Friday, August 21, 2015

Summer Time Birds

Breakfast time - Rain splattered the conservatory roof, summer breezes shook the apple tree and the TV weather forecast for the day was gloom, but not as yet the doom. That arrives at the weekend with predictions of hail, thunderstorms and even a tornado! Welcome to an English summer where it’s definitely “Grim Up North”. 

It's Grim Up North

It was now or never so I set off for a round of birding and ended up having a very respectable morning.

At Conder Green I found the usual selection of waders in the creeks dominated by 195 Redshank. Searching through the remainder of the birds found 21 Lapwing, 14 Teal, 4 Common Sandpiper, 5 Curlew, 3 Greenshank, 2 Oystercatcher, plus singles of Ruff and Snipe. On the pool - 2 Little Grebe, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Kingfisher and 1 Pied Wagtail. 

Ruff  - Photo credit: Ian N. White / Foter / CC BY-ND 

Many more wagtails were scattered across the extensive marsh of Bank End, with a minimum of 120 Pied Wagtail and feeding amongst them 7 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Meadow Pipit, 6 Linnet and 2 Wheatear. The hundreds of sheep which graze on the flat marsh here create a bonanza of insects for both wagtails and pipits. 

Pied Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Bank End, Cockerham Marsh

I called at Chris’ farm to check out the Linnets and the Sand Martin colony. The Linnet flock was  around 30 highly mobile birds while the Sand Martins now number approximately 45. The martins  will surely be gone by this time next week, off to spend the winter in warmer climes.

The sky was bright enough to walk a circuit of Fluke Hall, through the wood, along the sea wall and then back along the hedgerows. This has been a “silent summer” and continues to be so as the only passerines I saw or heard were small handfuls of Robin, Linnet, Goldfinch and Tree Sparrow. Better was along the sea wall with 5 Stock Dove, 2 Buzzards and then a Red Fox which quickly sloped off into the undergrowth.

Red Fox

Towards Worm Pool were 3 Green Sandpipers together in the landside but still flooded ditch. The sandpipers saw me coming too and flew off at rapid speed with their characteristic loud jungle calls, flashing their white rumps like over-sized House Martins. 

Green Sandpipers are a very rare breeding bird in Britain, with just a handful of pairs nesting each year in hidden parts of the Scottish Highlands. These three are on their autumn migration, and have already travelled more than a thousand miles from the wet woodlands of Scandinavia. 

Scanning the marsh I noted a Merlin sat on a post, a favourite hunting ploy of the tiny raptor. I’d not seen or heard any Meadow Pipits but the Merlin obviously saw one and took to the skies when from the bright plumage, long wings and body size I could see that it was a juvenile female. The Merlin harried and chased the pipit, rising above the little bird and stooping at great speed a couple of times but without success. 

The pipit found safety by diving into a field of maize but the Merlin chased it all the way and didn’t give up until the pipit was deep in the growing maize. So honours even and great birding. 


There are more birds and pictures soon from Another Bird Blog’s northern summer.

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


Margaret Adamson said...

You did well today to see all those birds. I see your 'summer' haaaas been like ours over here!! VERY uunpredictable. Have a great weekend.

David Gascoigne said...

If you had seen nothing but the Merlin chase it would have been a fabulous morning of birding. It doesn't get much better than witnessing that kind of spectacle.

Linda said...

Many birds today, Phil, how lovely! And an added plus with the cute fox. :)

Chris Rohrer said...

Great summer birds. Lots of great critters. The Ruff has really bright yellow legs. That would be a great bird to see. Here they are popular as they are commonly rare visitors in certain areas. The Merlin used to be a nemesis of mine. Now I see it everywhere during our winter fact, I had one in my yard! That's a good bird!

marsha said...

sweet reflection photo of the Ruff

Silver Parrot said...

Send some of that rain over here - we are baking and catching on fire! Beautiful photos as always and nice to see the fox as well as all the pretty birds!

Mary Cromer said...

WOW,I do hope you all shall be safe from any tornado weather. They frighten me very much as we have no cellar, or basement.
The farm with the sheep scene is so charming. That Red Fox certainly is fine looking and quite different from our own. I have never seen many, if any of the Yellow Wagtails, beauty it is!
We are having major desktop challenges and so I only have my post from a week ago to share, and I am hoping soon to get it into the shop for actually needs a new hard drive, ugh.
Take care stay safe~

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

Interesting and varied collection of birds photographed on your excursion today.
Wonderful to see that you are counting numbers too.
They must all be thinking about moving on to new pastures in the weeks to come - I'm sure you will miss them too!
The barn Swallow image in your blog header is a beauty.
Lovely to meet you at Eileens Saturday Critters.

eileeninmd said...

Wow, a tornado. They are scary! Wonderful birds and scenic shots. I love the birds, sheep and the fox! Great critters. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

Latane Barton said...

My favorite picture of that collection is the red fox. I guess it's because you don't see those as often as birds.

Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Looks like you stayed ahead of the storm! Great captures today,and my favorite was also the red fox.

sandyland said...

sheer enjoyment all of it I am so delighted every week


Hoping damaging hail and tornadoes don't come your way and play havoc.

Love the birds. Wishing we had pied wagtails here.

TexWisGirl said...

beautiful birds and nice fox catch!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Great report, love that red fox!

Marie C said...

Wonderful birding excursion! And I adore that fox!

Lea said...

Love the Merlin!

Anni said...

....y'know already what I think of this I'll try not to repeat myself. Okay, okay...I WISH WE HAD WAGTAILS HERE.

Thanks again, for sharing your post link at I'd Rather B Birdin'.
Oh, and by the way [as per your comment on Hootin' Anni's...our traffic volume is horrendous here too. And if the posted speed is 75mph...most go 90!!!]

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Lovely birds and fun to watch that hawk chase...I could see it in my minds eye, very nice description! It seems to me that birds are always more active just before it rains or storms. (Or at at least I think I remember that ... We haven't seen rain in forever, unfortunately.)

Frank said...

You saw an excellent selection today Phil but I guess the hunting Merlin was definitely the icing on the cake.

GreenComotion said...

Loved all the beauties!
Great finds and snaps!
Have a Beautiful Day!
Peace :)

Viera said...

what a lovely birds... Fantastic photos...

Hannah said...

The wagtails are cute, I would love to see them in action. But the Merlin is quite an adorable hawk, though the other birds would not think so. Good shot of the fox, I never see them up here in coyote country. Rarely see the coyotes either, but hear them.

David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Mr Phil: Some time ago you gave me a link to an article on banding by Ian Newton if I am not mistaken. It was a very reasoned defence of the practice of banding and the need for it to continue. Could you please give this to me again? Thank you.

Vandana Sharma said...

Beautiful meadow and birds make it more beautiful.

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