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.


eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,
It is nice to see a new post from you! I hope your weather is improving.
You saw a nice variety of birds, I especially love the Barn Owl. The Chiffchaff looks like some of our warblers. Take care, have a wonderful week!

Wally Jones said...

Hibernation is essential from time to time. If not for Gini, I could easily embrace it full time.

The Meadow Pipit numbers seem encouraging. What with Chiffchaff serenading you, Chaffinches telling you where to spot the Kestrel, waterfowl sightings and (despite your opinion) a lovely photograph of Mr. Wheatear - the day seems to have been worth the effort of stirring from hibernation.

The last couple of days here have hinted at the return of Florida's famous humidity and this morning's outing was warmer than expected. One thing our forecasts have in common - wind. The darn stuff gets up as early as we do.

All is good here. We continue to ignore the turmoil around us as we seek to explore old swamps where we have gone before. Take good care.

Fun60 said...

The wind and rain have curtailed a few planned walks of late but hopeful it will improve soon. The chaffinch is always a favourite of mine.

NCSue said...

There's that owl again! I have only seen one at our house once and that was late at night. A beautiful creature!
Thanks for sharing at

A Bit of the Blarney said...

Wonderful photos! We used to have barn owls when we lived in Oklahoma. She nested by our front door. It was interesting! Have a grand week!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

The barn owl is amazing and the chitchaff are cute.

Jenn Jilks said...

I have never seen a barn owl! Thanks for sharing yours.

Veronica Lee said...

How delightful to see a new post from you, Phil!

Stunning photos as always.

I especially love that shot of the owl in flight.

Linda said...

That owl is stunning.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil,

Your birds photos are all beautiful, starting with your lovely Egret Header shot. The Barn Owl is a favorite, I am still waiting for my own great Barn Owl sighting. The Chiffchaff is a lovely bird and I also love the Northern Wheatear. I hope your spring is starting off with some great birds. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend.

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil :=) It has also been windy here, more than usual, which keeps me indoors. I think you may be on vacation, and enjoying the shore birds which makes a nice change. The Barn Owl is always a pleasure to see, the cute Chiffchaff, and quite a decent shot of the Wheatear as well, and your Kestrel image, are all super photos. I love your Egret Header too. I hope the cold blustery wind dies down and you can get out ringing again.
All the best.

Adam Jones said...

Good to see you back Phil and with some signs of Spring migration. Hopefully your nets will soon be bulging with fresh in birds.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

We have to check the weather every day for our outings but it's more of the warmer weather we are trying to avoid. The Owl is just the best photo and I will go back and look at it again. Love the Kestrel too. Enjoy your Sunday!

Anni said...

I have found it's good to take a break once in awhile. What, pray tell, do you grow in your garden?
Great sightings. I'm eager to go see how much I can find in breeding colors one day this week.

For taking time to share this post with us at IRBB, I want to thank you.

Lowcarb team member said...

Nice to read your thoughts on the chippie and pub :)
We recently had a delicious (and reasonably priced) lunch at one of our local garden centres.

Lovely to see your bird photographs and a fabulous shot of the barn owl.

All the best Jan

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