Friday, February 6, 2015

Back On Duty

My notebook told me that I last did local birding on 16th January before the holiday to Lanzarote. It was time today to find some winter clothes, check out the local scene and forget the exotic birds and tropical sunshine of the Canary Islands. 

There was a full moon and as the sun rose I waited at the appointed spot for a Barn Owl to appear but none did so I hightailed it to Conder Green. 

Full Moon over Pilling

I thought the pool might be somewhat frozen following recent days of zero temperatures so I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of wildfowl scattered across the still open water. There was a good count of 1 Goldeneye, 6 Little Grebe, 29 Wigeon, 52 Tufted Duck, 42 Mute Swan, 4 Greylag and 1 Black Swan, and then dead centre of the circulating throng, a single Pochard. 

The Pochard is now so scarce in our area that to see even a solitary one is something of an occasion although I did think that it was here by way of tagging onto the unusually high count of Tufted Duck displaced from Glasson Dock half a mile away. Two Lapwing and 1 Oystercatcher on the island clearly have designs on the usual breeding spots. 


In the roadside creeks - 100+ Teal, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Snipe and “several” of both Curlew and Redshank. Towards the car park and alongside the road I found 4 Goldfinch, 10 Chaffinch and a pair of Pied Wagtails, together with good numbers of Starlings and House Sparrows in the vicinity of the farm buildings. 

 Spotted Redshank



While the shallow pool at Conder Green was unfrozen after driving the half a mile to Glasson Dock I was surprised to see partial ice-cover, thus explaining why so many Tufted Duck had chosen to leave here, their normally preferred location. The "tuftie" count here was down to 12 with a similar count of 11 Goldeneye and a normal total of 45+ Coot. 



Glasson Dock

I drove back to Pilling, passing several thousand Pink-footed Geese two fields back from the road and at a dangerous spot to park on the infamous A588 so I carried on to Fluke Hall. Lots of Snowdrops littered the woodland but I didn’t see too many birds, just a couple of Redwings, 2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers, a single Jay and several Goldfinch. I’m fairly certain I heard a couple of Siskin calls but a tractor went by and the chance was gone. 


The incoming tide began to drop a few birds into the thawing fields, in particular a nice count of 700 Lapwing, 260 Black-tailed Godwit, 70 Golden Plover, 70 Redshank and 45 Oystercatcher. The godwits tried to feed quite close to the road where they quickly found themselves disturbed by passing traffic. A flock of Black-tailed Godwits against a blue sky makes for a spectacular sight, the striking black & white configuration of their plumage when they fly being quite unique and unmistakeable in the world of wading birds. 

Black-tailed Godwits

Black-tailed Godwits

In the distance I could see the geese had been disturbed from their field inland of the sea wall and were now flying out to the safety of the salt marsh. From Lane Ends car park and in the foreground of the picture below, a minimum of 7000 Pink-footed Geese plus 2 Barnacle Goose and a single White-fronted Goose. In the background, Heysham Power Station. 

Pink-footed Geese, Pilling Marsh

A good morning of birding, and as is often the case, there’s nothing quite like birding one’s local patch. Who needs Lanzarote?

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


Linda said...

Phil, your photos are beautiful and bring me much joy, as always. That many pink footed geese? Wow! I have never even seen one. :)

TexWisGirl said...

beautiful ducks, beautiful moon, lovely reflections and flocks. :)

David Gascoigne said...

Your Black Swan sighting raises a level of curiosity in me. When I was last in Britain I visited the RSPB Reserve in Conwy, Wales (fabulous place by the way), and two apparently free-flying Black Swans arrived. They seemed to be in every respect wild birds, not in any way confiding towards humans, and in speaking to a couple of other birders I was advised, in effect, "They're everywhere now!" My question is, are they now considered a part of the British avifauna in the way that Mandarin Ducks, for example, are? I might add that I had the same experience with Barnacle Geese and at one location in Staffordshire a flock of twenty or so apparently wild birds showed up.

Margaret Adamson said...

Great moon shot and lovely to hear and see where you went birding. Love the snowdrop image. Having seen thousands of Greylag and some White fronted geese in Donegal recently, not one Pink footed among them! Have a wonderful weekend

Stewart M said...

The charms of the home patch really are great!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Breathtaking said...

Beautiful sharp images of all your sighting, not too bad for a mornings birding indeed! Better luck next time for the owl,.. I'm still trying!
Have a good weekend.
Best Regards.

eileeninmd said...

Hi Phil, I love the beautiful moon, scenic shots and snowdrops. And the birds are all awesome captures..Great post, happy birding..

eileeninmd said...

Phil, stopping back to say thank you for linking up and sharing your post.. Have a happy weekend!

EG CameraGirl said...

You found some beautiful ducks and I am totally jealous that snowdrops are up and blooming there!

Rajesh said...

Beautiful images of the birds. I like the shots of birds in flight.

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

Visiting from Eileen's bird party and I've enjoyed the variety of waterfowl you've shared. I'm mostly a backyard birder but I'm trying to capture some new species while vacationing in Florida.

Lea said...

Beautiful photos!
I especially like the flock in flight
Have a wonderful week-end!

Adam Jones said...

Welcome back Phil. Lovely Spotted Redshank. Been trying to catch up with one for months now. Pochards seem to be thin on the ground here for some reason, so I enjoyed seeing yours.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Great bird report and pics, Phil.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Beautiful landscapes, sunny weather, lovely birds and pretty snowdrops. Sounds perfect to me!

Anni said...

Oh my goodness...would you look at all those Pink Footed Geese?!! Amazing.

And the Pochard looks nearly identical to our redhead ducks!

Love the flight image also...well, heck...ALL the images.

I'm so happy you decided to share this link for the weekend!! GREAT post. [ps...winter clothes? Here, it's now in the mid 70 -21 c?- degree range...getting hot again!]

Marie said...

What an awesome outing! Loved the photo of the full moon, and I also loved the snowdrops and the photo of the dock. The bird photos were great as always. You had so many wonderful sightings. I enjoyed the post very much.

retriever said...

Lovely serie shots, greeting from Belgium

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