Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pilling Surprises

Pilling proved very interesting this morning with one or two migrant birds on show followed by a complete revelation. 

I kicked off at Fluke Hall where along the sea wall a mixed flock of about 60 finches greeted me. They were very flighty but I could hear the distinct calls of both Linnets and Twite. Eventually the flock split up with an approximate count of thirty of each of these closely related species. 



It was while trying to get to grips with the finches that at least 4 Wheatears came into view. The Wheatears were very mobile with some flying into the current “no-go” area where contractors are repairing the sea wall. There seemed to be equal numbers of female and male Wheatears today with the single bird I caught proving to be a second year female, obvious from the generally worn plumage. 

With a wing of 93 mm and a weight of just 22.9 grams it was also of the nominate race Oenanthe oenanthe. 

Wheatear - second year female


Along the hedgerow was a single Reed Bunting, a singing Greenfinch and of all things a single Fieldfare chattering away, and now somewhat late to be setting off to Northern Europe or Scandinavia. It wasn’t the thrush I was hoping to see this morning and although a Ring Ouzel might be a good find, a common Fieldfare is a pretty stunning bird which takes some beating. 


From the woodland a Chiffchaff sang amongst the chattering of Tree Sparrows and the loud songs of three Song Thrushes. The Nuthatches are still about and continuing with their secretive nesting. I’m not sure if the birds are using a nest box or in a natural site but all should become clear once they begin to feed the youngsters. 

I walked the stretch from Lane Ends to Pilling Water and back. The Environment Agency recently installed a shiny new gate so that the lazy ones have easy access to the shore and now don’t need to climb over the stile to let their dogs chase sheep or wreck the wader roost. Amazing! 

There was a Willow Warbler singing from the plantation and a few chatterings from Lesser Redpolls flying north towards Heysham. At Pilling Water the pool held 3 Black-tailed Godwits in their summer finery, 4 Teal and a Little Egret. Along Broadfleet a single Grey Heron and down on the shore 3 more Wheatears.

It was at Lane Ends I found a pair of Moorhens with 3 chicks which made me consult the books about this common but neglected species. There it was in black & white - Egg laying starts in spring, between mid-February and mid-May, incubation lasts about three weeks. 


Moorhen chick

So while we have all been waiting for Spring, complaining about the wind, rain, snow and goodness knows what, our plucky old Moorhens have been busy raising a family. There’s commitment and perseverance for you.

Linking today to Anni's Birding Blog and  run-a-roundranch.blogspot.


eileeninmd said...

Great post, PHil! Awesome birds and photos.. I love the Twite and the pretty Fieldfare.. And the moorhen chick is a cutie! Happy Birding!

Wally Jones said...

It seems Spring is well and truly underway. Of course, the Moorhen has known it all along and the Fieldfare apparently didn't get the memo.

I'd love to see the Black-tailed Godwit, especially in breeding plumage.

Sorry to hear about the gate. There must be some squeaky wheels in the neighborhood.

It sounds as if you're having fun, and that's what it's all about! We're certainly having a great time exploring lately.

We truly wish you all the best, Phil! Have a terrific weekend!

TexWisGirl said...

the twite is a new one to me! LOVE the handsome wheatears! beautiful shot of the moorhen, too. thanks, phil!

Stuart Price said...

Haven't seen Twite since the mid 1980's!

Jo said...

Hi Phil, I've never even heard of a Linnet or Twite; and the Fieldfare. Thanks for sharing such beautiful images. The Moorhen chick is so precious. Happy Birding. Greetings Jo

Ida said...

That Linnet is a gorgeous looking bird. I also liked the shot of the Wheater on the fence post. You see so many different birds.

Linda M. Carmean said...

Love that fieldfare shot! And the moorhen chick is so cute. Great photos!

Margaret Adamson said...

great that you saw a Weatear.

EG CameraGirl said...

How brave of these birds to be so close to construction! Love the Wheatear especially.

David Gascoigne said...

I remember the first Wheatear I saw in the UK (maybe the only one come to think of it). It was at the entrance to the RSPB Reserve in Conwy, Wales and I thought I had a bit of a rarity, but when I told a couple of the staff and they seemed unimpressed, I kept it to myself thereafter. Miriam and I were excited anyway. I have subsequently seen many more, probably hundreds, but always on their wintering grounds in Africa. It's a great little bird.

Linda said...

Another beautiful series, Phil, thank you so much for sharing these photos. It is a dull day here in Montreal, and you have brightened it with your lovely photos.

NC Sue said...

Great bird shots!
Please drop over at and visit my bluebird photos today. Looking forward to having you share yours with us there!

Mary Cromer said...

Fieldfare, Wheatears, are always so pretty, and I so enjoy seeing them, when you share their beauty Phil. Awe so sweet the baby Moorhen, I saw one on nest of eggs, while I traveled last month. I imagine there are a few of these sweeties floating around down there right now too. Have a wonderful weekend~

Adventures of a Novice Mum said...

Loved your 2nd and 5th picture the most. All so pretty. Good job capturing such beauty. #weeklytopshot

Jen Masssey said...

adorable photo of the Linnet

sandyland said...

lovely linnnet branch I learn from you every time


That Fieldfare is posing for us!! How beautiful it is. Wonder now, if there is a VOGUE for BIRDS magazine...this one could be the centerfold.

Gorgeous. And such a wonderful array of feathered friends. As always Phil.

Anni said...

I'm back as just Anni now. LOL

Y'all know just what I think of your birds and narration today...I'm in awe of them. ALL of them.

And, Phil, thanks for sharing this post today at I'd Rather B Birdin'.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Beautiful birds! I love the moorhen and the chick.

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