Sunday, 26 April 2015

Late April?

I question late April in my blog title as it most certainly didn't feel like late April this morning as I set off for a walk round the Obs with hat and gloves on, and in a cold biting 10 - 15 mph northeasterly wind! Even though it was cold there were a few migrants about.

From a grounded perspective I had three Whitethroats, a Grasshopper Warbler, a male Whinchat, two Sedge Warblers and a Blue Tit. Yes, a Blue Tit. In the Japanese Rose behind the sea wall I had a feeding Blue Tit and this is a long way from any suitable habitat for Blue Tits, particularly at this time of year.


There was some vis early on in the form of twelve Meadow Pipits, two Whimbrels, nine Goldfinches, 32 Swallows, 18 Linnets, two Alba Wags, a Skylark, three White Wagtails and a Sand Martin.

The sea was very quiet with just an Auk sp., two Red-throated Divers, four Sandwich Terns, a Curlew and 28 Dunlins.

I then headed off to the water treatment works to remove the ropes and empty feeders form the feeding station. A number of warblers were singing including Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. I also heard a Redstart calling and just caught the end of a red tail disappearing in to cover, so it remained unsexed.

Back home in the moth trap it was very similar to recent catches with two Early Greys and four Hebrew Characters.

It's looking a bit mixed on the forecast this week so it might stir things up a bit, but whilst the weather remains fair tomorrow I have a breeding wader survey to complete in east Lancs, so it will be at least Tuesday before I am back out at the Obs again.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Quality Not Quantity

A blog title like that could be an excuse for not seeing many birds, and I suppose it is, although this morning was a 'quality' morning from a ringing perspective.

At first light as I arrived at the Obs I had clear skies, although it was a little misty, and it was calm. I made a 'schoolboy error' this morning and forgot two out of three of my MP3 players! On a morning when I didn't think there would be may grounded migrants around my MP3 players would be crucial for ringing a few birds.

I only ringed four birds, as follows, but they were all quality species (recaptures in brackets):

Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Willow Warbler - 1
Wren - (1)
Lesser Whitethroat

Willow Warbler

The Lesser Whitethroats were new in and after I released one bird it started singing from an adjacent hedge. There were a few grounded migrants this morning and of course they were all new in and these were two Whitethroats, a Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler and three Grasshopper Warblers (including the ringed bird).

 Grasshopper Warbler

Vis was really poor with just eleven Linnets, a Curlew, two Swallows, two Goldfinches, three Meadow Pipits and a Siskin north.


After I packed up my nets I had a look in the cemetery on my way home and there was a smattering of grounded migrants here too in the form of a Whitethroat, two Willow Warblers, two Wheatears and a male Blackcap.


I ran my moth trap at home last night and in it this morning were three Early Greys, three Hebrew Characters, a male Dotted Border and an Angle Shades.

The weather is changing later today and as I write the skies have darkened and you can feel the moisture in the air. This change in weather might stir things up a bit and I'll need to decide where to look first in the morning.

Monday, 20 April 2015

From Scandinavia To Siberia

I had another good day at the Obs yesterday and it started at first light when I met Kim to do some ringing on the coast. We had clear skies with a 5 mph northeasterly wind and then within a couple of hours the cloud cover increased to 8 oktas. It's a pity the cloud cover didn't develop during the night as it might have dropped a few more migrants in.

There was some vis this morning and we thought we would get a good Tree Pipit count as we had three at first light, but a good count didn't materialise. Our vis totals were six Tree Pipits, 36 Meadow Pipits, a Chaffinch, three Swallows, eleven Goldfinches, 18 Linnets and three Alba Wags.

Apart from a Chiffchaff the only evidence of grounded migrants came from the mist nets. A bit of excitement came in the form of an acredula type Willow Warbler particularly when I walked up to the net and I could see this very obvious 'cold coloured' phyllosc in the net! We ringed eleven birds as follows:

Sedge Warbler - 1
Goldfinch - 3
Reed Bunting - 1
Great Tit - 1
Meadow Pipit - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Blackcap - 1
Willow Warbler - 1

 Acredula type Willow Warbler

Sedge Warbler

That was a good start to the day and then I got a call from Ian after lunch saying that he was at the water meadows and that he had one or possibly two Richard's Pipits! Ian had flushed the Dick's Pipits as he had walked across the water meadows and they had lifted with some Skylarks and he could hear the distinctive 'shreep' call and wasn't sure whether there was one or two. By the time I got there he had them distantly down on the deck and there were definitely two!

When I first arrived we couldn't locate them and it took a bit of walking to find them. They were flighty and we couldn't get anywhere near them. So I had plenty of flight views of the pair of them, listened to the distinctive call and observed the little hovering movement they do before landing. Eventually I got some reasonable views of them on the ground with the scope, but they were too distant for me to get any record shots. I have included below one of Ian's record shots and although not a brilliant image you can tell what it is if you squint and look hard enough!

 Richard's Pipit (honest!)

I'm going to struggle to get out in the week this week as I have a number of site visits to do, but I will try my best to get out one morning at least.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

A First Ringing Record For The Obs

Kim and I headed to one of the reedbeds at the Obs this morning for a ringing session and with clear skies an easterly breeze it was fairly obvious that last night had been a 'clear out' night, and therefore we didn't expect many grounded migrants.

Our expectations were met and we didn't have many grounded migrants, but we did trap a female Pied Flycatcher which was a first ringing record for the Obs! We ringed just eight birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Willow Warbler - 3 (1)
Pied Flycatcher - 1
Blackcap - 2
Blackbird - 2
Cetti's Warbler - (1)

 Cetti's Warbler

Willow Warbler

The easterly breeze soon strengthened and we had to take the nets down sooner than anticipated. Other than the excitement of the Pied Flycatcher it was quiet except for a passage of 36 Sand Martins northeast.

It was cold overnight and as a result the catch in my moth trap was meagre with just two Hebrew Characters and a Common Quaker.

The forecast is looking okay for some more ringing at the Obs in the morning!

Friday, 17 April 2015

A Warbler Walk

After nearly a day and half of writing the same report I needed to get out when I finished it late morning. I decided to have a walk down to the estuary as the scrub on the way to the estuary holds a good variety of warblers. High tide was late morning so I knew that the river would be covering the mud and I wouldn't see any species on the river, but nevertheless it would be good therapy after being cooped up indoors!

Sure enough as I set off I had my first warbler species in the form of Chiffchaff and by the end of my walk I had recorded three Chiffchaffs, nine Willow Warblers, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler. If I kept such a thing as a year list the Blackcap, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler were new for the year. Perhaps that means I keep a mental year list!

Other than the warblers I didn't have a lot else other than a late Rock Pipit out on the saltmarsh; it was just nice to be out in the sunshine! It's ringing for me tomorrow in the reedbeds and scrub, so I'll let you know how I get on.  

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A Reeler Through The Legs!

I was back seawatching with Ian again this morning on the incoming tide. We had full cloud cover with a good 15 mph southwesterly wind. At the car park a Willow Warbler gave a few snatches of song indicating that there might be a few grounded migrants about.

Whilst sheltering in front of the tower six Wheatears dropped in and landed on the beach; a bit of migration in action! And then Ian shouted "what the f*ck was that"? I was busily looking down the end of my scope and wondered what he was on about and said "what was what"? He said a small bird had flown between his tripod legs and then flew through my tripod legs and dropped into the dunes! We quickly climbed up on to the dunes and straight away flushed a Grasshopper Warbler. More migration in action!

There was some vis this morning and like yesterday there was split between birds heading into the wind and others battling north across the bay. Our vis totals were two Tree Pipits, 33 Meadow Pipits, an Alba Wag, seven Swallows, 24 Linnets and eight Goldfinches.

Passage at sea was similar to yesterday, without the Velvets, and included six Red-throated Divers, 95 Common Scoters, 12 Eiders, two Red-breasted Mergansrs, five Kittiwakes, a Gannet, 30 Grey Plovers and a female Goldeneye.

Waders on the shore were just 71 Dunlins and five Ringed Plovers. On my way to the Wenning valley I called in to the cemetery and had two Wheatears, six Willow Warblers and another Gropper.

It's a day in the office for me tomorrow to finish off two reports so I am free to bird/ring on Friday. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Touch Of Velvet

I thought the seawatching would have been better this morning given the wind direction, southwestely 15-20 mph, and the fact that it was spring. But unfortunately it was fairly quiet probably as a result of the hazy conditions with the wind turbines coming in and out of view. I know that won't mean a great deal to you, but if you can see the wind turbines the visibility is good, it's even better if you can see the Isle of Man, and if you can't see them it's crap!

However, it was worth sticking it out as Ian and I had four Velvet Scoters; two pairs! The first pair had unusually latched on to a pair of Common Scoters and the second pair were on their own, which is more typical, as they motored out of the bay.

The supporting cast at sea consisted of 118 Common Scoters, two Grey Plovers, two Red-throated Divers, five Gannets, five Cormorants, 100 Knot, six Bar-tailed Godwits, a Guillemot and a Kittiwake.

There was some vis this morning but it was light due to the direction and strength of the wind. The Swallows were moving west into the wind, with some of them at sea, whilst the remaining species headed north across the bay. The vis totals were just ten Swallows, six Meadow Pipits, seven Goldfinches and two Linnets.

In addition to the waders moving at sea we had 180 Sanderlings, 142 Dunlins and 32 Ringed Plovers on the shore. The only other birds to report were three male Wheatears on the beach.

I apologise for a lack of photographs in these last few postings but I haven't had the opportunity to snap any of the passage out at sea. The wind is remaining southwesterly tomorrow, so it will probably be another couple of hours seawatching for me again before heading up the Wenning valley to deliver some nest boxes and wildflower seed to a client.