Sunday, November 11, 2018

Daylight Robbery

I've been robbed of a number of days birding lately by our November weather, the month that invariably brings gloomy, wet and windy days across the Atlantic from the direction of North America.  I blame Donald Trump. There’s no other feasible explanation. 

It wasn't much different on Saturday morning after a bright start that quickly went downhill, until by 11 am there was rain and I was back home. After soup and a sandwich I sat at the keyboard only to see the sky lighten once more. Too late. 

Our Pink-footed Geese aren't playing ball with birders yet. They are shot at every day and prove hard to find, even harder to watch. At Lane Ends, Pilling was a flock of several hundred, maybe a thousand and seemingly entirely “pinkies” - unsurprising when the odds of finding the oddity goose is several thousand to one.  A large tractor drove slowly past, followed by a brightly clad jogger as the geese peeled off from their brief feed and gradually flew inland in tens, twenties and thirties in search of peace and quiet. 

Pink-footed Goose 

Out on the marsh were about 800/1000 Starlings in a tight flock, a Buzzard, a Grey Heron, plus a good number of Skylarks - perhaps 40/50 but most of them distant. 

I stopped at Gulf Lane hoping to see a good number of Linnets but best estimate was 40+ birds and none especially interested in the bird seed crop. About half a mile down the road at Braides Farm I noted that a flock of 150 or so Linnets fed along the weedy track and in the extensive fields there. It seems that the lack of Linnets at our own project site, probably as result of the good summer, mild autumn and warm-wet, early winter, has produced an abundance of food. The Linnets can pick and choose where they eat most times, more so this year. 


Braides Farm produced some exceptional counts of waders. The aircraft from the nearby parachute centre was around and about, often overhead at very low altitude upon which the massed waders would all take off into panic flight mode. Mostly they settled down again and I was able to achieve good but approximate counts of 2800 Lapwing, 2000 Golden Plover, 200 Redshank and 120 Curlew. Throughout all of this a Kestrel sat unperturbed along the fence line, waiting I guess for an opportune meal. 


Of late there has been much disturbance at Conder Green with both habitat improvement on the pool and major construction around the old road bridge and the A588 road to and from Lancaster. That explains the relatively poor counts here of 130 Teal, 22 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Redshank, 5 Little Grebe and just one Little Egret. 

I was about to spend an hour at Glasson, viewing the dock waters from the car, waiting for the wildfowl to come sailing by as they mostly do on quiet mornings. But then I saw that, where parking on this huge expanse of land has been free for as long as anyone can remember, folk are now expected to cough up via shiny new "Pay Here" machines.  In the village 50 yards away the little shops that sell bacon butties and ice cream to summer tourists are unhappy at the greedy tactics on display.   

Daylight Robbery 

Worse still the Canal and River Trust have sub-contracted the job to a company based in the south coast town of Brighton! Trendy Brighton, where (I'm told) bars like WTF and Naked Day fleece the sheeple punters, shops have names like ‘Vegetarian Shoes’ and ‘Choccywoccydoodah’, and kids have laughable names such as Lettuce, Rainbow and Daisy Boo. 

No, I can’t see birders paying for fancy parking here in Lancashire where folk are careful with their brass and where in the not too distant past in-your-face constructions demanding cash have been chopped at the knees during the darkest of winter nights. 

So instead I took a freebie ride in the direction of Moss Lane and Jeremy Lane and spent time watching a pair of Buzzards, about 150 Fieldfares and a dozen or more Redwings. 

Both Buzzards used a hawthorn hedgerow as a vantage point from which to watch the adjacent field. The Buzzards totally ignored the many Fieldfares that flew back and forth along the line of hedge as they scattered for no reason and then returned in unison. The Buzzards showed no interest at all in three Pheasants that walked along the hedgerow below them. No, the Buzzards were after small prey in the alongside field as one after the other they flew to ground where if necessary they ran to pounce upon the morsel they had spotted from their vantage point. 

Buzzard and Pheasants 



Noted many times on this blog. Buzzards principally eat small rodents, but also take birds, reptiles, amphibians, larger insects and earthworms. Buzzards do sometimes take game birds but such items make up only a tiny proportion of the diet. Buzzards are more likely to feed on carrion. 

Buzzards use three main hunting techniques. They locate prey from a perch and then fly directly to it. They may also soar over open terrain, occasionally hanging in the wind before dropping on to the prey and following up the attack on the ground. Alternatively they may be seen walking or standing on the ground looking for invertebrates. The photos are as close as we can get to Buzzards in this part of the world where the species is persecuted for any excuse and little reason. 

It was interesting that as I watched the Buzzards, the many dozens of Fieldfares using the same stretch of hedgerow displayed no fear of the Buzzards and at no time flew off because of the Buzzards’ feeding activity. 


Another thing. The fine, dry summer of 2018 produced little in the way of hawthorn berries and even now in early November, there are few berries left for wintering thrushes. Anyone who has yet to connect with a Fieldfare will find that they become scarce very soon if there is no food. 


Margaret Adamson said...

Poor Donald he now seems to get blame or everything!1 the image of the Fieldfare is superb.e

David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Phil: there are several takeaways from this well written and oft times humorous account. One is the sheer level of disturbance that birds have to put up with. The other that readily leaps to mind is the universality of greed, especially that practiced by municipalities seeking ever more creative ways to fleece the public. Several local marshes around here have now installed “Pay and Display” machines too. Ironically that may mean more peace and quiet for the birds as people turn around rather than pay the fee.

Stewart M said...

Nice post. I had to laugh at the section on car parking fees - I found a few places that must have been palaces the amount they charge!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

eileeninmd said...


It seems those pay to park here signs are showing up everywhere. I would rather pay a fee for a park, where the money goes for the preservation. Sorry about your weather, I hope it gets better. It is cold and breezy here, not very good weather for bird watching. Your photos and birds are great, love the buzzard and the Lapwing. Happy Monday, enjoy your day! Have a great new week!

Stuart Price said...

Brighton is not that bad a place Phil! I spent many happy evenings there, it has some great pubs. Mind you, it's no Fleetwood that's for sure...........

Rhodesia said...

Our weather here is also rubbish and I also blame DT! I am glad that I do not come from Brighton, my goodness I wonder what my name might have been, the mind boggles'

I love the shot of the buzzard, I always have a special place in my heart for the birds of prey. Think this was brought on by a very special vet boss who I worked for in my early 20's, he was licensed to do falconry. Gosh, I learnt so much from him, not only birds, but he was the Wildlife research officer at the Vet Lab in what was then Rhodesia.

Not sure I have ever seen a Fieldfare, pretty little bird.

Enjoy your week, Diane

Fun60 said...

Enjoyable post as always. Are you sure DT hasn't played a part in having those pay and display meters erected.

Coombe Mill said...

such amazing capturers and some interesting birds #image-in-ing

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

My county did something similar to the parking pay stations a few years ago. Some of those are gone as folks cried foul play

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I'm sorry about your weather .... your tongue-in-cheek blaming of that person whom I cannot name will probably actually be true in the future -- When climate change gets worse and our national parks disappear because he and his cronies are selling out to 'big business .....

Lowcarb team member said...

LOL! It seems that Donald is getting the blame for everything!

It's such a shame about the weather, I think we may have had more sunshine down South!

I hate it when car parks start charging.

Lovely seeing all of your bird photographs though.

All the best Jan

italiafinlandia said...

Nice post, as usual. Interesting to know about the hunting systems of the Buzzard.
Hope the weather improves...

Lady Fi said...

Lovely shots. We've only had 11,4 hours of sunlight so far this month! Urk.

Wally Jones said...

Another enjoyable post from Another Bird Blog!

Your weather pattern sounds quite frustrating lately. Hopefully, it will soon change for the better and you can resume something akin to your "normal" ringing schedule. Any chance we can start arming the geese so they stand a fighting chance versus the hunters?

I empathize with you concerning paying for parking. If we could find a way to be certain those funds went for maintaining or improving an area, I might feel better about it.

While I agree our President Trump is the likely cause of your weather issues, I believe some blame may be shared by other world leaders, even those within the United Kingdom. The massive amount of hot air expended by all of that ilk undoubtedly causes a buildup of nasty meteorological malevolence which is unkind to bird and birder.

We are in for clear skies and cool temperatures in the next few days and we intend to take full advantage!

All the best, Phil!

Lea said...

Beautiful bird photos - Love the Lapwing!
I enjoy seeing the Buzzards, too (we call them Hawks here in the USA).
We have rain today with falling temperatures, with the possibility of snow or sleet. A good day to be inside visiting blogs to enjoy their photos!

Joyful said...

So sorry about the rain. I do love your photos of the Linnet and the Fieldfare. Just lovely ♥

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,

I wanted to stop back and say thanks for linking up your post today. I enjoyed the birds and photos. BTW, I blame DT for everything. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend!

Adam Jones said...

Great pictures Phil. Love the Lapwing and the Fieldfare. Seems like there’s some North easterlys coming our way.

KB said...

That's a lot of geese

A Colorful World said...

Loved your tongue-in-cheek first para! :-) Oh those buzzard shots! Wow! I will always take the freebie road instead of the robbery road! :-) Have a wonderful week!

Jenn Jilks said...

I hear you, those climate change deniers believe in conspiracy theories, but not what the evidence shows us.

Our wee town has free parking in spots for 2 hours. Then, they are ticketed!
There is lots of pay parking, though, but pretty cheap, compared to the cities!
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Angie said...

My hubby and I often talk about what a poor decision it is to put up pay and display, especially in the centers of small towns. All it does it chase people away to the big box stores, where parking is free … as David says, this may be beneficial to you and the wildlife ...

Mary Cromer said...

Oh the Buzzard in the tree with slight red of berries showing, just stunning!!!

Mary Cromer said...

Oh and another thing...he probably did do it, he is such a daft guy~

Related Posts with Thumbnails