Thursday, 28 August 2014

Lots of Swallows

Just a quick update from the Swallow roost. Graham, Ian and I went yesterday evening to 'work' the roost and we managed to ring 123 Swallows, a Sand Martin, a Reed Warbler and a Sedge Warbler. So not bad for an evenings 'work'!

When you are busy ringing it's hard to estimate how many Swallows are roosting because you are concentrating on the ringing, but I thought there was perhaps 2-3,000 birds coming in. The only other appearances in my notebook were a Buzzard and Kestrel.

The forecast is for strong southwesterlies and rain for tomorrow, with an improving picture on Saturday, so it will probably be Saturday before I post again. I do intend to get out Saturday morning even though it will be a late night for me as I'm off to see Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman. Have a look at Kathryn Roberts singing a song called the 'Ballad of Andy Jacobs' here The song is about a young miner during the miners strike; brilliant lyrics and a cracking voice! I think I must be going soft in my old age as there's not a monster guitar riff in sight! 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Ticking Robins

It was hard to hear the ticking Robins this morning in the 15-20 mph easterly wind and I thought about those east coast birders who would be having a field day with lots of good seabirds and scarce grounded migrants. Nevertheless I didn't let my jealous thoughts get me down and I slogged round the coastal scrub of the Obs.

My schoolboy error this morning was getting up too early and I spent the first ten minutes or so birding in the half-light, not that it really made any difference when it came fully light! I always think 'ticking' Robins are so evocative of autumn and this morning four ticked on my walk round. The only grounded migrant, other than the Robins perhaps, that I had was a single Wheatear.

A few hirundines were around this morning with a flock of 35 House Martins feeding on flies along the sea wall and a few Swallows headed south. In fact the Swallows were the only vis I had except for a lonely Grey Wagtail.

The sea was equally quiet with just eight Sandwich Terns for my brief efforts. It was a bit surreal to be buffeted about by an onshore wind! The raptor flag was waved by a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk. In fact the Sparrowhawk was a female and she drifted quite close to me along the sea wall, and by the tome I'd thought about trying to get a shot and then fumbling for my camera she'd flown by!

My walk back to the car was just marked by a 'starting to get late now' Swift. Some more Swallow ringing tomorrow evening hopefully!

Monday, 25 August 2014

53.........

.........is the number of Swallows that Ian and I ringed at the roost yesterday evening. In addition to the Swallows we managed to 'control' one and ring two Reed Warblers.

Other than the fantastic spectacle of Swallows coming in to roost we just had a flock of seventy Linnets that made it in to my notebook. Flocks like this, and larger, used to be commonplace but they are getting scarce now.

It's forecast for quite strong easterlies tomorrow, so I'll probably have a stagger round the Obs for a couple of hours before doing some work.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Second Attempt

The morning didn't start off too well when at 0140 I was running into the garden to bring my moth trap in as it was absolutely pouring down! My alarm was set for 0445 to go to the Obs to do some ringing and from the time I got back in bed after my impromptu shower in the garden, I watched the clock go round until my alarm went off!

Driving to the area of coastal scrub the skies still looked menacing and that northwesterly wind seemed a little bit strong too me. Even when unlocking the gate I thought it was too strong for mist nets but ever hopeful I drove down the track to the centre of ringing operations. I walked down to the first net ride; too windy and I knew there was no hope of getting the Pipit net up, so it was a change of plan and I headed to the reedbed for a second attempt at some ringing.

Ian joined me and we put the usual nets up. It felt quiet and indeed it was quiet, and we ringed eight birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Bunting - 1
Reed Warbler - 2 (1)
Goldfinch - 1
Robin - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Willow Warbler - 1 (2)

 Willow Warbler

The only vis we had was a Meadow Pipit and a Grey Wagtail south. Alba Wagtails totalling 32 moved over, but these were local birds exiting a roost. There was nothing more to add and fingers are crossed for a decent catch of Swallows at the roost this evening.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Back In The Saddle At Last

It was great to be back in the saddle and be fit enough to get back out birding. This bout of man flu has proved to me that if there is a God then they must be female to inflict such a debilitating condition on all us poor men folk! I was back in the saddle, but it's a pity that the weather wasn't playing ball this morning. I had a few false starts with the rain before I finally got out mid-morning after a call from Ian saying that there were a few migrants around at the Obs; Gropper, Goldcrest and Redstart as 'starters for ten'.

This surprised me a little, as it did Ian, because the wind direction was northwesterly and to be honest with you, had it been p*ssing down like it was this morning but in October with an easterly I would have been out there in the rain!

The rain did finally stop and I headed to the coastal scrub to have a quick look round and also to trim some net rides for tomorrow morning. I didn't spend too long looking for grounded migrants as it was mid-morning and the trespassing dog owners were on the move. There's signs everywhere telling them not to trespass with their dogs, but for some reason it doesn't apply to them! As I have said a million times before on here it would seem that if you have a dog you can go wherever you like!!!

I walked along the main hedge and ditch and had a couple of juv. Whitethroats and then after a bit of pishing a cracking juv. Garden Warbler popped into view. Next up were a couple of Foxes and then the first of four Sparrowhawks for the morning. I had two migrants thermalling high and drifting south and then I had a third migrant Sparrowhawk in the form of a female thermalling high and again drifting south. Sparrowhawk number four was a little juv. male that was a delight to watch as it 'worked' the hedgerow.

 Whitethroat

 Fox

That was it for migrants and I got on with the task in hand of trimming some net rides; fingers crossed for some decent weather in the morning! 

 Speckled Wood

Monday, 18 August 2014

A Wee Dander Before Work

This morning I had a wee dander down to the estuary before heading off to Bowland for a site visit. I had 6 oktas cloud cover with a stiff northwesterly wind. I only had about an hour to spare and an hour was enough as I'm still suffering with my man flu!

 The office today

There were a number of Gulls roosting on the spit and these included 189 Herring Gulls with an adult Yellow-legged Gull out on the mud. The Redshanks numbered 190 with a supporting cast of 32 Oystercatchers, seven Curlews, two Whimbrels and a Lapwing.

I had very little else other than three Linnets and a male Sparrowhawk, but it was good to be out after some man flu enforced time indoors!

This male Swallow spent some time singing from an aerial on a boat

Friday, 15 August 2014

Man Flu

I just wanted to apologise for not posting for a few days, but I have been laid low by 'Man Flu'! I never get a cold and haven't had a cold for years, so the lurgy that I am suffering with at the moment has to be Man Flu. I've had a look on the Man Flu website and I definitely have all the symptoms.

The Man Flu website states that "Man Flu is a crippling and debilitating disorder indiscriminately striking down male members of the human species without warning. The illness is often referred to pejoratively by female members of the species who are in fact immune from the illness as man flu is now known to exclusively attack the XY chromosome carrier. If Man Flu is kind enough not to kill the infected party it will definitely leave him weak, sick, hurting everywhere and in dire need of TLC.

Medical professionals now also widely recognise that self diagnosis by the sufferer is the best means of identification as the symptoms of Man Flu are far more severe than the simple common cold which predominantly targets the XX chromosome holders (i.e. females). This goes some way to explain the cynicism some women display towards their male counterparts".

So there you have it, the reason I've not been able to get out birding these past few days is because of man flu. I am hoping that it will only be a mild form, although this is rare of course, and I have a wedding to attend tomorrow of my music mate Andy. Of course if I am a little worse for wear tomorrow it will be the man flu, or perhaps a bad pint, and nothing to do with the quantities of real ale quaffed.

Man flu depending normal birding service will be resumed on Sunday, or perhaps more likely Monday!