Monday, September 14, 2009

A quiet start.......

....but it got a little better, and if optimism is the essential prime quality that bird watchers need, then perseverance is surely a close second. It was very clear again this morning, in fact both clear and cold, probably too much of both I thought as I took the sea wall west from Fluke Hall and felt the northerly draught.

Absolutely no “vis” at all, the half a dozen grounded Meadow Pipits I saw were probably left over from Sunday and showed no inclination to head south. A nice flock of 55 Goldfinch hung around the sea wall feeding on seed heads, as did a smaller flock of c 18 Linnets but the two species didn’t mix today. A group of 5 Snipe appeared from the fields south but flew north out over the marsh then out of sight. As usual the Lapwings stuck to the green marsh but I did see 3 Dunlin together with several Redshank amongst them this morning. I turned off at Ridge Farm to “do” the tracks and hedges. Again, zero apart from the ticking Robins. I stopped to watch a flock of about 50 Woodpigeons in a weedy field where I knew that with them I would find a number of Stock Dove trying to look inconspicuous by melting into the grey and white of the woodies. I was right, eight Stock Doves.

I started to think about Woodpigeons and how they are one of those species that aren’t really rated by birders. Too common, too big, too ugly, not rare or unusual, an agricultural pest even. Actually they are a pretty good looking, hugely successful bird and if I kept a list I would be happy to include Woodpigeon on it. Just look at the photo, isn’t that a corker of a bird?

Of course some people say they are pretty good to eat but Woodpigeon is not on my eating list either. Which reminds me of a birder, Doug, I met at Long Point Observatory Canada who had the ultimate list – Birds he had eaten, which naturally included many North American warblers. This eccentricity came to light when he showed an unhealthy interest in a freshly dead Myrtle Warbler (now Yellow–rumped Warbler) found under an obs window. Well I suppose he was in most respects a recycling pioneer.

The Yellow- rumped Warbler courtesy of

Further away I heard the crows what I call “grunting”, that alarm call they use when coming across a raptor, even Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. But this morning it was the Buzzard that provoked their distrust as it flew briefly over the trees at Fluke before settling back somewhere into the canopy. I looked again from the wall at Fluke and in the direction of Cockerham noted a Little Egret right at the edge of the marsh.

I travelled up to Lane Ends, not stopping, just glancing left because as yet all the fields are either dry or uncut.

How often do we say that birding is just as much about listening as much as looking? Just through the gate, I didn’t need to look to know that a couple of Little Grebes were managing to survive in among the masses of ”Mallards” on the west pool duck brothel. Neither was it necessary to look for the Jays, just enough to hear their raucous screeches, garrulous they sure are.

The morning had been cool, cloudy and not especially warm, just enough to deter the dog walkers from disturbing Pilling Water but instead staying in with a hot coffee or denying Fido the usual walk until later in the day. On the stones were a couple of juvenile Wheatears and five Meadow Pipits, again not migrants but refugees from an earlier day. But I’d saved the best for last and found 24 Black-tailed Godwit on the pool together with a Kingfisher that flew calling between here and the channel below the sluice gate.

You really don't want to see my pictures of Black-tailed Godwit from 500 yards on a cloudy morning so I'll sign off with a shot from Knott End last night.

Better luck tomorrow.

1 comment:

Fleetwood Birder said...

I remember listening to a fairly heated conversation between Doug and Jon at Long Point. A member of the public had brought in a freshly killed male Cerulean Warbler that had hit the window of her holiday cottage. Jon wanted to ad it to the obs's skins collection and Doug wanted to eat it as it was an eating tick! If you remember he cooked all the birds the same; no herbs, just a knob of butter and fried in a pan! He once had a kebab of 8 American Warblers!

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