Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wheatears Are Back, Wagtails Are Wow

Wednesday saw my first Wheatear of late summer near Fluke Hall. The Wheatear christened Hi-Fly’s shiny new gate with a derisory white blob before disappearing into the foot high maize crop. I waited for the chat to reappear as Wheatears mostly do but this one didn’t. I waved “Hi” to one of H-Fly’s gang constructing the pheasant pens for the autumn releases - goodness how the seasons fly by. 


It was a quiet couple of hours walk with little to report except for 10 Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron and a couple of single figure flocks of both Goldfinch and Linnet. There appeared to be a small movement of Swallows heading east along the sea wall but no more than 40 or so birds in two hours. 

Thursday’s early start saw a Barn Owl near Pilling village followed by a Corn Bunting in song where Gulf Lane meets Maniac Mile. It’s here on the straight road that bikers hit a ton or more on Sunday mornings when there’s no one but birders around. At either end of the straight there are deceiving bends where on more than one occasion the unwary have come to an unplanned stop on the wrong side of the fence.

Maniac Mile - Pilling to Cockerham

I stopped for a leisurely look at Braides Farm and then Crimbles added 45+ Lapwing, several Curlew and a Black-tailed Godwit before hitting the road to Glasson and elsewhere. Glasson held good numbers of Swallows both feeding around and resting upon moored boats. I counted 250+ Swallows and 2 Sand Martins. Not much doing near the dock except for 1 Grey Heron, 1 Common Tern and 1 Pied Wagtail. The Tufted Duck count was up to 15 here today, perhaps partly as a result of the low water levels at Conder Green, the ducks’ hangout for the last three months. 


Tufted Duck

Walking the canal proved fairly fruitful and into the notebook went 8 Sedge Warbler, 4 Reed Warbler, 4 Reed Bunting, 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap and several each of both Greenfinch and Goldfinch, as well as another 2 Grey Heron. 

Reed Warbler

Sedge Warbler

High tide at Cockersands added more species to the day by way of 350 Oystercatcher, 19 Eider, 65 Dunlin, 5 Whimbrel, 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Golden Plover, 2 Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron. 


It was 11am, 5 hours from the start and just time for a quickie at Bank End where the tide was well short of its maximum at the foot of the sea wall. 

Bank End, Cockerham

There was the customary Little Egret, Tree Sparrows, Goldfinches and a Willow Warbler in the line of trees and Pied Wagtails on the marsh. The wagtails might hold a yellow one, that scarce beast which turns up intermittently these days, so it was worth scanning the marsh. 

Wow! An amazing count of 130+ Pied Wagtails, and this not an early morning post-roost gathering or an evening pre-roost assembly, it was 11am. 

Pied Wagtails

Pied Wagtail

Less than 10% of the wagtails were adult birds the remainder being birds of the year. 2014 is turning out to be a wonderful summer for birding and it looks like birds are making the most of it too.  

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Linking today to Run A Round Ranch.


TexWisGirl said...

just beautiful. laughed at the 'deposit' commentary. love the shots, though! thanks, phil!

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

Love the Whaetear shot Phil and also the Bank End shot with the sheep

Felicia said...

wow alot of birds seen. love the sheep image.

FAB said...

A nice fresh Wheatear .. still hoping to add one to my patch list as it travels south. That number of Wags suggests the insect population must be high.

Tanya Breese said...

what great photos...maniac mile looks like a pretty stretch of road, but scary!

Carole M. said...

sounds like a good outing Phil and the Pied Wagtails certainly are a hit! Spiffy looking birds.

eileeninmd said...

Beautiful series of lovely birds and photos, Phil. I love the Maniac Mile and the Bank End shots.. Great post.

Russell Jenkins said...

You are indeed having a good summer, Phil. Some splendid pics and I'm amazed at so many wagtails. I hope they do well.

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