Friday, October 31, 2014

If Only Day

There was really good birding to be had this morning as Redwings and Fieldfares arrived with a vengeance, the thrushes joined by a good number of Chaffinches and Siskins on the move. The only problem was that I worried that at any one time I might be in the wrong place and miss something elsewhere. 

With such an overdue and predictable scenario of visible migration taking place it seemed a shame that throughout the morning I saw one other birder only, and he intent on disturbing everything in sight by displaying the field craft of a complete novice. 

In the half-light I pulled into the gate at Braides Farm to look for the Buzzards which seem to spend nights out near the sea wall, effectively in the middle of nowhere. Sure enough the two of them were close together moving along the distant fence line, searching for food on the ground below or in the nearby farmer's midden. 

Midden - Wiki - “early Scandinavian; Norwegian: mødding, Danish: mødding, Swedish regional: mödding) is an old dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, vermin, shells, sherds, lithics (especially debitage), and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with human occupation.” 

It’s been said a number of times on this blog. Buzzards do not spend much of their time hunting game birds. Released Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges make up a tiny proportion of a Buzzard’s diet. Buzzards are more likely to feed on carrion, supplementing that with reptiles, amphibians, larger insects and earthworms. There is no valid reason for persecuting Buzzards and no excuse whatsoever for killing them unlawfully. 

Buzzard and Grey Heron

It would have been good to watch the Buzzards finding breakfast but I was intent on getting to Conder and Glasson after a Thursday morning walk to babysit Holly The Dog hinted at thrushes on the move. 

There wasn’t a lot different on the pool or in the creeks. With one ear and one eye on the sky there followed the customary array of 140 Teal, 14 Little Grebe, 12 Snipe, 2 Goosander, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Kingfisher,1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron. 


Just after 8am a couple of Reed Buntings dropped into the hedgerow and 2 calling Fieldfares flew south so I moved around to the elevated old railway line to watch from there. The southerly wind began to pick up quite noticeably but between 0830 and 0930 thousands of both Fieldfares and Redwings flew over in parties of anything of up to 300/400 strong, the birds arriving from the north and appearing to follow the tree line of the River Lune until they hit Conder Green. 


It was here that the flocks veered off into south westerly and westerly streams with just a very few Redwings stopping to feed. At first the flocks seemed to be Redwings mixed with a few Fieldfares but gradually turned to a stronger Fieldfare presence and by 0945 I had noted 1200 Redwings and 1400 Fieldfares. Chaffinches were using the same north to south flight lines, some remaining in the car park where I could also hear the pinging calls of more than one Siskin. 


I hoped to find grounded thrushes near the churchyard and in the hawthorns at Glasson but there were none. It had become too windy from the south with the trees and bushes flailing about. On the water here were 55 Tufted Duck and the welcome return of a single Goldeneye. 


I decided to try Pilling where thrushes might have found the trees at Fluke Hall. Here it was windy too with a bank of grey cloud to the south and a reason perhaps that a flock of 400/500 Fieldfares headed over the sea wall but this time in a clear north easterly direction; an attempt to reorient to a different but visible route south? I saw no other Fieldfares and considered that migration here was over for the day at 1030 hours.


Chaffinches were on the move here. A couple of small flocks flew in from the west along the sea wall and into the shelter of the wood where I found 40+ Chaffinches and 2 or more Siskins high in the treetops. Also in and around the wood I found a pair of Kestrel, 3 Buzzard, 1 Nuthatch, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2+ Goldcrest and 1 Pied Wagtail. 


From the sea wall - 450 Pink-footed Geese on the stubble and 110 Whooper Swans on the marsh. 

Whooper Swans

It was a fascinating but slightly frustrating morning, spoilt by the early sun turning quickly to cloud and as usual, the rapid increase in the wind strength. It's best not to be a churlish birder but while the morning was extremely interesting and at times exciting, there's no doubt it was also one of those “If Only” days. 

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

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


TexWisGirl said...

adorable birds! love the fieldfare!

Chris Rohrer said...

I love those kinds of days. Glad you had too much to choose from this time around:) I get the "How much time should I spend here? What else am I missing?" thoughts as I'm watching warblers pass through the area. The number find on the geese was an exciting one for me on this post. Have a good rest of your weekend!

eileeninmd said...

wow, you had an awesome outing.. Great birds and awesome photos.. I love the Goldeneye and Kestrel..Beautiful lighting on the Kingfisher.. Happy Birding, Phil!

Linda said...

Wonderful series, Phil, and a lovely variety, too! :)

Gemma Wiseman said...

Your "if only" day is rather fascinating. The photo of the kestrel on the post with stray wire is an artistic shot. And the fieldfare mid berries and holding a berry is enchanting.

Margaret Adamson said...

Hi Phil. I have learned to be content in what birds turn up and I am never disappointed. You saw an amazing number of birds passing through and I love the shot of the Fieldfare and Kestrel in particular. Please enjoy the birds you do see and have a great weekend.

eileeninmd said...

Phil, thanks for linking up this post to my critter party. Have a happy weekend!

Germán Ibarra Zorrilla said...

El Goldeneye, excelente!!!Saludos amigo, que tengas un buen fin de semana.

Mary Cromer said...

Oh Yes, those "If Only Days", I know them well too...huge sigh. That novice...shame on him and hopefully he will learn before the next time how to mind his birding manners. I can feel the exuberance as well as frustration in your day, for when things are not under our control and we want to see them, hear them photograph them and they are on the move, you just have to get what you can, which is all so wonderful Phil and then try the next day, which is today and I hope it was good to you~

sandyland said...

I get so much enjoyment Sat mornings birding with you

carol l mckenna said...

How fortunate to see these birds and do such wonderful photographing!

happy weekend to you,
artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

Adam Jones said...

I like the Buzzard and Heron shot. I'm still waiting for my first Redwing and Fieldfares of the Autumn. I wish they'd hurry up, we've got loads of berries waiting for them.

Karen said...

What a great variety! Terrific shots Phil, that Kingfisher is superb!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Beautiful shots, love that kestrel.

Stewart M said...

Great post - the winter thrushes were always a bit of a highlight for me.

Any bird with sharp beak or claws seems to have no right to exists!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Gunilla Bäck said...

Excellent photos. Sounds like you had a great day birding.

Anni said...

Wow....what a day for birding!! You found so many wonderful ones and your narration was wonderful also.

I was a 'complete novice' at one time, but now that I can respect the silence and not disturbing anything in my path but to observe, listen and learn of the different birds I've learned much...and absorb all I can. I know just what you meant, tho, but the "field craft of a complete novice".

As for the birds that consume carrion, that to me is all part of the circle of life, and a much needed kind to keep our world a better place for all...

That kingfisher in the sunlight is absolutely stunning. Love the Fieldfare with the red berry in its beak. And the head on view of the Goldeneye.

Wonderful Phil.

Thanks again for sharing your link at I'd Rather B Birdin'. It's always appreciated!!

David Gascoigne said...

Logic and good science never stopped yahoos shooting birds of prey.

Marie said...

Buzzards in the Midden...perfect fare for Halloween! :-) Loved the kingfisher and other birds. Lovely to see the sheep and geese together!

Oh, and I really hate about the poor little hedgehogs under duress. They are adorable animals!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

The fielldfare with the red berry is a wonderful picture and all the birds are wonderful. But your Kingfisher is my standout favorite! I love the ones we see here too, but yours is better.

We've visited shell.built middens near where we live in Florida and others more in the US southwest. So interesting to think about.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Glorious photos, as ever. I love the buzzard/heron photo!

Jen said...

My favorites are the Kingfisher, because I don't have a photo of one of those yet, and the Kestrel because the one hanging out behind my apartment keeps me entertained nightly. He arrives each evening calling loudly and harasses the much larger hawk if he makes a appearance.

Why "if only"? You saw so much.

Wally Jones said...

Yep, I know that "if only" feeling! "If only" I could find a way to be in ALL the good spots just at dawn!

Despite it all, it certainly sounds as if you had a very good birding day. You even found an immature birder!

Wonderful photographs, Phil! The sunlight on the Kingfisher highlights his jewel-like beauty. Like yours, our migrating ducks are beginning to slowly filter in. Your Tufted Duck header is brilliant!

A very enjoyable visit. Thank you!

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