Saturday 25 July 2009

Ringing - 1 Birding - 0

Ringing at Moss House Farm today after the absence of a fortnight due to weather. The conditions this morning for mist netting were absolutely perfect; calm and overcast. Six nets were put up in the plantation and four hours later we had ringed 31 birds and retrapped 8. Ringed birds included 5 Willow Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, 10 Whitethroats, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Reed Buntings and a single Sedge Warbler.

Willow Warbler
Goldfinch - male

I had a first for me today when extracting a male Reed Bunting in that it snapped at and caught a fly! As I held the Reed Bunting and it held the fly, it suddenly gulped the fly down. In all my 25 years of ringing I have never had a bird feed whilst being handled. we caught this adult male with a juvenile and it was probably just instinctively catching food for the juv.

The reason for my 'football type' title is that the ringing was quite good but the birding was poor this morning other than a singing Quail. There was absolutely nothing on the move, no hirundines, nothing! We were that desperate at one stage that we tried to string a howling dog into a calling Cuckoo. Don't ask!

Sunday 19 July 2009

The Right Wind Direction, But the Wrong Strength!

You would be forgiven for thinking that I constantly complain about the weather never being right, and I suppose I would have to accept that you would be justified in this! This morning at Rossall Point the wind was westerly (perfect) but only about force 2-3 (not perfect). In fact I thought that it would probably have just about been light enough to go ringing. Anyway I was at Rossall and had to make the most of it.

The tide was at a lower state when I arrived and there were a few waders about including 143 Oystercatchers, 9 Curlews and 12 Sanderlings. Seabird passage was very light both in terms of species and numbers and I found myself counting and looking through the Herring Gulls on the beach! What was happening to me?! Anyway there were 316 Herring Gulls and amongst them were 5 Black-heads, 7 Lessers and a Common Gull.

Bobbing up and down just beyond the surf was a single Atlantic Grey Seal and seabirds? well, I had 4 Gannets, 22 Common Scoters and 2 Sandwich Terns. Walking back to the car through the dunes I had 2 Stonechats and a single Whitethroat.

I then called at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park and as it was quite early it was locked up, which was great because I have a key to gain access for ringing. So I could drive and lock the gate behind me and have the place to myself. I had a look on the 'tyre' pool and had 2 fully grown Fox cubs playing with each other. I watched them for about 10 minutes before they disappeared into the reeds. The pictures below are awful quality, but it gives you an idea of what I saw.

I daren't show you any more pictures ! The break down of species and numbers on and around the pools was very similar to yesterday and included 10 Goldfinch, Song Thrush, 5 Lapwings, 47 Coots, 4 Little Grebes, 30 Mallards, 7 Tufted Ducks and 3 Skylarks.

Saturday 18 July 2009

The Right Hat, The Right Trousers, But The Wrong Wind Direction

I don't know why I am complaining about the wind direction as it always useless sea watching in a northwesterly off Rossall Point. I think it is more the fact that if I am not at work I have to go birding. Anyway, as you have gathered I went to Rossall Point this morning and it was fairly quiet. There was some movement on the sea and I had 37 Gannets, 17 Common Scoters, 2 Fulmars and 5 Kittiwakes. Mind you I had some stonking views of Gannets flying into and out of the bay really close in; superb!

The sea off Rossall Point

At about 7.30 a.m I heard a guy walk past and shout to me "have you spotted any Herring Gulls?". At first I thought he was clued up and was concerned about the declining number of Herring Gulls and how they had just recently gone on to the red list, but when he offered me a can of lager I realised he was just a drunken yob trying to be funny!

On the way home I dropped in to Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park to have a look at the pools. There were a few big Gulls from the tip bathing and preening but they were only Herring and Lesser Black-backs. In addition to the Gulls there was little of note and the 'little of note' included 4 Little Grebes, 32 Coots and 24 Mallards.

I'll have to see what tomorrow brings!

Monday 6 July 2009

Ringing Demo...4th July

Today was the day of our ringing demo at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park celebrating 100 years of the British ringing scheme. We had a good turn out from Fylde Ringing Group and we put up 5 nets up in the reedbed and willow scrub. The event ran from 8.00 a.m. until 11.00 a.m. and we had about 30 people turn up through the morning. Even Radio Lancashire turned up and interviewed 'yours truly' live on air!

'Yours Truly' on air!
Phil and Craig demonstrating

Over the course of the morning we ringed 12 Reed Warblers, 4 Sedge Warblers, Reed Bunting and 6 Whitethroats. We also controlled a Whitethroat. All in all a grand day out!

Sunday 5 July 2009

After the rain.......

.....there was bugger all other than a Common Sand and a Lapwing!

I worked home from home today because I had to wait in for a couple of parcels from the BTO to assist with the ringing demonstration we are doing tomorrow (4th) at Fleetwood Marsh NP. During the afternoon there was some heavy thundery rain and I thought after it stops I'll nip up to the Nature Park and see if it has dropped anything onto the pool. Well, it did stop and I did nip up to the nature park and there was nothing on the pool other than the aforementioned Common Sand and Lapwing!

I had a look on the wildfowl pool and had 4 Little Grebe, 35 Coots (5 juv's), 48 Mallards (5 young), 6 Tufted Ducks, 38 Herring Gulls, a pair of Ruddy Duck with 2 young and 2 Pochards.

I haven't shown any pictures for a while from my good mate Nigel in Canada so below are a couple of pictures of Golden-winged and Mourning Warbler that Nigel caught in a recent ringing session.
Mourning Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler

Friday 3 July 2009

Merlins...1st July

Now, I don't have vast experience of ringing lots of raptors, but of the 7 or 8 species that I have ringed I would say that Merlin is the most feisty and has the most attitude. Top bird! I had the opportunity to ring two broods of Merlin chicks today and once again I must thank Dave and Richard for this opportunity.

We visited two nests and each had three chicks in. Below are one or two more snaps.

On the way to the second nest we had cracking views of a pair of Peregrines with a juv and floating past over the heather behind us was a male Hen Harrier. Stunning!