Friday, March 22, 2013

Taking Stock

Indoors today surrounded by rain, snow and even blizzard conditions in the hills not far away, with more to come the experts promise. So here's the news from yesterday, before the weather went from not good to infinitely worse..

Despite the early sun Thursday morning began as yet another bitterly cold one with a biting easterly breeze. It was a combination which left few choices about the outing, the main priority being to bird somewhere moderately sheltered where there might be a touch of warmth in the air. 

So it was over the moss roads to the Rawcliffe feeding station to take stock of the birds there, a top up of the niger tubes and  a scattering of mixed seed on the deck. I stopped on the way along Lancaster Lane to look for birds on a still partially flooded field where I found a couple of shire horses to say hello to.

Pilling Moss


The flood held five or six Meadow Pipits and more than 15 alba wagtails, all Pied Wagtails I think, until my viewing was interrupted by their multiple alarm calls as a Peregrine flew overhead going in the direction of Pilling and the shore. The wagtails settled in another field further away where 6 Fieldfares probed through the mud for worms and a pair of Oystercatchers has taken up residence. I think the oyks should wait before laying eggs as most fields are being ploughed now after a cold but dry spell which has left the ground generally workable. 


Towards Out Rawcliffe I saw the first of four pair of Buzzards I would see, this couple joined in the air by the inevitable crows but also by a Sparrowhawk. Buzzards are extremely active now after many adopted a wintering low profile or moved south and west for a while. 

Buzzard - Buteo buteo

Last week a reader asked about our UK Stock Dove, the pigeon that is somewhat ignored by us birders seeking something more colourful or exciting. Near Out Rawcliffe I watched a pair of Stock Dove at a broken down old tree, a tree which has served Kestrels. Little Owls and Stock Doves in past years but which is now in serious decline - Rather like the Stock Dove itself, a species which has suffered sharp losses of habitat combined with pressure from hunting.

Stock Dove

And from Wiki - "The name Stock Dove has caused some confusion about the origins of this bird. The modern usage of the word "stock" might imply that the bird has been tamed and kept as stock for food and merchandise, leading to the belief that this bird is a hybrid breed with its origins in human aviaries; however this is not the case. The word "Stock" refers not to the stock of trade, but comes from the Old English "stocc" meaning "stump, post, stake, tree trunk, log." Therefore "Stock Dove" means "a dove which lives in hollow trees". Such hollow trees near human settlements would often be taken and used as wood stock for firewood, hence the name”. 

 Stock Dove

“Before deforestation, the Stock Dove was the most frequent pigeon, nesting mostly in oak or pine wood, but as it usually nests in cavities in trees it was normally only found in old forests. In plantations there are not as many holes to nest in, so the species is scarcer. In addition, because the Stock Dove is double brooded, a second hole is required for the second brood. They are known to nest in rabbit burrows, ruins with cavities large enough to host nesting and old poplar hedges which have numerous cavities for nesting and in cracks in crag or cliff faces, in ivy, or in the thick growth round the boles of common lime trees. Stock Doves will also use nest boxes”.

About the farm one or two Curlews were in bubbling display as they passed through and east towards the Bowland fells, and I counted more than 20 of them heading that way. The feeding station still holds the Bramblings, 4 today, plus 15 Reed Bunting, 10 Chaffinch and 6 Goldfinch. 

At a nearby garden were 30+ Tree Sparrows, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker and 1 Mistle Thrush. Four more Buzzards, 60+ Woodpigeon, 4 Yellowhammer and a pair of Kestrels completed my morning. 


If there’s anyone not entered Wednesday’s draw on Another Bird Blog to win a copy of the new Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, there’s still time to do so by clicking here.

Good luck and come back soon. Meanwhile see Who would rather be birding or take a look at Madge's Weekly Top Shot.


Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Hi!!!.. Beautiful pictures.. Congrats..

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

The oyster catcher is always such a delightful bird and makes a wonderful photographic subject.

Isidro Ortiz said...

Bonitas capturas Phil.Un abrazo

Wally Jones said...

A good report, considering your weather situation!
You mention the Curlews in "bubbling display". Is this related to their call or some physical aspect of flight? It's a new term for me.

Happy Friday! -- Wally

eileeninmd said...

Blizzard, Really? Your photos and birds are beautiful, Phil. I love the shot of the Oystercatcher. And the Stock Pigeons look neat on the tree trunk! Happy birding and have a great weekend!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Great post about the Stock Doves, very interesting and the images are so beautiful. Sounds like not such great weather for you all yet either... We have had Spring warmth and now we are expecting an accumulation of snow for the weekend...Happy days are coming...I hope~

TexWisGirl said...

such sweet doves. always love the oystercatchers, too. but i was completely enamored by the horses!!! BEAUTIFUL and stocky beasts!

DeniseinVA said...

A very interesting post and wonderful bird photos.

Cheryl said...

Wow! That oyster catcher is beautiful. Blizzard coming and fields ready for plowing - what a strange combination. Hope you fared well through the storm and milder weather is on its way.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Beautiful birds, but I just love the horses.

RNSANE said...

There are few birds I can identify....cardinals, blue jays, robins, etc....nice to see all your photos.

My Camera Critters post is at:

Anni said...

Great info on the birds...excellent images as the one in the hollowed-out tree branch.

And the horses in the field...that image is awesome.

Carol L McKenna said...

Beautiful photos of nature's treasures ~ Lovely post ~

Enjoy ^_^

Gemma Wiseman said...

A great variety of characters! The oystercatcher has a striking pose!

Gary said...

Wow those horses are beautiful!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

HansHB said...

Great serie of photos!

Stuart Price said...

The Stock Doves in the gnarled tree look very atmospheric.........

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