Tuesday was cold and snowy, the first snowflakes of the winter. Thankfully by midday the snow stopped, the sun came out and by evening all the white stuff was gone. Wednesday began with quite a frost on the by now ice free roads.
As noted on the blog before, a cold weather snap brings out the owls and the Kestrels. So on the drive over Stalmine Moss I wasn’t too surprised to spot a hunting Barn Owl. The owl stayed out along the frosty fence before taking off into the distance.
At Lancaster Road at Pilling Moss was the first of four five Kestrels I’d see during the morning. The Kestrel was on watch across a stubble field where a good number of small birds alternated between feeding on the deck and flying into the hedgerow. I counted 95+ Chaffinch together with, 10 or more Meadow Pipits, several Skylarks, and at least one Reed Bunting and one Yellowhammer. This is the largest Chaffinch flock I have seen this winter and probably last winter too. The days of 200/300 strong Chaffinch flocks seem to be a thing of the dim and distant past.
I called at Gulf Lane to see very few Linnets in the now flattened field. Tuesday’s blanket of snow and this morning’s solid ground won’t have helped the Linnets to stay around. A Kestrel hovered directly over our net ride and where I guess, a rodent or two have helped themselves to the mountain of bird seed. A ride around the edge of the moss revealed huge numbers of Pink-footed Geese, 15,000 or more but too distant to grill in a satisfactory manner. Also, 2 Little Egret and 60 or more Fieldfare scraped a living from the frozen pastures.
When I arrived at Conder Green a flock of circa140 Black-tailed Godwit flew around the back of the pool and then landed out of sight in the field beyond the canal. These wet pastures often hold very large numbers of godwits, Lapwings and Curlews but both viewing and access are difficult with the risk that every single birds flies off at the sight of a human.
The pool was pretty much frozen solid but in the few patches of open water, 2 Little Grebe, a Grey Heron, a drake Goosander, 2 Tufted Duck and the pair of now resident Oystercatchers. In the creeks, a dozen or two Redshank plus lots of Teal dabbling in the unfrozen brackish water. A trip around Jeremy Lane produced two more Kestrels on the lookout for food with one particularly hungry looking female reluctant to leave the gatepost even as cars sped by.
Things were pretty quiet due to every field being frozen solid but there was activity along the tree-lined roadside ditch where I found another 45+ Fieldfares, 15 Redwing and 15 Blackbirds, and even a Song Thrush in full voice.
It looks like we're back to rain tomorrow but there’s more news, views and birds soon from Another Bird Blog.