Monday, August 17, 2009

Why did I bother?

If there is one word above all that describes birders and ringers my vote would go to “optimistic”. What else can explain why I went out birding this morning in a raging north westerly, rain clouds threatening?

I did one of my usual routes. Fluke, Lane Ends then Broadfleet, aka Pilling Water as the older locals insist on to calling it so as to confuse the grockles and birders they don’t recognise. Over Wyre folk can be very contrary when they want.

Along Fluke Hall Lane redlegs scattered in front of my car just in time to save their skins for the Guns of HiFly in a few weeks time. I can’t imagine how many Red-legged Partridge they released here but my best description of the numbers at one place would be “swarm”. Those chaps spend an awful lot of time and money making sure they have plenty to shoot at but I must say the game cover is so good it makes birding those fields difficult until the crops at least are cut. That is not a complaint, just an observation, because if I go along the sea wall from Lane Ends I no longer turn east to find birds as I sometimes did, but now always west. If you look at the fields heading east up to the River Cocker they are a sheep infested, barren, birdless, wasteland in comparison to the fields under stewardship near Fluke. Unlike many birders who expect their pastime for free, the shooting fraternity invest cash, hard work and lots of time in ensuring they can pursue a hobby, then by default we birders and the birds get the benefit of the habitat they create and maintain.

The fields closest to Fluke Hall were one of the few places I saw young Lapwings this year. I noticed the adult Lapwings took immediately to the newly ploughed fields in May and whilst I didn’t see many young, there were a few, unlike the opposite end of the old reclaimed marsh. I hear that plans are afoot to reintroduce good habitat near the River Cocker. Let’s hope it comes to pass and I can go Lapwing finding again.

West of Fluke a few local hirundines fought against the wind trying not to venture beyond the sea wall to be simply blown in again. I sympathised, sticking to the Ridge Farm track where the usual half a dozen Tree Sparrows hung about expectantly for Bob’s handouts. Not yet lads, be patient. A few Linnets and Goldfinch trying to avoid the worst gusts scuttled over my head before diving into the hedge. I gave up and moved on to Lane Ends.

Lane Ends car park was deserted save for the usual assorted cockerels abandoned there by misguided animal lovers. If ever we needed a friendly fox, the time is now. Not even the Red Indians were around this morning i.e. the chief and his squaw in the painted camper van who have taken to spending the odd night in the car park. I wonder if they know they will need more than bows and arrows to repel some of the cowboys who visit Lane Ends these days. None of the locals will warn them, best to let the campers find out for themselves during the first warm long night.

A lonely Willow Warbler “hoo-eeted” from a sheltered corner near the reedy ditch but otherwise, apart from the resident Woodpigeons and Woolworths Pick n Mix Mallards there was little to watch.

Again, birders are a resilient lot so I battled on to Pilling Water where I just know that one day soon I will find a first for Britain if not Europe, but not today as a brightly clad jogger beat me along the top. The Little Egret huddled in the creek as ever forlornly waiting for better company than the Common Sandpiper flicking over the still water. Where are all the Little Egrets this year? Must be the aftermath of the first cold winter they endured since the population explosion after the millennium, so they are vulnerable to something after all. Ah, a Wheatear also but a pretty poor show this year both spring and autumn. I managed to catch one of the few I saw in spring, but this autumn I left the traps unset at the prospect of the long odds on offer.

The Greylag numbers build up as they seem to like the location and although I didn’t see the 300+ as in recent weeks it all bodes well for creating a bit of fun and confusion come September and “pinkie” time.

At least my friends the House Martins and Swallows were around if only in small numbers but I couldn’t detect any vis mig this morning. No doubt it happened later in the morning after I returned home to a warming coffee.

1 comment:

Pete Woodruff said...

An interesting read Phil, keep it up as I have managed to do so far, but time will tell if I really continue to much longer.

Interesting you regarded this years spring show of Wheatear as 'poor' when I recorded what I referred to in my book as 'an amazing' 22 birds on the sea defences behind Fluke Hall on 14 April, my best ever number of the species at one sighting.

Good Birding


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