The Pilling morning air looked cold and grey. It was, and for a while I had to wear a pair of lightweight gloves reserved for such Springtime emergencies. With just a few hours to spare before domestic duties I gave the birding all I had without too much success.
Feeding below the sea wall I found 2 Wheatears and a little further along discovered the Linnet flock of late comprising by now some 100+ individuals. We birders tend not to think of the Linnet as a migrant species but in the Autumn many disappear to the south of England, France and Spain for the winter months and then reappear rather late in the Spring, often into May and in the small flocks associated with Autumn. Once here they soon get on with the breeding season and one pair of birds is quite capable of rearing 3 broods of youngsters before summer is out.
In the now slightly flooded field were 15 Meadow Pipits and a pair of Pied Wagtails. From a distance the single bird perched up on grass and bramble stems looked like a Reed Bunting, and as I walked closer and heard it call I realised it was a Corn Bunting, the bigger relative of the Reed Bunting. It has not been the best winter for seeing Corn Buntings and this was actually my first of the year. It flew off across the field in the direction of Pilling village and the mosslands beyond where a few pairs survive the unintentional cull of recent years.
Around Fluke Hall the several Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs of my last visit were silent except for 1 “chiffy”. The recent ones were clearly migrants which quickly move on elsewhere and to be honest I’m not sure how many of each nests here but maybe one pair of each at most. As I circumnavigated the woodland edge the Buzzard pair saw me arrive and both birds flew off calling. There is a pair of Great-spotted Woodpeckers nesting and their alarm calls said they had seen the intruder too. A Kestrel flew from the usual trees by the nestbox, and I mostly see the male now because the female will be sat tight. There was a single Stock Dove in the trees and at least 20 Woodpigeons still feeding as a loose flock in the nearby stubble field.
The light was so grey I couldn’t get a picture of a Mistle Thrush at the top of a nearby tree, and then just along the road a minute or two later it or its mate was busily feeding amongst a recently ploughed field.
There was no time for a walk towards Pilling Water, my limited time was up, but in the distance and flying out to the marsh I could see and hear a goodish flock of about 400 wintering Pink-footed Geese. The weather’s a lot warmer this afternoon. Omens of a better tomorrow for Another Bird Blog?