Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Pleasant Interlude

Sometimes I make a good choice, like this morning after watching the weather forecast then deciding to go for a swim to postpone birding until later. I can recommend going for a swim as being as therapeutic as birding, but maybe not as stressful as birding when I read the web later to see the things I missed whilst counting lengths instead of waders.

Today’s timing also meant I would grab another good tidal flow at Pilling about 2pm then still be home in time to gain a few Brownie points – perfect.

From the car park at Lane Ends I fought against the still strong westerly along the sea wall towards my well worn spot of grass above the dyke to see it taken by a stranger, a young man. Immediately I noticed he travelled light, without binoculars, just the essential equipment, telescope, telephone and pager. Anyone that knows me can vouch my sociability, my eagerness to help other birders and to share information. Nonetheless and not wishing to make assumptions, I sat down next to him, whereupon he seemed a competent birder as we found bits and bobs.

We shared our counts, our observations. Waders were very scarce again today with Redshank coming in at less than 20, two Dunlin , two Golden Plover, one Greenshank two Snipe, eight Knot and 125 Lapwing, how strange on such a fairly high tide.

Lots of wildfowl today with 800+Teal, 300 Pintail, 450 Wigeon, 10 Red-breasted Merganser, 35 Greylag Goose and 120 Pink-footed Goose but I have doubts about the origins of some wildfowl on the marsh given the proximity of game hatcheries nearby.



A handful of Swallows appeared over the marsh as the incoming tide pushed several Skylark up also but I didn’t count a single Meadow Pipit today, presumably those from the previous days moved on for us to await the next wave.

Concentrating on my count was getting difficult as the pager beeped, the phone rang and the conversation became more bizarre, ever more fractured and difficult to eavesdrop, something about “booted”, then “dunge”, “today” and “unfeathered tarsi”. I put two and two together and got four. An unidentified raptor at Dungeness was possibly a Booted Eagle, and even though unfeathered tarsi were a handicap, not least to the poor bird, could we get there today? Naturally I hung about for a while in the hope of cadging a lift from my new found friend, but I suspect I could not afford to pay his phone bill, never mind chip in to charter a plane today.



When my pal disappeared to search elsewhere for exotic fare I decided to walk towards Fluke and maybe a few photographs. Up here the tide filled the creeks to reveal seven Little Egrets, my best count at Pilling this year. As usual they tolerate each other’s company just so far but if one strays into the wrong feeding territory it is seen off pretty smartly.



The juvenile female Peregrine seen earlier was now joined by a second much smaller bird and they proceeded to “beat up” in unison the assembled wildfowl, one in particular paying attention to Teal. They both went hungry for now, but I do wonder sometimes if their interaction is just sibling based or whether the hunting of one draws a second and sometimes third into joining in?

So today’s competition is Spot the Peregrine. Mark the spot on the photograph where you think the Peregrine is – the winner gets a month’s free pager messages.



On the way back to the car park I noted two Wheatear leapfrogging me up and down the tideline.

All in all a nice afternoon’s birding with free entertainment thrown in.

2 comments:

Pete Woodruff said...

I don't want the free months pager messages as the PF is far to easy to pick out......but what about the Med Gull ahead of it Phil.

Enjoyed you account of the days swimming/birding and hope you achieved your Brownie Points when you got home too.

Phil said...

Thanks for your support Pete. I said it was a poor shot, so much so that it is a Black-headed Gull disguised as a Med, zoom it up a bit.
Got the points, for today anyway.

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