Sunday, January 3, 2010

First Of The Rest

What a fabulous morning, a bit of frost, clear blue sky and zero wind and my first birding of 2010. I couldn’t wait to get to Out Rawcliffe this morning, one of my favoured places, even if the road surfaces were still distinctly dodgy in spots where the car slid sideways a few times.

It started well when I checked out two Little Owl spots and found single birds at both, the one below was the only one close enough to photograph. It tolerated me for a while until I was joined by Colin and George in their diesely, noisy Land Rover when it flew off .

Little Owl

The two gamekeepers told me Skitham Lane was closed because of dangerous ice since the Police lost one of their own vehicles down the side of the raised moss road. Not to worry, I had negotiated a few slippery roads on the way, and then by the time I was ready to go home the roads should be a bit better.

I grabbed a bucket of seed for the feeding station and headed across the moss where 11 Starlings, 34 Fieldfares and 6 Redwing fed in the roadside fields, then further out a flock of 20 Lapwings had also found softer ground.


The hedgerow to the feeding station yielded 110 Tree Sparrows, 12 Chaffinch, 4 Yellowhammer, 2 Reed Bunting, a mixture of Blue and Great Tit and several more Starlings.

I could hear Jays protesting noisily in the wood so I crossed the field to investigate what the commotion was all about, then entered the wood via the shooter’s stile. Following the noise I found 2 Jays plus Chaffinch and Blackbirds scolding something near the top of an ivy covered tree. I couldn’t see anything up there but I can only assume it was a Tawny Owl somewhere in the dense green cover but by now my presence had moved all the birds on except the silent cause of the fuss and a Great–spotted Woodpecker that hung around a likely looking fit for excavation tree.

Great-spotted Woodpecker

Out of the wood I listened to the clamour of 1500 Pink-footed Geese rise from a nearby farm then watched them fly north towards Pilling against the snowy Bowland backdrop.

Pink-footed Geese and distant Bowland

Up alongside the big field I heard and saw a couple each of Meadow Pipit and Skylark, obviously hanging on in there close to any remaining damp patches despite the apparently all consuming frost.

The clear air had made the Buzzard calls travel, and whilst I saw a couple of them flying away from me as usual, even though I tried to call them nearer, I am sure I heard and saw at least three. I saw just a single Kestrel today, as ever hunting the stubble.

Near the birch wood I found little flocks of 5 Goldfinch and another group of 20 Chaffinch to add to my previous finch counts, but crunched through the frosted plantation at little reward except for three Brown Hares, an animal that this week seem to have become more active. I also flushed a couple of Grey Partridge from the perimeter where the trees are thinnest.


As we might expect Woodpigeon numbers are down in the last few weeks but today I still counted 140 scattered around the farm.

Taking an alternative route home at lunch time via Pilling Moss I found a single Stonechat near Union Lane, noted that Skitham Lane had part barriers but I didn’t see any Police vehicles in the ditch.


Fleetwood Birder said...

Cracking shots of Little Owl and Great Spot Phil!

Unravel said...

The landscape in that Pink-footed Goose shot is just wonderful!

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