Thursday 29 April 2010

A Strange Kind Of Morning

Based on last night's forecast I thought I would treat myself to a lie in and get up at 6.45 a.m. when 'her indoors' gets up for work. For five days running I have been up at 4.45 a.m. and I was starting to feel a little tired!

I decided to go to Rossall Point and watch the incoming tide. Looking out across Morecambe Bay the conditions were murky...sort of. I could see all the way across to Walney, but there was patchy murk here and there. Consequently movement at sea was very slow and light.

As the tide turned and started to run in I had 36 Eiders and 9 Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea. The only seabird passage of note was 17 Gannets and only two Sandwich Terns. I had 105 Dunlin go west and the tide lifted 612 Oystercatchers.

The vis was next to nothing and all I had were 4 Swallows east.

I didn't expect any or many grounded migrants this morning, but I thought I would just have a quick look in Mount Park. To my surprise I had Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. This spurred me on and I thought I should check Fleetwood Cemetery. Three warbler species in here to, but three different ones in Chiffchaff, Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat.

I had some meal worms with me so I thought I would see if there were any Wheatears at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park and try and catch a few if there were. As it was late morning it was canine pandemonium, and there were dogs of every conceivable size, colour and shape, doing what dogs do best with brainless owners...scaring birds. There were 5 Wheatears but they were all in the aero-modellers area where it is dog free!

A couple of Swifts hawked for insects over the pools and four species of warbler were singing here; Grasshopper, Whitethroat and two each of Sedge and Reed. On the pools it was quiet other than 2 Little Grebes, Great Crested Grebe and 3 male Tufted Ducks. I decided enough was enough and headed home.

To brighten the page up is a photo of a male Holly Blue that I took in my garden yesterday afternoon.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Dogs and Wheatears Don't Mix

Do dogs and any birds mix? Don't get me started on dogs before I have even started! More of that later.

This morning Ian and I had another ringing session at Rossall School in the hope of picking up a few more summer migrants at the 'obs'. At first light it was clear with a very light southeasterly breeze, but within an hour this had picked up to at least 10 mph. The usual four nets were put up and we ended up ringing seven birds that included three new species for the 'obs' in the form of Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and two female House Sparrows. In addition to these species we ringed 3 Blackbirds and retrapped a Great Tit.

Great Tit

House Sparrow

Lesser Whitethroat

Sedge Warbler

There were one or two grounded migrants around in addition to those ringed including 3 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Whitethroats, 8 Wheatears and single Willow Warbler.

Vis has certainly quietened down and all we had were 2 Tree Pipits, 9 Meadow Pipits, 5 Whimbrel, 4 Pink-footed Geese, 14 Swallows, 4 Lesser Redpolls and a Sand Martin.

After we had packed up ringing I called at Fleetwood Cemetery to see if there were any migrants. It was very quiet other than a single Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and two Lesser Redpolls and a Siskin feeding together on tree buds.

Woodpigeon in the cemetery

I then moved on to Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park and dropped in on a twitch! Now, you'll be wondering what species was the cause of all this excitement. Was it a rare Pipit, a Shrike perhaps? No it was a.............Whinchat, or should I say Whinchats! Yep, the year listers were out in force twitching a Whinchat that had been put out on the pager. Madness! By the way of an explanation here; I don't own a pager, never have done and never will do. I knew it was on the pager as a birder told me it was.

Just look at the photograph below. Absolutely disgusting. I am not blaming the local authority here, but all those 'numpties' that deposited their pooches bags of sh*t. Can't they see that the bin is full. I won't talk about it any more or I'll start swearing.

Take it home you filthy a*seholes

This is where I found out that dogs and Wheatears don't mix. I had palanned to try and catch a few Wheatears on the large rocks that surround the artificial pool and I had caught a male (below) and a female before a 'Neanderthal' with two large black dogs decided that the pool was a swimming pool for his pooches and he spent the next ten minutes shouting and throwing balls into the water. As you can imagine the Wheatears scattered in all directions and weren't going to come back while that idiot was there.

I saw the Whinchats along with 8 Wheatears and had 2 Tree Pipits go over. Back home I checked my moth trap and had 3 Early Greys, Common Quaker, 2 Hebrew Characters and a Herald.

Monday 26 April 2010

Reel to Reel

My blog title is not to be confused with Marillion's first live album 'Real To Reel', but is a reference to all the Groppers I had this morning. More of that later.

I must start with a 'postscript' to yesterday's blog and mention the two Avocets feeding on a temporary pool on Fleetwood landfill site. I received a phone call from my mate Ian, as I sat nodding off in front of the telly after two early mornings in a row, to say that he was watching a pair of Avocets on one of the pools on the tip. Twenty minutes later I had joined Ian and enjoyed these two stonking birds in the late evening sunshine. Before we headed home we also enjoyed watching three Fox cubs playing as it went dark.

It was quite pleasant being out this morning as all the year listing nutters were back at work and I am off work this week for a week of 'local patching', be that ringing, seawatching or 'bush bashing'. This morning the plan was to watch the incoming tide at Rossall Point and I decided to call in at Rossall School on my way to the point. I only had half an hour and from a grounded migrant perspective I just had Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat. I didn't expect many grounded migrants this morning as conditions weren't right with a 15 mph westerly wind.


Next stop was Rossall Point and I made my way along the dunes to the Coastguards Tower for a sea watch. I suppose birding at Rossall Point, or indeed any coastal site, can be divided into the headings grounded migrants, vis, sea passage and shore birds. So lets stick with that.

Grounded Migrants

As I headed across the dunes I had another Gropper reeling from a patch of brambles, a Whitethroat along the same stretch and as I stood looking at the sea I had a Sedge Warbler calling and giving some sub-song from a patch of Elders.


The vis was slow this morning and all I had were 8 Meadow Pipits, 4 Linnets, 15 Golden Plovers, 2 Lesser Redpolls, 8 Goldfinch, 2 Tree Pipits, Whimbrel, 2 Alba Wags and 10 Swallows.

Meadow Pipit

Sea Passage

There was some passage on the sea, even though the visibility wasn't quite what it could have been. Also after about an hour a squally shower came in and after that the passage was somewhat slower. Eiders numbered 21 and these were predominantly males with very few females. Common Scoter were quite numerous with 101 moving in and out of Morecambe Bay in small groups of varying numbers, and five Red-breasted Mergansers were also present. The only other wildfowl I had were a male and two female Tufted Ducks that flew west along the shoreline.

A number of Sandwich Terns were present and these are difficult to count accurately as they are often on a large feeding circuit. I had 31 along with 4 of their smaller Arctic cousins. The most numerous seabird this morning was Gannet by far and I had a total of 151. Like the 'Sarnies' it is often difficult to tell exactly what they are doing and I think sometimes there is some inevitable duplicate counting.

I had just four Red-throated Divers and five Auk sp. Of the auks that were close enough to identify were 4 Razorbills and a single Guillemot. I watched a Fulmar being harried by three Herring Gulls. Presumably they were trying to get it to regurgitate its meal 'Skua' style. The Fulmar could turn tighter than the Herring Gulls, but couldn't out accelerate them. Eventually they gave up and the Fulmar headed out of the bay.


The biggest feature was probably the passage Dunlin and Ringed Plovers. Small groups were continually heading west and in total I had 306 Dunlin and 33 Ringed Plovers. In addition to Dunlin and RPs I had 371 Oystercatchers and 36 Curlews.

After just under three hours I left the point and called in at the Mount to see if there were any migrants. It was fairly blowy but there were some sheltered areas and in the sheltered bits I just had 3 Willow Warblers.

More of the migrant habitat in the Mount

I then headed to the Cemetery, scene of yesterdays exciting birding, but as expected it was quieter. I did my usual circuit and had 5 Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and a female Wheatear. The Wheatear was feeding in the grassed area that the Ring Ouzel was on yesterday and like the Ring Ouzel accompanied the Song Thrush. After a short while the Wheatear took off and perched at the very top of some mature Willows. I love it when they do that.

I thought I would call at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park to see if there were any chats around feeding on the short turf of the aero-modellers airfield. I wasn't disappointed as there were 7 Wheatears and a male Whinchat. Three each of Reed and Sedge Warbler sang and two Groppers reeled away. In addition to this warbler trio was a singing Blackcap in an area of mature Willow scrub. The pools were quiet bird wise with only two Little Grebes and a single Great Crest of any note.

However, the artificial pools were anything other than quiet with the antics of the 'neanderthal' and her pooch below! No Common Sands today!

Sunday 25 April 2010

Mountain Blackbird

I mentioned at the end of my blog yesterday that the weather synopsis for today was potentially quite interesting and it was. I awoke at 4.00 a.m to hear rain battering the conservatory roof and ran into the garden to put my skinner moth trap in the garage. I climbed back in bed at 4.15 a.m. and waited for my alarm to go off at 5.00 a.m Why I bothered getting back in bed I don't know!

A quick bowl of corn flakes and I was off in the direction of Rossall. It was obvious that the only thing to do this morning was to look for migrants. After all it is late April, the wind was southerly and it was raining! The only slight negative was that the rain front had come up from the south, rather than down from the north to meet any northward bound night migrants. Nevertheless I was confident that I would have some grounded migrants. I believe that some daft souls were trying to sea watch off Rossall Point with zero visibility and the whole of the bay 'locked out' with murk. One of the dangers of planning today's birding based on yesterday's news without reading the conditions. Mind you that's what happens when you are a slave to a year list race!

My first port of call was Rossall School and I thought that it was one of those mornings where you need to hit lots of sites fairly rapidly and not spend too much time trying to conjure something up from empty bushes. The 'obs' revealed two 'reeling' Grasshopper Warblers, 'Greenland' Wheatear, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler. As you can imagine in the wet conditions vis was virtually zero but I did have two Tree Pipits over, Lesser Redpoll and eighteen Swallows.

My next port of call was the Mount. As soon as I stepped out of my car I could hear a Tree Pipit calling loudly and there feeding in a tree by the side of the road was the bird. My first decent grounded migrant of the morning. A quick walk round all the suitable habitat only added a singing Willow Warbler.

What could have been lurking in the Mount?

Next stop was Fleetwood Cemetery and one of the first birds I had was a singing Sedge Warbler from a privet hedge! Not normal Sedge habitat. It was then that I began to think that something good could be found. I got a phone call from Ian to say that he had walked the golf course and had put up a few grounded migrants such as Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and that he would join me in the cemetery shortly.

I was half way round my circuit when Ian arrived and together we carried on 'working' the best area. Suddenly lots of Herring Gulls to the east over the houses started alarm calling and we knew that a raptor was about. Ian then locked on to a bird flying more or less towards us fairly low and then I got on the bird. You know what it's like when a bird is flying towards you and it's out of context, it takes a moment or two for the 'old grey matter' to register what it is. Anyway, within a few seconds Ian shouts "Hen Harrier" and there flying over Fleetwood Cemetery heading west is a female Hen Harrier! Awesome. It drifted over the trees between the houses towards the coast.

We continued birding and added Chiffchaff and a male and female Blackcap. We were just finishing off the circuit when Ian picked up a male Ring Ouzel flying left (south) across the gardens that back on to the cemetery. We gave chase and the Mountain Blackbird landed in some Willows. A Song Thrush was feeding on some open short grass and this seemed to give the Ring Ouzel confidence and it joined the Song Thrush and actively fed, finding plenty of earth worms.

Unbeknown to us Len was in the cemetery watching a male Redstart and he had seen Ian and I suddenly run across the cemetery. Len came over to join us and enjoyed this stonking tame Ring Ouzel.

Len left and then shortly afterwards three cars 'steamed' into the cemetery and four 'year listing' birders leaped out to claim their prize, but unfortunately for them with their 'Starsky and Hutch' (showing my age there) antics they had flushed the Ring Ouzel! Luckily for them it did reappear, but I must admit that this local year list fiasco does cause some unwelcome mayhem at your local patches when you are trying to bird quietly!

We decided to have a second circuit of the cemetery and added a calling Cuckoo that flew north (the third good bird of the morning) and three Willow Warblers. Who would have thought, say twenty years ago, that a spring sighting of a Cuckoo would go down as a 'good' bird.

Next stop was the Memorial Park and we had three Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs, two Willow Warblers, three Lesser Redpolls and another Tree Pipit. Just as my first Tree Pipit this one was grounded and was feeding on the lower branches of a Beech tree.

We returned to the Mount for a second look and added three more Willow Warblers, female Blackcap and two Siskins. All in all it was a cracking morning's birding and I must thank Ian for most of the Ring Ouzel shots above.

In case you're interested my moth trap only contained six Hebrew Characters and three Early Greys.

What will the rest of the week bring? Some seawatching I hope, although I wouldn't mind another morning like today!

Saturday 24 April 2010

Cap Black (or should that be brown?)

As Phil said when he replied to the text I sent him this morning to say how quiet it was at Rossall School ringing wise "at least we try"! And try we did. Ian and I met at the 'obs' at 5.15 a.m. and put the usual four nets up. Unfortunately it was clear skies, but at least it was calm, but this meant that anything we ringed this morning would be hard won.

The clear skies and light southerly wind did provide some visible migration for Ian and I to concentrate on as we drank copious amounts of coffee between net rounds. With only four bird ringed it gave us plenty of time to monitor the 'vis'. We ringed Blackbird, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler.

Blackcap - female


Willow Warbler

The easiest way to report the vis is to give you the bare totals which were (all north) 20 Meadow Pipits, 10 Tree Pipits, 18 Whimbrel, 14 Lesser Redpolls, 22 Pink-footed Geese, 27 Woodpigeon, 1 Alba Wag, 18 Swallows, 4 Siskins, 2 Sparrowhawks, 3 Sand Martins and 1 Gannet. It is very surreal sat at the ringing table and watching a Gannet 'winging' along the sea wall!

There were few grounded migrants around this morning other than Grasshopper Warbler, Chiffchaff and another Whitethroat in addition to the bird ringed.

Back at home the moth trap was disappointing with just three Heralds trapped. The weather synopsis looks interesting for tomorrow depending on what time the rain arrives. I think it will be a case of rolling out of the 'pit' just before first light and seeing what's happening weather wise before making a decision what to do.

Friday 23 April 2010

Black Magic

I did my usual Friday afternoon thing, which is to finish early from work and drop some seed off at the feeding bins on Rawcliffe Moss and have a walk round. It was a fairly warm afternoon with a light southwesterly wind and complete cloud cover.

I set off down the track and had my first Buzzard thermalling and slowly drifting north. On my walk round I would have another three Buzzards and two male Kestrels. In the hedge besides the track I had a male Reed Bunting and a Lesser Redpoll 'buzzed' south. I had my first Willow Warbler of the afternoon in the '97' hedge, a singing bird in the L Wood and five singing males when I got to the plantation.

As usual I had three singing Skylarks above the cereal fields and ones and twos of Swallows headed north throughout my walk. Looking across the recently 'rolled' field in front of Curlew Wood I had five males and a single female Wheatear. Also, in the ploughed field between the plantation and the Fir Wood I had a further four males and two female Wheatears. Some of the males were definitely 'Greenland' birds being larger, brighter and having a more 'upright' jizz.

The 'Black Magic' that Wheatears and Wagtails can't

Awfully 'digi-binned' Wheatear

In the same field were five White Wagtails and three Tree Sparrows. In addition to these three Tree Sparrows I had a further three in other locations. I had two singing Corn Buntings on my walk round and in the plantation I had two singing Whitethroats.

The plantation 'greening' up

Walking back towards the car I had a calling Whimbrel and calling Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Blackthorn blossom

Back at home at tea time and enjoying a Cafetiere in my conservatory I received a phone call from Ian saying that there were fourteen Wheatears feeding together along a fence line at Rossall School and did I fancy having a go at catching them. I threw four spring traps into the boot along with a carton of meal worms and set off for Rossall.

By the time I had got there some of the dog walkers had split the birds up, but we still had a go. At one stage Ian set off to do a large 'loop' and try and push the Wheatears towards the traps. I watched Ian watching what I thought were the Wheatears and then he rang me on my mobile to say that he was watching a male Black Redstart! I ran across the fields carrying bag, ringing box and meal worms and got to Ian completely out of breath. But there perched on the fence post and wires was a second year male Black Red! More Black Magic!

We gave up on trying to catch Wheatears and headed home. Back at home I had my first Swift of the year. So a nice end to an interesting and frustrating afternoon.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

A Mixed Bag

I haven't posted for a few days because I haven't had anything to post! At my office I have been having the usual; two Nuthatches feeding in my little plastic tray of sunflower hearts fastened to the window frame, singing Chiffchaff and singing Blackcap. I had the window open this morning and the Blackcap was very loud, but I couldn't see him.

I had a couple of visits in the Ribble Valley today and as I drove down the valley side to the first farm I had 40 Whimbrel and 20 Curlews. The Whimbrels were my first for the spring. The farmer then showed me a field where he had between four and six pairs of Lapwing on eggs, so I will be back at a later date to ring the chicks.

I had some time between my first and second appointment and after my sandwiches parked on the side of Longridge Fell I decided to 'stretch my legs' for half an hour. A male Kestrel hovered over the 'white moor' and had to keep taking evasive action when one or two of the radio controlled model gliders came too close!

As I walked along the edge of the ridge the views were fantastic. I could see all the way from Snowdonia along the Irish sea coast past the Fylde, up to the Lakeland Fells and across Bowland to the Yorkshire Dales. Six Skylarks shot past chasing each other and I had a single Wheatear along with half a dozen Meadow Pipits.

I kept an eye skywards in case of any raptors. I had a single Buzzard head north and two Ravens patrolling over the heather.

Back at home later I checked my moth trap and all I had were two Hebrew Characters. It was very cold last night and tonight the temperature is going to drop below freezing so my trap won't be out.

No photo's from today but I have posted a few pictures of an 'after third year' male Northern Harrier caught and ringed by my good friend Nigel in Canada. What an awesome bird!

Sunday 18 April 2010


When most sensible birders were tucked up in bed dreaming of what the morning might bring, Ian and I were up at 'stupid' o'clock putting nets up at Rossall School. When we arrived at the 'obs' it was misty and we wondered if it might have grounded a migrant or two. The mist looked as though it was going to clear, but when very little was moving over we realised that the mist was probably quite extensive to the south and was blocking any movement. Instead of clearing the breeze picked up from the southeast and blew some fog in, as you can see from the picture below.

Foggy hedgerow

As stated before there was little moving over and all we had on 'vis' was a single Tree Pipit, eleven Meadow Pipits, nine Lesser Redpolls and twelve Goldfinch. With the MP3 player we managed to ring just two Lesser Redpolls.

Lesser Redpoll

Two flocks of 500 and 150 Knot headed south as did eleven Curlew later on in the murk. In Spring there is always a southerly movement of Knot and I assume that these birds are moving to join up with other birds on the Ribble Estuary to feed before heading north to the Arctic.

We did have one grounded migrant in the form of a single Willow Warbler and it would seem that the conditions did bring some birds in as there was a Hoopoe at Heysham BO later in the morning.

Back at home I checked my moth trap to find three Early Greys, ten Hebrew Characters, two Common Quakers, Herald and a Clouded Drab.

Saturday 17 April 2010

All Quiet On The Western Coast

It was a 5.30 a.m. start for Craig, Ian and I at Rossall School this morning and we were hoping for a repeat of last weekends Redpoll 'fest'. We put the 'Redpoll net' up and on went the MP3 player and we crossed our fingers for a good passage. It was soon very obvious that it was quiet. In fact Ian said that it had been quiet all week on the 'vis' front, probably as a result of the high pressure we've had all week clearing everything out. We've also had some 'blocking' northeasterly winds that will have held birds up.

We had thirty Redpolls north and we managed to pull in four 'Lessers' with the MP3 player. Other vis included eight Meadow Pipits, five Goldfinch, two Siskins, nine Swallows and two Tree Pipits.

Lesser Redpoll

In addition to the Lesser Redpolls we ringed a single Blackbird, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. The Chiffchaff was showing 'pollen horns' at the base of its bill from foraging on nectar during migration.

Chiffchaff - note the 'pollen horns' at the base of the

Willow Warbler

The only grounded migrants in addition to the two phylloscs trapped were two male Wheatears towards the sea wall.

Back at home in the moth trap were Common Plume Moth, six early Greys, four Hebrew Characters, Herald and Common Quaker.


Friday 16 April 2010

Eyes Skyward

It felt like it should be a raptor afternoon as I wandered across Rawcliffe Moss in the late afternoon sunshine. I kept my eyes skywards just in case and I did have five raptors, but they were all Buzzards. I'm not complaining because Buzzards are fantastic birds and I did get stonking views of a couple of birds as I called them in.

Tree Sparrows were quite numerous and I had thirteen in total noisily moving along the hedge to the north of Curlew Wood. Mentioning Curlew Wood leads me on nicely to the 'Curlew chorus' I had this afternoon. I could hear a number of Curlews calling and at first couldn't see them, but then they appeared flying over the L Wood and there were 69 in the flock.

As usual there were quite a few Brown Hares around and I got a few snaps of an individual near the plantation. In the plantation itself there were five singing Willow Warblers but very little else.

There were a number of Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the wing and I had three Roe Deer to the northwest of the plantation. Heading back south past the plantation I had a Stoat working its way through the trees. That's the second Stoat in two days.

Mossland soil

Back at home I emptied the moth trap and it was more of the same with four Hebrew Characters, four Early Greys, Common Quaker and a Common Plume below.

Thursday 15 April 2010

Morning Mossland Mooch

I had an hour to spare this morning between appointments and as I was in the vicinity of Rawcliffe Moss I decided to have a mooch round there for an hour. My first job was contacting the farmer, Phillip, to let him know that the gates were open on two of his fields and a number of lambs and ewes were out on the track. Then a young lady waited for me to park on the track because she thought I was her taxi! I would have got a surprise if she had got in my car. It's strange out on the moss!

Anyway after that unusual start to my mooch I had a Blackcap singing from Curlew Wood, my first on the moss this Spring. Walking down the track I saw a Stoat running along in the field next to the track and then it crossed over and ran along the track. When I got to the end of the track I flushed it from under the hedge and it was carrying a small rodent.

As a couple of days ago there were a number of Brown Hares in a variety of habitats and they were accompanied by seven Lapwings again in both arable and pastoral habitats. As I walked up the '97' hedge I flushed a pair of Grey Partridges and I had the first of four singing Corn Buntings in the top of a Birch tree.

Dodgy 'digi-binned' Corn Bunting

Tree Sparrows numbered nine and were mainly associated with the boxes. In the plantation I had five singing Willow Warblers and I thought a caught a snippet of Whitethroat song. I then realised the time and it was more of a quick march back to my car rather than a mooch and all I had on my way back was a single Buzzard.

Verdant Hawthorn on the edge of the

Back at home later I checked my moth trap and I bet you guess what I caught! Once again twenty moths of three species that were...I hardly need tell you now...; seven early Greys, eleven Hebrew Characters and two Common Quakers. I did catch a Pug sp., but I can't do Pugs (sorry GJ if you're reading this)! It's a bit like the Herring Gull complex, but with dozens of species!

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Drab Morning

For several days now I have been getting the same three species in my moth trap; Early Grey, Hebrew Character and Common Quaker. Well this morning I had a fourth; Clouded Drab! Not rare at all , in fact it is very common, but it was just nice to get an extra species. Out of interest the numbers of the other species were eight Hebrew Characters, four Common Quakers and a single Early Grey.

No birds today other than a singing Chiffchaff at Ainsdale NNR.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Mossy Morning

I had an hour to spare before seeing my first client this morning so I decided to drop some seed off at the feeding bins on Rawcliffe Moss. After I did this I had a walk from the feeding track, along the '97' hedge to the plantation and back to the car. It was a cracking morning albeit a little cold with clear skies and a light northeasterly breeze.

The 'big' field in the April sunshine

A number of Lapwings were busying themselves in various stages of their breeding cycle; some displaying and others looking like they were sat on eggs. I had a good count of Brown Hares as I walked round and had a total of eleven, with some in pasture and others in arable areas. Skylarks sang from the arable fields and I had a buck Roe Deer take an interest in me in the big field. I think he couldn't tell from a distance whether I was another deer or not! He kept coming closer and closer until he could see me properly, and then he legged it!

Walking up the '97' hedge I had a single Willow Warbler and when I got up to the plantation I had a further singing four males. Between the '97' hedge and the plantation were five singing Corn Buntings making use of a variety of song perches from tree tops, to fence posts to mole hills!

Walking past the ploughed field opposite Curlew Farm I had five Stock Dove, which is quite a good count, and a pair of Swallows were on the wires close to the farm.

Male and female Swallows

Walking back down the lane to my car I had nine Tree Sparrows between the L Wood and Curlew Wood boxes as well as three Coal Tits flitting along the hedge. Over head at least four Lesser Redpolls went north along with eight Linnets. Back at the car a Great Spot called from Curlew Wood and a Buzzard flew past being mobbed by Crows as usual.

I was early for my second appointment of the day at Tockholes in the West Pennines so I had a short walk through the woodland at Roddlesworth. Migrant-wise it was quiet other than a single singing Willow Warbler. In fact I had very little at all except for a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker and a calling Grey Wagtail.


Back home I checked my moth trap, and you've guessed it, six early Greys, four Common Quakers and five Hebrew Characters!

Monday 12 April 2010

Back To Work

The weekends pass too quickly and before you know it, it's back to work. As I walked out of the back of the house this morning to put my moth trap in the garage until later when I could check it after work, twelve 'buzzing' Redpolls went over. I wish I had been heading up to Rossall for a mornings birding!

As I headed across the car park at Myerscough College my spirits were lifted by a singing Chiffchaff and a Swallow flying round the buildings where they nest. From my office window overlooking some woodland I had a Treecreeper feeding away, which I was really pleased about as it was an addition to my 'on business' bird list and would hopefully get me one step closer to George in Northumberland who is beating me at the moment by a few species.

Back home I checked the moth trap and I caught 21 moths of three species; twelve Hebrew Characters, four Common Quakers and five Early Greys. It was Monday morning after all!

Sunday 11 April 2010

Less Cabaret Today

We were back at Rossall School this morning for what we hoped would be some more Lesser Redpoll ringing. Unfortunately no two days are the same at a coastal site and a slight variability or difference in the weather can have a huge effect. As the day dawned the wind was a force 2 southeasterly with 5 oktas cloud cover and the wind was causing the nets to billow slightly.

The Lesser Redpoll passage was quite heavy and we had at least 120 go north between 0615 and 0900, with the majority of these being in the first ninety minutes. The 'MP3 Lesser Redpoll' did pull a few birds down and we managed to ring seven of these little beauties.

Other 'vis' included Siskin, ten Goldfinch, Linnet, Tree Pipit and Swallow. Grounded birds were few and far between and all we had were Grasshopper Warbler and Chiffchaff. As we left the site we saw the odd pairing of a Whooper Swan and Canada Goose that were flying around together.

Back home I checked my moth trap and I had caught five Common Quakers, twelve Hebrew Characters and two Early Greys.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Cabaret and Flammea

It was our first ringing session at Rossall School this morning as Craig, Ian and I met at 5.45 a.m. at the 'obs'. Four nets were hurriedly put up and the Redpoll tape was played in anticipation of tape luring a few Lesser Redpolls down. It was very clear this morning and flat calm, and it was obvious there was going to be very little grounded, if at all.

The MP3 powered Redpoll didn't disappoint and a first check of the 'Redpoll' net revealed eight Lessers caught. By the end of the morning we had ringed 26 Lesser Redpolls in total. Interestingly in addition to the birds ringed we had a further 91 Lesser Redpolls go over heading north and to be honest with you as we were busy ringing there was probably nearer twice this many.

Lesser Redpoll - adult male

On our third net round we also caught an adult female Common Redpoll amongst the Lessers. Having been handling Lessers all morning this bird stuck out like a sore thumb. A big pale denizen of the north. It was interesting to compare her biometrics with those of the Lessers and she was longer winged and heavier than any of the male Lessers.

Other birds on 'vis' included 45 Meadow Pipits, Siskin, Tree Pipit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, four Linnets, five Sand Martins, three Swallows and two female Sparrowhawks.

Common Redpoll - adult female

There were few grounded migrants around but we did manage to ring single Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. The only other grounded migrant was a male Wheatear towards the sea wall.

Willow Warbler

Back home late morning I checked my moth trap from last night and I had caught just single Herald, five Hebrew Characters, Early Grey and two Common Quakers.

Common Quaker

Early Grey

Hebrew Character