Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stranger and Stranger!

It was pretty cold early doors with a biting northerly that nibbled at ear lobes protruding from the woolly hat. Undeterred and with an exit pass from the boss valid for a couple of hours I hit the Pilling patch on the customary Fluke Hall, Lane Ends and Pilling Water route.

I always stop by the roadside trees at Fluke Hall where I let other cars speed by then listen and look, always in that order. It’s amazing how many birders don’t use their ears; to me it’s at least 50/50 eyes or ears, even erring in favour of the old lugs. Actually, and on further reflection, it’s amazing how many birders don’t use their eyes.

There were plenty of Chaffinches “pinking” and titmice hanging about the wire fence because some fool had again put seed next to the roadside - more squashed tits soon (please excuse the phrase). Also a couple of Blackbirds diced with death by crossing the road in front of oncoming cars as only Blackbirds do. I walked up and down through the wood and then back towards Wheel Lane looking in the trees above where on the bank the ramshackle shooting hut used to overlook the since reclaimed marsh. I counted upwards of 20 Chaffinch with 2 Brambling amongst them but staying quiet apart from just the occasional nasal “wheeze” that singled them out. Also in the wood were 3 Tree Sparrows,1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 20 or so Woodpigeon with a circling Kestrel on the outskirts of the wood. The light was poor but I managed a couple of photographs before the light worsened in the already dark trees when I decided I should bird instead of wasting my time taking pictures of common stuff.


Great Tit

Long-tailed Tit

Blue Tit

Here is a small digression. A day or two ago I walked into Lane Ends car park after a very cold and consequently demanding, but ultimately interesting part of my walk that contained several Snipe, a Peregrine and lots of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, when a camera toting stranger in a car momentarily stopped puffing at a cigarette and asked me, “Anything special about?” I was rather non-committal as is my usual response to such stupidity but with hindsight what I should have said was “Why don’t you get off your arse, out of your car then go and look you lazy tosser, what do you think I am, some sort of walking bird information service? And anyway even if I were to tell you, by your question it’s obvious that you would have no interest in the birds I have just seen”.

Outburst over I continued up towards Ridge Farm where 6 Meadow Pipits flew off the area of the roadside midden - how many times have I looked at that sometimes steaming but wholesome detritus and seen bugger all apart from Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Wagtails and an occasional Stonechat atop the pile of poo? Behind the hedge in the now thawed field 30 Lapwing and 11 Redshank searched for food, whilst further into the farm fields, out of harm’s way, 600 Pink-footed Geese fed warily even as they inched further away from my prying eyes.


Out on the marsh I could see 2 Little Egret and also hear the distant Whooper Swans, small numbers of which flew inland. It was later at Lane Ends that I counted the visible Whoopers, 120+ today and guesstimated the overall “pinkies” at 1700 highly mobile birds as here and there, gunshot rang out and the birds flew, and flew again.

Pink-footed Goose

Lane Ends was quiet, enlivened by 2 Black-tailed Godwit that fed amongst the 30 or so Curlew opposite the car park entrance until they all flew off, because rather surreally, a pink-suited jogger pounded noisily along the road then past their chosen spot in the quiet field. From the top car park I watched another Kestrel hunt the mound and sea wall as a Great Spotted Woodpecker called from the wood and a Reed Bunting from the vegetation below.

I walked uneventfully to Pilling Water with the highlight being a gang of Skylarks. Well I say a gang, and there were 24 of them, but the collective name for a lot of Skylarks is supposedly “exaltation”. Think I’ll stick to “gang”, it’s a bit more manly.


It wasn’t the most productive few hours I ever had, but boy it was fun. And with the number of tits on this post I should get lots of Internet hits for a few days – won’t they be disappointed?

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