My monthly BTO WeBS count along the Union Canal, Linlithgow to Philpstoun.
Wednesday 15th May 2013.
Start time 8.45am
Turnaround time 11am
End time 12 noon
An overcast day, but bright. A breeze was blowing but never particularly strong.
Things are very busy so I wont write in much detail.
Only fifteen minutes into my walk I saw a fox, pretty close. It had seen me first and stood stock-still, intently staring, neither of us moving for three or four minutes. If we were playing chicken, the fox lost; it moved first, slinking unconcernedly down the railway embankment and out of side.
The flood field is now better described as the large-puddle field and as a result, and perhaps also due to time of year, not many waterbirds were there.
Time to nest and to sing:
This time last month the migrants from Africa had just begun to return. Now swifts, whitethroats, and sedge warblers have joined the earlier incomers.
Sedge warblers rattled and churred frantically. I heard them at quite regular intervals in the long stretch between Park Farm and Philpstoun, probably six or seven territories along that mile of water.
Swifts screamed overhead.
Twice I heard a call I didn't know well; it was familiar, but I couldn't remember what until I saw two beautiful whitethroats with their sharp grey heads and, um, beautiful white throats.
It's very worthwhile getting to know bird songs - often it's how a bird will be seen, by first having heard it sing. Start with just a few, perhaps those you have in your garden. People say the best technique for learning is to watch the bird as it sings; it helps ingrain the song in your head. Xeno Canto website is amazing for listening to recordings of pretty much any bird, worldwide. Here's the sedge warbler I mentioned - http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Acrocephalus-schoenobaenus
All along my route was evidence of courting, nesting, raising young. In at least three fields lapwings were busily and aerobatically chasing off crows: in each field I saw a parent sitting; in the large-puddle field I saw two separate parents with at least five chicks between them.
Water birds using flood-field:
Lapwing - 7, plus at least 5 young chicks
Mallard - 2
Shelduck - 2
All other water birds eligible for WeBS count:
Lapwing - 2
Mallard - 10
Moorhen - 2
All birds seen:
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Total Bird Species: 39 (one less than last month)
|hawthorn hedgerow, excellent for wildlife|
|fox watching me and blackbird. blackbird watching fox and me. me watching fox and blackbird|
|lapwing during a brief respite from aerial battling with crows. the other lapwing sitting on nest slightly to right of photo.|
|lapwing and three chicks (you wont be able to see them). herd of cows sharing their field!|
|my count notes. biro ran out so I pressed very hard and rubbed it with brown chalk pencil once home|
I seem to have written quite a bit after all. I find writing addictive.