Saturday, October 30, 2010

The ‘X’ Factor

Let’s face it, most birds have it but some are that bit special, ones to see over and over again, always winners and never runners-up. The kingfisher family are one such example, wherever they might be in the world, Pied Kingfisher in Africa, Belted Kingfisher in the US or White-breasted Kingfisher in Asia, a few that spring to mind, but not forgetting our own UK Common Kingfisher.

There is an apocryphal story from years ago of a young twitcher who dashed about the Isles of Scilly one autumn ticking rare birds that arrived on the islands from all points of the globe north, south, east and west. At some time during the week he declared that despite all the new birds he had seen, he wanted to see a common or garden Kingfisher because he had never seen the everyday bird. His friends duly found him a Kingfisher and legend goes that he was so blown away by the bird that he devoted his time thereafter to a local patch back home and never went twitching again. If only this story were true.

I started with Kingfisher this morning at Conder Green when the hyperactive thing was on the outflow wall briefly; unfortunately the low sun was right opposite so I couldn’t capture get the full spectrum of colours on its back. Never mind I got a few pictures. The friendly Robin watched me this morning as I stood on the platform, looking and counting the few birds around; 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Goosander, 2 Cormorant, 2 Wigeon, 80 Teal and several Redshank. A Reed Bunting called from along the hedgerow and a single Fieldfare flew over, but otherwise I struggled to see much as I ducked behind the screen and waited for the Kingfisher to come back. It didn’t.



From Lane Ends I saw the Pink-footed Geese were way out, either on the marsh or the more distant Preesall Sands this morning, and although some flew inland there were lots still half way to Heysham. Not so the Greylags and the Whooper Swans close to Fluke Hall, whereby I counted 110 swans and 255 Greylags. In amongst the Greylags hid an assortment of wildfowl, pure delight to recent connoisseurs of plastic ducks and geese; 2 Canada Geese, a pure white Greylag just aching to be a Snow Goose, then a strange Canada hybrid thing - all good harmless fun.

At least the Whoopers are for real, genuine ‘X’ Factor contestants as they whooped it up on the wet fields or flew back and forth out to the marsh. What a fantastic noise, Number 1 in my book.

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

I did a walk from Lane Ends to Pilling Water where the car park produced a Pied Wagtail, the singing Chiffchaff, 2 Brambling and half a dozen Chaffinch. Along the way I spied a Merlin, 1 Sparrowhawk, 12 Skylark, 1 Meadow Pipit and 5 Little Egret. At the wildfowler’s pools I waited as the quad went in with sacks of wheat which caused 80 or so Teal to vacate the ditches and fly out to the marsh where they joined most of the distant Pink-feet.

Pink-footed Goose

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