This morning I was meeting an old friend at Marton Mere for a morning's birding at 10.30 a.m., so it gave me just enough time to get to Moss House Farm on Rawcliffe Moss to feed before I had to meet him. I should have gone yesterday to Moss House to feed but couldn't because there was a shoot on. As I walked down the track to the feeding station it was obvious there were very few birds about, probably a combination of me being here early before the Tree Sparrows arrived and not getting to feed yesterday. What I normally do when there is a shoot on is go the day before to feed, even if it is only the day after I last fed, to make sure the food doesn't run out, but this time I forgot! I only had 12 Tree Sparrows on the seed with a similar number of Chaffinch. I had another 60-70 Chaffinch as I left the farm feeding in a stubble field close to the barn.
As you know I have been putting apples out as well as seed and it was interesting to watch a Fieldfare this morning defending a single apple from a Blackbird! Talking of Fieldfares I had an additional 34 feeding in a damp area of stubble in the 'big field'. The soil in this field is peat and as it was quite damp I imagine the Fieldfares were managing to find invertebrates. Over a thousand Starling were feeding in the adjacent field which has a similar soil type with wet conditions.
There were still plenty of Woodpigeons about, but only 892 instead of the several thousand there has been recently. I had single Buzzard and a 1st winter male Sparrowhawk that flew along the track in front of my car skimming the ground as I drove off site. In addition to the Fieldfares in the 'big field' there were also 22 Skylarks representing a mini influx probably due to the hard weather.
Three Corn Buntings, 39 Goldfinch and the usual pair of Stonechat made up the rest of a brief visit.
Next stop was Marton Mere to meet an old birding and school friend of mine. We had a mooch round for a couple of hours and saw a few of the Mere winter specialities including single Bittern, 2 Water Rails and 4 Long-eared Owls. A good selection of wildfowl were on a patch of unfrozen water close to the island and included approximately 300 Teal, male and female Ruddy Duck, 8 Gadwall and 14 Shoveler.
As we saw Long-eared Owl I thought that I would show you the picture below of one in the hand from my good friend Nigel in Canada.
Ogden on ice. - Male Goosander taking off from the water. Away >NE for the Oxenhope roost ...
33 minutes ago