Sunday, March 26, 2023

Out Of Hibernation

It's like I was in hibernation mode. Weeks of doing very little because of the awful weather but rather enjoying the lie ins, the restful days and catching up with garden, household jobs and days out with Sue. And we can confirm, the chippie at Knott End is better than one we found in Garstang while the Shovels pub at Hambleton does a pretty good meal at reasonable cost in these inflationary times. 

A rather bright Sunday tempted me out again and where along Head Dyke Lane was a Barn Owl hunting the roadside. The owl disappearing over farm buildings as mine and another car approached with headlights still burning in the half light of dawn.

Barn Owl

The morning turned out not bad for birding although the bright sky and slightly cool northerly airflow with a lack of cloud kept migrant birds high in the sky. 

Highlight of my 3+ hours slot was a small but steady stream of Meadow Pipits heading across Morecambe Bay and a probable influx of Wheatears. 

A pair of Stonechats have frequented the fence posts at Gulf Lane for a week or two now and as ever it appeared they might stay around to breed but they rarely do. Quite where they disappear to every time and why this spot is not 100% for them is anyone's guess. 

The shore wasn’t especially wind swept, just enough to keep half a dozen ex-roost Little Egrets sitting about in weak sun around the edge of ditches and a chance of a bite to eat. I glimpsed a pair of Little Grebes, heard their trills then through the reeds saw a drake Shoveler and a couple of Teal. 

Two Chiffchaffs were in song this morning, their repetitive “chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff” surprisingly far-carrying when little else was in voice. The Chiffchaff is almost the ultimate “little brown job” of bird ID, lucky then that its onomatopoeic song helps even a novice birder to identify the species; in this 
springtime easier still when Willow Warblers are yet to arrive.



Meadow Pipits were on the move here, fives, sixes and more, on the edge of woodland habitat but making off North and over the marsh, a sure sign of decent numbers about. Three hours later my notebook scribbles amounted to 110+ Meadow Pipits, 2 Siskins and 2 Reed Buntings heading into the wind and across the bay towards Heysham. 

Good numbers of Shelduck were out on the marsh, scattered widely and left to right from Pilling to Cockerham with a minimum of 125 birds now looking to pair up for the summer we all desperately need.

There was a Green Sandpiper on the edge of the pool, more Teal, 8 Shoveler, 2 Little Egrets and a Great Egret. The warning calls of Chaffinches alerted me to a Kestrel in the top of the willows, the raptor doing a few circuits and a hover or two before flying back towards Pilling where at least a couple of pairs are in residence. 



I found 3 Wheatears moving along the base of the sea wall and  tried to encourage them to fly to the regular catching spot. They were reluctant to leave the sun and shelter of the southern aspect. I didn’t blame them, the wind was getting up and it was so cold that my gloves went on and I ended up with a very dull shot of a bright male Wheatear. 

Northern Wheatear

The week ahead looks less than perfect with more breezy, windswept days and lots of April showers. 

Andy has been out of action for a week and more while Will and I kicked our heels when the weather forecasts let us down for pencilled in ringing last weekend.  There goes that song again - "Things Can Only Get Better" when March goes out like a lamb.

Look in soon for more news and views soon from Another Bird Blog.

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

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Early Cold and Something Hot

Early morning starts give a chance of breakfast hunting Barn Owls before other traffic hits the road whereby constant vehicles will sends an owl off to quieter spots. That’s how it was this morning when from a distance I spotted the owl on a roadside post from where it surveyed the landscape. 

I straddled the grass verge, slowed to a stop, crossed my fingers, stuck the lens through a partly open window and hoped that the air rush of overtaking vehicles would not cause the owl to flee.

Barn Owl
The owl was a good start to the morning journey up to Oakenclough and a ringing session with Will and Andy. The dash read 4° and there was a slight but bitterly cold northerly breeze. A morning to keep moving interspersed with bouts of hot coffee with a hot-cross bun. 

We had species in mind - finches mainly to add to 60 Goldfinches and smaller numbers of Lesser Redpolls, Siskins and Chaffinches caught here this year. Maybe even an early arrived Chiffchaff to kick off the spring season? 

The temperature didn’t pick up at all with birds hard to find. We packed up at 11 o’clock at a still lowly 5 degrees with just 13 birds caught. Once again the major species was Goldfinch - 8 Goldfinch, 2 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Dunnock, 1 Robin, and 1 Lesser Redpoll. 

The Lesser Redpoll proved to be an adult male yet to attain its full red and pink hues. It was the only redpoll we saw and heard all morning with perhaps 10 or 12 Siskins in early morning flight but none of those caught this time. 

Lesser Redpoll



It’s early evening, time to cook a warming curry and open a bottle of plonk.  

Curry Time

There's more news, views, photographs and hot stuff very soon at Another Bird Blog. Don't be late for the feast. 

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday Blog and Anni in Texas.

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