Sallie, a regular reader of Another Bird Blog, gave me a bit of a telling off the other day via a comment. “Was made green with envy when you reported "nothing much of note ..." Except for what I counted as over 100 birds, several of which would be amazing lifers for me! Count your blessings as well as your birds !!”
Sallie is absolutely right of course that birders are often blasé about the birds and the birding experiences they enjoy on a very regular basis. I own up to a somewhat casual approach occasionally but do also realise I am lucky to have the time and wherewithal to indulge my passion by bird watching, bird ringing and even a little bird photography. Not everyone is so fortunate. So I set off birding this morning determined to be positive, impressed and alert to everything I saw, even down to the most routine or mundane.
There was a brilliant start with a hunting Barn Owl. I pulled into a roadside gateway to check the road ahead which I knew to be a regular beat of an owl. And there one was in the half-light of dawn circuiting the fields and roadside some 200 yards away. There was no traffic so I switched the headlights to “off” and crawled in second gear to where the owl was. The owl was so engrossed in hunting that the car’s presence didn’t appear to trouble it except that it flew directly over once or twice. This was one of the two young Barn Owls I saw a week or more ago and I hope that the other has not met an untimely death as young Barn Owls often do. More likely is that the youngsters have now gone their separate ways as they must do - I hope so.
I was on my way to Conder Green and Glasson Dock where three or four hours of determined birding resulted in a fine list of birds. It’s a great place to go birding because of the wonderful mix of habitats - marsh, shore, both fresh and saline water, woodland, and even a spot of industrial thrown into the mix.
The Lancaster Canal - Conder to Glasson
2015 may be remembered as one of the worst ever for breeding birds but will surely be remembered as one which gave almost daily sightings of our spectacular UK Common Kingfisher. “Common” was the operative word this autumn with a guaranteed bird, occasionally two together on almost every visit here and to other local birding spots. Today was no exception as a Kingfisher was almost the first bird I saw at Conder Green. This particular bird is not especially cooperative to the photographer; perhaps because of the attention the busy spot receives by people eager to see the often elusive but beautiful Kingfisher. Who can blame them?
The tidal creeks here at Conder Green remain the major focus as they always have a varied selection of waders to search through, together with numbers of Teal and Mallard. There’s a constant but sometimes subtle change in both numbers and species caused by the twice-a-day tides and mostly human, but sometimes raptor induced disturbance.
Today’s count gave 44 Redshank, 33 Lapwing, 6 Curlew, 3 Snipe, 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Oystercatcher, 40 Teal, 22 Mallard, 2 Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron.
On the pool I located 7 Little Grebe and the newcomer of a Great Crested Grebe, almost certainly the same one of a day or two ago that sailed on the yacht basin at Glasson half a mile away.
Visible migration has been thin this autumn and so unremarkable that noteworthy today were single calls overhead of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin, both of which found their way into my notebook. A couple of calls of Meadow Pipits overhead also pointed to migrating birds. Two Ravens above distant trees and fields were almost certainly of local origin as the species now breeds not too far away.
My walk along the towpath and old railway line found two Chiffchaff, one in stuttering and brief song, the other by way of its slurred contact call. I failed to find the recent flock of up to 100 Goldfinch but made do with a smaller flock of 18 Linnets and eventually located a dozen or so flighty Goldfinch plus a couple of Greenfinch.
The population of our once abundant Greenfinch remains low, not helped by the abysmal summer of 2015, so each sighting of even one or two birds is worthy of a note.
So ended four hours of productive and enjoyable bird watching. What could be better?
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