Friday, July 23, 2021


Dare we even think it, let alone say it? At last an old-fashioned British summer where the sun shines from dawn to dusk, a knotted handkerchief the must-have headgear and Lobster Red in vogue.  After the coldest May on record we may be headed for the sunniest July. 

All well and good but hot sunny days and clear sky nights do little for bird migration or to hear the “ping” of a birding WhatsApp message. It’s changeable weather that fetches the birds, common or rare whether here in the British Isles, the Mediterranean, the Aegean or across the pond in North America & the islands of the Caribbean. Here in Lancashire showers through the night and rain before dawn can be the precursors to a “fall” of birds, especially if such conditions include an easterly blow. 

This, the first week of the school hols, was a busy week for grandparents keen to go birding despite the “unseasonal” weather, accustomed as we are to rain in July. Friday morning presented the first opportunity to hit the road without kids so off I went towards Cockerham; the breeze was a little blowy for ringing. 

2021 has been a funny year for Barn Owls too. Poor success in 2020, a cold spring in 2021 combined with a shortage of voles has meant the farmer’s friend is only now catching up, breeding only when everything is hunky dory.  In Pilling village I met up with one of the locals strangely absent for months but now back on the trail of rats, voles and much besides. 

Barn Owl
Here at Cockerham farmers have taken the dry weather opportunity to take a cut of silage, the newly cut fields quickly discovered by mainly Curlews, Stock Doves and assorted Gulls (Lesser Black Backs, Herring and Black-headed. The cut fields mean there are less places for Brown Hares to hide from view while leverets have yet to learn that man may not be a friend. One ran towards the car. 

Leveret (Brown Hare)
The Sand Martin colony at Hillam Lane was fairly busy if difficult to count at around 120+ birds, both adults and juveniles present.  Also here was a family of Moorhens, 4 Curlew, 1 Grey Heron and a single Common Tern from nearby Conder Green 

Common Tern

Sand Martin

After the lack of rain with corresponding hot weather the water level at Conder Green is possibly as low as it has ever been with lots margins that are mostly distant or hidden from view. However while the sum of birds on view was not high, the number of species via combined pool and tidal creeks was very impressive. 

Waders amounted to 22 Redshank, 14 Lapwing, 10 Oystercatcher, 7 Curlew, 6 Avocet, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Snipe, 2 Greenshank and 2 Little Egret. 

Little Egret
Add to those waders the odds and sods like 3 Little Grebe, 4 Tufted Duck, 1 Grey Heron, 16 Mute Swan, 45 Greylags and then the obligatory Swallows and Sand Martins, it all amounts to more than acceptable birding. Greylags are now a constant sight at Conder Green at almost any time of the year, even more so in autumn following a successful breeding season. 

If the wind drops a little for tomorrow I may try a little ringing. Saturday looks a touch breezy, Sunday less so but either way more sunny days beckon. How unusual! 

Linking this weekend to Anni in Texas and Eileen's Saturday.

And then take a look at my lovely friend Rain Frances in New Brunswick, Canada who via You Tube will show you how to sketch and draw - Rain Frances on You Tube.



Shiju Sugunan said...

Always feels nice to read your posts packed with information. Pictures are awesome this week. I liked the Barn Owl, Tern and Curlew. The pic of the Greylags is my favourite. Hope the Leveret survives.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil
I would happily take the sunny days over a rainy cloudy and chilly day. It is great to see the beautiful Barn Owl. You have seen a nice variety of birds, great shots of the Tern, Sand Martin and beautiful Little Egret. I would love to see the Curlew and the Greylags are cute geese. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend.

The Padre said...

Love Those Barn Owl Photos Of Yours - Always Have - Happy Saturday And Sending Positive Vibes


Anni said...

So, it seems you have had some challenges when birding too this year. The sunshine is good tho. A wonderful variety of birds seen. And great photos Phil. Hope you can get out for some ringing and be successful.

Enjoyed your post, and photos. Thanks for linking up this week at IRBB.

Betty J. Crow said...

You always have a wonderful variety of birds. The barn owl is beautiful! I once saw one flying across the road, but couldn't get a pic. Maybe someday.

Rhodesia said...

I have not seen a barn owl for a couple of years but we seem to have a good supply of Little Owls in France. I belong to a wildlife group in the Dordogne and it seems several people of Little Owls nesting nearby.
I enjoyed this post, great photos and lots of interesting info.
Sorry, I am getting further and further behind with my blogs. I am taking the photos but just not finding the time to do anything with them and then I get totally backlogged!
Keep safe, Diane

Veronica Lee said...

Always a delight to see your stunning photos, Phil. The barn owl is gorgeous!

Happy Monday!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

thanks for the bevy of beauties - poor hare has no where to run

Rain said...

Thanks so much Phil, I think you're just as lovely! :) Our July, I think, is unusually wet and chilly...don't like it! I have seen an onslaught of Grackles, Crows and Mourning related? Not sure! I love the photo of the Owl and the Rabbit!!!

Fun60 said...

Weather wise it is typical July from scorching hot days to torrential rain and flash floods. Pleased to see you've had a good week. Love the barn owl.

NCSue said...

I just realized that I've never seen a hare "in the flesh" (or fur), and that they look much leggier than what I imagined.
Thanks for sharing at!

Angie said...

Phil - so glad you are getting some proper weather and proper birding. I will always be a fan of your barn owl photos!

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