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.


Stewart M said...

Nice post - must be good to see the spring migrants coming back after the winter you seem to have had.

What surprises me about birds around the world is how similar soon look - but are different species. The black necked stilt (in the USA) and black-necked look very similar - with the amount of black on the head being the only difference I can see. Why did that difference evolve I wonder?

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

PS: thanks for the comments about the email - I just think I was shocked by the whole episode!

Carole M. said...

What a great photo of your Wheatear, and others Phil, another interesting birding account

grammie g said...

Hey Phil...nothing going on here that has any mention of wheat in any way ecept the loaf of bread on the counter!! lol
Incouraging to be seeing the beginning of migrating birds with your Wheatear !!
Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to see 3 Horned Larks lifers for me!! "Yeah me"
Of course I bet with todays weather they are wondering what to heck am I doing here! ; )
Glad that you had a great day out, best to have a happy Phil then a diappointed Phil!! lol


eileeninmd said...

It is nice to see the migration beginning.. The Wheatear is a beauty! I always enjoy the woodpeckers. Enjoy the birding and have a great weekend!

David Gascoigne said...

It's interesting what you say about birds being wary following decades of persecution. I have noticed here that truly wild Mallards are always nervous and fly away at the slightest provocation. I have no doubt that a scope on the shoulder looks like a gun to them.

Jen said...

I grew up thinking vultures were buzzards, because that's what everyone called them. Interesting to see a real buzzard here.

The happy wanderer. said...

That first Wheatear is SO close - almost eating out of your hand!

Stuart Price said...

Don't fancy the worms much Phil.

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