Thursday, November 30, 2017

Plovers Galore

Ask any birder their least favourite time of the year and November is bound to feature highly. 

Autumnal contact calls and mornings of migrants on the move becomes a thing of the dim but not distant past, to be replaced by thoughts of where to spend the mostly grey, murky mornings that November brings. Damnation to those dark mornings where a sprint from the starting blocks rarely beats a doggie walker to an early stroll, or where midday sun quickly becomes 2:30 pm, faded light, and a trail of bouncy finches headed to a rapidly approaching roost. 

With sunrise timed at 8:06 am it was just 0750 plus two when I set off in the usual directions. “Plus two” was the time it took to clear the windscreen of frost.  Now there’s a novelty but with the bonus of clear skies and promised sunshine. 

A single shooters’ car stood at Gulf Lane. By all accounts the shooters have enjoyed a poor season as the “pinkies” refused to cooperate with well-practiced plans. Often the geese have gained height too quickly and were out of range of the guns, or they played it cool and flew west, east or north across the bay of Morecambe. This year the geese have roosted further out in the bay and stuck to the main tidal channel that has moved north with the result that by the time the geese fly over the marsh they can be too high for the shooters. 

When I looked across the bay from Lane Ends and towards Heysham Power Station the geese were uncountable through the sheer density and distance of the flock but certainly in many tens of thousands. 

Pink-footed Geese and Heysham

Sadly, I spoke to a person who was heading out with the sole objective of shooting a Golden Plover. Like me, he’d noticed that in recent days and probably as result of poor weather and snow north of here, our area had seen a large influx of these beautiful but still unprotected plovers. To the eternal shame of Great Britain in 2017, Woodcock, Snipe and Golden Plover are waders of “legitimate quarry”. 

Golden Plover

Just like the geese the numbers of Lapwings and Golden Plovers today were almost uncountable in the many fields that line the coast road. From Pilling Lane Ends to River Cocker I estimated 4,000 Golden Plover and 7,000 Lapwing, many hundreds of Curlew and in the region of 7,000+ Starlings! 

Golden Plover and Lapwing

Golden Plover and Lapwing


The Linnets at Gulf Lane numbered 170+ with still a male Sparrowhawk in attendance but an unsuccessful one at least on this occasion. Not far away was a Buzzard, one of four that I saw on my travels today. The photo distance is about on the limits of tolerance for a local Buzzard and even then it stares into the way off lens. 


I tried my luck at Conder Green with the distant duck. A dartboard max of 180 Teal, 37 Wigeon, 35 Tufted Duck and 40 Mallards told me that water levels were up and waders were down to handfuls of Redshank, Lapwing and Curlew. Conder Green holds more “tufties” than the more traditional site of Glasson Dock at the moment with a quick look there showing just 12 Tufted Duck but 3 male Goosander. 

There wasn’t much luck towards Cockersands where the 500+ Whooper Swans have done a bunk. More likely is that the farmer decided the trampling of his field was getting too bad, hence the lines of tractor tracks throughout the field which betray an extravagant amount of back and forth action but nothing in the way of crops. 

Best here was a flock of 25+ Greenfinch, in recent years a number now almost unknown plus handfuls only of Tree Sparrows and Fieldfares.


The First of December already. It will soon be Christmas with only 24 days of birding left for the lucky ones.

Linking today to Eileen's Blog.


eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, these are all awesome photos. The Lapwings are my favorite, the Plovers are sweet birds. Love the Buzzard and Greenfinch. Great sightings. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day and weekend ahead.

David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Phil: The picture of the Golden Plover and Lapwing together actually makes me get a little choked up. Both of these species are under threat at different levels yet one of them is still hunted legally and I am sure that the other is subjected to errant fire, or perhaps not so errant at times. As a species we humans represent the best and the worst - but I fear that most of the time the worst wins out.

Santi Dominguez said...

My friend Juanmi could see some of this birds in Armuña(Salamanca) this autumm:

eileeninmd said...

Hello, I am stopping back to say thank you for linking up this post. Your birds are beautiful. Lovely photos. Happy weekend to you!

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful photos ~ despite being November in your photos ~ favorites are the buzzard and green finch ~ ^_^

Happy Weekend to you,
A ShutterBug Explores
aka (A Creative Harbor)

A Colorful World said...

Are the plovers good eating? That seems like such a strange thing to hunt!

i beati said...

plover and lapwings 2 favorites

Angie said...

Although some of your topics are sad, I enjoy the way you write - it is very British and takes me to my adopted 'home'. Such a variety of birds - lovely!

Schotzy said...

Such exotic birds compared to here.. love the lapwing! Would love to come upon a field of anything ... I had nothing to share this week.. perhaps next.. God bless!!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Despite the gray November days, you always have a wonderful post with beautiful birds

NC Sue said...

Such curious critters these lapwings are - very cool!
Thanks for linking up at

bettyl-NZ said...

These are awesome shots of the lovely birds. Your plovers are much prettier than the ones that live in the field next to my house :)

Kay L. Davies said...

Hi Phil! I had to laugh about the frost on your windshield. Only two minutes? We often have ice half an inch thick to scrape off (perhaps I exaggerate, but not much, with snow on top of the ice, and sometimes ice on top of the snow). Your greenfinch is adorable, and your lapwings are wonderful with that upswept hairdo. I'd never have thought your buzzard was a buzzard if you hadn't said so, because it is different from my mental image of a buzzard, but of course I take your word for everything bird-related. I hope you and Sue are both well and, if I don't get back to you before then, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Hugs from here.
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

I think I have seen this bird before, but I didn't know their name.

Mary Cromer said...

I hope those shooters keep missing and missing. Oh I know they have to do what is ~in their means to be a real man", or real woman, but really, hunting birds especially those that are of little meat reward and then they kill many to make a meal...I just don't see it. The many thousands of birds gathered about in your shares are lovely and I just so enjoy those Lapwings

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