Monday, 8 December 2014

Looking for geese and counting dunlin

Sunday was another WeBs counting day.  First stop was Budle Bay where 350 barnacle geese, 300 lapwing, 100 golden plover, 209 greylag and 99 pink footed geese fed in pastures around the edge of the Bay.

Lunchtime at Fenham le Moor and the tide was on the turn.  What was interesting was the lack of light bellied brents (370) and the large reduction in wigeon numbers (<1000).  There were good numbers of dunlin (950) and shelduck (1270).  Other birds of interest included 2 black-tailed godwit, 6 little egrets, 27 twite, a female merlin, a shoveler, 2 long-tailed ducks and a male American wigeon. Good views were had of the last species as the tide reached its peak at Teal Hole - its pale cream forehead and the broad dark green stripe through the eye was very prominent.  The bird flew off to the south with about 200 wigeon.

The American wigeon was not the only interesting sighting at Teal Hole.  Many of the birds were very nervous and it turned out that there was a female peregrine hunting.  It managed to kill and fly off with a redshank.  At this point, the bird was mobbed by a very persistent common buzzard.  It looked as though peregrine was going to lose its prey.  Then in from the south appeared another very vociferous male peregrine.  This peregrine continually mobbed the buzzard which included a bit of talon grappling.  The buzzard eventually gave up.  The second bird must have been its mate.  I had not realised that pair bonds were maintained through the winter.  Is this true or is there another explanation - I am off to my BWP and Poyser!

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