Sunday, January 5, 2014

After The Storms

Here in this little corner of Lancashire we escaped the damage inflicted to many parts of the UK by the wind, rain and tidal surges of recent weeks. The abnormally high tides left debris in unaccustomed places, a number of trees lying across the ground and flooded fields that appeared as if by magic. Apart from more damaged fencing, home suffered no ill effects.  

Today I set off for Conder and called in at Pilling, the red sky in the morning displaying a warning which proved remarkably accurate when by 1pm the rain had arrived again, but thankfully not too much wind. 

Pilling - Red Sky In The Morning

I was too late for the Little Egret roost as most seem to have departed, a single bird just setting off for the day and 2 or 3 more on the saltmarsh. Further out on the marsh I counted 112 Whooper Swans at roost with I suspect more hidden from sight in the tidal channel, and maybe some Mute Swans too. 

Whooper Swans

I stopped at Cockerham where I counted 140+ Lapwings on the flood, 3 Little Egrets and 2 patrolling Buzzards. It was too early in the morning for these Buzzards to fly as one was fence hopping and the other strutting around a field in search of earthworms and such like, stopping every now and then to eat before then flying a few yards to another likely spot. As birdwatchers know, Buzzards aren’t the villains that many sportsmen would like to make out. 

Buzzard - Mark Medcalf (CuriousUploaded by snowmanradio) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

Some two hours later and on the way back from Conder I stopped here again to find phenomenal numbers of birds on the several flooded fields - 3500 Lapwing, 450 Curlew, 450 Golden Plover and 1500 Starlings but no Buzzards. 

At Conder Pool the aftermath of recent weather was most obvious at the pool. It’s a stretch of water adjacent to a tidal creek where overflow from high tides might occasionally cover the road to sometimes caress the steps of the screen hide. Today the old screen looked forlorn, battered almost beyond recognition by wind and high water, the path gouged away by surges of fast-flowing tides. The water level is now so high that birds normally out of sight on the flash of a pool were now elevated by the high water level and clearly visible to anyone walking the deeply puddled and debris strewn road. 

Sadly it will take more than a month or two for the once-pool now-lake to return to muddy edged wader heaven, but the larger expanse of open water has pulled in the wildfowl. 

Conder "Pool"

Local Kingfishers like to sit on the stone wall of the outflow and study the water some 18 inches below, but the water level is now virtually level with the wall. I hadn’t seen a Kingfisher for a while but this morning I saw one fly from the edge of the creek and head off towards the road bridge. The picture is from the same spot as above, the parapet at the right of the shot, but the photo taken on a sunnier, pre-flood day. 


Wildfowl and wader counts, creek and pool: 290 Teal, 70 Wigeon, 5 Little Grebe, 4 Goldeneye, 2 Tufted Duck, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret, 1 Spotted Redshank, 30 Redshank, 8 Curlew, 18 Lapwing 

At Glasson Dock the recent storms had sunk someone’s home, the water still invading the slowly disappearing cabin. 

Glasson Dock

A fellow blogger in Ontario recently posted pictures of Goldeneyes, a wary species usually difficult to approach here in the UK, but David's pictures made me try a bit harder today with the gang of 13 Goldeneye on the yacht basin. 

They motored in and out of the centre of the basin according to the passage of humans on the car park or along the tow path; eventually I was able to get a few passable pictures, albeit by using ISO800 in the grey morning light as the birds bobbed up and down on the choppy water. 

Note the yellow/ochre patch between the nail and nostril of the female’s bill, a feature which I must admit I hadn’t properly appreciated when dealing with Goldeneyes at normal distances. Hope your weather improves too David, but please don’t send it this way. 




Other wildfowl here - 1 Pochard, 35 Tufted Duck, 40 Coot, 1 Cormorant. 

More next week from Another Bird Blog - weather permitting.

Linking today to  Wild Bird Wednesday.


Mary Howell Cromer said...

Wow lots to flooding..and bad weather, happening everywhere. We are going to have record lows next 48 hours in over 2 decades...NOT looking forward to frigid weather and ice and snow...ugh!
The red sky at dawn...and bad weather, you know what? I had never heard about that until a few weeks ago with my 10 year old grandson shared it with me...he learned it recently in school. Good, no, great... the people are dead wrong regarding your Buzzards...the Buzzards are not the problem.
Have a great week Phil~

David Gascoigne said...

It is always a huge pleasure to read your accounts, Phil. I often feel as though I am ambling along with you. And thanks very much for the link to my blog.

euthymic said...

Lovely birds, but I'm completely impartial to the Goldeneye who seem to navigate wavy waters very well.

eileeninmd said...

Phil, I am glad you did not suffer much storm damage. What a great outing and really high counts of birds! The 3500 Lapwing would be amazing to me. Love the Goldeneye shots. Happy Birding and have a great week!

Margaret Adamson said...

Hi Phil. Lovley selection of birds shot and seen. great photos of the Goldeneyes. Both M& M.

Carole M. said...

glad you escaped the worst of the bad weather. The warning sky is beautiful! That Buzzard shot by MM is very special. To see a Kingfisher out in the open like that was a great photo opportunity; I only ever see them way up high - or way over the other side! Great that he had a catch too! Oh, Goldeneye male is especially grand! Lovely post again Phil

Kay L. Davies said...

Good photos of the Goldeneye, Phil.
My sympathies to the residents of the flooded boat. Was their anchor line too short, or were they living on land until the water rose?
Still hoping to get over there one of these days. We haven't planned any long overseas trips for this year, however, because our much-beloved dog is losing her eyesight. It's much more stressful for us than it is for her, and we don't yet know what impact it will have on our travels. We're going to Iceland for Dick's 70th birthday (he chose it) but for a short time. We'll see how our dog-sitting friends manage then, and give the future further thought at that time.

The happy wanderer. said...

I'm also pleased to hear you haven't had too much storm damage, but the water levels must be a cause for concern. My favourite is the Kingfisher as I've only seen one briefly in Tokyo and their a beautiful bird, but the Goldeneyes are appealing too.

Mama Zen said...

Glad you escaped the storm damage. I love that sky shot!

Laura said...

Beautiful sky… the weather has been so strange everywhere.

Karen said...

Gorgeous sky, and I love the Kingfisher! The weather is weird all over the world! We are having record breaking cold temperatures.

Cynthia said...

The sky looks both ominous and beautiful. And the kingfisher photo -- wow!

EG CameraGirl said...

Strange weather we are having! Your kingfisher is very different from the variety I see here.

Carol L McKenna said...

Magnificent nature shots ~ love them all! ~ xxx

Birgitta Rudenius said...

Loved the Kingfisher - he had lunch I believe ;)

Meghana Hassan said...

Beautiful sky shot. Glad u r safe..

Stuart Price said...

Nice Goldeneye shots Phil. I usually blow the highlights..........

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

So many wonderful birds -- the Kingfisher is my absolute favorite. I love "ours" but never get a picture. They'll sit still for hours it seems like until I take out my camera.

I'm glad you were safe from the horrid weather. We say "red sky in the morning, sailors take warning!"

Phil Slade said...

In all, I hope your country, no matter where the damage was, will be able to recuperate quickly.

That Kingfisher is astounding!!!

"Hootin Anni

HansHB said...

This is a great serie!
So much to study!

Gunilla Bäck said...

The goldeneyes are beautiful! The warm winter with heavy rain is causing problems here too: flooding, damage to the roads, it's difficult to get wood from the forest and so on.


Ps...shame on you. Now the world has you under radar for impersonating a Ter-or-st!! rofl [kidding]

by the way, Bean and Chorizo sounds delicious!!!

Toby Carter said...

Nice pics could you follow me

Gordon said...

Great set of pics Phil, with the weather we are having, you did well to get them.
Akk the best Gordon.

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