Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Flights

Friday began with a Barn Owl flying across Head Dyke Lane a hundred yards or more in front of the car. By the time I reached the spot the owl was nowhere to be seen so I didn’t hang about. There should be plenty of Barn Owl sightings soon. 

At Wrampool there was a Kestrel hanging about the set aside field together with a handful of Linnets and Tree Sparrows. Maybe the Kestrel was hoping to grab an unwary bird when it sped low across the crop a couple of times before returning to its base of the roadside trees. The Kestrel was an adult female but as mentioned recently, Kestrels seem scarce this year and this autumn I have yet to see a juvenile. 

At Conder Pool I found both Avocets on the pool, the adult and a still unfledged juvenile. A number of times the adult flew off to the creeks to feed and left the youngster on the pool margins where it continued to feed alone. Soon it will be ready for lift-off into adulthood. 


Otherwise there was little change of both species and counts from recent visits with 140+ Lapwing, 35 Redshank, 5 Common Sandpiper, 4 Oystercatcher, 20+ Curlew, 6 Little Grebe, 2 Wigeon, 2 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Goosander, 6 Pied Wagtail, 12 Linnet and 2 Stock Dove. 

Little Egret

A notable absentee today was Greenshank, with not a one found, whereas a single juvenile Shelduck was the first I had seen for many a long week. 

The Shelduck, a bird of sheltered estuaries or tidal mudflats breeds in Great Britain & Ireland and has a well-defined moult migration. Most Shelduck fly east between late July and early September and head for the Helgoland Bight in the Waddensea, where they join birds from Scandinavia and the Baltic. Others remain and moult on North Sea estuaries, such as the Firth of Forth and the Wash. As a result of this migration there are very few of them around this part of Lancashire during August. In stark contrast to this situation, come mid-winter there are many hundreds along our local shores and estuaries. 

Over Glasson village there was a concentration of 30+ noisy and excitable Swifts but otherwise a handful of Swallows over the marina/yacht basin.

View across The Lune from Bodie Hiill, Glasson

Things were pretty quiet so I made my way to Knott End again. I’ve been there a couple of times this week to watch the tide in and look out for terns. 

It’s a good time of year to see Sandwich Terns and Common/Arctic Terns when they roost on the flat sands at times of high tides, taking a rest from feeding in the near Irish Sea. The Sarnies  originate from a mix of locations in Scotland, Wales and Cumbria with their normal peak migration in mid-August when in some years up to a couple of hundred may be seen at Knott End, a favoured site. 

Before the terns began to appear I walked up river and counted 2 Grey Heron, 2 Little Egret, 300+ Oystercatchers , 1 Redshank, 140 Dunlin and 5 Pied Wagtails. The Sandwich Terns obviously peaked earlier in the week because I counted less than a dozen today compared to 150+ at the beginning of the week and then 49 on Wednesday. On each occasion I noted approximately 25% of juveniles, black& brown mottled birds of the year. 

Sandwich Terns

In the UK as a whole Sandwich Terns have shown a decline in productivity since 2000 when they fledged a record number of chicks. In the 14 years prior to 2000 it could be argued that productivity showed no clear trend, although in 1991 and between 1997 and 1999 it was particularly low. Few chicks fledged in these years due to bad weather, predation and disturbance by a variety of mammals and gulls, with food shortage implicated at only one colony. Predation on eggs and chicks by foxes Vulpes vulpes is probably the most prevalent factor determining productivity, and abandonment of a colony is often the result of predation. Nature reserve managers use electric fences to exclude foxes, which are not always successful. As Sandwich Terns nest on low-lying ground close to the tide edge, their nests are vulnerable to tidal inundation.  

"With about 12,500 Apparently Occupied Nests in 2009 the Sandwich Tern is currently identified as Amber listed in Birds of Conservation Concern" -

Sandwich Tern productivity 1986-2014 -

Further to Monday’s post on Another Bird Blog, a review of "Britain's Birds", I hear that demand for the book has already outstripped supply and that delivery times may have to be lengthened. Just as well those blog readers were amongst the first to read my recommendation to buy and hopefully they won’t have to wait too long for their own copy of this fine field guide.

Linking today to I'd Rather Be Birding and Eileen's Saturday Blog.


Chris Rohrer said...

The peeps are on the move!!! So exciting. They are coming through our area in more than a trickle now. Lots of great birds shared today. +/- a Greenshank:)

Linda said...

Just what I needed today, Phil! Such lovely birds! Today it is very hot and humid here in Montreal and your post is beautiful and refreshing.


That's awesome to read about the popularity and demand for the book!! I like this news a lot.

As for your birds and birding outing this week...I enjoyed reading. The owl DID show up for you, but disappeared. That would be MY luck. I've only seen two owls in the few years I've been least in the 'wild'. I don't think I can count the one in the hawk watch 'show'. But it WAS a Barn Owl!! lol. The two I HAVE seen are the Barred Owl and the Long Eared Owl. I'm still huntin'....there has been a burrowing owl reported but Bud and I have never found it....yet!!

Oh, and I must say I think your Avocets are much more attractive than ours.

David Gascoigne said...

It's very encouraging to see the Avocets have a successful breeding season. I remember when the species was a poster boy for the RSPB. In fact I have a framed photograph of an Avocet with chicks in my office. It was given to me about thirty years ago by an English lady who used to visit Canada every year for her grand niece's birthday. Great post, as always, Phil.

Margaret Adamson said...

I do wish the Avocet woud come over to N,I as they are gorgeous birds. Love your sht of it and the Egret. The year I started birding was the year the first Little Egret was seen in N. Ireland, then we did not have any Woodpeckers at al and nnow we have the GS woodpeacer breeding in the past few years so there is hope for the Avocet coming over Phil! I hope you have a lovely week ahead of you.

Prunella Pepperpot said...

The little egret is such a beautiful bird and the shelduck reminds me of the ornamental ducks my Grandmother had hanging on her wall!
Great images of the Sandwich Terms in flight. A very imformative post.
Have a wonderful weekend :)

Breathtaking said...

Beautiful photos Phil. I'm so glad I changed my mind and ordered the book, can't wait to get it!:)

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil, beautiful collection of birds. Your Avocet does look a little different than ours. Great post and photos. Sad news about the Sandwich Tern decline. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Your photos are wonderful and it's always nice to learn more about the birds you see! Thanks!

sandyland said...

Avocet and snipe quite handsome - thanks for taking me with you sandy

carol l mckenna said...

Oh more wonderful bird photography!

Happy Weekend to you ~ ^_^

Rajesh said...

Very beautiful birds.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Avocet is a very stylish bird.

I was going to make a sandwich tern joke, but in light of the declining numbers (and interests of good taste), I'll refrain.

Anni said...

Thanks, Phil, for sharing your photos and expertise with us at I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend!!!

Lowcarb team member said...

Hey folks are definitely loving this book!

Great shot of the Shelduck, and I enjoyed reading the facts you included too.

Enjoy the remainder of the weekend

All the best Jan

Stewart M said...

Avocets and Egrets in Lancashire - the world really is changing I think.

I may have to delay my purchase of the book!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

A Quiet Corner said...

Hey Phil...these shore birds are awesome, aren't they? Somehow I never realized just how large they really are!!!...:)JP

Wally Jones said...

Another wonderful posting at Another Bird Blog!

It's difficult to fathom it's already time for migration! Now, if I can just manage to get out of doors soon.

Fascinating to learn how different species handle molting. And how interesting that some, such as the Shelduck, time it so the entire species population isn't molting, and therefore vulnerable, at the same time.

Thank you so much for sharing your birding outings. I, for one, certainly appreciate your considerable efforts!

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