Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Green For Go

Another Bird Blog often highlights bird species that are in decline. Today I feature a bird in the ascendancy but the story is not one that lifts the spirits. It is more a tale of man’s inability to recognise and face up to an environmental problem that is not only all too apparent, but once again, mainly of man’s own making. 

I first encountered Ring-necked Parakeets Psittacula krameri in India in 1996 when Sue and I took the Shatabdi Express from Delhi to Agra in pursuit of experiencing the legendary Taj Mahal. Incomparable it was. Standing majestic on the banks of the River Yamuna, the white marble and ornamentation of the Taj Mahal was everything and more that books and TV led us to expect. Huge lumps formed in our throats as we walked the central path towards the monument and then waited in turn to rest on Diana’s Seat. A few Rupees later we had our picture taken and then later brought as if like magic to the return train for Delhi. 
The Taj Mahal, Agra - 1996

We explored the beautifully manicured grounds of the palace where several species of vultures and Black Kites circled overhead. Hundreds of Ring-necked Parakeets squawked from the tree tops and then squawked some more as they flew in all directions.  Ring-necked Parakeets are endemic to India and to warmer climates in Northern Africa and Southern Asia.

Even then in 1996 it was obvious to me that here in its natural environment of Garden India was a highly successful, abundant, and from its general demeanour, an aggressive species. In India, the late Salim Ali, an ornithologist known as ‘the Birdman of India’, referred to the parakeet as ‘one of the most destructive birds’ and one that was a serious agricultural pest. 

Ring-necked Parakeet at Agra - CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Ring-necked Parakeets as cage bird pets have been easily available and quickly bought via UK pet shops and bird dealers for many years for less than £100. A “ charming, exotic bird, with its bright green feathers, long tail, red beak and black and pink ring around the neck and face”. 

Ring-necked Parakeet

By coincidence and around the time on my return to England in early 1996 the species began to accquire something of a novelty status to British bird watchers. Parakeets in the “wild” became a bird to “twitch”, even though the origins of such birds as escapees or deliberate releases were evident. Having seen the damned things in India I can well understand how having bought one in good faith, a cage bird devotee might quickly tire of the species’ extreme noise and aggressive nature.

The uniquely British but simplest way of dealing with a pet that has outlived its novelty value is to release it into the wild. At the same time this allows the owner to reflect that the animal is now free to continue its life while at the same time absolving the owner of guilt in the alternative of euthanasia of the poor creature. What a quick and painless solution to a vexing problem. 

Ring-necked Parakeet

Thus became the origins of a quickly burgeoning population of firstly feral and then increasing wild Ring-necked Parakeets, many thousands of miles from their rightful niche in natural evolution. The species is now well established in Britain, where it is the most northerly, wild breeding parrot species.

Over recent years, the British population has exploded until in 1983 the population was estimated at around 500 to 1,000, largely in South East England. By 2002 the population had increased to around 6,000. A 2010 study put the number at 30,000 with current day estimates of as many as 50,000 individuals and 8,000 breeding pairs, with colonies in Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Tyneside and Manchester.

Thankfully they are not in any great numbers in the part of Lancashire I live, where the less than ancient woodland gives fewer opportunities for the tree-hole nests they require. However, in many parts of Britain there is increasing concern that parakeets which nest in February possess the wherewithal to out-compete native, cavity-nesting species that breed later. Native tree-hole nesting species at risk include the Jackdaw, Stock Dove, Kestrel, Starling, Nuthatch, Little Owl, Green Woodpecker and even the Tawny Owl. 

Ring-necked Parakeet at nest site. By CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The growing population of Ring-necked Parakeets is also becoming a serious concern in relation to the parakeets’ impact on the foraging behaviour of small native garden feeding birds. The Ring-necked Parakeet has taken to British gardens in a big way with studies that suggest parakeets will spend half their time on bird-feeders, gorging on their favourite foods of seeds, nuts, berries and fruit. 

But bird-loving Brits may be feeding the parakeets at the expense of other species, as a recent study in Behavioral Ecology found that presence of parakeets leads to increased vigilance and decreased feeding in our native birds. Furthermore it found that these behavioural changes are much more pronounced than in the presence of a normally dominant native species such as the Great Spotted Woodpecker. 

The study concentrated on the effects in Great and Blue Tits, two common species in urban areas. Study of feeding stations suggested that the parakeets introduce a spatial shift in the tits' foraging behaviour which, if consistent, could feasibly cause reductions in the population of the common birds. If proven, this would represent the first case of such impact by non-native avian species in Britain, though a similar established case concerns the Grey Squirrel, another non-native species responsible for driving out the Red Squirrel. 

Ring-necked Parakeet

In 2010 the Ring-necked Parakeet became an official “agricultural pest” and as such, alongside Wood Pigeons, Carrion Crows and Magpies, they can be killed legally without special permission as long as damage is caused to crops. 

After the latest studies and news about their negative impact on our endemic bird population maybe it’s time we seriously considered removing for good the Ring-necked Parakeet from Wild Britain. Perhaps it's time we pressed Green for Go before it is too late?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Circus Time And A Prickly Subject

The flood at Rawcliffe Moss came good this morning with a Marsh Harrier, a species that is still something of a speciality in this part of Lancashire. 

I set off early through Hambleton and Out Rawcliffe where an early Barn Owl proved a good omen the birds to come on the moss. The light was far from perfect but the owl was the ideal subject matter. 

Barn Owl

On my last post there was a picture of the flood out on Rawcliffe Moss. The water is still there, topped up by recent downpours. 

Rawcliffe Moss

Today the majority of the birds on the flood were circa 400 gulls, split along the ratio of 5:1 Black-headed Gull and Common Gull with 20 or so Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A telescope earned its keep by locating in the distance 30 Mallards, 80+ Lapwing, 18 Black-tailed Godwit and 9 Snipe. There was single Spotted Redshank too, first located by the “tewit” call as it flew from left to right but then distinctive with its all dark wings and oval shaped whitish back and rump. 

There was a Buzzard watching on from the fence line on the right. After a while the Buzzard flew across to the distant treed with a gang of crows in hot pursuit when I noticed a second raptor. This one circled with the deeper and more distinctive “V” shaped wing formation typical of the harrier family rather than the flat profile of a Buzzard. During August we don’t see the Hen Harrier around here, just its relative the Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus , a spring and late summer migrant. Even at a distance the harrier seemed to have a very creamy head, a feature which might mark the bird as an adult.

Marsh Harrier

The Marsh Harrier's scientific name Circus aeruginosus emanated from the Greek "kirkos", a hawk or falcon that flies in a circle, while "aeruginosus" is Latin for "rusty coloured".

When the harrier disappeared from sight for a while I decided to drive up to Cockerham and Conder Green. 

The major highlight here was a Kingfisher but unfortunately a call and a fly by again rather than a photographic pose. Otherwise Lapwings were in good numbers but not necessarily on the enlarged pool with 200+ birds in flight both taking off and landing in the region of the canal and out of immediate sight. 

Other waders on the pool/creeks were 2 Common Sandpiper, 12 Curlew, 15 Redshank plus singles of Greenshank and Snipe. Meanwhile a survey of wildfowl gave 1 Goosander, 8 Little Grebe, 2 Wigeon, 24 Mallard and 2 Teal. 

Nothing much to report from Glasson Dock with the usual 5 Tufted Duck, 5 Cormorant and now down to 40+ Swallows around the yacht basin.


Back home there was a Hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus in the garden. I’m no expert but the animal appeared to be a young one, especially since it was out in broad daylight when the Hedgehog is supposed to be a nocturnal animal. There was a noticeable parasitic tick above one eye. Apparently hedgehogs are susceptible to these ticks which are generally harmless to them; larger numbers of such parasites are indicative of sickness. 



That's all for now folks. Back soon with more birds and things to keep you entertained.

Linking today to Anni's Birding Blog in Texas and Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Catch Up Birding

On Tuesday we spent an hour or two at Hambleton Park. A picnic lunch with four of our grandchildren went down a treat by way of that time honoured British menu of sausage rolls, egg sandwiches, Golden Wonder crisps and blackening bananas. 

Birders never switch off do they? I couldn’t help but notice that as the sun warmed the sky a Buzzard flew from nearby trees and then upwards in search of thermals. Very quickly four other Buzzards arrived and joined in the midday fun. How these Buzzards find one another is remarkable but probably accounted for by their simply phenomenal eyesight, 6 to 8 times better than that of a human. After a little mewing and circling around the raptors went their separate ways across local farmland as I returned to the sausage rolls before the kids nicked the lot. 


Swallows were much in evidence too. After a slow start to the season, and apart from the now obligatory joined-up days of unwelcome wind and rain, the summer has been reasonably productive for Swallows. The mostly warmer and dryer weather of late has allowed something of a catch up to the Swallows’ intensive but necessary season of breeding. About twenty Swallows were feeding over the fields that adjoin the playground and then resting up on the overhead wires of the adjacent farm. 


A change of note in the Swallows’ twittering conversations suggested something was wrong. Cue the appearance of an ever opportunist Sparrowhawk which appeared on the scene but partly hidden by a low hedgerow. As usual the Swallows had seen the Sparrowhawk first and sounded a warning before they scattered in all directions. I caught a glimpse of the Sparrowhawk’s brown head, white supercilium and fierce eye as it tried to hide along the hedgerow. It was a juvenile male of the year, proven when ten minutes later I saw it over the trees chasing Swallows but failing miserably to catch one. A young Sparrowhawk will soon learn that stealth rather than a chase will catch the next meal, especially where Swallows are concerned. 

Thursday. Free from family fortune I set off for Cockerham via the moss roads where I realised just how much rain had fallen during the last 4 days. It’s a handy looking flood which may prove to be worth a look for a week or two. I didn’t count the hundreds of gulls but focused in on the far bank where 15 Black-tailed Godwits and a single Redshank fed. A single Kestrel on roadside wires proved to be a juvenile, my first and only of the year so far. 

Rawcliffe Moss - August


Then up to Cockerham where Conder Pool had transformed into Conder Lake and in the process lost a more than a few birds. Lapwings and Redshanks were much reduced with 50 or less of each together with 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 4 little Egret. 

Fourteen Teal, 11 Canada Goose and 6 Little Grebe provided the wildfowl with 30+ Swallows, 20+ House Sparrows, 8 Goldfinch and a couple of Pied Wagtails in the area of the farm buildings. It was the Swallows that spotted a Sparrowhawk flap/glide slowly over before a number of the Swallows broke off from their rest and chased the hawk across the road and over the pool. 


At the layby I encountered 2 Reed Buntings in the hedgerow together with 8 Long-tailed Tits making their way along the roadside. 

Last week I’d promised myself another look at Cockersands where the field of set-aside looked very promising for birds. 


The sunflowers gazed into the rising sun but I looked in vain for birds while the adjacent fields wait for a cut of grass half a metre high. Best I managed was a single Meadow Pipit, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Whitethroat, 5 Goldfinch, 8/10 Linnets overhead and plenty of Wood Pigeons. 


After those few days off it was good to catch up with a spot of birding and while the weather looks a bit mixed for the next few days, there will be more birds soon via Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday Blog

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Grey Or Yellow?

A couple of days of wet and windy weather have restricted my birding for a while. So for today I hope to answer the question “When is a grey wagtail not a Grey Wagtail but a Yellow Wagtail”?

It’s a subject that cropped up on my last post at Another Bird Blog when a reader suggested via a comment that my image of a Yellow Wagtail was in fact a Grey Wagtail.  The photograph is the one below. 

Yellow Wagtail

The species under discussion are two closely related ones, Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava and Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea

The images below are pages from the The Crossley Guide that show not only the plumage differences between the two wagtails but also the different habitats and situations in which each is usually found. I’m sure that at most times of the year almost everyone can identify the adults of both species as they are really quite different in appearance.

Grey Wagtail - Richard Crossley (The Crossley ID Guide Britain and Ireland) [CC BY-SA 3.0 a/3.0)] via Wikimedia Commons 

 Yellow Wagtail Yellow Wagtail - Richard Crossley (The Crossley ID Guide Britain and Ireland) [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Yellow Wagtail, male or female, is an overall shade of yellow, whereas the Grey Wagtail while having parts of striking yellow plumage in both male and female, is an overall grey colour above.  No problem there then. 

 Yellow Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Less practiced bird watchers may experience confusion and misperception when dealing with autumnal “grey” Yellow Wagtails such as the one in my picture at the top of this post, a very pale and quite fresh Yellow Wagtail in its first autumn plumage during September. At this time of year juvenile Yellow Wagtails are greyish/brown/olive above and buff whitish below, with a partly yellow belly and yellow under tail. Rather than the bright yellow and immaculate males of some field guides, autumn encounters of both species usually involve less bright and slightly worn plumaged adults of either sex, or duller juveniles. 

My pictures below show the typical dark, almost black legs of a Yellow Wagtail and not the flesh coloured legs of a Grey Wagtail. The Yellow Wagtail has clearly defined wing bars as formed by the pale covert feathers. By comparison a Grey Wagtail of any age always displays slate grey wing feathers together with narrowly edged greyish coverts rather than the much whiter ones in the wing of a Yellow Wagtail.

Grey Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail
Grey Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

A feature that is less obvious unless the two species are side by side is that the Grey Wagtail has a very long white edged tail whereas a Yellow Wagtail has a shorter tail. This is a useful separation tool in the field when the long tail of a Grey Wagtail “bobs” and “pumps” almost incessantly as opposed to the less mobile and much shorter tail of the Yellow Wagtail. A Yellow Wagtail has a demeanour rather like a pipit, often standing taller than the similarly sized Grey Wagtail that can appear quite "crouching". 

Another separation in the field is the differing calls of the two species. The Yellow Wagtail has a sweet “tsee” or “schlee” or a louder “suree”. The call of Grey Wagtail is totally different with an explosive, metallic “zi-zi” or “tsvit”

Below is a great video from the BTO which not only sets out the difference between Yellow and Grey Wagtails, but for good measure also includes the Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba, yet another “grey” wagtail.

I hope this post has been helpful to anyone unsure about separating Yellow Wagtails and Grey Wagtails, or even grey wagtails.

And for anyone looking for a top quality field guide to the birds of Great Britain and Ireland I recommend the following three books:
That's all for now. Back soon with Another Bird Blog. In the meantime I'm linking this post to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Merlin And Mipits

The slightly murky start to the morning produced some obvious autumn migration by way of an influx of Swallows, some visibly heading south, a number of landfall Meadow Pipits, and my first Merlin of the autumn. 

I stopped at Braides Farm to look along the fence line and across to the sea wall. The local Grey Heron and Buzzard were in situ along the fence line and seemingly nothing else. When I looked closer there was a single Wheatear sat motionless on a fence post, probably easy to overlook except for its rather bright appearance on such a dim morning. 


I spent very little time at Conder Green where a large wagon with blacked out windscreen greeted me at the layby. The driver had spent the night there but very soon he started up the diesel engine to warm the cab, so goodbye the few birds that were about; 14 Little Grebe, 1 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Stock Dove, 2 Wigeon, 1 Grey Heron and 3 Little Egret. Loud “cronk-cronks” told me Ravens were about and when I looked up it proved to be a single one heading south. 

A quick look at Glasson showed about 300 Swallows around the marina with 7 Tufted Duck and 18+ Coots on the water. The sky was beginning to clear with the first signs of some promised sunshine. 

I settled down to go through the wagtails on Bank End Marsh when someone stopped to tell me that the whole road was closing for maintenance in 30 minutes time and that it would remain so until midnight. I don’t mind spending an hour two at Bank End but not a whole day thanks. Luckily by then I’d seen 45+ Pied Wagtail, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 15 Linnet and 2 Little Egrets. 

Yellow Wagtail

Grounded and flighty Meadow Pipits numbered 15 +. I also met an old friend here, a one legged Curlew I first saw a couple of years ago and in exactly the same spot. This bird is a real survivor even though adult Curlews have few predators except man and the wily old fox. 


I made it back to the main road and headed to Cockersands where a steady but not enormous stream of Swallows flew in off the river, over the silage field and then headed quickly south. There’s a nicely developing set-aside plot here where I counted 3 Reed Bunting, 3 Whitethroat, 8 Goldfinch, 2 Greenfinch and 10 Linnet. Very noticeable was a group of 15+ active and excitable Meadow Pipits along the roadside and where the pipits joined the other birds in taking advantage of the set-aside. 

Meadow Pipit

I was turning the car round when I spotted a Merlin fly low over the marsh and land on the roadside fence. Within seconds the Merlin was gone, over the fields and out of sight. 

Our UK Merlin is often linked to the Meadow Pipit. Meadow Pipits breed in good numbers in upland Britain where they share the landscape with the Merlin and other species. The dashing Merlin preys extensively on Meadow Pipits and the small birds’ ability to produce two or even three broods of young, a ready supply of food for a growing family of young Merlins. It’s an inter-specific relationship of the two species, so well connected that it is thought the Merlin as a species times its autumnal dispersal south to coincide with that of the Meadow Pipit while the pipit resumes the role of a meal ticket. I am positive this theory is true as many times in the autumn and winter I have seen a Merlin target Meadow Pipits, often ignoring other possible meals. 

Merlin - USFWS - CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

There was time for a quick look at Lane Ends, Pilling; 18+ Little Egrets scattered across the marsh and 80+ Swallows feeding low over the marsh.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tuesday Morning Birding

I arrived early at Conder Green where the birding seemed rather slow despite a good, bright start. My expectations were quite low today as the long staying Avocets looked to have departed, the breeding Common Terns left weeks ago, nesting Oystercatchers are reduced to a single bird, and the tiny family of Tufted Ducks vanished without trace soon after hatching. 

As summer turns to autumn the resident birds of recent weeks and months are now gone and there’s a gap until northern migrants arrive in numbers. But as usual a little perseverance and patience rewarded a more than a cursory look. Don't forget, "click the pics" for a closer look.

Predictably the Little Grebes added another one overnight and they now number twelve with more to come soon. It’s quite usual to see seven or eight closely grouped in the centre of the pool and then singletons scattered around the rest of the water where their constant diving and resurfacing coupled with their identical appearance makes for conflicting counts. Our wintering Little Grebes are impossible to approach with the slightest movement sending them into a dive under water or a swim in the opposite direction. There was no problem counting the remaining wildfowl as these were just 2 Wigeon, 3 Teal and the ever present Mute Swans which numbered 21+. The Mute Swan, our most conspicuous and year-round swan gets hardly a mention on this and other webs sites, remedied today with a photograph below. 

Little Grebe

 Mute Swan

Once again a Kingfisher put in a brief appearance by resting momentarily on the edge of the sluice gate before flying off to the nearest island and a perfect but distant pose of several minutes until it headed off towards the canal. 


The Lapwing count was 200+, birds roosting around the island joined by others from the estuary as the tide rose to push them off the river. Perhaps their numbers alone made them very unsettled as on several occasions the Lapwings spooked off in unison as if a raptor was close by or approaching. After a few circuits the Lapwings settled down again and returned to either feeding or roosting. I looked in vain for something that could put so many Lapwings into panic mode but a single Kestrel overflying at speed and chased off by a gang of twittering Swallows failed to meet the requirements. 


Other waders on the pool and in the immediate creeks - 4 Greenshank, 4 Common Sandpiper, 40+ Redshank and 3 Little Egret. 

While walking the old railway path 2 Avocets flew from the direction of the estuary, calling in unison as they flew above me. They headed straight across to the pool and their stomping ground of summer. When I returned to the pool about 30 minutes later to look for the Avocets they were nowhere to be seen but probably out of sight on the far side of the and out of view behind an island. 

From the railway path I could see 2 Common Sandpiper, several Redshanks and a couple of Curlews in the long creek which heads directly into the estuary. Small birds noted along here - 2 Whitethroat, 12+ Linnet, 8 Goldfinch and 1 Willow Warbler in quiet sub-song. 

At Glasson Dock about 600 post-roosting Swallows fed and rested around the moored boats. One Grey Heron and still 4 Tufted Duck around the yacht basin.

Linking today to  Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Farmer’s Friend

For today’s post there are more Barn Owls. It’s a species which always draws positive comments from readers. 

Yesterday I visited a friend up near the town of Garstang on the edge of the Bowland hills. I stopped off to look in a location where I knew there to be Barn Owls. I quickly got lucky although the owl didn’t stay around for too long. 

Within a minute or two of flying in and then moving along the fence line and the gatepost the owl had located prey in the rough grassy field. It immediately flew with the small mammal to farm buildings 100 yards away. 

Barn Owl

The owl is more likely to be listening for prey rather than looking for it. A highly accomplished hunter, a Barn Owl’s hearing is so sharp that it can easily locate voles and shrews hidden from view as they travel in runways beneath the grass The Barn Owl can see during the day, but its relatively small eyes (for an owl) are directed forward and are better adapted for night vision. The ears are asymmetrical, one level with the nostril and the other higher, nearer the forehead. They are covered with feathered flaps that close for loud noises and open for soft sounds 

Barn Owl

For such an effective raptor the Barn Owl might seem to be highly visible to its mammal prey by way of its overall pale appearance of white underparts and pale straw/brown upperparts. The explanation is that the Barn Owl’s light brown upperparts provide camouflage amongst the rough grassland over which the owl hunts for most of the year while the white underparts make the bird less visible against a pale sky when viewed from below. 

Barn Owl

The Barn Owl Tyto alba is the most widely distributed species of owl, found in all corners of the earth and on every continent except Antarctica. Their distribution over such a wide area of the world has led to the evolution of 35 subspecies/races in Asia, America, Africa, Australia and Europe. These divergent Barn Owls have variations in overall appearance, the largest in North America weighing twice as much as the smallest from the Galapagos Islands. But wherever they live Barn Owls remain cavity nesters attracted to the structures of man, trees, artificial nesting sites, and sometimes caves. 

Shame about the sliver of long grass sticking up to spoil the shot below! 

Barn Owl

A reminder - In Great Britain the Barn Owl is on Schedule 1 of both the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order, 1985; therefore the birds, their nests, eggs and young are fully protected at all times. Penalties involving a fine of up to £5,000 and/or a custodial sentence apply to offences against Barn Owls. It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb Barn Owls at an active nest site with eggs or young or before eggs are laid, or to disturb the dependent young.

This is not normally a problem on working farms where farmers are often in the best position to ensure freedom from disturbance. In fact, the Barn Owl is often referred to as “The Farmers Friend” as a family of owls comprising 2 adults and 6 young may consume over 1,000 rodents during a typical 3-month nesting period. 

Stay tuned there could be more owls soon on Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Run A Round RanchAnni's Birding and Eileen's Saturday

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Late Owls

“Sun until midday and then rain from the west” advised the not always trusty weathercaster. This time they were spot on and I’m happy I made the effort to get up early and grab a few hours birding because while I’m blogging indoors, outside it may be about to start raining cats and dogs. 

A Kingfisher was the first bird I saw at Conder Green. Unfortunately it was a good distance away on the “nearest” but too far away island for a decent picture. Thank goodness for my archived pictures for readers who’d like to see a real Kingfisher. Our European Kingfisher occurs in Egypt too, but I don’t think I’ll be going back to that region any time soon. 


Those Avocets are still around and although the youngster has yet to fledge it was doing some serious flapping in readiness for the big day. The single adult remains ultra-protective in chasing anything and everything away from the corner of the pool the Avocets have called home for months now. 


Other waders and wildfowl noted as 120+ Lapwing, 50+ Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 3 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Little Egret and 2 Wigeon, so few changes there. 

Little Grebe have increased to nine continuing their daily habit of adding one new member to the flock. New grebes appear as if by magic each day and while they can occasionally be seen pitter-pattering across the surface of the water, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Little Grebe fly, neither can I recall speaking to anyone who has. Many of our wintering Little Grebes are from the near-Continent with some arriving from Eastern Europe and Russia, so we must assume that they are able to fly? 

Little Grebe

I noted small birds as 6 Swift, 2 Stock Dove, 6 Pied Wagtail, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 Greenfinch, 10 Linnet and 15 Goldfinch. There is a good crop of thistles this year but I’m not sure there’s an equal number of Goldfinches to do justice to the seed heads yet. It’s early for huge flocks of Goldfinches with September usually the peak month. 


At Glasson, 80 + Swallows feeding/resting around the boats and the basin, 4 Tufted Duck, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 12 Coot. 

Tufted Duck

On the way home I came upon two sibling Barn Owls hunting the same area of ground. The owls flew around a couple of roadside rough fields, quickly establishing a routine which centred on a ditch and a number of old buildings, places where both they and I would expect to find small mammals. 

Barn Owl
I stayed patiently in my car knowing that these young owls wouldn’t stray far and would also pass my way soon. Along comes a bloke in a car, who displaying not an ounce of field craft, decides to not only get out of his vehicle but to then walk up and down the road with his camera. This right next to the field the owls were hunting, but where the nutter perhaps expected that these wild birds would somehow fly or pose right next to him. I waited several minutes but needless to say to say the owls moved away from the immediate area. I left the clueless idiot wandering up and down the roads with the owls nowhere to be seen. 

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

No doubt this particular location will now be broadcast to all and sundry resulting in hordes of similarly enlightened folk harassing the same owls and annoying the farmer, not to mention continually disturbing the birds. That’s what always happens because most of these folk are so clueless and lazy minded they can’t think that there might just be Barn Owls elsewhere and then try to find others to watch instead.

Linking today to Run A Round Ranch.

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