Monday, 8 February 2016

Deja Vu

Every day out at the minute has that deja vu feeling about it and that's because it is the same old routine. I had a site visit this morning looking at some habitat creation for farmland bird populations and then I headed to my feeding station. Storm Imogen was doing her worst, although up here in the northwest her teeth weren't that sharp! However, it did mean that frequent squally showers combined with the strong winds birds were liying low.

Two raptor species were in the vicinity of the feeding station in the form of two Buzzards and a female Sparrowhawk. The feeders themselves were quiet but the usual Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch and Goldfinch assemblage were close by.


On my way home I had a look at the Geese and they were in a slightly different spot and there was only two hundred Pink-footed Geese and I couldn't find anything amongst them.

 Pink-footed Geese

It's looking very similar for the rest of the week with driving westerlies and showers. Birding will be at a premium!

Friday, 5 February 2016

I Should Be Working!

Mrs Hairy Birder provided my blog title today! Gail was off this afternoon and when she got in I said I was struggling to come up with a title for my blog because it had been quiet (again) when I was out birding this morning, and she suggested 'I Should Be Working'! It was said with a touch of sarcasm and a wilting look!

My alternative title was 'dreich', because it was most certainly a dreich morning. It was grey, bleak, damp and a bit miserable to be honest. The visibility across the bay wasn't awful, but it wasn't good either! As a consequence the birding was slow, which is the story of my life at the minute!

The sea was very quiet, not a sniff of the decent numbers of Little Gulls I have missed over the past few days, with just eight Cormorants, 60 Eiders and three Red-breasted Mergansers. Few waders were on the beach as the tide ran in too, only 210 Oystercatchers, 43 Sanderlings and 22 Ringed Plovers graced the pages of my notebook.

I cut my losses and headed to the Marine Lakes to see if I could re-sight any of our leg-flagged Turnstones. There was about ninety roosting on the island or feeding on some seed left out by a passer-by on the shore, but I couldn't pick out any leg flags!


On my way home I stopped to look through the Pink-footed Geese and like a couple of days ago there were about a thousand. The Barnacle Goose was still amongst them and a Greylag Goose was an addition.

 Pink-footed Geese

Just for a change the forecast is pretty awful for tomorrow, which is just as well as we are meeting some friends this evening for a few jars of real ale!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Peanuts and Pinkies

I had to call at the feeding station this morning to top the feeders up and it was a glorious morning with clear blue skies. It was still quite windy but I was just glad that it wasn't raining.

Over recent weeks nearly all the feeders are empty when I go to feed except for one niger feeder that is invariably a third to half full. However, today it was empty and I am hoping that this is a sign of more birds perhaps. Feeders were topped up, seed spread on the ground and a few apples rolled out!

 One of the net rides at the feeding station complete with feeders and 

I had a quick look round the surrounding scrub but it was relatively quiet other than 28 Magpies, four Long-tailed Tits, four Goldfinches and a female Sparrowhawk.

On the way back home I stopped to have a look at the Pink-footed Geese and there were about a thousand. Over recent weeks there hasn't been anything amongst them, but today there was a Barnacle Goose! I looked hard and tried to string a few Pinkies into Bean Geese, but it wasn't happening!

 Pink-footed Geese

At one point something flushed the Pinkies....

...and when they landed some of them were a little closer

A 'grainy' Barnacle Goose

The forecast is looking very changeable again for the next seven days at least, so it remains to be seen what I can get out and do.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


This morning Andy and I checked the wetland and surrounding fields on a good friend's farm to assess the potential for ringing through dazzling and mist netting waders and wildfowl. There was plenty of water in the wetland and it was doing what it said on the tin as it was very wet!

 Views of the wetland (above and below)

At first it seemed a bit quiet until we inadvertently put up at least 350 - 400 Teal and to say that we were dazzled by the spectacle was an understatement! The only other wildfowl we had were six Mallards and on the wader front just six Snipes and two Lapwings.

 Some of the 400 Teal

The best of the rest were two Stock Doves and a Buzzard mobbed by Crows over the woodland. We will return one dark night for a ringing session and I'll let you know when we do!

Friday, 29 January 2016

What A Weary Week!

I don't need to tell you what the weather has been like of late and as a consequence I have been seeing very little. I've been out, but nothing is changing, and it hasn't been worth telling you that I haven't seen anything of note, but I suppose that's just what I am doing now!

Take the sea for instance, it has been very quiet throughout January and I fear it will remain so until we get in to spring. Last weekend I spent an hour seawatching, and at the end of it all I had was a single male Red-breasted Merganser, six Cormorants and 42 Pink-footed Geese. And that's why I was just there for an hour!

There were a few waders knocking about including 407 Oystercatchers, 22 Sanderlings and 30 Ringed Plovers. Of the most interest were a nice flock of 40 Linnets and a single Siskin over.

I've been religiously topping up my feeding station every few days but it has just been the same old, same old! Bits and pieces barely worth mentioning have been 18 Magpies, a male Sparrowhawk, four Goldfinches, a Song Thrush, six Chaffinches, a Goldcrest and a Buzzard.

I've been checking the Geese all week and there has been about 400 Pink-footed Geese, but nothing else with them. Today there were 170 Lapwings in the fields as well.

 Pinkies this afternoon. A check of the Geese was preceded by a pint of 
real ale; the best way to check Geese!

So you can see I have been trying. Roll on spring!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

A Morning On The Marsh

Yesterday morning I headed out to the marsh in the cold overcast conditions. It wasn't as cold as the day before, but the southeasterly wind was still biting.

I had a look on the pools first but they were quiet with just three Little Grebes, 30 Coots, a male Pochard and five Tufted Ducks. A singing Song Thrush indicated that perhaps spring was just round the corner, but there's still a fair bit of winter to go through first. A Magpie carrying nest material presumably thought that spring was just around the corner too!

 Tufted Duck

As I headed out along the saltmarsh to have a look at the Gulls on the tip I flushed a male Pheasant. Hardly noteworthy I can here you say but they are relatively scarce on the patch and I only ever record one or two a year! I was hoping for a few Twite but had to make do with four Reed Buntings, six Rock Pipits and fifteen Goldfinches.

I edged over to the mudflats alongside the river and had a look at the waders and wildfowl. My totals included 173 Wigeon, 32 Oystercatchers, ten Mallards, 629 Lapwings, seven Teal, a male Eider and 46 Shelducks.

I had a look through the Gulls and just counted them in one section and had 16 Black-headed Gulls, 440 Herring Gulls, a 4CY Yellow-legged Gull, six Great Black-backed Gulls and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

 Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls

Back on drier land I had a calling Water Rail, a male Sparrowhawk and five Long-tailed Tits along the ditch and scrub. On the small reedy pool close by were another seven Mallards and seventeen Teal.

On my way back home I called to see if there were any Turnstones about that needed feeding, but as the tide was yet to run in they hadn't been pushed on to our feeding area.

It looks like the cold snap will end shortly and a return to mild and wet weather will ensue, but hopefully I can get out again whilst it's dry before that happens!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Fly Over Dick's Pipit

It was exceedingly quiet at the feeding station this morning when Kim and I attempted a ringing session. It was flat calm with a ground frost, and at first we had clear skies and by the time we packed up a couple of hours later we nearly had full cloud cover.

We only ringed six birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Goldfinch - 2
Robin - 2
Chaffinch - 1
Dunnock - 1 (1)
Blackbird - (1)
Great Tit - (2)



It was very quiet on the birding front and there are meagre pickings in my notebook with Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush and Siskin being the highlights except for a fly over Richard's Pipit.

Where we sit at the feeding station it is between a high bramble covered banking and some young Birch/ Scots Pine/Alder woodland. This means that you have a very narrow field of view of anything flying over, particularly if flying north to south or vice versa. This meant that we didn't see the Richard's Pipit, but just heard its loud 'shreep' call! Ian had one on the patch on 31st December and there is a lot of suitable habitat surrounding the feeding station, so it is likely that it is the same bird. It's direction of flight based on the calls was north to south and this would take it from one block of suitable habitat to another.

It's snowing as a type, but this is forecast to peter out later tonight and the forecast doesn't look too bad for the morning so I'll try and get out on the patch somewhere.