Monday, 21 January 2013

Twite Out in the White Out

I set out late this morning in the hope that a cold snowy Monday might be quiet enough to entice the geese back into the parish. Well, it was quiet alright and the geese were notable only in their absence.
Coot numbers had gone up a bit at Freeman's Pools - presumably pulling in birds from nearby frozen waters. There were 21 present on the main pool. Duck numbers were unremarkable, with the usual teal, gadwall, mallard, wigeon and tufted ducks plus a couple of little grebes, mute swans and several moorhen. The local sparrowhawk was sat keeping an eye on the place.
Along the edge of Freeman's Wood there was a small passerine flock made up of blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, wren, dunnock plus single bullfinch and treecreeper. A great-spotted woodpecker was 'chipping' away in the wood and several blackbirds were scrabbling around in the leaf litter.
Indeed, thrushes were much in evidence throughout the area today with blackbirds, song thrushes and fieldfare all over the place.

The Wildfowlers' Pools were unremarkable with just the expected mallard, teal and moorhens around the place. A pair of shoveler were back on the pools and a lone oystercatcher was parading around the edges while a couple of redshank probed in the thawing mud. A common buzzard was sat on a fencepost by the upper pool.
Wader activity on the Flood was minimal with just a few redshank and the dunlin flock now numbering 29 birds. Lapwing, curlew and golden plover were all feeding in the fields. A couple of pied wagtail were searching for food around the icy perimeter.

c500 greylag were in the field by Railway Crossing Lane with just a dozen or so pinkfeet among them.
I scanned through a sizable bunch of wigeon grazing on the marsh near the Channel. After spending the last 3 years regularly searching through American wigeon flocks in search of their Eurasian cousins (and often finding them) the tables have now completely turned and I was hoping to locate a yank here on the banks of the Lune. Naturally, that didn't happen...
All the typical marsh birds were present: little egret, mute swan, Canada goose, etc.

Making my way along the seawall back toward Marsh Point I came across a finch flock feeding on the tideline. The majority were goldfinch but there were also twite mixed in. I assume that these were the same birds that I saw the other day as there appeared to be 8 present. On closer inspection, I realised that I may have been over zealous with last Tuesday's '8 twite' claim as there were actually 7 twite and 1 linnet in the flock. In my defence I didn't see the birds on the deck last week.
Talking of which, I did get to observe them both on the strand line and perched up in the path-side trees today and noticed that 2 were colour-ringed. They were both sporting 'Heysham' blues on the left leg but unfortunately I wasn't able to determine the other colour before they flew off. Trying to see these bands on birds feeding in tideline debris is pretty tricky, and the light didn't help when they were briefly perched up. I'll try and get to grips with them another time, assuming they stick around.


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