Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Even More Skylarks!

The forecast last night was for the wind to be northerly this morning, but only light, so I thought I would start off at Rossall Point as it might be good for some vis. That's exactly what I did, but the wind was southeasterly and not northerly.

I walked all along the dunes as far as the 'mound', where you get a good view of the golf course and you can check it for Wheatears, and back again to the car park. It was very quiet and after talking to Ian later on we have decided that in October when it's colder it seems to take longer for birds to get on the move compared with September. This was born out this morning because for the first hour and a quarter after first light the vis was slow, but later in the morning (after 09:00) when Ian was there it picked up. In fact he had such goodies as a Short-eared owl, Merlin and Great Spotted Woodpecker in off the sea!

Anyway, time to rewind to the start of the day because I did have a few birds at Rossall this morning and I mean a few! The first I had was an over-flying Reed Bunting and this was followed by a further five. The Stonechats were very vocal this morning and at first I could hear them and not see them. There were three made up of a male and 2 female/immature types. They were continually interacting with one another and flying backwards and forwards from the dunes to the fence along the golf course.

I mentioned previously that the vis was quiet, in fact all I had were 15 Meadow Pipits, 10 Alba Wagtails, 2 Lesser Redpolls and single Chaffinch! I had a Rossall Point tick this morning and it wasn't a bird, but two Foxes on the golf course. They were walking across the course and one of them was stalking and attempting to play-fight with the other. However, when a few golfers appeared they quickly disappeared.

The only grounded migrant I had was a Wheatear, which probably wasn't surprising considering the conditions. I had a quick glance on the sea close to the muscle beds and had 59 Eiders and 2 Common Scoters.

I then went on to Mount Park. I don't know why I went to Mount Park as I knew there wouldn't be any grounded migrants and there wasn't. Fifteen minutes of bugger all saw me back in my car.

What might these bushes hold in the right conditions?!

I decided to dive into the cemetery for a quick look before heading on to Rawcliffe Moss to put some food out at the feeding station. I didn't stop because the fleet of mowers were out and I couldn't even hear myself think let alone pick up bird calls from some Siberian waif!

On 'the moss' it was obvious straight away that I was going to have a big count of Skylarks as I had a fair few at the end of the feeding track in the now ploughed 'big field'. By the time I had walked round I had counted 194 Skylarks and like last time believe this was an under estimate. I am still puzzled as to what they were up to. A number of them were arriving from the north very high and continuing south and west, whilst others were getting up from the 'top' stubble fields, gaining altitude and heading west. Are they new birds or the same as last time?

There were a few birds going over on vis at the farm, not as heavy a passage as at the coast but nevertheless a passage. I'm not going to elaborate on the numbers but rather just spit the totals out. I had 7 Chaffinch, 7 Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Brambling (my first of the autumn), 3 Alba Wagtails and Siskin.

Numbers of Tree Sparrows were a lot less than three days ago and I only had 21, although Phil had about 50 yesterday. We have noticed that timing can be everything with the Tree Sparrows and if you were to go back an hour later you might have a lot more or even a lot less. What was nice was the fact that I had three Yellowhammers in the hedge adjacent to Curlew wood and these were my first for the site for the autumn. It is possible that they might have been visiting the feeding station.

As I walked along the north edge of the plantation I picked up a female Peregrine chasing a Mallard along the stubble field and as they approached me the Peregrine pulled up and gave up the chase. She flew round in a circle to head back to where she had come from and all the time I could see her looking down at me. Just then a flock of about 10 Mallards shot past and she was off again! She soon caught them up and plunged into the flock, and unfortunately for her didn't catch any. Later on my walk, I heard a raptor calling and looked across a field to see that it was the female Peregrine again, and she was being mobbed by three Jackdaws (brave or foolish Jackdaws!). On looking closer I could see that she was carrying some avian prey, and judging by the size guessed that it was probably one less of the many Skylarks around this morning.

Just across from the plantation is a small copse dominated by Scots Pine and Downy Birch; it is a remnant of the typical type of woodland you would have found on the peat bogs before they were cleared and drained for agriculture. A bit of 'pishing' resulted in a few Blue and Coal Tits and a single Treecreeper that was foraging on the bark of one of the mature Scots Pine's. They were joined by 7 Long-tailed Tits that flew across from the 'fir' wood.

Heading back down the lane towards the car I had a Willow Warbler singing in the hedge close to Curlew Wood. I tried to get on it but as I approached it went silent and disappeared. In the hedge next to the car I had three agitated Coal Tits that called excitedly from the top of the hedge and then climbed in to the air and off! A Buzzard drifting across the adjacent field finished off the morning.

As I write I have a mist net up in the garden and so far all I have caught is the male Greenfinch below. How's that for up to the minute reporting?! Make that 4 Greenfinch, Goldfinch and a Dunnock!

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