Saturday, 6 December 2008

Lottis, Red Kites and Trogs, 1st - 6th December 2008

Over recent days I have been getting a party of Long-tailed Tits on my office window peanut feeder. There are 9 birds in the party at least, and I have had all 9 squashed onto the feeder on occasions. Below is a murky picture of 6 Lottis on said feeder.

On Wednesday (3rd) I was working in West Yorkshire in Wharfedale not far from Harewood House and I had 5 sightings of Red Kite. I really enjoy working in this area as I know I will get stonking views of this fantastic raptor. It was a cracking day when I got there but because of the snow it took me over 3 hours to get there and the same to get back.

On the 4th I only had time for a quick dash to my feeding station to put some food out, but as always I made sure that I recorded everything I saw. I am a habitual note taker and I often think that I would be more without my notebook when out birding than my bins! Raptors were represented by single Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. The Sparrowhawk was again by the barn and my guess is that it is hanging around there and catching finches that are feeding on the tailing's and spilt grain. Talking of raptors I have included a picture below of a second year male American Kestrel that my mate Nigel from Canada sent me.

Tree Sparrow numbers seem to be hovering around the two hundred mark and today I counted 198. Chaffinch's numbered 31 and I had 2 Yellowhammers. Numbers of Blackbirds down the track are remaining fairly constant and as I have said before are probably feeding on a combination of apples that I put down and hawthorn berries on the hedge. Today I had 13 and I also had 15 Redwings fly high south.

I was working in the Lytham area on the 4th and driving across the moss I noticed a flock of Swans and Shelducks on a flood and I stopped to have a look and a count. I was expecting them to be Whoopers but was surprised when they were 23 Mute Swans with 70 Shelducks.

This morning I went ringing to Moss House Farm and it was a glorious frosty morning. Unfortunately the Tree Sparrows are getting 'net shy' and I only ringed a total of 10 birds. It was very difficult to count the Tree Sparrows today as they were coming and going in small parties and my total of 101 in my notebook is a gross underestimate. Chaffinch numbers were up with 63 recorded, including 3 ringed. Other finches/buntings included 3 Yellowhammers, 2 Reed Buntings and singles of Brambling and Corn Bunting.

There were large numbers of Pink-footed Geese around this morning and later in the morning towards lunchtime a light aircraft was practising 'touch-and-go' landings on the moss and flushing them. A total of 4, 162 'Pinkies' is recorded in my notebook and there were also large numbers of Starling and Woodpigeon, which numbered 8,650 and 1,612 respectively.

To the west of Moss House Farm I had 46 Whooper Swans in three small groups. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers could be heard calling from two different woods and 4 or 5 Skylarks headed northwest high early on. The only raptors around today were Buzzard and Kestrel and I had a Grey Heron drop into the field to the west of the ringing station which was quite a good record for here.

I have included some pictures below that I took today of some birds in the hand.

The above picture shows a 1st winter male Chaffinch showing the old retained tertials with pale fringing.

And above is the fella who was obligingly showing us his juvenile retained tertials!

Above is the wing of a male Greenfinch showing the outer webs of the 3rd - 5th primaries as being almost entirely yellow.

And this is the guy whose wing it was!

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