Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A Quiet, But Not Unexpected, Type of Morning

I headed to the coastal fields at the obs yesterday morning and although I didn't expect to ring very much I was keen to get a first ringing session in here for the autumn. You need grounded or diurnal migrants for this site as the restricted amount of habitat doesn't hold many breeding birds, but because of the lack of habitat migrants really stand out. It's coastal location (directly behind the sea wall) and green oasis (urban areas to the north and south) mean that it is attractive to migrants in the right conditions.

The conditions yesterday morning weren't the right conditions and I had clear skies and it was calm. On the front fields were a flock of fifteen Lapwings, but anything on the front fields doesn't stay long as they get flushed by early morning dog walkers. The only other wader I had during the morning was a Dunlin over.

The only vis I could detect were two Alba Wags south and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying northeast was quite a good record for here. I had a Grasshopper Warbler 'reeling' but it's hard to know at this time of year whether that's a breeding bird or a migrant.

I only ringed six birds as follows:

Blackbird - 2
Dunnock - 1
Whitethroat - 3


I've got another of my reports out of the way and only have one outstanding at the moment, although I do have a few on the horizon once the surveys are finished, so I might just treat myself to a couple of hours birding in the morning. If I do I'll let you know how I get on.

Sunday, 20 July 2014


As birders we don't half give some not overly flattering 'nick names' to some cracking birds and Sedge Warbler is no exception. I presume that some birders refer to them as 'sludges' because it is close to 'sedge' and perhaps sludge represents the colour. We caught a few Sedges this morning and a fresh juvenile in the hand is a sight to behold, absolutely stunning in an ever so subtle sort of way and nowhere near sludge! I prefer some of the old regional names for Sedge Warbler such as Sedge Wren, Sedge Reedling or perhaps Sally Pecker or Sally Picker in Ireland (sally = willow)!

It was perfect conditions for ringing this morning in the reedbed with full cloud cover and just the hint of a WSW wind, although this would pick up a bit later. Ian and I ringed 23 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Whitethroat - 4
Sedge Warbler - 6
Reed Warbler - 4 (1)
Great Tit - 2
Blackcap - 1
Reed Bunting - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Wren - 1
Willow Warbler - 2 (3)
Chiffchaff - 1


 Willow Warbler

As we drove round to the reedbeds at first light we pushed a flock of 15 Lapwings up and these wouldn't be the only waders of the morning. We had a Black-tailed Godwit over and then as we were sat at the ringing table nattering between net rounds a Snipe 'dropped' from the sky and landed a few yards in front of us! Of course as we went for our cameras the bird 'legged it' as you would expect!

As has been the pattern for the past few weeks there has been a number of Alba Wagtails exiting a roost somewhere to the north and flying over us. We had success last winter in tape luring them down as they headed to the roost at dusk, so perhaps we need to try the same as they exit the roost!  A few hirundines were around this morning with a reasonable flock of twenty House Martins and the only other thing of note is the Great Crested Grebes have now got two young from their second brood.

High pressure is dominating for the first half of the week so I will try and get out ringing again, perhaps Tuesday, at some of the coastal bits of the Obs.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

June Ringing Totals

Over on the right I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group to cover the period up until the end of June. At 545 of 45 species they are looking a little bit weary for this time of year and are 802 down on last year.

Seven new species were ringed for the year and these were three pulli Sparrowhawks, three pulli Ringed Plovers, a recently fledged Herring Gull, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Swallow, a Treecreeper and five House Sparrows.

The top five ringed in June were as follows:

1. Pied Flycatcher - 24
2. Reed Warbler - 21
3. Greenfinch - 15
4. Goldfinch - 13
5. Dunnock - 12

The top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year are as follows:

1. Blue Tit - 67 (same position)
2. Great Tit - 56 (same position)
3. Pied Flycatcher - 40 (up from 6th)
4. Chiffchaff - 28 (down from 3rd)
    Goldfinch - 28 (up from 7th)
6. Reed Warbler - 27 (straight in)
7. Greenfinch - 26 (up from 10th)
8. Dunnock - 21 (straight in)
9. Lesser Redpoll - 20 (down from 4th)
10. Sedge Warbler - 19 (straight in)

Dropping out of the top ten were Wheatear, Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer.

So we need to keep our fingers crossed for a Swallow roost and a good autumn of Pipits and Finches!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Twos and Threes

It was back to the reedbed for Ian and I this morning and it was a glorious morning with clear skies and absolutely no wind. Some cloud came in later in the morning which helps to take any glare off the nets from the sun. We didn't ring as many birds as last Sunday but nevertheless it was worth the early start.

Interestingly nearly every species we ringed this morning seemed to be in 2s and 3s, and we ringed 22 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Reed Warbler - 2 (1)
Blackcap - 3
Reed Bunting - 2
Sedge Warbler - 3
Willow Warbler - 2 (2)
Wren - 3
Chiffchaff - 2
Goldfinch - 1
Blue Tit - 1 (1)
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird - (1)

 Reed Bunting

From a birding perspective we didn't have a great deal other than a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Kestrel, 25 Coots, two Little Grebes and a Great Crested Grebe.

Back home I had a nice selection in my moth trap consisting of thirty moths of fourteen species, and these were just the ones I could identify. There were a few Pugs that I struggled with and several micros that I just can't do. My totals were:

Marbled Beauty - 6
Heart And Dart - 1
Gothic - 2
Scalloped Oak - 3
Common Wainscot - 2
V-Pug - 1
Buff Ermine - 2
Dot Moth - 6
Large Yellow Underwing - 1
Bright-line Brown-eye - 2
Garden Carpet - 1
Small Angle Shades - 1
Buff Arches - 1
Grey Arches - 1

 Scalloped Oak

Small Angle Shades

 Buff Arches

Buff Ermine

It's going to be too windy tomorrow for ringing at the Obs unfortunately, which is a shame as the series of weak weather fronts coming in from the west might stir things up a bit. I'll just have to have a stagger round and see what I can see. Oh for some fresh wader habitat!!!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Wainscot and Warblers

As hoped for yesterday Ian and I had a successful ringing session in the reedbed this morning and the catch in my moth trap was reasonable. As we put the nets up we had three oktas cloud cover and the wind was a light southeasterly and yet again it was cold!

During the early part of the morning a number of Alba Wagtails were exiting their roost just to the north of us and we had about 20 go over. As we weren't on site at first light it is likely that there were a good few more than this. Twelve Lapwings took the opportunity to feed on the shorter areas of the grassland before the first members of the public would arrive and flush them.

We actually had a bit of vis this morning with three Sand Martins and a Swallow south. Other bits and pieces that we recorded were single Stock Dove, three Swifts, two Great Crested Grebes, 25 Coots, 2 Little Grebes, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

We ringed 31 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Reed Warbler - 6 (1)
Whitethroat - 8
Reed Bunting - 1
Sedge Warbler - 3 (1)
Great Tit - 2 (2)
Blue Tit - 2 (1)
Blackbird - 1
Willow Warbler - 4
Wren - 2
Blackcap - 2

 Sedge Warbler


When we were packing up I found this juvenile Smooth Newt underneath
the ringing table.

Back home in the moth trap I had a Magpie (moth!), a Large Yellow Underwing, a Garden Carper, two Buff Ermine, a Dot Moth, three Heart and Darts, a Dark Arches, two Bright-line Brown-eyes, a Riband Wave and a Common Wainscot.

 Buff Ermine

It's a day chained to my desk tomorrow for me, but I'm hopeful for the first autumn ringing session at the Obs Tuesday morning.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The rain auditions at my window.......... the opening line to a classic Marillion song called 'The Web', and that is exactly what the rain was doing at my window until it stopped at about 5.15 a.m. and I got up and went birding. High tide was at about 4.30 a.m. so I decided to head to the coast to have a look on the sea. You won't believe this but in the 20-25 mph northwesterly wind that was blowing at this time I had my hat and gloves on, yes wearing hat and gloves on 5th July! Well as I am fond of saying "it is autumn now after all"!

In fact I wished I'd stayed in bed and listened to some Marillion as it was really quiet on the sea but you have to go out because time out = birds in! Birds moving on or above the sea included 129 Common Scoters, three Sandwich Terns, two Arctic Terns, five Cormorants, a single Gannet and an Atlantic Grey Seal.

Waders were few and far between with just six Oystercatchers, two Ringed Plovers, five Turnstones and two Curlews. Best of the rest were a couple of Swifts and that was it. After nearly two hours I couldn't handle all the excitement any longer and headed home. Hopefully I'll have better news from tomorrow's ringing session and from my moth trap. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Not the Best Start to Autumn

I've been struggling to get out this week which isn't what I planned for the start of autumn. After my weeks holiday I have been catching up on emails and then today I am finally making a start on four reports that I have outstanding, but I shouldn't grumble really as it's work!

Last Sunday (29th) Craig, Ian and I had a ringing session in the reedbed and it was certainly not what we expected, but we did ring the first juv Reed Warbler of the year. We ringed just 6 new birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Reed Warbler - 1
Chaffinch - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Dunnock - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Wren - 1
Blackbird - (1)

From a birding perspective there was very little to add to the ringing other than a few Swifts feeding over the pools. Now I must go and get those reports done so I can get out!