Wednesday, 9 December 2020

First Snow

This post is really just to report, that I haven't really got anything to report! And once again, it's down to the weather.
Towards the end of last week, we had our first snow. On the Friday, I headed to my feeding station in Bowland, and there was a sprinkling of the white stuff on the fells. Whilst I was at my feeding station topping the feeders up it was snowing there too, but it wasn't quite cold enough for it to settle. 
A sprinkling of snow on the fells (above & below)


The feeders were duly re-filled, seed scattered on the ground for the ground feeders, all ready for a ringing session on Sunday morning. Sunday morning came round, and I met up with Alice, and it was raining! Not the sort of rain that would trouble you if you were out for a walk, or birding on the hoof, but it was the sort of rain that is impossible to ring in. 

Instead, we had to settle for a walk. We didn't really see a great deal, there was the usual Coal Tits, Nuthatches and Chaffinches visiting the feeders, and a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the woods. A few Goldcrests called from some conifers, and a Raven flew over croaking. A Buzzard and a Redwing later, and that was it. That's two weekends in a row where the dreich weather has prevented us from doing any ringing. And the forecast isn't looking great for the coming weekend either, but never mind, the Solstice will be upon us soon and we can look forward to the return of the light.

Today I was at one of my wintering bird survey sites in west Lancashire, the one with a bit of a marsh. My survey period was from mid-morning to early afternoon to cover the low tide period, and it was quiet. The first entry onto my maps was a Roe Deer that slipped round the end of a hedge and along the edge of the marsh. The only other mammal that I recorded was a Brown Hare that I flushed from a drier bit of the marsh where it abuts an arable field. The male Kestrel was in residence, and I saw him in a variety of locations; perched up on power lines, hovering over the marsh and keeping watch from some Willows surrounding a pond. 
Brown Hare
Talking of raptors, I had a Buzzard that kept on upsetting the Starlings, Fieldfares and Woodpigeons that were feeding in a stubble field, by flying backwards and forwards over them to some woodland, but most interesting was the female Sparrowhawk hunting over the marsh. I don't know whether she had become a bit of a Snipe specialist in terms of her prey selection, or perhaps even Teal, as I suspect she was capable of tackling Teal, but she was flying back and forth over the marsh flushing Snipe and giving chase. I never actually saw her catching any, but she certainly gave me the impression that she had done this before, and it wasn't just pure opportunism.

The marsh is a bit frustrating as I don't really know what is on/in there in terms of numbers. I hear Mallard and Teal calling, but how many I don't know, and I entered two Water Rails on to the maps based on calls from different parts of the marsh, but there could well be more than that. 

I mentioned Fieldfares and Starlings before in relation to the Buzzard, and I recorded 32 of the former and 435 of the latter. I had a Raven go over, and I only mention it because I like Ravens, as a single Raven these days isn't as exciting as it used to be in this part of the world when I was a nipper. 
Behind my second VP there is a ribbon of woodland alongside a burn, and I had a couple of Grey Wagtails close to this area. A flock of 49 Goldfinches were feeding on Ash seeds, and in fact they were virtually above my head, but were feeding quietly and it was only when they flew and called that I knew they were there. A party of eight Long-tailed Tits bounced from the hedge and across to the woodland. I think last time I was at this VP a couple of weeks ago, they numbered fourteen, but then again, they could easily be different birds. 
This Robin (above & below) kept me company at my second VP


 Although it was quiet, it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours working. As I hinted at before, the weather isn't improving anytime soon, and I will struggle to get another survey in before weekend, but I always live in hope!

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