Another one of those grey, uninviting mornings which promised no camera time, but at least today it wasn’t raining so instead of staying home thinking about birding I set out to do a little. Pilling was the venue again where a high tide was due at 11am.
Two raptors greeted me, first a rather small, grey Peregrine flying west towards Fluke Hall, which I lost when it dived into the Broadfleet gully and panicked thousands of birds into flight. I’d walked up towards Pilling Water when a Merlin flew towards the sea wall, this time in the direction of Lane Ends itself, where it dipped over the sea wall and then over the adjacent fields. The Merlin was flying with that clipped, almost “bouncy” action they sometimes show, reminiscent of a Mistle Thrush. Such a flight pattern may imitate the flight of their prey, disguise their falcon outline and so allow a closer approach: it has been called “masked hunting”. Merlins also indulge in persistent chasing of their prey where they seek to exhaust the target, combining the chase with spectacular vertical stoops where they either grab or knock down the victim. Who’d be a tiny bird in Merlin territory?
There were lots of Dunlin this morning, at least 1500, and a wader which is a favoured target and a handy sized meal for a Merlin. Other waders - 40+ Snipe, 270 Redshank, 450 Lapwing, 70+ Curlew.
Two other raptors this morning, a Kestrel and a Buzzard. The Buzzard was hanging about at the wildfowler’s pools and stubble where there are still lots of Red-legged Partridge for nabbing, hence the regular sighting of a Peregrine over the site too. When sportsmen started to gather for the Wednesday afternoon shoot the Buzzard headed off inland towards the mosslands. On the pools themselves, 50+ Teal, some of the 700+ out on the marsh, together with 250 Wigeon and 300+ Shelduck. Two Grey Herons today, outnumber as ever by the 11 Little Egrets on show.
The only chance for a photograph came when I settled down to watch about 15 Meadow Pipits feeding in the shore rockery, one or two coming within camera a range but at ISO800. As the tide came in the Meadow Pipits disappeared over the wall to be replaced by 2 Rock Pipits appearing on the high tide with 18 Linnets and 15 Skylark flying in too.
Ravens are a bit of a mystery bird out here, appearing and disappearing without any apparent pattern, just like today when four appeared over the marsh from the Cockerham direction and then proceeded to fly noisily south west. There’s a rubbish and distant photo, not taken in black and white, just “silhouette” mode on a grey day, but Ravens are very noisy birds which are impossible to miss. Click on the xeno-canto button to hear the Ravens.
Let's hope for a more colourful day tomorrow on Another Bird Blog. Stay tuned just in case.