Friday 31 January 2014

What Happened To The Turnstones?

Another failed attempt is what happened to the Turnstones on Thursday. They're getting difficult to catch at the best of times now but when two blokes turn up at the Marine Lakes and start to play with a radio controlled seaplane you don't stand a chance! As soon as they took the plane off from the water everything flushed; Turnstones (all 200 of them), Goldeneyes, Red-breasted Mergansers and Gulls. Not a bird in sight, nor on the site!


Two consolation prizes came in the form of a distant Woodcock diving into the dunes and an equidistant, though splendid, male Long-tailed Duck offshore!

It might be dry in the morning for a couple of hours so if it is I'll make sure I'm out somewhere!

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Farmland Birds In The Rain..........Again!!!

The weather has been appalling for the past few days, not just here but throughout the UK. I went to my feeding station this morning and just for a change it was raining! It was a pity it was raining because I had a nice selection of farmland birds.

First up were the Tree Sparrows at the feeding station and today there were only 40 along with eight Chaffinches and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker on the peanut feeders. Back at the car I had a flock of 26 Corn Buntings go over (my biggest count for the winter so far; or it was!) which was nice.

Heading away from my feeding station the lane passes a nice wet pasture with a line of mature Ash and Sycamores adjoining a large stubble field, so there is the opportunity to have a reasonable count of Thrushes feeding in the wet pasture with Starlings and some seed-eaters on the stubbles, and today was no exception.

In the wet pasture were at least 300 Fieldfares and 50 Redwings with nearly as many Starlings. Over in the stubbles were a further thirty Corn Buntings, 40 Linnets and a number of Chaffinches that I couldn't count. So not a bad little haul of birds for a short break in my daily routine!

 The Fieldfares were either too far away or against the white sky, well
that's my excuse for these rubbish shots!

Hopefully coming up this week will be some sea watching and ringing Turnstones!

Friday 24 January 2014

Between The Showers

I think my blog title should read 'between the strong winds and driving rain', but that doesn't trip off the tongue quite the same! However, it is more of a true reflection of what the weather has been like in my little corner of the world. That, combined with a lot of office work this week (glad I wasn't out in the field actually) means that all I have managed to do in the short weather windows is top-up my feeding station.

I've been to feed a few times this week but I'll combine the visits in to one. Probably the best bird, or should I say birds, this week were the two Green Sandpipers I had on the flood. Because of the awful weather conditions I left my camera at home and as I drove past the flood expecting nothing there was a Green Sand! Imagine my surprise when driving off site and there were two!

Numbers of birds at the feeding station have included 119 Tree Sparrows, 12 Chaffinches and 13 Yellowhammers. It's unusual for Yellowhammers to outnumber Chaffinches! Two Buzzards have been present all week and on occasions they have flushed the feeding Corvids resulting in over two hundred Jackdaws flying over to other feeding areas.

Up to twenty Corn Buntings have been feeding in the stubbles and Redwings continue to be present with my best count of 70 this morning. Other than that it's been quiet.

I wanted to finish off by asking you to have a look at my mate Gary's blog by clicking here and reading the posting 'Emergency!! Emergency!!....We must control Scottish Sea Eagles before they start eating our children....' I'm not going to say any more but leave it to Gary to express my disbelief!

The forecast for the weekend is appalling, but marginally less appalling for tomorrow morning, so I'll attempt to get down to the estuary for a look.

Friday 17 January 2014

A Snatched Hour

I snatched an hour or so birding this morning before spending the rest of the day working. I headed to the Point and it was cloudy with a fresh south-southeasterly wind, with intermittent light rain. There were a few waders on the beach including 86 Oystercatchers, 114 Sanderlings and 50 Grey Plovers flew past too.

It was quiet on the sea and the best bird was a 2CY Shag flying west with a group of Cormorants. In total I had 17 Eiders, 46 Cormorants, two Common Scoters, a Great Crested Grebe and two Red-breasted Mergansers.

Before heading home I had a look on the Marine Lakes and recorded 41 Turnstones, four Red-breasted Mergansers, a pair of Goldeneyes and 40 Redshanks.


It's going to be quite wet tomorrow morning and I have to go to my feeding station to feed, so I don't think I will have too much to report tomorrow, but Sunday looks better.

Thursday 16 January 2014

Back To Reality

After the excitement of a Coot on my woodland patch yesterday it was back to reality this morning with a trip to my feeding station. That sounds like the birds that I see at my feeding station aren't that exciting, they are, and I never tire of seeing them.

At the moment on the farm where my feeding station is located they shoot every Wednesday and when I feed on Thursdays, like today, it is always very quiet and this will be because of disturbance. There were only 57 Tree Sparrows and five Chaffinches this morning, but there was a respectable nine Yellowhammers.

In the field close to where I park were 1,200 Black-headed Gulls with some Common Gulls mixed in. Every time I tried to count the Common Gulls they all kept getting flushed by the sheep running about, as did the 90 Lapwings, so I gave up in the end.

 Some of the 1,200 Black-headed Gulls

Seven Fieldfares went over, as did seven Linnets and I recorded two Buzzards associating with some woodland. The only other raptor I had was a male Sparrowhawk and shortly after watching the 'Sprawk' I put two Grey Partridges up.

On my way home I had a look on the river and all I had were nine Shelducks. The tide was in so the river was full and it isn't as good as when the tide is out and the river is low.

If it isn't wet tomorrow morning I might have a quick hour looking at the sea before I start work. I'll let you know if I do.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Mid-morning Mega!

If I'm working from home all day chained to my desk without going birding or undertaking a site visit then I take half an hour's break for exercise and go for a walk through my local woodland. I do this perhaps three times per week but never really blog about it because it is more of a 'power walk' for exercise, rather than a birding walk. In fact I don't carry my bins, but do take my notebook and record all the species I see and hear, and I've been doing this for a couple of years.

Within the woodland are two ponds and the only birds I ever see on them are Mallard and Moorhen and on one memorable occasion I had a Grey Heron. That was until this morning when I had a mega on the first pond in the form of a Coot!!! A first for the site! Not a rare bird at all of course, but it made my day!

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Redwings Return

I took my eye off the 'weather ball' last night and missed an opportunity to ring some birds at my feeding station as I find out when I went to feed this morning and it was flat calm! A school boy error that I won't repeat again!

I headed off to the feeding station and recorded 16 Chaffinches, five Yellowhammers, 118 Tree Sparrows and three Reed Buntings making use of the food that I provide.

I took a half hour walk before heading home and headed south along the Big Field instead of north. A couple of Stock Doves flew over heading towards the woodland and a flock of 15 Lapwings lifted from the stubbles. Lapwings weren't the only species using the stubbles as I put up three Snipe, a Jack Snipe, eight Skylarks and nine Brown Hares were also utilising them.

 Lapwings (honest!)

On the telegraph wires were 224 Starlings and in one of the fields 207 Black-headed Gulls and two Common Gulls fed. I cut back across the Big Field to the 97 Hedge and had a Song Thrush, seven Linnets and two Grey Partridges. As I headed back up the track to my car a Coal Tit sang from the woodland.

As I headed off site I had 37 Redwings perched in the top of an Ash Tree. These were the first I'd seen for sometime and I wondered whether there was the start of a bit of semi-return passage going on.


It's going to be very wet in the morning, so it's a good opportunity for me to catch up on some work 

Monday 13 January 2014

Final Rinigng Totals for 2013

Over on the right I have updated the final ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group for 2013. We ringed 3245 birds which is 478 short of 2012's total of 3723. The main reason for this was the appalling weather in the Autumn and the cessation of ringing activities at a good summer through to winter site.

No new species were added to the ringing list in December. I haven't done a top five ringed for the month as we only ringed 45 birds in December due to the poor weather, but I have detailed below the top ten 'movers and shakers' in the month.

1. Swallow - 761 (same position)
2. Goldfinch - 174 (up from 4th)
3= Chaffinch - 169 (down from 2nd)
     Greenfinch - 169 (up from 5th)
5. Blue Tit - 168 (down from 2nd)
6= Willow Warbler - 132 (same position)
     Great Tit - 132 (up from 7th)
8. Tree Sparrow - 130 (same position)
9. Reed Bunting - 129 (down from 5th)
10.Reed Warbler - 108 (same position)

It's good to see two red-listed species and two warbler species in the top ten ringed at the end of the year. Let's hope for some good weather this year so we can continue with our valuable ringing studies.

Sunday 12 January 2014

Cold on the Coast

One of the problems of all this mild wet weather we've been having is that it makes you a bit soft, so when you get a frost and a keen southeasterly wind like this morning you certainly feel it!

I joined Ian at first light at the Point and for the next couple of hours we had a look on the sea and it was relatively quiet. Our totals included 216 Pink-footed Geese north, 11 Common Scoters west, eight Red-breasted Mergansers, 32 Cormorants, 13 Eiders, three Great Crested Grebes, four Red-throated Divers, an Auk sp., two Shelducks and an adult Kittiwake following a boat full of anglers heading in to the Bay.

When the waders weren't getting flushed by dogs we counted 202 Oystercatchers, 167 Sanderlings, 86 Turnstones and 44 Ringed Plovers.


 Turnstones and Sanderlings

However the best bird of the morning was saved until last in the form of a magnificent second calendar year Glaucous Gull. Ian picked it up on the river sat on some mudflats and it kept on flying short distances upstream before flying round giving us excellent views of it's large ghost-like form. Nice!

Saturday 11 January 2014

What happened to the weather?..........

..........or should I say what happened to the weather forecast? After a decent forecast last night I got up at 6:30 this morning ready to head to my feeding station for a ringing session but it was raining! And it would rain on and off for the next couple of hours or so.

When it did finally stop I did go to my feeding station but just to feed rather than ring. Twelve Chaffinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 105 Tree Sparrows and eight Yellowhammers were at the feeding station. I had a short walk along the '97 Hedge' and added to my note book a couple of Buzzards and singles of Song Thrush and Corn Bunting. I called one of the Buzzards in and as it got closer I took some shots of it, but as it was against the bright morning sky they are just silhouettes, but I think they still work and the three pictures below show the Buzzard coming in, spotting me and then turning away. 

Driving away from the site I had a look on the flood to see if the Green Sand was about, but it wasn't, but there was a young Kestrel knocking about in the general area instead. It was flying up to an electricity pylon and then dropping down to the field to feed and I can only assume that it was feeding on invertebrates, or missing altogether, as I didn't see any evidence of mammalian prey. Added to that the field didn't look suitable for small mammals in terms of the sward height and structure.

 Kestrel (above and below)

Later in the day I spent the last hour of daylight at the reedbeds. On the pools were 26 Coots, four Pochards and 18 Tufted Ducks. Singing from a scrubby area of the reeds was a Cetti's Warbler and four Water Rails called from the reeds.

It's going to be too breezy for ringing tomorrow but there is a morning tide so I'll start off by looking on the sea and take it from there.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Very Little To Report

Disappointingly I have very little to report today due to the horrible weather we are all suffering with at the moment. I had high hopes of a few birds as I was going to have a walk round on a farm in the valley of the River Wenning and then on the way back I was going to call at my feeding station.

I did both of those things but the weather rendered the day virtually bird less! In the Wenning Valley I struggled to record five Mistle Thrushes, five Grey Partridges, a Buzzard, six Fieldfares, three Redwings and a Song Thrush. I had a buck Roe Deer come out of one of the woodlands on the farm. What did lift my spirits was some Gorse in flower in one of the new hedges that we planted this time last year. I like Gorse as somewhere throughout the year there's some flowering.

 There's always some Gorse in flower to make you smile!

As planned I called at my feeding station but my visit coincided with a heavy squally shower brought in by very strong winds. I ran to the feeding station and back donned in full waterproofs and all I could say was that there was a lot of Tree Sparrows! Let's hope the weather improves soon!

Monday 6 January 2014

Catch Up

I always seem to be playing catch up after being out birding as there are so many places that I need to enter/update with my sightings. On Friday (4th) I called briefly at my feeding station and there were good numbers of Tree Sparrows, 215, plus 22 Chaffinches and a single Yellowhammer.

Yesterday I was out on the estuary with Ian and although we had a fair few species it was fairly quiet out on the mudflats. We had virtually clear skies with a 15 mph southeasterly wind that was quite biting at times. I made a 'school boy' error when I arrived and parked up as I had forgotten my note book and had to go home for it! Luckily I only live four minutes drive away so it didn't hold me up too much. I just can't bird without my notebook and would actually rather go without bins or a scope than without my notebook!

Walking along the path through the Hawthorns 145 Pink-footed Geese flew over very high and were heading north and we had a further 115 on the estuary. A Grey Wagtail went over and we recorded a Kestrel and Rock Pipit before arriving at the reservoir alongside the estuary. On the 'res' were seven Pochards, six Little Grebes, 17 Coots and 13 Tufted Ducks.



 Tufted Ducks

We then had a look on the estuary and recorded 100 Black-tailed Godwits, 165 Lapwings, 354 Teal, 208 Wigeon and 16 Shelducks. After that we went our separate ways and I headed to the pools and reedbeds. Driving down a Water Rail flew across the road and walking through the reeds I had another one calling. Out on the pools were 35 Coots, ten Tufted Ducks and two Pochards.

 There were quite a few Gulls bathing on the pools including the 
Black-headed Gull above and Herring Gull below.

I then moved on to the local wood but it was very quiet and all I had of interest was a party of six Long-tailed Tits. It's all work and no birding for me today but I have to call at my feeding station tomorrow and also my site visit in the Wenning Valley tomorrow can produce a few birds so I should have something to blog about!

Thursday 2 January 2014


I was at my feeding station before sunrise this morning and consequently I didn't have many of the feeding station 'regulars' but I did record a good number of Pink-footed Geese heading south to feeding areas in the Fylde. They were coming from the north and had presumably just left their Morecambe Bay mudflat roost minutes earlier.

 First light

The weather was a good deal better than yesterday and I had three oktas cloud cover with a 10 - 15 mph southwesterly wind. As I headed off down the track a couple of Grey Partridges called in the half light and at the feeding station itself I had four Yellowhammers, ten Chaffinches and just 81 Tree Sparrows.

I had a short walk up the '97 hedge' and added Buzzard, two Reed Buntings and four Fieldfares to my totals. It was whilst walking here that I had the majority of the 1,391 'Pinkies' that flew over heading south in smaller skeins. In addition to the 'Pinks' I had nineteen Whooper Swans also.

 Pink-footed Geese

Whooper Swans

Heading back to the car I had seven Lapwings on the stubbles and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying from one of my peanut feeders to the woodland. Driving off the site I had a look on the flood for the Green Sand, but it wasn't around, but I did have a flock of eleven Corn Buntings and a calling Goldcrest.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Not A Bad Start To 2014!

Apart from the weather I had quite good start to the New Year birding wise and recorded a few good species this morning as well as some decent counts. I headed to the Point for first light and sheltered in front of the tower with Ian. At first light we had 4 oktas cloud cover with a moderate southeasterly wind. The visibility was quite good with Walney Island across the bay quite clear, but by 1000 the rain moved in and the bay was 'locked down' with murk!

We didn't have a huge variety of waders on the beach mainly because the weather was so appalling later on in the morning that it wasn't fit to walk down the Point and count the roosting waders so my count only included 301 Oystercatchers, 14 Sanderlings, 12 Dunlins and 12 Turnstones.

On the sea we had a good count of Red-throated Divers totalling 43 flying west out of the Bay and two good New Year's Day species in the form of a Great Skua and a male Velvet Scoter. The Bonxie was quite distant but we did watch it harrying large Gulls and at one point it dropped to the sea, obviously to collect whatever food item it had forced the Gull to drop. Everything was a little distant today and the male Velvet Scoter could have been closer, but it was close enough to appreciate.

Other counts over the sea included 29 Cormorants, 89 Pink-footed Geese north, five Red-breasted Mergansers, a Common Scoter, four Little Gulls west, a Kittiwake, ten Auk sp. west, a fem./imm. Goldeneye on the sea and a Great Crested Grebe west. Other than ten Linnets that was it for the Point.

I then moved on to the Marine Lakes in the hope of some roosting waders on the island and perhaps a Purple Sandpiper or two. Because of the wind direction the waders were roosting on the north side of the island, making viewing difficult, and I recorded 40 Redshanks and 22 Turnstones.

Out on the lakes were ten Red-breasted Mergansers, two Mute Swans and two Goldeneyes. It's back to work for me tomorrow but I'll be at my feeding station first thing before I start, but whether it will be light enough for me to record anything I'm not sure, but I will let you know. The one good thing is that it should be dry before more rain on Friday!