Friday, 27 February 2015

Still Wild In The Wenning

I've had further work this week in the Wenning Valley, and as I've trundled my measuring wheel along I've been able to do some birding again. Unfortunately I didn't see quite as much as last time but my sightings included three House Sparrows, 130 Common Gulls, three Lapwings, 16 Teal, 40 Woodpigeons, five Long-tailed Tits, a Woodcock, two Brown Hares, a Goldcrest, two Song Thrushes and 110 Fieldfares.

 Primrose - I came across a good number on a wooded embankment.

It's looking wet and quite windy for weekend, but I'm hoping as always that there'll be an opportunity to get out.

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Best Made Plans Of Mice And Men Often Go Astray

I tried to go out Saturday morning but the heavy squally showers wouldn't allow me to, several attempts were made, but each time I had to beat a hasty retreat indoors. My plan was to go down to the river, but there was no way I was going to stand exposed on the saltmarsh in the cold wind and rain. Perhaps I'm getting softer as I get older, or is it just getting wiser?

My plan was top do the same Sunday morning but Ian told me that it was really quiet on the river and he was struggling to put anything in his note book, so I decided that when I went to feed at my farmland bird feeding station I would have a bit of walk round as I hadn't done that for a while.

I knew that I had probably got until 1100 before the forecast rain was due to come in and it actually came in an hour earlier cutting my walk short. I set off on my walk with full cloud cover and a cold 15 mph SSE wind. The feeding station itself was very quiet, perhaps the quietest it has been all winter, with just 22 Chaffinches, a Yellowhammer and 18 Tree Sparrows in attendance. This might also have been the first time that Chaffinches had outnumbered Tree Sparrows.

I headed up the '97 hedge', but there wasn't much doing here, and when I got to the top fields it started raining. I had to abandon my plan to have a look in the plantation and head back along the lane looking in the wet fields as I walked past. Feeding in the wet stubbles were 45 Fieldfares, 33 Skylarks, a Green Sandpiper, 35 Redwings and 15 Corn Buntings. In the field on the opposite side were five Shelducks and I also flushed five Roe Deer from the copse. 

 Shelducks

By the now it was really pouring down and I legged it back to the car. The forecast for the week is a bit grim, but you have to remain optimistic!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Wild In The Wenning

For the past couple of days I have been working in the Wenning valley, and although technically it hasn't been wild or I haven't been wild, it was a better title than 'doing a bit of birding whilst measuring field boundaries in the Wenning valley'! Although that title would have explained what I was actually doing and whilst walking along field boundaries trundling my measuring wheel along it did enable me to do some birding.

The view from my office at lunchtime.

On Monday it was cold with clear skies for most of the time with a fresh raw wind and today it was a good deal calmer and milder with a few spots of rain. I only had my 'point and shoot' camera with me, so no pictures of birds I'm afraid, just a few habitat/landscape shots etc.

I came across these Crab Apples on the floor, hopefully something will
make use of them. 

Some early Hazel catkins.

I had quite a good selection of birds, plus a few mammals too, and I have lumped both days sightings together as they were on two different parts of the farm. In no particular order I had three Buzzards, 18 House Sparrows (a healthy population around the old bar in the yard), three Skylarks, eleven Robins, 58 Redwings, seven Brown Hares (other mammals were Field Vole and Common Shrew), 15 Blackbirds, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, two Goldcrests, two Long-tailed Tits, five Song Thrushes, three Mistle Thrushes, three Kestrels, a Siskin, a Sparrowhawk, three Jays, a Linnet, 26 Fieldfares, a Woodcock, a Reed Bunting, three Snipe, 158 Common Gulls, ten Lapwings, a Curlew and a Teal. Nothing mega, but it was pleasant nevertheless.

 My first Ladybird of the spring.

I'm office bound tomorrow (and it's going to be wet), continuing decorating Friday :( and hopefully birding and ringing at weekend!

Monday, 16 February 2015

First Vis Of Spring For Me

Towards the end of last week I had an enforced two days indoors as I was having a wood burning stove fitted in the lounge and since installation I have also been on decorating duties! At weekend I managed to get a walk round the Obs in and also managed to feed at the two feeding stations I'm operating at the moment.

I was greeted with clear skies and a 5 - 10 mph northeasterly wind as I headed off on my walk round the Obs. One of the first signs of spring at this time of year, besides lots of species starting to sing, is the build up of Common Gulls, and this morning I had 42 on the fields. Talking of Gulls there was a steady northwards passage of big Gulls this morning, mainly Herring and Great Black-backed and I only counted them for a few minutes whilst I stopped for a look on the sea and had 92 and 15 respectively. The real figure would actually have been many hundreds!

 Herring Gull

The wintering male and female Stonechats were still around and it will be interesting to see if they stop to breed or whether they are just purely wintering. A good flock of 42 Meadow Pipits were feeding behind the sea wall and this is the biggest count I've had all winter, and I suspect it is the first murmurings of a bit of spring passage.

I had my first definite spring vis in the form of three Skylarks north and a single Siskin; not much but it has to start somewhere!

I called at my farmland bird feeding station this morning and over the weekend and sightings included two Buzzards, two Jays, 15 Chaffinches, 67 Tree Sparrows, three Yellowhammers, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a singing Corn Bunting.

When I was there this morning pandemonium broke out as something was causing mayhem as 300 Jackdaws, 70 Shelducks and 80 Teal all took to the air and took along time before they settled. In fact some of the Shelducks cleared off west. I can only assume it was a raptor and if I was to put money on what species I would guess at a quartering Hen Harrier. The reason I say this is that the local birds are used to the Buzzards and Peregrine is also fairly regular (although I did also have Peregrine down as a possible contender), so a quartering Hen Harrier would certainly cause a commotion!

I met Ian at the water treatment works this morning to feed and at last our niger feeders are going down and there was a nice flock of 25 Goldfinches hanging around. The peanut feeders always empty and there is obviously an army of Tits munching through the peanuts! Best of the rest was a Buzzard, Song Thrush and a few Long-tailed Tits.

Back at home in my drive taking my boots off the House Sparrows suddenly fell silent and an immature male Sparrowhawk shot across my front garden and crashed through my thick privet hedge! It then flew up in to the Hawthorn and a House Sparrow decided to leg it and the Sparrowhawk gave chase. They both flew across the road and I was impressed with the speed of the House Sparrow. I saw the House Sparrow fly between two houses and the Sparrowhawk wasn't following, so had obviously given up the chase. A Sparrowhawk doing what it says on the tin; chasing Sparrows. Superb!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

January's Ringing Totals

Over on the right you will see that I have updated Fylde Ringing Group's ringing totals for 2015, or should I say I have put up the first month's totals for the year. In January 2014 we only ringed an abysmal 27 birds, so at 177 ringed for 2015 we are quite a bit up.

Below are the top five ringed birds in January 2015:

1. Blue Tit = 60
2. Long-tailed Tit = 31
3. Great Tit = 29
4. Blackbird = 11
    Chaffinch = 11

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Larids

I took an hour and a half out this morning to go and have a look at the Gulls on the river. As I walked along the edge of the saltmarsh I had full cloud cover with a light northwesterly wind. Pink-footed Geese were leaving their estuarine roost and heading off to feed and I had 550 go over.

I didn't see much else as I walked along the edge of the saltmarsh other than a couple of Reed Buntings, a Song Thrush, Rock Pipit and 700 Lapwings. I started to look through the Gulls and estimated there to be 7-800 Herring Gulls with low double figures of Great Black-backed Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 80 Black-headed Gulls. All I could find amongst the Herring Gulls was a single adult Yellow-legged Gull.

 Reed Buntings

In addition to the Gulls I had 14 Reed Buntings and when I got back to the Nature Park (that name's a laugh) I had a male Stonechat. The Nature Park is a very depressing place now with huge number of dog walkers that have trashed and continue to trash the site, and this morning I could actually smell the disgusting aroma of dog shit floating towards me on the northwesterly breeze!!!

 Stonechat

A couple of singing Skylarks brought me out of my 'dog walker' induced depression, whilst a Cetti's Warbler called from the margins of the pools and two Pochards and six Tufted Ducks were on the pools. Back at home I had the adult Med. Gull that has wintered around my house for the second year now.

It's site visits in deepest, darkest, inland, upland Lancashire for me tomorrow so I'm not too hopeful for many birds. I'll let you know.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Usual Feeding Station Fayre

I had a break from report writing this morning to carry out a feed at my feeding station. Under full cloud cover with a 15 mph northwesterly wind I headed down the track loaded with apples, peanuts and seed. At the feeding station were 17 Chaffinches, 44 Tree Sparrows and four Yellowhammers.

Walking back along the track I had 400 Pink-footed Geese go over and two Buzzards were around the woodland. I decided to go and have a look on the stubble field and on my way there I flushed two Grey Partridges from the hedge bottom. In the woodland alongside the stubble's a male Tawny Owl called, and on the stubble's were nine Blackbirds, 23 Fieldfares, 80 Starlings, 15 Corn Buntings and 13 Redwings.

The forecast is looking quite good for ringing over the next couple of days, but I have some site visits to complete, so I might just try and sneak out birding for a couple of hours tomorrow morning.