Friday, December 17, 2010

The Usual Suspects

No chance of catching and ringing more Bramblings today as the wind sprung up overnight to make netting impossible. Thankfully the north westerly didn’t bring any snow, but the Fylde does seem to be surrounded by it again with several inches in Scotland, Ireland, North Wales and even the Isle of Man. They can keep it.

So I went birding to Out Rawcliffe expecting, in fact hoping to see the usual fare of finches, thrushes and hopefully a raptor and an owl or two. Along the river past Town End several hundred thrushes were very mobile, taking flight at the constant passing of vehicles before soon returning to the hawthorn trees. The relentless back and forth made counting difficult but I settled on 450 Fieldfare and 300 Redwing. With all the thrushes about I was not surprised to see a Sparrowhawk create quite a melee as it almost caught a Redwing from a feeding group. In the ensuing pandemonium most of the thrushes cleared off as the Sparrowhawk stayed put in a nearby tree, before it too cleared off over the other side of the river to try its luck. As I watched the hawk fly off a Goosander flew down river and in the direction of distant Great Eccleston, a Buzzard soared.



Redwing and Fieldfare


I made for the moss and first checked a couple of Little Owl spots, where at one of them a morning bird usually sits partly hidden by branches but lit by the warming sun, just as one did today.

Little Owl

Little Owl

At the farm on the feed I counted 110 Tree Sparrows, 15 Starlings, 1 Yellowhammer and 18 Woodpigeons but I didn’t linger in the cold and instead set off for a walk. Walking the hedgerows I counted more thrushes, 8 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrush, 18 Redwings and 15 Fieldfares, with yet more Woodpigeon and this time 2 Stock Dove. Up at the “big field” many Skylarks alternated between feeding in the stubble or when spooked, flying around virtually en masse, which once again made counting difficult. I estimated somewhere between 300 and 400 birds, sometimes the flock joined by about 120 flighty Chaffinches, 12 Linnet, a handful of Goldfinches and 18 Corn Buntings. The probable cause of the occasional panic could have been the regular Merlin that on this occasion flew across towards Pilling Moss without troubling the flock. The resident Kestrel was also about, and although less likely to take a Skylark or finch they are enough of a threat to cause small birds an anxious time.


Reed Buntings were very noticeable today with a minimum 15 birds across the farm, but after catching 125 there in the summer and autumn, today I still didn’t see one bearing a ring.

Reed Bunting

I called at the river on the way back where at 1430 all was quiet and most of the thrushes had probably gone to roost. In less than a week it's the shortest day, then more birding time - Hooray.

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