Friday, 1 August 2014

Ton Up

Ian and I had a more successful session at the Swallow roost last night and we were joined by Graham and Huw. It was perfect conditions for ringing Swallows as it was calm, overcast and warm, and as such the Swallows responded early to the MP3s.

We put two nets up; one close to the roost amongst the reeds and a second covering an open area alongside the pool. We managed to ring 108 Swallows plus five Reed Warblers and two Sedge Warblers. Again the Reed Warblers were interesting as they were carrying a lot of fat with scores of 40 and 50 respectively. This site does seem to be a good fattening area for Acros.

The forecast is a bit 'iffy' for the next couple of days, but fingers crossed we should be back at the Swallow roost either Sunday or Monday night.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Led A Merry Dance!

Ian and I had an attempt to ring some Swallows last night but we were led a right merry dance! Unfortunately the Swallows aren't roosting in their traditional reedbed at the moment, and the reedbed they are in entails a fifteen minute walk with all the gear to get to!

We just put up one 60 foot net and MP3 lures were switched on and we waited, and waited and waited! Swallows were arriving and coming down to investigate the MP3 players and then moving away and they looked to be heading towards the traditional roost site" And when I say traditional, it is a roost site that they have been using since at least 1984 to my knowledge.

In the end we decided to take the net down and head over to the other reedbed to see if they were going in there. As we were walking away birds were starting to drift back, so we stopped to watch and about 2,000 were coming in to roost! All that was happening was that they were coming in later, perhaps to maximise their feeding time, and when we thought they were moving off towards the old roost they were just flying around to have a pre-roost feed over the large areas of grassland. It wasn't really a wasted journey I suppose, because at least we sorted that out.

We did manage to ring a couple of Reed Warblers, Sedge Warbler and a Swallow. Interestingly the Reed Warbler that I processed was absolutely full of fat and a heavy bird, so was probably fattening up in readiness for a quite considerable migratory hop.

We will be back! 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

If it Wasn't For the Greenfinches..........

..........Ian and I would have had a very weary ringing session yesterday morning. The weather was pretty good for mist netting when we got to the reedbed at first light, with no cloud cover and calm. If I was being a bit fussy I would have preferred some cloud cover to take any glare from the sun off the nets.


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

Whitethroat - 2
Blackcap - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Greenfinch - 8
Dunnock - (1)
Willow Warbler - (1)
Sedge Warbler - (1)


The birding was even quieter than the ringing and the only thing of note was a repeat of last week when we had a Snipe drop in at our feet, but this time it was a Lapwing! From the air, the open area area where we have our ringing station must perhaps look like an open wet area and it causes these birds to drop down and take a look. Of course as soon as they land they take off having realised their mistake.

Fingers crossed we should be ringing some Swallows tomorrow evening as we have a Swallow roost in one of the reedbeds. Ian had a session there on Friday night and managed to ring fifty Swallows on his own; he thought about 3,000 were coming in to roost!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

An Hour on the Estuary

I popped out for an hour before starting work this morning and headed to the estuary. As it has been of late it was full sunshine and calm. At 5:30 a.m. it was just pleasant heading down there in shirt sleeves.

Even though it was fairly quiet it was nevertheless enjoyable. Walking through the scrub and past the reeds a few warblers were still singing including Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and Reed Warbler. In fact I had a Sedge Warbler carrying food, presumably to a second brood at this time of year.

Down at the estuary I had a few waders in the form of a Whimbrel, fifteen Redshanks, a Snipe, 16 Black-tailed Godwits and seven Curlew. Also feeding out on one of the wide shallow creeks were seven Grey Herons and I had another on the pool. I also had two Common Sandpipers on the pool with a supporting cast of ten Shelducks, two Little Grebes, 32 Mallards and seven Tufted Ducks.

 Grey Heron

After watching a Sparrowhawk giving chase to a few Greenfinches and Goldfinches through the Sycamores it was time to head home and chain myself to my desk. That's me until weekend now, when hopefully I'll be out ringing Saturday morning in the reedbed. 

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!