Sunday, 26 April 2009

Late Geese...19th April

It was back to Rossall Point this morning and it will be for the next few mornings as I am off work this coming week. This morning vis was very similar to yesterday except numbers weren't as high. The main difference this morning were the small number of geese moving. First up were 3 Barnacle Geese that headed northeast across Morecambe Bay. I followed them until they were out of sight and well on their way to reaching the Furness peninsula. Were they wild or escapes; who knows with Barnacles. The other geese I had on the move this morning were 50 Pink-footed Geese that I picked up a long way out to see and were heading NNE. Perhaps they had left southwest Lancs earlier and were crossing Liverpool and Morecambe Bays in one hop.

Vis was steady this morning and I had the following totals; 11 Lesser Redpolls, 62 Meadow Pipits, 37 Swallows, 3 Goldfinch, 41 Linnets, 11 Alba Wagtails, 4 Tree Pipits, 2 Siskins, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail (getting late) and Sand Martin.

The number of waders had decreased from yesterday with only 46 Sanderlings, 18 Knot, 20 Dunlin and a Whimbrel. On the sea things were quieter as well with only 4 Arctic Terns, 5 Red-throated Divers, single dark morph Arctic Skua and Manx Shearwater. Five Teal on the sea were unusual but also typical for this time of year.

I have no relevant pictures to illustrate this mornings birding so I thought I would show you a couple of shots of osprey chicks in the nest In Canada sent to me by my good mate Nigel.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Stercorarius parasiticus...18th April

....or Arctic Skua to you and me! This morning at Rossall Point was one of those mornings this Spring that would be memorable for the passage of Arctic Skuas we had. Now, don't get me wrong we are not talking west coast of Ireland totals or even Flamborough Head, but enough to make it memorable! But more of that later; first to the vis.

It was a case of one eye on the sea and one eye and two ears to the sky this morning. The number of Lesser Redpolls has been notable so far this spring and we haven't yet reached the normal peak of their passage. They must also be one of the earliest birds on the move as they are always the first birds I hear as I get out of my car at first light. This morning was no exception and we recorded 7 heading north.

Lesser Redpoll in the hand

Tree Pipits have featured this spring and this morning I had 4 of these high flying diurnal migrants. I think that Tree Pipit should receive the prize for the highest flying diurnal migrant as they are rarely seen even if they are calling clearly; closely followed by Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. Other vis totals included 5 Sand Martins, 28 Swallows, 69 Linnets, 2 Carrion Crows, 75 Goldfinch, 14 Woodpigeons, 36 Siskins, 3 Chaffinch, 2 White Wagtails, 5 Collared Doves and 183 Meadow Pipits.

Besides the aforementioned Arctic Skuas, or Parasitic Jaegers for any North American readers, the sea was quite good as well. Good numbers of Sandwich and particularly Arctic Terns were noted with 14 and 103 of each respectively. It is quite tricky sometimes estimating the numbers of Terns as it can be easy to duplicate counts if birds are on a feeding circuit. I had my first Manx Shearwater of the spring and this was accompanied by 12 Gannets and 10 Little Gulls.

Common Scoters numbered 57 and Eiders 147. Twelve Red-throated Divers headed east into Morecambe Bay and Auks were moving in the same direction with 29 Auk sp., 4 Razorbills and 7 Guillemots. On the wader front were 2 Whimbrel and 104 Sanderlings.

Now to the Arctic Skuas. We had 4 pale morphs and 4 dark morphs head into the 'Bay' presumably to cross over-land at some point. The beauty of spring seawatching is that generally a lot of the seabirds, including Skuas, are close in and this morning was no exception as all the Skuas were close in giving stonking views.

I nipped into Fleetwood Cemetery on my way home and all I had was a single Willow Warbler and 2 Siskin. Back home I emptied my moth trap and all I had were 3 Early Greys and a single Double-striped Pug.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

It's All In the Viz...12th April 2009

I have been so busy going out birding recently, and unfortunately not ringing, that I am behind with my postings hence the date in the title. This means that I can pretend that I have just come back from the Nature Park and Rossall School and posted this immediately. The chances of doing any ringing before I start checking any Pied Flycatcher boxes is virtually nil as I am struggling to find a Spring ringing site. I could go on an lament the sites that we have lost in the past, but I won't, instead I will go back to the 12th April and report!

It was the Nature Park for me this morning again and once again my spring traps would not be used in anger. My first birds were singing Gropper and Reed Warbler, and in addition to yesterday there was a singing Sedge Warbler. Out on the pools it was business as usual with 21 Coots, 7 Little Grebes, 7 Moorhens and male Ruddy Duck. Very little else about so it was off to Rossall School.

It was a cracking morning and the picture below shows the view from the sea wall at Rossall across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland Fells.

As you can see from the above picture it was very clear and as a consequence there was very little grounded; all the activity was overhead in terms of vis. Heading north I had 2 Goldfinch, 32 Meadow Pipits, 43 Linnets, 7 lesser Redpolls (or Redpoll agg. to be precise) and 2 Siskin. On the sea were a handful of Eider, 18 Sandwich Terns and a Black Swan flew south with two Mutes!

In fact I was so bored I took a picture of the Lesser Celandine in the copse (see below).

Saturday, 11 April 2009

A Few More Migrants...But Only A Few

At 6.20 a.m. I was unlocking the gate to Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park with my boot full of spring traps, meal worms, buckets of optimism and the hope of trapping a few Wheatears. As I got out of my car the omens seemed good as I picked up a 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler, but when I scanned to see if there were any Wheatears in the usual 'Wheatear spots' I drew a blank. So yet again my traps didn't see the light of day and I hoisted my 'scope onto my shoulders and went birding.

There was some vis as I had a steady stream of Mipits heading north along with 14 Linnets, 3 White Wagtails and a single Swallow. On the pools were 14 Greylags (obvious escapees from a local duck brothel), 25 Coot, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 3 pairs of Tufted Duck, a pair of Ruddy Ducks and 5 each of Little Grebe and Moorhen.

I had a few more migrants in the form of 4 Willow Warblers and an early Reed Warbler belting out its song from one of the reed-fringed pools.
The Wyre Estuary

I then headed to the coast to Rossall School with the knowledge that Ian had an Osprey northeast over Rossall Point earlier. Knot were on the move and I had groups of birds mainly moving south, but some moving east, totalling 1,030. As at the Nature park there was a steady stream of Mipits north along with 11 Linnets, 3 Swallows, 2 Siskin and a Lesser Redpoll.

The only grounded migrant I had was a single male Wheatear, but certainly not worth the walk back to my car for some traps. A quick glance on the sea revealed 3 Gannets and a couple of Sandwich Terns.

I then moved on to Fleetwood Cemetery, but all I had here were 2 Sparrowhawks; one local bird (by its behaviour) and one moving north. I had a single Willow Warbler and that was it.

Back at home mid-morning I emptied my moth trap and I had caught 2 Early Grey, a Silver Y, Hebrew Character, Lead-coloured Drab and a possible Brindled Pug. I say possible because I find the Pugs incredibly difficult to identify. I have sent a picture of the aforementioned Pug to a mate of mine who is a demon moth identifier. Below is a picture of the Early Grey and Hebrew Character.

Early Grey

Hebrew Character

There's always tomorrow!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

My First Swallow

The forecast for last Saturday morning looked good for an early Spring fall, or so I thought. High pressure dominating with an easterly airflow and a front coming in from the Irish see with rain before dawn. Conditions that looked as though they might dump a few Wheatears and maybe, just maybe, a Ring Ouzel. It was not to be.

At 6.30 a.m. I was at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park looking for migrants, and all I did was look for migrants without seeing any. The usual were on the pools; 28 Coot, 5 Little Grebes, 12 Tufted Ducks, female Goldeneye, 3 Great Crested Grebes and a pair of Ruddy Ducks. And that was about your lot!

The main pool at Fleetwood Marsh NP

I then moved to the coast and had a trawl round Rossall School. It was here that I realised my mistake and thought that maybe I should have been seawatching at Rossall Point as it was quite breezy. I found out later from Ian that at Rossall there had been a decent passage of Razorbills. Anyway I was sure I would have a few migrants here. I checked all the hedges including the south hedge below.

I did have one summer migrant and that was a single Swallow that battled north. Other than that it was very quiet.

Easter weekend is coming up with the potential of four days birding if the weather is okay, but before that I have Hawkwind, supported by Girlschool, to look forward to tomorrow night in Bolton.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Season of Mists and Buggger All Birds

I dropped some bird food off at Moss House Farm today (3rd) and decided to have a walk round to see what was about. I was hoping that the mist would have cleared and it would have warmed up a bit, but it didn't. I suppose the first thing to say is that I didn't have a single summer migrant, I had some migrant birds but not summer migrants.

There was plenty activity from displaying Lapwings as a lot of spring cereals are going in this year and there is a large amount of available habitat. Likewise, Skylarks were active with around 5 singing males. I had a few small flocks of finches, that gave it a more wintry feel, with 14 Linnets, 11 Tree Sparrows and 21 Goldfinch (including one with a ring on).

Brown Hares were quite numerous with animals dotted around, mainly in arable fields, and good numbers of Curlew were feeding in sprayed-off stubbles. In fact the Curlew total of 181 is the most that I have had at 'the farm'.

I then had a walk through the plantation but had very little. I stopped to look on the pool and push some of the steeper edges in to try and create some sloping edges that will be more beneficial for wildlife. The pond was originally dug as a flight pond for wildfowl and therefore doesn't have the necessary structures for a wildlife pond.

The pool

Below is a picture of one of our mist net rides that runs adjacent to the pool.

Walking back from the plantation to my car I recorded very little other than 8 Roe Deer, 2 Stock Dove, 2 Buzzards, Lesser Redpoll and 3 Grey Partridges.