Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Keeping warm.......

was this morning’s number one task when the outside temperature gauge read -1C but it felt a lot colder than that with the wind chill, more like -10C as I headed out north.

At Lane Ends I just missed most of the Pink-footed Geese coming from the marsh, a mass of many thousands that I couldn’t start to count, flying off south west past the sun rising through the grey dawn.

Up on the sea wall where the car heater churned out at full blast I could see the Whooper Swans in the distance where they seem to have returned to the safety of the outer marsh off Fluke Hall. I counted 46 for definite but I know there were more because I could see distant heads and bodies appearing then disappearing to and from the ditches and pools they frequent.

There were still pinkies on the marsh where this time I could do a rough count of 1100 so in all, with the numbers that flew off earlier, probably in excess of 4500 had roosted out there last night. There was a lot of Little Egret activity both directly out from the car park and to the east or west as I counted nine of them in all.

There was a fair amount of ground frost with noticeable Blackbird numbers searching through the whitened leaf litter so I had a walk about the bottom car park and through the bits of woody scrub. Most of the 24 Blackbirds I counted were males with 5 females only. There were a few Chaffinch about, but apart from the thrushes, passerines were a bit scarce here this morning.

It takes only the first decent frost to produce Woodcock with today being no exception when I flushed one from the old ringing area that flew off over the pool to elsewhere; as ever, it’s almost impossible to get a view of a grounded Woodcock.

Braides was productive on each side of the track that goes out to the sea wall, where from the gateway of the track I counted 1600 Lapwing with similar numbers of Golden Plover, but far from an exact science because of the ground sloping away into the distance, the tightly packed mixed flocks coupled with activity that was so incessant, it may have been influenced by a raptor. There were four more Little Egrets here that flew around in the ditches immediately behind the sea wall, a bit easier to see and separate than the other birds.

About 55 Redshank stuck to the wetter bits that just happened to be closer to the car making them easier to count. Anyway I don’t mind saying that it was too cold to stand there for half an hour counting distant waders, but luckily a distraction occurred when Patrick the farmer turned up to chat about the survey work I will do on site next spring to help find out how the Lapwings take to his new regime.

Conder Green was almost devoid of birds, maybe hiding out of the biting wind with only the hardy Goldeneye immediately obvious with 2 on the pool and 1 on the creek but females only today. A single Wigeon fed on the island closest to the road just pausing to whistle once or twice which first drew my attention to it hiding amongst the usual Mallard.

Luckily two Little Grebe appeared to give some semblance of bird life, whilst as the tide was on the way in, even the creek was devoid of many birds apart from a couple of Redshank and 7 Snipe that flew off the marsh without any apparent reason. In the lay by I could see SP’s car parked up, very wise to go for a walk this morning, probably the best way to keep warm next to motoring on to the next spot as I did.

The water in Glasson Marina was a bit choppy, the cold south easterly just whipping it up enough spoil an ideal flat vista that makes birding here very enjoyable. I had a walk around to get the better light and found a couple of Pochard, didn’t count the Tufted or Coot but took a picture of a wary Cormorant and a Pied Wagtail along the towpath.

I actually found a few Fieldfare today, 9 in fact down Jeremy Lane where they shared a hedge for a while with 12 Goldfinch and a couple of Magpie until a Sparrowhawk came by and scattered them all. I saw a couple of Kestrels today, one of them below, hovering for food but keeping an eye on me just in case.

Last stop was Bank End where a walk along the road revealed an unexpected 45 Chaffinch in the hedgerow that flew off towards Patty’s with 4 or 5 more secretive Tree Sparrow that simply stayed in cover chichipping away, then another Pied Wagtail that scurried along the road.

A good morning’s birding but I wish it hadn’t been so cold. But then don’t we always complain whatever the weather?


Birdringal-andalus said...

!!!!!!!!! These pieces of photos !!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations Phil, is a pleasure to live them ...
Fernando Gavilan.

Phil said...

Hi Fernando

Thanks for looking in again. I wish I could get some ringing done like you folks in sunny Spain.

Regards, Phil

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