Sunday, November 22, 2009

Splashing Out

Do or die this morning to get some birding in despite the cloud and rain.

Dodging the showers, using the car as cover or just waiting in the pouring rain I managed a couple of hours on the moss before the winds picked up again before midday as the showers turned into more persistent rain.

The barn is as good a place as any to start where at least a couple of wagtails are guaranteed but three this morning with a Grey Wagtail then both a male and female Pied Wagtail. It was interesting to watch the pecking order around the choice feeding spot the pile of tailings, the male pied was dominant followed by the female Pied Wagtail with the Grey Wagtail at the bottom of the hierarchy.

A couple of Blackbirds scuttled around, as did a Song Thrush newly taken to the pile of debris.

It was here that 6 Whooper Swans flew over heading due north towards Pilling and Cockerham, also my cue for splashing down the track in the same direction to check out the Tree Sparrows. There were lots of Woodpigeon in escape mode today because of another shoot on the adjacent farm coupled with the attentions of a Peregrine. Twice I saw it fly purposefully across the moss, once east to west and then west to east, on both occasions causing a grey flurry of Woodpigeon activity against the depressing grey skies as in places the tree tops changed from green to neutral where they settled.

I parked up opposite the Buzzard spot where sure enough the two hung around long enough to call a couple times before going deeper into the wood out of sight. I have decided that Buzzards, these two especially, are very adept at hiding themselves if they wish and there’s not much I can do about it yet, but roll on a nice sunny day. Over 200 Tree Sparrows and the dozen Chaffinch hugged the hedge today, reluctant to fly across even to their usual alternative but preferring to hedge hop to where I had just come from; they must have known I was turning left instead of doing a backtrack.

It was a very overcast morning, the sort of occasion when concealed Roe Deer see someone coming to leave a glimpse of white backside and swaying vegetation as they melt into the background. They saw me this morning but gave themselves enough time to casually disappear and for me to get a couple of distant pictures.

There was lots of activity up the path where a few well laden hawthorns held several Blackbirds and a Song Thrush, together with 10 or 12 mobile Chaffinch and some of the Tree Sparrows I had just disturbed from the food. This is a regular spot for Reed Bunting where I found the expected two but no sign of the Stonechat today. I splattered through the plantation, not altogether surprised to almost stand on a Snipe near the foot of a tree but little else apart from a Kestrel doing the rounds. I just coped with turning the car on the sloping muddy field entrance but until the ground dries somewhat I don’t think I will risk it again.

Back at the barn I spent more time watching the wagtails feeding around the fast running stream that now forms part of the road.

My time proved productive when two groups of Chaffinch flew over, first about 30 then a smaller flock of 14. I added these to my earlier ones to get a figure of 65, easily the best count here this autumn. But in the past we have noticed that there can be numbers of Chaffinch in the area that do not necessarily use the provided seed but continue to forage naturally, even if the weather turns cold.

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