Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Extra Hour

Yahoo 24 October 2013 - A thrifty couple will not be putting their clocks back this weekend - because it saves money on their energy bills. Retired John and Janys Warren, from Somerset live 'in the future' an hour ahead of everybody else and save a third on their gas and electricity bills. The couple stopped putting their clocks back five years ago when they realised the darker and shorter days were triggering John's headaches. Living on British Summer Time all year round meant his headaches eased, they could enjoy an extra hour of daylight and save money. Janys said: "We have lower fuel bills and far more usable daylight hours with evenings not seeming endless. We don't put the heating on until we get up and by then it is warmer anyway. We've saved about one third on our heating and lighting bills.” 

For what it's worth here’s my advice you stingy, sad, and foolish people - get up early and go for a brisk walk outdoors with a warm coat, a hat and scarf and a pair of binoculars. In the evenings J and J, complete your notes from the day’s birding and update your birding blog - simple. Not only will you save money, you will be healthier in mind and body and maybe get a life into the bargain. 

I put my clock back. The extra hour of birding proved warming, time consuming, energising and very enjoyable despite the frequent showers and strong winds. 

My start was early enough to see if the Little Egrets at the Pilling roost had remembered to turn their clocks back last night. The answer was that they got up at first light as normal dispersing in various directions, all 24 of them. 

Red-breasted Mergansers turn up on Fylde coastal waters at this time of year where they can be seen throughout the winter, often drifting in towards the shore with incoming high tides. They also favour a very few coastal and spacious marine lakes, so imagine my surprise to find one in a ditch behind the sea wall. Even better, Red-breasted Merganser is a species which normally keeps a very respectable distance from birders or photographers. 

Red-breasted Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

The Latin name of this duck Mergus serrator is highly descriptive, Mergus being the genus of typical mergansers, fish-eating ducks in the seaduck subfamily (Merginae). The “serrator” refers to the long, serrated bills used for catching fish. Their diet of fish such as salmon and trout brings them into conflict with anglers and fish farmers whereby the species is often classified as a pest and may be shot. Those folk with guns, they don’t miss many opportunities to attach a label do they? 

When I got to Conder Green there was a family party of Goosander Mergus merganser in the roadside creek, an adult pair and 2 first winters. The male stayed apart from the others just too far to include in a picture but the female has the darker head, the juveniles noticeably paler. Out of interest, and to limit any possible misunderstanding here, this member of the Mergus family of birds is known as Common Merganser in North America and Goosander on this side of the Atlantic. Like the smaller Red-breasted Merganser, the Goosander is also subject to persecution by anglers and fish farmers. 


A Spotted Redshank was in the creek again perhaps the same bird of late, more likely not and just one the many thousands passing this way in the autumn en route to winter in Central Africa? 

Spotted Redshank - Breeding, Migration and Wintering from

Spotted Redshank

I walked along the railway path and over the bridge and found a Common Sandpiper feeding along the edge of the creek below, so too a Grey Wagtail and a Little Egret. Along the same path was a party of 18+ Long-tailed Tits with a couple Greats and Blues, plus a single Chiffchaff. 

A flight of 3 Pintail heading west was perhaps slightly out of the ordinary just here. On the pool and creeks, 90+ Teal and just 10 Little Grebe, as grey and drab as the winter months decree, and no requirement to display that little white beauty spot until the clocks go forward in March 2014. 

Little Grebe

There’s a sleepover tonight, no not me but our two lively granddaughters Olivia and Isabella.

Wish me luck as I’ll certainly be woken up early on Monday morning and may well lose an hour or two of sleep.


Margaret Adamson said...

HI Phil That was interesting about your friend's not changing their clocks! Never heard of that before. Another great collection of birds seen today. Well as you say, you may be up early again but not this time, not to go birding!! enjoy your grand children, you are fortunate to have them near enough that they can stay.

eileeninmd said...

Phil, interesting story about the couple. People will do amazing things to save money. I love your Merganser shots, awesome reflections. And the Grebe is adorable. Great post, happy birding!

Carole M. said...

you made me laugh Phil. I'm glad you're an early birder, who blogs his birding activities too; great posts always, lovely photographs. With a good dash of humour stirred in the mix too. Red breasted Merganser is quaint. Enjoy the playful laughter of two young grand-daughters sleeping over early in the morn'

Ercotravels said...

Hi, Phil! you describing beautiful information about these birds. the birds looking cute.. such you have make beautiful photos..
Interesting post.

Lou Mary said...

The story and your subsequent comment did make me chuckle! Great photos of the r-b-merganser and the goosander. It baffles me that people feel threatened by these birds (a few fish!), enough to take a gun to them! Absurd.

Sylvia K said...

Thanks for the laugh, Phil!! Just what I needed this morning!! I love your birds and your beautiful captures!! Thanks for sharing the beauty and the fun!! Have a great week!! And Happy Birding indeed!!

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Nice pictures. Congrats and regards..

Andrew Fulton said...

A fun post Phil... lovely images.

Carol L McKenna said...

Very beautiful nature photography and excellent informative post particularly for us 'non birders' ~ I always enjoy your post ~ thanks, carol, xx

The happy wanderer. said...

Great shots of the Merganser showing those "teeth".

mick said...

An interesting post - as usual! - and an especially beautiful photo of the Spotted Redshank and its reflection in the water. Early morning is definitely the best time for birding - IMO.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

I always enjoy your writing and glean a snip it as well!
Those Red-breasted Mergansers are really quite the snappy looking birds. I am thinking that I saw some Grebes on our journey, but must graze over ;) my guide books and still may need ID help...please and thank will know when I am in a fog on them.
We change time on Nov. 3 and the only thing is it helps when I may stumble while walking 2 large pup-cubs~

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

Our clocks fall back this coming weekend here in Canada. I don't like the longer evenings but the mornings don't bother me (being retired you don't mind getting up in the dark).

Great photos as always!!

Our photos said...

Beautiful photos, Phil!
Greetings, RW & SK

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