Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Avian Delights of SD45K

This morning I carried out my late winter visit to my atlas square SD45K. As I have said before this square is centred around the Moss Edge/Gulf Lane/Crimbles Lane area of Cockerham. It comprises mainly of improved grassland, some hedgerows, managed ditches, small areas of broadleaved plantation woodland, River Cocker and saltmarsh. I must take some pictures and then you will have a better idea of the type of habitat within the square.

I parked up just off the A588 in a layby at the top end of Crimbles Lane overlooking the River Cocker and set off on my walk. Corvids were very numerous this morning and I had 44 Carrion Crows and 138 Rooks feeding in permanent pasture. I had plenty of Skylarks and the total by the end of my survey was 64. About 50 of these were feeding in some damp pasture and maize stubble adjacent to the 'Water Pipit' ditch. However, there wasn't a Water Pipit feeding in the 'Water Pipit' ditch today! The bank sides of the ditch had been cut and it was no longer suitable.

A number of Pink-feet were moving from the saltmarsh and heading to feed inland. They were feeding in some pasture on Moss Edge just outside my square. I counted 1,060 flying over to join other birds already there. Unfortunately when I am doing this type of survey I don't carry my scope with me so I couldn't give the geese a 'grilling' because they were too distant.

Numbers of Starlings were feeding in various places and one group held 17 Fieldfares with them. I had two flocks of 13 and 12 Teal that I flushed off one of the ditches but they weren't in the same numbers as my early winter visit to this square. I had 7 Tree Sparrows in exactly the same spot that I had the last time, in a hawthorn hedge adjacent to some pasture that has been rooted up by pigs. And that was about it in terms of the highlights of my walk!

During the past week I have still been feeding every other day at Moss House Farm and the Tree Sparrows still remain fairly numerous at about 165 individuals. I thought the food that I had was going to last but I had to buy some more from Bamfords during the week.

Going back to the 80s when I used to bird this area regularly one of the species that I used to see in the winter was Corn Bunting, but alas this species doesn't occur here anymore. We still have a localised population of Corn Buntings in the Fylde but their range in this part of Lancashire has certainly contracted. So in remembrance of how common and widely distributed they used to be I have included a picture of one below.

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