Thursday, November 5, 2009

...On My Head.....

I just missed Seumus this morning as he topped out the feeding station at Rawcliffe Moss where he reported an increase in most everything. After we watched a couple of thousand tightly packed Starlings whoosh noisily over, I kindly let him get off to work. Then so as to let the feeding station birds return, I spent some time watching out for birds around the farm buildings.

No surprises here with the usual Dunnock and the Robin which wanted to be top of the tailings this morning, unlike the Grey Wagtail which searched around the base of the pile of debris where I watched it find pale coloured grubs but also little round blackish ones to eat. The photographic difficulty this morning was freezing the action of its constantly wagging tail with a slow shutter in the poor light as dark rain clouds threatened to spoil another morning’s birding.

After a while I drove down to the feeding track, saturated fields on either side of me where hundreds of Black-headed Gulls had found the overnight flood. From the end of the track I could see odd Fieldfares and Redwings perched on the hedgerow, and then right at the end of the hedge Tree Sparrows darting back and forth to the ground feed. I prefer not to know Seumus’ count as I don’t want to be influenced by it, but we are usually within 20 or 30 birds of each other. I think we were close again today with my count of 170 Tree Sparrows with about a dozen Fieldfare, 15 Redwings and half a dozen Blackbird with finches represented by 10 to 12 Chaffinch.

Looking back towards the floods I could see and hear Lapwings in the air, spooked from the floods by something unseen as they took flight. They scattered in all directions, even overhead, so my count of 250 is approximate.

Walking to the 93 hedge I disturbed a number of Goldfinch from the weedy set aside, two little groups, first a flock of 40 then in a few yards another 30 or so followed the first group. A heavy shower began so I took a short cut through the wood, to hear more “tseeps” of Redwings and the chattering of departing Fieldfares.

I crossed a double stile to head west, wading shin deep in parts, then along another hedgerow where there are usually Reed Buntings and Corn Buntings close to a sheltered ditch. A couple more Redwing and Blackbird here, then in the corner, as expected 6 Reed Bunting and 5 Corn Bunting. One eye on the clouds, I followed the ditch back south to skirt the wood and added a couple more Goldfinch from the ditch with a Song Thrush and two Redwing.

More close packs of Starlings came by with some taking to the overhead telephone wires as a mass of distant black, seemingly weighing down the cables. There are some large gatherings of Starlings this year, both roosts and the early morning and evening feeding parties that the large roost gatherings create. Plenty of continentals no doubt, I suppose I had better catch a few in the garden with just the chance of an old eastern European ring.

By now I was back in the car avoiding the rain when towards me and towards the gathered Starlings went a Merlin, in business mode; clipped flight, wings held tight back, slightly bounding even as it sped towards the black cables but then out of my line of sight, but I did see the Starlings scatter. At least this is my chance to drag out a poor, ancient, mucky old slide of Merlin – one of these days I’ll get near.

I spent a bit more time taking pics of the wagtail through the rain drops whilst it played hide and seek in the sprouting tailings then I parked up for another day.

1 comment:

Fleetwood Birder said...

Cracking Grey Wagtail shots Phil! I counted 180 Tree Sparrow, so we were very close.

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