Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Mixed Bag

Heading for Conder Green via Cockerham and 100 yards ahead of the car I spotted yet another Barn Owl, this one flying pretty close to the roadside. I slowed the car, switched off the still-on auto headlights and slowed right down to where I’d seen the owl. No luck, it had disappeared without trace, and even though I waited in a gateway for 15 minutes or so the owl didn’t reappear; the start of a slightly frustrating morning. 

Predictably at Conder Green and late June there was a return journey still summer plumaged Spotted Redshank, newly back from the tundra of the Arctic Circle - Norway eastwards through Finland to the forest zone of Siberia. Female Spotted Redshanks can leave the breeding grounds up to a week before their eggs hatch. Others desert their partners at an early stage to form post breeding flocks, leaving the males to look after the youngsters. The light was poor, the redshank too far away for a picture, so I borrowed one. 

Spotted Redshank -  Photo credit: Lorenzo L M. / Foter (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) 

Waders and heron species today: 145 Common Redshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Snipe, 12 Oystercatcher, 9 Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron. There’s very bad picture of the single distant Snipe taken in poor light at ISO800.


Decent numbers of Swifts this morning with 60+ feeding both high and low. Three Sand Martin also. Passerines pretty much unchanged and singing-2 Whitethroat, 2 Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler.

The two drake Wigeon are still around, with an increase in the Tufted Duck to 19 individuals but no sign of ducklings despite the summering pairs. Spots of rain appeared so I drove the half mile to Glasson by which time it might stop.

There were a few Tufted Duck and a Great Crested Grebe circuiting the yacht basin, diving and feeding and then reappearing yards away.

Great Crested Grebe

 Great Crested Grebe

The grebe found me singing Chiffchaff and Reed Warbler around the margins of the water and led me towards a family of Otters. European Otter (Lutra lutra) is also known as the Eurasian Otter, Eurasian River Otter and Common Otter.

From UK Safari “Adult Otters have no natural predators, although in the past they were heavily persecuted by gamekeepers. Loss of habitat, polluted rivers, hunting and other human activities all contributed to the decline of native otters. During the late 1950's, following the introduction of new and stronger pesticides, the UK Otter population went into rapid decline. It's only in recent years that the otter population in the UK has started to recover through protective legislation and conservation programmes” 

By now the light was really poor with noisy folk beginning to appear from moored house boats. A couple of rushed shots were all I managed before the Otters melted into the water.



The light improved slightly, enough for a look at Fluke Hall. Kestrels have fledged from a nest box there, the young still being fed by the adults along the edge of the wood. I watched as the adults saw off a really tatty looking Buzzard obviously in heavy summer moult.


There were a couple of Skylarks carrying food to what at first I thought to be two separate nests. After a short time I realised, and upon noting that the food items being carried were of similar size, that the adults were in fact feeding birds out of the nest, the youngsters spaced apart by as much as 30 yards.

I tracked one chick down in newly growing wheat where it lay motionless on the ground trying to blend in with the vegetation. Young Skylarks leave the nest when they are between 8-11 days old, sometimes before that if they are prematurely disturbed.


I put the young Skylark back where I found it and waited out of sight for the adult to return with food.


A very mixed bag of stuff today, but what a thrill to see Otters so close to home. Yes, it’s hard to beat a local patch.

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


Mary Cromer said...

Those Great Crested Grebes are always so beautiful and nice that you walked around them to find the family of Otters, how nice that was. I saw Sea Otters last year in WA and that was a treat. The Larks with the beaks of grub for young is encouraging. Nice to visit as always Phil! Have a great weekend~

David Gascoigne said...

Wow, the Spotted Redshank in breeding plumage is a stunning bird. I have only seen it during its non-breeding season when it is considerably drabber. Your local patch is indeed a special place, Phil.

eileeninmd said...

Phil, what a great variety of birds and critters.. I love the cute otters. And your bird shots are awesome..The Great Crested Grebe is one of my favorites. Happy weekend!

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Phil What a a wonderful post and such a variety of birds and then to see the Otters. How wonderful to see them on your patch and that close. Great photos and although that 1st shots is not your, it must have been great to see one in breeding plumage. A sight I have never seen. Have a great weekend.

Wandering Wren said...

The skylark chick is adorable, glad it's parents returned with grubs!
Wren x

TexWisGirl said...

cute skylarks. love the otter sighting, too! i've been lucky enough to have a wilson's snipe here a few times, too. :)

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Nice pictures.. Have a great weekend..

Gary Phillips said...

Those Otters are a great find!! Boom, Bobbi and Gary

Jane said...

Beautiful captures!

sandyland said...

extremely interesting do you see hummingbirds where you are all gone here in Fl

Adam Jones said...

Super Spotted Redshank pictures and GC Grebe. Nice to see the Snipe too.

Christian Weiß said...

Great observations, the snipe is fantastic.

Karen said...

Excellent captures! The grebe is gorgeous. That otter is sweet.
Karen & Beep

Bob Bushell said...

Beautiful birds, but I think the my fave is the Skylark, fantastic photos.

Carole M. said...

hi Phil! they're each great photos but I'm especially take with the Great Crested Grebe

Marie said...

Wonderful post! I thought to say the snipe was my favorite of this group and then I saw that great crested grebe...stunning bird! Oh, and I love otters! I am so happy their numbers are increasing.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Gorgeous photos! The grebe is very handsome and I loved seeing the otters.

Stuart Price said...

Well well well. Never seen an Otter before............

Anni said...

I must say your buzzards are much prettier than ours...of course we Americans have the name 'buzzard' for a vulture. And the Grebe...wonderful...and perfect reflections too.

Too bad about the owl...I've been there so many times and understand your frustrations.

Thanks for linking up this weekend. It's always appreciated.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

You are so good at this birding stuff!

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