Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mr Tumble Goes Birding

Who said that birding is a harmless, safe and gentle pursuit? 

This morning I was dodging the heavy showers at Fluke Hall, doing a circuit of the woods and the sea wall when I slipped down a wet, grassy bank to land with an almighty thump in a muddy ditch. That’s what you get for trespassing. Not to worry as by then I’d seen a good selection of the birds on offer, even if I did get another soaking and a sore back. 

From the car parking spot and about 50 yards away in a very wet stubble field I could see more than 30 Pied Wagtails and 6 Meadow Pipits feeding, with just a handful of Chaffinch closer to the trees and hedgerow. If there’s an alarm call the Chaffinch seek sanctuary in the adjacent trees while the pipits and wagtails rely on their greater manoeuvrability to stay safe. A party of 18/20 Twite flew over the hedgerow and they too landed in the same field but even further back. In the woodland edge - 2 Song Thrush, several Blackbirds and a handful of Chaffinches.

These birds needed to be on their toes as there was a Kestrel about as well as one and possibly two Sparrowhawks. While the Kestrel seemed more interested in spotting mammals from telegraph poles I saw a Sparrowhawk both hedge-hopping and then slipping through the trees ahead of me. Later, one was pursued across a field by ever vigilant crows. The hawk flew into the wood, turned an impossible corner and then disappeared from view, a favourite trick of the Sparrowhawk and one which it further exploits by often concealing itself in the trees and lying in wait for unsuspecting prey. 


To the west of the wagtails and pipits were 400/500 hundred Pink-footed Geese searching through the stubble. I walked east and left the geese feeding rather than spook them up into the sky and make them find an alternative place to feed. 

I made a beeline for the sea wall and to where Whooper Swans sounded out their presence. The swans aren’t nearly as accommodating as when they first arrive in October and although as a protected species they are not shot at directly, they are around when geese and wildfowl are targeted by the guns. Hence the 42 Whooper Swans I saw from the sea wall eyed me warily before flying another fifty yards or more out to the tideline. Better safe than sorry. 

From the sea wall I counted 8 Little Egrets scattered across the same marsh, and with the tide out and in the far distance a Peregrine beating up the Lapwings and flocks of Knot. 

Whooper Swans

The fields around here are well flooded with drainage ditches full to the brim after three or more weeks of rain. I stood at the end of a field drain watching a Grey Heron wading through the sodden stubble looking for a meal. Just then a Kingfisher called as it flew fast and low along the ditch towards me before landing on the concrete rim less than 10ft away. It spotted me, called again and set off back along the ditch from whence it arrived. It was just 50 yards from the wood where I saw probably the exact same bird last week. 

A Kingfisher sighting is always welcome but the species is so shy that nine times out of ten a flash of blue, a single or double whistle and a fleeting glimpse is all there is. Beggars can't be choosers  where Kingfishers are concerned.


Pilling, Lancashire

On the wildfowlers pools were 80+ Shelduck, a couple of Teal plus hordes still of the shooters’ released Mallards and Red-legged Partridge. 

The rain arrived again. I’d had a rewarding two or three hours and it was time to stagger home, but not until I slid down the ditch and onto my arse. Luckily a bottle of pain relief is kept in my office for such eventualities. 

Be sure to join Mr Tumble again soon with more birding adventures on Another Bird Blog.

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


eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, I am glad you are Ok after your tumble. I guess I am in good tumbling company I went down on my knee while out birding this past weekend. Awesome shots of the Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher and the swans. Happy birding, have a great weekend!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

What a coincidence, someone in my house has that same pain reliever! Hope you are feeling better. I am most envious of the Kingfisher. For all the reasons you mention, I have only ever got one bad picture of one, even tho I see them pretty often on both coasts. Not the exact same kind of ?Kingfisher, yours is more colorful... But they act the same.

S S Cheema said...

Talking about tumbling on birding, let me share my experience of yesterday. I was on a birding quest and shared with my birding partner that there is this one bird - Scaly-breasted Wren Warbler' that might be spotted in this place we were going. Our excitement knew no bounds when we saw a pair in a stream - that stream had no approach - but I did manage to get where I saw a glimpse - and realised that there is no way of my climbing back - took just about two hours to figure that out.
A birder has to do what a birder has to do...
I am following your blog and a link appears in my blog
May I request you if you too can paste the link in your blog ?

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

Well Mr Tumble. Are you sure you didn't have a wee dram before you set off. You sem to be thumbling more than usual!!! anyway you did see a lot of birds so I suppose these thublea were worse it.

Unknown said...

Whooper-sea-daisy there, Phil.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

In addition to the medicine in a bottle (of which I heartily approve) I suggest that you cajole your wife into giving you back massages for at least a week. If you feel better sooner, fake it! Needless to say a regular course of medicine will take at least that long.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, I just wanted to stop back and say thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

Rajesh said...

Beautiful shots. I like that KingFisher image.

E. said...

the sparrowhawk is gorgeous. love those colors. hopped over from Eileen's critter party. nice to meet ya. ( :

Unknown said...

The hawk and the kingfisher are gorgeous. I'm glad you're okay after your tumble. You were lucky to have some pain relief handy. :-)

Anni said...

How have some pain relief stashed in your office Mr. Tumble!!!

I can't say I really know where to begin this weekend...your post was filled with adventure, good narration [as always] and super photos. The kingfisher...oh so colorful....the wonderful moody sky....what a fabulous Sparrowhawk - eye dazzling!! The Chaffinch, so pretty. But the words describing the Whooper Swans and their extra cautionary stance even if they are a protected species...yep, here too. No not the swans, but our doves in Texas, during Dove Hunting Season...they disappear until the season is over, then return. Oh and in Colorado when I was a teen, Goose Hunting Season. There were boundaries for the hunters...and the geese would NOT be seen within the boundaries, just OVER the boundaries where they were safe. Amazing, these birds are.

Okay, so I wrote a novel here today, but just be careful on those slick muddy hillsides/ditches!!! And don't let yourself run out of pain killers!!

Thanks for sharing this weekend at I'd Rather B Birdin'.

Cath said...

love your shot of the Kingfisher.....they are such quick darters so I am impressed that you got that shot! Hope you are feeling ok after your tumble.

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