Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Don’t Mention The Cold

Another night and early morn of well below zero temperatures made birding hard work this morning and I’ll resist the opportunity to post more pictures of ice and just stick to birds, even if there aren’t many. I decided it’s bad enough living through the current weather without looking at endless pictures of it.

The morning started well with 2 Woodcock, one out of the roadside ditch at Wheel Lane and a second one at Damside as compensation for not seeing the Little Owl. As per normal, both Woodcock saw me before I saw them as they exploded into action within a yard or two of me.

There seemed to be shooting activity at HiFly, not a full blown shoot but 4X4s, black dogs, and red-faced farmer types carrying shotguns, but after a while the shots died down allowing me to carry on. There were lots of Whoopers today, 272 in fact. That’s 270 for the rough count and two stragglers at the end of a long line of birds that flew across the marsh to the safety of the deeper water. I thought the Shelduck numbers looked tremendous this morning so counted thoroughly right to left, Cockerham to Fluke and I ended up with 720 or thereabouts, so I guess there has been an influx from somewhere to the Fylde where our weather is positively mild in comparison to parts of Scotland.

At Lane Ends I looked for more Woodcock but found instead 6 of their smaller cousin Snipe, 1 in the wood ditch and 5 more in the partly running water towards Cockerham where on the marsh a Peregrine sat/stood on the big log. Brave me, I crawled up the icy slope camera in hand hoping to get a picture before the peg saw me, but no chance. No sooner had I carefully raised my head than the bird clocked me then hurried off over the marsh and thence inland leaving me to slide down the slope and quickly shove my gloves back on.


I walked beneath the sea wall to avoid the biting north wind that skimmed over the top and for my dedication found 6 Meadow Pipit and 8 Skylark sticking close to the tide washed marsh. Unsurprisingly now, many waders have cleared off to warmer climes and here at Pilling I struggled to count more than 30 Curlew, 50 Lapwing and 30 Redshank, most of the ones I found had sought out sunny spots where the frost might clear more quickly. Little Egret numbers were also down, with just 4 this morning.

Here are a few Lapwing pictures from today, I carefully cropped the frosty bits from the scene.



And a few pictures from home; a Goldfinch on my Heinz nyjer feeder, and a Starling doing the splits.



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