Friday, 12 February 2021

Signs Of Spring

Amongst all the media hype of the 'Beast From The East Two', it might seem strange to talk about signs of spring, but they are there. Bird song is slowly increasing, and I am hearing Wrens, Dunnocks, Blue Tits, Robins, Great Tits, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Blackbirds, Mistle and Song Thrushes all tentatively warming up their vocal cords. We've got Snowdrops in flower, and Hazel catkins are out, but one of my favourite signs of spring is the return passage of Common Gulls. Once we get into February, numbers of these gorgeous little Gulls increase, and you start to see them more often on areas of open grassland, and even better when they get their pristine summer plumage. And if you are lucky enough to hear one, or even a flock calling, you will know why they are probably my favourite Gull species. Anyway, more on Common Gulls later.   
Apologies for the quality of the above picture. The Common Gulls were 
quite distant, and continually walking around feeding. That's my excuse
During lockdown, I have managed to keep my Bowland feeding station going, just, because I pass it on my way to and from one of my client's farms where I do a lot of work. I normally like to visit the feeding station twice a week to make sure the feeders never empty, but during this current period of lockdown it has often just been once a week. However, I do have two big feeders up, that I have posted about before, so even on a just about weekly visit there is still some food left. 

The usual suspects have been at the feeding station; Nuthatches, Chaffinches, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Goldfinches, but I haven't had much in the surrounding woodland, other than a singing Mistle Thrush, a Buzzard, a singing Goldcrest, 'shouting' Jays and a Treecreeper. On one visit I flushed a Woodcock from the woodland, so that was a bonus, but an expected one as I had been looking out for them.
This is Common Greenshield Lichen, I think, and it is very common on trees
close to the feeding station.
One of everybody's favourite signs of spring, the Snowdrop. There are plenty
of them in the woodland where my feeding station is located.
Since my last post, I have been busy with my wintering bird surveys, but they have become even quieter than they were before. It would seem that this latest cold snap has pushed a few birds on. When I got out of my car at one of the areas of my west coast survey site, I was greeted with the sight and sound of a flock of 52 Black-tailed Godwits flying round over some fields that they obviously wanted to drop into. The high tide had very probably pushed them off the river and they had moved a few hundred metres inland to try and find somewhere to feed. After they had circled round a few times they headed back towards the river.
It was here that I had my first Common Gulls of the spring. Not many, just three individuals of my favourite Gull. In the same set of fields, I had two Buzzards and two Mistle Thrushes, and that was that. Time to head home for a warm, and get the coffee on.  

Over on the right you will see I have updated, or should I say added, the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group for January 2021. Below you will find details of the top two species ringed during the month.

Top 2 Ringed in January

1. Linnet - 27
2. Blue Tit - 18

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