Sunday, April 25, 2010

No Sweat, No Tears

It wasn’t a difficult decision for me this morning. At the height of spring migration time with a bit of overnight rain that cleared early combined with breaking skies and southerly winds, exactly as the BBC forecast for once, it doesn’t take much imagination to know what to do and where to do it. I headed for some coastal cover that just happened to be Lane Ends and Pilling Water where I hoped to locate a few bits and pieces. For luck I threw in Ridge Farm hedgerows and the line of east to west gorse and hoped for a result.

There were yet more new Greenland Wheatears near Pilling Water where I counted 6, all of which quickly flew east in the direction I had just walked. Or at least I thought that’s what happened whilst I laid the traps and hoped the "white arses" would return, but one female lingered long enough to locate the meal worms and I caught my sixth Wheatear of the spring. They are just amazing how they locate a single wriggling meal worm amongst the tide line debris, grass and rocks: the needle in a haystack syndrome I think. But they must have incredible eyesight not to mention inconceivable powers of navigation to undertake the journeys they make.

Greenland Wheatears make one of the longest transoceanic crossings of any passerine. In spring most migrate along a route (commonly used by waders and waterfowl) from Africa via continental Europe, the British Isles, and Iceland to Greenland. However, autumn sightings from ships suggest that some birds cross the North Atlantic directly from Canada and Greenland to southwest Europe. Birds breeding in eastern Canada are thought to fly from Newfoundland to the Azores before flying onwards to Africa. The Greenland Wheatear may be the only regularly breeding passerine bird of North America that migrates to wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa, crossing either the Atlantic Ocean or the continent of Eurasia.

”Greenland” Wheatear

”Greenland” Wheatear

”Greenland” Wheatear Migration Routes and Wintering Area

I found this quote on the Internet - “The Greenland Wheatear arrives in the later part of April. It is in a hurry to reach its breeding sites on the other side of the Atlantic, so doesn’t stay for long.” That is a slight understatement of my experience of the species this week when the rapid ongoing migration was very noticeable. Maybe it has a little to do with the fact that they were later arriving here than in most years.

Other than the Wheatears, things were quieter this morning on the wildfowler’s pool and out on the marsh. Perhaps with the change in wind direction of the last day or two both the flock of Redshank and the many hundreds of Pink-footed Geese had left for Iceland with suddenly low counts of 25 and 150 respectively today. Naturally I saw a Little Egret, but one only.

At Lane Ends the warblers treated me to a selection of song. Sedge Warbler was new in, singing in the reeds below the cark park with trilling Little Grebe nearby, and at least 2 Willow Warblers, a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff joining in the chorus. I saw 2 Jays this morning and feel sure that the villains have a nest of their own somewhere close by.

As I walked to look on the west pool I saw a Lapwing mobbing a larger fast flying bird which when I binned it turned out to be the large pale Peregrine of recent weeks, now heading quickly inland. I have no doubt the direction took it to one of a number of distant pylons, far-away to my eyes, but a flap and a glide to a Peregrine. Below is the same Peregrine, different Lapwing and a different day about a month ago, but some scenarios don’t change.

Lapwing versus Peregrine

Over Wyre I don’t expect to get the number or variety of fresh migrant birds that the peninsula of Fleetwood attracts, or even the numbers of pairs of eyes that might look for the birds, unless that is the birders choose to stare out to sea instead of searching for little brown jobs. So very often I can be the only person doing the rounds of LE, Ridge and Fluke as my notebook shorthand denotes their names, but not to worry I quite like it that way.

Vey obvious this morning was the influx of Whitethroats, with snatches of song and visible birds along the tree line of Fluke Hall Lane and the hedges of Ridge Farm, with twos and threes here and there. In fact I counted a minimum of 15 birds and imagined that if I had found that number, then Fleetwood and Heysham would at least treble my meagre total. I watched a steady stream of Swallows and House Martins follow the sea wall east, as did a couple of calling Redpoll. The local Linnets are now in some cases paired up, with territories along the gorse, but others still flock, like the party of 16 close to the sea wall. I did see an extra couple of Willow Warblers along the hedge at Ridge Farm, and another Blackcap singing along the inward track. But it looks like all the excitement was across the water at Fleetwood this morning with nice sounding birds like Cuckoo, Ring Ouzel, Redstart and even Hen Harrier added to growing lists.


Willow Warbler

Oh the joys of lonesome birding Over Wyre with all the fun and excitement we expect but without the tears and heartbreak of missing a few year ticks. After all, it's only a bit of fun isn't it? Oh well I’ll just have to make do with a picture this time.

Hen Harrier


eileeninmd said...

Another great post about your biridng outing. the Greenland Wheatear is a nice looking bird. Thanks for sharing the info.

NatureFootstep said...

the photo of the Hen Harrier is stunning :)

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