Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday/Saturday And A Fishy Tale

On Friday the rain didn’t stop until close on 1pm. That left just a couple of hours for birding because by 3pm and five weeks to mid-winter, the sun is well down in the sky. So I made it a short and familiar route along the sea wall at Pilling and then back via the trees at Fluke Hall. 

There was a Reed Bunting calling from the hedgerow and as I pulled on boots still damp from recent days I could hear a Song Thrush in full voice just along the lane. The sudden sun had given us both a lift and I set off with a spring in my step to view the wet fields. 

Reed Bunting

It was a good start with a useful selection of 44 Redshank, 65 Oystercatcher, 6 Curlew, 24 Lapwing, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Stock Dove and 1 Snipe. Along the sea wall - 8+ Little Egret, 18 Whooper Swan, 2 Mute Swan, 22 Shelduck and a Kestrel. 

I was drawn by intense activity on the distant shore and watched a Peregrine create the usual mass panic amongst the waders and wildfowl. In just a couple of passes the Peregrine had grabbed what looked from a distance to be a Redshank and then landed on the shore with the wader still flailing about. The Peregrine barely had chance to begin its meal before a Great Black-backed Gull arrived with the obvious intention of grabbing a piece of the action. Very quickly the Peregrine gave way to the threats and let the huge gull take over, but not without a protest as it took to the air and dive-bombed the robber several times in the hope the gull might relinquish the prize. No chance, the Black-back quickly swallowed the meal and left the Peregrine to find another. 


It’s almost impossible to follow such fantastic birding and what came next proved something of an anti-climax to a hunting Peregrine in full flow. Fluke Hall wood produced single Nuthatch, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard, Pied Wagtail and Song Thrush. 

Song Thrush

Saturday dawned with yet more cloud and a trip to Conder and Glasson Dock. 

At Braides Farm were the 2 regular Buzzards on the regular fence near the midden. These two really are the most consistent Buzzards I know of at the moment although it would be foolhardy to try and approach them for a closer picture; they would definitely fly off into the distance. Three or more hours later and on my way back from Conder Green the two were still fence sitting but if anything they were further away and the light worse. 


Conder Green gave a good selection of species on both the pool and the in the creeks. A Kingfisher obliged with a brief fly past as I watched 14 Little Grebe, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Goosander,1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Cormorant, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 1 Little Egret fish the pool. There’s obviously good feeding at the pool right now for species that dive for their fishy food. 

Red-breasted Merganser

In the creeks and at the roadside - 1 Ruff, 125 Teal, 15+ Redshank, 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 Goldfinch and 1 Rock Pipit.

Pied Wagtail

At Glasson Dock I was busy noting the 48 Tufted Duck, 4 Goldenye, 2 Grey Heron and a Kingfisher when I spotted an angler landing a Northern Pike or pike (Esox lucius).

I abandoned the birding to see the haul, an 8lb beauty. It proved more of a handful than weighing your average warbler. The chap was in fact a Water Bailiff on a sort of day off and he told me how there had been a lot of poaching in the area lately, especially by East European immigrants who have a taste for eating pike.

No thanks, I'll stick to Pilling Plaice and battered haddock.

 Weighing In

Pike at Glasson Dock

More tales and tails soon from Another Bird Blog. In the meantime linking to Anni's Blog and World Bird Wednesday.


David Gascoigne said...

I find the story of the Peregrine Falcon losing its prey to a Great Black-backed Gull very interesting. I am sure that it could only happen on the ground. The gull would be no match for the Peregrine in the air. I have only ever seen a Peregrine Falcon capture prey once. It was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, which the falcon took to a perch and consumed in peace, after which it took a nap.

TexWisGirl said...

big fish! love the peregrine shot and the reed bunting!

The Alpine Blogger said...

Regarding Buzzards, three seen today between Poulton and K & W railway stations. More than I have seen for a while along this stretch.

Linda said...

The Reed Bunting is precious! Lovely series, Phil.

Frank said...

The Water Bailiff was far more sucessful than all the so called fishermen that frequent my local patch water.

Margaret Adamson said...

WOW That is some fish,plenty of eating in that although I know some people will not eat Pike that size.

Germán Ibarra Zorrilla said...

Buen post y grandes fotos, amigo. Saludos desde España.

Gunilla Bäck said...

That's a big fish. Lovely birds.

Christian Weiß said...

Great birds and a wonderful pike, really huge.

Stewart M said...

Nice story - would have been great to see the Peregrine.

Pike are bit of a classic winter fish - and they have been eaten for a very long time - although not be me!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Mary Cromer said...

Hmm, never thought about the fact that a Gull would go after a Peregrine's catch. That had to be quite an interesting situation to have observed. Your Buzzard on the fence, even if it is a little ways away, is really very lovely in the light that you captured looks quite regal and I hope it and the mate, stay safe! The Merganser is so lovely as our your other captures. Happy week Phil~

Anni said...

I'd think the falcon wouldn't have given up so quickly and kept its catch instead of giving in to the gull. Little do I know!!

Excellent images and narration as always.

That Song Thrush is absolutely beautiful!!! Wow. The Reed Bunting looks quite chilling all fluffed out from the rain I suppose.

I continue to look forward to your posts Phil. [ps...what a great looking...fisherman....errrrr, um, catch!!]

Thank you for sharing your link at I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend!!!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Lovely birding -- the falcon is so beautiful in flight; it really surprised me to know that a gull could intimidate it so. Enjoyed the whole post, as soon as my feet warmed up (reading about you putting on damp boots made my toes curl). I hope you have a mildish winter so that you'll still get some good bird counts and won't freeze!

carol l mckenna said...

Always wonderful bird photos ~ I love them all ~ Fisherman looks rather happy with his Pike ~

Happy Week to you,
artmusedog and carol

Bill Nicholls said...

Nice pike, that one did not get away

Felicia said...

the falcon is a beauty and so is the pike. wonderful images Phil.

Bob Bushell said...

I love the Reed Bunting, excellent.

Marie said...

The pike is beautiful...that was a nice shot! Really pushy gull earlier, though. :-)

Chris Rohrer said...

So cool! Sometimes it's the stuff happening on the sidelines that grab our attention. Sounds like a warm coffee day to bird. I'm looking forward to those cloudy cool days to watch birds. You had a nice haul again. I imagine the scope comes in hand with all the birds far out. I get excited when I hear you talk about the Swans and Geese. We don't have many of those birds around here. Even, surprisingly, Canada Geese!

Findlay Wilde said...

I really like that Peregrine picture. and the story with it.

Arija said...

Not many fish match up to a hot smoked pike. I miss song thrushes, we had them in our garden when we lived in Melbourne. Peregrines are always a thrill to see. What a lot of sightings!

Russell Jenkins said...

Super capture of the peregrine and great story. I like the merganser too!

Adam Jones said...

Great to see the Merganser and brilliant flight shot of the Peregrine too.

BumbleVee said...

A gull stealing from a Peregrine....who'd a thunk it?

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