Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Icy Webs

I have spent the last couple of days undertaking WeBS counts on the middle Humber. This area is pretty quiet normally but the cold weather and ice cover has led to a ten-fold increase in wader & wildfowl numbers plus the odd surprise.

Yesterday I was working on the south bank and hundreds of Dunlin were supplemented with plenty of Turnstone, Redshank, Lapwing and Curlew with the Grey Plover. A lot of Mute Swans were associating with a healthy dose of Teal and Mallard. In the trees behind the bank all five species of thrush were in evidence plus finches were in good order with a small flock of Lesser Redpoll the highlight. So far, so mundane but better were a small family herd of 7 Whooper Swans on the mudflats looking very out of place and then a massive female Goshawk hunting over the saltmarsh. I had excellent views the bird showing its distinctive head shape and flight pattern (flapping at about 50% as fast as the female Sparrowhawk which was seen at the same time but in bursts of 5-7 beats rather than 2-3). Cracker.

Today was on a quieter stretch on the north bank but this still held surprising numbers of Dunlin and Bar-tailed Godwits as well as the expected Common Gulls. A few Fieldfare helped enliven procedings plus a Meadow Pipit grubbing in the snow looked smart. All good.

Tomorrow I am on the outer Humber doing disturbance monitoring and this is followed by a trip to Islay over the weekend. Nice.

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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive