Monday, August 23, 2010

An Evening Surprise

Early morning wind put paid to ringing Sunday morning, but the promise of calm winds for later in the day led to an evening exercise at Out Rawcliffe in trying to catch a few Swallows as they fed over the newly harvested fields close to the plantation; also we hoped to pick up a few warblers. Will, Craig, Ian and I met up at 1730 as we put up a few nets and waited for Swallows whilst the wind dropped out completely.

We saw Goldfinches arriving in twos and threes, fives and tens but then as feeding Swallows appeared from the west and the north on their way to their maize roost somewhere in the direction of St Michaels village, we noticed that amongst the circling Swallows were large groups of Goldfinches. We had stumbled upon a Goldfinch roost of maybe 300-400 birds as from all directions birds made their way into the plantation to spend the night. We didn’t catch any Goldfinch because we hadn’t set nets for them in the deeper parts of the trees, but a bonus catch came in the form of 2 Sparrowhawks, a male and a female, which were clearly intent on having a Goldfinch or two as an evening meal, and as Sparrowhawks do, had found and probably exploited the roost.

Sparrowhawk - juvenile female

Sparrowhawk - juvenile female

Sparrowhawk - juvenile male

Sparrowhawk - juvenile male

Sparrowhawk - juvenile male

By now there were several thousand Swallows in the distance, as even those around us ignored our nets and headed off with some urgency towards the river and St Michaels where they joined the several thousand birds already in the air.

We did catch a single moulting adult Blackcap and 2 Swallows but the evening surprises left us with a couple of tasks: 1) plan a catch of Goldfinch for another evening, and 2) pinpoint the Swallow roost in the many acres of maize fields around St Michaels.



The evening hadn’t quite finished as from the direction of the massed Swallows a Marsh Harrier rose from the ground and gave us an evening fly past in the half light as it headed off north in the direction of Pilling Moss.

Marsh Harrier

That definitely beats staying in and watching telly.


Unravel said...

Wow The first time for me to see that juvenile male and female sparrowhawk look really different. The evening light in the first close-up photo makes the shot looks great.

Pete Woodruff said...

'That definitely beats staying in and watching telly'....Well Alleluia and Amen to that Phil every time.

As you can see by the time I posted this comment, I had to stay in today but certainly not to watch telly.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

What a great encounter with th Sparrowhawks and they do look wonderful, yet believe it, or not, as much as I LOVE raptors, my FAV of this series is the glorious image you took of the Swallow. What a magnificnet entry~

Stu said...

Nice close ups of the Sparrowhawks. They seem to get commoner every time I go back to the UK.........

Anna said...

A birds I never seen except the swallow. Thanks for sharing Phil. Clarity of your images is amazing, especially the header picture - surreal. Anna :)

Andy Wilson said...

The eyes of raptors always fascinate me.

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