Monday, 14 September 2009

Signs of Winter.

A couple of today's sightings are a clear sign that winter is on
the way with wildfowl and a coastal raptor in the records book.
At Conder Green this morning the best record in the book was the amazing sight of up to 300 Goldfinch which are eight days ahead of last years c.400 on 22 September. Three Kingfisher ran a close second to that record with a bird on Conder Pool and two having a real 'ding dong' about something, up and down the creeks for ten minutes that I know of. A Spotted Redshank was seen again, and the Little Grebe count went to three today, 3 Red - breasted Merganser and 4 Long - tailed Tit were all to note.
On the Lune estuary at Glasson Dock an adult Mediterranean Gull, 3 Greenshank, c.320 Golden Plover, and the 5 Wigeon I saw were today's first sign of winter. At Cockersands another c.70 Wigeon were off Plover Scar with 4 Eider, last Wednesdays 11 Linnet were still round, and the first record of a coastal winter Merlin was perched on the gate post in the top picture above, and thirty minutes later on my return from Plover Scar plucking at the result of a successful strike. I should really add that these are the best results I could get from my improvised photographic equipment these days. At the caravan park end of Cockersands I found another adult Mediterranean Gull which still retained a decent - albeit moulting - hood. The Mallard number seemed so large that I decided a count would be a good idea (I worry about myself sometimes) and I found them to total at least 400 with no apologies for nice 'round' figures, c.450 Curlew were also to note, 4 Goosander (unusual here) and 2 Little Egret were the last to come into view before I left.
By now I was running out of time so I applied Plan B and did a circuit of Aldcliffe where I found absolutely nil until I walked back to Aldcliffe Hall Lane along the bank and saw 3 Little Egret on the marsh, 4 Wheatear which were not as big a surprise as the Kingfisher stood on a nearby piece of driftwood to them and appeared a little out of context I thought. I found the Green Sandpiper difficult to assess in number today as I had three sightings all on the wildfowlers pool about 30 minutes apart, or three?
With seven hours excellent local birding under my belt I could have found absolutely nothing better to do with my life today.


Brian Rafferty said...

Another busy day's birding for you Pete. Plenty of variety as usual on your local patch, like the merlin shots. One I need to catch up with sometime. Yes life is very good on days like this. Well done and keep up the good work.

Pete Woodruff said...

Ah well, if you'd have been with me today this bird was very obliging and completely ignored me all the time I was in its sights until I accidentally let the legs on my tripod fold down with a clatter and it was of like a shot.

Just too distant for my little camera setup. Thanks for comments Brian.

Chris Stevenson said...

I saw a raptor close to Plover Scar on the relentless pursuit of a Wood Pigeon on Sunday. I'm not sure if it was successful as they both disappeared from view but it was an impressive sight. These Pigeons never cease to amaze me with their stamina and agility in the face of what would appear to be certain death!

I assume it was a Merlin, about the correct size but I didn;t have my bins with me! I assume they do take this prey?

Warren Baker said...

An excellent days birding, those goldfinch's must have looked stunning. 300!

Pete Woodruff said...

Good to hear from you again Chris and thanks for your comments.

The Merlin takes 'mainly' small birds and my suggestion would be that you saw a Peregrine Falcon, but perhaps you are about to tell me you know the difference between the two in which case my apologies. Whatever, the Wood Pigeon was extremely lucky to get away with its life with either of these masters of the hunt.

Keep in touch now and again Chris as its always nice to hear from you.

Pete Woodruff said...

Good to have your comment on Birds2blog Warren, please keep looking in now and again.

I'll drop you an e-mail in due course.

Chris Stevenson said...

Thanks Pete. I did wonder about a Peregrine Falcon but with my limited knowledge and the position of the sun I could see no markings at all and for some reason I thought Peregrines were a little bit bigger. But I am happy for it to be this bird as I have never seen one hunting before!