Saturday, 3 December 2016

Wot No Wagtails

Ian and I headed to the reedbed this afternoon in an attempt to ring some more Pied Wagtails, but they weren't playing ball! The two nets were duly erected in perfect mist netting conditions of full cloud cover with a light easterly breeze.

We waited, and waited and waited until it got dark and only five Pied Wagtails flew over! There is a second roost site in the opposite direction that they use, so it is likely that for whatever reason they decided to roost there this evening. We just ringed four birds as follows:

Blackbird - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Pied Wagtail - 1

Camped out deep in the reeds and willow scrub it is difficult to bird as any views are highly restricted and all we had was four Long-tailed Tits, a Song Thrush and five Greenfinches!

Waders And Wildfowl - Two Different Sites

Earlier in the week Andy, Graham, Kim and I met at Rob and Diana's farm to attempt to catch and ring some waders and wildfowl on their farm wetland. We met an hour before dusk to get the three wader nets up in preparation for when, hopefully, some wildfowl (Teal) and waders (Jack Snipe and Snipe) would fly in after dark.

It was forecast to be calm with cloud cover rolling in to keep the temperature above freezing. However, the cloud cover didn't materialise and consequently the wetland started to freeze. As you can imagine this is not conducive to feeding Snipe in particular and we didn't end up ringing anything! We weren't disheartened as the site has huge potential and at least we know where to put the nets up, and everything is in place ready for our next visit.

 Mist nets over the marsh

We did record a few bits and pieces when we were at the site including 400 Teal (in the longer vegetation), two Grey Wagtails, a Kingfisher, a Peregrine and 20 Redwings.

This morning I decided to watch the tide run in at the Point and it was a glorious morning with full cloud cover, and it was calm, resulting in the sea being as flat as a mill pond! On the sea I had 25 Cormorants, 47 Eiders, nine Red-breasted Mergansers, two Great Crested Grebes, a Wigeon, 16 Common Scoters and two Red-throated Divers.

 Looking across the Bay to the Lakes

The only waders I had were 46 Oystercatchers, seven Redshanks, a Curlew and four Ringed Plovers. Walking back to my car I had a female Stonechat in the Gorse.

 Redshank

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Saturday Afternoon With The Wagtails

It would actually have been more appropriate if my blog title had been 'Saturday Afternoon With The Greenfinches' as we actually ringed more Greenfinches heading to roost than Pied Wagtails, but Pied Wagtails were the target!

It was clear and frosty when Ian and I set up our nets in the reedbed yesterday afternoon with the aim of ringing some Pied Wagtails as they headed to the roost. We ringed 22 birds as follows:

Greenfinch - 10
Robin - 1
Pied Wagtail - 8
Blackbird - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 2

 Greenfinch

There was probably only 30-40 Greenfinches and 15-20 Pied Wagtails heading over to roost, so the percentage catch was more than acceptable. It was difficult to see anything deep in the reedbed but seven Long-tailed Tits, two Snipes and two Song Thrushes were all that we could add.

We'll be back later in the week for another attempt!  

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Ts and VPs

For the past two days I have been down in Merseyside carrying out a wintering bird survey on some farmland habitat in the main, and it's been a mix of transects and vantage points.

Pink-footed Geese have been the main feature and it was interesting watching the behaviour of some yesterday. A group of 1450 dropped in to some stubbles at 0730 and at 0815 a thousand of them left. Doing the maths this left 450, and at 0820 a further 400 left, leaving fifty. Then at 0825 50ish left, leaving a single bird on its own. This bird stood in the stubble, neck outstretched for some time. Why it decided to remain I don't know. After a while I got distracted by a Buzzard, and after the Buzzard had flown by I noticed that the lone Pinkie had gone! Very odd!

 Pink-footed Geese

Buzzard (honest!)

The weather both days was good, although it was a bit cloudy at first yesterday morning, but by the afternoon and for all of today it was glorious, with crisp sunshine and blue skies.

I recorded a reasonable number of species and some of the interesting totals (both days combined) included 2238 Pink-footed Geese, seven Reed Buntings, three Bramblings, 14 Goldcrests, seven Jays, five Buzzards, 47 Goldfinches, 19 Chaffinches, 28 Linnets, 24 Long-tailed Tits, two Song Thrushes, 19 Curlews, 160 Lapwings, 102 Skylarks, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, two Grey Wagtails, a Raven, a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk.

The plan is to set up my feeding station in the water treatment works tomorrow and then on Saturday afternoon some ringing at the Pied Wagtail roost weather permitting!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Another Week Gone

I haven't posted for ages because, well I haven't had a great deal to post about! The weather has been awful, cold wet and windy, and I have been mainly on the feeding station treadmill and carrying out site visits to keep the wolf from the door!

On a cold wet, windy day about a week ago I was working on a farm out on the Fylde photographing grassland, watercourses and hedgerows and struggled to see much because of the frequent heavy down pours and 25 mph northwesterly wind. However I did have a couple of Buzzards struggling against the wind and a flock of fifteen Fieldfares using the cover of a hedge to move along out of the wind. On the same farm on some wet grassland was a flock of 86 Lapwings and 21 Curlews.

A ringing session last week at the reedbeds added another 16 Pied Wagtails to the ringing total, bringing it to somewhere near sixty now for this pre-roost site. As usual we were serenaded by Cetti's Warbler, but there was no sign of the Bearded Tits.

As stated previously my farmland bird feeding station has been keeping me busy, but every time I have gone of late it has been appalling weather and I haven't been able to have a proper look to see what has been there. There has been up to 36 Tree Sparrows, three Yellowhammers, ten Long-tailed Tits, half a dozen Blackbirds, four Song Thrushes and a few Reed Buntings.

However, there won't be many Thrushes now because all of the hedges have been cut and of course this has removed all the berries! Sadly I have had to call 'time' on this particular feeding station because of a  combination of factors such as greater use of the area where I feed for farming activities (it is a farm of course!) and this past week flooding and nowhere to put the seed down.

So I have started going through all my client files and looking over maps to find a suitable alternative location, where hopefully I can continue to support and ring farmland birds such as Tree Sparrows and Yellowhammers. I am hopeful that within a couple of weeks I will be up and running at a new site!

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

October's Ringing Totals

October was a good month for Fylde Ringing Group and we ringed 662 birds of 30 species. As per usual I have updated the totals over on the right. Four new species were ringed for the year and these were Fieldfare, Redwing, Yellow-browed Warbler and Bearded Tit. Yellow-browed Warbler was only the second to be ringed by the group and the three Bearded Tits were the first!

Below you will find the top five ringed for the month and the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year.

Top 5 Ringed in October

1. Goldcrest - 130
2. Linnet - 84
3. Meadow Pipit - 78
4. Reed Bunting - 71
5. Greenfinch - 37

Top 10 Movers and Shakers for the Year

1. Swallow - 826 (same position)
2. Goldfinch - 277 (same position)
3. Meadow Pipit - 209 (up from 6th)
4. Blue Tit - 200 (down from 3rd)
5. Lesser Redpoll - 193 (down from 4th)
6. Goldcrest - 151 (straight in)
7. Great Tit - 147 (down from 5th)
8. Chaffinch - 130 (down from 7th)
9. Reed Warbler - 104 (down from 8th)
10. Reed Bunting - 98 (straight in)

We are 420 down from this time last year, so we have our work cut out if we want to catch up!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Roosting Wagtails

Yesterday afternoon Ian, Tony and Me set a few nets up in the reedbed with the aim of intercepting some Pied Wagtails as they flew to roost. The weather was perfect for the job with 4 oktas hazy cloud and a light northerly breeze. MP3 players were switched on and we sat back and waited.

A male Stonechat made an appearance and as the afternoon headed towards dusk we were serenaded by Cetti's Warblers. As the Starlings gathered for their roost a male and female Sparrowhawk appeared intent on some supper, but I didn't see any successful sorties from the pair.

The Pied Wagtails started to arrive, perhaps about eighty, and they started dropping down to the nets. We managed to ring 17 plus a Great Tit, two Greenfinches and four Long-tailed Tits.

 Pied Wagtail

This morning I called at my feeding station on the Moss and carried out another feeding visit. Tree Sparrows are still slowly increasing in numbers and I had thirty. Other bits and pieces included four Goldcrests, a Reed Bunting, five Song Thrushes and nine Teal.