Thursday, 12 April 2012

The waters break

Well sort of. After a deluge at 3.00 yesterday I got out to hunt for some migrants or possibly a big bird forced down by the weather. The morning had seen my first Swallow of the year flashing past the back of the house looking for flies no doubt and after a trip up the range bridleway where two owls were sighted I ventured down the bumpy road and found a little green job busy feeding near the pond. Chiffchaff have been prevalent this year so I waited for the call and was rewarded by the descending cadence of Willow Warbler and better still another replied from bushes on my left. I tried to get a photo for a good half hour but neither bird was stationary for long and fairly flighty when approached. I guess I'd be a bit peckish after such a long journey. The second bird was soon being chased by a third and eventually posed long enough for a shot. In a few days I'll be overwhelmed by the number of opportunities to get a photo. Strange how the birds habits change with time and familiarity.

At the goats two Short eared Owls hunted in the now bright sunlight, one preferring south of the road and one north.
A large flock of Golden Plover was put up from the horse paddocks and as they passed overhead I watched the northern bird quartering the field for some time when in the distance another two squabbling SEO's appeared. What's going on? Don't these four birds know it's time to head for the moors to breed, not that I'm complaining mind you.


  1. I suppose that the amount of nearby open moorland habitat makes it less likely that any of the Shorties will hang around to breed locally.

    Going back to my 1970's Breeding Bird Atlas surveys in my native Lincolnshire, I had two breeding pairs in one of my ten k squares, both using the grassy banks of canalised rivers as nesting and hunting sites.


  2. Some species survived in the uplands following agricultural improvement in the 19th century, so-much-so that we now think that is their natural habitat. Reading the Old Statistical Accounts for our neighbouring Scottish 'shires, I came across references to 'gleds' , birds that might have been Harriers or Kites hunting newly (hand) cut fields when harvest time came. The word appears as a place name on old maps. I would not be at all surprised to see some of this year's SEO's stay on to breed if, repeat if, they are not disturbed. A Chiff chaff was calling two weeks ago in Jesmond Old Cemetery and was still there on Thursday this week.

  3. Thanks for the interesting comments. Shorties have bred here in the past but not in the last twenty five years. The terrain is ideal but disturbance may be too high now for a successful attempt although the food supply appears still to be plentiful which I believe is the main factor for this species.