Posts Tagged ‘Fall of birds


A Content Day

As we drove back in very misty conditions from the Foundry Arms on Saturday night we were full of good food. I said to my mother in law “Conditions look good for a fall tomorrow” Having explained what that meant I think I managed to convey a picture of some good bird watching on the coast. I didn’t realise how good with some excellent classic fall species in terrific numbers.

A family day had been planned on the broads in a boat on the Sunday. I got up early and walked the hill. Whinchats and Wheatear were a plenty; even a Whimbrel had made landfall. In the reeds there was a mystery warbler. It just wouldn’t show in the time I had available. The few calls it did make were not enough to give it identity.

The trip on the boat was good. I even managed to see a Bittern and a handful of Marsh Harriers. Late afternoon Tony’s phone call gave me the news that he’s managed to put a name to the mystery warbler (if it was the same bird). He’d seen an Icterine. I was elated for him but it had done the dirty and disappeared.

When I got back home there was a Reed Warbler in the garden. I walked the fields. More birds still. Wheatears, Whinchat had all increased in number. Sedge, Reed and several Willow Warblers flitted around. A Peregrine parted the air and flushed a grunting Snipe but no sight or sound of an Icterine.

I had to be content with the Willow Warblers that played around me … like dancing children.

Willow Warbler


Spectres on the Beach

An endless stream of Starlings sparsely peppered with Waxwings flew west as we walked the tideline on our tour earlier this week. We were looking for Snow Buntings or maybe a Shorelark. We found neither as our attention was attracted by corpse after corpse washed up on the beach; Blackbirds, Redwings, Song Thrushes and the like.

These frail half decayed little bodies are the distasteful side of a ‘fall of birds’. They are the remains of individuals that couldn’t make it to land on their migration south.

I have heard it called a disaster, so many dead birds on the recent high tides. Rubbish!

This is nature’s way of thinning out the weak. This is how Natural Selection works. This is how over millennia the survival of the fittest rule. Evolution has designed the intricacies of migration to filter out the weaker genes in the population. Death is very much part of life.

This dead Common Seal perhaps summed up the atmosphere of the long and wide sands we walked.

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Jan 2023


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