Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Whistling Waders.

A text from Peter Wells stirred me from an idle afternoon. He told me that there were two Whimbrels in a field below Hogsbush. They are not rare birds and I have photographed then in several countries, but here in St Margaret's nearly all of our views are fly overs, or sometimes not even a view, just the call ringing out from somewhere above. They have a traditional name of seven-note whistler, which is very appropriate, although sometimes they don't get the number exactly right.

When I got to the area I scanned the fields down the hill from Little Banks and there were two large waders in the feeding in the growing wheat.

I walked down the track, it has the impressive name of Norway Drove, using the hedge for cover and then sat watching them for a while. They were too far away for other than a record shot, but they were on the move all the time and I hoped that they would come closer if I kept still and hidden.

The two of them did move a bit closer and then turned back towards the middle of the field. Then without warning they were off, giving the characteristic whistling call several times as they flew round. The call has some interesting superstitions associated with it, the BTO site reports "The Whimbrel's distictive call is often associated with a Celtic superstition of the 'seven-whistlers', supposedly a group of six birds looking for a seventh - hearing the call augured death or other disaster." Had the falocn been hunting the disaster might have been a Whimbrel supper.
I hadn't moved so I wondered what had disturbed them. Scanning the sky I picked up the shape of a fast moving large falcon. A far as I could see it was a Peregrine, but I wasn't totally sure that it wasn't the "thing", the escaped falconer's hybrid bird that has been around for well over a year.

The trouble with getting down and hiding is that when the time comes I have to get up again. With all my joints feeling particularly arthritic I took a while and as I was contemplating making the effort I noticed this Bee-fly on the ground. The last picture I took of one was pretty awful so I had another try and it has turned out a bit better.

4 comments:

مجرد انسان said...

Nice blog :)

Susan said...

Just found this article about Whooping Cranes – well worth reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/22/magazine/22cranes-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

Your beefly is Bombylius major Dark-edged Beefly.

Warren Baker said...

I can sympathise with your groaning joints Tony! My back is just the same.
I'm hoping for a flyover whimbrel at some time this spring.

Tony Morris said...

Hi Warren,
you've got age on your side though!
Tony