Monday, March 31, 2014

Just A Wheat

A couple of hours after lunch proved all I could manage today, so apologies for the brevity and lack of pictures. Remember to “click the pics” for close-up views and/or click the “Crosspost” button to share a picture to Facebook and Twitter. 

A single Wheatear gave me the run around for almost an hour before he took the bait to become number eight ringed in March. And there are birders yet to connect with a Wheatear this year! 

Lots of adult males will already be on territory up in the hills, their migration taking them directly there rather than lingering along the coast, so I wasn’t surprised when this latest one was another second year male. It was of standard proportions with a wing length of 95mm and a weight of 25gms. The bigger, brighter and heavier “northern” Northern Wheatears are yet to pass through, normally arriving here in mid-April on their way to Iceland and beyond. 

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

The usual route took me from Lane Ends to Piling Water, Worm Pool, Fluke Hall and then back the same way. Lots of Meadow Pipits around again, mostly in one quite large grounded flock of 140+ birds taking flight occasionally and once again, heading east along the sea wall. Whether these were birds from the mass migration of recent days or this morning’s grounded arrivals it was hard to tell. 

There was a Merlin on a fence post directly behind the sea wall and even though I tried to sneak up for a better look, it was rapidly gone as soon as my head poked above the embankment. Two Ravens were making mischief in the back fields again, or at least the crows thought they were as they dive bombed and harassed the Ravens into flying somewhere quieter. The Carrion Crows usually have it their own way along here.

Carrion Crow

On the wildfowler’s pools I found 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Little Egret, 4 Teal and 15+ Redshank. At Fluke Hall a Kestrel, a Chiffchaff and a single Linnet, the latter worthy of special mention so scarce are they at the moment. 


800 Pink-footed Geese still on the marsh and back at Lane Ends, a male Sparrowhawk, 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Little Grebe. 

Maybe I’ll get a half day or more in tomorrow. If so read the news here first with Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mostly Mipits

Saturday 29th March, and as I drove along Head Dyke Lane there was a Barn Owl hunting the roadside, the owl disappearing over farm buildings as mine and another car approached with headlights still burning in the half light of dawn.

Barn Owl

On arrival at Fluke Hall the morning’s weather wasn’t quite as hoped for and certainly not as good as the BBC led us to believe on Friday evening. There was a strong easterly from the off and there would be no sign of the sun until afternoon. In the interim I spent a useful three hours or more in listening for, watching and counting migrating Meadow Pipits while I waited in vain for Wheatears to spend time at their usual and  regular catching location. 

There’d been a large arrival of many dozens Wheatears along the Fylde coast on Friday so I hoped some might linger overnight. A look along the rocky outcrops of the sea wall at Fluke Hall gave a nil return of Wheatears however there was an immediate, obvious and respectable movement of Meadow Pipits taking place. 

Parties of pipits were arriving from the west and south west and then continuing on the same flight path by following the sea wall in an easterly direction, groups of birds numbering from less than ten or up to thirty individuals, not in droves, just very regular clusters.

Historically the last few days of March is the classic time to witness the visible migration of the Meadow Pipit, an abundant and widespread pipit of Northern Europe, north-western Asia and Russia, south east Greenland and the whole of Iceland. Because virtually the entire northern population winters south of the UK, huge numbers pass through our islands in both Autumn and Spring. 

Meadow Pipit

I took a look around Fluke Hall hoping for a Ring Ouzel but found only their cousins the Blackbirds plus a singing Chiffchaff, so decided to do the long walk of Lane Ends to Pilling Water and Fluke hall again and even then back to Lane Ends. A good long walk should produce something I reasoned. 

Lane Ends held 2 Chiffchaff again, a strong singer and a silent searcher this time; let’s hope they remain to nest. Two Jays in the plantation with 2 Little Grebe, 4 Tufted Duck and 5 Little Egret on and around the pools.“Mipits” were on the move here too, arriving from the west and south west, many flying low across the marsh, others diverting up to overfly the trees, all the time a constant movement east towards Cockerham and beyond. 

As the pipits flew overhead the Carrion Crows pointed me in the direction of a Raven again; two in fact, the crows chasing the intruders off and out towards the tide where the two giant crows settled on the edge of the green marsh. 

I couldn’t find any Wheatears in a couple of miles or more, not until that is I returned to Lane Ends. Here a loose party of eight spread along the base of the sea wall had obviously arrived very recently and already on their way north, flying out towards the tide some 220 yards away. Just like the pipits, the chats seemed in a hurry to arrive somewhere other than my catching spot hundreds of yards away.

Northern Wheatear

Still the pipits flew overhead or crossed the marsh left to right, into the strong easterly towards the hills and north. Finally I tallied up as best I could and realised a count of 550+ Meadow Pipits. 

It had been a busy and interesting session with a distinct lack of “exciting” species, just a birder’s morning. 

Log in to Another Bird Blog soon for more birding days.

Linking today to Anni's Birding Blog .

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mostly Wheatears

After yesterday’s flurry of migration this morning seemed a much quieter affair, enlivened only by a number of Wheatears finding my traps and then a last gasp Peregrine. 

When I arrived at Lane Ends 2 Chiffchaffs were in song again, the Little Egrets were about the pool and a Jay scuttled through the trees. The forecast was for the easterly wind to pick up followed by rain later so I hurried to Pilling Water in the hope of Wheatears and other migrants. 

Tiny numbers of Meadow Pipits hung about the shore and the gullies, and unlike Wednesday no obvious movement north of pipits or much else. After a month or more without the shooting season the Pink-footed Geese become more tolerant by the day, with a flock today of 800 or more in a tight sandwich between the sea wall and Backsands Lane - an impossible sight until recently. 

Pilling Water held a single Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Redshank and 2 Little Egret. Carrion Crows gave noisy chase to something I assumed would be a Buzzard but when I looked more closely the larger bird proved to be a lone Raven. It’s bad enough having Carrion Crows decimate the local Lapwing population without rapacious Ravens joining in. It’s been shown quite recently that Ravens from their expanding populations on farmland use their high vantage point nests to target the eggs of ground nesting Lapwings. 


There didn’t seem to be many birds on Hi-Fly’s stubble, I’d see why later.

Wheatears were about the sea wall, a loose party of 7 or 8 birds moving along both flanks of the sea wall. It was a bit chilly and slightly windswept, not too good for making mealworms wriggle invitingly but I set a couple of traps with fingers crossed. Thirty minutes later I’d caught and ringed 5 Wheatears, 3 second year males, an adult female and a second year female. They must have been hungry from their journeys.

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

The remiges of a second year male are quite brown and worn, an adult male's would be much darker.

Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear - Second year female

Northern Wheatear - adult female

Every year at Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) time there are new and enquiring blog readers who perhaps haven’t read previous explanations about the origins of the name “Wheatear”. So here it is again, this time courtesy of Wiki.

"The name "wheatear" is not derived from "wheat" or any sense of "ear", but is a 16th-century linguistic corruption of "white" and "arse", referring to the prominent white rump found in most species of wheatear. 

Oenanthe is also the name of a plant genus, the water dropworts, and is derived from the Greek oenos (οίνος) "wine" and anthos (ανθός) "flower". In the case of the plant genus, it refers to the wine-like scent of the flowers. In the case of the wheatear, it refers to the Northern Wheatear's return to Greece in the spring just as the grapevines blossom". 

I checked the trees at Fluke Hall for little reward, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Siskin, 1 Stock Dove and 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker. It was time to call it a day (or a morning) with a last look on the still flooded maize where a number of Lapwings and Shelduck were all I could see. 

A brute of a Peregrine arrived and appeared to be hunting Lapwings, sending the lot into a frenzied panic as it stood briefly on the distant stubble. Within seconds the raptor lifted off and was gone. 


Time for me to leave too, but there’s always another day, another birding session on Another Bird Blog. 

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday Blog

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bitty Vis

Wednesday 26th March, and I let the early sun dissolve a windscreen frost before I set off. The morning turned out not bad for birding although the bright sky and slightly cool northerly airflow with a lack of cloud kept migrant birds high in the sky. 

Highlight of my 3+ hours slot was a small but steady stream of Meadow Pipits heading across Morecambe Bay and a probable influx of Wheatears. 

Lane Ends wasn’t especially wind swept, just enough to keep 6 Little Egrets sitting about in weak sun and the lee of the island. I glimpsed a Little Grebe and heard their trills then through the reed saw a drake Shoveler and I’m pretty sure there’s a female there too. 

Two Chiffchaffs were in song this morning, their repetitive “chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff” surprisingly far-carrying when little else was in voice. The Chiffchaff is almost the ultimate “little brown job” of bird ID, lucky then that its onomatopoeic song helps even a novice birder to identify the species; in the Springtime at least. 



Meadow Pipits were on the move here, fives, sixes and more, on the edge of woodland habitat but making off North and over the marsh, a sure sign of decent numbers about. Three hours later my notebook scribbles amounted to 110+ Meadow Pipits, 2 Siskins and 2 Reed Buntings heading into the wind and across the bay towards Heysham. 

Still good numbers of Pink-footed Geese out on the marsh scattered widely and left to right from Pilling to Cockerham with a minimum of 4,000 birds and seemingly no hurry to set off for Iceland.

The Green Sandpiper was at Piling Water again, as were 4 Teal, 8 Shoveler and 2 Little Egrets. The warning calls of Chaffinches alerted me to a Kestrel in the top of the willows, the raptor doing a few circuits and a hover or two before flying back towards Damside. 


I found 3 Wheatears moving between the sea wall and Hi-Fly’s land so tried to encourage them to fly to my regular catching spot. They were reluctant to leave the sun and shelter of the southern aspect. I didn’t blame them, the wind was getting up and it was so cold that I relapsed into gloves again, forgot to set the camera to the right aperture and ended up with a very dull shot of a bright male Wheatear - D’oh! 

Northern Wheatear

Hi-Fly’s floods revealed 30+ Lapwing, 40+ Redshank, 1 Little Egret, 4 Oystercatcher and 20+ Shelduck.

There's more news and views soon from Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to  Camera Critters.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ne’re Cast A Clout

There came a nasty surprise this morning. 

Spring snow and sleet.

Since when did a little sleet and snow put paid to a spot of birding? The screen wipers quickly disposed of the offending material, I donned hat, scarf, gloves and heated seat then set off north to Pilling. 

There was a cold wind blowing too but it didn’t deter a Chiffchaff singing from the trees at Lane Ends; 5 Little Egrets had not left the roost but instead lounged around the sheltered-from-the-wind edge of the pool. A single Lesser Redpoll flew over seemingly heading north - my first redpoll of the Spring. 

I battled West against the wind to check out Pilling Water hoping for a Wheatear or two. A single bird hunkered down in the shelter of the rocks below the sea wall. I wondered if it could be the one I ringed on Wednesday but very unlikely with so many Wheatears beginning to appear along the coast before heading into the hills and The Pennines. So it proved, another second year female lured by a mouth-watering mealworm. 

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

A Little Egret, 40+ Redshanks and a Green Sandpiper on the pool but no further reason to hang around in the bitterly cold morning so I headed back to Lane Ends and then to Braides Farm. 

There’s been an influx of Pink-footed Geese this week, birds from Norfolk stopping off for a feed before continuing their journey with another pause in Scotland before their final destination of Iceland. 

Quite huge numbers greeted me - perhaps 5/6000 birds crowded into the several fields close to the sea wall. I spent an hour or more with the geese hoping some might come closer but they are all still highly wary of passing traffic or brightly coloured cyclists passing by. Leaving the car would be a recipe for disaster by sending the geese into a frenzy of flight and stopping them feeding, so remaining in the warmth of the car seemed a good option. 

Pink-footed Geese

Pink-footed Geese

I counted 30 Lapwings scattered across the wet fields, almost all of them distributed as to suggest that winter flocking is over and territory is the name of the game. Not so with the Golden Plover as large flocks are moving through the area and one of 350+ here today. 

A female Merlin paid a brief visit to the fence, staying long enough to take a look around before dashing off towards Lane Ends. It was a long way off along a line of posts!


A couple of Little Egrets, a couple of Skylarks before a tractor and a dismounting driver sent the pinkies over the sea wall and out of sight. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. 

Oh yes, I almost forgot. 'Ne'er cast a clout till May be out' is an English proverb. From "Phrases UK"

"The earliest citation is the rhyme from Dr Thomas Fuller 1732, although it probably existed in word-of-mouth form well before that. Since at least the early 15th century 'clout' has been used to mean 'a blow to the head', 'a clod of earth or 'a fragment of cloth, or clothing'. It is the last of these that is meant in 'cast a clout'. So, 'ne'er cast a clout...' simply advises not to discard your warm winter clothing. 

The 'till May be out' part is where doubt lies. On the face of it this means 'until the month of May is ended', but there is another interpretation. In England, in May, you can't miss the Hawthorn. It is an extremely common tree in the English countryside, especially in hedges. Hawthorns are virtually synonymous with hedges. The name 'Haw' derives from 'hage', the Old English for 'hedge'. The tree gives its beautiful display of flowers in late April/early May. It is known as the May Tree and the blossom itself is called May. Using that allusion, 'till May is out' could mean until the hawthorn is out in bloom."

Stay tuned to Another Bird Blog where the true warmth of Spring may eventually arrive and you can share it.

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday, Anni's Blog, Camera Critters and Eileen's Saturday Blog .

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bird Watching

Wednesday 19th March 2014. 

It’s hard to decide the highlight of Wednesday morning, catching the first Wheatear of 2014 with the help of trusty meal worms or seeing a full set of local raptors in action. 

Northern Wheatear

Meal Worms

First stop as usual was Wheel Lane where the Golden Plover count reached 360+, Redshanks numbered 20+, and the well scattered Lapwings totalled 30+. Two Little Egrets could be seen along the ditches that cross the maize field. As per a few days ago a Chiffchaff sang brief snatches of song from the hedgerow and as I waited for the chiffy to show, I picked up on 2 Long-tailed Tit, a single Goldcrest searching the hawthorns, and several Meadow Pipits in the near part of the field. 

The waders took to the air a couple of times, once for a passing Kestrel and then for brief views of a dashing Merlin, the latter heading out over the sea wall. 

I parked at Fluke and checked out the woodland. The Long-tailed Tit nest of 9th March appears to have come to a standstill a couple of days after, the nest now a complete cup but without the essential domed topping. No sight or sound of the adults either - an unexplained failure for the BTO Nest Record. I’m keeping an eye on a freshly manicured hole near where I’ve seen and heard the Great-spotted Woodpeckers, ”chicking” today and in the last two or three weeks. It’s not been a great year for hearing the peckers’ drumming noises, perhaps a pointer to fewer pairs in the area and less competition? 

 Great-spotted Woodpecker

There were 2 Buzzards calling in the tree tops, noisy Jays and then further along the lane a Sparrowhawk came gliding through the trees and made as if to perch up. When the hawk saw me it sped off out of sight. Generations of human persecution have made raptors reluctant to share their world with bird watchers who mean them no harm. 


In the wet field south of Fluke Hall were 14+ Pied Wagtails, 15+ Meadow Pipits and in the hedgerow, 2 Reed Buntings and 2 Greenfinch, the wags and mipits difficult to locate in the badly rutted, furrowed and still partially flooded ground. 

I walked east along the sea wall with the still strong wind at my back where in the shelter of the rocks I found a bright male Wheatear. The spot was too public for even a tiny trap - a host of footprints on the muddy shore and piles of doggy poo testified to my preference for a quieter spot. 

From the sea wall I watched a female Peregrine arrive from the west and then settle low on the marsh but out of sight. Waiting for a Peregrine to fly is not always a short delay so I walked further east and then counted the Pink-footed Geese for the umpteenth time this winter - 420 this time and never a total the same. Good numbers of Shelduck but no count today and no sign of the Brent Goose or regular Green Sandpiper. 

Pilling Water provided the ideal Wheatear, settled on the rocks and looking for food. A meal worm later it was mine - a fine female to finish the morning and to open the Wheatear account for 2014. Now that’s what I call bird watching. 

Northern Wheatear

More bird watching very soon from Another Bird Blog.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Are You Having A Laugh?

There was no birding today in the very unfunny showers and windy conditions prevailing up here in the Grim North, but I have a little news to relay from Monday's truncated birding session at Pilling. 

Also, and if nothing else, the strange world of British Birding can usually be relied upon to generate a laugh or two. So in the absence of birding news from today and as a light relief, there follows later in the post an amusing tale of birding. 

Two Green Sandpipers surprised me on Monday, taking off together from the wildfowler’s pools as I approached, calling as they flew North West. I suspect that both were Spring migrants, neither of them the “green sand” I’ve failed all winter to photograph, the one that has had a regular laugh at my expense. Other wildfowl and waders on marsh and pool - 210 Shelduck, 300 Pink-footed Goose, 18 Teal, 1 Shoveler and the Brent Goose of recent months, the dark-bellied bird feeding with Shelducks at the outer edge of the marsh. 


Pink-footed Goose

Along the sea wall were small numbers of Meadow Pipits plus a single Rock Pipit, and I’m missing the movement north of large numbers of Meadow Pipits which should by 18th March be more obvious. 

Meadow Pipit

On the flood, 32 Lapwings, the now regular but varying count of Golden Plover at 155 and a Kestrel from the Damside pair patrolling the roadside. 


If all this patch work seems more than a little tame, from the weekend there’s a wretched account of twitching played out in the rural landscape of English Sussex and subsequently discussed at inordinate length on an Internet birding forum. All of it concerned a Savannah Sparrow that never was. 

It happens fairly regularly that in their impatience to make a name for themselves on "the scene" a birder will sometimes make a mistake in their ID of a bird, and then in their subsequent haste for fame, prematurely post the sighting on a blog or a bird alert service. 

More rarely such urgency for fame turns into desperation whereby a person will invent or elaborate a sighting in order to generate credibility and kudos within the hallowed community to which they aspire. 

Unfortunately for them, if they get it wrong there will be repercussions. A genuine mistake can be forgotten with a friendly pat on the shoulder, perhaps after a time the error of judgement forgiven and normalities resumed. However a deliberate attempt to deceive the serious world of chasing rare birds invites a fate almost worse than death where sanctions will include at the least the cold shoulder, exclusion from forums or pager services and the probable loss of erstwhile birder mates. 

In extremis, on this occasion and in all seriousness a few forum contributors have suggested that a physical beating or legal proceedings may be in order. I kid you not. 

Read all about it here but do have a tissue at hand to wipe away the tears. 

Savannah Sparrow - Photo credit: USFWS Headquarters / Foter / CC BY 

Now to the Google searcher who typed in the query "Do pigeons have willys?" and who eventually found my blog.

There is a definitive and serious answer to this ornithological query, but I'm not sure you will find the answer on Bird Forum. The answer is here instead. 

Wood Pigeon - "I'm not telling"

More laughs, facts and photos from Another Bird Blog soon.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Doing It All Again

Saturday 15th March. Remember to “click the pics” for close-up views and/or click the “Crosspost” button to share a picture to Facebook and Twitter. 

It took a while to find the Northern Wheatear his morning. After a couple of hours plodding around Pilling in a stiff and cold north-westerly wind I’d more or less given up on seeing the safest bet of March. Boots off, hat and gloves back in the car I was ready for home but taking a last look along the sea wall when I spotted a lone Wheatear on a stretch of embankment I’d walked an hour or more before. It was too late to start unpacking a trap and warming up the meal worms; there will be more days soon.


At early doors the sea wall had been pretty devoid of bird life, and apart from 1000+ Pink-footed Geese most of the action took place on the maize field or in the Fluke Hall woodland. 

There was a goodish count of Golden Plover with 450+ birds early on until a Hi-Fly vehicle drove across the track to scatter many of the plovers out to the shore. At the moment Hi-Fly appear to be conducting a valuable amount of management of the Carrion Crow and Magpie situation, activities which inevitably means their people and vehicles are about the fields more than a mere birder would like. 

Carrion Crow

A number of the plovers are beginning to acquire their fabulous breeding attire, a plumage which allows them to blend into the summery tundra.

Golden Plover-  Photo credit: Jesusisland / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND 

Although large numbers of Golden Plovers are presently migrating through the area, Lapwings, Redshanks and Oystercatchers can now be counted as residents, either in pairs or display mode - in this case 15+pairs of Lapwing, 6 pairs of Oystercatcher and 6+ pairs of Redshank. 

Shelducks are scattered across the same areas in pairs or small groups with a total of 35/40 birds. Three Little Egrets about the fields with five more from the sea wall, 5 Dunlin in flight plus 18 Teal, a singing Reed Bunting and little else on the wildfowlers’ pools 

The comparatively sheltered woodland held a few species: 40+ Woodpigeon, 2 Stock Dove, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 8 Goldfinch, 4 Long-tailed Tit. 

There seemed very little bird song this morning; the air was cold, the wind too strong so I counted myself lucky to see a Chiffchaff as it called once from a gap in the roadside willows then showed itself briefly. 

In all a quietish morning whereby it would be nice to get a warm, sunny and wind-free morning tomorrow when I may just have to do it all over again. Join Another Bird Blog then for more news, views and photographs.

Linking this post to World Bird Wednesday, Camera Critters and Anni's I'd Rather Be Birding Blog.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Round Up

A trip around a few local spots is the sum of this morning’s blog post. 

Read on while not forgetting to “click the pics” for close-up views. A new feature on Another Bird Blog is “Crosspost” whereby clicking the “Crosspost” button in the right-hand corner of any picture will allow a reader to share it to Facebook and Twitter. Go ahead, give it a try. 

During recent months I’ve rather neglected Knott End after the bad weather and ultra-high tides made it difficult to do any birding there, so to put things right I paid a quick visit today. It was a sunny and still morning, the low to medium high tide concentrating a few birds, but a number of them still out at the water’s edge. Redshanks were in in good numbers with a minimum count of 160 scattered along the estuary, 24 Turnstones concentrated near the jetty and 1500+ Knot staying at the tide’s very edge. Wildfowl numbers came in at 12 Eider and 18 Shelduck. The male Shelducks are now in particularly fine breeding plumage. 



As usual I headed up to Pilling Lane Ends and Fluke Hall for a look. Fluke fields held a good number of mixed Golden Plover, Redshank and Lapwings, the recently arrived migrant “goldies” at 210+ outnumbering the 135 regular Redshank and 40+ but dropping in numbers Lapwings. 5 Pied Wagtail, 8 Meadow Pipits and 15+Skylark accounted for passerines on the flood. The wild and wary plovers stayed a long way across the still flooded maize field 

Golden Plovers

On the wildfowler’s pools/sea wall were 23 Teal, 30 Shelduck, 3 Little Egret and 600+ Pink-footed Goose; in the woodland - 3 Stock Dove, 2 Jay and 1+ Siskin. 

A whistle stop at Lane Ends via Backsands Lane gave a Kestrel, singing Chiffchaff and Reed Bunting, and on the pools 2 Little Grebe. 


More Golden Plover at the Cockerham, Braides Farm where another flock of this time 260 birds stayed their distance. Two Little Egrets, 3 Pied Wagtails and 8+ Skylarks here. 

Heading north again took me to Conder Green where I rounded up the usual suspects of 1 Spotted Redshank, 4 Wigeon, 2 Little Grebe, 8 Goldeneye, 22 Teal, 2 Little Egret, 24 Shelduck and 5 Cormorant.  Possibly “new in today” were 1 singing Reed Bunting and 1 Grey Wagtail. 

Spotted Redshank
 Black-headed Gull

Join me soon for more bird news and photographs via Another Bird Blog.

Linking today with Eileen's Saturday Blog .

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Chiffy, First Nest

Yet another sluggish start led me to think the morning would lead to a lack of notebook entries and little substance to today’s blog. Slowly but surely birds appeared whereby I recorded a little visible migration, saw the first warbler of the Spring and then found my first nest of 2014. 

In the darkness I stopped at Lane Ends to count the Little Egrets in the roost - 47 birds scattered through the tall trees. For readers who don’t know Pilling, or the roosting habits of the Little Egret, the roost is situated within a public amenity area of pools and walkways, the birds spending the night in the safety of tall trees on an island of one of the small lakes. It’s quite a sight to see so many ghostly egrets in one location but difficult to take photographs with the birds fairly well distributed in the vegetation. They also vacate the roost in the half light of pre-dawn as they fly off to daytime feeding spots. 

It’s no good planning to see Barn Owls, they invariably don’t turn up in the anticipated spot or when they’re meant to; much better to let one happen. After the egrets I checked a “regular” owl spot with camera at the ready but no Barn Owls appeared, so I motored on up to Cockerham and Braides Farm. 

Here was quiet with just 60+ Golden Plover, 20+ Lapwing, 6 Curlew and 1 Grey Heron for my troubles. 

Grey Heron

Passing Damside I noted both Kestrels in attendance near the regular nest box. Things also picked up at Fluke Hall. On the flooded maize at least 4 Lapwings were in tumbling display mode and 40+ others moving about the wet areas. Also, 70+ Redshanks feeding and one or more birds in both calling display flight and ground chasing. 7 Dunlin and 5 Curlew completed the waders with 30+ Shelduck and 2 Little Egrets in attendance. 



The sea wall gave the best count for a while of Pink-footed Goose at 750+, with both pipits and wagtails flying north across Morecambe Bay - 15+ Meadow Pipit and separate gangs of 15, 8 and then 5 Pied Wagtails. Several Skylarks in territorial song, mental notes made to check each location in more detail very soon. On and about the wildfowler’s pools I found an eclectic mix of 2 Pintail, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Buzzard, 1 Linnet, 2 Greenfinch and the third Kestrel of the morning. 


The walk along Fluke Hall Lane was for change a pleasant one, breeze and bluster-free, a rare opportunity of recent winter days to listen out for birds without the rustle and rush of swaying trees and falling branches. 

There was a Chiffchaff singing from a garden, a regular spot of recent years but away from the denser woodland; Goldfinches, Tree Sparrows and Long-tailed Tits along the hedgerow, and when I reached the woodland the single “chick” call of a Great-spotted Woodpecker. From tall conifers I heard the contact calls of Siskins and then straining my neck almost vertically I could see four or maybe five of the tiny, fork-tailed finches moving through the dark branches above. 


In the wood a pair of Long-tailed Tits quickly gave the game away, nest building in the fork of a roadside hawthorn, the nest in the early construction stage but with the pair constantly toing and froing with beaks full of nest material. 

Long-tailed Tits construct their nest as a domed structure of moss woven with cobwebs and hair covered on the outside with camouflaged greyish/white lichen. I took a few pictures through the maze of branches where within in a few short weeks of vegetation growth the nest will become totally invisible. 

Long-tailed Tit

Nest of Long-tailed Tit (under construction)

Nest of Long-tailed Tit (partly constructed)

A rewarding end to a fine morning’s birding, as when I later checked my notebook there were over 40 species recorded, much of the everyday stuff like Dunnocks, Robins, Wrens and Blackbirds omitted from the above. 

Please now excuse me as I must go online and record my first Nest Record of 2014, but fear not there's more soon.

And remember, you read it on Another Bird Blog first. 

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday

Related Posts with Thumbnails