Sunday 29 January 2012

Two Days - Two Feeding Stations

Yesterday I joined Ian at one of his feeding stations and we were accompanied by Jayde and her father Gavin. We had a good mornings ringing and processed 46 new birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Chaffinch - 6
Dunnock - 2 (1)
Great Tit - 11 (1)
Robin - 3
Blue Tit - 11 (2)
Long-tailed Tit - 4
Blackbird - 1
House Sparrow - 5
Greenfinch - 1
Goldfinch - 2


This morning Ian and I went to our feeding station on Rawcliffe Moss and we were joined by Dave  who rings on Orkney. Dave was looking to gain more experience extracting different species from mist nets. As we put the nets up in the half-light we could hear and see birds moving down the hedge including 4 Yellowhammers and numerous Tree Sparrows.

A Tawny Owl called from 'Tree Sparrow' Wood and I nearly forgot I also had a Barn Owl as I drove on to the site. We had a few raptors this morning including a Merlin mobbing a Peregrine!, Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk that escaped from one of our nets.

There was a passage eastwards of Lapwings totalling 107 and 8 Fieldfares had joined in with a Starling flock. We processed 21 new birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Yellowhammer - 1
Blue Tit - 10 (11)
Great Tit - 2 (3)
Tree Sparrow - 5 (1)
Chaffinch - 2
Starling - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - (1)
Robin - (1)

The 'Great Spot' was a female and as is usual for female Great Spots she gave Dave some stick when he was processing her!

Thursday 26 January 2012

No Harriers For Lunch Today

On my way back from seeing a farmer client I called at my feeding station on the Moss. It was looking as though it was going to clear up as the sun was starting to break through the clouds, but this wouldn't last for long, and I was looking forward to a walk after feeding the Tree Sparrows.

Raptors were represented by a Kestrel and two Buzzards, but no Hen Harrier today. As I headed down the track 68 Lapwings went over heading southeast and I pushed a few Yellowhammers along the hedge. At the feeding station were 232 Tree Sparrows, 24 Chaffinch and 6 Yellowhammers.

As I headed up the '97' hedge I could see the weather closing in from the west and I pushed on as far as I could before the rain came in. On a field that had fodder radish in, but now had been stripped bare by sheep, were a flock of 120 Black-headed Gulls and out on some ceral stubble were 11 Stock Doves.

As I headed through the wild bird seed crop two Grey Partridges lifted along with 34 Skylarks and it was from here that the rain came in. I turned and quickly headed back to the car. I heard some Redwing and Fieldfare calls to the east of me and through my rain splattered bins I could just about make out there were perhaps a dozen birds but I couldn't make out the split.


It's going colder towards weekend and there is a chance that it might be calm enough for some ringing on Saturday or Sunday; fingers crossed!

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Hen Harrier For Lunch

What a horrible gloomy grey day it's been today. I had a few site visits to do that I was hoping to combine with some birding, but I didn't bother because of the weather. Far better and more productive round the farmhouse kitchen table!

I ate my lunch in the car at the end of the track down to my feeding station. I could see that something had put all the Corvids up and then the female Hen Harrier sailed past my windscreen! I suspect she was heading down to the feeding station to see if she could pick something up for lunch!

At the feeding station were 158 Tree Sparrows and 7 Yellowhammers. I didn't fancy having a walk across the moss afterwards, so I headed into the hills for a bit more grey gloom!

Monday 23 January 2012

Icelandic Turnstone

Craig, Ian, Peter, Will and I met at the Marine Lakes this morning for another session ringing Turnstones. Ian and I had been putting some food down for the past three days to get the birds used to feeding in a certain area and when we arrived this morning they were keen to come in and feed again.

We set the whoosh net up and caught 25 new birds and one with an Icelandic ring on! It will be interesting to find out when and where this bird was ringed. As usual they gave us headaches in terms of ageing them, but I guess it is just a case of getting more experience with them. I have included a few pictures from the morning below.

Feeding Turnstones 


Icelandic ring wearing Turnstone - above and below

Saturday 21 January 2012

Bad Vibrations

With the temporary demise of the seawatching shelter at the Point I had to use my 'fall-back' location at Cleveleys this morning. However, there was just a hint of northerly in that westerly that meant that the near gale force wind was buffeting me and vibrating my scope and tripod.

It drives me mad when I can't keep my scope and tripod relatively rigid when seawatching and consequently I was only there for 45 minutes before I got fed up. It was very quiet and all I had in that time were 11 Cormorants, 8 Common Scoters, 3 Little Gulls, Kittiwake and male Eider.

On my way home I fed the Turnstones in preparation for a potential ringing session on Monday. Talking of feeding, when I fed the Tree Sparrows a couple of days ago there were 207 along with 21 Chaffinch, 3 Fieldfare and 4 Yellowhammers.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Fat Bird of the Barley and Other Buntings

I called at my feeding station on Rawcliffe Moss just after lunch and it was a glorious sunny and 'crunchy' afternoon. I headed down to the feeding station loaded up with all my buckets and containers of food. There were plenty of Tree Sparrows with 213 counted and they were associating with about 20 Chaffinch and 13 Yellowhammers. Often in January the numbers of Yellowhammers increase at the feeding station, presumably as any natural food disappears.

There were also good numbers of Reed Buntings about as I counted 30 as I walked along the '97' hedge. Up on the top fields 73 Jackdaws fed with Carrion Crows, Rooks and Starlings. They kept getting up and I couldn't see a raptor so I assumed they were spooking themselves.

 Reed Bunting

In the wild bird seed crop there were good numbers of finches and buntings, and I had 195 Chaffinch, 40 Corn Buntings, 64 Skylarks (I know they're not a finch or a bunting!), 25 Goldfinch and 80 Linnets. It was great to see such good numbers of our declining farmland birds.

 Corn Bunting

On my walk back to the car all I added were 4 Snipe and a single Buzzard. The wind is forecast to pick up tonight and bring some rain in, so no birding for me in the morning then.

We received details of a couple of recoveries from the BTO and there was an interesting one of a male Blackbird that Craig ringed at Rossall School on 16th March 2010 that was 'controlled' at the Calf of Man Bird Observatory on 7th November 2011 (see google earth image below). I can only speculate as to what this information shows us. It is possible that when we caught it in March 2010 it was on its way back to it's breeding grounds in Europe and then when it was caught on the Calf of Man in November 2011 it could have been wintering in that area, or even on its way to winter Ireland. Who knows, but it is very interesting.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Two Days Running!

Ian and I managed to get out for a second day running ringing this morning which is unheard of based on recent weeks. We were trying a feeding station that Ian has recently set up in some woodland, with the hope of catching some Siskins when return passage commences in Feb.

We ringed 25 birds as follows:

Great Tit - 8
Blue Tit - 9
Chaffinch - 2
Robin - 1
Dunnock - 1
House Sparrow - 2
Blackbird - 2

 House Sparrow


At first light we had a few Redwings exiting a roost in the woodland and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker showed well as it fed in Sycamore. Sixty Lapwing headed west overhead, before turning and heading south, and only just one Siskin called from some Alders.

We were lamenting the fact that there is going to be another 'year list competition' again this year in the Fylde, which means some birders running round chasing common migrants as if they were major rarities and causing disturbance at sites far and wide! When will they ever learn? Oh well, I suppose it sadly means another year of reluctantly suppressing certain birds like last year, not ideal and very, very annoying.

Friday 13 January 2012

At Last!

With clear skies and calm conditions Craig, Ian and I managed to get a ringing session in at the feeding station on the Moss this morning. We were fairly busy and as such didn't really log very much from a birding perspective. We ringed 34 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Chaffinch - 12
Yellowhammer - 2
Tree Sparrow - 3
Blue Tit - 12 (15)
Reed Bunting - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Starling - 1
Robin - 1 (1)
Great Tit - 1 (7)
Coal Tit - (1)


We packed in after a couple of hours to give the birds chance to feed and also because we were starting to recapture birds that we had ringed that morning. As I drove off site I had the Little Owl perched in its usual spot.

I have updated the group totals over on the right and they are the final totals for 2011. These are our best totals since 1996 when we ringed 6,635 birds. In December 2011 we added four new species for the year in the form of Mallard, Turnstone (new for the group), Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull.

The 'movers and shakers' in December were as follows:
1. Chaffinch - 652 (same position)
2. Meadow Pipit - 414 (same position)
3. Goldfinch - 371 (up from 4th)
4. Tree Sparrow - 370 (down from 3rd)
5. Swallow - 330 (same position)
6. Siskin - 260 (same position)
7. Whitethroat - 191 (same position)
8. Greenfinch - 188 (same position)
9. Blue Tit - 186 (down from 8th)
10. Lesser Redpoll - 172 (same position)

So, as it's 2012 it all starts again and our target for 2012 should be 5,000 ringed!

Thursday 12 January 2012

Still here, still birding, still trying to get out ringing......

......but struggling to find time to post! Rather than give you some rambling tale of what I have or haven't seen, I thought I would just give you a quick summary.

7th January
Visited my feeding station in the morning and had Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzards, 18 Reed Buntings, 4 Yellowhammers, 184 Tree Sparrows, 21 Chaffinch, 2 Grey Partridge, 2 Whooper Swans, female Hen Harrier, 17 Skylarks, 72 Lapwings, 2 Corn Buntings and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

On my way home I had a look at some flooded farmland very close to my house that I have been meaning to look at for ages and have never got round to it. It looks to have great potential but is very difficult to view. I had 18 Teal and 2 male Shovelers.

9th January
Back at my feeding station for a late morning visit and I had 31 Skylarks, Buzzard, 18 Chaffinch, 37 Reed Buntings, 2 Song Thrush, 140 Tree Sparrows, 4 Yellowhammers, 2 Fieldfares, 14 Corn Buntings and Grey Partridge.


On my way home I had a look at Marsh Farm and there were 5 Shovelers.

11th January
I was surveying a farm on the Fylde today in the fairly miserable conditions of constant drizzle and recorded 80 Lapwings, 4 Buzzards, Grey Wagtail, Nuthatch, 3 Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest, 30 Linnets, Grey Partridge and 10 Tree Sparrows amongst others.

This afternoon I once again headed to my feeding station on Rawcliffe Moss and as per usual a Buzzard called from Curlew Wood. Yellowhammers had increased to 10 and Chaffinch were fairly typical numbering 31. There were a few more Corn Buntings around this afternoon with a total of 18, including a singing bird.

A female, presumably young by its behaviour, Peregrine gave a great display as it shot past Curlew Wood and caused mayhem amongst a flock of corvids feeding in some stubble. She obviously thought that a member of the Crow family was on the menu this afternoon as she gave chase to Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Rook without success. It was obvious to me that she wasn't going to succeed but I had to give her full marks for effort!

Tree Sparrows numbered 161 and Reed Buntings a fairly average 16. I had 2 Stock Doves and 36 Skylarks before it was time to head off home. The weather is looking okay for some ringing in the morning so I'll let you know how we get on.

Thursday 5 January 2012

A Sunny Afternoon

I chose this afternoon to feed at my feeding station on Rawcliffe Moss and it was a bright afternoon with wall to wall sunshine, but still cold with a biting strong northwesterly wind. A Kestrel hovered besides the lane as I drove down to the track and as I got out of the car two Buzzards were calling to each other as they made use of the updraughts alongside the woodland.


At the feeding station were 17 Chaffinch, 3 Yellowhammers and 171 Tree Sparrows. As I headed along the '97' hedge I picked up a female Peregrine with prey heading across the stubble and it dropped onto the 'deck' over a rise to feed, and unfortunately that's when I lost sight of it.

Reed Buntings were thin on the ground this afternoon with only 7 counted, but Skylarks showed a fairly respectable total of 33. In the wild bird seed plot were a further 50 Chaffinch and 21 Goldfinch. A couple of Snipe and a Linnet later, and it was time for me to head off home to do some work.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

If Yesterday Was Hardly Worth Posting About......

.....then I don't why I am bothering today! I nipped up to the point first thing to sea watch but they have commenced work on the Coastguard's Tower so there is now nowhere to shelter. However, in about 5-6 months time there will be a brand new purpose built building in its place that will encompass a seawatching hide and an open observation platform on the roof. Wow, I can hear you all exclaim. It will be a cracking building, but it will attract a number of birders and some of these are the noisy type. You know the ones I mean! The ones that when you're seawatching and you're in the 'zone' are constantly giving you a running commentary on everything they see and want you to get on to their birds! It's even worse in Spring when you are trying to listen out for 'vis' with one eye skyward and one on the sea and one of those noisy types comes and stands next to you. Sometimes I think I may as well go home as you're not going to hear or see anything from that point on and they spend all their time moaning about how quiet it is! So, yes, it will be an excellent building and it will be even more excellent when those noisy birders aren't in it. You know who they are!

Without sufficient shelter at the point I dashed round to the obs, but the shelter on the strong westerly wasn't much cop there either. I put up with it for about half an hour, but after a handful of Little Gulls, Kittiwakes, Eiders and Common Scoters I decided to go and feed the Turnstones. As the tide was fairly low there were only 19 Turnstones and on the lakes were 4 Red-breasted Mergs.


I called at the dog toilet, sorry the Nature Park, on my way home for a quick look on the pools. They were quiet with just 28 Coot, 7 Tufteds, male Merg and single Little Grebe. There was a council guy there emptying the two overflowing dog filth bins and I empathised with him in having to do such a job. Why these filthy people can't take there dog's mess home with them I don't know, but don't get me started on that topic again!

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Hardly Worth Posting

With the spare hour or so I had this morning I should have been sea watching with the strength and direction of the wind, but I had to go and feed my Tree Sparrows, so instead I was 'mosswards' bound.

The wind was howling as I parked on the track and as I headed towards the feeding station all the birds were sticking close to the hedge and I couldn't blame them. Only two Yellowhammers, 75 Tree Sparrows and seven Chaffinch were there.
As usual I headed north along the '97' hedge and took shelter behind the mature willow as a squally shower raced across the moss. The bridge over the ditch here, was now just a bridge into a pond after all the rain! (see below)

As the sun started to peer out from behind the clouds a rainbow formed and I took a couple of pictures of it below.

 Both ends of the rainbow (above and below)

The Reed Buntings were hard to count as they were sticking to the ditch and I had ten, which is a lot less than recent days. As I got to the wildbird seed crop I had 86 Chaffinch and 32 Goldfinch. As I walked along it 38 Skylarks and 14 Corn Buntings got up.

I could see that more 'weather' was comning in and headed back towards my car via the feeding station to pick my buckets up and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was on one of the peanut feeders.

There's going to be strong westerly winds again tomorrow so I might get a couple of hours seawatching in before having to work. I'll let you know.

Sunday 1 January 2012

First Post Of 2012

I kicked off the New Year at the 'obs' which I have neglected recently. I knew that the forecast was for showers this morning and that's what I got first thing, but very quickly this changed to heavy persistent rain. As I walked through the copse a couple of Robins 'ticked' and a Song Thrush flew in front of me.

I headed along the track besides the hedge and ditch, but didn't really have very much until a Lapwing lifted from the 'ringing field'. As I headed towards the sea wall I could see a blob on a fence post and when I lifted my bins the blob turned into a 2CY male Merlin. Nice! A blurry shot of the bird can be found below.


I headed through the reedbed and the dunes and still not very much. I was going to have a short sea watch from the sea wall but the heavens opened and I had to make a hasty retreat to my car where a cup of coffee awaited me.

I then headed to the Marine Lakes to feed the Turnstones. As there wasn't a tide there were only 12 feeding around the boating lake. As it was still pouring down I had a look on the estuary from the car but all I could see in the murky conditions were large numbers of Oystercatchers and 52 Knot.

The rain didn't let up so I returned home. I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I am going to try and do more general naturalising (is there such a word?) in 2012. I have changed my blogger header in respect of this to a Comma butterfly and also to remind me that the start of Spring is just round the corner, depending on when your definition of the start of Spring is!