Friday, February 23, 2018

This And That

Last summer, autumn and now the current winter will be memorable for all the wrong reasons. A series of storms and hurricane remnants battered the west coast of Britain. Our garden developed a sponge like consistency that became a no-go area; not that there were any birds to see or catch. Even the normally resilient band of Goldfinches seemed to depart, and birds which might otherwise winter with us were displaced elsewhere. 

Only now with the lengthening days and the first signs of are some birds beginning to return. I had net up for a few hours and caught 5 new Goldfinch, a Chaffinch and a Collared Dove to kick off the garden ringing for 2018. 

Goldfinch

Collared Dove

Chaffinch

Today I took a run out to some local spots and to drop seed at two ringing spots. Gulf Lane held about 90 Linnet, 6 Skylark, 5 Stock Dove, 1 Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron. 

There’d been an overnight frost and the heron was waiting for the ditch to clear of ice. 

Grey Heron

The flood at Rawcliffe Moss had muddy if slightly frozen margins edges to accommodate 16 Pied Wagtails, 6 Meadow Pipits, 2 Shelduck and 15 Lapwing. Later I would see Lapwings in display; a sure sign that spring is here at last. 

Alongside the road a Chaffinch was in full song. I didn’t realise until I looked at the picture but the Chaffinch has diseased legs and feet, a condition known as Chaffinch Viral Papilloma (CVP). 

Chaffinch

CVP is thought to affect around 1% of the Chaffinch population at any given time and can affect both sexes. Cases usually occur in clusters and quite high proportions of local populations may be affected in outbreaks. In my experience the disease is associated with Chaffinches that feed in farmyard, and smallholdings and where chickens roam freely. 

The disease causes wart-like growths on the foot or tarsometatarsus, the bare part of the leg. The growths vary from small nodules to large irregular shaped and deeply-fissured masses which almost engulf the entire lower leg and foot. Affected birds usually seem in otherwise good health but some may show signs of lameness and hop mainly on the unaffected foot and digits may be lost. The disease can spread to other ground feeding birds like Dunnock. 

At Conder Green I counted 80 Teal, 42 Wigeon, 24 Tufted Duck, 4 Shelduck, 28 Oystercatchers (inc 4 pairs), 26 Curlew, 18 Black-tailed Godwit and 14 Redshank. A visit to our second Linnet site found 90+ Linnets still around together with 3 Meadow Pipit and 2 Reed Bunting. A Raven croaked overhead heading down to the Lune marshes – the species is now a common sight and sound in this area. 

I saw a number of Brown Hares sitting out in the early sun and they don’t yet appear ready to start their boxing courtships. The hare is a beautiful and intriguing creature that against the odds of agricultural changes has managed to maintain a strong presence in this part of Lancashire. Unlike rabbits, hares do not make an underground warren but nest in a depression in the ground where their young are active as soon as they are born. I know a local farmer who swears that come summertime the local Buzzard population takes a heavy toll on the young hares (leverets). 

Brown Hares

Brown Hares

The wintering Whooper Swans are now well spread across a couple of miles of fields, unlike early winter where for a few weeks after their arrival they stuck together like glue. There are probably still a couple of hundred Whooper Swans, up to 10 Bewick’s Swans and many Mute Swans but today I spotted an unusual interloper that seems to have escaped attention, a Black Swan. 

Black Swan

Whooper Swan

We’ve had some pretty strange weather but I’m certain the Black Swan is not a wind blown vagrant from down-under Australia.

Linking today to World Bird Wednesday, Anni's Birding and Eileen's blog



23 comments:

David Gascoigne said...

I had not previously heard of CVP but it seems like a nasty kind of affliction. House Finches (especially) and American Goldfinches are prone to conjunctivitis, impairing their vision considerably in some cases. I suspect that several of the goldfinches taken by a Sharp-shinned Hawk in my yard were probably suffering from this condition; hence were relatively easy prey for a swift and stealthy hawk.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, the Whooper Swans are beautiful. I love the escapee Back Swan. The Goldfinch is one of my favorites birds from across the big pond. The Brown Hares are adorable, it is neat to see so many together. A Tufted Duck is being seen in Maryland, but I am not going to run after it. :) Great post and photos. Happy birding!

Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend!

Mary Cromer said...

That farmer is probably correct about those sweet baby Hares being taken once they begin to move about, then those flying creatures find them as easy targets. I wish that when they were created they had a better way of seeing danger...what about you ;) Boxing, wow is that part of their courtship...I must look them up online. We have had so much rain as well Phil, nothing but mud, and flooding taking place all over the county where I live. The Ohio River is still rising, due to crest sometime today. Some of my favorite driving lanes are impassible. Have a wonderful week~

Al said...

You've got a great selection of critters here (or should I say hare?).

Jean @sonotorganized.com said...

Your goldfinch is so vibrantly colored! Love that black swan as well. The brown hares are very beautiful, hope the buzzards don't have too much luck this year. Have a great weekend!

GreenComotion said...

Brilliant snaps of some of the most beautiful critters, Phil!
Love the Brown Hares especially :)
Have a Happy WE!!
Peace :)

A Colorful World said...

Poor Chaffinches with the CVP! It's always sad to see disease or parasites on wild animals! No one can really help them! Loved the brown hares and the black swan. All your photos are awesome as always!

Angie said...

The heron looks a bit disgusted with having to wait ... I guess I have not seen a goldfinch in all my time in the UK - I did not realize that it has the red coloring on its face. Lovely shots!

Joyful said...

Beautiful photos and wonderfully informative post. I always feel sorry for the helpless creatures like the Chaffinch with the diseased legs.

Anni said...

That disease -tho not deadly sounds nasty. Love the black swan & the -finch in song. I do believe that Conder Green would be a favorite area for me!

All of us bird enthusiasts enjoy & appreciate your sharing this weekend...thanks!

Sandy Kessler said...

goldfinches of my youth almost always sitting on a thistle were yellow with one black stripe .This red face startles me pleasantly ..Lapwing how i love thee

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

I used to have 3 finches! They were so sweet! Just your typical brown ones. This golden finch is incredible!

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Great photos! I hope the Black Swan could fly. I spotted one a few years ago, here in the US, and it turned out it was an abandoned "exotic pet" with clipped wings. An animal rescue group saved it.

Betty Crow said...

The goldfinch is much more colorful than ours. Love the black swan, but all of your shots are wonderful.

Jenn Jilks said...

Such lovely birds. I love how serious you are about birding!

Jenn Jilks said...

Love the rabbit!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

great shots - love the hares

NC Sue said...

Your photos are consistently marvelous! Thanks so much for being a regular visitor at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/. I always love what you have to share.

Fun60 said...

The goldfinch is a particular favourite. Hope the arctic conditions this week don't have a detrimental effect on the birds.

Lady Fi said...

Lovely shots.

BumbleVee said...

awww.. the poor little Chaffinches.... always something or other isn't it? .... how do any of the birds and animals survive....

June Caedmon said...

Wonderful captures, Phil. We've had a long, cold, wet winter here in Texas. But maybe our weather is better than other parts because I've actually seen more birds, not less. We have jackrabbits here. Some are as large as fawns but you know, everything is bigger in Texas ;) Have a wonder-filled week!

Chris Rohrer said...

OMG!!! A Black Swan! I had no clue you had them over there. Cool!

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