Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Present And Correct

This is getting to be a habit from my travels, reporting an absence of species. Last week it was a scarcity of Swallows, a blog story that struck a chord with more than one reader. Today was the absence of our UK Common Kestrel a lack of which caused me to think back to the number seen in recent months. The answer was “very few”. 

Driving over Stalmine Moss I passed a farm that is a traditional Kestrel location. Sure enough there was a single Kestrel on duty and sure enough, as this one always does, it flew off over the farm buildings as soon as the car slowed to a stop. I know of at least four or five locations in Pilling/Stalmine and Cockerham where there might be Kestrels, and at this time of the year, evidence of breeding in the form of flying youngsters. This year there are none, giving one more reason to worry about the state of our local bird populations. After all, maybe it’s important that birders should note the birds and the numbers they see but also vital to report what they don’t see when they are normally present and correct?

Kestrel

Many local farms are taking a long overdue cut of their crop of silage. Silage is made either by placing cut green vegetation in a silo or pit, by piling it in a large heap and compressing it down so as to leave as little oxygen as possible and then covering it with a plastic sheet, or by wrapping large round bales tightly in plastic film. The fermented silage is later used to feed the many sheep and cattle which crowd the fields in this area. I found a few potato fields in recent days but the rearing of sheep and cattle for supermarkets or export is widespread. This is both easier and more financially rewarding for farmers than growing labour intensive, time consuming and weather dependent spuds or carrots. In this part of Lancashire it now unusual, even rare, to see a field of crops other than grass. This all-encompassing grass monoculture has a damaging effect upon wildlife as a whole, and not just birds. 

 Silage

As I passed Crimbles I slowed to note 450+ Curlews feeding in a field cut just yesterday, the waders taking advantage of the still soft ground and short sward. Had I stopped the car rather than slowed the always shy Curlew would have flown over the sea wall and back to the marsh just 50 yards away. 

Curlew

At Conder Green the Avocet pair has a single well-grown young but the Common Terns appear to have left. The single Common Tern I later noted at Glasson Dock flew across to the River Lune rather than follow the canal back to Conder Green. 

Also on Conder Pool/creeks - a single Green Sandpiper again, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Stock Dove, 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Teal, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Little Egret, 15+ House Martin, 4 Swift. 

Lapwing

Little Grebe

At Glasson was evidence of a post-breeding gathering of Swallows with 70+ congregated around the assembled boats where they rested on the masts and rigging in between bouts of hawking insects over the water. 

Glasson Dock

Otherwise was a single Common Tern, 1 Grey Heron, 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Pied Wagtail and a further 8+ Swift hawking over the dock buildings and the village itself. 

Grey Heron

Tufted Duck

 Lesser Black-backed Gull

I’d enjoyed a useful couple of hours birding but now the other “b” my life beckoned in the form of babysitting. 

More birding soon with Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to World Bird Wednesday.



21 comments:

Stuart Price said...

One thing I notice when I go back to the UK these days: Kestrels seem to have been replaced by Buzzards as the motorway raptor...........

Charlie Bowman said...

For a long time and until very recently there frequently used to be a Kestrel hunting above the abandoned field at the junction of Shard Road/Lane and Bull Park Lane roundabout. There are still crops being grown in one field on Shard Road, maize at the moment, but otherwise yes, it seems nowadays to be silage all the way.

Linda said...

They are all beautiful birds, Phil, and I especially love the pretty patterns on the Kestrel's wings.

Adam Jones said...

I'm fortunate to live were Kestrels best each year, and like you say Phil, the young are at present taking to the air. Only two this year though, when they had three last year. Maybe a sign of lack of food or the effects of the farming industry as you say. Very sad to see the decline though. I have noticed it in other areas where they are usually abundant.

Lowcarb team member said...

Just catching up with reading your posts Phil ...
Farming and the changes it has seen over the years must, and does, have an effect on the natural world - and not always for the better!

Once again you've shared some wonderful photo's.

All the best Jan

David Gascoigne said...

The situation with Kestrels is mirrored here in North America. It used to be a very common bird perched on wires but it has become a semi-rarity. And the same behaviour pattern you describe, Phil, manifests itself here, and the moment you stop the car to attempt a picture the bird is gone. Your comments about reporting absences is well taken. I have been involved in many surveys over the years and I was taught from the very beginning that what is not there is equally worthy of noting as what is there.

Modesto Viegas said...

Very good post, as usual...
Regards.

Kristi Bowman said...

Love them all!! Great shot of the Kestrel, I've only see one once, I'd love to get a wonderful picture like that. :)

Christine Wenger said...

These are so beautiful photos and a lot of information! Today I'm also birding in Lithuania at the Curonian spit birding. Have a great weekend!

Christine Wenger said...

A second try: The photos are beautiful and the post is very informative! Today I'm also birding in Lithuania at the Curonian spit. Have a great weekend!

Fun60 said...

Beautiful reflection of the dock.

June Caedmon said...

Wonderful captures, Phil. I'm sorry to hear about the declining numbers. Anyone offering any clue as to the why? Something more specific than just "global change"

Jim said...

Love the Silage shot.

Joyful said...

Fantastic shots!

HOOTIN ANNI said...

I mentioned the very same dilemma of lack of hummingbirds in our area this past Fall Migration and again in the Spring. Only a dozen or so have been reported seen. On the other hand, the year prior to 2015/16 migration we had 'em by the 1000s. Now, an expert I was talking with a couple months ago about my questioning the lack of, he said a lot of it has to do with wind patterns of their migration flight...and that at times the 'experts' say that they know where the food is by instinct and follow a certain pattern once the 'food' is scarce in other flight patterns. I do NOT know if any of this is true, but it makes sense. Who knows.

Enjoyed viewing your photos Phil.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I was paying more attention to numbers in this post and the one above, which I'd seen earlier but apparently hadn't noticed the number of curlews -- 700! Amazing. I loved the owl flight shots in that post and the kestrel in this one is just beautiful -- well of course all your pictures are as always. Those were just the best of the best for me.

carol l mckenna said...

Gorgeous bird photography and love the hay roles and the dock ~ Delightful!

Wishing you a Happy Week ~ ^_^

mick said...

Beautiful plumage pattern on the Kestrel but of course for me the best is the Curlew. Wonderful to see so many all together. The one that comes down here - the Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) is decreasing in numbers every year and has been on the list of critically endangered for some time. All great photos.

Bill Nicholls said...

Don't know about you but round here you can sit & watch the kites swooping after the mice when the cut the silage. Never seen a Kestrel close up

Bill Nicholls said...

Never seen a kestrel close up plenty hovering. Round here you can watch the kites swooping on the mice after they cut the grass for silage.

Lea said...

Beautiful birds!

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