Friday, November 8, 2013

Thursday On Friday

I’m posting for Thursday because I didn’t get chance to do a write up from my usual trip out to Pilling. 

There’s nothing better than getting out birding after being marooned indoors for a few days by inclement weather, especially when there are stories of thousands of thrushes heading south and west from Norway. Apart from the mad rush of early October the autumn has been a poor one for thrushes whereby I’m not seeing any Redwings, Fieldfares, extra numbers of Blackbirds and certainly no Song Thrushes. Yesterday drew another blank, even after I checked the hedgerows of both Ridge Farm and Fluke Hall, hawthorn highlights there just several Greenfinches. 

The fields at Ridge Farm are as wet as I’ve ever seen them, as evidenced by 250+ Black-headed Gulls, 12 Black-tailed Godwits and even 10 Snipe rising from the stubble and upwards of 25 Skylark. There was a hovering Buzzard, soon pestered by the local crows, the Buzzard then heading off back inland. I found more Black-tailed Godwits on the Fluke Hall fields with another 60 or so together with 18 Redshank, 90 Lapwing, 6 Curlew and several more Snipe. A couple of shoots have reduced the number of Red-legged Partridge but still 150+ to see in place of any native partridges. 

There are a lot of Shelduck about at the moment, with a count of 500+ along the shore where a concentrated effort could almost certainly have doubled the guestimate. Unlike most of the UK’s wild duck population Shelducks are protected by law from shooting. But as a species they are far from easy to approach, being just as wild as the “permissible quarry” of Teal, Wigeon and Pintail which also spend most of their time out on the shore and marsh. 

Pilling Marsh, distant Heysham
I managed to place myself in a handy spot to get a few pictures as a dozen or two Shelduck came in from the marsh heading for the shooter’s pools where wheat is put out to attract wildfowl in. The wind was just strengthening, making the Shelduck slow down their approach flight, some almost vertical before they landed, others applying the brakes perfectly in time, yet others miscuing and then having to go round again for another landing attempt. Their circlings reminded me of a flight to India some years ago where we spent an hour or more viewing Dabolim Airport from a great height, going around in circles and wondering if we’d ever land, until eventually we scraped home by the skin of our nervous fingers and a holiday in Glorious Goa.

There’s a close-up of a Shelduck being ringed at the Wildfowl Trust winter catch of a few years ago. 






A walk along the sea wall produced another 30+ Skylarks and a welcome if brief Merlin in the usual low dash over the marsh. I say usual but it was my first autumnal Merlin, the species appearing slow to return to its coastal haunts this year. The Merlin had appeared from near Pilling Water the spot where I found 15 or so feeding Meadow Pipits, these birds so late in the autumn as to be potential winterers. One sat up on a fence post and watched my progress along the path.
Meadow Pipit

Just 7 Whooper Swans today so it appears the Icelandic swans have left Pilling for more appealing places: no worries, I’ll make do with a picture of Mute Swans. How do swans fly so close together without causing a major pile-up in the airways?

Mute Swan

There was a headless Pink-footed Goose behind the sea wall, a spot I don’t often see a Red Fox but the decapitated evidence suggests one may have been along quite recently, leaving the crows and gulls to follow on. I can’t imagine a pinkie being nabbed by a fox unless the goose was injured in some way, perhaps as a result of a recent shoot on the marsh.

ex Pink-footed Goose

That’s all for now but don’t forget that it’s not too late to enter the Free Draw for a signed copy of The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland here on Another Bird Blog via Wednesday’s post.

Linking today to Anni's Blog and  Camera Critters


Wally Jones said...

You seem to have had a good outing after being held hostage by the weather!

Very nice series of photos on the Shelduck!
The Meadow Pipit is really handsome and your picture is superb.

You are right about our lunch venue the other day at Lake Kissimmee looking similar to Pilling.

Hope the weather remains favorable for your weekend and perhaps it will be filled with thrushes queueing up to be ringed.

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Phil another great post. I love th flight shots of the Shelduck adn the Meadow Pipit is fantastic also. Sorry about the Pink footed Goose. Have a great biring weekend

Mary Howell Cromer said...

What a beauty the Shelduck is...wonderful flight images, so close, NICE!
Pilling looks really lovely, and sorry that you missed so much, being cooped changes so much in the scene of birding.
We have many a Mute Swan and I have seen them fly low to the ground, but never up in the air, like what you captured. As large as they are, you would think... yet grace must be in their genes.
Happy weekend~

The happy wanderer. said...

Your Shelduck are a handsome bird, but wariness obviously runs in the family as the Australian Shelduck is as well. Good luck with your search for the thrush species over the weekend. It will be interesting to read about it.

eileeninmd said...

Phil, beautiful flight shots of the Shelduck! I hope your weather is nice for the weekend! Great post and photos. Have a happy weekend!

Russell Jenkins said...

Super count with the shelducks and superb pictures too. I wonder how all would fair without the shooters? Still some nice scenery and many other wonderful species to keep you going out.

EG CameraGirl said...

Wonderful shots of the Shelduck. Too bad bad about the pink-footed goose but death IS a part of life.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh poor goose. The shelduck is beautiful and I don't remember seeing or learning about that duck before. Glad your weather improved.

Gunilla Bäck said...

The shelducks are beautiful! Today was grey and cloudy and it looks like we're going to get a lot of rain tomorrow.

HansHB said...

Lovely post!

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Fine.. Great pictures .. Congratulations and good weekend ..

Our photos said...

Beautiful photos!
Have a nice sunday! RW & SK

Stewart M said...

Your comment about House Sparrows declining makes me wonder how much change I will notice when I'm back in the UK next year.

Hope to catch up with a few birds I have not seen in years - many of which feature on your blog!!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Anni said...

Poor goose...nasty fox!!
Your posts are always filled with great detail of your outings Phil! I enjoy reading them. Those Shelducks are so colorful, and wonderfully marked. The in flight images are superb.

Kenneth C Schneider said...

Great shot of that duck coming in for a landing with his flaps down!

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