Sunday, September 5, 2010

Another Circus

It was too windy for ringing therefore I did the early run to Conder Green this morning where as is often the case from the screen, the pool looked devoid of birds but down in the creek everything seemed infinitely more promising. With CG it’s worth drilling down, looking hard and listening carefully to find the nuggets.

I hadn’t stood more than a few minutes looking through the waders in the bottom of the nearest creek when I just knew a raptor was near. Some birds froze, several called, others moved fractionally up the creek and a few more flew off quickly, but even the Mute Swans sensed something amiss and moved onto the higher bits of marsh. The birds had seen or sensed the Marsh Harrier a good 15 seconds before me as it came from the north and the Lune, over the viaduct but high then over the pool and the canal, sailing all the time south towards Lower Thurnham as quickly and serenely as it appeared. The harrier didn’t have the same effect as a Peregrine or a Merlin, a mass panic, more of a “watch out lads and lasses”, and I wonder sometimes if birds use different messages for the several types of bird of prey or if in fact they sensed the harrier wasn’t in true hunting mode but just drifting harmlessly south? In any case it was the most evident and certainly the largest vis migger this morning and whilst seeing this migration I also wonder just how many harriers are involved in Fylde Circus aeruginosus sightings this autumn, but I've definitely seen my share of them.

I went back to my search and noted 3 Spotted Redshank, 6 Greenshank, 2 Ruff, 11 Snipe, 2 Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron, 22 Teal, 15 Redshank, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Kingfisher in the creek. The pool was indeed quiet except for 8 Little Grebe and the 3 Wigeon again, with 15 Goldfinch and 8 Linnet about the thistles and hawthorn. I struggled for pictures this morning but as well as yet another distant shot of a receding Marsh Harrier I did an equally long shot of a Ruff, that most elegant of waders.

Ruff

Marsh Harrier

Snipe

I journeyed on to Cockersands to check out the finch flock and gauge the ideal wind direction for mist netting the field of set-aside, and took the opportunity for a count: 80 Linnet, 30 Greenfinch, 15 Chaffinch, 25 Goldfinch and a Whitethroat. It was a different total from a couple of days ago but the birds had just been spooked by a Kestrel, plus I know the flock size and composition will vary from day to day. Wind forecast for the week ahead – strong. Typical.

Kestrel

I looked at my watch and decided there was time for Lane Ends and Pilling Water/Fluke Hall. Between the car park and Fluke my count of Little Egrets came to 13, not unlucky for the egrets by any stretch of the imagination as they consolidate into their self-found niche. The wildfowler’s pools held about 400 Teal today, plus 2 Greenshank and the now ever present Green Sandpiper, while the Kingfisher beat me to it again as it shot off the parapet, around the marsh and into the pools. Two Kingfishers in a morning, that’s nice!

I’d noticed all morning that most of last week’s hirundines cleared out, and here where I see lots of Swallows and last week several hundred, today they were less than a dozen. It was similar with Meadow Pipits and wagtails, as I saw less than 10 pipits and zero wagtails today. The finch groups hadn’t changed much but remained separate here, with a flock of 35 Linnet then a further party of 20 Goldfinch. I thought the two Wheatears I saw were the same birds that have been around for a few days now, visiting a series of favoured spots, doing the same old things, just like me really. I finished on a high at the car park as I listened to the trilling Little Grebes with an ear open for a calling “phyllosc” or similar, when on top of a willow a Spotted Flycatcher sallied up and out then back again. I watched it for a while but my time was up.

Spotted Flycatcher

Meadow Pipit

12 comments:

Neil said...

Very informative great photos love the Pipit.

Birdringal-andalus said...

Dear Phil, greetings: you have great luck of being in the right place at the right time.
That gives me do envy those beautiful shots that are not coincidences for shown us every day in your corner with them.
Thanks for sharing with us.
Sincerely: Fernando Gavilan.

Lana Gramlich said...

The kestrel is so beautiful. I've always loved those little sparrow hawks. Nice one of the snipe, too!

Stu said...

Nice Pipit shot there Phil, glad to see Marsh Harriers are doing so well too......

Idaho Birder said...

Always a delight to see what you have been seeing Phil. Have a great week!

Gallicissa said...

I like the capture of the Kestrel. It's nice how the English keep bird names short and simple: Snipe, Kestrel, Swallow etc.! :)

Unravel said...

Ruff is always a nice species to see! I wonder do you get to see the bird in its breeding plumage in the UK?

Phil said...

Thanks everyone for your kind comments. Ayuwat, Ruff is not a common breeder in the UK so we tend not to see them in breeding plumage unless a site is known. But they are so scarce that such sites tend to be kept secret and unpublicised. There used to be a place on the Ribble where I enjoyed many hours watching their colourful leks, but sadly no more.

Unravel said...

A sad story to hear, Phil but at least you can get to see them in their beautiful breeding plumage. It's impossible for birders in the tropics to have such chance.

Paco Sales said...

Captas unas imagenes realmente preciosas, con una gran nitidez y unos colores perfectos, un saludo amigo

mick said...

Very interesting to read the numbers of birds you saw as well as to see the great photos. The Snipe photo is so typical of ones (different species of course) we see out here well hidden among the grass.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

What a cool experience with the Harrier and I wonder that sometimes too, whether they worry more about a Red-shouldered, than a Red-tailed since the latter would be more apt to go after larger stuff than songbirds, if it needed to. Your beautiful little Meadow Pipit reminds me a tad bit of our Meadow Larks~

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