Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Murmuration magic

The Safari has just seen the final results for last year’s Patchwork Challenge Inland North sub-group. We didn’t do too badly in the end coming in at 17th and only really visiting with any regularity after the demise of poor old Frank in the summer and even then only really once a week – some folks must be visiting their patches (or working at them) much more frequently making it slightly easier to record more species.
Our final position (the league being contested by number species) was 17th with 109 species earning 124 points working out at 1.138 points per bird (PPB). 
Turning it around a bit if the league had been contested by PPB we’d have come in at a slightly higher 14th.
We missed a few species but probably all those would have been 1 pointers so perhaps could have maybe increased by one place in the main league (bearing in mind everyone else will have missed stuff too) but we’d probably have dropped in the PPB league had such a thing existed.
For this year we’ll just have to find a couple of three (or more) pointers to keep in with a shout.
Today we were at Patch 2 again but there was little on a rather murky sea and as far as we could see there were fewer Redshanks today with only 25 counted, but there could have been some out of sight below us at the base of the wall. There weren’t very many gulls and even fewer Oystercatchers.

Back in the office a Blackbird out on the lawn outside the window caught our eye – was it really carrying a worm? We went out for a better view but didn’t see it. Later, once back inside we saw it again and with a colleague confirmed it was taking beakful’s of worms back to a nest – in mid-January…what’s going on??? While we watched we also saw a Robin, a pair of Dunnocks and a site record two Wrens together in the hedge! Certainly an interesting and exciting couple of minutes.
At lunchtime the sea was similarly dead to earlier but we did find a small flock of 12 Turnstones and saw a distant flock of nine Sanderlings land on the freshly exposed wet sand as the tide ebbed further down the beach. With little to enthuse us to stay longer we went for another look for the Blackbird but again didn’t see it but there were a few dog walkers about now. Back in the office we looked through the window after an hour or so at our desk and there he was again and once again had collected a load of worms, the female was out foraging too. With milder and wetter weather forecast in the next few days it’ll be interesting to see how the nest fares, it would seem that the eggs/young have survived the coldest days of the winter so far. At least they should have no problems with collecting worms from frozen ground for the foreseeable future. We’ll have to see if we can we locate its whereabouts, we think it’s in the hedge just round the corner along the side street just out of view of the office window. Further and more detailed investigations are required. Might even take a bucket of water out there to rinse the windows and we need to remember to take the camera to work, the range is just a bit too far for the phonecam. 
We did take the camera to work today and almost got the first ever pic of a Song Thrush at work but a dog walker appeared and flushed it an instant before we pressed the shutter.
The sea gave us nothing, although DG informed us that the fishermen are catching Whiting so there ought to be a Harbour Porpoise or two about. She also told us the Peregrine was back on the church tower this arvo.
That was enough to send us back to Base Camp early so as we could get back out to the Starlings - we were there yesterday too, with CR. There was a grey out with no hint of horizon betwixt sea and sky.
The Starlings began to come in in huge flocks of several thousand at a time - this is a small part of one of those flocks.

A fair crowd had gathered to watch the spectacle, on our side of the pier there were at least 20 folk with cameras, no idea how many if any were on the south side. 
It was a great spectacle 
Today couldn't have been more different, not a cloud in the sky!
 And a bit of a sunset began to develop illuminating the little shrimping boat working the tide.
 The Peregrine was still on the tower in the town centre too, a little too far away for a proper pic.
It stayed up there, wasn't interesting in the huge amount of meat on the wing, probably already stuffed full of Feral Pigeon or catches the Starlings when they leave the roost at first light - Once again there were a few people gathered for the evening's performance. 
More Starlings came in than yesterday, perhaps as many as 50000! But the murmuration was quite small, most of them landing on the beach as the tide was out. Until they were flushed by a dog walker that is.
Sunset mode on camera for this one and the one above
 We were even serenaded by a wandering minstrel this evening - it all happens here!
Didn't know you could play the guitar with frozen fingers - it became really cold once the sun had gone down!
Tell you what though- there must be some tonnage of Leather-jackets being consumed in farmers' fields around the county at the mo to keep that number of Starlings well fed

   Where to next? School group attacking the pond tomorrow, hopefully before the rain starts and we'll have another try for that worm collecting Blackbird.
In the meantime let us know who's got their breeding season all about face in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

Excellent sunset photos, I'm loving the Peregrine too. Your Wren infestation might be a job for Wrentokill ;-)