Sunday, December 4, 2016

Thrush And Goose

Lots of Fieldfares were on the move today. And later there was a bonus bird in the shape of a Greenland White-fronted Goose. 

I’d started off as usual with a drive north towards Pilling and Cockerham. The flood at Braides Farm was partly frozen where my distance-impaired counts still realised approximately 250 Lapwing, 140 Golden Plover, 180 Curlew, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Redshank and 40 Teal. There was a very tightly packed flock of about 400 gulls, mainly Black-headed, but also some Common. A black mass of birds was immediately recognisable as a post-roost huge flock of Starlings, and as they slowly dispersed left, right and centre in smaller feeding parties I counted 600+ and still some left on the ground. 

Starling, Golden Plover, Lapwing

There was very little doing at Conder Green where the recurrent high water level made for a poor show on the pool. Best I could manage here were 40+ Wigeon feeding across the bund at the back of the pool, a few dozen Teal, a couple of Little Grebe, several Curlew and the obligatory Little Egret. But, 200+Teal in the creeks and the wintering Spotted Redshank.

There had been a few Fieldfares flying over Conder Green but a drive along the lanes of Jeremy and Moss suggested something of a new influx, precipitated perhaps by the overnight drop in temperatures and the overnight frost. 

For readers who do not know our northern Fieldfare Turdus pilaris, it is a highly gregarious but intensely shy member of the thrush family of the Northern Hemisphere. It is very different from, but immediately separatedfrom our native UK thrushes by way of its mobile tendencies, loud ‘chacking’ call and flocking behaviour both when feeding and during its autumn migration from Scandinavia. 


It was hard to count the Fieldfares as flocks of them moved continually inland by following the hedgerows of Moss Lane and then across the A588 towards Thurnham Hall and beyond. There seemed to be few Redwings amongst the approximately 300 Fieldfare and of course the two species do not always coincide in the timing their migration. 


At Cockersands I located more than 20 Tree Sparrows, 30+ Goldfinch, 12 Collared Dove and a Pied Wagtail before I hit the road again and back towards Pilling in search of more. 

I checked out a potential new ringing site offered by a local farmer where I found 40+ Linnets in attendance but using a very narrow and extremely long strip of land which might rule it out as a workable project. Not to worry, it is a useful place to keep an eye on and I did see more Fieldfares in roadside hawthorns, plus a watchful Buzzard which scattered the Fieldfares as well as feeding Woodpigeons. The farmer tells me that Buzzards wiped out all his leverets this year, which if true doesn't help the raptor's already dented reputation in the tight-knit farming and shooting community. 


The many thousands of Pink-footed Geese have been incredibly difficult to pin down this autumn, due mostly to disturbance from autumnal farming activities, shooting pressures and disturbance from busy roads in sometimes semi-rural locations. Despite this continuous daily disruption the geese seem to find and use new and different fields in which to both feed and hide, bringing a truism to the old saying about the wisdom of undertaking a “wild goose chase”. 

At last near Lane Ends today I got sight and sound of the pinkies and with them was a single adult White-fronted Goose of the Greenland race – Anser alibfrons flavirostris, in the company of c500 Pink-footed Geese. The appearance of European or Russian White-fronted Goose of the race albifrons and Greenland White-fronted Goose of the race flavirostris differ in a number of ways. 

White-fronted Goose - Greenland race

The Greenland White-fronted Goose always appears darker than the European White-fronted Goose at rest and in flight. The belly-barring on adult birds is on average more extensive on flavirostris than on albifrons. The bill of adult Greenland White-fronts are orange-yellow at the base, but can be more pinkish-yellow on the outer-half, thus close in colour to European white-fronts on some individuals. 

I spent a while with the geese before brightly clad and slow moving cyclists caused the predictable flight to pastures new, all of the geese and yours truly back home for a warming coffee.

Linking today to, Eileen's Saturday and Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


Linda said...

Beautiful captures, Phil, what a lovely assortment of birds!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Those geese are so pretty and I enjoyed the close up shots of the fieldfare as well as the flight shots of the different birds. I had to go away from this site for a minute so i could and look up the definition of leveret. Knew I'd read the word before (I read a lot of English novelsl and mysteries) but couldn't remember it.Yes the farmers are not going to be happy with thoses big old birds eating their bunnies.

Stewart M said...

I may have to give up some of my summer one year to come back and look for these winter birds!

Nice post.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Stuart Price said...

I never saw a Whitefront in the NW, only down south. The ones we get here are from Russia I guess. There is a Lesser Whitefront at the moment just slightly too far away to drive to in a day..........

David Gascoigne said...

Great day of birding, Phil. The sheer numbers and variety of shorebirds is terrific. Greater White-fronted Goose shows up here as a rarity from time to time. Last one I recall right here in Waterloo Region was about three years ago. We just spent a few days with my daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, in Ottawa. The sixteen-year old is going to Hawaii in February for a volleyball tournament - and he is not much of a birder. Just imagine all those Hawaiian Honeycreepers and he's going be lounging around on the beach in his spare time - or trying to entice some Hawaiian beauty to his side now that his hormones are staring to rage!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

You always have such a nice collection of bird shots.

NC Sue said...

You COUNTED 600+ birds? How? I can't imagine being able to do so!!
Thanks for sharing once again at

Fun60 said...

Attractive goose and I really like that photo of the buzzard in flight.

Kay L. Davies said...

There you are, first off the mark again at Our World Tuesday. Of course you have an advantage, being so many hours ahead of Western Canada.
I'm still sorry my husband wasn't with me when we visited you and Sue. He is by no means a birder, in your sense of the word, but he would enjoy a wander through the fields and marshes with you, I'm sure.
Hi to Sue, and hugs to both of you,
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

mick said...

Very interesting to read the numbers of birds you count in some of the flocks. The Fieldfare against tthat very blue sky is very beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Cromer said...

Hi Phil, I have just caught up with a few of your published posts as I have not been on in a while and I wanted to see what you and others have been up to. I hope that your appointment went well a couple of weeks ago!
Starting with this post and one of another where you have shared the Fieldfares...what gorgeous birds they are! I enjoyed seeing the Linnets, and the beautiful Kestrel and Buzzard as well.
It had to have been a great time being able to enjoy a meal and converse about the well beloved birds you enjoyed at the Farmers Arms.
I was particularly taken by the gorgeous beauty of the Fieldfares and the Redwings eating the red berries...Christmas card presentations would be highly wonderful and charming with either choice. Only thing if you and Sue ever do that, I should want one too ;)
Have a great week, stay warm, sounds very cold. We are just now getting much needed rains and the temperatures will be dropping into the teens by weeks ending...possible flurries is all that is anticipated~

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

KL said...

Loved the pictures, especially the close-up ones and more of that of the Fieldfare. Don't know any of these birds except like dove or sparrow or buzzard. I guess they are all very different from the species that are found here in the US. So, it was a very interesting read.

Lowcarb team member said...

Wow, that buzzard is amazing!

All the best Jan


There was a white fronted goose reported in our vicinity a week or so ago. Never saw it.

Love the buzzard in flight Phil. Great photo.

Marleen said...

Love your captures of the fieldfares. They can be seen here in winter as well, though not in large numbers. In Dutch we call them 'kramsvogels'. Beautiful birds!

Judy Biggerstaff said...

It is always exciting to have time for birding. Nice photos of the birds. I always enjoy seeing birds that are new to me. Thanks for sharing.

Rajesh said...

Beautiful birds.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Great report, Phil, I love the flying buzzard. Not sure how you talk them out of eating young bunnies, really.

GreenComotion said...

Great series of photos, Phil.
The Buzzard in motion is truly beautiful.
Have a Happy Weekend!
Peace :)

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, wonderful photos. I love the Plovers and Lapwings in flight. The Fieldfare is a beauty. The goose is cute. Happy weekend to you!

eileeninmd said...

PS, thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy weekend to you!

sandyland said...

always enjoyable

sandyland said...


Anni said...

Hi again Phil....I'm back to add this:
I thank you for sharing this post with all of us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend!!!

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