Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thursday's Tour

Conder Green enjoyed a purple patch of late with a superb selection of species which has kept birders entertained and then coming back for more. But a run of high tides and nights of rain has dramatically filled the pool to such a degree that this morning I struggled to see much bird life on or around its breezy and choppy waters; after all, “waders” pass their days picking through muddy margins or sandy shores, herons and egrets prefer to fish the unmoving shallows, and dabbling ducks favour a dip not a dive. 

The regulars were there, 4 Common Sandpipers, 1 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank and 4 Dunlin in the creek with tiny numbers of Oystercatcher and Lapwing on the pool, plus an overflying Black-tailed Godwit which landed in the field beyond where Curlews and Lapwings fed. Two Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron stayed mostly out of sight, not so the 2 Wigeon, 2 Little Grebe and single Goldeneye which although present, kept a distance away. 

Many Swifts appear to have left these shores in recent days, numbers this morning counted on one hand. As I watched Swallows and House Martins feeding across the marsh I saw some break off to pursue a Sparrowhawk that was cruising the hedgerow alongside the railway bridge; the hawk eventually disappeared out of sight into the trees above the car park. It's many weeks since spotting a Sparrowhawk and while they do go more than a little secretive in June and July, I get the feeling that Sparrowhawk numbers are low at present as they are absent from regular spots I know of. 


Three noisy Ravens flew over, the trio heading together towards Glasson and beyond. Passerines consisted of 3 Tree Sparrow, 3 Pied Wagtail, 6 Greenfinch, 2 Linnet, 2 Whitethroat and a still singing Reed Bunting. 

A look at calmer Glasson revealed 1 Great Crested Grebe, 12 Tufted Duck, 15+ Swallows and 2 Swift. 

Tufted Duck

Barn Swallow

From the bowling green but looking directly into the sun and the backlit waders there were lots feeding at the incoming tide, approximately 450 Dunlin, 200 Redshank, 80 Lapwings and 2 Grey heron; later I would see most if not all of the Dunlin arrive at Cockersands after the tide filled the Conder sandbanks and stopped the waders from feeding. 

The full tide at Cockersands held the aforesaid Dunlin, 42 Eider, 3 Whimbrel, 25 Curlew, 2 Ringed Plover, 120 Oystercatcher and 7 Grey Heron. 



It was good to see a flock of about 30 Linnets here feeding in the depths of the marsh grass where the seeds fall to the sand below. Come November the Linnets will be gone, replaced by their northern cousin the Twite. 

Just along the road I found a family party of 5 Whitethroats, a species which appears to have experienced a good breeding season. After a cold spring the season has been an average one for Tree Sparrows, so after their slow start it was good to find a flock of 50+ flitting between a ready to harvest field and the roadside hawthorns. 

Tree Sparrow

“Click the pics” for a closer view and then log in to Another Bird Blog soon to see what Friday brings.


Gordon said...

I like all these pics Phil, but particularly the Dunlin and Whimbrel.
All the best Gordon.

grammie g said...

Hey Phil...I bet you though I have died and gone to heaven I know your laughing at that statement and thinking of another place ; )

Well I know you haven;t missed me you have been quite busy out there commenting!! I see you everywhere in blog-land!!

I been wanting to say this word for a long time and this is it!! That is one "CRACKING"good shot of that Sparrowhawk.. He posed so cute for you !! : )
Here we are the first day of August..can you believe that??? It will be winter before we know it then we can have something different to complain about!! ; )

Great post my "old buddy old pal
" please note all the old's ; )
Wishing you calmer waters

Wally Jones said...

Your post began telling about low numbers of birds but by the time I read the whole thing I was amazed at the variety you found!

We're looking forward to the fall migration and are seeing a few "early birds" from the north all dressed in their breeding plumage.

Hope your weekend will be filled with birds.

Carole M. said...

what a superb intro photograph and enjoyed the beautiful waders too; that looks like a great location Phil

Russell Jenkins said...

Beautifully written, Phil and love that stunning portrait of the sparrowhawk. It's a classical pose making for a classic work of art. I get glimpses of them in Japan as they spend most of their time in summer in the mountains and I usually see them high and far away when they are migrating south at the end of September. Very dull for birds here at the moment so it's nice to hear of your birding days.

eileeninmd said...

Looks like an awesome day, Phil. I had to laugh at Grace's comment and I agree with the CRACKING good shot of the Sparrowhawk..I also love the Dunlin and Whimbrel. Great report, happy birding!

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

HI Phil Great locations, great variety of birds, wonderful shots. Especially like the Dunlin.

Christian Perrin said...

Stunning photo of the Sparrowhawk, Phil! The one-legged splayed-toes pose is really iconic of those birds, as is the angry gaze.

The Dunlins are a cute little bird too. We get a similar looking bird in the summer here called a Curlew Sandpiper, but they've always remained distant specks on the mudflats to me!

Isidro Ortiz said...

Buenas capturas Phil.Un abrazo

The Hairy Birder said...

It's funny you should mention a perceived absence of Sparrowhawks Phil as Ian and I were having the exact same conversation a few days ago. We too are seeing fewer at sites we would normally expect to see them. Is this a normal poor breeding season related dip or is there something more sinister going on? Time will perhaps tell!



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