Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sniffing Out The Birds

My thanks to many blog readers for their sympathy, advice and tips to defeat my common cold of almost three weeks. Something finally worked to make me 99% operational apart from a lingering sniffle. I suspect it was the home made garlic and tomato soup, so stand well clear for a birding update from today. 

Thick cloud was slow to clear and it was 0930 before I arrived at Pilling to flights of Whooper Swans heading strongly inland from their roost out on the salt marsh. The twenty-four I saw was but a small sample of the hundreds in the area. A typical winter count for the Pilling area is 300-400 but I have seen up to 480 in one particular year, a breath-taking sight with an awesome soundtrack. 

Whooper Swans

Little Egrets seem to have adopted a field close to Lane Ends where this morning I counted 15 of them feeding in the grass. When I drove back the same way hours later the number had reduced to five. There was a Kestrel using the fence posts alongside the road but as an experienced adult and accustomed to constant passing traffic, there was no way it would let me get close. 


A Sparrowhawk came from the plantation and headed off low in the direction of the village where there are bird feeders aplenty. One of the hazards of visiting gardens is that occasionally a hawk may stun or kill itself by colliding with a glass window, just as the Sparrowhawk below found in Pilling village beneath a window. 


Karen in Ontario has mixed feelings about regular garden visits from a Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii, a close relative of our own Eurasian Sparrowhak Accipiter nisus. Both birds have similar habits and will target concentrations of birds as an efficient and cost-effective way of hunting which has little risk to them. Meanwhile Karen’s Cooper's Hawk is alive and very well. 

I found another 18 Whooper Swans with 6 Mute Swans in a field alongside the A588 at Sand Villa, Cockerham and on my way to Conder Green. 

Swans - Cockerham Marsh

At Conder Green little had changed from my last visit pre-Christmas with too much water giving just the usual smattering of wildfowl: 1 Grey Heron, 1 Cormorant, 2 Goldeneye, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Goosander, 2 Tufted Duck, 60+ Teal and 12 Wigeon. On the island 3 Snipe almost melted into the vegetation while a single Lapwing may have an eye on a territory here in the coming weeks. 

There are still 6 Little Grebe on the pool plus one or two in the creeks with the count varying as the species is so shy and secretive, even outside of the breeding season. 

Little Grebe

Little Grebe has a wide distribution, their breeding range extending across Europe, central/southern Asia and central/southern Africa, to Japan and Papua New Guinea in the east. In Europe, they breed from Iberia and Britain & Ireland in the west as far as the borders of Russia and the Caucasus. In the eastern part of this range, Little Grebes are totally migratory, with birds moving south and west in winter to avoid the severe continental winters. 

Range of Little Grebe  -

Elsewhere in its European range the species is a partial migrant, with some birds being resident, whilst others move to coastal waters, where feeding occurs in shallow tidal areas. Every January I see good numbers of Little Grebes at a coastal lagoon and salinas in Lanzarote, Spain where I suspect they are winterers from the colder parts of Europe, some possibly from Britain. 

Close to the main road was another Kestrel, not a common bird here at the pool although I have seen one here on the last three visits. 


Near the car park I found 15 Chaffinch and 2 Pied Wagtail and discovered that someone has chopped down a couple or more very old and valuable hawthorn trees where thrushes and finches feed and hide. 

Take your eyes off somewhere for a week or two and the vandals move in. Back to birding UK style 2015. 

Sniffing out more birds soon with Another Bird Blog.

In the meantime linking to Anni's Blog, Eileen's Blog and Run-a-Roundranch.


TexWisGirl said...

i hate when birds crash into the windows here, too. i see more hawks lying dead on the roads after being hit by cars, though. love your kestrels and your little grebe! thanks, phil, and glad you're feeling better!

eileeninmd said...

I had to laugh at your stand clear comment, must have been a lot of garlic in your soup. I have a couple of window strikes here sometimes.. But, they seem to live. I love the swans, kestrels and the cute grebe! Happy Birding!

LV said...

Glad you are better and shared these neat bids sighting with us.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

David Gascoigne said...

As usual an interesting and informative post. Tomato and garlic soup huh? A man after my own heart. At this time of year I make a whole range of soups and we can them so that we have a hearty, homemade lunch ready for us after a cold morning of birding. So far I have ample stock of three varieties and this afternoon I am going to add a pesto, navy bean soup which has many other satisfying ingredients, and is served by pouring the hot soup on a bed of spinach. The spinach wilts almost instantly and forms a great addition to the soup. So for anyone reading this blog who thought that birders have a one track mind, think again! We are nothing if not closet gourmets.

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Phil I would not help but smile at David's comment above. Good study sops he makes, sounds lovely. Anyway, I am glad you are better now and are out and about. Good selection of birds again.

Ida said...

What a wonderful selection of birds. I've never seen a Whooper Swan before. Loving the in-flight shot of them.
Kestrels are cool birds and man that is some wicked looking barbed wire fencing. Sad about the one being found dead. I hate it when birds fly into windows.
Do hope you are feeling much better now.

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Phil Just wanted you to know I did go into the cafe for the garlic soup but it was too busy and at the time I was still looking for the Squirrels. Don't worry I will have it next time.

Felicia said...

your kestrel on the fence is beautiful.

so sad about the sparrow hawk.

glad you are feeling better. I thing something is catching up with me now too.

Janice Adcock said...

Sad how the birds get stunned. Lots of beautiful photos.

Linda said...

LOL Phil on the garlic. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and is great as a preventive measure as well as for healing. So glad you are feeling better, and I love your series here.

eileeninmd said...

Phil, you are great at sniffing out the birds..Great photos and post..Thank you for linking up and sharing your post.. Have a happy weekend!

EG CameraGirl said...

Glad to hear you are feeling better. I think I might need to make some garlic and tomato soup - suddenly I have a craving for it. I always LOVE to see photos of kestrels, by the way.

Lea said...

Very interesting!
Love the swans flying!
Have a wonderful week-end!

Rajesh said...

Great shots of the birds. They are beautiful.

Marie said...

So happy you are feeling better....hmmm homemade tomato and garlic soup sounds wonderful! Love the kestrel...but poor sparrowhawk. Hope it made it. Always love your wonderful posts. I have a hawk post coming up later today on Bird d'Pot with a later link in to WBW.

Gunilla Bäck said...

How sad to find a dead hawk or any other bird for that matter. I'm glad you're feeling better.

Betsy Brock said...

Poor hawk...we've had some birds crash into our windows before!

I love the swans in flight. I don't think I've ever seen a photo of them like that...magnificent birds, aren't they?

Hannah said...

I'm glad you are recuperating, the whooper swans are fantastic in flight. It's sad about the Sparrowhawk but I understand they do pick birds off at feeders which isn't too cheery either, I would feel bad putting out seed to lure little birds to their deaths...

Anni said...

Long ago....and I do mean long ago, my parents had a sliding patio door and birds were always getting stunned [or worse] as they crashed into it. Then, my father who was an avid backyard birder, decided to try this and it worked wonders....He took a roll of scotch tape [the frosted kind] and taped a design on the glass. [His design was a log home]....from that point on, no birds crashing into the glass!

Now a days, I have 'frosted decals in the shape of humming birds, but the scotch tape works!! Trust me. Pass it on.

Those swans would be a sight to behold.

Thanks for linking in this week. I'm gonna have tomato/garlic betcha!!!

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