Sunday, 28 September 2014


I was ringing at the Obs this morning and became quite busy as I was ringing on my own, although I'm not complaining! It was a different morning to yesterday with full cloud cover and it was virtually calm, although there might have been a breath of wind from the southeast.

The vis was a good deal lighter today and I did wonder whether it was murky in the bay, but the set of nets at this particular location is close to the coast but the sea isn't viewable from where I ring. The vis this morning consisted of 13 Alba Wags, 217 Meadow Pipits, three Starlings, a Golden Plover, three Chaffinches, 14 Greenfinches, five Reed Buntings, two Grey Wagtails and three Skylarks.

 Meadow Pipit


A few grounded migrants were evidenced by seven Blackbirds, two Goldcrests, ten Long-tailed Tits and a Stonechat. A few Pink-footed Geese were arriving, perhaps 250, and were dropping into the farm fields to the east. No Sparrowhawks this morning but a Kestrel kept stirring the Mipits up!

 Long-tailed Tit

As I said before the ringing kept me busy this morning and I ringed 46 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Meadow Pipit - 25 (there were some large birds amongst the sample this morning including one with a wing  of 87 mm, perhaps suggesting Icelandic origin for some of them)
Reed Bunting - 2
Blue Tit - 3
Greenfinch - 6
Dunnock - 1 (1)
Blackbirds - 2
Goldcrest - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 5
Chaffinch - 1
Robin - (1)

 This Greenfinch has been feeding on Rose hips.

Reed Bunting

Interestingly I controlled a Meadow Pipit (D784905 anyone?) and this is the first one ever controlled by the ringing group in the 31 years of its existence and after processing 2,341 Mipits! It is on IPMR now and it will be interesting to see where it was from and how recently it was ringed. If I was a betting man I would put money on it being from Walney! When I find out I will let you know.

Saturday, 27 September 2014


The weather at the Obs this morning started off at six oktas cloud cover before clearing completely and then after a couple of hours a cloud bank came in from the southwest leading to full cloud cover. The wind was southeasterly, fairly light at first, but then increasing to a good ten mph.

Before I go on to what I had on my walk round the Obs this morning I thought I would say a few words about the 'Obs'. When I refer to the Obs I am referring to the recording area around Fleetwood, Lancashire where Ian and I record bird observations on a daily basis. Well Ian does and I just get out when I can! We refer to this recording area  as Fleetwood Bird Observatory (FBO) and the daily sightings of FBO can be found HERE 

Although not an official bird observatory affiliated to the BTO the Fleetwood peninsula has been operated like a bird observatory for many years. Migration monitoring through sea watching, ringing, searching for grounded migrants and monitoring of visible migration takes place on a daily basis. The recording area consists of a number of sites and a range of habitats can be found within the recording area including coastal grassland, scrub, sand dunes, shingle, open sea, saltmarsh, reedbeds, hedgerows, broad-leaved woodland, mudflats and freshwater pools. Rather than refer to the individual numerous sites found within the recording area it is just easier for the purposes of my blog to refer to these sites as the 'Obs'. I just thought I would explain this as I realised that I hadn't explained this before! Over on the right below the Fylde Ringing Group totals you will see a Google Earth image of the recording area to hopefully give you a better idea of the Obs location.

Back to this morning. It was quite cold this morning and the vis was slow to start, but when it did there was a good variety and it was really interesting. Perhaps the most interesting species of the morning were the Jays. Jays are a rare and infrequent breeder within the Obs recording area with only one pair breeding infrequently (this is the same for all woodland species), so this morning's sightings almost constituted an invasion! In total I had thirteen birds head south: flocks of six, three and four respectively.

 Jay over the dunes (honest!)

The remainder of the vis included 185 Meadow Pipits, 15 Reed Buntings, a Tree Sparrow, four Starlings, 40 Pink-footed Geese, 37 Linnets, 30 Skylarks, 42 Alba Wagtails, four Chaffinches, eleven Carrion Crows, five Jackdaws, 20 Goldfinches, a Rock Pipit, two Sand Martins, a Sparrowhawk, a Grey Wagtail and four Swallows.

 Reed Bunting

Grounded migrants were very thin on the ground and the only 'thing' I could say was grounded was a single Song Thrush. The sea was quiet, but part of that was because I was looking skywards, and all I had was a single Wigeon and four Common Scoters.

The wind is going to be relatively light tomorrow so I am planning to be out ringing at the Obs and I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Almost Half A Century

Yesterday morning Huw and I were ringing at the Obs and conditions looked perfect for some vis and we hoped we would be able to tape lure some Meadow Pipits down for ringing. At first light we had 1 okta cloud cover and it was calm. It would remain clear all morning but the wind picked up to a 5 mph northerly later.

As I have already mentioned the conditions looked perfect for some vis and there was quite a bit of passage. The usual caveat to the following totals applies in terms of operating mist nets and keeping eyes and ears skywards; it's inevitable that a good deal of birds were missed. Our vis totals included 527 Meadow Pipits, a Goldfinch, five Chaffinches, five Alba Wagtails, a Reed Bunting, eleven Swallows, 819 Pink-footed Geese (my first major arrival; smaller numbers have been filtering through for about a week), 19 Skylarks, two Sparrowhawks, a Greenfinch and a Rock Pipit (my first on vis for the autumn).


 Pink-footed Geese

We ringed 45 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Robin - 3
Meadow Pipit - 26 (all small birds suggesting mainly British origin)
Blue Tit - 4
Great Tit - 1
Chaffinch - 1
Wren - 2 (1)
Greenfinch - 5
Woodpigeon - 1
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird - 1



There wasn't any evidence of grounded birds at all and the overnight weather conditions would have suggested that it was a 'clear-out' night rather than an arrival night. Fingers crossed for a few more days like this throughout the remainder of autumn!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

It's Surprising What's About Even On A Quet Day

It was relatively quiet this morning at the Obs and with full cloud cover and a lot of mist and murk I didn't expect too much.

There was some vis, although not heavy, it was fairly constant and I had 102 Meadow Pipits, three Grey Wagtails, two Goldfinches, seven Alba Wags, three Chaffinches, a Reed Bunting and a Skylark.

Grounded migrants were thin on the ground but sprinkled with a little bit of quality. At first all I'd had was a Chiffchaff and three restless Dunnocks, and then the murk increased to the south and east, and a 1st wint. female Stonechat appeared. Shortly after that just as I was packing my ringing gear away I heard what I thought was a Sylvia warbler 'tacking' from an Elder bush just in front of my car. A bit of pishing and a streaky Locustella popped out. A few alarm bells rang at first, but then I could see that it was a juv. Grasshopper Warbler.

Ringing was slow and I ringed eight birds as follows:

Dunnock - 1
Robin - 2
Meadow Pipit - 1
Reed Bunting - 1
Great Tit - 1
Chiffchaff - 1
Greenfinch - 1



It's going to be cooler and clearer tomorrow and perhaps with some heavier vis; I'll let you know.

Friday, 19 September 2014

A Day Too Late?

After the fantastic day Ian had at the Obs yesterday with lots of common migrants and a mega, I wondered whether it was a day too late for me this morning. These past couple of days I have been stuck indoors writing reports and I needed to get out this morning for a couple of hours. I decided I would spend an hour looking on the sea and recording vis and then 'hit' some of the migrant spots of the Obs in the hope that a few grounded migrants would be around.

At first light I was greeted with two oktas cloud cover and the wind was a very light easterly. Straight away there were birds on vis and these included three Grey Wagtails, 69 Meadow Pipits, two Alba Wags, and a Chaffinch.

The sea was relatively quiet with just two male Eiders, 21 Common Scoters, a Gannet on the sea (I think they always look odd on the sea) and a cracking summer plumaged Red-throated Diver that flew out of the bay.

My time was up for vis and I headed to some of the migrant traps and there were a few grounded migrants around in the form of four Goldcrests, two Chiffchaffs, a male Blackcap and two Spotted Flycatchers.

 Spotted Flycatcher (above & below)

I was a day late, but it was pleasant just to be out. I am hoping for a run of three mornings mist netting at the Obs starting tomorrow morning and I'll be sure to let you know what I do and don't catch!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Barn Owls

Yesterday evening Huw and I headed to a local farm to ring a late brood of Barn Owls. The nest site was in the bottom of a large grain bin/store, which was a first for me! The two chicks were quite well grown with just a little down remaining and not far from flying. These were in fact the first Barn Owls ringed this year for the group, so that was good. Below are a few pics of one of the chicks.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Not A Mega Mipit Morning

Another morning at the Obs and this time without mist nets. I had full cloud cover with a 5 - 10 mph northeasterly wind. The vis was completely different to Saturday morning both in terms of numbers and direction of movement.

There were far less birds on the move and the direction of movement varied. On Saturday everything was moving south but this morning some birds were moving north in to the wind and others were coming in off the sea and heading east! My vis totals (without directions of movement) were 51 Meadow Pipits, one Reed Bunting, seven Grey Wagtails, 17 Alba Wagtails, one Goldfinch, one Greenfinch, one Skylark, one Snipe, and 13 Golden Plovers.

Grounded migrants were thin on the ground with just 14 Robins, five Wheatears and a Willow Warbler. I had a brief look on the sea and just recorded six Black-tailed Godwits north, six Sandwich Terns south and two Cormorants.


I've got some Barn Owls to check this evening, and hopefully to ring, and I'll let you know how I get on later.