Tuesday, 27 September 2016

From Merseyside To A Few Soggy Migrants

I had a survey to complete in Merseyside last Friday (23rd) morning on some farmland habitat. It was a slightly overcast morning with a light southwesterly wind and there was a little bit of vis.

Skylarks dominated the vis passage with 55 south and the best of the rest were eight Grey Wagtails, twelve Linnets, 29 Pink-footed Geese, 13 Meadow Pipits, 18 House Martins and nine Mute Swans. I was inland!

Six Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, two Buzzards and four Jays were around some of the woodland, but best of all were the five Red Squirrels that I had. Unfortunately every time I was about to press the shutter button on my camera they disappeared!

Fast forward to this morning when it was raining, but looked like the conditions might have dropped a few migrants in. I had to go to the stationers to get some maps copied so I decided to call in at the cemetery and the coastal park.

The southern end of the cemetery was sheltered against the blustery southwesterly wind but it was obvious straight away that there was a few migrants about and I quickly had ten Robins, four Goldcrests, two Chiffchaffs and two male Blackcaps. I then headed to the park but I couldn't find any shelter and all I could add migrant wise to the tally was two Chiffchaffs and two Song Thrushes.

During the breaks in the cloud and when the rain ceased a few birds started to move including a Grey Wagtail, 16 Meadow Pipits and three Swallows.

It's back to Merseyside tomorrow and hopfelly I'll be able to get a snap or two of a Red Squirrel!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Dairy Country

I spent of all of yesterday morning surveying more hedges on another dairy farm, but this time out on the Fylde plain. It was a glorious morning with 5 oktas hazy cloud cover and it was flat calm. I was measuring and photographing hedges, but as always when you're out doors you are always birding. In fact I would go as far to say that if you are awake, no matter where you are you are always birding!

When I bird my regular patches I record everything I see and hear so I can submit complete lists to the BTO's BirdTRack online bird recording system. However, when I visit 'one off' sites I just record anything I consider to be of interest and worthy of entering it in to my notebook.

It was obvious that there was some vis this morning but passerines were in short supply and Pink-footed Geese dominated the passage. Passerine wise all I had was eleven Meadow Pipits, seven Skylarks and four Grey Wagtails. The Pink-footed Geese were going over high and heading south and for the last couple of hours I was on the farm I had 1,239 go over. There was more than this as on numerous occasions I could hear 'Pinkies' but couldn't see them!

 High flying 'Pinkies'

For want of a better term on my walk round the 'best of the rest' included a Jay, five Buzzards, a Reed Bunting, a Kestrel and 51 Goldfinches


We could do with some of the east coast goodies that are around at the moment making it over to the west coast! I suppose I should get out looking!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

No Fog But Few Birds

Thankfully when I got up this morning at 0530 there was none of the forecast fog! I headed to the Obs under 4 oktas cloud cover with a 5 mph southeasterly wind. I unlocked the gate and drove down the track and even in the half light there was still loads of wasps close to one of my net rides, so I decided to put up just one net and target Greenfinches and Meadow Pipits.

Unfortunately it was quiet and I only ringed seven birds as follows:

Greenfinch - 4
Wren - 2
Meadow Pipit - 1


 Meadow Pipit

It was quiet on the vis front too and yesterday had obviously been a bit of a clear out day. However, there was some vis and my totals included 55 Meadow Pipits, three Alba Wagtails, two Swallows, six Grey Wagtails, a Chaffinch and thirteen Greenfinches.


The only grounded migrants I had were four Dunnocks. They appeared on top of some hawthorns and were quite agitated. They then took off, circled round gaining height and headed south. Migration in action!

Workwise I have a very busy two weeks ahead of me and I might be restricted just to weekends for birding, but as ever I will try and squeeze some mid-week sessions in!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

First Pinkies of Autumn

I had a walk round the farm fields at the Obs this morning and I wasn't too hopeful of much due to the clear skies and the 10 - 15 mph northeasterly wind. I had my first Pinkies of the autumn when I had a close encounter of the wasp kind and I had to do a runner to escape some angry wasps! All I could put in my notebook was c.30 Pinkies because it was just as I was going to count the individuals in the small skein that the wasps showed some interest in me! My interaction with the winged tigers with a sting in their tail was close to one of my mist net rides, so I won't be putting that net up in the morning!

I had a further five Pink-footed Geese during the morning, and there was a bit of vis albeit it very high due to the clear skies. My vis totals included 128 Meadow Pipits, seven Alba Wags, four Grey Wagtails, a Reed Bunting, a Siskin, two Skylarks and three Swallows.

 Meadow Pipit

Due to the clear overnight conditions I didn't expect any grounded migrants but I did record single Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, and three Wheatears. The sea was fairly quiet with ten Cormorants, a Great Crested Grebe, four Auk sp., a Guillemot, fifty Common Scoters and four Sandwich Terns.

About 20-30 House Martins were feeding on aerial insects along the sea wall and a flock of three Little Egrets once again gave the morning a continental feel. As I hinted at before I will be returning here again in the morning for a ringing session. The forecast is for very light southeasterly winds, but with fog. I'll need to check the fog situation first before committing myself to putting up mist nets as most of what I ring will be brought down by playback lures and fog and vis don't go together!

Friday, 16 September 2016

August's Ringing Totals

Over on the right I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of August. We have ringed 2213 birds of 49 species and are just 162 short of where we were this time last year. Only one new species was added in August and this was a pulli Ringed Plover.

Although similar to last month I have listed below the top five ringed during August and the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year so far.

Top 5 Ringed in August

1. Swallow - 653
2. Reed Warbler - 42
3. Willow Warbler - 16
4. Blue Tit - 15
5. Sedge Warbler - 13

Top 10 Movers and Shakers

1. Swallow - 826 (same position)
2. Lesser Redpoll - 159 (same position)
3. Goldfinch - 149 (same position)
4. Blue Tit - 146 (same position)
5. Great Tit - 107 (same position)
6. Reed Warbler - 96 (up from 8th)
7. Chaffinch - 90 (down from 6th)
8. Siskin - 59 (down from 7th)
9. Meadow Pipit - 53 (same position)
10. Pied Flycatcher - 49 (same position)

Marsh Harrier in Merseyside

On Wednesday I carried out a reconnaissance visit to a site in Merseyside that I will shortly be surveying. It was a glorious day and looked spot on for a migrating raptor. In fact back at the Obs Ian had two Ospreys through and it was this species that I had in mind.

I had already had a couple of local Buzzards making use of the thermals when I picked up a female/immature Marsh Harrier drifting across the fields. Sadly an Osprey didn't materialise, but I was happy with the Marsh Harrier!

Birthday Birding

Unfortunately I had to work on my birthday last Monday and I found myself in the Lune Valley surveying some hedges. I was pretty much focused on the hedges, so couldn't really have my eyes skywards, but I did manage to catch sight of a Raven and Buzzard. Fifty Greylag Geese headed towards the riverside pastures to graze and a single Grey Wagtail was alongside a beck.

The view from the 'office' on my birthday!