Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Best

After one of the few overnight frosts of the winter Sunday began with a layer of ice. I set off with a couple of tail slides and the dash showing 0°C. 

The raised road over Stalmine Moss catches any overnight ice and frost and where one false move over the roller coaster road can see a vehicle plunge into one of the roadside ditches that lie either side. There must have been a layer of ice in the ditches because three Little Egrets stood around on the roadway wondering where their open water feeding had gone. The nearby flash flood had a film of ice with now a small patch of open water with just 20 Lapwings and a single Black-headed Gull. 

Little Egret - Stalmine Moss

At the junction of Lancaster Road was another Kestrel, the third of my so far short journey and all of them sat atop roadside posts watching and waiting for movement on the whitened ground below. Later, and by midday the morning proved to be good for Kestrels with at least six observed throughout the four hours. 


I drove towards Cockerham and Wimarleigh where I checked out the latest ringing/birding site where the owners have given permission for both ringing group members and their vehicles to access their private land. Very soon we hope in return to give the owners lots by way of birding/ringing data together with an understanding of the bird species that use their land throughout the year. This should keep us busy, enhance the land owners’ existing environmental policies and help towards their future plans. 

There was a lively start when I heard Fieldfares close by and then through a handy gateway spotted what appeared to be a dozen or two amongst a flock of Starlings. In fact as I settled down to watch, the numbers feeding in the undulating field seemed closer to 250 Starlings, 250 Fieldfares and 15/20 Redwings. Once or twice the whole lot took to the air when both a Sparrowhawk and then a Buzzard came by. These birds may be new arrivals from the near Continent as both Redwings and Fieldfares have been rather hard to come by around here throughout December.  But with no berries left the hedgerows open fields and treetops are the best places to find the shysters with their bills now darkened by soil rather than berry juice.



Along nearby woodland edge was a large mixed flock of titmice, 50 or more strong with a large contingent of both Long-tailed Tits and Blue Tit but not so many of Great Tit and Coal Tit. It has been a mild winter where survival of this bird family has been for me at least, undocumented until now. 

Long-tailed Tit

Also along the woodland edge, 8/10 Blackbirds and a solitary but welcome Song Thrush. I checked out a marshy pond, a reedy ditch and a meagre looking but newly planted hedgerow. 30+ Mallards, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Kestrel, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Buzzard and countless Starlings were to be expected but perhaps not the single Stonechat which worked the fence line and the ditch where it seemed to find food-a-plenty. 

In the distance and closer to Winmarleigh I could see hundreds of Pink-footed Geese feeding in extensive pastures with not a road in sight. Those geese are expert at finding quiet fields in which to feed in between avoiding the morning and evening gun rush. 

I called at Gulf Lane where Linnets numbered 150+ and still feeding on the natural stuff close to the fence - unlike the 8 Stock Doves that lifted from the line of rape/millet seed I dropped two days ago. 


I waved goodbye to the ungrateful Linnets but warned them we’d be back soon - with nets.


Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

You know you are a true birder when you brave a road like that to get there! Too darn cold ... but the birds are still there! Quite a line up of linnets on that fence!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

When you speak so despairingly of these trifling bits of ice it is easy to see that you live in a land where a little skim of white here and there is a big event! Phooey, I say! Come here, where the overnight temperature two nights ago flirted with minus 30 degrees. And here's the thing, Phil, my friend David Lamble, was banding Snow Buntings at temperatures around minus 18 - and as you know it all has to be done with bare hands. His skin was so red it's a wonder that a Merlin that had been hanging around didn't mistake it for prey!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

I would not, I really would not like to be driven along that road. It's not the depth of snow but the slippery-ness of the surface.

Mind, I'm a coward, there are roads near my new home in Yorkshire where the views are splendiferous but the drops so sudden and steep my brain is filled with terror rather than joy when I'm there.

And oh bother. I'd always thought a titmouse is some kind of mouse. Much better name than a tit. Can I call any version of a tit a titmouse?

eileeninmd said...

Hello, you are a devoted birder. The view of the road looks pretty. Great variety of birds and photos. Love the Kestrel and all the Linnets. Happy Monday, enjoy your day and new week!

Stuart Price said...

Wow look at all those linnets!

NCSue said...

Great images, as always!
Thank you for joining this week's party at

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Lovely shots of the birds on that cold morning

Kay L. Davies said...

Hi Phil. I agree with Eileen, you certainly are devoted to birding. I looked closely at every one of these photos, because they're all wonderful, but my heart went out to the solitary Long-tailed Tit. What a beautiful picture your camera painted, my friend. I am always guilty of anthropomorphism and can't help but see more emotion in this bird's face and posture than it actually has, most likely. In fact, this photo led me to look it up. Wikipedia says it is also known as the silver-throated tit or silver-throated dasher. Then I tried to include a Wikipedia sketch in my comment. If I don't watch out, you'll have me being a birder! Meanwhile, all the best of the new year to both of you. —K

Fun60 said...

Great photos again especially the line of linnets. I wonder if that's what they call a group of linnets - a line.

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) Lovely photos!:) I have no favourites today, they are all delightful to see, and I also love the line up of Linnets. Keep warm and safe on those icey roads.

Ida said...

Wonderful selection of birds. I really like the Kinnet and all those birds on the fence.

A Colorful World said...

So nice of the owners of that property to allow you access! Cold pictures but lovely shots of all the birds!

Angie said...

I think it's terrific that you are going to return to the owners and give them data. Information is power, as they say! My favorites shots here are certainly the kestrels!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Long Tailed Tit Oh I love when you share these sweet little ones and this chap is adorable. The first images with the ice covered lane and frost on the grass, so looks like the country lanes right here...Burr~

Lowcarb team member said...

I think the view of the road looks pretty, nice photograph.
I loved seeing the long tailed tit and the line up of linnets.

All the best Jan

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