Sunday, 9 December 2012

Weekend Round-up

My birding weekend started at my feeding station on Friday and finished at my feeding station today, with birding at the obs in between.

It was late afternoon on Friday when I called to drop several sacks of seed off into my seed bin at the feeding station and also to feed. I'd had to drive through a couple of floods to get there and the land surrounding the track where I feed was under water. See the pictures below of the views towards the wintry fells with the flooded field alongside the track where I feed.

 A dusting of snow on the fells

The flooded field alongside the track where I feed

As it was late most of the birds had left to roost although I did have nine Fieldfares, 26 Tree Sparrows and six Long-tailed Tits.

Yesterday I spent the morning birding at the southern end of the obs. At first light I had clear skies with a light WSW wind and a hard frost. I had a look on the flood but that was frozen, but there was still a couple of Redshanks and six Oystercatchers hanging around trying to work out why they couldn't feed!

The highlight of the morning were the two Short-eared Owls. I actually made two visits to the obs today as I came back later in the morning to show Gail the Short-eared Owls as she absolutely loves Owls. Just as the sun was rising above the eastern horizon I had one bird perched on a fence post. I tried to take a couple of shots but you will see below that they were grainy due to the low light levels. I also took a few shots of the 'Shorties' silhouetted against the sky and these work better!

 Short-eared Owl (above and below)

When Gail and I returned we quickly got on one bird that had just made a kill and we could see it flying away from us carrying a vole. It started to gain height and the second Shortie came up underneath it, flipped upside down and tried to take the vole off the first bird. The first bird wasn't having any of it and it started to gain height quite rapidly. We watched this bird and it kept reaching down to its feet with its bill, presumably to kill the vole. I had a look in BWP and this was indeed what our bird was doing. This is something I haven't seen before, but then again I haven't spent hundreds of hours observing the feeding behaviour of Short-eared Owls!

Pink-footed Geese kept arriving and dropping on to the farm fields to the east and in total I had 954. I tried to have a look through them later, but unfortunately they were feeding a long way from the road and were obscured by hedges.

I had a quick look on the sea but it was very quiet other than three Eiders and five Cormorants. There was a heat haze making viewing extremely difficult.

This morning I was back at my feeding station and what a different  morning it was at is was raining with a 25 mph westerly wind. I didn't spend any more time than was necessary to drop some food off and had 250 Pink-footed Geese, a Jay, a Brambling, a Goldcrest, 125 Tree Sparrows and 17 Chaffinch in the process.

The focus for this coming week is waders with hopefully a catch of Turnstones mid-week that will be fitted with leg flags and then cannon netting some Sanderlings at the end of the week with Morecambe Bay Wader Ringing Group. Oh and I'll have to fit some work in as well!

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