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Freehold Swifts and Torrisholme CC
Posted by eddybayton
One of the better unintended birding days implying Autumn is on the way...
Torrisholme from 9am until 6pm yielded all the usual resident birds but I was startled at 11am by a green woodpecker calling loudly from the dying oak tree on the crossroads between Barley Cop and Powderhouse Lane. Brief views as well. This is my second only record in 18 years from this site of this species in spite of GS woodpecker being a daily observation. In the afternoon a flock of 15 linnet some juv stopped in the carpark to feed on gravel hugging weeds.
Back home in Freehold at 7pm a good sight of a very high raptor moving rapidly south and very high with all the hallmarks of an osprey but I couldn't be certain. 10 mins later sight of a sparrowhawk doing its flap glide circling followed by a precipitous high speed vertical dive towards the canal. The reason I was looking out was swifts. We had one showing of 5 birds at 7.45pm which moved on rapidly then everything went quiet until 8.40pm. In dribs and drabs the birds arrived from height until by 8.55pm we had 53 birds minimum screaming over Freehold, separating into 3 blocks, then merging again. One or two are still around now at 21.15pm but most have climbed high and chased to over 2-3000 feet out of sight. Note the clear sky and open sunset. If the forecast holds tomorrow, it is well worth watching Freehold in clear skies from 8.30 until 9.15pm to observe behaviour. If the sky is overcast then bring those timings forward by about 45 minutes. Arnside too, or any other similar area is also worth watching going by the posts I've seen recently. Keep looking out for the next 10 days...
Funnily enough I was saying the other day that I've never been aware of as many Green Woodpeckers in the Silverdale/Arnside area over the last 10 years or so. JBP, St John's area, The Row, Holgates, Heathwaite and rest of Arnside Knott are all holding birds. Its rare not to hear one daily in some of these locations - are they doing so well nationally?
...green woodpecker on the coast ... that's interesting. I wondered today if it was anything to do with ants. We've had little of the normal nest activity I would expect in July this year, but although the resident gulls are reluctant to fly whilst in moult, they were anting yesterday afternoon and there was some ant nest emergence. I have no idea if there is a connection but it is an interesting thought.
Freehold swifts tonight in near perfect conditions were depressed in numbers and far quieter in behaviour. Activity was centred on 8.35pm - 9.10pm concomitant with a clear sunset and good light. Few birds descended below 100 feet, there was a maximum count of 29 birds and there was no screaming trailing chasing of the group. A lot of the screaming activity was associated with paired birds chasing each other and displaying with V wings. Tomorrow may be an earlier display based on a wet day but Saturday may give something better in the area. My personal feeling is the majority of the non-breeding juveniles have departed and remaining birds are associated with extant nests. Certainly 3 birds entered roof spaces close to our house after 9pm.
Green woodpeckers regular near/on the coast around Silverdale. Plenty of anthills around Cows Mouth, and in Jack Scout. Also seen them on the salt marsh near JBP chimney, where fewer ants would be expected given the regular tidal submergence. 15th July a family group of 4 was on the Shore at Silverdale, with 1 of the adults working the ledges on the low cliffs (2-5 metres).
Swifts in the Community were watching 2 sides of a building in the village on 22nd July. 5 sites were being entered, and there were about 40 birds circling. 2 days later (extra observers out) at the same time and in similar weather conditions, only 1 of the 5 sites was entered, and the maximum count of circling birds was 19. 3 other sites on the other 2 sides of the same building were also being entered. It seems likely that some birds left that weekend. Since then we have not had any further observation evenings in Silverdale, but small numbers of birds have been observed around the village on a daily basis up to yesterday. Preliminary results suggest number of nests this year may be marginally up in the village centre.
I've been working the last two evenings frustratingly, but tonight (13/8/17) we were down to just 6 swifts in Freehold between 8.25 and 8.50pm. All apparently associated with nest sites and no aerial displays or screaming at all. Most of the 6 birds made at least one if not two approaches to a nest site then roosted, presumably with young approaching the stage of fledging unless these are late breeding attempts. Still worth watching out for locally anywhere.
I should add there was the largest gathering of mainly bh gulls at 6-7pm over Freehold anting that I've seen this year. Upwards of 200 birds, maybe 300. Some corvids were in attendance too.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 13/08/2017 08:47PM by eddybayton.
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