Friday, April 12, 2013

Heading For The Hills

No not me, the birds I saw during an excellent morning’s birding - Ring Ouzel, Meadow Pipits, Golden Plovers and lots of Wheatears, all of them bound for the Pennine Hills not far away. 

Everything started fairly subdued out on the moss where I hoped for a few migrating Lesser Redpoll following a number of sightings along the coast. I have been topping up the niger feeders hoping they will attract a few redpoll in as they did last Spring, but none yet this year. The recently bereaved Barn Owl was around early but apart from that plus the sounds of Buzzards waking up and ‘peckers  pecking, the air was quiet. After catching just three birds, new Chiffchaff, Chaffinch and Goldfinch, I decided to head for the coast. Hopefully there would be newly arrived Wheatears and other things after the hold-up of the last week or two. 


There was another Chiffchaff singing at Lane Ends, a single Goldcrest moving through the trees, a Reed Bunting in song and one pair of Little Grebe on the pools. Meadow Pipits were passing overhead as I walked west towards Pilling Water. A number of Wheatears were moving pretty rapidly east along the shore, a loose party of 8/10 feeding as they went which is generally the way they behave along there. I managed to catch two, the others carrying on their merry way east, and when I released the two birds together minutes later they too headed east.




I waited for a while to see if more Wheatears arrived from the west, birding while I watched plus listening to Meadow Pipits heading north. Greenshank and Spotted Redshank on the pool with a single Snipe today. A flock of about 150 Golden Plover flew around intermittently after tractors disturbed them, the Lapwings not so flighty now for fear of losing their territory on the newly ploughed field. At the moment there looks to be 10 or 12 likely pairs of Lapwing plus 3 or 4 pairs of both Redshank and Oystercatcher. There are still 3 or more Little Egrets on the marsh and in the ditches, Shelduck paired up and 300+ Pink-footed Geese in no apparent hurry to set off for Iceland. 

With no more Wheatears about I thought to look at Fluke Hall where I found another 8 or 10 of them along the rocky shore, different birds these but again very mobile. I caught another male before being distracted by a Ring Ouzel nearby so I abandoned the ringing and went off to investigate the ouzel instead. They are pretty scarce at any time of the year, a passage migrant only and usually coastal. 


It’s a long distance shot of the Ring Ouzel for fear of losing the bird, particularly as it was feeding very close to a Blackbird cousin, both species flighty at the best of times. 

Ring Ouzel

In the absence of a proper photograph I rather like this stylised image from c1905 from The Natural History of the Birds of Central Europe by Johann Friedrich Naumann. 

Ring Ouzel - Johann Friedrich Neumann 

After yesterday's post on Another Bird Blog concerning endangered birds here is some information about the Ring Ouzel courtesy of the Ring Ouzel Study Group - 

"Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) is a summer migrant to Europe and Fennoscandia, where it is characteristically associated with upland areas. The British population has declined steadily since early in the 20th century, and the species' range contracted by 27% between 1970 and 1990. A national survey in 1999 suggested that this decline was continuing and estimated that fewer than 7,600 pairs remained. As a result, the species is now of high conservation concern in Britain. British and continental ouzels winter in similar areas of Spain and north-west Africa, and whereas the species has declined in Britain, its numbers are thought to be relatively stable on the continent. Therefore, it is thought the decline in British breeding ouzels is due to factors in Britain, rather than elsewhere". 

Weekend tomorrow. That’s good - I should get some birding in for a change.


Rohrerbot said...

What a wonderful report! I don't know what's going on in Britain but it does seem that a lot of birds are facing declining numbers. We have it here in United States as well but a lot of reports from different British birders suggest that land and attitudes may have something to do with the disappearing birds. What a wonderful sighting! This bird is similar to our rusty blackbird who is also experiencing declining numbers.

Wally Jones said...

Congratulations on the Ouzel!
Looks like you had a good day. More Golden Plovers, how nice!
Hopefully, Spring will arrive before Summer for you!

Have a good weekend, Phil.

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

I always enjoy your ringing shots. It makes me want to participate in our banding program here. The shots you are able to get, plus getting to hold the birds in your hand, are simply amazing.

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