Thursday, December 22, 2011

I’m Counting On It

It was still breezy this morning but bright with it, perhaps the nicest morning we’ve had for some weeks; let’s hope it’s an omen for the New Year. I decided a tramp across Rawcliffe Moss would be both beneficial to me and productive for finding birds, an idea which proved to be fairly accurate although I didn’t need the calculator of Wednesday’s swan day, just the fingers of one hand this morning. My thanks go to Grace in Maine for that last piece of advice; over in Maine the folks are whizz at counting the depth of the snow in metres, and often need to use all ten fingers.

The first bird/birds of the day can be a pointer to what’s to come later: migrants overhead, thrushes in a dawn hedgerow, a hunting Barn Owl or a dawn chorus. Today it was a Buzzard, or rather a Buzzard and several Blackbirds in my field of view at once, the Buzzard perched motionless in a tree but watching the antics of the thrushes fighting over the few remaining berries along the hedgerow below. It was too early for the Buzzard to fly, and often they just sit and wait, so inconspicuous are they, despite their size.


Next in my notebook came Hen Harrier again, the now regular “ringtail” floating across the road ahead of me as it hurried across to Pilling Moss, its main hang out of the past month or so. Later I was to see the harrier make the return journey, helped this time by a convoy of corvids that chased it mercilessly until it was off their feeding stubble.

By now I was at the Tree Sparrow track, where I headed east along the hedge to see how many flushed off the seed. 180 was the answer, eight or nine flights of twenty heading for the safety of the next hedgerow and away from bird ringers. A number of Chaffinch were amongst the sparrows, as well as a few Yellowhammers, but on a return viewing an hour or more later the Chaffinch count increased to 30+, Yellowhammers to 16, and Reed Buntings to 10.



Next came the big field and then a slog north over wet stubble where I came across a Merlin, a Kestrel, 8 Corn Bunting, another dozen or so Reed Buntings, 5 Linnet, 7 Grey Partridge, 15 Skylark and 7 Roe Deer. Although the birds scatter along the hedgerow, the deer never ever stay around, but just run and run to the safety of a distant wood.


As the light burst through the sky and the sun hit the abandoned maize, I took a black and white photo that turned out ok, and then a colour one that isn’t nearly so intense.

Rawcliffe Moss

Rawcliffe Moss

A walk through and around the winter plantation yielded 6 Reed Bunting, 3 Blackbird, a Robin, a Sparrowhawk, and in distant trees 500+ Wood Pigeon. Hey Grace, I almost needed an abacus for those last ones.


Christian said...

What a brilliant day Phil. The Hen Harrier sightings must be a thrill every time. I saw a male HH in a field off Lancaster Rd./Union Lane in October.

Despite my regular attendance to that area, I still don't know the exact whereabouts of Pilling and Rawcliffe Moss, even though I probably see them all the time! Are they close to Union Lane Phil?

grammie g said...

Hey Phil...What this omen stuff...don't you believe in Santa ..I told you I asked him to bring you decent weather! ; }
I am happy you got a good day, and lovely photos ...the yellowhammer very nice...the black and white ya better!!
Now you got that wrong here in Maine we measure snow by the foot ( one foot placed on top of the other)lol!
I hope you get a abacus for Christmas..then you could be a abacist sounds classy doesn't it !!
I had one in grammar school then I discovered fingers! ; }

Lauren said...

I love it! I feel like I'm in a Tolkien world of birds just expanded!

Russell said...

Regal pose of the blackbird and love both the landscapes. Both are dramatic but so different. You certainly get a lot of variety in one outing.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Rawcliff Moss, what a charming sounding name, and the beauty of both the black and white, I think are equally balanced in their vibrance and beauty! The Merlin is very special, and so far as I know, I have never viewed one, but would really like to. Tomorrow is going to get a little busy, and I may not be on board, so I am once again wishing you a very Blessed Christmas~

Bob Bushell said...

One of the greatest to me, the Yellowhammer. I can't seem to get it in my sight. Yours is superb.

Andy said...

Merry Christmas

eileeninmd said...

Looks like a great birdie day, Phil! The Yellowhammer is one of my favorites. MERRY Christmas to you and your family!!

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