Thursday, October 15, 2009

Action Replay

A six thirty start may not seem that early but it does mean getting up at 0530 in time to load the car with poles, nets, ringing box, wellies and other essentials, not to mention fill the flask with coffee. At least I still have a thermos this year despite my long standing history of destroying them by either dropping from a great height onto a hard surface or filling them with very boiling water. The latter proves quite an interesting half awake early morning experiment on the laws of physics but doesn’t make for a very good cup of coffee.

Anyway the mental check list was duly ticked to meet Will at the prescribed time at Rawcliffe Moss again in order to erect nets in darkness in preparation for the dawn thrushes. The fog was there, more or less as promised by Diane on North West Tonight and sundry web sites, but undeterred we had gambled on a quick warm up dispersing the clouds.

Through the mist Will heard the first Redwings at 0735, then soon after we caught the first of two from a little party of six. Redwing groups arrived on and off until 1030 when we packed in, by which time we had counted a total of 85 that arrived from all compass directions after being disorientated by the fog. Other migrant thrushes were 2 Fieldfare and 1 Song Thrush plus several Blackbirds.

It was the first Redwing that made me realise I had forgotten my camera; so much for the carefully planned routine and infallible preparation as I tried to recall suitable expletives. So whilst the photos aren’t exactly today’s, the species are applicable.

The overhead murk almost cleared once or twice with just the occasional hint of blue promising better things as through it all we counted as much as we could see and hear, but no doubt missed a lot with such poor visibility:

Snipe, 18 over in various directions
Woodpigeon, 200+ over and around
Tree Sparrow, 3 over as distinct from the 90 or so at the feeding station further down the farm
Chaffinch, 40+ with 4 new ringed
Goldfinch, 3 over
Albas, 6 over
Meadow Pipit, 35+ over
Golden Plover 2 over
Starling 600+ over and around
Long-tailed Tit, 6 ringed
Kestrel, 2 locals still searching the maize

Tawny Owl, one calling again
Stonechat, 1 unringed one along the track i.e. not the one caught two days ago
Dunnock, 2 ringed
Wrigglearse, 2 ringed and one retrapped
Reed Bunting, 18+ with 5 new ones ringed

There were lots of Pink-footed Geese this morning, both flying around in the mist to avoid local shooters but also arriving continually from the general direction of Pilling. We estimated 3500+, and then on my way off the moss I saw many settled feeding on a field of maize stubble nearby.

Non bird events this morning were 2 Roe Deer in the misty distance and a Weasel that briefly bounced across the track close to us before diving into some low herbage.

Not quite the highlight of the morning but an interesting sighting as I drove home was seeing a Woodcock at Preesall fly across the main road ahead of me then hedgehop to land just inside a roadside field. Woodcock, one of those species that finds you rather than you find it?

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