Saturday, February 14, 2015

Good Birding But A Pitiful Pom

It’s been a meagre sort of week for birding with lots of cloud and grey skies and the mid-February doldrums giving limited opportunities for finding new birds. A Wednesday ringing session proved quite productive and enjoyable, followed by a couple of duff days and then Saturday morning the first opportunity to try my luck birding. But I’m really looking forward to the migrants of Spring and there we go again - bird watchers wishing their lives away in seasonal yearnings. 

Some of the earliest singers Great Tit, Song Thrush, Dunnock and Robin are in full voice in the garden although a return to cold weather will surely make them place their refrains on hold. A pair of Buzzards is on territory down the lane towards the river and on my travels I’ve heard more than a few Great-spotted Woodpeckers beating out the rhythm on a drum. 

Great Tit

Just lately there’s been a juvenile Pomarine Skua along Pilling Way, an injured bird which although able to fly, had a droopy wing. The skua created a stir amongst birders for a week or two then disappeared off the radar after it was seen feeding mostly on carrion Pink-footed Geese. I found the skua again this morning at Fluke Hall but this time it wasn’t going anywhere as it was dead, probably as a result of its rather restricted diet and its injury. 

I brought it home, let it dry off and then cleaned it up for a picture or two. It’s not often one finds a Pomarine Skua, even less a tideline corpse. 

Pomarine Skua

Pomarine Skua

Fron Wiki. The word pomarine is from the French pomarin, a shortening of the scientific Latin pomatorhinus, ultimately from Greek, meaning "having a covered nose". This refers to the cere which the Pomarine Skua shares with the other skuas. 

Bill of Pomarine Skua

On the marsh I also found 33 Whooper Swan, 2 Little Egret, 60 Lapwing, 25 Redshank, 20 Shelduck and 2 Teal. In the stubble field and along the hedgerows were singing Greenfinch and Goldfinch plus a couple of Skylark and a single Stock Dove. Highlights of the woodland were Nuthatch and Tree Sparrows active around the nest boxes. 

At Braides Farm were 2 Buzzards, spaced out as it were, one along a fence line the other on a pile of farm debris 100 yards away from the first. Our local Buzzards aren’t ones that like posing for photographs and keep a good distance from man. Who can blame them? 


The usual species were at Conder Green, including the Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper, two normally migrant waders which have wintered here in the saline creeks. I noted a decrease in Teal numbers down to circa 50 but an increase in Oystercatchers to 16, with a few of them becoming rather noisy in anticipation of Spring. A few Shelduck have reappeared in the creeks after being mostly absent during recent months. 

On and around the pool an eclectic mix of 70 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Snipe, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Goldenye, 2 Cormorant and just 2 Little Grebe. 


At Glasson Dock there was a Song Thrush in full voice and as I watched the thrush at the very top of a bare tree, a Raven flew over. The Raven was silent and flying strongly in a northerly direction over the river and towards Lancaster but it looked somehow odd. When I looked through binoculars the Raven's bill was stuffed with soft, nest lining material. As I watched the first Raven a second one came into sight, it too with a beak overflowing with nest lining material and this bird carried on in the same flight line as the first one.  Nest building fairly locally.

On the yacht basin I counted 22 Goldeneye and then 34 Tufted Duck. There’s a pair of Till Death Us Do Part Goldeneye sailing around the yacht basin, seemingly joined together by an invisible piece of string. The female is less wary than the male and she takes the lead in cruising to the favoured feeding spot before diving for food, quickly followed a few seconds later by the faithful male. 


The Goldeneye breeding habitat is the boreal forest. They are found in the lakes and rivers of the taiga across Canada and the northern United States, Scandinavia and northern Russia. Goldeneyes are migratory with most wintering in sheltered coastal or open inland waters at more temperate latitudes. Goldeneyes nest in cavities in large trees and will readily use nest boxes, and this has enabled a healthy breeding population to establish in Scotland where they are slowly increasing and spreading, possibly into Ireland. 

This beautiful and harmless species makes a wonderful addition to the list of breeding British Birds but it is to our national shame that such a bird is on the list of allowed “quarry” for shooting. 



It was time to head home after an enjoyable morning’s birding that was rather spoiled by finding the dead “Pom”. Let's hope I can put the corpse to good use or quickly find someone who can. Sue isn't  too happy about it living in the freezer. 

There’s more birding another day with Another Bird Blog. Log in soon.

Linking this post to Anni's Birding Blog.


eileeninmd said...

Phil, sounds like you had a great outing.. Sorry about the Pomarine Skua. I love the Goldeneye, Curlew and the Buzzard. Great photo.. Happy Birding!

Chris Rohrer said...

Damn Phil! Nice discovery on the Skua! That's VERY exciting! Not often you find one of these beauties alive OR dead. I had the same experience with a Common Poorwill last year up on the Grand Canyon. It was dead but in great shape. Took it home and did some photography on it. Amazing how soft the feathers were. Your Goldeneye shots are to die for! Beautiful!

Stuart Price said...

Shame about the Skua, I saw it on quite a few folks' blogs............

TexWisGirl said...

the goldeneyes sure are handsome! sorry about the dead find.

David Gascoigne said...

It is indeed a source of shame that this precious little duck is on the list of acceptable quarry for the big, brave, macho hunters, with their high-powered rifles and scope sights. It certainly belies the fact that they are hunting for food. I am sure that there would be a pitiful amount of meat on the bird and given its diet it would taste awful anyway.

DeniseinVA said...

Great post, poor bird. Your photos and documentation are always impressive.

Wally Jones said...

Sounds as if Spring is in the air in your neighborhood, too. We have lots of singing, courting and some nest building going on.

Overall good counts it seems. You're right, I don't blame the Buzzards for keeping their distance.

There has been a Common Goldeneye wintering in a supermarket pond over the past few weeks. It would be a life bird for me but I may be too lazy to brave the city traffic to get to it. If only it was in a swamp with only alligators to contend with instead of shoppers.

Unfortunate the young Skua didn't survive. Hard to believe it was not that long ago birders observed most birds in that state after collecting them with a shotgun.

We're doing a lot of birding here and hope to report on some of it soon.

Hope you and your Special Valentine are having a wonderful weekend!

Gunilla Bäck said...

The shots of the goldeneyes are great with the wonderful reflections. Too bad about the dead bird.

Anni said...

Fantastic Goldeneye portraits Phil!! Too bad about the Skua. It's always a disheartening experience to find a bird of any kind that has lost their lives for some reason or another. Now wait...just a gosh darned minute...70 curlew? Astounding. And yes...I too am counting the days and searching...trying to be patient for the Spring Migrants.

Once again, thanks for taking time to add your link to share your birding post at I'd Rather B Birdin'!!!

Choy Wai Mun said...

Too bad about the skua. You got some great shots here. I especially love the Goldeneye images.

John Holmes said...

Great Goldeneye shots. Pity about the "ex" pom.

Related Posts with Thumbnails