Saturday, November 5, 2016

Remember, Remember. The Fifth Of November.

After an uncommonly warm October the weather is back with a November vengeance. The cold northerly wind dictated no ringing at exposed sites so I opted for a spot of early birding over Pilling and Cockerham way. 

The moss road was quiet in the half-light where the Barn Owls of late summer are but a distant memory. I’ve not seen a Barn Owl for a number of weeks except for a single one flying over my headlights during a pitch black journey towards the hills and an early morning ringing session at Oakenclough. 

Viewing Rawcliffe Moss from the roadside I discovered where the Whooper Swans fly to in the morning from their roost on Pilling Sands. I counted 200 or more partly hidden by a fence with mainly their heads poking above the margins of marshy hollow. A couple of farming types had crossed the field on heavy machinery and caused the swans to break off from their feeding to look around for an escape route. Some swans flew off to east and above my head but mostly they stayed put when the vehicles approached no further. 

Whooper Swans

At Braides Farm I just scratched the surface of birds on the small flood and the rough grass fields with minima of 250 Golden Plover, 200 Lapwing, 60 Curlew, 40 Wigeon, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and 6 Redshank. I‘ve had two recent and reliable reports of a Hen Harrier in this area but seeing it for myself is proving difficult and potentially very time consuming. This really is a problematic spot to view via the distant gateway but clearly much safer than stopping on the fast and twisting road where another fatal accident took place just weeks ago when a car drove into the rear of a large farm vehicle. 

Hen Harrier courtesy of USFWS

An hour at the pool and creeks of Conder Green produced a selection of wildfowl but not so many passerines; 139 Teal, 26 Wigeon, 10 Little Grebe, 4 Goosander, 1 Shelduck, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 4 Goldfinch. Waders: 28 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 10 Snipe, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 34 Curlew. 

A lot of the Curlews that inhabit our fields and shores at the moment are immigrants from other parts of Europe, spending the winter in temperate Britain to escape the extreme cold of the far north and east. In turn many of our UK Curlews fly south and west to Ireland or the coasts of France and Spain and return here in the spring. 


Curlew distribution

Curlews use their extraordinary long bills to the full by feeding deep into mud or very soft ground, searching for worms and other invertebrates. They also take crabs and similar items in shore and estuary environments. 
That’s all for now folks. It’s Bonfire Night and I need to go and light my sparklers. Either that or blow up the Houses of Parliament. See you soon.

Linking today to Anni's Birding.


Linda said...

Lovely photos, Phil, and so sad about the fatal accident.

Wally Jones said...

Nice work spotting the swan flock hiding out in the hollow. One Golden Plover was recently reported in south Florida and all the "serious" listers flocked to the location in hopes of a glimpse. A couple of hundred would no doubt cause mass panic.

I empathize with the problem of trying to bird along a small road where farm equipment and speeding vehicles do not play well together. And it seems those locations often offer really good birding potential.

Be careful with your bonfire celebration! Don't get caught guarding a large cache of fireworks.

David Gascoigne said...

I assume that USFWS means US Fish and Wildlife Service under the image of the Hen Harrier. If this is the case than I suspect the bird is in fact a Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) not Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus). They are (at least in my experience) virtually indistinguishable in the field, but widely separated geographically.

Anni said...

Oh darn....I had planned on watching V for Vendetta last night...and forgot. I didn't REMEMBER!!! I enjoy that movie and learned so much about Guy Fawkes years ago.

Okay, now with your post today Phil. Too bad about the fatality on the roads...they're always a reminder to slow down and drive with caution. I hope you find the Hen Harrier...I think it was Findlay Wilde that told me they were so scarce sad to read this. But the numbers of birds you DID see are phenomenal! And loved seeing the Curlew and swans!!!

Your bird photos are outstanding!!!
Thank you for stopping by to add your link to this post for us birders this weekend at I'd Rather B Birdin'. It's always greatly appreciated.

[oh, and the American Election....what a hoot! Neither one is worthy of leading our country in my opinion....but I'm voting for the PARTY to keep the other out. I hope! lol]

Russell Jenkins said...

Good to see curlews. I think the Eastern variety is struggling. The swans in Niigata have apparently departed already for richer fields. You seem to have a nice and healthy species count, Phil. I hope it stays that way.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Wonderful post with lovely photos

Coombe Mill said...

Beautiful photos and so much information too

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Good luck, Phil, I hope you didn't get drawn and quartered!

Lowcarb team member said...

Such a shame to read about the fatal accident.

Once again, thank you for sharing some lovely photographs.

Hope you enjoyed your 5th November. Ours was very good ... watching a neighbours display from an upstairs window, love those colourful rockets! I also had a glass of wine in hand ... well it was Saturday! LOL!

All the best Jan

NC Sue said...

You always have such marvelous images! So glad to know you're a regular visitor at

carol l mckenna said...

Good to see you again and your marvelous bird photography ~ each one a delight!

Wishing you a lovely week ~ ^_^

Lady Fi said...

Lovely bird shots! It's cold here in Sweden too.

mick said...

Interesting bird counts and great photos as per usual. I was interested in your comments re watching the birds from the roads. There are so many interesting birds visible on the road over to Rainbow Beach but you take your life in your hands if you stop along there. Rainbow Beach is a favorite tourist and holiday destination and we (locals) blame most of what happens along there on tourists too anxious to get to their destination. I wish those who plan the roads would look at who uses the roads and not just local population totals. Sometime I will work out how to take a good piece of video to show all the interesting things that are missed by treating that road as a "race" track!

Jeanne said...

Lovely shots and so interesting to see birds in a different part of the world

Jenn Jilks said...

You are so good at this!

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