Thursday, June 6, 2019

Back On The Road

I have to say, the weather has been more like April showers than flaming June. At last this morning, a spot of sunshine where I’d arranged to meet Andy to see if we could come up with a cunning plan to catch any of the Sand Martins nesting at the Cockerham cliff face. 

There are huge numbers at the colony where we estimated 400+ individuals, most if not all of which appeared to be adults. This is now a huge colony that some 10/12 years ago began with just a couple of pairs breeding in a tiny face of exposed sand above a fishing pond. 

Looking up at the nests, most of which are at 30/40ft high in soft strata of the dig we decided on a plan of action for the week after next. That will involve staying away from the nesting holes but catching the martins at lower feeding levels before the sun lights up the quarry face.  

Sand Martin 

Sand Martin colony 

Andy was off to the hills to ring some Pied Flycatchers so I drove up to Conder Green. I stopped for a roadside Red-legged Partridge, a non-native partridge of the modern countryside. I have to say that despite their unwelcome status as an introduced species gone wild, the things are rather photogenic. 

Red-legged Partridge 

Red-legged Partridge 

We are into the doldrums of June when migration is over and birds spend all their time and energy in actual breeding or breeding attempts. That much was clear at the pool with identical counts and similar action to a week ago. Counts were of 40 Swift, 18 House Martin, 15 Swallow and 2 Sand Martin hawking for early morning insects over the marsh and hedgerows. 

On the pool - a pair of Oystercatchers with just one youngster plus at least three other pairs without young. 10 Redshank, 2 Avocet, 2 Shelduck, 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Lapwing, 3 Little Egret and 6 Common Tern. Four of the terns seem to be now resident, the others interlopers from the Lune Estuary 100 yards away. 

Passerines were also reminiscent of last week with 4 Reed Buntings, 8 Sedge Warbler, 6 Whitethroats and 2 Reed Warbler in song, plus a number of young Skylarks and Pied Wagtails with adults close by. 

Pied Wagtail 


Reed Bunting 

In the “office” earlier in the week I’d watched a Dunnock circle around the wing mirror of a neighbour's car. It was raining, hence the fuzzy pictures.




Was the Dunnock hunting around the edge of the mirror for spiders which often disappear into the gaps of the movable glass, hide in the dark recess but give the game away with their webs decorating the surface? Or had the bird spotted another Dunnock in the mirror and being more than a little fired up by romance or territorial rights, decided to take a closer look? After three or four minutes of this behaviour it flew off into the garden. 

There's heavy rain forecast for Friday. See you soon.

Linking today with Anni's Blog and


Rhodesia said...

I almost never see any of the birds that you see in your area so I love seeing your posts. The Dunnock is so cute. I see one here occasionally, but it is very shy and hard to take photos of. Good luck with the Sand Martins.
By the way, we had 35mm of rain yesterday and tomorrow looks like it will be back again!
Have a good day Diane

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Hello Phil: It does my heart good to read of such a large colony of Sand Martins and I hope they have a tremendous breeding season. Good luck with your plans for banding some of them. As for the Red-legged Partridge it is indeed a very handsome bird, and like all introduced species did not ask to be be injected into British avifauna. It is obviously not going to go away so best enjoy it as best you can. Finally it is starting to seem like summer here - 25 degrees today.

Tanza Erlambang said...

aww...Red-legged Partridge look so beautiful....
Love to read your post....

Hope, sunshine more in June...

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

Great shot of the Skylark Phil. I have not seen one for some time now.

italiafinlandia said...

You are right: the Partridge is really photogenic!
...all are cute. :)

Kenneth Cole Schneider said...

Sounds like a good plan to trap the martins. I'd love to see and hear a Skylark, but not much chance without a trip far to the northwest where the introduced population seems to be persisting. We are experiencing the summer doldrums as well here in south Florida-- same old resident birds and rain almost every afternoon.

Lowcarb team member said...

Lovely to read about the sand martins.
That Partridge is very photogenic.

I enjoyed seeing the photographs of the Dunnock, because we too experienced similar. Looking out of the window I could see a little brown bird jumping about near the car wing mirror … I called Eddie in to have a look … and we both stood for a few minutes watching with fascination and decided that it must be looking for spiders or insects caught in a spiders web on the wing mirror of the car (note to self - clean car).

Enjoy your weekend, we had terrible rain on Friday, I blame Storm Miguel.

All the best Jan

eileeninmd said...


Great news about the Sand Martins. I am glad they are doing well. The Partridge is a beautiful bird. I also love the Skylark and the Reed Bunting.
Great collection of birds and photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, have a happy weekend.

Adam Jones said...

Great to see such a large Sand Martin colony, and good to hear that they are doing well in your area. Like you I find the Red-legged Partridge a quite endearing bird, despite it's origins. Nice to see.

GreenComotion said...

Oh my - what a beautiful collection of feathered friends. Love it!
The Falcon in the banner is brilliant!
Well done, Phil!!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

The Partridge sure is a grand looking bird! He doesn't look wild at all! lol Love your photos! Hope your weather is nice this weekend. I need a cool down to get outside! But I shouldn't complain! Happy weekend!

Anni said...

I'd like to think their was romance in the air!
Today, I'd like to extend my many thanks for being a loyal participant at I'd Rather B Birdin'...much appreciated!!

Stewart M said...

Glad the Sand Martins are doing well. Do people still fish at the pond? Would be great if there was more cooperation between types of land use dont you think!!!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I always enjoy your beautiful bird photos

Angie said...

Phil, my friend - only you can start a post with the word doldrums and then proceed to show a welcome variety of bird pictures, not to mention the entertaining Dunnock story. So very British! Happy to hear about the growth of the martin colony. There may be hope for us yet!

Lady Fi said...

So many gorgeous bird shots.

sathya said...

Nice post! It is really interesting and wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
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