Sunday, 20 December 2009

Missing Tree Sparrows

Thankfully we didn't get any of the snow that was forecasted and in fact we rarely do here on the Fylde in Lancashire. Having said that the driving conditions were fairly hazardous as I headed to Rawcliffe Moss to feed.

I didn't know whether I would get a walk round today after I had fed as the sky was always threatening to dump some snow on me, but it never did. Looking across to the Bowland fells there was some snow on high ground and the odd snow shower did keep blowing through as the picture below illustrates.

As I was about to set off down the track laden with buckets of seed, apples and peanuts five Skylarks went over heading west. Whether this was part of a hard weather movement I'm not sure. I did have a further 41 Skylarks on the 'top' fields but these were most certainly just feeding in the stubble.

Talking of hard weather movements there was evidence of a small thrush influx today. Total counts for thrush species were 18 Blackbirds, 18 Fieldfares, six Redwings and nine Song Thrushes. A few of the Fieldfares and Blackbirds were feeding on the apples that I put out down the track but the rest were picked up in ones and twos on my walk round.

The most interesting group of thrushes, that got me thinking about a possible hard weather movement, were a group of mixed species feeding in the rushy pasture between the 'L' Wood and the Plantation. This small group comprised of three Fieldfares, three Redwings, two Blackbirds and six Song Thrushes.

Raptors were represented by two Kestrels and two Buzzards. I tried calling the Buzzards but they weren't interested. As has been the case over the past couple of weeks there were six Yellowhammers hanging around the Pheasant feeder along the track and single Yellowhammer at the feeding station itself.

As I got to the feeding station I could tell that there weren't as many Tree Sparrows and I only counted 111, which is the lowest count for some time. Now whether some have moved on because of the cold weather or whether I just turned up when some had moved off I'm not sure. The next few days will probably give me the answer and it will be interesting to see how many are there when I feed on Tuesday.

The Chaffinch numbers at the feeding had also reduced and there was possible only 11 or 12, but on my walk round I came across small feeding parties and 28 in total. Grey Partridges and Corn Buntings were conspicuous by their absence compared to recent weeks and I only had three and one respectively.

I finally caught up with the male Stonechat that Phil has been reporting for the last few weeks and it was highly mobile moving anywhere between the game cover crop along the track and the '97' hedge.

I had a walk through the plantation but it was fairly quiet in here other than a flock of 15 Goldfinch, single Reed Bunting and the odd Blackbird and Chaffinch. To the north over Pilling Moss I could see masses of Pink-footed Geese in the air, but on my walk I only had 15.

Walking back towards the car I had eight Lapwing fly west and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker called from Curlew Wood. No birding for me tomorrow I'm afraid as I need to do a bit of Christmas shopping and get a present or two sorted out for her indoors!

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