Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Puffin, Pied Flycatchers and Birding North of the Border

Last Sunday I spent a couple of hours seawatching at the Obs and it definitely had that end of season feel about it. It was a glorious morning with clear skies and a light southeasterly breeze. When I arrived shortly after first light the tide was already running out, so I had to watch from further round where you can sea watch even when the tide is out, but it meant that I missed any roosting waders. I still had a few waders in the form of 48 Oystercatchers, 34 Ringed Plovers, 301 Knots, 18 Dunlins, a Turnstone and six Sanderlings.

The sea was quiet, although it produced some interest in the form of a Puffin flying out of the bay. It was nice to sea as I don't always record them every year at the Obs. In addition to the Puffin were a Shelduck, seven Cormorants, 61 Canada Geese heading northeast across the bay, 25 Common Scoters, two Sandwich Terns, a Razorbill, two Auk sp. and a Gannet. I also had four Atlantic Grey Seals.

Canada Geese

 Atlantic Grey Seals

Amazingly there was a bit of vis in the form of eight Swallows. Where these birds are going at this time of year is interesting.

On Monday Gail and I checked our Pied Flycatcher boxes. We ringed 27 Blue Tit and seven Great Tit pulli. The Pied Flycatcher chicks were either too small to ring or just in the process of hatching, so hopefully next weekend we should have 40+ to ring.

 Great Tit

One of the female Pied Flycatchers that I lifted off the nest was ringed and I had ringed her as an adult in 2009! This means that at the very latest she couldn't have hatched any later than 2008 making her at least eight years old, which is a fair old age for a Pied Flycatcher!

On Tuesday I was carrying out another bird survey in north Cumbria and didn't record anything too exciting, but it was a pleasure to be out. Some of the species I recorded included Song Thrush, Blackcap, Tree Sparrow, Swift, Sparrowhawk, Chiffchaff, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll.

The survey was finished by 7:30 a.m. and I had the rest of the day spare so I headed across the border in to Scotland and more precise to Balcary Point, near Auchencairn which is a sea bird colony on the Solway. I did a very pleasant circular walk of about five miles.

 Some view from and around Balcary Point, above and below.


The woodland at the start of my walk held Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Lesser Redpoll. The scrub and grassland on the cliffs held Whithethroats, Rock Pipits and down near the shore I had four Stonechats.

The sea cliffs had breeding Kittiwake, Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill. Although not in large numbers there was plenty of activity to watch and it is the sounds just as much as the sights that I enjoy at a sea bird colony.


 Some of the cliffs at Balcary Point

Work is getting in the way of me getting out at the Obs at the moment and with Ian away in California the Obs isn't getting any coverage, and won't do until at least weekend.

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