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.



eileeninmd said...

Hello PHil, I love the Barn Owl shot. Cool capture of the Harrier and the cute Hedgehog. Great birds and photos. Happy weekend!

Linda said...

Phil, what a great series! I love the Barn Owl and Teals and the hedgehog is adorable!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

How wonderful! I've never seen a barn owl!!!!

Lowcarb team member said...

Wonderful photo's, the ones of the marsh harrier and teal especially.

I always think hedgehogs look so cute as they sit or lay ... but like you I thought hedgehogs were more nocturnal. Made a very nice couple of photo's though.

Enjoy the weekend, I hope you may see some sunshine

All the best Jan

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I've never seen a hedgehog so that's quite a sight for me! Of course I love that pretty barn owl! Enjoy your weekend!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

The hedgehog is so cute. And the birds are great; living in the City has been good for us, but definitely has its down side -- I miss my morning birds from the Lake. Life is such a series of tradeoffs.

Stewart M said...

Nice post - shame about the tick (?) on the hedgehog. Now its been a while since I saw one of them!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Anni said...

As always, amazing reading. You seem to write such a narrative that makes us all feel as if we're there with you.

That's a lot of gulls in the flooded area. And I'm sure that is what attracted the hawk. I loved reading your description and how they fly in circles giving them their name.

Oh and yes....I do so like your new header image.

This hedgehog was in your yard?!!! Again, amazing. And fantastic photos.

Thank you, kindly, Phil, for stopping by I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend to add this post to the linking tool. It's always appreciated by us birders and nature lovers!!

Prunella Pepperpot said...

I LOVE Hedgehogs and it always upsets me so much when I see them dead on the side of the road. You are so lucky to have them visit your garden.
We have indeed had some heavy downpours. Beautiful captures of some lovely birds.
Have a wonderful new week :)

David Gascoigne said...

The success you have with Barn Owls is nothing short of amazing. Great shot of this one, Phil.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Cute little hedgie!

I'm sure he or she shares my hatred of ticks.

Russell Jenkins said...

Thanks for the stroll Phil. Superb owl and harrier pics and I would really love to see a hedgehog.

Kasztanowy Domek said...

Fantastic photos! Greetings!:)


Kasztanowy Domek said...

Fantastic photos! Greetings!:)


Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Great post, love all the photos but especially the barn owl and hedgehog. Beautiful

Fun60 said...

Love the barn owl and the hedgehog. It is decades since I last saw a hedgehog in the garden.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Yep, I know I've been here before, but I remembered that the adorable hedgehog temporarily drove what I meant to say out of my mind when I commented the other day. Like a trick test question, your 'circus time' title, certainly made me read every word of the post carefully -- including the Latin names which I'm usually too lazy to spend any time on. Interesting derivatation but it did make sense -- thanks for being a good teacher. I was going to say I'd remember this fact, but you probably wouldn't believe me since cute hedgehogs are only one of the many things that tend to drive things out of my mind.

Photo Cache said...

The hedgehog shot is a pleasant bonus.

Worth a Thousand Words

NC Sue said...

I know nothing about hedgehogs as we don't have them here so I didn't realize they were nocturnal. I do think they're cute, at least in photographs! And all of your shots are (as usual) grand.
Thanks for linking up at

mick said...

Great photo of the water on Rawcliffe Moss and once again the owl is beautiful! I like the hedgehog photos.

Liplatus said...

Great pictures!
The most and the hedgehog I have seen here in Finland.
Have a nice week!

Andrea Priebe said...

I love the Barn Owl ... sadly they are endangered in our area and are rarely spotted in the wild. We have the Northern Harrier here and they are very similar to your Marsh Harrier ... beautiful. Here they share territory with the Short Eared Owl and if you go to that area at dusk you can watch the change off take place ... unfortunately the lighting isn't good enough for pictures, but the experience is etched in my memory. Lovely post, Phil ...

Andrea @ From the Sol

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) The Barn Owl is so beautiful, and it's a fantastic picture. I never see them here on the farm, and yet we have a barn, and there are plenty of rodents in the fields. Today I have posted an Owl however. Nice capture of the hedgehog, another creature that I rarely see. When I went to the bird ringing demo, the handler removed ticks with a small pair of tweezers before the birds were released.

Neil said...

Great series on the flood.

Bill Nicholls said...

See too many headgehogs flttend in the road for my likeing and they is no need if people looked out for them

Margaret Adamson said...

Gosh I have not seen a hedgehog for years around here. Lovely to see the March Harrier Phil.

Stuart Price said...

I can remember my first Lancashire Marsh Harrier and how excited I was. Nice to see them established there now.

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