Thursday, May 3, 2018

If At First You Don't Succeed

For once there was no early morning Barn Owl. I motored past a couple of sentinel Kestrels but no ghostly owls crossed my path. I guess the owls must be sat tight on eggs by now, early May. 

The morning was to be pretty quiet for new migrants but there was evidence that the recent cold weather had not held up some birds’ urge to procreate. 

I soon found myself at Gulf Lane where Richard the farmer has tilled and then seeded the set-aside field, the scene of our winter Linnet project. A pair of Oystercatchers moved in pretty smartish with the female already sat on eggs and the male on sentry duty just yards away. The sitting female is highly visible in the bare field and already the focus of attention for marauding crows with their eyes on the eggs. Hopefully the seed will sprout and grow quickly to give some element of cover and camouflage to both the female and the eggs. The incubation period for the eggs will be between 25-30 days; it’s a long time to keep those determined crows at bay. 



Carrion Crow

There were 6 Stock Doves and a handful of Woodpigeons picking over the ground as well as four of our Linnet friends. 

At Conder Green the high water level dictates the presence of five pairs of Oystercatcher as the sole representatives of wading species with no sign of the several Avocets that in recent weeks took a passing interest. There are signs that Tufted Duck and even Shelducks will breed again with three pairs of the former and two or more pairs of Shelduck. 

Along the hedgerow here was at least one each of Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Reed Bunting. 

I’m still not seeing many Swallows although it was good to note about 10/12 of their House Martin cousins at Conder Green. The martins were in their usual place at the houses and the café that overlook the muddy creeks of the River Conder. Having arrived only in the last day or two they were already collecting mud for their homes on the sides of the buildings. A Goldfinch came to see what all the fuss was about and perhaps thought the martins collected food rather than mud. 

House Martin  

House Martin 


The Jeremy/Moss/Slack lanes circuit proved quiet with little out of the ordinary. It does seem that the two species most lacking in numbers this year are two small warblers, the Whitetroat and the Sedge Warbler. These are just two of the many bird species that winter in the Sahel region, the south side of the Sahara Desert shown in orange on the map. 

It is here that birds and people literally live on the edge and  where both rely on the same natural resources of trees, water and land. It’s a landscape that is often plunged into a prolonged drought and subject to other threats such as expansion and intensification of arable & livestock agriculture, and the cutting of trees for fuel. 

If such species can survive the Sahel winter they must then embark on the long and perilous journey to and from Northern Europe. No wonder then that so many do not make it back to the UK. 

The African/Palearctic Bird Migration System

Sedge Warbler 


Along Moss Lane was a Lapwing with four tiny youngsters, so small that that they probably hatched just today. There are good numbers of Lapwings on eggs that may get the benefit of the late spring as farmers delay their usual ploughing due to several still saturated fields. The same goes for Skylarks with good numbers displaying and chasing over the rough grass where hopefully the young can soon hide from the crows. 

Lapwing & chick 

The Tree Sparrows were noisy at Cockersands where loud “chip,chip” calls gave away their nesting intentions, not to mention one or two locations. Along the shore - a few Goldfinch and singles of Pied Wagtail and Whimbrel but it was time to head home and pack for warmer days. 

Tree Sparrow 

Tree Sparrow 

Back home a pair of Collared Doves aren't having as much luck. They spent all of Wednesday building a nest in the apple tree. Today the sticks were all over the grass and I suspect the doves need a bit more practice at building a home. It's bit like birding; repetition and training makes for a better job.

Log in soon for some summer sunshine and colourful birds with Another Bird Blog. 


David M. Gascoigne, said...

Hello Phil: That Oystercatcher does stick out like a sore thumb. If the vegetation does not grow up around it quickly it's hard to imagine it has much chance of success. And I have to believe that the potential nest robbers will know the spot well by then.

Lowcarb team member said...

Lovely photo's here Phil.
Love the tree sparrow peeping out ...

I do hope the Oystercatcher and it's eggs will be ok.

Enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend.

All the best Jan

Rhodesia said...

I love the lapwing, and to the best of my knowledge, I have never seen a tree sparrow. They should certainly be around in our area, maybe I should look harder. Hope you have a good weekend Diane

Anni said...

Oh that Lapwing & chick..
.so so sweet.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Just realized I may have put the comment for this post in the wrong place by scrolling down too far. Whether I did or not, please forgive this extra comment and put it down to my advanced age (or to the glass of not-Florida wine sitting by my computer).

Stewart M said...

That fact that any small birds survive migration always comes as a bit of a shock to me. Handing re-traps that have flown from Australia to the Arctic and back is always a source of wonder!

cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Wally Jones said...

What a thoroughly enjoyable read! I'm with Stewart, migration is an amazing phenomenon. Hope the Oystercatchers fend off the crows. Not an easy task.

Enjoy your upcoming journey to the sun. Don't forget to return!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

What a lovely series and you know how much I love the Swallows by now. Not as many Swallows here as yet either...hoping they shall arrive soon~

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