Sunday, September 13, 2015

Counting My Blessings

Sallie, a regular reader of Another Bird Blog, gave me a bit of a telling off the other day via a comment. “Was made green with envy when you reported "nothing much of note ..." Except for what I counted as over 100 birds, several of which would be amazing lifers for me! Count your blessings as well as your birds !!” 

Sallie is absolutely right of course that birders are often blasé about the birds and the birding experiences they enjoy on a very regular basis. I own up to a somewhat casual approach occasionally but do also realise I am lucky to have the time and wherewithal to indulge my passion by bird watching, bird ringing and even a little bird photography. Not everyone is so fortunate. So I set off birding this morning determined to be positive, impressed and alert to everything I saw, even down to the most routine or mundane. 

There was a brilliant start with a hunting Barn Owl. I pulled into a roadside gateway to check the road ahead which I knew to be a regular beat of an owl. And there one was in the half-light of dawn circuiting the fields and roadside some 200 yards away. There was no traffic so I switched the headlights to “off” and crawled in second gear to where the owl was. The owl was so engrossed in hunting that the car’s presence didn’t appear to trouble it except that it flew directly over once or twice. This was one of the two young Barn Owls I saw a week or more ago and I hope that the other has not met an untimely death as young Barn Owls often do. More likely is that the youngsters have now gone their separate ways as they must do - I hope so. 

Barn Owl

I was on my way to Conder Green and Glasson Dock where three or four hours of determined birding resulted in a fine list of birds. It’s a great place to go birding because of the wonderful mix of habitats - marsh, shore, both fresh and saline water, woodland, and even a spot of industrial thrown into the mix. 

 The Lancaster Canal - Conder to Glasson

2015 may be remembered as one of the worst ever for breeding birds but will surely be remembered as one which gave almost daily sightings of our spectacular UK Common Kingfisher. “Common” was the operative word this autumn with a guaranteed bird, occasionally two together on almost every visit here and to other local birding spots. Today was no exception as a Kingfisher was almost the first bird I saw at Conder Green. This particular bird is not especially cooperative to the photographer; perhaps because of the attention the busy spot receives by people eager to see the often elusive but beautiful Kingfisher. Who can blame them? 


The tidal creeks here at Conder Green remain the major focus as they always have a varied selection of waders to search through, together with numbers of Teal and Mallard. There’s a constant but sometimes subtle change in both numbers and species caused by the twice-a-day tides and mostly human, but sometimes raptor induced disturbance. 

Today’s count gave 44 Redshank, 33 Lapwing, 6 Curlew, 3 Snipe, 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Oystercatcher, 40 Teal, 22 Mallard, 2 Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron. 

Grey Heron

On the pool I located 7 Little Grebe and the newcomer of a Great Crested Grebe, almost certainly the same one of a day or two ago that sailed on the yacht basin at Glasson half a mile away. 

Visible migration has been thin this autumn and so unremarkable that noteworthy today were single calls overhead of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin, both of which found their way into my notebook. A couple of calls of Meadow Pipits overhead also pointed to migrating birds. Two Ravens above  distant trees and fields were almost certainly of local origin as the species now breeds not too far away. 

My walk along the towpath and old railway line found two Chiffchaff, one in stuttering and brief song, the other by way of its slurred contact call. I failed to find the recent flock of up to 100 Goldfinch but made do with a smaller flock of 18 Linnets and eventually located a dozen or so flighty Goldfinch plus a couple of Greenfinch. 

The population of our once abundant Greenfinch remains low, not helped by  the abysmal summer of 2015, so each sighting of even one or two birds is worthy of a note. 


So ended four hours of productive and enjoyable bird watching. What could be better? 

Find out soon when you log into Another Bird Blog again. 


Margaret Adamson said...

Well done Sallie.Phil I have ben trying to tell you this, obviously too gently for some time now so good for Sallie. We are so fortunate in this country to actually have birds seen quite close to us and we do not have to travel miles and miles to see one. Well certainly today you could not have complained as you had a great day and your photographs are lovely especially the Kingfisher and the Greenfinch.

Linda said...

Dear Phil, you are not alone, I think all of us from time to time forget about how blessed we are in whatever we do in life. You are indeed blessed! I live in a big city, Montreal, which has over 3.5 million people, and although we do have several nature parks, (thankfully), I don't get to see the birds that you so often do! Another lovely series, dear friend, thank you so much for sharing.

David Gascoigne said...

Hey Phil: There is no such thing as a bad birding day. I think we all lapse into a ho hum reaction from time to time, but give us a day or two when we have to miss and we can't wait to get back out again. I have been interested in birds one way or another since I was eight years old and I am glad that my passion now is greater than ever. Long live a flock of House Sparrow and a couple of Starlings!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, Sallie is so right! My hubby is always telling me to enjoy the birds I see and be happy with my sightings. Your Barn Owl is awesome, I would love to see a Barn Owl in the wild. Great birds and wonderful photos. Have a happy new week ahead!

Beth said...

I so enjoy long distance birding with you.

Mary Cromer said...

Ha ha, so Sallie set your straight ;)... The Barn Owl shares always delight me and your know the Kingfishers as well. I have enjoyed your posts for years now and I count them all as blessings. I missed hearing from you last week, but have posted again this morning, part 2 to it. Time got away last week, too busy and I became scattered and just took a break from the routine and I missed that too. Happy Week Phil~

Christian Weiß said...

Great observations and birds, like the barn owl.

Hilde said...

Beautiful birds. Love the kingfisher!
Visiting from "Through my lens".
Greetings, Hilde

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful array of great photos of our 'feathered friends!; All very beautiful!

Happy Week to you,
artmusedog and carol

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh I feel terrible about being such an old --- uh --- nag ( yeah, that's the family friendly word). Thanks for taking it so well... I really really meant my comment to come across in a lighter vein than it did. That " common " Kingfisher is certainly anything but common... Aren't they beautiful? I love the ones I see ( but seldom photograph) but yours are much more colorful.

Would love to see a greenfinch or a chaffinch someday .... And in all sincerity, that is a wonderful bird count and it does my heart good to know that there Are that many somewhere to be counted! And even more, that there is someone sharing that experience with the rest of us. Thank You!

Liz said...

You certainly are blessed to be able to capture so many beautiful birds!

Karen said...

Awesome birds as always! I'd love to see half of what you do!

S S Cheema said...

A wonderful blog. I am happy to come across it. I have added your blog in my blog roll.

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