24 October 2013

Another Woodlark

Almost a year after the last one (which was at Heathfield GP on 27th October last year) another one! This time a flyover at St David's Head today, the 24th October. It's been a great morning's birding with a lot of vis mig, the usual Chaffinches and Starlings but also more Skylarks than normal (160 in a couple of hours mainly). I was counting them as accurately as possible and having to pick out Skylarks from amongst groups of Chaffinches, so my eye was well in. Then a familiar and attractive call off to the seaward side of me as I started down into Porthmelgan Valley. Immediately it was apparent it was a Woodlark and the the hyper-distinctive call, given repeatedly, was supplemented by the distinctive fluttery flight and short-tailed silhouette just round things off. I watched it for a short while as it flew south-east and into the low sun. A brief but brilliant experience on a really enjoyable morning.

A note on bird calls and geography.

When in the Pub on St Agnes recently, I noticed 'tirillee-eep' written on a page of my notebook - just that, nothing else and I recalled that I had written it down a moment after I heard the bird at Heathfield GP last year. However with the St Davids bird, and I'm writing this just hours later, the call is clearly fixed in my head as a softer 'toolloolee'. I know that transcribing bird calls is notoriously difficult and calls can vary slightly but I think there may also be a geographical reason for the difference.

It was the same call with the same syllables but I felt the bird today sounded slightly softer in tone. I think the reason is that the wide open spaces on the headland soften and dissipate some of the clarity of the call, whereas at Heathfield (a more enclosed inland site) the acoustics differ and the call seems a little clearer and sharper. The same thing seems to happen with Grey Wagtails, to give another example, the familiar piercing call, here around the garden can seem momentarily unfamiliar, more diffuse, when heard on a bird over-flying the open geography of The Head. Its something I think I need to check out more in future to see if it holds true.

1 comment:

  1. Cracking account of your very nice find, Mike. Nice to find one on an annual basis too. I'm still waiting for any similar experience....