Thursday, 1 May 2008

Beltain Birds

May Day, Beltain, Ascension Day, whatever you call it, I hope you have a wonderful day. And right on cue the Hawthorn (May) blossom is coming out down here.

Beltain, one of the Cross Quarter days in the Pagan Calendar is a favourite festival of mine. As such a candle burned all night and I was up with the dawn this morning. No I wasn't dancing about some sacred site, but at Sand Bay by 5.30 for a spot of birding and solitude. The whole Bay was deserted, so while waiting for the birds to pop along, composed a poem for the day (don't worry I'll get the the wildlife soon)

Glisten sunlight on still wet rocks
Evaporating before others will view
Watching billowing clouds, light passes
I'm running with the Hares

Which brings me to Tuesday night. Spot of birding on way home at Chew Valley and this Hare was out in the open, with another behind. Picture isn't great but they were at the end of a field, so a digiscope shot for the record.

Back to the birds. Yesterday was a painting and birding day off. In the morning after a trip to Weston super Mud, a half hour at Sand Bay kicked off 5 Whimbrel (133), 5 Wheatear, a Little Egret and a cracking Kestrel which spent most of the time I was there hovering nearby.

In the evening after "doing" a painting (see Art blog), spent a bit of time down there with the scope. This time 17 Whimbrel, 3 Little Egret and that was about it other than a probable 40+ Dulin out on the mud, but at such a distance could have been something else as not that common here in April/May. The Whimbrell were very active though and gave some good clear views through the scope. Sadly though the Curlew have now left so no chance of comparing size etc.

Then this morning's early visit to Bay before all the dog walkers emerged provides some useful numbers of; Carrion Crow (35), Starling (40+), Shelduck (3 pairs), Male House Sparrows (13), Herring Gull (23), Whimbrel (11), Lesser BB Gull (5), Linnet (5), Little Egret (1), Skylark (7). And 2 very obliging Meadow Pippits, one of which was using a bit of drift wood to launch himself off into song and back again a number of times. Very nice piece of behaviour to herald May Day.

..... but the star of the day has to be the Peregrine. I was watching the Mippit doing it's stuff through the binoculars and on the skyline over the Point, "thought what's that"?. Ignoring the Mippit's for a moment, great views of it climbing and then attacking Woodpigeons which live around the point. My guess by the size it was a female, and three or 4 times it had a go at a kill. Although unsuccessful each time, watching the change of speed between flap flap searching and gaining height and then hell-for-leather chase was breathtaking. A Beltin' bird for a Beltain Day...ha ha ha

And finally what about this cracking piece of habitat management? The reed beds at Sand Bay are tiny, so my guess is the reed stems have been tied together to provide suitable nesting sites for Reed Buntings. By whom is unknown. But any thoughts or comments welcome.


And a postscript. Earlier today sent this article about "Birds can tell if you're watching them". thought it was interesting enough to add as a amended entry for today.



  1. Lovely picture of the Hawthorn. Happy Beltane to you.

  2. Like the hawthorn..ages yet before ours will be out though...too cold here still. Good pics of the birds and the hare as well, as they can all be off in a shot :)

  3. Thanks OC it lifts the spirits seeing the blossom

    Hare's are "divils" to get good views of, which is why that one isn't good. There were actually 2 in the field, but the other one could only be seen by it's ears sticking up out of grass. You're right, most views are of a speeding brown blob.