Sunday, July 04, 2010

Patchless Patching with Punxsutawney Phil.

It’s the first week of July and my notebook tells me that I’m ‘In search of stability... ‘ Again? Interesting. The weather is overcast (well, bright), breezy (in fact blowing a gale) and refreshingly cool (or you could say not unpleasantly mild) compared to the weather of late. Got to bed at 6am and woke about an hour ago. The light of my darkness has gone to Chester shopping, the cat is playing in the suitcases that are airing in the conservatory and the lad is sleeping off the Foster’s and munchies he consumed whilst we watched UFC 116 into the wee small hours earlier. I, on the other hand, have an itch to get to the patch and have a few hours in which to get out an about. Sorted! Coffee... and... problem - the wind, the pollen and the time.

It’s nearly the middle of the day already and so things will be rather quiet on the patch (early morning tends to see most activity), it’s summer... so things will be rather quiet on the patch... it’s windy so I won’t be able to hear a lot and stuff will either be gusting by or be tucked away out of the wind so... things will be rather quiet on the patch. On top of that the wind will be whipping up the pollen (and hence my nasal passages) into a frenzy and so any waft of song or call I do catch on the branch-flailing breeze is likely to be either (a) drowned out by me sneezing or clearing my sinuses – ‘Fnh!’ or (b) a Northern Parula - or as they’re sometimes called - windswept Blue Tit. I’d once had one of these at Frodsham on a similarly blustery day. Curious how the wind can split the frequencies in a song, blow some miles away and leave others clinging to the dark recesses of a thrashing Hawthorn to fool the unwary tyro!

So, methinks, no patching today unless the wind drops. Ah well, never mind. Good thing is, the patch Groundhog comes out of hibernation in July... so I'd probably have seen...

Lapwing Lake

1 M.Swan (ad) 1 Coot (7ad,1j) 3 Tufty (2m, 1f) 3 Moorhen (ad+2j) 2 Blackcap (singing) 6 L.Grebe (ad+1x ¾grown young, 4ad) 3 Mallard (f) 2 Pochard (m) 8 Ruddy Duck (pr+6x ½grown ducklings) 1 Canada (ad) 1 C.Buzzard (ad - over) 2 C.Crow (ad - over) 1 Reed Warbler(singing) 1 Pheasant (calling) 1 Common Swift (over)

The Buzzard has missing p5/6 on one wing and looked like p1/2 on the other, plus a secondary or two on the same wing maybe... very asymmetrical – 1 don’t notice tail. The 2 Crows are missing inner primaries too. The Pochards and male Tufty are showing signs of eclipse and 2 of the Little Grebes are fighting like Coots – sitting back in the water and kicking at each other with much wing flapping. Where are all the Little Grebe chicks? There were 4 pairs, 3 with small young here a few weeks ago. The first patch brood of Ruddy Duck ducklings I’ve seen are diving. They, like their parents, do a small jump before they dive. The Reed Warbler was fun. Heard it in front of the screen hide, moving about giving a repeated harsh nasal call – alarm? Pished at it by way of imitation and it came out to see what was going on – TWICE! Excellent views :-) Later, pished down Lapwing Lane (lots of squashed toadlets – meh!) and pulled out a brood of Great Tits, a brood of Long-tailed Tits and a stone me, a Chipmunk!!!

Birchwood Pool - busy today.

3 Moorhen (2ad+j) 30 Coot (2ad+4j, 1ad+4j, ad+j, 17ad) 16 Mallard (f+ 3x½grown ducklings, f+ 10x ½grown, f) 7 Tufty (f+ 4x +¼grown, 2m) 10 Canada Goose (ad) 5 Grey Heron (1ad, 5 Imm) 1 Black-necked Grebe (adS) L.Grebe (ad) 51 BH.Gull (38x ad, 5x 1s, 8x j) 8 H.Gull (5x ad, 1x 2s, 2x 1s) 130 LBB.Gull (93x ad, 7x 2s, 30x 1s) 6 Magpie (pr+4j) Oystercatcher (1ad, 2j)

The young Oystercatchers are greyer than their parent and a little smaller. There is still some down showing through their new juvenile feathers and their bill tips are dark. And they are swimming. Yes, Swimming (!) - from the Big Island to the Small Island. Presumably they can’t yet fly. First of the year’s patch Tufty ducklings? There are no hirundines anywhere but Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat are still singing. A Jay has just flown by and there are two Wrens alarm calling, they have 2 fledglings in the bush near me. A Robin is ‘tipping’ nearby too and there’s a brood of Blue Tits in the Sycamore. 1 toadlet and 3 froglets by the south hide.

Pumphouse Pool - quieter.

There’s a moss nest with 3 eggs in it on the ledge inside the west hide – Wren. A Yellow Underwing moth has just flown from it... perhaps it’s just the ambient temperature that’s making them feel ‘warm’?

48 Coot (36ad, 3x ½grown, 2x ¼grown, 7j) 4 Grey Heron (ad, 3 Imm) 11 Canada (ad) 2 Moorhen (ad+¼grown) 2 L.Grebe (ad+full grown) 1 Tufty (f) 15 Mallard (f+3x ¾grown, f+ 6x ¼grown, 4f) 1 Gadwall (j) Oystercatcher (ad) Lapwing (ad) Kestrel (f) 2 C.Crow (ad) 102 LBB.Gull (98ad, 1x 2s, 3x 1s) 8 H.Gull (5ad, 3x 2s) 2 Lapwing (ad)

By the Runcorn Bridge this morning, on my way here, there were 70 Canada Geese that included at least 10 juveniles - creamy bits on head, dirty white bits elsewhere, skinny necks...full primaries. Most adults are now in primary moult – can clearly see blue shafts of new feathers when birds preen. No primary tips showing at all. Also... now here’s a thing... one of the Canadas dived! Imean REALLY dived. It stayed under for a good few seconds and then bobbed up several metres away, head first. Now I have checked various sources and others too have seen adult Canada Geese diving and resurfacing without food, although I think the bird I saw was probably a juv. Also, believe it or not, I came across several refs to Oystercatcher chicks swimming (!) although these reports were from other countries and about different species of Oystercatcher. I even found one paper on Oystercatcher chicks diving!

Back to Pumphouse and I’m watching a first summer male Blackbird (brownish wings and tertials, yellow bill) sat in the top of a nearby tree ‘whispering’ a song. It’s like full Blackbird song but barely audible – just like it’s practising quietly to itself before giving it the Full Monty!

Lapwing duo are both adults not Juvs as I’d previously thought based on their lack of head tufts. Actually remembered to check those tertials – yay – no notching, so NOT juvs.

Nothing going on at the Eastern Reedbed or Millbrook Pool so headed off. Checked farm buildings at Big Hand Ranch on my way home. Glad I did! Little Owl out in the open on the pill-boxes in the horse paddock and thought I could see movement in the Barn Owl box on the end of the second barn? Got bins on it – 2 beady eyes briefly blinked and looked back at me before turning away – woo hoo! Young Barn Owl!!! And... hang on... there’s an adult with it in there too – SUPERB!!! Who needs Welsh Stilt Sandpiper anyway - Pah! I speet on yeuh teuh...

Also sprach Zarathustra...’

Groundhog Day, July 4th 2006

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