Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Better Than Shopping

After a five-day Atlantic conveyor belt of rain, wind and grey skies hit our region I was ready to bin my bins and instead take up a pastime less weather dependent. This morning the sky turned a whiter shade of grey and as an alternative to Christmas shopping I plucked up the courage to go birding. The wind hadn’t dropped though and the morning was both cold and very blustery. 

I stopped at Pilling expecting to see a Barn Owl after the poor hunting weather of the last week. Although one appeared on cue I was slightly disappointed with mostly distant views of it quartering the fields and then briefly fence hopping. After just a minute or two the owl had departed over the fields and towards its daytime roost, this individual’s usual trick. 

Barn Owl

Barn Owl - off to roost

In a field close to Lane Ends I counted 14 Little Egrets. They had clearly just vacated the roost but chosen to feed in a wet field rather than head out to the extremely windy shore. There seemed to be lots of waders on the same fields and when I returned this way later as the tide rose and into better light I counted in excess of 2500 Lapwings, 650 Curlew and 240 Redshank, not to mention hundreds of Black-headed Gulls.


At Thurnham was a Kestrel, hovering at the roadside but an awkward spot to stop a car when others were speeding by on their way to work. As I arrived at Conder Green, another Kestrel, this one hovering over the marsh before trying its luck further away. I lost interest in the unhelpful Kestrel and looked on the choppy waters of the pool and in the more sheltered creeks.

While many species abandon the windswept pool and the vagaries of the tidal channels the tiny but hardy Little Grebes stick it out in most weathers. Ten Little Grebes today, along with 90+ Teal, 26 Wigeon,2 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Egrets, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Common Sandpiper, all equally determined to spend Christmas at Conder Green.

Little Grebe
At Glasson Dock the Tufted Duck numbers have inexplicably dropped from 70/80 to something like 25 today, less than double the count of 14 Goldeneye, and not forgetting singles of Little Grebe and Grey Heron.

I hung around watching the antics of the male Goldeneye trying to impress the females with their head bobbing and stretching displays. Go easy boys, you’ll end up Christmas shopping if you’re not careful.
I note there are a few things on the bird listers circuit this holiday week. There’s a long suffering Shore Lark at Rossall which now has more portraits on the Internet than Angelina Jolie. Alternatively there’s an equally tormented Snow Bunting at Fleetwood, the little bird currently experiencing flashbacks of humans carrying large instruments of torture.

And now suddenly everyone is bursting to see a couple of Canada Geese, a bird they don’t normally touch with a bargepole and certainly not a telescope. But in this case as a sub-species of Branta canadensis and therefore only half a tick maybe it is preferable to being dragged Christmas shopping with the other half?

Enjoy your Christmas everyone.

Linking today to Eileen's BlogTheresa's Christmas Ranch and Christmas Birds in Australia.


Linda said...

So beautiful, Phil, and the Lapwing looks regal. :) Merry Christmas to you.

Margaret Adamson said...

It's amazing how far the head and neck of the Goldeneye goes back. Great video. Have a great Christmas day tomorrow.

Andrew Fulton said...

Great images Phil.

Best wishes to you and yours for Christmas and I hope 2015 is kind to you.

Bethany Carson said...

The barn owl is a beautiful bird!

TexWisGirl said...

Love your fence sitter! Cute little grebe, too!

David Gascoigne said...

My Dear Mr. Slade: Go and get the biggest bar of soap you can find and wash out your mouth with it repeatedly. Talk of tossing away your bins is tantamount to sedition, treason, unwarranted digression, surrender, submission and poutiness. One minute of birding in whatever the weather brings is better than any amount of time spent Christmas shopping. In fact a root canal procedure is better than Christmas shopping. The only way you can redeem yourself is to promise on a stack of field guides that you will regale us with more Pilling promenades in the coming year. Nothing else will suffice.
Yours for the birds, David Gascoigne

Dział Przyrody MŚO said...

Hi Phil! Beautiful pictures!
The magic of Christmas never ends
and its greatest of gifts are family and friends… Best Wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, I love the Barn Owl.. I am still waiting to see one in the wild.. The Lapwing is another bird I would love to see here, sometimes a rare sighting is possible.. The video is funny, my neck would be hurting.. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Felicia said...

the barn owl is beautiful as is the lapwing.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Russell Jenkins said...

i'd prefer to be at Condor Green than sitting here at my desk on Christmas Day, Phil. Not a holiday here in Japan. Actually, I'd prefer to be out shopping too, than sitting here: binoculars, scopes, cameras, and lenses...but anyway no work to do but sit and enjoy reading some nice blogs. I still would love to see a Barn Owl in daylight at any distance.

Germán Ibarra Zorrilla said...

Enhorabuena por la fotografía de la Tyto alba, es fantástica. Feliz Navidad y te deseo todo lo mejor para 2015, un fuerte abrazo desde España.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, thank you for linking up and sharing your post today.. Have a happy weekend. I wish you and your family a happy New Year!

Uppal said...

Loved your lovely pictures! Best wishes for a happy,healthy and joyful NEW YEAR!:-)

Gunilla Bäck said...

I love the barn owl. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

What a wonderful owl!

Have a great New Year, Phil!!

Marie said...

Love the barn owl's feathers! What a beautiful photo! And the Lapwing is great. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Adam Jones said...

Lovely Barn Owl shots. I've been suffering with you with the weather. It coincided with my week of work. Hope you had a great Christmas

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