Friday, October 10, 2014

Tales Of The Unexpected

There were no great surprises at Fluke Hall this morning; unless you count a couple of strange birders - it must be October and Yellow-browed Warbler time. The major surprise was to arrive later in the day while catching a few more Goldfinches in the garden. 

I was hoping for some Whooper Swans along Pilling shore but instead found 2 Ruff feeding on the wildfowler’s pool amongst 40 or so Shelduck. Ten minutes later Whooper Swans appeared, nine of them flying in from the outer marsh and continuing south, the first of the autumn and fresh-in from Iceland. About thirty minutes later another four Whoopers appeared from the North East and then circled about before landing somewhere just inland. 

Whooper Swan

There was a jellyfish along last night’s tideline, such a good example that I took a picture. 


The farmers were busy sheep shearing where I next wanted to look so after a single Grey Heron and a couple of Little Egrets I abandoned that idea and instead spent time near the wildflowers’ stubble field and pools. The stubble is pretty good with 70+ Skylark, 25 Linnet, 6 Meadow Pipit, 1 Snipe, a couple of Redshank and 1500 roving Starlings. 

The pool proved not so good with Shelduck flying in in but not staying, 4 Reed Buntings around the perimeter and small numbers of Meadow Pipits in-off the marsh. 

In the woodland - Two Buzzards, 2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers and 3 Jays, plus an overflying Sparrowhawk. There’s a huge crop of beech mast this year and it lines the road and crunches underfoot when walking through the lane. A few Chaffinch and Great Tits took advantage of the harvest but otherwise I couldn’t even find a Brambling and certainly not a Yellow-browed Warbler. 

Back home, and to add to eleven of a day or two ago, I caught another 8 Goldfinches from the flock of 50+ that’s in the neighbourhood, 2 more Greenfinch and a Robin. One of the Goldfinches was so young it wasn’t possible to ascertain the sex, but from the wing length and bill size a likely male. This plumage in October suggests it is one of a very late brood of September. 

Goldfinch - adult male

Goldfinch - juvenile

First winter Robin


Next was a bird I’ve never seen in the garden in almost fifteen years of living here, a Nuthatch, not just one but a male and a female in a net which had interrupted their flight line from the niger feeders. A very nice but also unexpected surprise as the species breeds uncommonly in this area. 



I thought back to earlier in the week when there was a Nuthatch at Fluke Hall, not a breeding site for the species but where Nuthatches occur infrequently in the spring, autumn or winter. It made me wonder if Nuthatches may be undergoing one of their periodic irruptions. 

An irruption is a dramatic, irregular migration of large numbers of birds to areas where they aren’t typically found, possibly at a great distance from their normal ranges. Depending on the species, irruptions may occur in cycles from 2-10 years, or they may be much more unpredictable. 

Several factors can lead to irruptive years for different birds. The most common cause is a lack of food in the birds’ normal wintering grounds; famine can force large numbers of birds to seek more plentiful habitats until seeds, flowers and insects return in the spring. Birds that feed on the seeds and catkins of birch, maple, pine, spruce and hemlock trees often irrupt when those types of trees have poor seed crops. 

Other causes for bird irruptions include unduly harsh cold or severe weather that may force birds to find more temperate wintering grounds, or overbreeding that may further deplete even plentiful food supplies. No matter what the cause of the irruption, however, it is difficult to predict where or when irrupting species may appear. 

Log in to Another Bird Blog soon where there will be more tales of the expected and maybe even the unexpected.

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


TexWisGirl said...

sweet little birds. :)

Chris Rohrer said...

It's amazing this year.....irruptions of the RB nuthatches EVERYWHERE! It's weird to see that it's happening over there as well. We had one in our neighborhood several weeks ago! I live in the desert and this was a VERY unlikely bird for our feeder....and yet, it was super thrilling to find one hanging out around downtown Tucson. Fun post!

eileeninmd said...

Great variety of birds, Phil! I love the swan in flight. And the nuthatch is a cutie.. Happy birding.

Marie said...

Oh wow--fantastic birds! Each better than the last! Glad to see the Whooper Swan up close, and the jelly fish was neat. But the gold finches, etc in the latter part of the post. Wonderful!

eileeninmd said...

Phil, Thanks for linking up your post, have a happy weekend!

Margaret Adamson said...

your heading today, reminded me of the that programme I used to watch. great shot of the Whopper and I love all the other small birds. Have a great weekend.

David Gascoigne said...

Both White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches are common here but this year so far I have seen only White-breasted. I expect that as the cold weather arrives the Red-breasted will once again be a regular at my feeders. Congratulations on your unexpected visitors.

carol l mckenna said...

Always wonderful bird photography, Phil ~ love nature and you capture it so well ~ Love the Swan in flight! Great shots!

artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

Sandy Kessler said...

have never seen that goldfinch coloration

Mary Cromer said...

OK the birds are all wonderful, but I must say that jellyfish is really a very cool find Phil!!!

Jane said...

Great captures, especially the poor washed up Jellyfish. Thanks for sharing :)

Christian Weiß said...

Great observations and many birds.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Excellent photos of the birds. The robin is so cute.

A Quiet Corner said...

Nice to meet you and your work, Phil. Great shots of such little characters!...:)JP

retriever said...

Great shots and onservation of wonderfull birds.
Greeting from Belgium.

Ela said...

Your photos of nature are beautiful !

Anni said...

To see swans like that, flying overhead and circling to land inland would be a thrill of a lifetime!! I just know I'd be squealing with delight....then, silent in awe. That's just the way I am.

And of course, I'm sure you've heard this before, I JUST love those Eurasian Finches.

Awesome as always Phil. Thanks for sharing the link today at I'd Rather B Birdin'

Adam Jones said...

Glad you got your Whooper Swans Phil. Managed to see my first of the Autumn yesterday. Great flight shot.

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Wonderful photos!

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