Thursday, 16 May 2013

2013 - May BTO waterbird count, Linlithgow - Philpstoun

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 -

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:

Blue Tit                 
Carrion Crow                 
Collared Dove                 
Feral Pigeon                 
Great Tit                
Herring Gull                 
House Sparrow                 
Lesser Black-backed Gull                 
Meadow Pipit                 
Reed Bunting                 
Sand Martin                 
Sedge Warbler                 
Song Thrush                 
Tree Sparrow                 
Willow Warbler                 

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.

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