Sunday, December 14, 2014

Frosty Foray

Saturday morning. A heavy layer of frost and ice covered the car. The doors were frozen solid and there was black ice on the road so best not to venture far. 

Pilling shore is just a mile or two away and always worth a look for a Snow Bunting, Shore Lark or something equally sensational. More often or not, in fact 99.9% of the time, it’s the same old species which provide the buzz of birding, knowing and appreciating a regular patch. 

At Fluke Hall car park a calling Reed Bunting greeted me, one of several I would see and hear during the morning. Along the shore were the usual half a dozen Little Egrets so highly visible and often vocal that I sometimes wonder if I miss other birds by always looking at the once rare egret. On the accustomed pool where the shooters leave potatoes and swedes to attract wildfowl I counted 48 Whooper Swans along with 30+ Shelduck, but no geese today. 

Whooper Swan

Right alongside a drainage ditch I often walk was a dead Grey Heron, a “stiff” in more than one sense as it was covered in a layer of frost and the whole corpse solid from the overnight below zero. With their reliance on feeding in and around shallow watercourses, ditches and drains, Grey Herons are amongst the first birds to suffer during cold spells, inexperienced first year birds especially so. 

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

There’s a stretch of Phragmites reed from where a single Teal flew off followed seconds later by a Snipe. More calls and sightings of Reed Buntings came from here and the nearby relict maize crop as I jotted 6 more “reebu” into my notebook. 

Reed Bunting

A single Skylark flew over and then a flight of 80+ Linnets heading towards Fluke Hall, the birds landing out of sight somewhere in the distance. Linnets have been very hard to come by in recent months, all year in fact, in contrast to their close cousin the Goldfinch which continues to adapt and flourish in the modern world. A walk across the track to Fluke Hall Lane provided 40 or more Redshanks on the flood and a couple of Curlews but nothing out of the ordinary.

Along the lane and through the wood - a smart looking male Kestrel, a Nuthatch and the pair of resident Pied Wagtails. 


It’s Sunday and raining - again. Now there’s a novelty.


eileeninmd said...

Phil, you are brave to be out in the cold. I feel sorry for the dead heron, they do not leave for warmer warmer? The Reed Bunting is a beautiful birds. Wonderful photos, happy Sunday!

sophie bagshaw said...

I often go to Cockerham but never manage to see as much as you do. I have been reading your blog and think i have only seen about half of the species you have seen here. I was hoping you could share some tips on where to look and best time of day etc. like i said before i go to Cockerham a lot, as well as glason and condor green, but i am unsure where or when to look. It would be great if you could get in touch with me on twitter @bagshawsophie or on google- added you a few days ago.

Linda said...

Phil, you have warmed up my otherwise cold and windy day here in Montreal with your lovely photos. -2, probably -10 with the wind. I love them all, and I have a particular fondness for the adorable Reed Bunting. :)

TexWisGirl said...

sorry about the heron. lovely reed bunting!

Phil Slade said...

Sophie. I don’t know quite why you haven’t seen as much as you would wish or why I haven’t bumped into you yet.

I have been birding this area for 30+ years do know where and when to look and how best to get the most from it.

If you are at Conder look in the obvious places like the creeks, the viewpoint and the railway line. From Glasson work the basin and the dock itself plus the canal back to Conder and/or the view across and along the Lune from the Victoria.

At Cockerham work the A588 road through to Pilling and also the road from Gulf Lane that crosses Cockerham Moss to emerge at the River Cocker. From there try the footpath along the marsh to Bank Lane and Cockerham Sands/Cockersands Abbey.

The possibilities are there but it can be both rewarding and frustrating depending upon the season, time of day, the weather and the things that birds do or don’t do. I hope to meet up you soon.

Thanks for taking the time to visit Another Bird Blog and make a contribution.

Carola Bartz said...

The Kestrel is so beautiful - such a gorgeous image! Sad about the grey heron, but this is the way of nature I guess. 48 Whooper Swans - that's quite the number!

David Gascoigne said...

I think you should meet up with Sophie and give her an escorted tour and share your knowledge of the good spots.Perhaps (dare I suggest this?) she is less proficient at locating and identifying birds. I am a little surprised that the heron succumbed to the cold. Great Blue Herons are very hardy here and we regularly find them on Christmas bird counts. Herons are opportunistic feeders and seem to be able to always locate food. Perhaps, as you say, inexperienced juveniles are unable to adapt as quickly as adults.

Vandana Sharma said...

beautiful images, nature keeps us surprising!

Mary Cromer said...

Oh those Swans are magnificent Phil and any time I hear the word Bunting and it has to do with a bird, my face lights beautiful, each species and I wonder why I am drawn to certain birds more than others. I do like them all. So tragic about the Heron and the younger hawks fare the same way their first year, most of them perish...very heart tugging. The kestrel is a beauty.
It is taking me a while to get well, it seems the older I get, the more I have dealt with, yet I do get better in time. This pain has been the most long enduring and significant I have ever been through and I am so ready for it to be gone. I begin PT tomorrow, for a month and praying by then, I shall be all better.
Happy week~

Stuart Price said...

3 species we get here too...........

Shame about the Heron but nature is cruel.

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful photography! Love the Kestrel!

Happy Week to you,
artmusedog and carol

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Sad for the heron ... Life is hard. I wonder they don't migrate! You .. And all the birds ... Are brave to be out in that weather.

Wally Jones said...

We had one thing in common that morning - frost. At least I think that's what it was. White stuff, crunchy under the boots.

What a marvelous observation, Phil, about the species of a favorite patch providing the "buzz of birding"! Love it!

I was encouraged overall by your statement concerning the adaptability of the Goldfinch.

Great report for a not-so-pleasant day!

In my tiny opinion which matters not a whit to anyone but me, Nature is wonderful. It's up to us to ascribe our own particular emotions to her. Mine happens to be Joy.

Hope your weather improves and the birds cooperate!


Kay L. Davies said...

The photo of the kestrel is fabulous, Phil.
Sorry to be away for so long. My head seems to have taken a holiday from blogging for quite a while. Now I hope I'm actually back, although I haven't found a photo for Our World Tuesday yet.
Best wishes,

mick said...

Great photos - of course! - but really good to hear of your regular birds at your regular birding places. That's what I enjoy too - seeing the shorebirds I expect to see where I expect to see them - then I know that my special places are still here and still as they should be despite the madness in some of the surrounding world! I think Sydney has given most of us in this country a big jolt!

Russell Jenkins said...

I feel sorry for the heron too. I've been walking to work in blizzard conditions the last week and can imagine the pain it suffered. I really like the kestrel picture. Very nice lighting, colours and tones with a wonderful pose.

Germán Ibarra Zorrilla said...

Que bonito el Escribano palustre. Bonito y frio post, por aquí todavía no hace tanto frio. Saludos desde España.

Adam Jones said...

Such a shame about the Heron and the Sunday weather. Great looking Reed Bunting and Kestrel. said...

Glad that you did not encounter any nasty incidents because of the bad weather. Poor heron, I like watching them when they are standing motionless for long periods.The little rest bunting seems to be cold.

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