Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Final Push?

In the absence of any promise for migrant weather “The Plan” was to go sheltered garden ringing this morning where at least there would be a healthy population of Chaffinch, Nuthatch, thrushes and hopefully one or two Grey Wagtail. But although the forecast said 13 mph westerly, I’m afraid that optimism again got the better of me. Whilst watching my marker trees outside the front window sway around at 20mph dropping early leaves, a few hurried text messages and phone calls led to postponing the ringing and adopting Plan B. The only problem was I didn’t have a Plan B, and in the absence of any blue sky I went for a swim again.

As the sky brightened towards lunch time I fancied some quiet time so took myself over Stalmine Moss then via Pilling Moss to my destination Rawcliffe Moss taking care not to test out the recommended 30mph limit over the narrow switchback route. After all it’s only the tractors that have a remit to do thirty and probably best that motorists don’t pick an argument with a loaded John Deere, or try to emulate their speed with the attendant risk of sliding 12 foot into a roadside ditch.

There were plenty of drying bales around the fields with several Kestrels waiting for foolish voles to show; I even saw a Grey Heron adopt similar tactics by stalking purposefully around the packaged grass.

It was about 1pm just as the greyness thinned more that I noticed the Swallows, a definite drift south of several individuals, then a loose party of forty or fifty, then more, all travelling south west; low over the dry fields but also higher but all going eventually in the same direction and I watched them for a while, arriving, feeding, circling then leaving to the west. I had seen a few Swallows around isolated farms on my journey there, but these were different, surely the almost final push south I thought as I simultaneously scribbled “300+ SWALL” in my notebook.

On a recently harvested potato field I counted 140 Lapwings picking through the perfectly disturbed ground and a party of 150 Starlings swirling around, brown against the black of the peaty soil. Corvids were plenty, mainly Crows but also the beginnings of Jackdaw numbers. Both of them worth watching of course, if only to reveal the whereabouts of the local Buzzards, who as usual kept their distance a wood or two away whilst being ambushed by the black gangsters. Hidden in the field were Skylarks, just a few but welcome to see all the same and soon they will appear in numbers, just like the Mipits will.

Close to the farm buildings where there are evergreens, six Jays flew across to a nearby conifer copse whilst a couple of Pied Wagtails searched around the machinery fresh from the day’s work. Perhaps we are due a Jay year?

A pretty quiet couple of hours then and a short report, but as usual the enjoyment is not necessarily in the quantity, certainly not in the so called quality, it’s just in the taking part.

1 comment:

Pete Woodruff said...

The six Jay are interesting Phil as JB and I had three over Conder Pool this morning noted in my book as 'unusual' so maybe I should second your 'Perhaps we are due a Jay year'.

By the way in your last post 'A Pleasant Interlude' how come I've never recognised your 'social attitude'. Don't want to fall out you understand Phil!

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