Thursday, December 19, 2013

Unexpected And Predictable

After last night’s rain and hail storm the morning was bright if still cold and windy. I set out for Knott End hoping to see a few storm driven strays, maybe a Little Gull or a sea bird or two. As often happens when birding, it’s the unpredictable which steals the show, if only briefly. 

In the car park I’d hardly stopped the car, warming my gloves on the dash for my impending walk when the gulls near the jetty rose up to see off a raptor. It was a male Hen Harrier arriving from the north and heading directly and quickly up river, leaving me with fleeting views before it disappeared out of sight. There was no point walking up river into the teeth of the gale as there is nowhere for a harrier to stop for a mile or more. Perhaps this was the same male which spent last winter on the mosses of Pilling and Rawcliffe, just a few miles from Knott End, the bird returning to a locality where it managed to survive a brutal winter? Time will tell as no doubt this post will now prompt others to look elsewhere for this or additional Hen Harriers. 

Here's one of the many superb plates from the recent Crossley ID Guide: Britain & Ireland published by Princeton University Press. I have a copy of this book in my car both to show others and to browse through during rainy intervals of birding. A friend who loves his copy to bits tells me that he bought it from Amazon for less than £12 - what a bargain. 

The wind was less forceful along the promenade and near the jetty where I could see a few birds and where walking kept the cold at bay. Not so for the groups of Redshanks whose strategy is to take minimal shelter and tuck their heads in. Redshanks numbered 90+ today, sharing their space on the beach with Black-headed Gulls, 120+ Lapwings and 15 Dunlin. 


On the shore were a phenomenal number of Knot perhaps 7/8000 birds that flew off towards Preesall Sands as the tide came in to leave a small number roosting near the slipway. 


The rapidly rising tide pushed the Oystercatchers off the sand to leave just two or three hundred at the usual spot before they too flew, some up river, the others towards Preesall Sands. Left in the small bay by the jetty were 16 Turnstones, 2 Rock Pipits and 2 Pied Wagtails. 

Rock Pipit - Photo credit: talis qualis / / CC BY-NC

Pied Wagtail

Another session curtailed by wind and rain; at 1pm the rain is falling steadily and the weather folk warn to expect lots more in the next week. 

Some things never change but be sure that Another Bird Blog will be out birding whenever possible.

Linking today to Saturday Critters with Eileen and Anni's Birding Blog.


Errol Newman said...

I think the Redshanks would make a splendid Christmas/greetings card.
MC&HNY, Phil

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Very nices pictures.. Merry christmas.. :-)))

David Gascoigne said...

Great pictures and interesting, well-written narrative.

eileeninmd said...

Rain, rain go away! Your Pied Wagtail is a cutie! Love the birds and photos, Phil!

The happy wanderer. said...

I agree with Errol's comment. How lucky were you to see a Hen Harrier!
The page from the guide is appealing too.

Russell Jenkins said...

I could feel the teeth of the gale as I read your words and I always love the way your birds pose for your camera. The pipit and wagtail did a marvellous job.

Stewart M said...

Nice set of pictures - and not a bad bird to start the day with.

I have bought the Crossley guide (you never know when I may need it!) and I'm not convinced by it yet - maybe actually using it on some birds would help!!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

PS: thanks for the many comments this year.

MastHoliday said...

Beautiful birds, Phil! Happy Christmas...
my new post Great Souvenirs of Romania.

EG CameraGirl said...

I'm amazed you found so many birds on a windy day!


For the last few days around here it's been windy also....I think your bird sightings are awesome tho. Naturally. That Wagtail is my favorite this week.

Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Debbie said...

the best way to start any day!!

love, love, love the pied wagtail, what a pretty bird!!

Carol L McKenna said...

All are wonderful bird photos ~ thanks, carol, xxx

Merry Xmas to you ^_^

Gunilla Bäck said...

A wonderful post! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Rajesh said...

Nice shots. I like the birds in the flight.

Kenneth C Schneider said...

The male harrier is a striking bird. We see very few, as females and I matures far outnumber them during migration. Usually one or two spend the winter in our local wetlands.

genie said...

Wonderful series of shots. Excellent photography.

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