Monday, May 18, 2015

Birding Back To Normal

There’s a new header picture for the blog, an Egyptian Vulture I photographed in Menorca on the fine sunny morning of 13th May. Here’s another one for David in Canada. He’s more used to seeing Turkey Vultures. 

Egyptian Vulture

After two weeks of shirt sleeves and shorts Birding Menorca Style I’ve been itching to bird the local patch wearing similar attire but when it rained all Sunday night and into most of Monday morning I wasn’t too hopeful. Soon after lunch the sun came out although it remained cold and windy so I set off for Pilling wearing a scarf, winter jacket and a warm hat. The dashboard temperature showed 11⁰, a major reduction on the 25⁰ of the Mediterranean a week ago. 

Via the telephone Andy had told me of the failure of our two Skylark nests the previous week. One had failed at the chick stage with 3 tiny, dead youngsters in a saturated nest; the other nest reached the stage of 3 eggs before it too was abandoned, a victim of the unsettled, cool and often wet month of a not untypical UK May. Both pairs of Skylarks were still around today and showing all the signs of starting all over again very close to their original nests. But the strong wind blowing along and over the sea wall made it impossible to properly study what these two pairs and a number of others were doing. 

I found 3 Little Egrets feeding in the drainage ditch and along the fence line a single Wheatear and a couple of Linnets. 


I’d missed the highest point of the high tide but the water was still well up near the sea wall. This explained the large numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover roosting in the ploughed field, approximately 800 Dunlin and 70 Ringed Plovers, all hunkered down in the deep furrows the farmer had left for his potato crop but where the height of the furrows gave some protection against the cold wind. It was a sight I don’t think I have ever seen before during many years of birding and not one I would expect to see in the supposedly warm month of May. 

As I shaped to take a picture of this unusual spectacle the whole lot spooked and flew off over the sea wall as the reason came into sight, a male Peregrine taking a dive or two into the flock. Its attempts at a meal a failure the Peregrine flew south and out of sight. 


A number of Swallows and House Martins fed over windswept Worm Pool but no more than twenty in total with just one or two Swifts overhead. 

I moved closer to the shelter of the woodland where I clocked 2 Buzzard, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Song Thrush and any number of Blackbirds. In song - 3 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Lesser Whitethroat together with 1 Greenfinch and a good number of Goldfinches. 

On the car park fields: 20 Shelduck, 12 Lapwing, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Pied Wagtail.  

There's more rain and wind forecast for tomorrow. Now where’s that holiday brochure?

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


TexWisGirl said...

the vulture is surely exotic (i'm used to seeing our american turkey and black vultures) but i love your pretty wheatear!

eileeninmd said...

Hi Phil, awesome capture of the Egyptian Vulture! Sorry about the Skylark nesting failing, that is sad. I have been seeing the large groups of Dunlin too, it is an amazing sight. Pretty Wheatear shot. Happy Birding!

Linda said...

Awesome captures, Phil!!!

Russell Jenkins said...

The only vulture I've ever seen was in a zoo, Phil. I used to lay awake at night wondering why Australia didn't have vultures. I feel sad for the skylarks. It must have been a cool sight seeing the peregrine sending the waders scrambling. Hope it warms up for you all soon.

Margaret Adamson said...

Fantastic header shot Phil.

David Gascoigne said...

Congratulations on your Egyptian Vulture shots, Phil. A fine job indeed. It's really a shame that the Skylarks were unsuccessful. It really reinforces just how susceptible they are to so many factors.that can spell disaster for their breeding attempts. I think I'd better send you a good pair of Stanfield's Canadian thermal long johns if you need a warm hat, scarf and winter coat at 11 degrees! You big baby!

Silver Parrot said...

The photos are all wonderful - love the vulture and that little wheater is so cute!


Colorful, beautiful vulture!!! {unlike our 'ugly' ones)

Adam Jones said...

Big shame about the Skylarks. They're having a tough time of it at the moment.

Marie C said...

The Egyptian Vulture is amazing! And I sure hope the Skylarks are able to start over with a new nest. Beautiful shots, and a great post!

Laura said...

Beautiful series, amazing captures of those grand wingspans in flight!

Mary Cromer said...

What a neat looking Vulture/Buzzard, so beautifully feathered, compared to our 2 species that are so very dark. I hope that you enjoy a splendid weekend. It has turned rather cold here for this time of year, but warming right back up~

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