Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Touch Of Frost

Most unusual - there was hint of the white stuff this morning when Andy and I met up at Gulf Lane at 0830. The temperature gauge read 1° but it felt warmer in the already rising sun. 

Three days earlier we’d cut a square from the now defunct seed crop in preparation for a first catch of Project Linnet 2020/2021. We left a mix of rape seed and millet on the bare earth and crossed our fingers. The autumn had seen very few Linnets so far when a typical late November flock here should number 200/300 individuals. When we returned to our cars ready to leave only then did we note a flock of 40 Linnets in the tree tops of the nearby farm. That gave us hope for the days and weeks ahead, more especially for this Tuesday and the promise of a sunny morning. 

Prepping The Square
And then on Sunday I checked if the seed had been found. Indeed it had, not by Linnets but by the predictable Wren and a party of 8 Stock Doves. There was the unexpected bonus of a pair of Stonechats but yet another dismal grey morning when a tiny Stonechat half way across a field presented a difficult target for a camera. 



We had a similar count of Linnets this morning with 40 or more doing their usual flypasts without committing to landing in the target area. We caught the female Stonechat, but not the more wary male. We aged the female in the hand as a first autumn/winter. We had nothing else but felt that our effort of a few days earlier paid dividends in preparing the ground for better luck next time when Linnet numbers increase. 

Stonechat- first winter female
Very little is known about the Stonechats which appear in this part of Lancashire during late autumn and early winter. Sometimes they stay to winter, other times not, depending upon the severity of January to March. It is likely that they are representatives of the partially migratory cohort of Scottish and Northern English Stonechats that breed in the upland fells but move to warmer climes at signs of cold weather. 

It is almost certain that they are different individuals from the small number of Stonechats that breeds at our coastal localities in the summer months. 

Other birds seen during three hours of watching Linnets fly around but not in - a single Goldfinch, 2 Buzzard, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Wren,2 Chaffinch, and the pair of Stonechats. 

Many thousands of geese flew off the marsh and headed inland this morning. A local shooter with a regular handle on these things opined that the first calm and frosty night for weeks had seen an influx of ‘pinks’ from the Scottish Solway, perhaps as many as 15/18,000. 

Pink-footed Geese

Reed Bunting


And now those Linnets need checking on a regular basis, as does the seed that we left behind. 

Let me know how many Linnets you count and also whether the Stonechats stick around.

Linking today to Eileen's Blogspot and Anni in Texas.


jp@A Green Ridge said...

Although you didn't find what you were looking for, Phil, seeing that group of Pink Footed Geese, must have been a little exhilarating...:)jp

Wally Jones said...

Hopefully, the word is getting out in the bird world about your efforts to provide a luscious seed buffet and soon Linnets from near and far will be arriving to take advantage of the handout.

In the meantime, your other visitors seem quite nice to me. I have never seen a Stonechat and would love the opportunity.

We are trying hard to emulate your weather pattern here in sub-tropical Florida and this morning we awoke to 36 F/2 C! No frost. The bad news is that pesky sunshine is everywhere. Sigh. That means a quick warm up and I'll have to go birding in short-sleeves.

It's mid-week already! Birds abound and so shall we.

Gini and I hope you have great success with the Linnets!

italiafinlandia said...

Stonechats spend summer around my house too.
Tha last Chaffinch shot is lovely!

Rhodesia said...

I have seen many stonechats around while walking in the last few weeks and a few other first-timers for me. We have had a few touches of frost but nothing too serious as yet. Keep warm, Diane

Angie said...

Phil - love the chaffie!!!

likeschocolate said...

Lovely! Happy Holidays!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil

I wish you much success with the Linnet project. The Stonechat is a beautiful bird, I also love the Chaffinch. They are all great birds and photos. I would love to see them all some day! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a great weekend.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Thousands of Pink footed geese? Oh my goodness! I showed the photo to my husband. I just can't imagine seeing something like that! WOW! And I LOVE the owl in your banner! How beautiful!

Lowcarb team member said...

Hello Phil, I always enjoy seeing your bird photographs.
The Stonechat does look a very nice bird and The Chaffinch has such wonderful colouring.

Happy Weekend Wishes.

All the best Jan

Anni said...

That Stonechat is one beautiful species. How lucky you were to see it. Your Linnet project was quite a feat all by itself!! Hope you two will reap the benefits from it. (I know the birds will!)

The pink footed geese in such great numbers would have thrilled me for weeks to come.

Thanks for joining us this weekend at IRBB!

Rain said...

Hi Phil :) Those are some great photos, I'd never heard of a stonechat, actually I've never heard of most of the birds that you guys mention on your birding blogs! I'm learning a lot! :)

Yvonne said...

Looked up linnet birds so I knew what you were talking about. Reminds me slightly of our purple finches. Some great bird photos. Hope you are successful in photographing linnets sometime this season.

Photo Cache said...

These little birds are way too adorable.

Worth a Thousand Words

NCSue said...

Your posts and photos never fail to fascinate!
Thanks for sharing this week at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2020/12/i-miss-fall-colors.html

Veronica Lee said...

I would love to see a pink-footed goose in person! I only knew of its existence after watching the movie "The Big Year".

I've never heard of a stonechat either! But then again, I've not heard of most of the birds you've been blogging about. Thank You, Phil!

Fun60 said...

Those geese must have been an impressive sight.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Everything about this post share is wonderful...love them all. Off to make a breakfast of sausage patties and hotcakes for the husby and me. Take care~

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