Monday, December 28, 2015

A Flood Of Fieldfares

Sunday 27th December - a dry, sunny morning. There haven’t been too many Fieldfares in evidence in recent weeks. By mid-winter our hedgerows are more or less devoid of haw berries, a favoured food of the northern thrush. By January Fieldfares feed almost exclusively on the ground and use hedgerows only as a hiding place/escape route when disturbed from searching the ground. 

Out on Pilling Moss I came across a huge flock of 1400 Fieldfares, a necessary approximation of highly mobile birds spread across at least two or three fields. This count is many times the numbers of Fieldfares reported locally in recent weeks. I can only think that the floods of recent days across parts of both Lancashire and Yorkshire had displaced lots of Fieldfares and pushed them west to where our fields are very wet but do not resemble the huge floods of TV news reports. 

Fieldfare

While so many Fieldfares proved difficult to count the sight was one to enjoy, with lots more to see by sticking around the immediate area for a while. Nearby fields and hedgerows plus a particularly good-looking flooded stubble held 150+ Starlings, 100+ Linnets, 80 Skylark, 70+ Chaffinch, 12+ Meadow Pipit, 3 Reed Bunting, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Mistle Thrush and 2 Yellowhammer. By now Starlings can be sporting their spring plumage - a male below.

Starling

Close by were 3 Kestrels - a pair and a single bird. Kestrels mate for life so it is not unusual to see pairs in mid-winter, especially since the shortest day is past and more daylight beckons. Buzzards were about, keeping their usual low and distant profile, leading me to think that at least three were in the immediate area. 

Kestrel

At Cockerham the Linnet flock of late was in the expected place with about 80 birds and a single Stonechat sitting up briefly before doing the usual disappearing trick. Extra today was a single Grey Wagtail and 2 Reed Buntings frequenting the roadside ditch. 

Grey Wagtail

The sunny morning and roadside flood of Fluke Hall was an attraction to both holiday bird watchers and dog walkers; too many of each for my liking. After noting 40+ Skylarks and a good number of Meadow Pipits I turned around and walked the sea wall and then the woodland where a couple more Skylarks and Tree Sparrows knocking around nest boxes enlivened a fairly birdless route. 

It was here that I bumped into a non-birder acquaintance, one who knows his birds and someone in close contact with local shooters. He told me of thousands of Mallards, Teal, Wigeon and Pintail frequenting a huge farmland flood some four or five miles inland. It seems that the sportsmen are kicking their heels in despair that the fields are so deep in water that they are unable to get anywhere close to the wildfowl in order to conduct a mass slaughter. 

It’s an ill wind indeed that doesn’t provide even a smidgeon of good news. 

Log in soon for more news and views soon from Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday and  Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.

22 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, I hope these flood waters have receeding. But, then the flood water maybe saving some of your ducks from being slaughtered. Your images and birds are beautiful. The weather everywhere seems to be crazy lately. We had spring like temps the past week, it is getting colder though.
Happy Birding! I wish you all the best in 2016, Happy New Year!

Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

Wally Jones said...

A pot of coffee and slice (or two) of Gini's wonderful Banana Bread helped me spend a very relaxing morning catching up on your last several posts. I especially enjoyed your last entry and marveled at how many bird species you have encountered this past year. Amazing.

This post was full of birding gems. That's a huge number of Fieldfare! We continue to wish all the best to those adversely affected by flooding. As Eileen pointed out, that dark cloud appears to have a silver lining for the waterfowl. Each of your images was marvelous!

We wish you a Happy New Year filled with birds and peace.

Linda said...

Phil, I truly hope the flood waters have receded! Lovely birds, thank you so much for sharing.

David Gascoigne said...

It's a rather perverse benefit from the floods that birds are forced to concentrate in areas that are still dry - a nice event for the bird watcher though. As for the hunters I hope the ducks are laughing at them.

Fun60 said...

Every cloud has a silver lining as they say.

Gerald (SK14) said...

lovely photo of the grey wagtail

carol l mckenna said...

Gorgeous macro shots of beautiful gems of nature!

Wishing you a Happy New Year,
artmusedog and carol

Arija said...

Beautiful description of your walk and great shots of all the birds.
Wishing you a Happy New Year with wonderful birds all year long!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Yeah, that's almost worth the flood for sure (spoiling the hunt). What a nice bird walk you had. It must have been amazing to see those huge flocks of field fares. It always surprises me when you see just one of a kind though! (That's the way I usually see birds, instead of gazillions ;)!)

Adam Tilt said...

That's a huge number of Fiedfares. Consider me very jealous indeed.

Andrew Fulton said...

Another wonderful post...

Marie C said...

Wonderful seeing so many Fieldfares, and other birds as well.

Stuart Price said...

Wow 1400 Fieldfares! I've only ever seen 1 in Japan, they are sub-mega rarities here. Starlings (the bog standard ones) are also vagrants, they have yet to make my J-list. Grey Wagtails are pretty common and Kestrel is scarce allthough I saw my first of 2015 yesterday in Fact.

Mary Cromer said...

That is sure a whole lot of Fieldfares and what lovely ones they are too. We have been flooded with rain in much of our parts of the world. What strange weather we have had. GRAY for a couple of weeks, high temperatures in the upper 50's to 70 and raining. So much that I was walking a path Sunday and I slid in the mud and have been sore all week. Many have lost their homes and some their lives...sad! Here is hoping that your New Year shall be Happy, and all things that bring you and yours happiness~

Mary Cromer said...

I know that I already commented and yet I just have to say that is one amazing shot of the European Starling as well as all others shared~

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, I can only imagine the sight of seeing the 1400 Fieldfares, sounds awesome. The floods seem to have benefited you with awesome sightings. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Rajesh said...

Very beautiful birds.

carol l mckenna said...

Favorite shot is the Kestrel ~ wonderful bird photography as always!

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year ^_^

Snap said...

You shared some lovely gems with us (birds) and too much water for the hunters -- Yippee! :) Happy Critter Day and Happy New Year!

Anni said...

I'm back to blogging from my 2 week hiatus. Love your photos as always. My favorite today is the top image. Beautiful spotted breast markings.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Congrats on your fieldfare-fest, Phil!

And HAPPY NEW YEAR!
~

Villrose said...

Great photo of the male Fieldfarer!

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