Friday, December 30, 2016

Last Post

Just one day to bird before the end of 2016, and I finished on a reasonable high. 

There seemed to be Lapwings everywhere I went this morning. In virtually every field I passed I heard the calls of Lapwings and saw their black and white patterns against the sky, or when I stopped to scan, found more hidden amongst the black peaty fields. 


It’s not too surprising as mid-winter is when widespread counts reveal the UK and Ireland winter population to be between 2 and 3 million individuals. That number includes a high proportion of birds from Scandinavia, Denmark, Holland and North Germany that join Lapwings from Northern Britain that move to more coastal and warmer locations.

If here in Lancashire we have one of our rare sustained spells of ice and snow many of these same Lapwings will move even further west over the Irish Sea to spend the winter in Ireland. But for now there are many, many thousands of Lapwings in this small part of Lancashire we call The Fylde, a coastal plain in west Lancashire, England. It is roughly a 13-mile (20-kilometre) square-shaped peninsula, bounded by Morecambe Bay to the north, the Ribble Estuary to the south, the Irish Sea to the west, and the Bowland Hills to the east. The eastern boundary is approximately the location of the M6 motorway. 

Fylde, Lancashire

Flat Fylde

My early route took me over Stalmine Moss, Union Lane, Lancaster Lane and then Skitham Lane towards Garstang and then the same in return mode. Stopping here and there I clocked up brief views of a Barn Owl which at least made me pause and look harder. It was then I started to count 1000+ Lapwings in many fields as well as to discover 60+ Fieldfare, 25+ Chaffinch, 2 Yellowhammer, 8 Stock Dove, 2 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Grey Heron and 1 Little Egret.

It’s a good bet there’s not been much traffic, motorised or pedestrian, if there are Pink-footed Geese in roadside fields. As usual and for weeks the geese have hid themselves away from the prying eyes of both shooters and birders so I was surprised to see 500/600 in the field closest to Lane Ends and the A588. Needless to say at the first sign of pedestrians and birders standing up beside their car, heads lifted and the geese stopped their feeding to go walkabout in the opposite direction. 

Pink-footed Geese

For goodness sake birders. The geese need to feed after spending the previous 14 hours of a dark and cold winter’s night out on the saltmarsh. These geese are shot at on a daily basis. They are extremely wary and will take flight at the first hint of trouble, more so if folk leave their car to clatter about with tripods and then stand in full view when they could just as well stay in the car and observe the geese from a wound down car window. It’s called “fieldcraft”.

After watching the geese move to a quieter spot I tackled the A588, Murder Mile, where good numbers of Lapwings fed in the roadside fields but where it’s too dangerous to stop a car at almost any time of the day. 

At Gulf Lane I counted 200 or more Linnets finding natural food while a single Stock Dove helped itself to our millet/niger mix. We’re adding rape seed any day now to hopefully make a difference to the Linnets’ feeding routine. 


At Braides Farm and hung over the gate was a Christmas gift, a meal of roast goose waiting for collection. "Pluck it yourself". there's no fast food in Pilling and Cockerham.

Pink-footed Goose

Also - 800 Lapwing, 400 Golden Plover, 80 Black-tailed Godwit, 40+ Redshank, 30 Wigeon, 15 Teal, and 9 Shoveler. 



The tide was in at Conder Green where the wintering Spotted Redshank “showed well” among 120 Teal, 30+ Redshank, 6 Curlew, 6 Little Grebe, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret and then 1 Jack Snipe which didn’t show at all well. 

Spotted Redshank

The “half-snipe” had been moved by the rising water and then flew across my line of vision, landed near a Redshank and tucked itself into a clump of marsh grass from where it failed to show again, despite me watching the exact spot for several minutes. That’s what Jack Snipe do best, squat down and stay dep in cover until something or someone disturbs them. Even then one will fly fly just a short distance before dropping back into vegetation. 

Snipe and Jack Snipe - Henrik Grönvold - wikimedia commons

This is the last post for 2016 from Another Bird Blog. Tomorrow Sue and I prepare for the invasion of New Year’s Day and a house full of eight adults and five grandchildren. If I survive there will be more news soon from Another Bird Blog. 

In the meantime here's wishing every one of my readers a Happy, Prosperous and Bird-Filled 2017.

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


Linda said...

They are all great photos, Phil! Thank you so much for sharing all the beauty throughout 2016, and for all the joy you have brought with your posts and photos. Happy New Year to you! :)

Patrycja P. said...

Happy New Year, Phil! Interesting observations. Lapwings are beautiful, but very popular. In the moment, in Poland there aren't any lapwings and other waders. Because winter is coming ;).

Stuart Price said...

Never eaten goose actually...........

Happy New Year Phil......

eileeninmd said...

Hello, wonderful variety of birds. I love the Lapwings, would love to see one or more here. I prefer to see the geese moving or flight. Awesome photos. Wishing you more great birds sightings in 2017.

Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy weekend!

I wish you and your family all the best in 2017 and a very Happy New Year!

Marleen said...

Lapwings are such eye-catching birds. Happy New Year, Phil!

Charlie Bowman said...

Glad the local Lapwings got an honourable mention. I remember during my childhood years in the 80's how they were far more widespread in Hambleton, before a certain fishing lakes business disturbed some of their favorite terrain. At the moment there are hundreds more to be seen adjacent to Shard Bridge.

Best wishes for 2017.

Rajesh said...

Very beautiful birds. Wish you Happy New Year.

carol l mckenna said...

A Great series of photos to end the year ~ that goose one is amazing ~ thanks,

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year ~ ^_^

David Gascoigne said...

It seems to me that the presence of so many Lapwings is a fitting way to end the year. Surely as much as any species they thrill us with their beauty and their plaintive call. They remind us (if we need reminding) why we are birders. May I wish you Phil, Sue, your children and your grandchildren all the very best for 2017. I am looking forward to following your adventures throughout the year.

sandyland said...

send me some lapwings and redshanks

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

The lapwings are so unusual! Looks like they are dressed in their Sunday best! Love your photos! Enjoy your weekend...good luck! Happy new year!

Lowcarb team member said...

Super post to end 2016 ... and finishing 'on a reasonable high'
I appreciated the link you gave to"fieldcraft", perhaps more keen amateurs ought to read it!

I really hope you had a fantastic New Years Day with your family,
Looking forward to seeing more posts in 2017

Happy New Year Wishes

All the best Jan

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