Monday, August 3, 2015

Pesky Peregrine

I couldn’t get out birding on Monday morning so settled for a few hours at Pilling after lunch and a walk along the sea wall to hit the incoming tide. 

After a period when there was hardly any activity I think the local Kestrels have finally produced a family. I saw two juveniles close together along a barbed wire fence at Fluke Hall and then soon after there was an adult bird about 150 yards away. 

The wood was quiet again apart from a Great-spotted Woodpecker calling from deep in the trees and a good deal of noise and activity around a number of Tree Sparrow boxes. The cool and wet spring has been one of poor productivity for many species, including Tree Sparrows. Recent weather is a little warmer and Tree Sparrows have the ability to produce youngsters until quite late in the season as long as there are insects with which to feed the chicks. 

Tree Sparrow
I set off for the sea wall in time to see a Buzzard take off from the fence ahead of me and then circle around calling before flying into the trees above the road. 

As the tide began to flow in there was lots of activity along the distant shore but the gulls and waders didn’t settle for long because of the almost constant attentions of a Peregrine beating up and down the tideline. 


In the course of an hour the Peregrine made at least eight forays into the birds along the shore from left, right and above, each time scattering the groups in all directions. After each attempt it would soar slowly at some height as if gathering strength and then launch itself into another headlong dash along the shore where it panicked the roosting birds into the air again. How can one raptor cause such pandemonium? 



Wader counts here are often approximate but made more so today by that determined Peregrine - 600 Oystercatcher, 350+ Curlew, 85 Golden Plover, 190 Lapwing, 60+ Dunlin, 30+Ringed Plover, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and 1+ Whimbrel. 


I didn’t see the Peregrine catch a meal and think it flew off to try its luck elsewhere because the noise and activity subsided just as the tide began to ebb. Most of the shell-shocked waders had gone too and I was left to study the gulls. 


There were good numbers of Black-headed Gulls left on the water, perhaps 400+, 2 Teal, 4 Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron. Two Sandwich Terns lifted off from a patch of marsh and then headed west towards Knott End, calling as they went. 

Sandwich Tern

“Bits and pieces” totted up to 18 Linnet, 4 Skylark, 1 Pied Wagtail, 20+ Swallows. 

The summer holidays are here so it’s child minding Olivia and Isabella tomorrow with no birding until Wednesday on Another Bird Blog. Tune in then for more news, views and pictures of birds.

Until then I'm linking to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


Hannah said...

I'm amazed at the quantities of birds you see, and how you can count them. The Peregrine shot is great, I can see the feather patterns on its underwings and chest as well. The Tree sparrow is cute peeking out of the nest box. Have fun with the children!

Margaret Adamson said...

Great Peregrine images.

Fun60 said...

That peregrine shot is wonderful Phil.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

The peregrine is wonderful to see even if he did torture the shorebirds! Beautiful flight images . And all your pictures, as well as the great numbers. Just sign me "envious ... But grateful that you shared"

eileeninmd said...

Awesome captures of the Peregrine, Phil! And I love the Curlew and the Sandwich Tern. The Tern is one bird I have seen here, I will not forget the yellow tip on their bill.
Great post and photos. Have a happy new week ahead!

Linda said...

Beautiful series, Phil! It seems that the birds just flock to you for your photo shoots. :)

mick said...

Interesting bird totals and great photos - especially of the Peregrine although I really like the Curlew. I wonder why the Peregrine persisted in trying to take a shorebird? Shorebirds out here take flight as soon as they see even the shadow of a raptor although I have never seen any raptors actively targeting them! (Our raptors are Brahminy Kites, Whistling kites, and Sea Eagles) It also seems as if the shorebirds associate any shadows with danger as there is quite a lot of trouble when kite surfers want to use the water around the sand spits at the mouth of the rivers. The birds take flight the moment the shadow of the kite goes overhead.

Mary Cromer said...

That Curlew image is magnificent Phil. I think that I could watch Peregrines for hours, but then when they take something, I feel a wee sad, around here, usually Pigeons. They will take Gulls though too and even small ducks. Lots of stress here, up very late, decided I best do some blogging, it is always fun. Have a great week~

Silver Parrot said...

Wonderful photos - especially the flight shots!

Chris Rohrer said...

It doesn't matter where you are. You always get the best pictures of some really nice bird. Common or not. Birds are birds and they always enjoyable to observe doing what they do best:)

Adam Jones said...

Great looking Sandwich Tern in flight.

Marie C said...

Love the tree sparrow peeping out! The curlew was my favorite photo, though I also love the peregrine in flight!

Pat Ulrich said...

Excellent encounter! I was out watching a large flock of sandpipers and plovers this morning, and as I was finally crawling close enough for some reasonable photographs, they entire beach seemed to take flight at once. A helpful birder behind pointed out the peregrine racing across the sky above.

Stuart Price said...

Seems like a pretty good day for what is a pretty quiet time usually.

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