Thursday, 13 January 2022

Displaying Peregrine

At about 9:00 a.m., just over a week ago, I was stood at one of my VPs when I heard an unusual call, I knew it was the call of a raptor, but which species? I looked up, and there over my head, and rocketing past on half-closed wings, was a male Peregrine! As it flew over me it was calling constantly, giving a harsh 'ee-chip' call, that I later found out is a contact call, that can be used during courtship display. It has equally been described as 'ee-chup', so, take your pick. 
This of course isn't this mornng's Peregrine. This is a young Peregrine
that fledged from a nest site on a friend's farm, a number of years ago now, 
when it hadn't completely mastered the art of flying, and was found on the 
ground a tad damp. It was placed off the ground in a safe location close to the 
nest site, and was soon in the air again with its parents!
For obvious reasons, I don't want to say where I was, other than at one of my wintering bird survey sites in Lancashire. As the bird rocketed past me on those half-closed wings, it pulled up and climbed with powerful wing beats, visibly changing up a gear. At the top of the climb, it closed its wings, and dived, giving that 'ee-chip' call again, before pulling up once more. Another climb, followed by another dive, and I lost sight of it as it shot through a caravan site full of mobile homes. It must have been travelling at an incredible speed, just several feet above the ground!
I thought it had gone, but I heard it calling again, and once more it stooped and soared into the air, as if on some invisible rollercoaster. As soon as it had arrived, it had disappeared off to the south. Fantastic! 
After that incredible display the rest of the morning seemed decidedly mundane. Just under three hundred, 299 to be precise, Pink-footed Geese flew over just after first light to various foraging areas, and Magpies were once again noticeable with a good count of thirty birds. Like I said before, everything else seemed so mundane after that display by the Peregrine, and I am struggling to mention any more highlights. 
This is a Grey Heron that I 'snapped' feeding on the edge of a pond close to
one of my VPs.
The following day on a cold and frosty morning, I was in south-west Lancs to complete another wintering bird survey. My whole life seems to be dominated by wintering bird surveys at the moment, but I'm not complaining. It was Jackdaws that took the top step of the podium at this site with a count of 333, closely followed by 317 Woodpigeons and 162 Rooks.   

I had a flock of 77 Lapwings head west during the morning, and these were probably just birds that had been flushed off some stubbles perhaps. Talking of stubbles, the stubble field directly in front of my VP held a flock of 32 Skylarks, which in these days of catastrophic farmland bird declines is a reasonable count. Sad really. 

The only raptor I had was a Buzzard, and the best of the rest included eleven Stock Doves, twelve Common Gulls and 13 Long-tailed Tits
Over on the right you may have noticed that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group until the end of 2021. During December, no new species were ringed for the year, and the only species to get into double figures for the month were the 15 Blue Tits that we ringed.
Below you will find the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year.
Top 10 Movers and Shakers for the Year
1. Linnet - 310 (same position)
2. Blue Tit - 175 (up from 3rd)
3. Lesser Redpoll - 161 (down from 2nd)
4. Sand Martin - 123 (same position)
5. Greenfinch - 114 (same position)
6. Goldfinch - 113 (same position)
7. Chaffinch - 101 (same position)
8. Great Tit - 99 (down from 7th)
9. Meadow Pipit - 81 (same position)
10. Blackcap - 65 (straight in)
Coming soon will be details of a joyous encounter that I had with the not so humble Wren!

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