Friday, October 23, 2009

Patching It Up

I was determined to do it properly this morning. Just take some time to do my immediate local area as well as spend a while trudging along the hedgerows, “pishing” as I went whilst kicking a few bushes, even if the Pilling locals thought me mad, walking along a hedgrow making strange noises without the obligatory dog in tow or vice versa.

It’s a birder thing only, knowing that in the next hedge you might find a Goldcrest fresh in from Norway, 5 grams of feathers and not much else; a Robin that isn’t from the garden but which the previous night crossed the Pennines, or a Brambling, a bit like a Chaffinch but not really. Try explaining to Mr or Mrs Whatarebirdsfor about overnight migration from Eastern Europe or Scandinavia, about vis mig and weather systems, or how there are many different species and families of birds, all different. This week I even had to explain to a fairly young person who shall be nameless, how there are male and female birds! GCSEs, don’t make me laugh.

No, it’s better to just do it, play the part, act a bit eccentric and ignore them; after all we don’t want too many people to become birders do we? In any case I don’t need to act eccentric so I have a head start on most.

As it turned out many of the birds I saw this morning were flyovers from west to east during a quite productive but perhaps not outstanding morning of migration. I walked from Fluke via Ridge Farm then the sea wall back to Fluke with the best bits overhead. “Albas” came in singles with at least 8, interspersed with a steady but now as it nears late October, thinning supply of Meadow Pipits, with 20 plus on the one mile circuit. I was not convinced I was seeing migrant Greenfinch, but with hindsight and given the scarcity of the species, maybe my count of 22 was quite good.

Chaffinches were probably the most numerous, lots of them both quiet and high as the cloud was broken with blue above and through. I put 30 in my notebook. As usual, it was a snapshot of an hour or so in a narrow corridor of a strip of coast at a single latitude and 0900 on 23 October 2009. I heard a single Brambling overhead and I see there are the usual October records elsewhere, but which now seem not to materialise into a Brambling winter for us. Should we be happy that the winters in Europe are mild enough to allow the millions of Brambling to spend the winter there and survive? Or do we want them here knowing that is how it should be, even if the harder winter takes its toll? The latter I suppose.

The picture below was taken in January 2009 in Austria, just part of a roost of an estimated four million Brambling.

Reed Buntings were especially noticeable again this morning, in what I think has been a real Reed Bunting autumn. As ever they were very vocal not flying particularly high but all from the west and making landfall soon after their calling.

I saw a really nice male Sparrowhawk fly low across the farmland, all blue against the brown earth as it disappeared behind the Ridge Farm buildings. Out on the sands I counted 250 Golden Plover, 450 Lapwing, 90 Dunlin and 6 Grey Plover with 3 Snipe flushed from the marsh grass by a walker. Little Egret are now so regular that it may soon reach the stage where they becomes the commonplace that birders omit from their notebooks? But for the record, three here today. Out from the wall at Fluke Hall I counted 23 Whooper Swans on the marsh again today.

Back at Fluke a Grey Wagtail was near the end of the wood, and then on my way to Lane Ends I disturbed another one from the United Utilities compound at Backsands Lane.

I walked the Lane Ends to Pilling Water route where unlike a mile away, the noticeable species here was Skylark as I disturbed about 20 from the sea wall during my walk with 2 more Little Egrets to count. By now with the sun out it was very warm, balmy enough to induce a couple of Skylark into a practice run, and in the wood at the car park a Chiffchaff sang several times.

If anyone is stuck for a bit of birding, they could do worse than spend an hour or two at Knott End, a pretty village with a good array of birds and a few useful shops. Friday afternoon, a walk with my better half and a pair of not very well hidden binoculars tells the story.

Oystercatcher 2800
Eider 18
Pied Wagtail 2
Twite 15
Little Egret 1
Bar-tailed Godwit 15
Knot 300
The Coop - Bottles of wine 1

And the reason it’s called Knott End? Photo by Andrew Easton.

And of course if you’re birding at Knott End almost anything might drop from the sky onto the jetty.


Brian Rafferty said...

Phil. Enjoyed very much your account from yesterday. You had an enjoyable session on your local patch. Great images, very impressed by the brambling roost and the helicopter at Knott End. Enjoy the wine and keep up the good work.

Phil said...

Hi Brian. Thanks for your support. Must be an impressive roost to see. If we could have a few hundred of those Brambling around here it would be nice.

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