Saturday, 29 November 2014

From Tree Sparrows to Twite

I had some reasonable counts yesterday at my feeding station with definitely the highest count of Tree Sparrows of the winter so far with 136, and Yellowhammers a respectable seven. I had my best Corn Bunting count of the winter so far with 28 and Great Spotted Woodpecker and Grey Wagtail made up the best of the rest. On my way home I had a look on the flood and the two Green Sandpipers remained with 15 Redshanks.

I didn't have a huge amount of time this morning for birding as I had to try and get a new car sorted out for Gail (not brand new, just new to Gail!) so I just had an hour and a quarter on the estuary. Potentially based on last night's forecast I could have gone ringing this morning but I was glad that I hadn't as the wind was a stiff easterly and too strong for mist nets; I've saved that for tomorrow.

 Sunrise on the estuary

I think the theme of this morning was really looking at birds, because I think as birders we are guilty of counting birds without really 'looking' at them, or I am sometimes anyway. I heard Redshanks alarm calling and there 'shooting' just a foot or so above the mud was a male Sparrowhawk. I watched it come across at lightning speed and then it pulled up to fly over the fence, drop back down to ground level, pull up over another fence, drop back down to ground level and then pull up over a house and then I lost it; brilliant!

There were 39 Redshanks out on the mud with fifteen Black-tailed Godwits and a single Knot. The Blackwits were the second species that I really 'looked' at this morning as I was watching them to try and get some pictures. I observed a couple of birds feeding and two bits of, what is probably very common behaviour, struck me. I assume that they were feeding on Ragworms as I could see them puling out pretty lengthy and hefty worms from the mud. One bird every time it caught a Ragworm would run down to the creek, wash it and then swallow it. Presumably it was removing all the sand and grit!

I was also amazed at how far they would push their heads in to the mud to try and find these large juicy worms. Sometimes their heads were completely submerged with mud half way up their necks! As I say, this will be common behaviour, but I hadn't noticed it before because I obviously haven't really 'looked' at Blackwits in any detail in the past.

As the sun rose the Pink-footed Geese were lifting from their estuarine roost and I had 707 take off and head north and east to their feeding sites. Talking of birds exiting roosts I had 20 Twite fly past me, heading to foraging areas on the saltmarsh from wherever their roost site was. After 250 Lapwings and 228 Herring Gulls out on the mudflats it was time for me to turn back and head home.


Warren Baker said...

I put 8kg of sunflower hearts on the farmland where I had seen a small flock of Yellowhammers, when I visited the next day, all I saw where Rooks scoffing it all!!!

The Hairy Birder said...

That's the problem sometimes Warren, you end up feeding unwanted dining guests! The location can help to deter some greedy critters; I put my seed out alongside a hedge and this seems to deter the Corvids a little bit. I do occasionally get the odd Carrion Crow or Magpie, but generally very few.

Warren Baker said...

Ive moved the location now, try again!