Friday 2 February 2024

A Good Deed

It has been twelve days since I last posted, and for that I apologise, but I have been busy getting all my natural history records up to date, for various individuals and organisations, via various forms of online submission. There are records for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) via BirdTrack, and records of mammals, butterflies, dragonflies and orchids can also be entered via this programme, records of moths and plants for the local record centres through iRecord, and then personal ornithological highlights for the County Bird Recorder. I have been out in the great outdoors, but I haven't had time to post on here. January every year is like this. 
Just under ten days ago, Gail and I had a walk from the Quay and along the Wyre estuary. It was one of those cold, grey days, and the tide had virtually covered all the mud in the Quay. A flock of 180 Redshanks were hanging on, with water up to their knees, and they would soon be pushed off. In fact, that was the ornithological highlight of our walk, other than a female Peregrine
On our way back to our car, I spotted something just off the path, from the corner of my eye, and I could see it was a Bumblebee. From her jizz, I could see that she was alive, but she certainly looked moribund. I picked her up, and carried her back to the car. She was a beautiful queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee, and it wasn't the right time to be out and about. On decent days during the winter, queens can emerge from their hibernation, but this wasn't one of those days, or it didn't look like it to me. 
Back at the car, Gail placed her in a small plastic container, and we headed home. We had to call in at Asda for a few bits of shopping, so we left her in the plastic container on one of the heated seats in the front. The plan when we got her home was to try and revive her with some sugar-water, and a warm, but this wasn't necessary. As soon as we reversed into the drive, she was very active within the container. She was buzzing beautifully, with that deep sounding, throb of a buzz that only Bumblebees make. As soon as I lifted the lid off the container, she was away. Our good deed for the day. 
A couple of days later I was at my wintering bird survey site, with fellow Ecologist Rachel. It was a bitterly cold morning, with a stiff WSW wind, but at least it was sunny. These wintering bird surveys in January are usually quiet, unless you are in a good coastal or wetland location, and this morning was no exception. I am just going to list the highlights from our three-hour survey, which were, ten Shelducks, 24 Whooper Swans, eleven Skylarks, 359 Pink-footed Geese, 29 Woodpigeons, 30 Linnets, 35 Golden Plovers, a Mistle Thrush, a Grey Wagtail, eleven Pied Wagtails, a Buzzard and a Kestrel
Last weekend, I headed to the Point for a sea watch, and to see what was roosting on the incoming tide. I had nearly full cloud cover, with a 15 mph south-westerly wind, and the visibility out in the bay was fairly poor. It's been a while since I had been here, and I had almost forgotten how awful the disturbance to the birds from people walking their dogs on the beach was. There were several people during the two hours that I was there, on the beach, with their dogs running around flushing everything. One dog in particular was out of control, and it would home in on a single wader and chase it for as long as it could, and then move on to another one. The owners were trying to control it, but it was completely ignoring any attempt they made to get it back on its lead!
All it would take, would be to cordon off a couple of sections of the beach at high tide where the waders roost, where no access is allowed over the high tide period, and the waders could then roost safely without any disturbance. Funnily enough, as I was walking off site, I bumped into fellow Pied Flycatcher enthusiast, Mark, who was recording any disturbance to the waders as part of some work for Natural England, looking at wider recreational disturbance in Morecambe Bay, so fingers crossed something positive might come out of Mark's surveys. 

Talking of waders, it always surprises me that some still manage to roost, and over the high tide period I had 87 Oystercatchers, 339 Sanderlings, 62 Dunlins, 55 Ringed Plovers, 74 Turnstones and two cracking Purple Sandpipers roosting with the RPs and Turnstones. Nice! 
Purple Sandpipers and Ringed Plovers
Mainly Sanderlings
The sea was very quiet, and all I had was 15 Cormorants, five Eiders, a Common Scoter, a Red-throated Diver, a Shelduck and 112 Pink-footed Geese heading north. 

Over the past few nights, we've had a froggy chorus coming from the garden, and on one particular wet night, a couple of evenings ago, the frogs were very vocal. So, we are hoping for some frog spawn and wee tadpoles in our little pond this year.

I was at my client's farm in Bowland a couple of days ago with a colleague from the RSPB. As Hilary and I were having a walk round some of the breeding wader fields, and looking at how the habitat was shaping up for the forthcoming breeding season, we had two Barn Owls constantly hunting, and this was at about 10:30 a.m. Of course, Barn Owls will hunt during the day, and there is usually a reason to force them out during these times, and I suspect that all the wet weather of late has been preventing them from hunting, so on this rare dry day of late, they will have been forced, by hunger, to hunt during full daylight. We chatted to John and Russell who are on the farm most days completing habitat works, and they have seen them quite a bit recently in the day, so I suspect they are indeed a pair of hungry owls. 

Gail and I had a walk along the Wyre yesterday morning, and it was another grey day, with a stiff westerly wind, but it did brighten up towards the end of our walk. A number of Teal and Wigeon were along the edge of the river, with 42 Wigeon close to us, but in the distance I could see a lot more. I was travelling light without my scope, so counts further away eluded us. 

The highlight of the morning was the interaction between a pair of Peregrines and a pair of Ravens. The Peregrines, particularly the larger female, were not happy with the close proximity of the Ravens, and every time one of the Ravens was more out in the open, the female Peregrine would stoop at, dive bomb, chase, and just generally harass the two Ravens. The Ravens were engaging in some courtship and pair bonding, and were stood side by side preening each other, or touching each other's beaks, and at the same time were making a kind of low warbling sound. I say 'warbling', because it was nearer a warble, rather than their usual harsh croaking call. Gail and I just stood spell-bound, soaking up this magical moment. It was the contrast between the drama of the battle between the two species, and the intimate moments between the two Ravens that made it so special. Eventually, the Ravens could only take so much of the sorties from the female Peregrine, and decided that it wasn't the place to try and get all romantic with each other, and flew off.  
Courting Ravens
Watchful Peregrine (above & below)
The forecast isn't looking great for the next ten days or so, and I seem to be saying that all the time just recently, but I'm sure there will be a window or two to get out and about.
Over on the right you will see that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group for January. 108 birds of 13 species were ringed during the month, and the top 4 ringed in January can be found below.
Top 4 Ringed in January
1. Siskin - 23
2. Blue Tit - 22
3. Tree Sparrow - 16
4. Chaffinch - 11
    Goldfinch - 11

1 comment:

John said...

Very interesting blog as always. Especially like the part about the Peregrine. I have a fondness for all the hunters. Keep up the good work.