Thursday, August 30, 2012

Size Matters

There’ a mixed bag of a report today – a small dead bird, a spot of ringing, a touch of birding and a brace of harriers. 

It all started at Pilling after a phone message from a lady with a dead bird which she didn’t recognise, but she would leave it on the dustbin in case the couple were not at home. Never knowing quite what to expect when Joe Public phones I considered all the possibilities from a Wren to perhaps a Sparrowhawk, the latter always a possibility where gardens are concerned. I was right, a young male from one of this year’s broods lay across the bin lid as promised. A Sparrowhawk is much smaller than people imagine, a male doubly so. 


I was in Pilling anyway so needed no further excuse to hit the sea wall. After more heavy overnight rain a Greenshank had settled happily in a wet spot at Backsands Lane, until a very large bus clanked noisily by my parked car and the Greenshank spluttered off. 


Along the sea wall – 40+ Swallows heading slowly west into the stiff north westerly and 40+ Goldfinch on the thistle heads, and then 2 Ravens flying out to the distant tideline. 

There was a single Wheatear just beyond Lane Ends, quite unusual to see one here nowadays since the new planation developed into a wood, so removing the open spaces beloved of Wheatears. Further towards Pilling Water I found a Common Sandpiper and another 4 Wheatears ducking and diving over the rocks on the shore, so I laid a trap or two into the teeth of the cold northerly, hoping the meal worms could still wriggle. One obviously did, but it took a while today to catch a chunky juvenile bird, wing length 101mm so almost certainly an Icelandic bird, especially since there has been a noticeable influx of Wheatears during this week’s unsettled westerly weather. 


I found a partially sheltered spot to watch the traps and the tideline hoping for something to come along, which is exactly what happened when a Marsh Harrier appeared from the Cockerham direction and flew all along the tideline until it disappeared over the sea wall at Fluke Hall. In between the harrier had to shake off the attentions of two Ravens chasing it along the tide. I can’t recall ever seeing Ravens and Marsh Harriers in close proximity before, and when I looked it up in the books it seems the species have the same wing span. Sorry about the distant, heavily cropped picture, but you get the idea. 

Marsh Harrier and Raven

As the harrier flew across the wildfowlers’ pools it flushed 150+ Teal and a couple of Little Egrets from the water there. 

The other harrier, a “Gold Top” was yesterday when I went to do a little maintenance work on the net rides at Rawcliffe. One of these days maybe a Marsh Harrier will come close enough for a decent picture rather than a record shot?

Marsh Harrier

There’s a better forecast tomorrow with less wind and more sun so hopefully more news on Another Bird Blog.


Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

So sad about the sparrowhawk. The other shots are really quite beautiful. Looks like a productive birding day!

Christian said...

Gutted about the hawk Phil - I just love those creatures.

Gary Jones said...

shame for the Sparrowhawk, but great sighting of the MH, I was the same for a long time, just getting record shots, but came good last year at Leighton Moss, patience paid off eventually!!

eileeninmd said...

Sorry about the sparrowhawk. Looks like you had a good day of birding. The raven Chasing the harrier is a cool sight. Great post, Phil!

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Feel sorry about the sparrowhawk.
Do you know what's the cause of death?

Stewart M said...

Nice post - I remember being really surprised at how small a male Sp'hawk was in the hand.

Nice to see the Harrier.

Cheers - Stewart M

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