Saturday, 3 October 2015

Another Pea Souper

I put my head out of the door in the darkness this morning and it was foggy again and I cancelled my plans to do some ringing. Instead I found myself at the Obs sat in my car drinking a coffee waiting for it to become light before I could start birding.

In the confusion of changing my plans I made the schoolboy error of forgetting my camera and typically the first bird I had was a cracking adult male Sparrowhawk perched in the open! After a while though it was quite liberating not having to think about taking any pictures but just enjoying 'seeing' the birds.

The fog remained for the couple of hours I was out and consequently the vis was a bit scant with just 47 Meadow Pipits, six Alba Wags, two Snipe, two Chaffinches and three Grey Wagtails.

There were some grounded migrants in the murky conditions in the form of 15 Goldcrests, nine Robins, a Blackcap and two Chiffchaffs.

The forecast is looking fairly reasonable for some ringing in the morning and this might be the last day for a while that it will be calm enough to operate some mist nets at the Obs, so I'll make an effort and get up early in the morning (again)!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Pea Souper

When I headed out to my car in the pre-dawn darkness to head to the Obs there was a pea souper of a fog and I must admit I did think about not ringing and just birding. However, I thought to myself that it might clear when the sun comes up, but it didn't!

I duly put the nets up and waited for it to clear but as I said above it didn't. I had a few grounded migrants in the murk in the form of two Song Thrushes, a Chiffchaff, a Blackcap and nine Goldcrests. There was even some vis over the fog as I could hear Pink-footed Geese, Meadow Pipits, Alba Wags, House Martins and when it cleared a bit I saw a few Swallows and a single Snipe.

Before my nets became wet with the fog I did manage to ring seven birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Blackcap - 1
Goldfinch - 4
Chiffchaff - 1
Woodpigeon - 1
Robin - (1)
Blackbird - (1)


The forecast for tomorrow is for light southeasterly winds and cloud, so as long as there is no fog I'll have a ringing session at the Obs and if there is fog I'll just grill the patch for grounded migrants.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Super Supercill

It is the start of Lytham Beer Festival at teatime today and what has that to do with birding I can hear you say? The fact that it is the start of the beer festival and also the fact that I like to make an appearance shortly after it opens (I can sample a few beers early doors and be fit to get out birding early the following morning that way) meant that I didn't go out ringing at the Obs this morning. Instead I gave Gail a lift to work so I could pick her up and drive on to the beer festival. That way I have a designated driver for the return journey! After I dropped Gail off I headed to the Obs just to do some birding.

I met Ian in the cemetery and a couple of years ago when we birded together at this time of year in the cemetery we found a Golden Oriole. We didn't expect anything quite as good as that this morning but a Yellow-browed Warbler was on the cards as Ian had found one at the Mount yesterday.

The YBW that Ian found yesterday materialised with a cloud bank rolling in from the east, but this morning it was crystal clear and not really the sort of morning for a grounded migrant. However with so many YBWs in the northern isles (76 on Fair Isle earlier in the week and they ringed 40 of them!) it is possible for one or two of these Siberian waifs to turn up anywhere under any conditions at the moment.

We came across some calling Coal Tits and counted them as they moved from tree to tree; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Yellow-browed! Five Coal Tits zipped past in front of us with a YBW hot on their heels. The Coal Tits moved back again in the direction they had come from but the YBW hung around in front of us for a short while and just long enough to get some photographs below. They are indeed record shots but you can tell it is a YBW, just look at that super supercill!

The YBW moved south along the edge of the cemetery and it was then lost from view. The only other grounded migrant in the cemetery was a single Goldcrest.

I then moved on to the Mount and gave it a good grilling. It felt like there should be another YBW lurking amongst the party of five Coal Tits, Chiffchaff and two Goldcrests but there wasn't. The ivy in here was attracting a lot of butterflies and there was easily 70 Red Admirals, 15 Small Tortoiseshells and three Commas nectering on the ivy flowers, plus huge numbers of bees.


 Red Admiral

Small Tortoiseshell

Speckled Wood

There was some vis this morning in the form of 15 Meadow Pipits, nine Alba Wags, 263.Pink-footed Geese, three Skylarks, a Snipe and a Grey Wagtail.

 Pink-footed Geese

It is going to be relatively calm tomorrow so I will try and return to the Obs with mist nets for a ringing session even after a few jars at the beer festival!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Ds and Es

My blog title isn't a reference to some chemical highs that I have been experimenting with, but rather to the fact that over the past couple of days I have had to use both a D and E ring whilst ringing at the Obs. As I mainly ring small passerines I rarely use some of the larger rings so the fact that I have used both these ring sizes recently is noteworthy. More of that later.

I didn't have time to post yesterday but I was out recording at the Obs again and I was there this morning too. Both mornings were similar in terms of weather conditions and birds recorded so I have decided to lump two days totals together.

Vis has certainly been a feature this week and there has been decent numbers each day. Yesterday and today's totals combined were 383 Pink-footed Geese, 25 Alba Wags, 541 Meadpow Pipits (458 today), eight Snipe, 14 Siskins, three House Martins, 16 Skylarks, 73 Greenfinches, five Chaffinches, three Reed Buntings, five Grey Wagtails, 1 Lesser Redpoll, nine Goldfinches, 24 Linnets, 15 Swallows and eight Tree Sparrows.

 Meadow Pipit

Raptors over both days have included up to three Kestrels and a male and female Sparrowhawk. The male Sparrowhawk was a juvenile that I ringed this morning and was responsible for the use of a D ring.


Grounded migrants were a Song Thrush, six Coal Tits, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Goldcrests, two Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff.

 Coal Tit


Over the two days I ringed 30 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Greenfinch -14
Meadow Pipit -9
Magpie - 1
Blackcap - 2
Coal Tit - 1
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Sparrowhawk - 1
Blackbird - 1


The Magpie was responsible for the use of an E ring and when I was extracting it from one of my mist nets I also had to extract a disemboweled Field Vole! As I said earlier in the week the field had been mown by the farmer and the Kestrels were constantly feeding over it. I suspect the Field Vole was a prey item that the Magpie had taken from one of the Kestrels or was a casualty of the grass cutting. Whichever it was it was a gruesome extraction!


I've had a few insects on the wing these past two days including Speckled Wood, Migrant Hawker and Red Admiral.

The forecast is looking good for some more migration monitoring tomorrow with light east-southeasterly winds and it looks set fair with high pressure in charge until at least Sunday. After that the high pressure looks to be losing its grip from Monday onwards as we get an Atlantic front bringing southwesterly winds.

Monday, 28 September 2015

More Of The Same

I was at the Obs again for first light and I had clear skies with a 5 - 10 mph southeasterly wind. I'm afraid this blog posting is going to be a bit repetitive as it was very much more of the same this morning.

The vis was similar to yesterday in terms of species make up, but perhaps less numbers, and I recorded 56 Meadow Pipits, three Grey Wagtails, a Reed Bunting, ten Alba Wags, twelve Greenfinches, a Chaffinch, two Goldfinches, 230 Pink-footed Geese, a Curlew, a Skylark, eleven Swallows and a House Martin.

 Pink-footed Geese


With clear skies these past few days grounded migrants have been a bit thin on the ground and this morning I had a Reed Bunting, three Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, a Coal Tit and a Blackcap. I also had a Great Spotted Woodpecker which might not have been strictly a migrant, but it certainly wasn't from the immediate area as there is a lack of woodland.


I ringed seven birds this morning as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Blackcap - 1
Meadow Pipit - 1
Great Tit - 1
Greenfinch - 2
Wren - 1
Woodpigeon - 1
 Dunnock - (1)

 Great Tit

High pressure is still dominating tomorrow, and through until at least Friday, and the winds will remain fairly light at from the southeast. This means that I will be out at the Obs again in the morning and with a bit more cloud around perhaps there might be a few more birds about; I'll let you know.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Just In Double Figures

I was back ringing at the Obs at first light this morning under clear skies with a 5 - 10 mph southeasterly wind. I wasn't anywhere near as busy as yesterday and ringed thirteen birds as follows:

Meadow Pipit - 8
Robin - 2
Dunnock - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Wren - 1


I got a text from Craig this afternoon who is a member of our group and he is in Denmark at Gedser Bird Observatory at the moment. His text said that he had ringed over 300 birds this morning, mainly Robins and Bramblings on the move!


There was some vis this morning and it was coming through in fits and starts. I had 648 Pink-footed Geese, 182 Meadow Pipits, a House Martin, six Alba Wags, a Reed Bunting, a Goldfinch, ten Swallows, 12 Greenfinches, a Collared Dove, seven Magpies, four Skylarks, a Siskin, a Grey Wagtail and two Linnets.

Grounded birds were limited to six Robins, four Dunnocks, a Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest and two Reed Buntings. No moving raptors this morning, just three local Kestrels probably from our nest box close by.

The forecast is looking okay again for tomorrow so I'll make the effort to get up and get out again in the morning; after all you have to make hay whilst the sun shines!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Finches of Green and Pipits of Meadow

This morning I was manning the nets at the Obs on my 'Jack Jones' as Kim is holidaying in northwest Scotland and Ian was monitoring vis and sea passage at the Point. The morning dawned with clear skies and a light southeasterly wind. At first it seemed quiet and then the vis picked up, which lead to me being busy with the nets.

I ringed 37 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Meadow Pipit - 14
Chaffinch - 1
Reed Bunting - 2
Greenfinch - 18
Robin - 1 (2)
Wren - 1

 Meadow Pipit

Raptors were thin on the ground this morning and I just had two Kestrels hunting over the recently cut meadow. All morning I kept on hearing Pink-footed Geese, but only managed to pick up two groups heading south totalling 90 birds. There was obviously a lot more than this but they must have been out of sight to the east or west.

 Pink-footed Geese

Grounded migrants weren't obvious this morning other than four Robins, a Song Thrush, a Stonechat and two Reed Buntings. However, the vis was better and even though I missed a lot of birds due to operating mist nets I recorded 132 Meadow Pipits, a House Martin, three Goldfinches, 16 Woodpigeons, two Chaffinches, 47 Greenfinches, two Alba Wags, two Linnets, 16 Skylarks, two Grey Wagtails, two Reed Buntings, a Siskin and four Swallows.

The only other observation of note was a feeding flock of about 75 Goldfinches. The forecast is similar for tomorrow so I will be out ringing again and it still looks good next week with those forecast easterlies!