Monday, January 2, 2012

Getting Better

It was only this morning that my new shiny notebook received the first entry for 2012, so that means I’ve already lost one day’s birding – must do better. The weather hasn’t improved though, with strong winds and rain forecast for several more days which looks like limiting my activity to birding only, consigning the pliers to recent history.

Today’s visit to Rawcliffe Moss was enhanced by a flock of Fieldfares, the first ones I have seen in any numbers since November. The summer and autumn of 2011 produced a poor harvest of hawthorn berries, leaving none on the winter hedgerows for thrushes, Blackbirds or marauding Fieldfares from elsewhere, turning up for the feast that never was. Although we associate flocks of Fieldfares with stripping our hedgerows of autumn berries they have a very catholic taste in food, taking a wide range of invertebrates as well as flying insects and they switch easily between feeding on berries, fallen fruit or like today, probing the sodden fields on the lookout for earthworms and beetles. At this time of year Fieldfares also associate with Starlings, a species which is just as adept at probing wet fields. For the record the mixed flock I found contained 60 Fieldfare, 200+ Starling and just 3 Redwing, the latter as scarce as Fieldfares since the autumn.



Despite the showers and blustery wind my walk north, west and south turned up good numbers of passerines, with 130+ Tree Sparrow, 30 Reed Bunting, 4 Yellowhammer, 120 Chaffinch, 40 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipit, 1 Song Thrush, 5 Yellowhammer and 15 Corn Bunting. More distant and over towards Pilling I reckoned on over 1500 Lapwing, 400 Woodpigeon and hundreds more Starlings in almost constant flight back and forth over the moss.


But brief sunny intervals helped me find 2 Kestrel, 2 Buzzard and 2 Grey Partridge, and then on the way home I finished off with a pm Barn Owl perched alongside Union Lane.

Barn Owl

The day seemed longer, with a little light remaining at 1630. Now that’s what I call progress.


grammie g said...

Hey Phil...are you still here or there or ..not away..huh I'm all confused now..; }
You know if you go on a vacation the weather at home for sure will be perfect for netting and ringing and you won't be there or here or ....; }
Lovely looking bird the Fieldcrest.and the Owl "dang he is cute"!!
I have to tell you..not to give me a hard time about my wood, it is in a wood shelter and it's not wet..I just have to wheelbarrow it to the basement of the house which is no easy work ..but an old women has to do what she has to do ...since you don't live down the street..haha!!
Have a good one old friend!!

Kay Baughman said...

Beautiful Barn Owl!

Christian said...

Hi Phil

Progress indeed - here's to a little more light! I was up that way myself on Monday morning and is was quite windy and showery, although I did see a flock of lapwing, the usual kestrels and 4/5 buzzards. Nice shot of the Barn Owl perched up Phil. You must have been nice and close! It's very windy as I get ready for work today, so good luck if you're going up there today!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Phil, I do believe that we receive much of the same kind of weather, about the same time. The single Fieldfare, image is a wow pleaser and well, you already know what I have to say about that beautiful Barn Owl it is magnificent, like it was just waiting your arrival for a quick snap, or two and then off to dreamland. Take care~

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Fieldfares are such a nice looking thrush. I'd really love to see one. I think there are even few records of them here in Japan.

Chris said...

Hi Phil,
Well still you have seen more than I did and that Barn owl is a real plus. I've been out only yesterday for a 30 minutes walk, still too cold and too much snow! So I've only seen 10 species so far ;-)

Peter Fearon said...

Grim times here in the North West eh? I had a big flock of 500+ Starlings today over Crosby, but things are really quiet around our way at the moment!

Happy New Year Matey - keep up the good work!

Russell said...

I'd just be so blown away if I saw a barn owl sitting out like that. Great shots.

Derek & Chris Thomas said...

Lovely Fieldfare pic!

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