Saturday, 15 December 2012

Yet more thrush news

The Safari was out well before dawn (o5.30!!!) with a desperate Frank; opening the front door we were serenaded by a wall of sound from at least two each of Robin and Blackbird, all very spring-like after only three days of 'wintery' weather. A nice way to start the day even if we did go back to bed.
A little later, once we'd properly woken up, we were out on the North Blackpool Pond Trail armed with binoculars, pen and clipboard for our bi-weekly BTO Winter Thrushes Survey, too many hands are needed to take the camera.
Before we got to the point where we start counting we already had a number of Blackbirds all foraging around on the ground after the thaw, or were there no berries left? Two Redwings eyed us cautiously from the 'other side' of a tree.
And then it all went quiet! In the Community Orchard we expected at least one bird but saw none and only heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker give one call. Through the gate and onto the count-zone we started to pick up odds and sods of Blackbirds but more interestingly a Mistle Thrush started to sing behind us, three species of thrush so far and we'd only just put pen to record sheet, but would we get a Redwing later actually on the survey?
The very fiercely trimmed Cotoneaster hedge on the industrial estate is still covered in berries and gave us the highest concentration of Blackbirds, seven in only twice as many yards even though a bloke having a smoke outside his office told us the Sparrowhawk had tazzed through only a couple of minutes earlier and might have been in the hedge by the pond on the other side of the road, we looked but found a Magpie and another Blackbird instead.
On the cut through behind the back of the houses and the back of the factories gave us a really nice flock of very hard to count, House Sparrows, 25-ish(?). A flock of Long Tailed Tits contained a Goldcrest and on the wet mown grass at the edge of the path a Song Thrush listened for worms with four Blackbirds.
The rest of the survey square was more or less birdless and very very wet underfoot...and then we came 'off-square', but still on survey, rounded the corner and got half a dozen Fieldfares feeding on the plethora of berries still left on the remnant hedgerow with at least 30 more Blackbirds.
Back in the Community Orchard and now off-survey three Grey Squirrels chased each other round the big Sycamore tree and a/the Great Spotted Woodpecker landed in a high branch and started to tap for hidden grubs.
The finch flock was around again by the dyke and as we watched a multitude of Goldfinches and Chaffinches we had  a text from CR who lives nearby that the Brambling had been in his garden a little earlier. We didn't have time to look for it as we had to get back to Base Camp.
Not much else during the rest for the day which was spent indoors but a brief venture outside with Frank gave us another flock of Long Tailed Tits with a Coal Tit with them this time.
In the garden a Black Headed Gull was seen on the top of the roof - not often we see them up there, Herring Gulls regularly but hardly ever a Black Head. A Blackbird clattered out of the far end of garden from under the trees and a couple of Woodpigeons were lurking under the feeder for spilled seed. Unfortunately for them nothing seems to be coming to the feeder to spill anything for we emptied it out in advance of a good clean - they'll think Christmas has come early when they find the piles tomorrow morning!
A somewhat odd find was a Garden Snail making its way across the footpath on our late evening mooch out with the big fella - temperature just 6C but that's gotta be better for a snail than the -4C it has been this week.  
Where to next? The nature reserve beckons tomorrow morning and helping out with the first of the season's Long Eared Owl walks - hope they are on show and haven't buried themselves deep and low in the scrub.
In the meantime let us know what's enjoying the thaw in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

There's not much to record here for the winter thrush survey Davo, well, not the Fieldfare and Redwing anyway, lack of berries!

Anonymous said...

Yeah...can`t believe how mild it is now...compared to last week.

cliff said...

It was terrific to get a Brambling turn up in our garden Dave, I'd been hoping one would given the proximity of where they had been hanging about - next on the Xmas wishlist is your pond trail GS Woodpecker.