Ian and I checked the Kestrel box at the local school and found four large young. In fact they were so large that one of them flew out of the box and joined the adults! I would guess that they were a good 7-10 days ahead of where they would normally be in terms of development at this time of year. We usually ring five chicks from this box and I suspect that one of them had already fledged. Anyway we ringed three of them and what little crackers they were!
Over on the right you will see that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of May and at 375 birds ringed of 38 species they are pretty appalling! The main reason for this is the weather and we have struggled to find calm enough days through the spring to get mist nets up and this is despite a couple of members being fairly flexible work wise too!
On the positive, and not unexpected side, we added 16 species to the years totals and these were Lapwing, Woodpigeon, Tree Pipit, Redstart (a cracking male at Fleetwood BO), Song Thrush (only the first ringed this late in the year!), Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Nuthatch, Carrion Crow, Common Redpoll and Lesser Redpoll.
The top three species ringed in May were as follows:
1. Blue Tit - 44
Great Tit - 44
3. Pied Flycatcher - 16
The top ten 'movers and shakers' were as follows:
1. Blue Tit - 60 (up from 4th)
2. Great Tit - 52 (up from 9th)
3. Chiffchaff - 24 (down from 1st)
4. Lesser Redpoll - 20 (down from 2nd)
5. Wheatear - 17 (down from 3rd)
6. Pied Flycatcher - 16 (straight in)
7. Goldfinch - 15 (down from 5th)
8. Tree Sparrow - 12 (straight in)
Yellowhammer - 12 (down from 6th)
10. Greenfinch - 11 (straight in)
Let's hope for a good autumn!
I apologise for a lack of posts recently but I have been trying to catch up on work as I'm away for a week next week in Scotland and then when I get back in early July I want to be able to hit the ground running ready for an autumn filled with birding!
Yesterday morning Ian and I managed to get a ringing session in at the reedbed and scrub at the Obs. Conditions were near perfect when we were putting the nets up with clear skies and a very light northerly wind.
The ringing was better than expected and the birding was what we would have expected. We ringed thirteen birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):
Sunday morning seawatching off the Obs wasn't as good as Saturday and there were less Atlantic Grey Seals and no Cetaceans, but as always it was pleasant to be out. Again I didn't get there until 7.00 a.m. because of a late night combined with real ale, but the warm sun under four oktas cloud and fairly light southeasterly winds helped to revive me!
Passage at sea included 13 Gannets, three Cormorants, three Sandwich Terns, four Manx Shearwaters, a Kittiwake, 33 Common Scoters, two Greylag Geese, three Auk sp. and a Common Tern. Just two Atlantic Grey Seals this morning and neither of them munching on a Thornback Ray!
I'm struggling to get out in the early part of this week due to work commitments, but should be okay for Thursday onwards. I'm actually hoping to get out ringing on Thursday!
I decided to sea watch at the Obs this morning, but due to a late night and one or two too many pints of real ale it was 7.00 a.m. before I was seawatching under 7 oktas cloud with a light to moderate south-southeasterly wind. As the morning progressed the skies darkened with peels of thunder and then by 9.30 a.m. I had to make a hasty retreat to my car when the heavens opened!
One of the first birds I had threw me, not in terms of identification, but in terms of being out of context for early June and that was a calling female Chaffinch perched on the sea wall. If it was late October I wouldn't have batted an eyelid, but early June it was a trifle unusual.
Chaffinch on the sea wall
I didn't have any vis as such but did have a number of Swifts flying south at sea and these could easily have been birds breeding in towns along the Fylde coast that had been across Morecambe Bay to feed and were returning to their nest sites.
As hinted at in my blog title the sea passage was half decent for early June for both birds and sea mammals. Avian interest was in the form of five Sandwich Terns, 22 Gannets, 15 Greylag Geese, 19 Manx Shearwaters, three Cormorants, two Razorbills, a Guillemot and nine Common Scoters.
I had three Atlantic Grey Seals this morning and one of them spent a great deal of time devouring a large flatfish. The nest sea mammal sighting I had was a pod of six Common Bottlenose Dolphins fairly rapidly heading north and west until they were out of sight. There were one or two smaller individuals amongst them and I assumed that these were calves.
Atlantic Grey Seal with flatfish
Once the rain came in I retreated to my car and headed home. I'll try again in the morning and fingers crossed for some more cetaceans!
I hit the Obs again this morning and the visibility was superb under the 6 oktas cloud cover and light northeasterly winds. In fact whenever the wind is northerly or easterly the visibility does generally seem to be very good. I had no grounded migrants this morning but I did have a trickle of Swallows heading east and it was a trickle, just four birds in total. Even though it was only four birds I did wonder where they could be going so late in the spring.
Offshore I had three Atlantic Grey Seals, 34 Common Scoters, two Gannets, five Sandwich Terns and a Cormorant. There was evidence of breeding activity all around with Meadow Pipits and Blackbirds carrying food, and Ringed Plovers alarm calling with presumably small chicks.
One of the three Atlantic Grey Seals offshore this morning.
Meadow Pipit carrying food.
At high tide in the afternoon there were just twelve Sanderlings roosting and it made me think that it won't be long before the first failed breeders are back. Autumn's just around the corner!
As I stated yesterday we are now in the last gasps of spring and today it was just about limping along. I headed to the obs under full cloud cover with a 10 mph SSW wind. I had a single grounded migrant in the form of a Wheatear (getting late now), nothing on vis and just two Sandwich Terns moving east into the bay.
Passage waders have virtually stopped now and on the high tide roost this afternoon all I had were 14 Sanderlings. Mind you the two pairs of nesting Ringed Plovers will be pleased about this as they will no longer have to display to hundreds of passage Ringed Ps!
It was equally quiet in the cemetery with no grounded migrants in sight. I'll try again in the morning, but it is becoming hard work now.
This morning I headed to the Obs with full cloud cover, a 5-10 mph south-southeasterly wind and a threat of rain in the air. I checked the dunes and shore first for any late grounded migrants and there weren't any to be found. However, I did have Whitethroat and Meadow Pipit carrying food, evidence of how late we are now in the spring and good confirmation of breeding for these two species.
I had a look on the sea and it was here that I had the first of two good birds that livened up an expected very quiet morning in the form of a female Goosander heading into the bay. Other than a single Gannet, three Sandwich Terns west and 26 Canada Geese that headed west out of the bay, but later turned round and headed northeast, it was very quiet.
The only visible migrants I had were three late Swallows heading east. I had a look in the coastal park but didn't see anything of note and headed to the cemetery where I had my second good bird of the morning. By now it was raining and as I walked round the cemetery it was quiet until one of the council workers flushed a largish bird, that for a split second looked raptoresque, and then it morphed into its true identity of a Cuckoo and shot off south. Nice!
There were plenty of juv birds around including Dunnocks, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Great Tits and Blackbirds but absolutely no grounded migrants other than the Cuckoo. Pleased with my last gasp of Spring I headed home for a day out with 'her indoors'. More last gasps of Spring tomorrow.
Gail and I made our last visit to our boxes in the Hodder Valley on Sunday morning and it was more of a treat for her than usual, as after 23 years of 'living over the brush' Gail and I got married on Saturday. So as a special honeymoon treat she was able to assist with the ringing of 24 Pied Flycatcher chicks. I bet there's not many ladies who can say that on the day after their wedding they were checking Pied Flycatcher boxes or any other nest boxes at all probably!