Friday, 11 December 2015

Friday December 11

Another morning of cloud and pulses of drizzle followed by an afternoon of sunshine. Unfortunately I was there during the morning. The wind was quite light and westerly. Rather cool.

This was quite an interesting visit. To begin with I picked up a distant pair of ducks heading north, the male being a Shoveler. I later found the drake Shoveler with the Mallard flock on the pool, but it flew off with them before I was able to get a satisfactory photograph. This was only the second one this year, the last being in April.

Another bit of good fortune was the discovery that at least one Brambling is still present with the finch flock.

The Brambling
Also still present was a Stonechat at the pool, and two Green Sandpipers at the flash field.

I have always suspected that my ability to estimate the numbers of birds seen in flight becomes distinctly ropey when the flock exceeds a couple of hundred. Another problem area concerns birds which continually fly from hedgerows only to reappear in nearby hedges. The latter issue affects estimates of winter thrushes, and today was typical, with my "counts" of 150 Redwings and 70 Fieldfares probably representing an underestimate of the numbers present.

Linnets were the big story today. A Sparrowhawk flushed a load during the morning, and I jotted down "about 200" in my notebook. Later I drove to the south end where there seemed to be a few more than that. A Pheasant shoot across the road led to regular disturbance causing clouds of finches to rise before pitching back into the crop of linseed (I think). Looking through the birds in the crop I counted 13 Lesser Redpolls with them, but I was dreading coming up with any figures for the Linnets. Then I remembered my camera. Take a photograph of the flock then go home and count the dots, I thought.

How many do you think?
There were far more than I thought. Assuming at least 13 of them were Redpolls, this photo contains 875 Linnets. This is the best count for several years, and even this may be an under-count as it seems more than likely that some Linnets remained out of sight or out of frame.

Pretty impressive. It's not always about rare birds.

1 comment:

  1. Jack reckoned on 150-200 so I think we might need to do the same trick on the linnet flock in our patch - think we may have vastly underestimated too!!
    Thanks for the tip and keep up the fab posts