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 .


Wally Jones said...

"Just a birder's morning."

Phil, I love your gift of understatement! Over 500 Pipits and the Wheatears, Ravens and the rest. A good day in anyone's book!

Hopefully, the Wheatear's will not continue to avoid your trap! What a superb image of a handsome devil.

It's storming outside the window at the moment as a huge weather system moves ashore from the Gulf of Mexico. At dawn, I'll be on the beach looking for migrant warblers and shorebirds blown off course. Stand by for further news bulletins!

All the best.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Lovely birds. The owl is gorgeous.

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

Love the shots and the info. I was not familiar with the last two birds so I found it very interesting! :)

HansHB said...

Beautiful serie!

Roan said...

That barn owl is gorgeous!

Carole M. said...

I'm liking the Northern Wheatear today

Carole M. said...

You were very lucky to get the beautiful Barn Owl in your viewfinder Phil; that was very clever! Oh...the Meadow Pipit, another very charming small bird, and the Northern Wheatear too. Maybe not 'exciting' but birds with a ticking heart none-the-less; they each have their own special personality and reason for being here too I guess; just like us :).Another delightful post

David Gascoigne said...

I am really envious of the Barn Owl sighting. This is a species that has always proven difficult for me. My lifetime total wouldn't exceed ten individuals. And I have never had one simply fly in front of me. I have always had to undertake a protracted search. My "best" sighting was of a pair I located in an old grain silo in Arizona.

eileeninmd said...

Phil, lovely birds and photos. I really love the Barn Owl in flight. Awesome capture! And the Meadow Pipit is cute! Happy Birding!

Anni said...

I could so go walking with you on your birding outings!!! You make it all sound so relaxing, yet filled with adventure. Does that make any sense?! That pipit is quite handsomely marked. And the wheateater...I told you last week about some guy telling me there was a wheateater...Bud and I both heard him correctly....but come to find out during the week of outings, we both think he meant WORMeater. lol

Great read Phil...PHILled with sightings, and a good long walk around your part of the world.

Jen said...

I love the owl. Just that one sighting would have made my day.

Stuart Price said...

Wow what a great Barn Owl pic Phil.........

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