Saturday 26 October 2013

Velvet Morning

It was calm enough to do some ringing at the obs this morning, but yet again the forecast of the previous evening was for it to be a good deal windier than it was! At first light I had complete cloud cover with a light SSW wind.

I did my usual walk around the patch and it was fairly quiet. There were very few grounded migrants around, or at least they weren't obvious (quite a few Dunnocks, Robins and Wrens; but were they migrants?), other than three Song Thrushes that spiralled out of the sky and a single calling Goldcrest in the dunes.

Visible migration was similarly lack lustre with just four Alba Wags, 26 Meadow Pipits, four Chaffinches, twelve Starlings and a Reed Bunting. 'Other' birds included just 14 Pink-footed Geese dropping into the farm fields to feed, a single Kestrel flying the only raptor flag and a flock of 26 Greenfinches in the Japanese Rose patch.

 Pied Wagtail

Out on the sea the best bird was a male Velvet Scoter drifting out on the falling tide. In fact the only other bird I had on the sea other than two Cormorants was a single Guillemot and a 'none bird' in the form of an Atlantic Grey Seal.

I'm not sure yet what to do in the morning as the weather is a bit iffy and being a bit of a 'petrol head' I want to watch the Japanese Moto GP and Indian F1 GP. I'll have to give it some thought and consult the weather Gods! 

Friday 25 October 2013

Tree Sparrow Numbers Increasing

It was pouring down again when I visited my feeding station this morning but just in case there was another goodie lurking I kept my bins with me and didn't leave them in the car. However I can report that I didn't see or should I say hear anything scarce!

It was pleasing to note though, that the Tree Sparrows had increased to 90 and there was also 10 Chaffinches and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker. Other single bird sightings were of a Buzzard and a Snipe.

I should manage a stagger around the obs tomorrow as the forecast rain isn't coming in until the afternoon, but it less clear what's happening to the weather on Sunday or Monday, other than a spot of seawatching might be in order!

Thursday 24 October 2013

An Hour On The Estuary

I gave myself an hour or so off this morning and headed down to the estuary just after it got light. It was a glorious morning with clear skies and a fairly light southeasterly wind. The wind was lighter than forecast and I could have been out ringing this morning, but hey ho that's how it goes some times.

 The Estuary

Walking along the Hawthorn path a number of Chaffinches and Robins were calling and as I looked over the field to my left a Barn Owl was hunting over the rank grassland and reeds. Just as I lifted my bins in dropped to the ground and presumably on to some prey item.

I bumped in to Ian who was ringing in a sheltered spot in the scrub but was surprisingly catching very little which made feel a little better about missing a ringing opportunity this morning. There were a few birds moving over and I thought that on the coast the 'vis' would probably be quite good. Over the estuary heading south and in the short time I was there I had 35 Meadow Pipits, three Goldfinches, a Chaffinch, 28 Skylarks, and two Alba Wags.

I walked across the saltmarsh to get a good view of the estuary and had 40 Redshanks, 162 Lapwings, 31 Curlews, 128 Pink-footed Geese, 194 Teal, 176 Wigeon and two Rock Pipits. I headed over to look on the pool and had a female Sparrowhawk being mobbed by two Carrion Crows, and on the pool the most numerous species was Little Grebe and I had a count of thirteen.


 Pink-footed Geese leaving their estuarine roost

It was now time to head back home and do some work, which was a shame because I could have lingered on the estuary for hours as they are such magical places especially on a day like today.

 Couldn't you just linger here?

Monday 21 October 2013

Feeding Station Surprise

I had no birding planned today as I had to go to the seed merchants, where I purchase my bird seed for the winter for my feeding station, and then at teatime I'm off to Manchester to see prog rock legends Camel in concert! On my way back from the seed merchants I called in at my feeding station to drop off a few of the sacks of seed and to do a feed.

It was pouring with rain as I headed off with my bucket of seed and I was pleased when I found 51 Tree Sparrows, six Chaffinches and a Fieldfare at the feeding station. As I was putting the seed out a mixed party of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits moved along the hedge and then immediately behind me calling away from the hedge was a very vocal Yellow-browed Warbler (how different to the almost silent bird at the obs a couple of weeks ago). I caught a fleeting glimpse of it as it reached the end of the hedge and crossed over to another hedge perpendicular to this one and it headed south along the hedge with the Tits.

Not surprisingly this was a first record for the site and an unexpected bonus on a wet and dreary morning. The only down side was that I made the school boy error and left my bins in the car thinking I wouldn't need them!

Sunday 20 October 2013

The weekend weather Gods..........

..........seemed to conspire against me this weekend leading to no birding yesterday and very little this morning. I attempted to bird my patch twice yesterday but each time I aborted because of heavy rain.

This morning when I got up it was dry but I could see cloud cover developing. By the time I was at the southern bit of the obs it was raining slightly. However, I set off on my walk and tried to make the most of it, but an hour in to my walk the heavens opened and I had to make a hasty retreat. 'Sod's law' dictated that back home the cloud cover would break and the sun would come out and it did!

Back to my wet relatively birdless walk then. At first light a few Fieldfare and Redwings were going over heading south and this was all I had on 'vis' other than four Meadow Pipits, 15 Alba Wagtails, a Reed Bunting, two Greenfinches, a Linnet, two Chaffinches, a Grey Wagtail and some Starlings.

The Starlings were perhaps the most interesting facet of the morning and I had 2,750, made up of five squadrons, come in off the sea and head in an easterly/southeasterly direction. The Pink-footed Geese I had this morning were all heading north and I had 480 in total.

 Pink-footed Geese heading north

By the time I got to my seawatching position, that isn't sheltered at all, the rain was really coming down and I headed back to the car and home.

It's looking  a bit mixed weatherwise for the coming week although the wind is forecast to remain generally from the southeast and it will remain warm. I have got a bit of time this week so I will try and get out on a few mornings. I'll let you know how I get on. 

Thursday 17 October 2013

A Brief Word

I've been busy writing reports all this week, aren't I always!, and all I've had time to do is top up my feeding station. I called yesterday and it was my intention to treat myself to an hour off and have a walk round but heavy rain came in just after I had put some seed down. What was encouraging was the fact that 23 Tree Sparrows were at the feeding station. So hopefully their numbers will quickly build up.

I'm hoping to get out for a couple of hours tomorrow morning, so more then!

Saturday 12 October 2013

Lull After The Thrush Storm

I didn't think that Thrush lightning could strike three times, never mind twice, but in the pre-dawn darkness there seemed to be good numbers of Redwings on the move based on the number of calls I could hear. As dawn broke at the Obs I could see that there were a few Redwings grounded/exiting temporary roosts, but certainly not on the move. In total all I had were 27 Redwings, a fraction of the birds that have been moving through over the past couple of days.

I had full cloud cover this morning with a 20 mph NE wind that had a touch more easterly in it, but perhaps not as much as an ENE. I think I could be splitting hairs there! It was fairly clear to the north with good views across the bay to the Lakes and out to the east I could make out Bowland but it was murky.

There was some 'vis' this morning but it was incredibly light and was restricted to seven Alba Wags, seven Meadow Pipits, a Reed Bunting, a Rock Pipit, three Carrion Crows, 15 Linnets and nine Greenfinches.Grounded migrants were even thinner on the ground with just two Wheatears and nothing else. Raptors were limited to a single Kestrel and only 60 Pink-footed Geese dropped into the fields to feed.

 One of the two Wheatears this morning

I have a latish night tonight as I'm off to see Deep Purple, but I will make the effort and get out in the morning even though the forecast is giving more of the grey stuff with a moderate northeasterly wind. Mind you it is October and you just never know!

Friday 11 October 2013


I missed the spectacular arrival of Redwings yesterday, not because I was working, but because I was out scouring the north of England for birthday presents for Gail's birthday next week! Interestingly I was outdoors in places like Orton, Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria but didn't hear a single Thrush. There were some impressive movements yesterday and I know Ian had about 7,000 go through over the Obs.

This morning I decided to allow myself an hour and a half or so before hitting my desk and spending the rest of the day report writing. As the wind was quite strong and from the northeast I decided to have a look at the estuary and the areas of scrub around the old railway line as I knew it would be sheltered there and there would be the chance of some feeding Thrushes left over from yesterday.

As I walked along the path through the Hawthorns I could hear Redwings calling and as I got the near reservoir where it was more open I could see birds heading NNE in to wind. Not huge numbers but I did have 110 Redwings and two Song Thrushes.

I walked across the saltmarsh to have a look on the estuary and count any wildfowl. The tide was fairly high as it was only a couple of hours past high tide and it was just starting to drop. On the estuary were 1,297 Pink-footed Geese, 112 Wigeons, twelve Whooper Swans and 58 Teal. Walking back across the salt marsh I put three Rock Pipits up and single figure groups of Meadow Pipits and Chaffinches headed south.

 Pink-footed Geese

Whooper Swans

I had a look on the reservoir and there was a decent number of Little Grebes totalling 15 with twelve Coots and seven Tufted Ducks. Heading back towards the railway line I had a Chiffchaff calling and giving some bursts of sub-song and I also heard a Brambling, my first of the Autumn.

I bumped in to Ian who was trying to catch and ring some of the Redwings and he had just caught one so I ringed that. It was then time to head home and glue myself to my desk.


Back at home (I live just over a km from the coast as the Fieldfare flies) I was taking my boots off at the back of my car when I heard some Redwing and Fieldfare calls and a number were heading north. Instead of going straight to my desk I spent about half an hour in my garden counting Thrushes and I had 215 Redwings and 70 Fieldfares head mainly north, although some did head west. A quick text from Ian late morning said that Thrushes were still 'pouring' N-NE. It's unusual to have two 'big days' of Thrush movement, but looking at the forecast with the winds from the northeast we could have a few more days of arrivals. I'll be sure to be out in the morning looking!

September Ringing Totals

The ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group for September were pretty poor with just 85 birds of 16 species ringed all month. The problem has been the wind; strong westerlies early on and then strong easterlies later on. For what it's worth I have updated the totals over on the right.

We only ringed three species in double figures so all I have done below is a top three ringed for the month!

1. Robin - 11
2. Blue Tit - 10
3. Greenfinch - 10

I have as usual produced a top ten 'movers and shakers' but there has been little change as you will see beneath.

1. Swallow - 761 (same position)
2. Goldfinch - 134 (same position)
3. Willow Warbler - 132 (same position)
4. Chaffinch - 127 (same position)
5. Reed Warbler - 108 (same position)
6. Great Tit - 105 (up from 7th)
7. Sedge Warbler - 100 (down from 6th)
    Blue Tit - 100 (up from 8th)
9. Whitethroat - 88 (same position)
10. Lesser Redpoll - 79 (same position)

Normally at this time of the year I would expect to see Meadow Pipit well into the top ten. They've been moving but unfortunately it hasn't been calm enough for mist nets that often.

October hasn't started too well either, but more of that at the end of the month.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Reed Bunts On The Move

I was back at the Obs this morning and it was calm enough for ringing, but based on last night's forecast I hadn't bothered getting any gear ready! I had virtually clear skies this morning with a light southwesterly wind. The visibility was nowhere near as good as yesterday and the views this morning weren't of Lakeland and Welsh mountains, but of murk and grey clouds!

 Small Tortoiseshell

I couldn't detect any grounded migrants this morning, or nothing obvious at least, except perhaps for a few more Dunnocks. Robin, Wren and Blackbird numbers seemed similar to yesterday. There was some vis this morning but that virtually stopped by 9:15 am when the cloud cover to the north thickened. However one noticeable feature of the vis this morning compared to yesterday was a few more Reed Buntings on the move. My vis totals were six Chaffinches, 41 Jackdaws, 103 Meadow Pipits, thirteen Alba Wags, a Grey Wagtail, nine Reed Buntings, a Carrion Crow, four Goldfinches, nine Greenfinches, eight Linnets, 640 Pink-footed Geese, five Skylarks and a Rock Pipit.


Walking through the dunes near the Japanese Rose patch I had a nice mixed flock of three Reed Bunts, eight Mipits, a Chaffinch and seven Greenfinches all perched on the fence. Shortly after they dropped in they lifted up in to the sky and headed off south. Migration in action!


  Meadow Pipit

 Reed Bunting

On the sea I had six Auk sp., five Cormorants, a Red-throated Diver, eight Sandwich Terns, 16 Common Scoters and a Guillemot. I usually have a few Kestrels around the Obs, but not this morning, a male Sparrowhawk was flying the raptor flag instead.


Back home a check of my moth trap produced two Angle Shades, a Silver Y and a Red-line Quaker. Unfortunately I won't be out birding tomorrow as I have some work to catch up on but I will be running my moth trap so I will blog briefly if I catch anything in that.

Angle Shades

Saturday 5 October 2013

Confusing Vis

It was crystal clear this morning and the view from the southern part of the Obs recording area was panoramic to say the least. Standing on my seawatching/vis observation spot and looking east I could see the Bowland Fells, Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales and then moving north the Lakeland Fells,out west the Isle of Man and then to the southwest Anglesey and Snowdonia; stunning! Perfect for visible migration you might think, but no the vis this morning wasn't what the conditions would perhaps dictate and was a touch light.

 The number of turbines seems to be increasing

At first light I had two oktas cloud cover with a 10-15 mph westerly wind. I couldn't detect any grounded migrants this morning other than perhaps the eleven Robins I counted on my walk round. There was some vis but as I have already stated it was confusingly light. I counted six Alba Wagtails, 17 Linnets, 52 Meadow Pipits, 21 Skylarks, a Grey Wagtail, a Snipe and a Chaffinch. Interestingly all the Skylarks were heading in to the wind and ultimately out to sea and then turning round and heading back to dry land!

Meadow Pipit

I had a brief look on the sea and recorded 25 Cormorants, 16 Common Scoters, 16 Pintails, a Gannet, twelve Auk sp., four Eiders, a Sandwich Tern, three Great Crested Grebes, a Razorbill and a Shelduck.

Back home I checked the moth trap and I had two Silver Ys and a Blair's Shoulder-knot. The forecast is looking very similar for tomorrow with cloudy skies and a stiff southwesterly breeze/wind. More birding for me and I'll be sure to let you know how I get on.

Silver Y

Friday 4 October 2013

Back On The Moss

I paid my first visit to the Moss this morning since checking my Tree Sparrow boxes in May to set up the feeding station in preparation for the winter. A drop of seed was made on the track and I put up my two large peanut feeders as supplementary food in case the seed runs out before my next visit. I will check again in a weeks time to see if anything has found the seed and adjust the frequency of my visits based on the demand for the food.

 The first seed drop.

Over to the west of where I park at the end of the track a number of Pink-footed Geese were feeding in a stubble field. Birds were constantly coming and going and were difficult to count due to the hedge between me and them. My notebook records 1,477, but I suspect there could easily have been twice as many as this.

 'Pinkies' coming and going.

Even though it was just before lunchtime and I was inland, a few birds were going over on vis. I only paid a brief visit to the Moss so all I had going over were 25 Meadow Pipits, two Snipe, two Alba Wags and a Chaffinch.

At the end of the track I trubed left and walked north along the '97 hedge' alongside the 'big field'. In the distance I could see that something had spooked the Lapwings from the 'top fields' as at least 700 birds lifted in to the air. A number of Skylarks got up from the field totalling 39 and I also put up a couple of Snipe. As I walked along the hedge a party of thirteen Long-tailed Tits moved through and then I came across a flock of at least 26 Tree Sparows. I wonder how long it will take them to find the food at the feeding station; not long I suspect!

 Lapwings - honest!

Skylark habitat, aka 'The Big Field'.

Long-tailed Tit

A flock of seven Linnets over the stubbles was added and then it was time to turn back, pick up my seed bucket and head home. The forecast for tomorrow is for 10-15 mph westerly winds with decreasing cloud cover as a ridge of high pressures nudges in. It will be a shade too breezy for ringing at the obs tomorrow as my net rides are right on the coast, but it does look good for some vis. I'll let you know how I get on.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

At Last - Sort Of!

At last I had a Yellow-browed Warbler today, sort of, but more of that later. I want to rewind back to yesterday to catch up as I didn't have time to post due to some reports that needed completing for work. In fact I won't be able to get out birding for the next couple of days until I have finished these reports, so it will probably be Saturday before I post again.

Before I went 'bush bashing' yesterday I had a look on the sea for an hour and a half at the Point and counted any vis going over. The sea was quiet with just 62 Cormorants, 21 Common Scoters, four Wigeons, a Pintail, thirteen Eiders, an Auk sp., eight Shelducks and a Guillemot. There were also three Atlantic Grey Seals off the Point including a mother with her pup.

Atlantic Grey Seals

After I'd had a brief look on the sea I had a look in the Cemetery and I have lumped the vis totals for the Point and the Cemetery together as follows; 142 Meadow Pipits, three Alba Wags, 45 Linnets, two Snipes and seven Greenfinches. I bumped in to Ian in the Cemetery who said he had just been in the coastal park and it was very quiet so I called it a day and headed home to work.

This morning before the alarm went off I could hear it raining hard and my thoughts turned to grounded migrants and I hoped that the rain would reap some rewards. As I entered the cemetery it had stopped raining and it 'felt' like there might be something around. About half a dozen Robins and Dunnocks were jumping around and there seemed to be a few more Blackbirds about. I then got a phone call from Ian saying that a Yellow-browed Warbler had dropped in to the Sycamores near the large lighthouse but he had lost it. However, he did say that it looked as though it would probably make its way towards the coastal park.


I carried on birding the cemetery and added a couple of Chiffies and headed to the park. I hadn't been there too long when Ian arrived and we both heard a Yellow-browed call being carried on the wind from an area of mature Poplars, Sycamores and scrub. It was one of those that if you had been on your own you would probably have dismissed it, but as we both heard it we were certain it was a Yellow-browed. A good search revealed just the briefest of glimpses for Ian, but not for me!

Ian located it again at lunchtime, so I had another quick look but it didn't show itself. So at last after Yellow-broweds have been everywhere I got one, sort of!

 There were good numbers of Red Admirals nectaring on Ivy in the park
at lunchtime