Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Better Late Than Never?

A mixture of laziness and other things to do meant that yesterday I just didn’t get around to updating the blog. Those are my excuses, but today our old friend Mr Rain allowed me to devote an hour to “playing on that computer” as Sue puts it, whilst in the conservatory she laptops away to find ways of spending money on holiday places I don’t want to go i.e. no birds.

There was a plan to go ringing at Rossall yesterday, ably explained by Seumus http://fleetwoodbirder.blogspot.com/,when after the early morning abort phone call I admit to going back to bed. With hindsight, and especially in the light of today’s weather, it was a mistake as I probably missed one of the better recent mornings.

I decided on a leisurely afternoon stroll around Rawcliffe Moss to check on the feeding station and whatever else might be lurking with or near to the Tree Sparrows and Chaffinch that so quickly find the food.

There are some pretty big fields at the farm, even Philip and his lads call one of them “the big field” probably as a tribute to the time and effort it takes each year in making it productive. As the barley was recently cut I walked part of it, mainly to see how many Skylark I could actually find as distinct from seeing small groups or individuals taking sorties from the stubble whenever I visit.

I had barely set off across the field before a Sparrowhawk came from my left to fly very low, fairly slowly across the complete width of the field. It clearly also expected to flush Skylark but didn’t manage to do so because it had actually chosen a course that had no Skylark, so it finished up by gliding into the line of trees overlooking the field from where I lost sight of it.

In the distance towards St Michaels I could see a couple of high Buzzards, then in the next field a hunting Kestrel alternately circling then hovering, before moving several yards to repeat the process all over again. The Kestrel below is from Bank End last week.

I changed tack slightly across the field to find the Skylark but I didn’t move that many, it was only as I sat down in the field for a few minutes and waited that for whatever reason, the Skylark showed themselves. In fact they were scattered across all three of the top fields, rising, falling, calling and circling, without any encouragement from me but enough to count upwards of 150. That coincides nicely with Seumus’s precise count of 164 the day before, but as he says, there could be more. At times, counting birds is an imprecise science but experience of doing so must help?

At the edge of the field two Linnets rose from the game cover, then in the nearby grassy ditch below the trees I saw a couple of Reed Buntings, the inevitable Wren and a ticking Robin. I watched as a single Mistle Thrush bounded across from a distance to also disappear into some trees. Mistle Thrush, another one of those species that appears to be losing out from the modern world.

By now I was near to the feeding station but without the task of a food drop I could carefully approach from a distance then watch at my leisure. We say it so many times but Tree Sparrows are just so wary, so independent, so cute, as in clever cute that they can be difficult to count never mind catch. As they hugged the hedge or flew behind it to avoid me I made a count of 50+ Tree Sparrows together with less than a dozen Chaffinch.

My being around disturbed a Buzzard from the trees overhead that called quite softly but sped away with a flat profile towards the next wood, not allowing me to take a photograph.

Up at the barn there were plenty of albas to look through, I counted 16 but not at once as they all moved between a spoil tip, the barn roofs and roadside puddles that held insect food continually stirred up by passing farm vehicles. I was torn between photographs and just watching them, sorting pied from whites as all ages and sexes seemed represented.

Below are a White Wagtail in a muddy pool and a Pied Wagtail in a reflected farm machinery red pool.

1 comment:

Brian Rafferty said...

Phil. Enjoyed the account of your stroll around Rawcliffe Moss etc. Super raptor pics. Presumably the sparrowhawk had taken a skylark.Whilst in Cumbria yesterday I was hearing that sparrowhawks regularly take kingfishers. Very upsetting but as we all know the Natural World can be very cruel at times.

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