Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Short And Sweet

At last I was out to the old patch for a couple of hours where it really felt like the two weeks and more since my last visit, not just the elapsed time but the fact that while I was away the weather changed from autumn to winter; and now on December 1st the shortest day beckons. Fortunately the Fylde coast still has no real snow, just a smattering this afternoon to remind us that it is almost everywhere in the UK except around here where the sun shone brightly for me, if only for an hour or two.

Luckily I remembered the way down Wheel Lane, past a watching Kestrel to the stubble field, where the “Beware Flooded Road” sign should now read “Beware Ice” but it didn’t. I think the Whooper Swans have been around the whole time I was away and their numbers didn’t disappoint today at about 125 somewhat distant birds where their constant social activities keep the shallow water from freezing completely. I stepped out of the car to get a better look across the field and flushed a single Snipe from a sunny, thawing spot in the grass, but apart from the swans and a few dozen Pink-footed Geese, the entire fields seemed devoid of much else.


Whooper Swan

At Damside I stopped to clock the regular Little Owl near the sewage works where I also counted over 350 Curlew and 40 Lapwing, the Curlew using the longer grassed field, but the Lapwings split equally between that and the sheep grazed field opposite.


Lane Ends was quiet with both pools almost completely frozen, with just enough open water to allow the mixed ethnicity Mallards breathing space. Smaller birds were few and far between, with just 5 Robin, 4 Blackbird, 8 Moorhen and a single Pied Wagtail entered in my notebook. From the car park I counted 3 Little Egret out on the marsh and a male Sparrowhawk leaving the trees behind me before it continued along the sea wall. The sun still shone out so I continued up to Pilling Water where many hundreds of wildfowl fed in the partly frozen channel and others murmured along the grazed marsh. There were so many, packed so tight, some very distant, and with my reluctance to scare them off, my count is more a guesstimate; 500 Wigeon, 600 Teal and 300 Mallard, but if anyone cares to do a recount from the partial view below the figures may be different.




Also up here, 2 Meadow Pipit, 2 Grey Heron flying inland, another Little Egret, plus 4 Snipe in the partially frozen ditches.

Snow clouds rolled in from the darker south and east as light flurries of the white stuff broke out, and at 1430 the light began to fade. Oh for the Cyprus light and sun! But instead I rode to Gulf Lane hoping for a winter afternoon Barn Owl or maybe a second frosty day Little Owl. Not quite, but I did get winter thrushes, 40 or so Fieldfares and 2 Pied Wagtails. Soon it was over, the weak snow persisted enough to keep the sky dark and by 1530 gulls and geese headed for their roosts, as did I.


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