Dare we even think it, let alone say it? At last an old-fashioned British summer where the sun shines from dawn to dusk, a knotted handkerchief the must-have headgear and Lobster Red in vogue. After the coldest May on record we may be headed for the sunniest July.
All well and good but hot sunny days and clear sky nights do little for bird migration or to hear the “ping” of a birding WhatsApp message. It’s changeable weather that fetches the birds, common or rare whether here in the British Isles, the Mediterranean, the Aegean or across the pond in North America & the islands of the Caribbean. Here in Lancashire showers through the night and rain before dawn can be the precursors to a “fall” of birds, especially if such conditions include an easterly blow.
This, the first week of the school hols, was a busy week for us grandparents keen to go birding despite the “unseasonal” weather, accustomed as we are to bouts of rain in July. Friday morning presented the first opportunity to hit the road without kids in tow so off I went towards Cockerham but where the breeze was too blowy for ringing.
2021 has been a funny year for Barn Owls too. Poor success in 2020, a cold spring in 2021 combined with a shortage of voles has meant the farmer’s friend is only now catching up by using the ability to breed when everything is hunky dory. In Pilling village I met up with one of the locals strangely absent for months but now back on the trail of rats, voles and much besides.
Here at Cockerham many farmers have taken the dry weather opportunity to take a cut of silage, the newly cut fields quickly discovered by mainly Curlews, Stock Doves and assorted Gulls (Lesser Black Backs, Herring and Black-headed. The cut fields mean there are less places for Brown Hares to hide from view while some of the leverets have yet to learn that man may not be a friend and even run towards a car.
The Sand Martin colony at Hillam Lane was fairly busy if difficult to count at around 120+ birds, both adults and juveniles present. Also here was a family of Moorhens, 4 Curlew, 1 Grey Heron and a single Common Tern from nearby Conder Green
After the lack of rain with corresponding hot weather the water level at Conder Green is possibly as low as it has ever been with lots margins that are mostly distant or hidden from view. However while the sum of birds on view was not high, the number of species via combined pool and tidal creeks was very impressive.
Waders amounted to 22 Redshank, 14 Lapwing, 10 Oystercatcher, 7 Curlew, 6 Avocet, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Snipe, 2 Greenshank and 2 Little Egret.
Add to those waders the odds and sods like 3 Little Grebe, 4 Tufted Duck, 1 Grey Heron, 16 Mute Swan, 45 Greylags and then the obligatory Swallows and Sand Martins, it all amounts to more than acceptable birding. Greylags are now a constant sight at Conder Green at almost any time of the year, even more so in autumn following a successful breeding season.
If the wind drops a little for tomorrow I may try a little ringing. Saturday looks a touch breezy, Sunday less so but either way more sunny days beckon. How unusual!
And then take a look at my lovely friend Rain Frances in New Brunswick, Canada who via You Tube will show you how to sketch and draw - Rain Frances on You Tube.