Sunday, August 28, 2011

Making The Best Of It.

With blustery winds and heavy showers blowing in from the west a ringing session was out of the question this morning.

So I took myself off to a farm near St Michael’s village where there’s a good selection of habitat and more than a few trees that offer shelter to birders and birds. There’s also lots of large, open fields of barley, silage and maize, so I wasn’t entirely surprised to see an autumn Marsh Harrier, but very distant. They always are far off when I’m around, my camera so jinxed that it never gets a good shot of a Marsh Harrier, hence the poor excuse for a photograph again, not helped by the first of many heavy showers that chose the same moment to drench me in half a minute.

Marsh Harrier

I found a good flock of about 90 Woodpigeon feeding on a recently cut grass meadow, and in the same field 4 Stock Dove, but feeding apart from the pigeons. What is it about pigeons and doves that make them unexciting to birders? The Stock Dove is actually a very subtly marked yet attractive bird, with that glossy green neck patch, its shades of grey and blue so splashed with black. Even the lacklustre old Woodpigeon has a certain charm when it fixes you with that yellow glare.

Stock Dove


Down the farm track the showers cleared enough for me to count the hirundines, 140 scattered Swallows, just 2 House Martin, but 3 Sand Martin dropped low by the rain storm I think. Just then the Swallows twittered in alarm, regrouped, and then saw off a Sparrowhawk which soon lost interest before disappearing over nearby trees.

On a recently tilled field I found a flock of 110+ purely Linnet but 5 Mistle Thrush searching through the same soil. Another thrush appeared on the trail ahead of me, this time a Song Thrush, which whacked the life out of a snail shell until the goodies inside fell to the floor. Everywhere I go I see lots of snails, slugs and bugs, all good sustenance for thrushes, but I see very few of the now scarce Song Thrush. The light was poor, the thrush was fast, but you get the general idea.

Song Thrush

Song Thrush

Looking west the sky was clearer, with patches of blue and to the north a bright rainbow against a dark grey sky, as up in the blue 3 Buzzards wheeled around, making the most of the respite. Buzzards have been largely quiet of late, but I get the feeling their autumn dispersal is taking place.

The farm has a couple of stands of trees, places for stopping, listening and looking. It was here I found a couple of Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff, the chiffy in brief but full song. A Kestrel skirted the trees then a Great-spotted Woodpecker moved along the line of trees to the one furthest away, and when there were no more trees it flew to a telegraph pole where the road began.

Great-spotted Woodpecker

The ‘pecker was my cue to hit the road too, but what a splendid morning of birding despite the dreary old British weather, the sort we like to moan about. But at least we don’t have to lookout for Irene like our friends across the pond.


Christian said...

Excellent 'pecker shot there Phil - nice pose.

I saw a female/juv Marsh Harrier at Bradshaw Lane Head on Monday. You may have some luck there, although it was too far for my camera too!

Stu said...

LOL. Have to say I generally ignored pigeons back in the UK. Stock Doves seem to be getting more numerous but I wonder how many I overlooked when I was younger.............

Paco Sales said...

Un día que la climatología no acompaño amigo Phil, pero así y todo consigues unas bellísimas imágenes, un fuerte abrazo para ti Phil

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

I do agree that the Stock Dove looks really attractive. Also interesting to see photos of the Song Thrush eating a snail.

Chris said...

Well you did well despite the wind and these pigeons shots are beautiful!

Tatjana Parkacheva said...

Very nice photos.


Mary Howell Cromer said...

It sounds like you had a splendid day even with the British rains that came. A wonderful collection of birds pictured as well. I actually took a couple of photos Saturday of one lone Piegeon which I shall post later, I found it to be fabulous in it's colouration. We were fortunate enough to be inland from Irene, but the folk of the east coast, especially Vermont, are in my heart thoughts, really bad there~

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