Friday, November 17, 2017

Mix And Match

Today’s forecast was a little over the top windy for ringing at our exposed sites so I indulged in a few hours birding, camera at the ready. It turned out to be a day of mixed fortunes with both sunny and cloudy periods, showers, and even a spot or two of sunshine. At the end, a few photos to share. 

The drive across Stalmine Moss found three Kestrels, a hunting pair and then at the junction of Lancaster road a third one in flight. I slowed to scan the fields where a Barn Owl might be seen but none emerged from the post dawn light, just three chattering Fieldfares. The thrushes carried on south but I would see a number of others soon. 

I stopped at Gulf Lane to count the Linnets and drop food. Still 130+ Linnets, plus a number of Tree Sparrows at the farm 50 yards away. We don’t include the sparrows in our counts as they do not visit our seed even though it is a very short flight for them. I guess there must be lots of natural around at the moment and no need for them to sign in to our free food bank. 

Further around Gulf Lane were another 40 or so Tree Sparrows. They fed in a roadside stubble field and when spooked by a passing vehicle flew up to a handy tree or hedgerow until the danger passed. 

Tree Sparrow

Following this very wet summer and autumn herds of Whooper Swans, small and large, are scattered across many areas of Pilling, Cockerham, Cockersands and Eagland at the moment. There are so many swans that if on a morning flight the lot were to try and feed in one field they might struggle to do so; even more when both Whoopers and the many dozens of Mute Swans seem not to mind sharing their largesse of abandoned crops. 

So it was that out on Moss Edge I watched a herd of 20 Mutes and 30 Whoopers as they fed untroubled in yet another morass of mud and corn stubble. I even managed to single out a family group for a picture. What fine animals they are and aren’t we so very honoured to welcome them to our local landscape each winter? Two Little Egrets fed in the adjacent grass and looked slightly out of place, somewhat exotic in comparison to the Icelandic swans.
Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Little Egret

The hawthorn berry crop was poor this year. Following the October/November invasion of Fieldfares, Blackbirds and other thrushes this already low food resource is now almost gone. On Moss Edge the hawthorns are pretty much depleted and it was noticeable that a flock of approximately 130 Fieldfares searched both the ground and the hedgerows for something to eat. In normal years the hedgerows provide bird food for a few more weeks. 



I stopped at Conder Pool more out of habit than expectation. Old Faithful really struggles to provide any birds at the moment so I was not surprised with the regular counts of 190 Teal, 14 Wigeon and about 30 each of Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew. The customary 3 Little Grebe, 1 Goosander and 2 Little Egret. 

I found nothing of note on the circuit of Moss Lane/Jeremy Lane with none of the thrushes of late except for a Mistle Thrush into the light. 

Mistle Thrush
It was time for a coffee near the Lune. As luck would have it a flock of Linnets flew by and some landed on the nearby fence. Even better there was a single and perhaps one or two more Twite plus a curious Wren. 





The Twite Linaria flavirostris and the Linnet Linaria cannabina are similar in looks but are two separate and quite distinct species. The genus name Linaria is the Latin for a linen-weaver, from linum, "flax" and flavirostris means yellow-billed; cannabina comes from the Latin for hemp. 

The Linnet is a mostly farmland bird at all seasons of the year but one that can be found at higher elevation on moorland edge in the summer and autumn. In contrast the Twite sometimes known as “mountain linnet” favours treeless moorland for breeding and frequents lowland and mainly coastal haunts in winter only. It is in the winter when both species are more likely to seen using the same coastline areas in which to feed. 

Time passed quickly and my time was up. It had been a good morning with a rather nice mix of species.

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


Lowcarb team member said...

Oh Phil, what a wonderful post.
Loved seeing all the birds, and what a great variety.

Down our way the weather has been bright and sunny.
I didn't spot that many birds but I did spot a few (BBC) Children In Need Fundraisers!

Have a great Friday evening and a good weekend too.

All the best Jan

Prunella Pepperpot said...

Ooooh, I so love your wren image!! All of the birds you have shared with us are beautiful but when I see a wren I always feel so privileged.
Have a wonderful weekend :)

David Gascoigne said...

It's a great post, Phil, and I can see why you are so enamoured of these wonderful swans. I had a similar experience on Tuesday at Long Point, site of your erstwhile adventures. We saw about eight hundred Sandhill Cranes in fields at one side of the road and a couple of hundred Tundra Swans on the opposite side. The number of swans was constantly being augmented by small groups of a dozen or fifteen flying in to join the others and the field was progressively transformed from green to white. The cranes were dancing, some were squabbling, others would fly around as though for the sheer joy of it, all the while bugling, and putting on a fabulous display of aerodynamics as they wheeled around and came in to land. We were five people witnessing this spectacle and not one of us had a camera!

Stuart Price said...

Haven't seen a Twite for ages...........

Margaret Adamson said...

A wonderful post and great day's birding for you. I also have not seen a Twite for ages and I love your Wren shot. Tricky sometimes to get as they are so quick. Have a lovely weekend.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, wonderful post and your bird photos are always a treat to see.
I love the swans and the Fieldfare is a lovely bird. The wren is a cutie. Thank you so much for linking up and for your nice comment and visit. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend.

A Colorful World said...

Such wonderful photos of the birds you saw recently. What is it about birds with berries that makes one feel so happy!? Love the swans too. So sorry you missed the Barn Owl. Have a great weekend!

Judy Biggerstaff said...

Great post Phil of the birds. I haven't seen a Twite before so thanks for that one. Lots of other nice shots too. It's always interesting to see what other have captured.

Lea said...

What a great assortment of birds you have today! The Tree Sparrow and the Egret are my favorites
Have a wonderful week-end!

sandyland said...

whooper swans have a different type of long neck don't they ??

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

The Thrush has such beautiful colors on it's breast...reminds me of the hawks we see. Beautiful photos. (and it was too windy to walk here today!) Enjoy your weekend!

Jean said...

Wonderful photos, many of birds I've never seen. That said, the wren remains my favorite. Love those little birds! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful birds with us.

♥ Anni ♥ said...

I am finding I have no ambition today & I should be out birding. Instead I tought I'd go out in search of those fine feathered beauties with YOU! Thanks for letting me and all at I'd Rather B Birdin' tag along.

Betty Crow said...

I really enjoy your posts. Nice selection of birds. I'm partial to the wren.

Lydia C. Lee said...

Love the bird on the barb wire

Powell River Books said...

I've seen a wren like that at my cabin in BC. I have a song sparrow that has come for the winter. I try to give it some extra seed but the stellar jay keeps robbing the lot. - Margy

Lady Fi said...

Lovely shots indeed!

Fun60 said...

More wonderful bird shots.

carol l mckenna said...

Again beautiful bird photography ~ my favorite is the little wren ~ and the linnet on the wire ~ gorgeous!

A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)
Happy Thanksgiving coming in USA

mick said...

All great birds but the white swans are best for me. They just look so exotic and beautiful! So very different from our black ones!

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