It took Ian and a while to realise what was going on this morning in connection with the lack of birds. We arrived at Rossall School at 0515 and quickly put up the four nets in anticipation of a good morning's ringing and some vis with hopefully a few summer migrants. It was fairly clear overhead and the wind was a light southwesterly, but where were all the birds?
The vis was fairly light with only 52 Meadow Pipits, eleven Alba Wags, two Goldfinches and three Siskins over. The first clue we had as to what was going on were the Whooper Swans heading north just over the sea wall which is probably about 350 metres from where we ring. We had 22 head north in two groups of five and seventeen. Now Whooper Swans heading north isn't unusual at this time of year, but they are usually heading further out and going straight across the 'bay'. It then dawned on us that it must be murky out at sea and the birds were hugging the coastline. This was confirmed when we left the 'obs' at 0800 and fog was everywhere other than at the 'obs'! Talk about patchy!
We only ringed three birds that included the above male Chaffinch plus a Dunnock and Wren. After we packed up I called in at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park and it was very foggy here. Driving past the water treatment plant I noticed a bird perched up at the very top of a Willow; I lifted my bins and there was a stonking male Wheatear, my first for the spring. I love it when Wheatears perch up in trees, it just looks so weird.
Out on the pools were twelve Coot, five Little Grebes and 21 Tufted Ducks. I did a circuit of the usual Wheatear areas but there were no others. Walking back towards my car I caught site of a raptor out of the corner of my eye that was heading fast to my left; it made a momentary diversion towards a singing Skylark and I thought "Merlin" and it was; a female that just powered its way south across the landfill site and out of view.
I am struggling to get out in the week and it might be Thursday before I do, but I am looking forward to seeing Jethro Tull for the umpteenth time at Manchester Apollo on Tuesday evening. "Sitting on a park bench..."
Nightjar survival against the odds - with the run of days of terrible weather since this Nightjar nest started it is heartening to see that the one chick has just about fledged -- hope it now ...
3 hours ago