Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sitting in the sun

Firstly, fulsome apologies for the punctuation mistakes in my last post. What with “HTML”, “Compose”, “Edit”, “Publish” etc, not to mention the cutting and pasting, it is a miracle there were any words on the page. I am of the generation that learnt by rote the twelve times table and the intricacies of full stops, commas and the wonders of s’, ‘s, and even s’s, therefore there is really no excuse is there? Nowadays many people don’t bother with punctuation, spelling or grammar. I heard it is possible to take a GCSE in mobile ‘phone texting? Or maybe it is one of the Daily Mail’s stories I picked up while scrutinizing the Co-op’s newspaper section as I waited an hour or two for Sue queuing at the their checkout.

Bird wise today was better. I spent a pleasant hour or two watching the tide roll over Preesall sands with the sun and a warm breeze on my back. Swallows were on the move if not in staggering numbers then upwards of a hundred came flying low, feeding over the sands, then headed over the wall, general direction due south.

Today the Oystercatchers headed east towards the Fluke roost and I counted more than 2850 fly that way before I left. Mixed groups of Dunlin and Ringed Plover dashed about, the Dunlin outnumbering the plovers about five to one. So if I counted 250 Dunlin, using simple division and your 5 x table, I’m sure you can work out the rest. A few dozen or so Golden Plover tried to hide amongst the 300 Lapwing, unlike the two score plus Grey Plover that eventually joined some resting Oystercatcher. The rising tide flushed a handful of Snipe and feeding Starling from the green marsh.

The filling tide also brought in about 70 Sandwich Terns from the west and they too mostly went towards the higher marsh at Fluke Hall.

I later joined Chris further along the wall who had relocated his regular Yellow–legged Gull amongst the usual mob of gulls, and just then a small Sparrowhawk came from the Fluke direction flushing gulls, waders and passerines, revealing up to 50 Linnets and a couple of Goldfinch that otherwise fed unobtrusively among the marsh debris.

Later in the day I bumped along the moss lanes to a farm to ring Barn Owls. A bit late in the season I know as by now we all look forward to autumn migration, tending to think of the breeding season as ended, but there they were, two young Barn Owls in the box.

Naturally any Barn Owls I or my colleagues check, ring or photograph are covered by the necessary Schedule 1 permits. In fact, were we to “mess” with Schedule 1 species lacking the correct permissions and paperwork, in contravention of the law and disregarding the bird welfare that the Schedule 1 system offers, we would get a well deserved “rocket” from the BTO and possibly endanger our Ringing Permits as a whole.

It’s very distressing to hear of the bad behaviour of inexperienced, uncaring or those bird watchers who choose to ignore the law designed to protect birds, whether near Manchester or nearer to home in the Fylde. Perhaps if their frenzied obsession was directed initially towards a real interest in and study of birds rather than collecting ticks, listing and twitching we could later expect a better understanding of such real issues? In the meantime perhaps those shown or known to be involved in inappropriate behaviour should be named, shamed and where possible, prosecuted?

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