Saturday, April 22, 2017

Good Morning

The morning started in fine style. Not a cloud in the sky and a promise of sun all day. There was no ringing today so I set off birding camera at the ready as mist began to clear from the ditches and dykes. 

Pilling morning, Lancashire

All was quiet at Conder Green save for the usual display flights of the Oystercatchers and the resident Shelducks still sorting out their pairs. I looked across at the far bank hoping to see the elusive Avocets but instead of the expected two I saw four. There seemed little aggression between the four as they all fed together until at one point two flew across to a nearer island. After a few minutes the pair flew back to join the others on the far side of the pool and I turned my attention to what else might be lurking unseen.  It was cold and just 3°C at 0730. Visible migration seemed nil apart from a few Swallows and Sand Martins heading north at a fair rate of knots. 




I looked around for other birds and on the water found 18 Shelduck, 16 Oystercatcher, 6 Tufted Duck, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Goosander and 2 Teal. A Kingfisher flew by but didn’t stay. Kingfishers breed not far away along the canal or upstream of the River Conder which just here is little more than a trickle of water at the end of its journey from the inland fells. 

In the creeks and on the marsh: 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Curlew, 4 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron and 2 Pied Wagtail. 

I drove up to Cockersands where the drake Shoveler still frequents the flash flood that will soon dry up. I’d watched him fly in from close by and where I think his mate is hidden on a nest. The handsome Shoveler is now something of a scarce breeding bird in this part of Lancashire whereby a possible breeding pair is quite noteworthy. 


Near Lighthouse Cottage a female wagtail was busy collecting nest material while the male looked on. That looks to be a rather fine finishing material she’s collecting for the nest lining. 

 Pied Wagtail

 Pied Wagtail

I heard my first Whitethroat of the year. It was jumping around between the hedge and the bramble fence-line, singing for all it was worth after that long journey from Africa. There was a Sedge Warbler along the ditch too but it sang from low down with just a sub-song at that. Maybe it tuned up later after I‘d hi-tailed it towards the caravan park. 


I noted several Linnets about and also six or eight very mobile Twite. The Twite spent a minute or two on the overhead wires before they twittered off into the distance towards the shore. The Twite is very closely related to the Linnet and carries the colloquial name of “mountain linnet” after its habitat preference for the uplands. A male Twite has a very short yellow beak and no pink chest, unlike the Linnet which has a heavier greyish bill and at this time of year a bright red chest. The call of the two species in flight is similar, but to the trained ear noticeably different. 



There wasn’t much doing near the caravan park although I did notice much more Brown Hare activity than of late, including a little chasing and sparring. The sunny morning helped me see upwards of 20 hares this morning although not all of them were as obliging as the ones that sit motionless, ears sleeked back and disguised as a clump of earth. Mostly they run from the sound of an approaching vehicle or footsteps. Look closer, it’s a Brown Hare, not a bundle of brown soil. 

 Brown Hare

Brown Hare

Towards the caravan park: 6 singing Skylark, 6 Tree Sparrow, 4 Goldfinch, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret and 80+ Lapwing. 


Fingers crossed for those Lapwings and Skylarks.

Linking this post to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday and Anni's Birding Blog.


Gordon said...

Interesting Post Phil combined with some nice shots, its a lovely area to bird in, I know it quite well, and envey you.
All the best Gordon.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, great post and photos. The Wagtail is a pretty bird and I love the Avocet. Happy birding, enjoy your weekend!

Linda said...

Another beautiful series, Phil, and I love the reflections in some of your photos. I hope you have a great weekend. :)

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What a beautiful reflection of the Shelduck and a gorgeous bird! All of them are neat to see. Enjoy your weekend!

Patrycja P. said...

Fantastic Avocets. I envy the observation of these wonderful birds. Great photos. Greetings!

♥Anni @ I'd Rather B Birdin'♥ said...

I was right there with you as the mist lifted! Beautiful birds today Phil. Those shelducks are very impressive! Your Avocets are just a bit different than ours here in Texas, but still they too are impressive. From all the bird activity with mating, nesting, I enjoyed it all here today. Oh, and the hares...great find.

Thanks so much for linking in and sharing this with us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend. It's much appreciated.

David Gascoigne said...

I am taken by your expression, "except for the usual displays of oystercatchers." Would that I had such a "usual display" here, Phil!

Jo said...

Hello Phil, the first image is beautiful! I've not done any formal birding lately. But enjoyed seeing all your interesting ones. Our African Pied Wagtail has a black pirate-like eye mask; yours resembles the White Wagtail (non-breeding) which I've only ever seen in Khartoum, North Africa. Thanks for sharing. Greetings Jo

sandyland said...

avocet come to me you beauty

Stuart Price said...

A pretty good day if you get Twite and Avocet...........

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Felt like I could almost here that whitethroat singing (don't really know what it sounds like, sadly, but it looks like it is singing loudly and cheerfully.)
All wonderful birds. I only recently realized that the Avocets we used to see pretty often in Oregon were in breeding plumage (the reddish brown) and not a "Western" variety of the black and white one we've seen (but only rarely) here in Florida. Kind of a slow learner I am -- but at least I'm still finding new things to be amazed about.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

An interesting post but you made me laugh when you put in a brown hare photo. I was expecting only birds.

carol l mckenna said...

Love the Twite and the bunny rabbit ~ all great nature shots ~ thanks,

Wishing you a Happy Week ~ ^_^

NC Sue said...

What is a pilling morning? I've never heard that expression. But your photos are great, so I'm glad you shared them at

Stewart M said...

Nice post - the world had changed a little when you expect to find avocets!

Hope all is well.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Lady Fi said...

Wonderful shots.

Prunella Pepperpot said...

Some wonderful images of birds Phil. If I'd seen the Twite I would probably have called it a sparrow.
The reflections in the water are beautiful.
I love to see hares running and boxing in the fields.
Happy birding and have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend :)

Lea said...

Pretty landscape, interesting birds, and I like the bunny rabbit, too!
Have a great day!

bettyl-NZ said...

Such a fine variety of birds. Their bright colors are just splendid! The more subtle colors have their own beauty. The little bunny is adorable :)

Photo(Geo)grapher said...

What beautiful series of photos!

Lowcarb team member said...

Phil, what a great post and some super photos.
I enjoyed it from start to finish, thank you.

Love the reflections in some of the pictures too.

All the best Jan

Les Fous du Cap said...

Très belle série ;-)
Céline & Philippe

Anu said...

Great serie of birds and beautiful photos. The Shelduck is one of my favorite bird. It is not common here in Finland. It is vulnerable here in Finland.

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