Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thursday’s Birding

More birding this morning as I headed over the moss road into a glorious sunrise, one eye on the lookout for early morning owls. It’s best to keep the other eye fixed on the single track road where the unwary might find their car sliding off the road into a field 15ft below should a tractor appear from nowhere. I wouldn’t see a Barn Owl until I arrived at Conder Green. After a good number of sightings throughout the early part of the year our local Barn Owls are now harder to find. 

The Moss

First I pulled into a farm gate at Crimbles to count the flock of feeding Curlews. On Tuesday I estimated more than 450 in the field. This morning, and after the torrential downpours, thunder and lightning of Wednesday, the Curlews numbered more like 700. The rain had freshened up the grass, puddled tractor tracks and no doubt brought more worms to the surface for the Curlews to take their fill. 

At Conder Green a Barn Owl hunted all over the marsh, ducking and diving into the long grass, stopping just occasionally to take a breather on a fence post. The owl had such a circuit that it disappeared from view for minutes at a time but then to reappear at times from an unexpected quarter. Unfortunately the bird didn’t come very close, hence the “rangefinder” shots. When a Barn Owl appeared from over the far side of the canal and flew around the margins of the pool I wondered if there might be two in action, but probably not. 

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

 Barn Owl

“Greens” appeared again with the single Greenshank and Green Sandpiper while both Redshank and Lapwing numbers are lower than of late with about 40 of each. Just 5 Common Sandpiper today, the peak of their autumn return already passed. 

The young Avocet now ventures away from the adults by exploring the further edges of the pool but looks to be a week or more from first flight. The usual wildfowl still present by way of 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Wigeon and 1 Goosander with the addition today of 4 Canada Goose. Also on the pool – 3 Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron. 

A piece of excellent news is that I counted 5 active House Martin nests at Café de Lune and it is obvious that the martins prefer this building to others very close by. There’s no doubt that birds in general know exactly what they require in any given situation and that second best will rarely do. 

There are mobs of noisy Starlings about now, the flocks comprised of mostly juvenile birds like the one below. Juveniles of the year soon moult many of their brown feathers and start to take on the spotted appearance of an adult like the one standing along a wooden gate.  


At Glasson I found 2 young Moorhen with no sign of an adult nearby. A Common Tern fished the water of yacht basin at Glasson with 60+ Swallows feeding over the still water and 2 Pied Wagtail feeding exploring the towpath and the moored boats. There are lots of young wagtails around at the moment and they outnumber adults by seven or eight to one. 

At Bank End, Cockerham I found 20+ Pied Wagtails, a Wheatear, 2 Stock Dove and 50+ Sand Martins. We have not been able to catch and ring any the Sand Martins this year as their nest holes are far too high up the quarry face. 

Pied Wagtail

A trip around Jeremy Lane and Moss Lane found more gangs of Starlings as well as family parties of Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting. It was time to head home, job done until next time on Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Anni's Birding , Eileen's Blog and to Run A Round Ranch.


Errol Newman said...

Some rain would seriously buck up our birdlife - the farmland has been cut for hay and looks very dry and inhospitable. Even the streams are almost the lowest I have seen them. Not all bad though - House Martins prospecting at the bedroom window!

Jedidja said...

The barn owl! I love your photos.

TexWisGirl said...

the owls are always awesome. sweet starling and moorhen. love your header photo!

Linda said...

A beautiful and delightful series, Phil, and I absolutely love your header!

Stuart Price said...

Must be nice to see Barn Owls so easily, I've still only ever seen one in the UK.

David Gascoigne said...

Like you we have been suffering from a prolonged drought. We had about 25mm of rain in one day last week, but not enough to make a real difference. Water use restrictions are now in effect. We need rain for both our avian friends and ourselves.

Wally Jones said...

Howdy from Humidity Headquarters! Good thing I actually like becoming soaking wet as soon as I step outside lately, even though it isn't even raining (that will come later in the day).

To me, 700 Curlews would be an awesome sight to behold! Be careful about moving your eyes from the roadway too much. Been there and done that many times. Have the mud-soaked boots and pants to prove it. Your careful driving eventually led you to a Barn Owl anyway. I would be thrilled just to catch sight of one around here and would be giggling like a schoolboy if I captured a few images such as yours. How thoughtful of your Sand Martins to nest in such a convenient spot for you!

Thank you for brightening my day with today's report, Phil! We've been out for a few short trips lately and hope to soon return to actual birding. In the meantime, we shall continue to live vicariously through each action-packed episode of your adventures afield!


Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Moorhens always make me smile -- (we see a type of them in Florida -- same huge feet). Good birding day for you as usual (in my opinion anyway, for whatever that is worth).

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Beautiful shots of all the birds, Phil. I especially love the barn owl pics.

Prunella Pepperpot said...

Wonderful images you captured on your trip. Loved the owl in flight. Sadly I don't see as many starlings as I did many moons ago. Have a lovely weekend.

Snap said...

You had me at Barn Owl! Wonderful series.... love the long legs of the "Greens" and Moorhen ... fun to watch!

sandyland said...

thanks for taking me with you

Marie C said...

Oh I just adore the owl shots! And that moorhen is so cool. Always, your photos are wonderful. You had a good day birding! About taking a camera...we have always tried to make a habit of it, and one day we were driving around in the Texas countryside, and forgot our camera. We came around a curve in the narrow road and there sitting on a hay bale just feet from the edge of the road was a hawk. We stopped the car and just watched him. He just sat there for the longest time! I was SICK I didn't have the camera!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What fantastic owl photos! It's my hope that I can see one this year. Last night when I walked, I heard 2 but it was getting to dark to find them or see anything. We have moorhens here and they are beautiful birds too. Enjoy your weekend!

Anni said...

Of course, I always enjoy the fact you see the owls and get some great images of it in flight. A bit jealous too, I am.

So many birds you see. And did you say 'rain'?!! Right about now I'd give up my two ovaries for some rainfall around my part of the world.

I don't believe I've ever seen an immature starling, so this was a first for me. And look at that foot on the moorhen, would'ya? Amazing...I love birds.

Thank you so much for sharing this with us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin'. Have a glorious week ahead.

Ida said...

Your Starling on the fence was a nice shot.
The Moorhen was such a different looking bird (we don't have them around here) and of course I always enjoy the Owls.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

My client says she has barn owls. I really should go look!
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

BTW We had Barred owls nesting in our backyard. I was so excited!!! Kept me busy for weeks!!!

NC Sue said...

Well done., You did capture some beautiful shots.
Thanks for sharing at


PS....just read your comment you left for me at Hootin' Anni's, and I had to come back and say 'Yep, when we adopted our kitty, his face reminded me of Sir Winston Churchill...hence his name, Winston.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, awesome Barn Owl photos. Great post! Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy day and week ahead!

Lowcarb team member said...

Hello Phil
I do like your header photo and I simply love those owl shots, fantastic.

Do hope your week is going well

All the best Jan

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