The forecast was OK for later in the day but no good for early birders like me. Rain spotted the windscreen as I stopped off at Lane Ends, Pilling, hoping for another look at the Marsh Harrier that us three ringers saw on Tuesday, possibly the same harrier one that’s been around for a week or two.
Lots of local farmers have all seen the mystery bird but can’t put a name to the thing that’s “not a Buzzard and much bigger”. Our local farmers aren’t too good at bird ID but they are red hot at counting sheep & cattle or making a bob or two.
Anyway I didn’t see a harrier but I did see and hear more than 25 Little Egrets leaving the island roost and 70 or more Greylags coming off the marsh and flying south. A couple of Willow Warblers tuned up ready for the day ahead, not singing but contact calling.
I called next at Gulf Lane where I stayed for a while to count the Linnet flock. Three days ago they numbered about 50, but today there was an increase with 140+ Linnets, 8/10 Goldfinch and 4 Tree Sparrows. What a shame that once again there was sufficient breeze to put paid to any hopes of a ringing session. The Linnets are really homing in on the natural food now but it’s hard to see what they eat when they drop deep into the cover and feed either very low or actually on the ground. Linnets eat a whole variety of mainly “milky” seeds, too many to list, but many from the cabbage family. The list of their food items takes up almost a full column of The Birds of The Western Palearctic.
The local Kestrel was about. It sits atop a roof or a roadside post from where it keeps an eye on the field and the feeding Linnets. Although Kestrels eat mainly mammals they are very opportunist and on a couple of occasions last year we encouraged a Kestrel to spend less time watching our ringing of Linnets.
I made my way to Conder Green where Sand Martins and Swallows fed over the pool and along the hedgerows. I counted 50+ Sand Martins and 10+ Swallows. The Kingfisher put in another fly-by appearance as it headed off towards the road bridge and the quiet upstream of the River Conder. The tide ran into the creek and brought 4 Goosander, 4 Teal and 5 Little Egret alongside the road. Goosanders are such handsome birds but as a species targeted by anglers, they are very wary of anyone pointing a lens in their direction.
There’s not much variety in the waders for now with 30 Redshank, 3 Oystercatcher, 2 Curlew and 1 Common Sandpiper. A good count of Lapwing though as more than 200 put on the occasional flying display as they spooked from their island retreat. A Sparrowhawk spooked the Lapwings once but of the other half a dozen “dreads” I saw nothing to cause the panic. An overhead Raven seemed to have no effect on the Lapwings but then a Raven is probably a threat to Lapwing chicks only and not to adults.
A female Tufted Duck still has four youngsters in tow while Little Grebes were back down to two. Otherwise small birds were few and far between except for a flock of 40 Linnets, 6 Goldfinch, 2 Pied Wagtail and 1 Willow Warbler in quiet sub-song.
That’s it for now. Back tomorrow hopefully.