There was snow this morning. Looking north over Morecambe Bay it was obvious the Lakeland hills had taken a hit. Down here on the Fylde coast I was thankful the white stuff had barely coated the roads.
There's Snow In Them Thar Hills
I stopped off at Cockerham’s weedy field to see that the recent Linnet flock still numbers circa 120, and although there was no sign of Stonechats, there were 2 Reed Buntings.
There was a Kestrel near the farm buildings with four wildfowler’s cars parked up, the occupants already ensconced out on the marsh but the geese flying high above the guns and out of range. Many geese must have circled and then dropped back near the sea wall because less than a mile away at Sand Villa/Braides were upwards of 1500 geese feeding in fields immediately behind the embankment.
At Braides Farm the extensive flood held several hundred each of Lapwings, Golden Plovers and Starlings and alongside the seaward path a Buzzard on the distant fence.
It had been many weeks of rain and bluster since my last visit to Conder Green where by all accounts the pool would be full to overflowing. So it was, with the almost submerged islands and the broad sweep of deep water holding 38 Wigeon, 6 Little Grebe, 35 Lapwing, 3 Snipe, a single Goldeneye and 30 or more Teal. Many more Teal were in the nearby creeks to give a respectable total nearer to 140 of our smallest dabbling duck. There was no sign of the recently reported and wintering Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper, hidden from view today in the meandering creeks.
A few bits and pieces enlivened the railway bridge walk. Namely - 2 Pied Wagtail, a single Rock Pipit, a singing Greenfinch accompanied by a second bird, a Reed Bunting and 8+ Chaffinch around the car park/café. How strange it seems that the once abundant Greenfinch is now so scarce that a sighting of a single one should be both noted and applauded.
I parked up at Glasson Dock with a count of 1 Grey Heron, 15 Tufted Duck, 8 Cormorant and 15 Goldeneye, 13 males and 2 females. A couple of the Goldeneye whistled overhead and out to the Lune estuary. The whistling sound of a Goldeneye’s wings in flight is quite unique and the reason why North American shooters in particular call the species “The Whistler”.
Now here’s a question for all the bird experts lurking out in blogosphere. And let’s face it there are lots ready to pounce, as anyone who sweats blood and tears to produce a regular blog while inviting comments will testify.
Why do male Goldeneyes cruise mob handed around our winter waters? OK, by looking carefully you may find a dowdy looking female sailing on the far edge of the eye-catching black & white jamborees, but the general impression is that guys rule and don’t they know it. In fact the reason for the mostly all-male gatherings involves that old fashioned word “courtship”. (Readers below the age of forty might wish to consult a dictionary).
Goldeneyes indulge in communal courtship where gangs of males with one or two females in attendance are a precurser to the male Goldeneyes’ elaborate displays designed to snare a willing member of the opposite sex. These presentations include much throwing, shaking and stretching of the head and neck together with over-egged wing fluttering. As we near the end of winter the elaborate but highly ritualised displays should begin any day now.
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Linking today to Anni's Birding and Eileen's Saturday Blog.