascoigne said...

A very interesting nature blog, Phil. In the first picture I thought that you were holding your lunch!

Gunilla Bäck said...

Beautiful photos, Phil! The stoat is a pretty animal.

Marie C said...

The wheatears are such lovely birds, and I am glad you were able to attract so many! They always look so content when you are handling them! Great encounter too with the stoat...loved the photo of his curious gaze.

Mary Cromer said...

Oh those beautiful Wheatears, so lovely each of them are. I use Meal worms for my little Box turtle. Have you ever used the dehydrated kind to feed birds? Mine love it in the feeders. The little Stoat is once again delightful to see. Happy week Phil and I hope you enjoyed your birthday~

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Beautiful birds!

mick said...

Beautiful birds and very interesting to see the differences in plumage color between the two birds.

marga said...

Muy simpático el Armiño :)

Powell River Books said...

I used to raise meal worms to feed my horned toad and lizard pets. - Margy

Related Posts with Thumbnails