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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Cowering at Cows But Braving the Bulls for 40 YELLOW WAGS

1st Winter Yellow Wagtail at Piccotts End Farm

I cycled to the Piccotts End Pools area this morning for a quick look before work & as I contorted myself with bike through the gate going towards Piccotts End Farm, on Leighton Buzzard Road, I was alerted by large, dark shapes in my periferal vision... Cows.

1st Winter Yellow Wagtail with Cattle, Piccotts End Farm, 15/09/11

1st Winter &  Male (hidden far right) Yellow Wagtails with Cattle, Piccotts End Farm, 15/09/11

If you don't already know I have a overwhelming irrational fear of cows. But then I thought... Cattle = Yellow Wags, so I'll see if I can stick them out. And sure enough as I looked up I saw a splash of yellow come up from under those clumsy hooves. Infact there was rather alot of yellow going on, it was the largest party of YELLOW WAGTAILS I had seen before.

Male Yellow Wagtail with Cattle, Piccotts End Farm, 15/09/11

1st Winter Yellow Wagtail swallowing a Cranefly, Piccotts End Farm, 15/09/11

I managed to get to 37 before loosing count when they all zipped around in all directions. I estimate that in total there was over 40 of them, though they occasionally split off into two groups, one staying with the cows in the small field directly E of the farm & the other travelling S to the edge of the large field where it borders Gadebridge Park. This group was still with cows at the hedge bordering the park when I rode past at about 11.30am & I was happy to hear that Martin Parr got to connect with them here after texting him earlier on.
Most of the Wagtails seemed to be 1st Winter birds, though quite bright & appearing alot like Adult Winter / Female birds, they did show a pale base to the bill & in the continuous clockwork movement of the birds I only managed to count 3 definite bright males.

Female & 1st Winter Yellow Wagtails, Piccotts End Farm, 15/09/11

Male, 1st Winter & Juvenile Yellow Wagtails, Piccotts End Farm, 15/09/11

They appeared to be mainly feeding on Cranefly disturbed by the cattle although even passing Bumble Bees weren't safe from these voracious wags.

1st Winter Yellow Wagtail feeding on Cranefly around Cattle, Piccotts End Farm, 15/09/11

1st Winter Yellow Wagtail feeding on Cranefly, Piccotts End Farm, 15/09/11

Yellow Wagtails searching for insects in a hedge & one considers a Bumble Bee, Piccotts End Farm, 15/09/11

In the end it was definitely worth being petrified by the cows... I think.

I also saw in the following around Piccotts End Pools...

CORMORANTS (my highest count here) - 6 perched together on the old telephone post to dry their wings.
1 Adult LITTLE EGRET flew to rest in a tree.
A 2nd Winter GREY HERON sat in the tree with the Egret then wandered around the dry pools.
4+ RED KITES & 5 BUZZARDS in the air at the same time.
2 KESTRELS following one another.
About 6 SKYLARKS over S.
A loose group of up to 20 Hirundines, mainly HOUSE MARTINS & some SWALLOWS.
Up to 10 MEADOW PIPITS over S.
1 Female BLACKCAP.
One of many CHIFFCHAFFS was singing.
A TREECREEPER was calling.
Up to 3 JAYS.

CHIFFCHAFF was also singing in Gadebridge Park near the walled gardens just before 9am & a NUTHATCH was calling there later on.

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