Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Fun

The weather finally relented a little and there was no need to travel far to see the first birds this morning. 

In Thursday’s howling gale I’d seen Pink-footed Geese flying over the house and dropping into fields about half-a-mile away at Staynall, an area the geese have used lately. The geese use the Staynall fields every winter in varying degrees but the meadows are very undulating in addition to having few access points or roadside stops from which to view the geese or obtain accurate counts. On Friday morning I settled for “several hundred” and promised myself another try in a day or two. 

Pink-footed Goose

All was not lost with sightings of both Kestrel and Barn Owl, the owl another distant one to go with the many of late. It’s the time of year when Barn Owls and Kestrels face difficulty in locating enough of their favoured small mammal food, and hence a time when both species are forced to spend more time hunting. 

Barn Owl


I came across a Brown Hare trying to blend in with the landscape. A passing glance might see a large clomp of earth in the middle of a rough grass field until closer inspection revealed a brown furry animal, the sleeked back ears and the large orange eye of a Brown Hare. 

Brown Hare

The European Hare (Lepus europaeus), known in the UK as Brown Hare, is a species of hare native to Europe and western Asia. It is related to and looks very similar to the European Rabbit, which is in the same family but in a different genus. Hares are considerably larger than the European Rabbit, have longer ears and hind legs and breed on the ground rather than in a burrow. 

The Brown Hare is predominantly nocturnal, spending most of the day in small depressions in the grass known as forms. At night the hare ventures out, grazing on the young shoots of grasses and herbs as well as agricultural crops. Quite early in Spring the animals become increasingly active and hence more visible, especially when they indulge in courtship behaviour which inspired the English idiom “mad as a March hare.” 

Heading north I stopped near Fluke Hall and again near Lane Ends where fields saturated by recent rains were awash with waders almost as far as the eye could see. Best estimates came in at 1100 Lapwing, 900 Golden Plover, 850 Curlew, 450 Redshank, 22 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Dunlin and 200 Black-headed Gull, but not forgetting a single Ruff. 

Golden Plover and Lapwing

I stopped at Braides to note another Kestrel, a Little Egret and a flight of about 18 Teal, while behind the distant sea wall hundreds more Golden Plover and Curlews. 

By now there was snow with hail and rain showers, the bursts sudden and dramatic enough to cause an accident near Conder Green where a car had left the bendy road and ended up a bank and half way through a hedge. 

I spent the next hour dodging the weather, taking pictures at ISO1600 of the wildfowl at Glasson Dock, the 43 Goldeneye, 40 Tufted Duck and 1 Red-breasted Merganser. This week’s gales had blown the Goldeneye in from the estuary, but as soon as a canal boat started up for a circuit of the yacht basin the shy Goldeneyes whistled off overhead and back to the sanctuary of the wide River Lune. 

Tufted Duck

Goldeneye - juvenile male and adult male 

Goldeneye - adult male and juvenile male

 Goldeneye - adult female and juvenile female


Red-breasted Merganser

I was back home in time for lunch after a good morning’s birding - at last.

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


TexWisGirl said...

gorgeous ducks. love the owl and kestrel. the hare made me smile. :)

Jo said...

I love the ducks and merganzers. Owls are my favorite and to see a Barn Owl in your part of the world, while I hear the call of one while I sit here in East Africa, is quite phenomenal. Have a great birding weekend. Greetings. Jo (Tanzania)

Stuart Price said...

The Goldies in the field brought back a few memories of walking by the Ribble many years ago..............

Linda said...

Phil, so lovely to see all your bird photos, and I feel as though I was there myself. Really draws on in, thanks so much for sharing.

Margaret Adamson said...

Loved this post. Great to see the juvenile Goldeneye. The ducks all look great. Lovely shots of the Barn Owl. Have a lovely weekend.

eileeninmd said...

Hi Phil, wonderful collection of birds and photos.. The Barn Owl is just awesome and I am so envious of your owl sightings.. The Merganser and the Lapwings are more favorites.. Great photos! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

Hannah said...

The ducks are so cute, especially that startling Merganzer with its wild feathers. I enjoyed the owl shot, I would love to find one in the daytime. I heard one the other day but didn't take the time to go out and try to see it.

Ileana said...

Wonderful ducks! :)

David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Your Royal Sladeness: I was interested to see all the pictures, of course, and to read your always lively narrative, but the hare especially captured my attention, since it immediately took me back to Ethiopia where I was at this exact time last year. We saw numerous hares on the high plateaux and they were veritable speed machines with long, muscular legs that propelled them forward at incredible speed. I got very close to one, quite unaware, and it seemed to burst up from right beneath my feet and within seconds was far away. Almost scared the living daylights out of me - quite literally since I was having a touch of "tummy trouble."
Have a great weekend filled with sunshine, birds and lagomorphs.
Ever your obedient reader, David.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful images of the birds.

sandyland said...

outstanding group

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Very fine collection, Phil.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Lovely photos! The barn owl and the kestrel are my favorites and the hare is cute.

Adam Jones said...

Always great to see a Barn Owl. Those Goldenyes look magnificent too though.

Lea said...

Great photos! I especially like the last one

Mama Zen said...

Gorgeous owl!

Mary Cromer said...

That Red-breasted Merganser, is sure a great looking bird, and all of your Ducks are quite spectacular. We are getting daily e-mails from BirdKY alerting members to visitors to our area. The other evening I saw my first ever Snow Geese...34 of them. Marvelous! Always a difficult situation for those Raptors to get their full catch of the day during miserable weather. All very wonderful Phil. Happy week to you~

Anni said...

...thank god almighty, birding at last!!!

That tomato and garlic soup helped you rid yourself of the 'birding cold and miseries' to........great weather for most of the day.

And wonderful birds you found. I especially liked the barn owl perched on the post. And the hare in the field pretending to be a clump of earth.

All in all you had a terrific day Phil.

Thanks for sharing your post today with us avid birders at I'd Rather B Birdin'!!!

Carol Rasowsky said...

So much to see - lovely!

Carol Rasowsky said...

So much to see - lovely!

Wally Jones said...

Happy to hear you had a good birding outing despite some wretched-sounding weather. Be careful out there!

Those wet fields hosted some very impressive numbers of shorebirds! I would need to take off my shoes to count that high.

Very interesting facts about your local Hare. Superb images of the ducks! And just so I'm not swimming against the rest of the salmon - yes, the Barn Owl IS adorable.

I hope your weather improves a bit soon. Some of those migrants may enjoy the cold, damp miserableness but most birders do not.

Lots of birding on this end but still too lazy to write about it with any regularity. I'm trying to improve but there is little hope.

Take care, Phil!

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