Monday, December 30, 2019

Sunny Start, Rain Later.

We have 0900 starts for now until the days lengthen but amazingly or not, our garden Dunnocks and Great Tits are already in song? How do they know? 

Great Tit - CC-BY-SA-3.0

There was sunshine this morning so I kicked off at Linnet Square and dropped yet another bucket of seed at the catching spot where dummy poles mark the line of our whoosh net. Tracks and holes in the soil told me that our seed had been found by small mammals and deer.

Trouble is, the mild, wet weather and the Linnets themselves have conspired to make catching impossible since August. The past three winters have seen a number of counts around the 400/500 mark but this season’s average is around 130 only with and a total catch of just 28, way below our target. The count this morning was 150/160 very mobile Linnets and several Chaffinches, none of which stopped to use our seed while natural food seems still plentiful. The sowing mix the farmer uses is so good that the resultant seed seems to last right through the winter until the flock disperses in March. 


Linnet Square 

There was the usual Kestrel, 2 Stock Dove and a single Little Egret. 

When fifteen minutes later I stopped at Conder Green the effect of the continued mild weather was noted again by way of a female/first winter Marsh Harrier. A "Gold Top", circling over the back of the pool and behind the bund, pursued all the way by a complaining Magpie. 

Marsh Harrier  

It was roughly 20/25 years ago that Marsh Harriers were something of a rarity in this part of Fylde, central Lancashire. It was around that time that Marsh Harriers began to breed in the northernmost part of the county at Silverdale, since when the species has never looked back by increasing its spread and numbers into more southern parts of the county. 

In recent years the  harriers seem able to survive through the winter months by preying on the abundant wildfowl in their chosen wetlands. There have been sporadic attempts to breed on farmland here in Fylde but with very limited success. 

The harrier was the highlight of the pool with little else to cheer except the continued and consistent presence of 140+ Teal in the tidal creeks. Otherwise it was 15 Redshank, 4 Curlew, 24 Wigeon and singles of Little Grebe, Little Egret and Grey Heron. 

Little Egret

Grey Heron  


There was a second Grey Heron at Glasson Dock along with 25 Tufted Duck but zero Goldeneye. The Goldeneyes tend to fly into Glasson Dock at the onset of ice and snow. Our wintry days with zero temperatures have so far been counted on one hand. 

I looked for the harrier in the fields beyond the pool with no luck except for two quite separate gaggles of geese, 20 Greylags and 19 Pink-footed Geese. Never the twain shall meet. 

Glasson Dock 


Pink-footed Geese

By 11am clouds rolled in and rain began to fall. I reluctantly headed home after an interesting few hours and a forecast for Tuesday of a decent day. 

Andy thinks we should try for a catch of Linnets but I’m not so sure. 


Larry said...

Nice, sharp pictures you took! As an outsider looking in I would say those are some great birds you are seeing but I guess we get used to our usual spots and the birds that are there.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

another great post Phil. I've enjoyed romping around UK with you. Whatever you choose to share in 2020 will bring a smile to my face. Happy New Year.

Rhodesia said...

I enjoyed this virtual tour with you. We have not been very far so it was nice to get out and about :-) I was delighted this morning to see a goldfinch in our garden, the first in ages, and I feel if there is one around there must be more closeby. Last evening the Little Owls were very active on the neighbour's roof with lots of noise going. It was too dark though to see if there were more than two. I live in hopes.
Happy New Year, Diane

NCSue said...

Great shots here, as always, Phil.
Thanks for linking up at Have a great year in 2020!

Sandra Nachlinger said...

I love learning new terms when reading everyone's blogs. Dummy poles? Whoosh net? That's an added bonus to viewing such beautiful photos of birds. Wish I could be there to see them in person.

Photo Cache said...

Happy healthy New Year to you and yours. And may the new year bring more joys in nature photography.

Worth a Thousand Words

Shiju Sugunan said...

Nice pics! Especially like the Greylags.

Tanza Erlambang said...

teals and geese look so cute....

Happy New Year

Fun60 said...

Great photos Phil. A non birder such as myself would probably say I am glad there is plentiful food for the birds this winter. The gardener in me says this mild weather is confusing all my spring flowering plants to come into bloom far too early. None of us know where we are with the changing seasons these days. May I wish you a happy and healthy 2020 and thank you for your kind and often witty comments on my blog.

Veronica Lee said...

Awesome shots!

Happy 2020!

Powell River Books said...

Rain start and rain later for here. It's that time of year for us. Happy New Years. - Margy

Lowcarb team member said...

Lovely photographs of birds, but Glasson Dock looks a nice place :)

All the best Jan

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