Friday, November 29, 2013

More Snobs, Belated Phalarope

I’d been stuck indoors on Thursday morning waiting for the heating engineer and then when he came, discussing our non-functioning radiators with him. When I eventually reached Pilling to indulge in a spot of birding the afternoon proved a frustrating one with a flyover of 2 Snow Buntings, belated news of a Grey Phalarope and then a finish soon after 3pm when the almost-December light failed me. 

I set off from Fluke heading east along the usual path where a number of Redshanks and Curlews flushed from the marsh and the several hundred Jackdaws, Carrion Crows and a single Raven took to the air at my coming. 

Suddenly a Peregrine appeared from “nowhere” and briefly chased a Redshank towards the wood before doing the usual disappearing act over Ridge Farm. There were 15 Whooper Swans on the marsh, the birds now less tolerant than when they first arrived from Iceland in October and more inclined to flee from would-be observers. By 3pm I’d counted 165 Whooper Swans as they came and went between the marsh, the stubble field and an inland spot not far away. I hear tell some were killed as they hit overhead power lines near Eagland Hill - what a terrible end for such a majestic creature of the air. 

Whooper Swans

Waders on the wet stubble amounted to 44 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Redshank, 75+ Lapwings and 1 Snipe. Passerines just 2 Skylark and 2 Linnets until I glimpsed two brown jobs lift off from Hi-Fly’s spilled wheat track, the birds showing flashes of white. As they called and flew they instantly became 2 Snow Buntings and I followed them as they continued flying over the wood, heading south and into the near distance. 

After a number of consecutive years when Snow Buntings have been rather scarce 2013 has seen a turnaround with the arctic buntings seemingly at a number of local spots. The picture is of a Snow Bunting here at Pilling on November 10th a few weeks ago. 

Snow Bunting

I watched as good numbers of Pintail and Shelduck arrived at the wildfowlers pools for their free meal, roughly 40 Pintail and 60 Shelduck, but no wary Teal just now. 

Along the sea wall came a non-birding acquaintance of mine who can put an accurate name to many birds but perhaps not to less well known ones. He told of a day some weeks ago and a small grey and white wader feeding at the surface of a pool, not a Snipe or a Jack Snipe, but smaller. The bird was so close and untroubled by his being there that my pal walked within 6 feet of it then took a picture with his mobile phone; I knew he had seen a Grey Phalarope. His pal who had also seen the bird later found something similar on the Internet and reckoned the creature might be a Grey Phalarope. 

Grey Phalarope

As my acquaintance has previously seen a winter Bittern in almost the same spot I ensured that this time he has my mobile number for future reference. 

Just a few short hours but for finding and seeing birds there’s no substitute for getting out there and actually doing it is there?

Back home the garden has been quiet for weeks on end, enlivened by a visit from a Treecreeper, a couple of sightings of a male Sparrowhawk, and the reason for the hawk, several feeding Goldfinch.

There’s more news soon, belated or not from Another Bird Blog.


Mary Howell Cromer said...

I sure hope that you got the heating radiators up and going now Phil! I also hope that your pal will signal you the next time he sees the Grey Phalarope...what a wonderful opportunity that would be. You know I love the Buntings and I am happy to see their numbers may be increasing. Have a great weekend~

drmattbishop said...

There have been a good few sightings of Snow Buntings up here in East Lothian - your note reminds me I must get out and see them before the weather gets worse and they are all flying further south.

drmattbishop said...

There have been a good few sightings of Snow Buntings up here in East Lothian - your note reminds me I must get out and see them before the weather gets worse and they are all flying further south.

Christian Perrin said...

How funny that your non-birding acquaintance should have such luck with their sightings!

'Snobs' is a cute nickname that matches well with the cute bird in the photograph.

The happy wanderer. said...

The Phalarope looks so different in it's winter plumage to those in Svalbard in breeding plumage. You have some good birds visiting currently.

Carole M. said...

..I'd never heard of the grey phalarope before...the whooper swans are elegant in flight but I really like those snow buntings Phil

David Gascoigne said...

Some great photographs. Congratulations.

Lou Mary said...

Great photos Phil! I'm yet to see any snow buntings around here, but I'm probably not looking hard enough! Mega envious of your tree creeping garden visitor!

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