Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Terrys Are Back

It was cold in the northerly wind this morning looking over Morecambe Bay and to be honest there was little moving on the sea. Nineteen Cormorants headed west after the rising tide had flushed them off their roost and seven Auk sp. headed east into the Bay. Even wildfowl were thin on the ground with just a handful of Common Scoters and Eiders.

The only unusual sighting on, or should I say in, the sea was the guy below who went in for a dip. I was cold enough to start with, but felt even colder after watching him wade into the surf!

 That looks cold!

Waders were fairly thin on the ground too and all I had were 120 Oystercatchers, five Turnstones, five Redshanks, a Grey Plover, a Ringed Plover. two Curlews and 26 Sanderling.


The only vis I had was a single Grey Wagtail west and 90 Jackdaws heading northeast into the wind.

Before I looked on the sea this morning I'd put some food out for the Turnstones in the half-light and when I went back to have a look there were about 20 'Terrys' feeding on the seed. We have a colour marking project registered with the International Wader Study Group and over the winter we will hopefully be catching the Turnstones and fitting leg flags to them as part of the project.

The aims of the project are to:

- generate some information on wintering sites and distribution of wintering Turnstones in the northwest of
   England or further afield
- attempt to find out what the turnover of the birds wintering at the site is; where are they coming from to
   roost/forage at the site
- measure winter site fidelity and implications of disturbance if they show high winter site fidelity
- generate re-sightings to look at migration routes
- try to ascertain whether there are any relationships between wintering areas and breeding areas
- possibly measure phenology if we can catch them over a number years

Last winter we carried out a bit of a pilot study mainly to see if we could catch them and we managed to ring 50. The aim is to try and mark 100 per year for five years, but I would be very happy indeed if we could do just 50 per year! I am just waiting for the leg flags to come through that are being made for us and then we can make a start. I think it has the makings of a great project.

The 20 Turnstones feeding on the food that I had put out were just part of a larger group of 160 comprised of two flocks of 80. One group of 80 were roosting with 51 Redshanks on the south side of the island where it was sheltered from the northerly wind and also in full sun.


 Redshanks and Turnstones

I then had a look at the Mount as I knew it would be sheltered and I was hoping for a few passerines. I came across a flock of about 15 Long-tailed Tits and amongst them were two Goldcrests, a Coal Tit and several Blue and Great Tits. Chaffinches fed in the tops of Sycamores and were accompanied by a calling Brambling.

The forecast is looking a bit grim for tomorrow with 20-25 mph westerly winds and rain. It might be worth a look on the sea in the morning, but I doubt it will be fit for anything else.

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