Thursday, June 20, 2013

Early Bird

It's hard to sleep these light mornings but lying awake while the sun shines outside isn't an option. Or maybe I'm just a natural early bird keen to catch the birding action. Whatever it is I soon found myself heading north for a wander around the hot spots of Cockerham for a couple of hours before clouds rolled in and rain returned. 

The Barn Owl is an early bird too, hunting the marsh and the roadside before most normal people are up and about. I was stood in a cloud of morning midges hence the black dots appearing to surround the owl, tiny insects which are actually whizzing around the camera lens pointed unerringly at the owl. A little more road traffic soon sent the owl back home for a daytime sleep.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

The swarm of midges attracted Swifts again with 25 or more hawking the insects along the hedgerow and over my head, but only tiny numbers of Swallows and House Martins. I was to see Sand Martins later when I called at Hillam Lane where the colony now numbers 10/12 nest holes and c30 birds including this season's juveniles. 

Sand Martin

Waders and wildfowl on the pools/creek - 3 Grey Heron, 3 Lapwing, 1 Curlew, 12 Oystercatcher, 14 Redshank,1 Goldeneye, 3 Wigeon, 14 Tufted Duck, 6 Shelduck and 1 Teal. 

Alongside the road were 2 pairs of Reed Buntings feeding young, 1 singing Reed Warbler, 1 Pied Wagtail and 7 Tree Sparrow. While there are mainly juvenile Tree Sparrows about, the few adults I saw were busy collecting insects to feed their nestlings. We perhaps think of sparrows as seed eaters but Tree Sparrow youngsters are fed a high diet of insects.

Tree Sparrow

Jeremy Lane to Cockersands produced 4 Whitethroat, 2 Reed Bunting, 10 Skylark, 2 Sedge Warbler and several more Tree Sparrows. 

The tide was well in at Cockersands helping to find a number of waders and wildfowl, including 4 Curlew, 170 Oystercatcher, 1 Grey Plover, 8 Teal and a good count of 53 Eider. The Eider count comprised a flight of 5 heading out of the estuary together with a crèching group of 48 birds, 8 adult females and 40 ducklings. 


Eiders are colonial breeders. They nest on coastal islands in colonies ranging in size of less than 100 to upwards of 10,000-15,000 individuals. Female Eiders frequently return to breed on the same island where they were hatched. This can lead to a high degree of relatedness between individuals nesting on the same island, as well as the development of kin-based female social structures. This relatedness has played a role in the evolution of co-operative breeding behaviours amongst Eiders. Examples of these behaviours include laying eggs in the nests of related individuals and crèching, where female Eiders team up and share the work of rearing ducklings. The picture below shows just part of today's Eider crèche. 

Eider crèche 

That's all for now folks. Look in to Another Bird Blog soon for more early news and views.

"Click the Pics" for a better view.


eileeninmd said...

Awesome shots of the barn owl, Phil! And I love the Eider group, cool sighting! Great outing and photos!

TheChieftess said...

Wonderful shots!!!

Isidro Ortiz said...

Bonitas capturas,las de la Lechuza en vuelo me gustan mucho.Un abrazo

Carole M. said...

aren't those barn owls just the sweetest birds? You got some special shots; it's always worth being out of bed (if it's not too cold that is), for them

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Fantastic!!!.. Great shots. Love Barn Owl.. Congrats..

Russell Jenkins said...

Wow! The owl pictures are amazing and even wilder with the midges. You're a sharper birder than I with your counts, too, Phil.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

The Sand Martin is new for me...maybe yes, maybe not, but at any rate...I took great notice of this great looking bird and of course the image quality is not too shabby. I am the same way...if the daylight is coming through the curtains, I do not desire to miss a heartbeat on my feet and going after the day. Then before the light is done at the end of day, I am done for. Happy weekend Phil~

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