Thursday, April 12, 2018

Out At Last

What with half-term, car service & MOT and pretty poor weather, I’d been out of birding action for a week. 

Thursday morning and as is often the case I wasn’t sure where to go on my local patch while allowing sufficient time to spend at each. There’s nothing more annoying than birding at one place and seeing not very much to then hear later of birds seen in the same spot soon after. It’s a form of Sod’s Law that applies to birders and probably other obsessives. 

Through Pilling village was the first Chiffchaff singing from an annual location but as I drove past I spotted a hunting Barn Owl ahead. The owl was on a fast, large circuit that took it over fields, behind tall hedgerows and through farmyards so I quickly lost sight. 

Barn Owl 

I drove up to Conder Pool, the first time for a couple of weeks. Very evident here was that the water level here is tremendously high after the autumn and winter rains with very little in way of margins for waders. I counted 8 Shelduck, 6 Tufted Duck, 22 Teal, 2 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron and a good number of Mute Swans. There was a single Kestrel knocking around. Waders consisted of 2 Avocet and 8 Oystercatchers. 

Two Avocets have taken up territory on one of the far islands in exactly the same spot as last year. 


Having bred successfully both adults and offspring Avocets are faithful to a site in subsequent years. And with an average life span of 10-15 years there’s a more than a reasonable chance that either or even both of these birds were here last year. But more’s the pity as Avocets are not the friendliest towards other species. 

It’s not like me to be controversial but I'm far from certain we should be encouraging too many Avocets on Conder Pool, a piece of real estate that for many years was home to more common species. I would much rather see several pairs of species that co-exist rather than pairs of aggressive Avocets that allow no other birds on “their” patch. 

Surely several pairs of declining Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and maybe one or two Little Ringed Plover would be preferable? There now, naughty me, I've gone and upset the whole of the RSPB and the band of birders who judge a species by rarity value rather than taking a holistic view. 

A tour of the Jeremy Lane and Cockersands found a good selection of species but little in the way of migrants. Even the many hares I saw appeared lethargic, mainly sitting around and uninterested in the fact that it was April 12th and their mating season. 

Brown Hare 

There was a huge Peregrine hunting the marsh where it made several passes but caught nothing. Lapwings are mostly all paired up now with much dashing display, frantic calling and chasing off the crows so I suspect some are on eggs. Not so the Golden Plover, wintering birds only with a loose flock of 180+ birds, but many resplendent in their black& gold summer plumage. It is mostly impossible to get close to this species and as I've mentioned here before, to the UK’s eternal shame that this species is allowed to be shot by hunters. 

Golden Plover 

On the fields here – 40+ off passage Meadow Pipits searching the soggy fields, 8-10 Skylark and 20+ Linnet still flocking. 30+ Sand Martins at our ringing quarry looks promising and where with luck we’ll begin ringing after the first fledglings are on the wing. 

Meadow Pipit 

I was out birding all morning but still didn't see or hear many migrants. A handful of Swallows and two singing Chiffchaffs was the sum total of my summer birds. 

We’re promised warmer weather soon. Not soon enough where migration so far has consisted of a small flurry of early birds while everyone waits for the big fall that hardly ever takes place. 

Saturday looks promising for ringing with a light southerly of 5 mph and no rain. Believe it when we see it!

Linking today to Eileen's Blog.


David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Phil:I don’t want to get on a rant about hunting wild birds because this would turn Into a polemic rather than a comment, but it is truly incomprehensible that when populations of creatures the world over are in serious jeopardy we still hunt them. And it is certainly not confined to the UK. And when you see disgusting images of people like Trump’s idiot sons slaughtering African animals for their own perverted pleasure, and holding up an elephant’s tail as a grisly trophy, nothing should surprise us. The moorlands of England, depopulated of Golden Plovers would be an impoverished landscape for all, present and future, and that is what hunters accomplish. They deprive everyone in their selfish pursuit. You would hope that in the twenty-first century we would have become a little more enlightened than this, but nothing about humans surprises me any longer. We are the plague that will destroy the earth.

Angie said...

Phil - thanks for the pictures of the barn owl and the Meadow Pipit. So lovely!

Stuart Price said...

They should genetically engineer friendlier Avocets..........

Wally Jones said...

Sounds like you have had a forced break in birding lately. That's never a good thing!

Happily, you're in the field and seeing birds again! Simply spotting a Barn Owl would certainly get my adrenaline pumping for the remainder of the year. They are very scarce in our area.

Hunting Golden Plovers - I can't wrap my head around that.

As much as I agree with your sentiment about aggressive avocets, I fall into the camp of letting nature handle the situation. I very often don't like the results of Her decisions, but once we humans start messing about trying to "fix" Her, well, disaster seems to ensue.

Looks as if your weekend weather may give you a bit of a respite and I hope you're able to take advantage with some ringing and enjoyable birding.

All on this side of the pond in our sub-tropical paradise is good.

Take care, Phil!

Rhodesia said...

Love the Avocet, what a pretty bird but my favourite is the barn owl.
I cannot understand hunting of any animals, it just gets my hackles up. It will not be long before (thanks to man) that many birds and animals will be extinct. They blame climate change but that has little to do with it, the gun is doing far more harm thanks to hunters and poachers alike.
Hope you have a good weekend. The weather here is slowly improving and I saw our first lizards of 2018 in the garden today. Diane

eileeninmd said...

Hello, it is sad to hear of any bird's decline for any reason. I love all these birds, the Barn owl, Avocet and Gold Plovers are all gorgeous. The Pipit is pretty. Love the cute Brown Hare. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

Betty Crow said...

The Golden Plover is a beauty. Love the markings. So sad they are hunted. I've been chasing what I believe to be an american pipit, but so far haven't been able to get a good enough shot to make sure. Have a wonderful weekend.

Lowcarb team member said...

School holidays, car service and MOT sounds a bit like us too Phil ...

But of course we didn't get to see as many birds as you ... lovely to see your photographs.

All the best Jan

Jane said...

Great shots!

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