Sunday, April 29, 2018

Local Rarity

A Barn Owl floated across Stalmine Moss but that wasn't the reason to stop. I’d heard a local rarity singing from the same spot where I saw a couple of the creatures in deepest winter. It was a Corn Bunting, that once abundant bird of local farmland but now a very occasional sight. 

Corn Bunting 

Counts of Corn Buntings are now desperately low. There are hardly any local breeding records and pitifully low numbers in wintertime when we might expect a few to feed on farmland stubble. Therein lies the problem. 

Not too many moons ago the Fylde was a summer arable landscape of growing vegetables followed by views of autumn and winter stubble, fields of waste and weed seeds left from the harvest that kept myriads of buntings and finches alive through the winter.  Those same fields are now grass and silage for sheep and cows, meat the only food that most people eat since abandoning live vegetables. Big Mac and the like have a lot to answer for. 

I read an article recently that suggested cooking skills may die out completely in the next two generations because we Brits are losing interest. Although we declare ourselves too busy to cook from scratch, opting instead for takeaways and factory food, we have plenty of time to watch TV.  The national obsession with cookery shows and watching other people prepare food on TV does not prompt us to actually cook anything other than microwaved ready meals or beans on toast. A home-made steak and kidney pie is now as rare as hens-teeth in Kentucky Fried Britain.

I digress. Back to the birds. There was a scratchy singing Whitethroat too, one of 8/10 seen this morning; so at last they have arrived. Likewise a few more Swallows scattered around farms, 30+ in total but still very few House Martins, the latter still in single figures. 

I stopped briefly at Braides, the scene of much frenzy last weekend with birders desperate to add a few Yellow Wagtails to their yearly list. How many Yellow Wagtails went unseen in other similar locations is anyone’s guess. Today a couple of Linnets, a pair of Kestrel, one Grey Heron, several Swallows, and unusually for here 4 Rooks. The Rook is a more handsome and beneficial bird than the ubiquitous and villainous Common Crow. 


I called at Conder Green where the water level is still too high for many species but the four to five pairs of Oystercatcher are not so choosy so remain on territory. There was a single Common Tern on the nesting island, the first tern back in 2018 as far as I know. I noted the bird wore a very shiny ring on the right leg but far too distant to read the inscription. Also, a single lingering usually winter only Goldeneye, 6 Tufted Duck, 6 Teal, 2 Pied Wagtail and a Kestrel. Along the hedgerow - a singing Whitethroat. Nearer to Glasson singles of Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler.  

Common Tern

The circuit of Jeremy, Moss and Slack Lanes threw up a good selection of migrant birds in the shape and sound of 4 Wheatear, 4 Whitethroat (all males), 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail and 1 Whinchat. 


It was good to count 12/15 Skylark although a flock of 110 Linnets is suggestive of the still below average temperatures. Heartening also to see upwards of 15 Lapwings sat on eggs but impossible to predict how many will survive the plough of the coming weeks. 

Not everything is late this spring as proven by the Blackbird with a beak full of giant worms for the family meal. Good to see that the Blackbirds at least survive on a diet of fresh food. 


Please login soon to Another Bird Blog. Can’t promise rarities but there’s always a picture or two!

Linking this post to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


Lowcarb team member said...

Happy Sunday Phil.
How lovely to see all of your photographs.
The blackbird has a good mouthful there!

All the best Jan

David Gascoigne said...

Hello Phil: This whole business of people not cooking is getting to be a serious problem in my opinion. You see more and more diet- related diseases every day, and I am staggered when I see the contents of some people’s shopping cart. The sheer volume of processed food and bags of snack food boggles the mind. This line about not having time to cook is a total red herring. We can make a stir fry, for example, using one tabelspoon of oil in a wok with chicken, garlic, ginger, red pepper, green pepper, onion, bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas in twenty minutes from the time we start to chop until the time we are sitting down to eat. Furthermore, it is inexpensive, we know exactly what goes in it, and we have the joy of going to the market to select our items and chat to friendly people. Oh, but I forgot, we don’t watch too much TV. Can’t begin to imagine what I am missing. Maybe I should reach for that bag of chips after all..............

Rhodesia said...

Lovely set of photos. I am sure the corn bunting would have remained an LBJ if I had seen it without somebody who knew better!

We seldom see takeaways here in the country (thank goodness). I always cook fresh, and most of what we eat is also homegrown. We are still on stored vegetables from last year that keep well like potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, parsnips and chard to name a few.

Have a good week, Diane

Stuart Price said...

Shame about the Corn Buntings. There were still 1 or 2 singing on the Ribble near Longton when I last visited the UK in 2015.

Kay L. Davies said...

I copied the stir-fry recipe. I'm running low on veggies because my shopping guy is out of town on business. When our friend comes to walk the dog for me, I'll dash (in the car) to the little local grocery store for fruit and veg.
Always enjoy your blog posts, Phil, but so sad about the birds whose numbers are dropping. Every species around the world, bird or mammal, fish and even trees...disappearing at an alarming rate.
Hugs to both of you,

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Lovely collection of photos and I agree folks need to learn to cook. Fast food is garbage.

Fun60 said...

Our towns are full of takeaway food outlets but few greengrocers. Will future generations know what to do with fresh food? Although I can remember taking a group of 12 and 13 yr old inner London kids camping in Wales and they were horrified to discover that the milk for their breakfast came from a cow! I wonder what they are all doing now.

Shantana said...

Lovely images!

Greetings from Sydney and have a lovely week ahead!

carol l mckenna said...

Love blackbird with the worms! Always excellent bird photography on your blog ~

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

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

The blackbird carrying home the family dinner makes a fun picture! I enjoyed all the birds but am sorry to learn about the corn bunting. I'm not so sure I've ever even seen a picture of a Rook. Unless, is that the same bird as at the Tower of London? Must go Google. I agree that the common crow is villainous. I think it's odd when some birders enjoy all birds equally and think all are wonderful. Even the ones that steal other birds eggs or nests.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I meant to add something about your digression. I would have thought because of the great British cooking shows it might be different over on your side of the pond. But I should have known better. We used to watch US cooking channels and the commercials were always about fast food restaurants or convenience foods. Sigh. (Although I admit to sometimes 'arranging' food instead of cooking.... warm weather calls more for salads than for pot roasts. )Bill has started to cook more .... he makes a mean huummuus and homemade soups.

NC Sue said...

Lovely post - as always, Phil!
Thanks for linking up at

Lady Fi said...

Beautiful birds!

Kay L. Davies said...

The plight of the birds is more than a natural tragedy, Phil, it is a world tragedy and yet Man continues to invade farm and wilderness alike, with little or no thought to the future.
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Powell River Books said...

The Rook looks like a cross between a crow and a raven with that strong beak. - Margy

Betty Crow said...

As normal, very interesting post. Enjoyed the blackbird with all those worms.

Wally Jones said...

Whether we or the birds are ready or not, Spring is progressing apace! Everywhere we've been the last couple of weeks it seems we have found courting, nest building, egg laying, newly hatched chicks and non-stop feeding of said chicks.

Humans' desire to feed ourselves ever-more efficiently predictably, evolved into our desire to make more money ever-more efficiently. Unintended (or ignored) consequences manifests in wholesale conversion of types of crops grown with the resulting negative effects on bird and animal populations. How to take money out of this equation is a conundrum.

Enjoy the Corn Bunting whenever you fine one! Despite a bit of regret in your post, I found it overall to be positive and motivating. Your observations of a diverse population of birds is inspiring! And your superb images, as usual, make me want to do better in my own attempts.

A bit of optimism locally. In the past couple of years our area has experienced an increase in farmer's markets. Fresh vegetables, many organically grown, are readily available at competitive prices. Neighbors supporting neighbors. What a concept!

Gini and I hope your week is full of peace and joy!

A Colorful World said...

So sorry to hear about the low numbers of corn buntings! It is sad that we aren't eating fresh vegetables so much anymore. I love farmer's markets, and try to grow a little myself and get the rest from the market. But, I hate that it's a dying art. Hope the corn bunting comes back! Loved your rook and also that blackbird with its beak full! :-)

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

As if the lapwing isn't wonderful enough ... how I wish I could see that bird ... now you go and show me mom with her adorable tiny chick! I am green with envy! Shame about the oystercatcher eggs being such easy prey for the horrid crows. (I am definitely not one who thinks all birds are equally as worthy of praise.) It is good that the farmer cooperates to help birds thrive ... wish there were more like him.

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