Sunday, 6 December 2009

How Many?

I didn't realise that there was a Starling roost at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park until I was stood overlooking the main pool in the half-light this morning and I could hear their clamorous calls emanating from the reedbed on the east bank.

As usual I was too early this morning and as I often do found myself waiting for it to come light. The weathermen had also got the forecast all wrong for today, not just in the timing but in what the weather was actually going to do. Mind you I suppose it is easy to criticize the poor old weathermen, but unfortunately as birders we rely heavily upon their forecasts. It kept on raining and I had to keep on retreating to my car and taking shelter. This went on for over an hour and in the end I got fed up and went home, but not before I saw a few birds.

The Starlings were quite late in getting out of bed and it was virtually full light before they exited the roost. My idea was to try and photograph them as they came out of the roost and count them at the same time. That idea went all wrong when they came out like a flock of Exocet missiles and my mobile was ringing at the same time, which completely distracted me. So there was no photograph and just how many were there? I had to give it my best 'guesstimate' and I decided that there was probably about 9,000 birds. Below are a couple of pictures of Starlings in the hand taken recently in my garden.

Out on the pools the wildfowl numbers remained fairly stable with four Pochards, 34 Coot, 22 Tufted Ducks and two Mute Swans. Looking over towards the estuary I could see a flock of 32 Linnets that were dropping onto a piece of 'rough' land earmarked for some house building and a flock of 75 Pink-footed Geese went over heading west towards their feeding grounds at Rossall.

Delving into the archives once more I find myself ringing at a site in west Norfolk at a place called Ingoldisthorpe Hall on 6th December 1986. It was one of those bright, calm, frosty days and it was a new ringing site for me and this was the first session. The seventh bird of the morning to be ringed was an adult male Firecrest! Stonking! Now, what might surprise you is that I wasn't overly excited about this bird at the time because exactly a week earlier I caught a juvenile male Firecrest at my regular ringing site of Snettisham Common. In fact even to this day a framed picture of this bird graces the wall of my study. In fact I can look up at it now.

I only ringed 16 birds that morning at Ingoldisthorpe Hall and in addition to the Firecrest the only other bird of interest that I ringed was a male Nuthatch. I did see another good bird though in the form of a cracking male Hawfinch that I saw twice over lunchtime and the early afternoon.

Oh for some calm, frosty weather and an opportunity to get out ringing!

No comments: