Sunday, 19 October 2014

All At Sea

With 25 mph southwesterly winds and two oktas cloud cover, seawatching was the only option this morning. I joined Ian at first light and we spent a couple of hours trying to make out what was moving in the murky conditions. It wasn't possible to see across the bay this morning due to a combination of murk and at times heat haze, thus making viewing hard work. There were bits and pieces moving but it felt as though you were having to strain to see them!

I won't beat around the bush and will go straight to the totals which were 22 Cormorants, 20 Common Scoters, 36 Auk sp., 19 Gannets, 12 Wigeon, a Red-breasted Merganser, three Red-throated Divers and a single Kittiwake. All the passage was westerly i.e. moving out of the bay, which is what you'd expect in autumn.


There were a few waders roosting on the shingle including 56 Sanderlings, 184 Turnstones (including one of our leg-flagged birds) and 14 Dunlins. It's going to get rough later in the week and will perhaps be the last chance for a few Leach's Petrels.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Hardly Worth Reporting

I headed to the Obs this morning in the hope of a few grounded migrants, but unfortunately there had been too much rain during the night and I don't think any birds had got on the move. As I was driving there the heavens opened and I decided to divert to a more sheltered location where I could bird in the rain, rather than walk some of the more open coastal fields.

It soon stopped raining and I had 6 oktas cloud cover with a 10-15 mph southerly wind. Not unexpectedly it was quiet and from a grounded perspective all I had were five Goldcrests and ten Blackbirds. The vis was non-existent and I had a single Sparrowhawk that livened things up, or should I say calmed things down! I was walking through the pines and four Blackbirds in front of me were completely motionless as I approached them, and then I noticed the ghost-like appearance of a male Sparrowhawk perched up in the trees close by. Before I could get my camera out it lifted into the air and melted into the trees!

The forecast for tomorrow is for 25 mph southwesterly winds so it will be some seawatching for me!

Friday, 17 October 2014

A Quick Update From My Feeding Station

I visited my farmland bird feeding station late yesterday afternoon to my second feed of the autumn/winter and it was pleasing to note that a few Tree Sparrows were already using it, namely thirteen of them. I feed once a week to start off with and then increase the frequency of my seed drops to meet demand.

I did a little bit of management work on the hedges and then had a brief walk along the '97 Hedge' and 'Big Field'. I had a couple of raptors in the form of a Buzzard and Kestrel, and the Kestrel was posing nicely perched on top of a relatively close hedge until I got my camera out! In addition to the Tree Sparrows the only other 'classic' farmland birds I had were five Yellowhammers. I did have some other bits and pieces, but as I count everything for BirdTrack when I'm out I won't bore you with how many Blue Tits, Carrion Crows, Pheasants etc that I had!

It's an enforced day in for me today because of (a) too much work and (b) it's Gail's birthday, so I'd better make sure she is pampered a little to receive a good dollop of brownie points! More news over weekend hopefully if I can get that is as the forecast isn't brilliant to say the least!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

September's Ringing Totals

Over on the right you will see that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of September. At 2,407 birds ringed for the year we are now only 276 short of where we were last year. However with the forecast for the next seven days looking like there will be no ringing we might lose a bit of momentum this month.

Four new species were added to the species list for 2014 and these were Barn Owl (2 pulli), Garden Warbler (1), Coal Tit (3) and Jay (1).

Below I have listed the top five species ringed for the month and the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year.

Top 5 Ringed In September

1. Meadow Pipit - 108
2. Swallow - 105
3. Blue Tit - 100
4. Great Tit - 81
5. Robin - 56

Top 10 Movers And Shakers

1. Swallow - 712 (same position)
2. Blue Tit - 191 (up from 3rd)
3.Reed Warbler - 164 (down from 2nd)
4. Great Tit - 157 (up from 5th)
5. Meadow Pipit - 112 (straight in!)
6. Goldfinch - 90 (up from 7th)
7. Sedge Warbler - 86 (down from 4th)
8. Robin - 78 (straight in!)
9. Blackcap - 70 (same position)
10. Chiffchaff - 66 (same position)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Murk Stopped Play

The weather this morning wasn't quite as good as forecast, particularly from a wind strength perspective. At first light at the Obs I had virtually clear skies with a 5 mph SE wind, but the wind soon picked up to a good 10 mph necessitating the closure of one of my nets. It wasn't foggy at first but after a couple of hours some murk rolled in from the southeast and virtually curtailed the vis, bringing my ringing session to a halt.

I ringed 30 birds as follows (no recaptures):

Dunnock - 1
Greenfinch - 17
Wren - 1
Blackbird - 2
Meadow Pipit - 5
Chaffinch - 1
Robin - 1
Great Tit - 2


 Great Tit

There was some vis this morning, up until when the murk came in, but there wasn't quite the variety of yesterday. My totals included 176 Meadow Pipits, 14 Chaffinches, 182 Jackdaws, 28 Alba Wags, a Collared Dove, 40 Greenfinches, nine Woodpigeons, six Skylarks, eight Grey Wagtails, three Magpies, 40 Pink-footed Geese and a Reed Bunting.

 Meadow Pipit

There was little evidence of grounded migrants this morning mainly because I was at a fixed location but they could have included eight Blackbirds and a male Stonechat, although this could easily have been yesterday's bird.

It's only work related birding for me tomorrow as I have a bird survey to do in north Cumbria, but I'm hoping be to be back out on the patch on Tuesday.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Vis Variety

It was the Obs for me this morning after an absence of several days and I wasn't sure whether it would be a vis or grounded morning, or perhaps both. I had 6 oktas cloud cover, that cleared within an hour to 1 okta, and the wind was quite a stiff southeasterly.

It was too breezy for operating mist nets so I walked my usual circuit with pauses to count vis and to look on the sea. There did seem to be a few grounded migrants around and this was more obvious at the end of the morning when I totalled everything up in my notebook. Birds I considered grounded were a Goldcrest, seven Wrens, twelve Robins, nine Blackbirds, three Reed Buntings, a Jay, a Wheatear and a male Stonechat.

It was obvious very quickly that there was a reasonable passage of vis and also a reasonable variety too. My vis totals over two and half hours were 156 Meadow Pipits, 84 Jackdaws, nine Chaffinches, 20 Reed Buntings, eight Starlings, 155 Pink-footed Geese, two Sparrowhawks, ten Linnets, six Alba Wags, a Tree Sparrow, three Grey Wagtails, 27 Skylarks, four Carrion Crows, two Rock Pipits and eight Goldfinches.


 Meadow Pipit

The sea was quiet with just two Great Crested Grebes and seven Auk sp. The weather is looking calm enough for ringing in the morning, so I will be back at the Obs and hopefully kept busy; I'll let you know!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

First Feed

I set my winter feeding station up this afternoon after a site visit in the Wenning Valley in the morning where I was measuring hedgerows to be restored this winter. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary as I wandered along the hedges with my measuring wheel but it was obvious there was some vis going on as there was Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Goldfinches and Swallows on the move. The only obvious grounded migrant I had was a Chiffchaff, and thirteen House Sparrows and a Stock Dove using the old barn was good to see.

I set my feeding station up by putting the first bucket of seed down and the two peanut supplementary feeders to hold Tree Sparrows in case the seed runs out before the next seed drop. I also did a bit of management work by trimming some of the hedges that I run my nets along.

 The first seed drop

Supplementary peanut feeder

I had a quick ten minute walk to see what was about in the immediate area and had 15 Skylarks over, 51 Meadow Pipits put up by a male Sparrowhawk, two male Yellowhammers, a Buzzard and a Corn Bunting. I'll have a proper look round next time I'm there.