Friday, December 03, 2010

A Woodcock Winter...

My morning began in -5 degrees out with Bunty. We only walked from home up to the coast path.  Woodcock seemed to spring from every sheltered patch and 5 were seen within 15 minutes, with another 3 later. Then I noticed this poor creature that had hit a sheep fence. It flopped along the verge trying to take off without success.


I kept it in a box in the house until this afternoon. Although I could see there was no fixing this one ( the right wing was shattered) I didnt have the bottle to 'do the right thing', so I realeased it onto a wet sheltered patch nearby to let nature take its course. It was quite a perky character. What a shame...

At lunchtime I saw that a flock of geese had settled in the coast path field, so wandered up with the scope to check them out. There were exactly 200 Pink footed Geese, but more interestingly there was a good movement of birds south along the coast so I did a bit of 'viz migging' from the road end.

No sooner had I counted the geese, when I saw a thrush on the far fence. Peering through the scope, it was one of a party of 4 Mistle Thrushes, but as I looked a movement behind caught my attention...HEN HARRIER! And not just a hen harrier, a stonking adult male looking all silvery and uplit, tipped with black. Still watching I scrabbled for the camera but not only was it distant, it was too quick for me and was out of sight, south, within a minute or so...

Right then, back to the counts, I thought, when I heard the calls of more Pinkfeet heading my way. Looking up, they came right over head and one was white! The Newton Pool Ross's Goose, no less, accompanied by 5 Barnacle Geese and 40 Pinkfeet. They whiffled in to the flock in the field for a feed and a preen, and ten minutes later they were off again heading south... 

Ross's Goose with Barnacles and Pinkfeet...

The original flock...

An hour later (watched 12 - 1pm) with numb feet I had counted -


Whooper Swan 8 S ( 7 ad and 1 juv)
Pink footed Goose 525 S
Barnacle Goose 5 S
Ross's Goose 1 S
Hen Harrier 1 S
Golden Plover 11 S
Snipe 8 S and N around the fields
Curlew 5 N
Dunlin 53 N and S around fields some were attached to Skylark flocks.
Lapwing 16 S
Woodpigeon 76 S
Skylark 355 S a constant stream of birds low over the fields.
Mistle Thrush 9 S
Fieldfare 4 N
Brambling 2 S
Linnet 67 S
Twite 1 S
Goldfinch 1 S
Reed Bunting 3 S with Skylarks
Lapland Bunting 2 S with Skylarks.

To warm my feet I had a walk north along the coast path to Cullernose Point and back. The 11 Whooper Swans were still in the field near the lay bye, 32 Grey Partridges were easily seen against the snow in small coveys (8, 2, 9, 7, 6), 1 female Sparrowhawk looked like a male Gos in flight, briefly, until seen perched, a pitfall for the unwary, 2 Buzzard, 16 Oystercatcher, 1 Purple Sandpiper and 3 Woodcock.

Fake Gos...

At dusk I watched 5 Woodcock flighting out of the hedges and woods to the coast to feed, joined by a lone Snipe...This brings the days Woodcock tally to 16.

OFFH List - 160. ( Ross's Goose included, but not on my 'real' list...)

9 comments:

Warren Baker said...

An excellent , if a little cold, day id say Stewart!

Damn shame about that Woodcock :-(

John Malloy said...

Fantastic account Stewart - real shame about the woodcock, but what a stunning bird nonetheless.

Emma Anderson said...

The woodcock is such a beautiful bird, Stewart. I sat for a long time once, watching one in a Scottish wood. And I saw them roding once in a wood near Embleton, can't remember exactly where, but it was a sight to see.

Dean said...

Woodcocks prove that brown isn`t always boring. Cracking birds and a real shame about that one.

Ghost of Stringer said...

Woodcock winter indeed Stewart, I saw an amazing 14 woodcock today, including 2 gardens with 4 birds each in em !!

Great birds, shame about yours tho, and the others that will have been blasted, I heard the local shoot out and about today. You would have thought they'd have some sort of cold weather suspension of shooting, everything could do without the disturbance in conditions like this.

Stewart said...

Warren - Yes, a great day Warren from out of the blue...

John - Cheers

Emma - They used to rode over our house when we lived in Stobswood. Great calls they make too...

Dean - Beauties Dean, what camouflage...

Gary - Shooting doesnt stop for the weather. Maybe they'll get a Great Snipe like they used to in days gone by? oh by the way, all of these waders in the field have been frozen back on to the shore...

Ipin said...

Lots of woodcock at Druridge today - and lots of shooting nearby!

Bet you're pleased you took the day off!

Birding Ecosse said...

I couldn't have done the right thing either Stewart.

Fantastic looking bird though.

Dave

Birding Ecosse said...

I couldn't have done the right thing either Stewart.

Fantastic looking bird though.

Dave