Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday Times

Saturday was rubbish for birding so I odd-jobbed, blogged and saved my energy for Sunday. I didn’t get many photos this morning but right at the end is a video that everyone will like. 

Braides Farm was first stop this morning where a roadside Buzzard flew off as soon as the car slowed. Our resident Buzzards don’t like being looked at, even less being pictured on bird blogs. Many of our native farmers and country folk have very established opinions about birds with “hook bills” and there’s not much doubt that the local Buzzard population suffers as a result. Hence the aversion to man. 

There’s been a large influx of Continental Starlings this week with substantial flocks noticeable. So much so that at Braides/Sand Villa I counted a minimum flock of 1000+ swirling around the cow sheds and the open fields. 


Of course the large autumn and winter flocks that visit the UK do not represent the overall status of the Starling. The following paragraph from the BTO  (British Trust For Ornithology) website may surprise anyone who thinks Starlings are abundant. 

“The abundance of breeding Starlings in the UK has fallen rapidly, particularly since the early 1980s, especially in woodland, and continues to be strongly downward. The map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that decrease has been widespread across England and eastern Scotland but that some increase occurred in Northern Ireland, western Scotland and Cumbria. Recent data suggest a populations decrease in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the trends were initially upward. The species' UK conservation listing has been upgraded from amber to red as the decline has become more severe. Widespread declines in northern Europe during the 1990s outweighed increases in the south, and the European status of this species is no longer considered 'secure' (BirdLife International 2004). There has been widespread moderate decline across Europe since 1980” 

Starling abundance in England - BTO

The Kingfisher was about at Conder Green. It flew around the pool a few times and eventually landed on the sluice wall but didn’t stay more than a few seconds. 



 Other fishermen around this morning were 4 Cormorant, 2 Little Grebe and 3 Little Egret. 


The pool water is way down at the moment and it appears that the level is being managed via the sluice for some reason, perhaps to encourage wading birds. If so, it hasn’t worked just yet with my counts remarkably similar to recent ones - 140 Lapwing, 14 Curlew, 32 Redshanks, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Snipe and 1 Common Sandpiper.  Pied Wagtails seem to like the margins with a count of 18 today. 

The female Tufted Duck still has four youngsters. At one point I watched her angrily chase off a Cormorant that came too close to the island where the youngsters were hiding up. I noted a few passerines today in the shape and sound of 10 Goldfinch, 8 Linnet, 4 Reed Bunting and 1 Willow Warbler. 

A “quickie” at Bank End revealed a flight of 19 Black-tailed Godwit dropping into the wet fields, an overhead Jay, plus a Grey Heron and 20+ Sand Martin on the quarry pool. On the marsh and living up to its name, a Marsh Harrier and lots of Pied Wagtails.

Black-tailed Godwits

I stopped off at Gulf Lane and the 120 strong Linnet flock. More than 50 fed quietly in our net ride until I walked in to leave more seed for them. There’s lots of natural seed now but the Linnets obviously like the rape seed too. Looking ahead, Tuesday and/or Wednesday may be OK for a ringing session on the tail end of Hurricane Gert.

On the way home I stopped off to see another Marsh Harrier, 2 Kestrels and a single Buzzard, this time over farmland.

Meanwhile as a change from gulls that steal ice creams, here’s a video of a town in Alaska with Bald Eagles that like to play Bingo. Enjoy.


David Gascoigne said...

Good afternoon Phil: Your piece about the Starlings reminds me of a discussion I had recently with a farmer about Barn Swallows. The swallows in his barn are doing well, therefore, Barn Swallows are not threatened according to him. It is amazing how people can take a single piece of a jig saw puzzle and claim that by putting that one piece in place they have solved the whole puzzle. It simply isn't so folks!Listen to your scientists who study this phenomenon, examine global data carefully and then draw your conclusions. And by the way, maybe offer a few words of support for your local bird bander who helps to contribute to our knowledge about many species.

Stuart Price said...

Amazing a bird as common as that is in such decline. I remember huge roosts of them at Preston Bus station back in the day........

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That Kingfisher is beyond beautiful and I'm envious. We do have lots of Starlings here, but I am afraid they aren't very popular --I never thought to count them but I see trees full of them all the time. And (when we used to feed birds) flocks of them eating everything faster than the squirrels could. (I think we've had this discussion before about good and bad birds and I'm sure I'm thinking wrong, but there you are.)

We didn't go to Unalaska but we did visit Haynes, which is another town famous for Eagles and we saw a lot. I couldn't listen to the movie (I will watch the whole thing and listen soon) and maybe it said in there, but we were told that Bald Eagles never became endangered in Alaska (as opposed to the lower 48 states) because they never used DDT up there.

Linda said...

Great photos, Phil. I don't get to see these birds.

Prunella Pepperpot said...

It is very sad to know that starlings are now on the endangered list. I have noticed their decline considerably for years. When the boys were small in the late 80's they loved feeding the starlings at the back door. The rowan tree would be stripped of it's berries in a very short time.
Your Kingfisher and Comorant images are beautiful.
Have an enjoyable week.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, I love the Kingfisher and the Godwits. I am not fond of the Starlings, they are piggy and messy birds. They seem to be plentiful here, I wish I could send you some. I hope Hurricane Gert moves by quickly. Happy Birding, enjoy your day and week ahead/

Felicia said...

still love your kingfisher images.

NC Sue said...

Starlings are considered to be pests here in the States, but I sort of like them. To me they look like constipated and senile old men when they walk around.
Thanks for sharing at

Shiju Sugunan said...

Excellent! Happy to see your birds.

Erica Sta said...

I enjoyed your Post.
:: ::

Neesie said...

Great photos and video. There are reports that say that our starlings are in decline. I certainly don't see as many as I used to as a child.
You did a brilliant job of capturing the kingfisher...they are so flighty and disappear sometimes even before the camera lens is off!

Fun60 said...

You must have been like grease lightning to get those photos of the kingfisher who is looking very handsome.

Lady Fi said...

Lovely shots. That kingfisher is beautiful!

Lowcarb team member said...

Yes, as others have also said the kingfisher is beautiful, such wonderful colours.
I also liked the Godwits in flight ... it does sometimes strike me that birds do have some unusual names don't they!

Hope you escaped the heavy rain that some parts experienced!

All the best Jan

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