Sunday 31 August 2014

A Quiet Morning On The River

It was forecast for the northwesterly wind to decrease overnight, but when I headed to the coastal scrub it was still blowing quite strong and this part of the Obs recording area is quite exposed, so under three oktas cloud cover with a 15 mph NW wind I headed to the river.


I had a look at two sections of the river but for the purposes of this posting I have lumped the totals of my meagre sightings together. The most numerous species I had was Redshank with a total of 208 birds. I could see more birds further down stream but didn't count these. Other waders included a single Dunlin, twelve Curlews, a Lapwing and five Oystercatchers.

 The Common Sea-lavender out on the saltmarsh was getting past its best.

There was some vis this morning but not overly discernible away from the coast but it included Grey Wagtail, Alba Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Swallows and House Martins. A number of Gulls were roosting out on the mud including 241 Herring Gulls and 76 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

 Two views of the river this morning (above & below).

On one of the pools close to the estuary were 26 Mallards, two Wigeons, four Tufted Ducks (including a female with two chicks), eight Little Grebes and a Great Crested Grebe. In the surrounding scrub were a nice flock of thirty Goldfinches, a Willow Warbler and two Whitethroats.


As the wind had dropped a little since first light I called in the cemetery on my way home to see if there were any grounded migrants and I had two Willow Warblers, and a Sparrowhawk shot through.

 Woodpigeon; the only bird I could photograph in teh cemetery.

It's Swallow roost ringing for me this evening and I'll let you know how we got on tomorrow.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Lots of Swallows

Just a quick update from the Swallow roost. Graham, Ian and I went yesterday evening to 'work' the roost and we managed to ring 123 Swallows, a Sand Martin, a Reed Warbler and a Sedge Warbler. So not bad for an evenings 'work'!

When you are busy ringing it's hard to estimate how many Swallows are roosting because you are concentrating on the ringing, but I thought there was perhaps 2-3,000 birds coming in. The only other appearances in my notebook were a Buzzard and Kestrel.

The forecast is for strong southwesterlies and rain for tomorrow, with an improving picture on Saturday, so it will probably be Saturday before I post again. I do intend to get out Saturday morning even though it will be a late night for me as I'm off to see Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman. Have a look at Kathryn Roberts singing a song called the 'Ballad of Andy Jacobs' here The song is about a young miner during the miners strike; brilliant lyrics and a cracking voice! I think I must be going soft in my old age as there's not a monster guitar riff in sight! 

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Ticking Robins

It was hard to hear the ticking Robins this morning in the 15-20 mph easterly wind and I thought about those east coast birders who would be having a field day with lots of good seabirds and scarce grounded migrants. Nevertheless I didn't let my jealous thoughts get me down and I slogged round the coastal scrub of the Obs.

My schoolboy error this morning was getting up too early and I spent the first ten minutes or so birding in the half-light, not that it really made any difference when it came fully light! I always think 'ticking' Robins are so evocative of autumn and this morning four ticked on my walk round. The only grounded migrant, other than the Robins perhaps, that I had was a single Wheatear.

A few hirundines were around this morning with a flock of 35 House Martins feeding on flies along the sea wall and a few Swallows headed south. In fact the Swallows were the only vis I had except for a lonely Grey Wagtail.

The sea was equally quiet with just eight Sandwich Terns for my brief efforts. It was a bit surreal to be buffeted about by an onshore wind! The raptor flag was waved by a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk. In fact the Sparrowhawk was a female and she drifted quite close to me along the sea wall, and by the tome I'd thought about trying to get a shot and then fumbling for my camera she'd flown by!

My walk back to the car was just marked by a 'starting to get late now' Swift. Some more Swallow ringing tomorrow evening hopefully!

Monday 25 August 2014

53......... the number of Swallows that Ian and I ringed at the roost yesterday evening. In addition to the Swallows we managed to 'control' one and ring two Reed Warblers.

Other than the fantastic spectacle of Swallows coming in to roost we just had a flock of seventy Linnets that made it in to my notebook. Flocks like this, and larger, used to be commonplace but they are getting scarce now.

It's forecast for quite strong easterlies tomorrow, so I'll probably have a stagger round the Obs for a couple of hours before doing some work.

Sunday 24 August 2014

Second Attempt

The morning didn't start off too well when at 0140 I was running into the garden to bring my moth trap in as it was absolutely pouring down! My alarm was set for 0445 to go to the Obs to do some ringing and from the time I got back in bed after my impromptu shower in the garden, I watched the clock go round until my alarm went off!

Driving to the area of coastal scrub the skies still looked menacing and that northwesterly wind seemed a little bit strong too me. Even when unlocking the gate I thought it was too strong for mist nets but ever hopeful I drove down the track to the centre of ringing operations. I walked down to the first net ride; too windy and I knew there was no hope of getting the Pipit net up, so it was a change of plan and I headed to the reedbed for a second attempt at some ringing.

Ian joined me and we put the usual nets up. It felt quiet and indeed it was quiet, and we ringed eight birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Bunting - 1
Reed Warbler - 2 (1)
Goldfinch - 1
Robin - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Willow Warbler - 1 (2)

 Willow Warbler

The only vis we had was a Meadow Pipit and a Grey Wagtail south. Alba Wagtails totalling 32 moved over, but these were local birds exiting a roost. There was nothing more to add and fingers are crossed for a decent catch of Swallows at the roost this evening.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Back In The Saddle At Last

It was great to be back in the saddle and be fit enough to get back out birding. This bout of man flu has proved to me that if there is a God then they must be female to inflict such a debilitating condition on all us poor men folk! I was back in the saddle, but it's a pity that the weather wasn't playing ball this morning. I had a few false starts with the rain before I finally got out mid-morning after a call from Ian saying that there were a few migrants around at the Obs; Gropper, Goldcrest and Redstart as 'starters for ten'.

This surprised me a little, as it did Ian, because the wind direction was northwesterly and to be honest with you, had it been p*ssing down like it was this morning but in October with an easterly I would have been out there in the rain!

The rain did finally stop and I headed to the coastal scrub to have a quick look round and also to trim some net rides for tomorrow morning. I didn't spend too long looking for grounded migrants as it was mid-morning and the trespassing dog owners were on the move. There's signs everywhere telling them not to trespass with their dogs, but for some reason it doesn't apply to them! As I have said a million times before on here it would seem that if you have a dog you can go wherever you like!!!

I walked along the main hedge and ditch and had a couple of juv. Whitethroats and then after a bit of pishing a cracking juv. Garden Warbler popped into view. Next up were a couple of Foxes and then the first of four Sparrowhawks for the morning. I had two migrants thermalling high and drifting south and then I had a third migrant Sparrowhawk in the form of a female thermalling high and again drifting south. Sparrowhawk number four was a little juv. male that was a delight to watch as it 'worked' the hedgerow.



That was it for migrants and I got on with the task in hand of trimming some net rides; fingers crossed for some decent weather in the morning! 

 Speckled Wood

Monday 18 August 2014

A Wee Dander Before Work

This morning I had a wee dander down to the estuary before heading off to Bowland for a site visit. I had 6 oktas cloud cover with a stiff northwesterly wind. I only had about an hour to spare and an hour was enough as I'm still suffering with my man flu!

 The office today

There were a number of Gulls roosting on the spit and these included 189 Herring Gulls with an adult Yellow-legged Gull out on the mud. The Redshanks numbered 190 with a supporting cast of 32 Oystercatchers, seven Curlews, two Whimbrels and a Lapwing.

I had very little else other than three Linnets and a male Sparrowhawk, but it was good to be out after some man flu enforced time indoors!

This male Swallow spent some time singing from an aerial on a boat

Friday 15 August 2014

Man Flu

I just wanted to apologise for not posting for a few days, but I have been laid low by 'Man Flu'! I never get a cold and haven't had a cold for years, so the lurgy that I am suffering with at the moment has to be Man Flu. I've had a look on the Man Flu website and I definitely have all the symptoms.

The Man Flu website states that "Man Flu is a crippling and debilitating disorder indiscriminately striking down male members of the human species without warning. The illness is often referred to pejoratively by female members of the species who are in fact immune from the illness as man flu is now known to exclusively attack the XY chromosome carrier. If Man Flu is kind enough not to kill the infected party it will definitely leave him weak, sick, hurting everywhere and in dire need of TLC.

Medical professionals now also widely recognise that self diagnosis by the sufferer is the best means of identification as the symptoms of Man Flu are far more severe than the simple common cold which predominantly targets the XX chromosome holders (i.e. females). This goes some way to explain the cynicism some women display towards their male counterparts".

So there you have it, the reason I've not been able to get out birding these past few days is because of man flu. I am hoping that it will only be a mild form, although this is rare of course, and I have a wedding to attend tomorrow of my music mate Andy. Of course if I am a little worse for wear tomorrow it will be the man flu, or perhaps a bad pint, and nothing to do with the quantities of real ale quaffed.

Man flu depending normal birding service will be resumed on Sunday, or perhaps more likely Monday!

Monday 11 August 2014

Westerly Woes

It was windy overnight last night and the 30 mph WSW continued into this morning. I had thoughts of a possible Storm Petrel to start my week off, but I knew it was a bit of a pipe dream as it hadn't been blowing long enough! Nevertheless I joined Ian for a seawatch and it was perhaps one of the slowest three hours of seawatching that I had spent, or that I could remember at least!

I won't pad it out, in three hours we had two Fulmars, three Common Terns, 22 Cormorants, six Gannets, two Sandwich Terns, three Common Scoters and ten Manx Shearwaters.

On the shore were 339 Oystercatchers, seven Curlews, 18 Ringed Plovers, 300 Herring Gulls, 100 Sanderlings and 20 Turnstones.

The forecast for the rest of the week is what I call neither 'here nor there'; not conducive to vis or a fall, not windy enough for a proper seawatch and too windy for ringing! All we can do is try and make the most of it.

Saturday 9 August 2014

Down By The Quayside

It was windy-ish this morning, but only a force three west-northwesterly, but I still headed to the shore to have a look on the sea. I made the school boy error of not consulting my tide tables before setting out and high tide was later than I had guessed it would be. Nevertheless I decided to stick it out.

I had very few waders on the shore as the tide was yet to push them up to their roost and they still had plenty of open shore and mudflats to feed on; all I had were four Ringed Plovers, 15 Turnstones, 14 Dunlins, two Redshanks and five Curlews.

The sea was even quieter than the shore with just two Sandwich Terns, two Arctic Terns and three Cormorants making an appearance, so after about an hour I decided to call it quits and have a look on the mudflats in the quay.

 The Quayside

From a birding perspective it was a little more enjoyable and productive here with 96 Redshanks and a lovely fresh juvenile Dunlin feeding on the muddy margins of the creeks. Out on the spit were three Whimbrel and four Lapwings were on the saltmarsh. There was nothing of interest amongst the 212 Herring Gulls and 34 Black-headed Gulls, so I decided to call it a day (more like an early morning!) and headed home.


Friday 8 August 2014

Back To Back Ringing Sessions

It was a late night last night and an early start this morning for Ian and I as we had back to back ringing sessions in the reedbed. Last night under calm clear conditions we worked the Swallow roost. The roost has increased in size again, as expected after a couple of days of good weather, and there are probably about 4,000 birds roosting.

As there was just Ian and I we played it safe and ringed just 60 Swallows plus six Reed Warblers, four Sedge Warblers and a Willow Warbler. All the Sedge Warblers were fat again, with one weighing a whopping 13.5 g.

Pre-roost the birding was pretty good, and the adult Hobby that has been knocking around the Obs for a good few days made an appearance as it gave stonking views as it flew over. Interestingly it didn't linger to have a go at any of the Swallows. Other raptors included a Buzzard and a Kestrel, whilst on the muddy margins of the pool was a Little Ringed Plover. There were two good finch flocks with about fifty Goldfinches in one and 100 Linnets in the other.

This morning we were back in the reedbed and again conditions for mist netting were good with no wind and some cloud cover. However, it was very quiet as we were putting the nets up and it would remain that way for the time we were there. It was clear last night with a full moon, perfect conditions for a 'clear-out' of birds. The ringing totals reflected this with just singles of Whitethroat, Blue Tit, Reed Bunting and Goldfinch ringed. We did recapture a Blue Tit and a moulting adult Willow Warbler as well.


A fly-past Kingfisher was nice, but we struggled to record anything else of note.

After some showers early evening it is going to remain dry overnight and into the morning, with some wet weather arriving on Sunday. I'm not sure what to do as yet, but I will be doing something in the morning! 

Brown Hay Cap. Photographed in my garden after I cut my mini meadow.
If I was a pan-species lister this would be a tick!

July Rinigng Totals

As is usual at this time of the month I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group for the year so far over on the right. At 973 birds ringed we are still 1001 down on last year, even though we had a good month in July and managed to ring a respectable 429 birds; if only we could do that every month!

Only one new species was added this month and that was a Sand Martin ringed at the Swallow roost. Below are the top five for the month and the top ten 'movers and shakers' of the year so far.

Top Five

1. Swallow - 165
2. Reed Warbler - 64
3. Sedge Warbler - 34
    Whitethroat - 34
5. Blackcap - 22

Top Ten 'Movers and Shakers'

1. Swallow - 166 (straight in)
2. Reed Warbler - 90 (up from 6th)
3. Blue Tit - 76 (down from 1st)
4. Great Tit - 66 (down from 2nd)
5. Sedge Warbler - 53 (up from 10th)
6. Whitethroat - 50 (straight in)
7. Goldfinch - 36 (down from 4th)
8. Blackcap - 33 (straight in)
    Chiffchaff - 33 (down from 4th)
10. Wren - 30 (straight in)

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Fat Acros and a Burnished Brass

Yesterday evening Graham, Ian and I had another session at the Swallow roost. It was a glorious evening with clear skies and it was calm. Walking to the pools it was evident that there were quite a few Willow Warblers about as we kept pushing birds from clumps of Bramble and Reeds.  We also had a nice flock of about a hundred Goldfinches feeding on Thistles.

The flushing theme continued when we got to the pools as we flushed a Little Ringed Plover from the edge of the pool. The muddy edge to the pool looks fantastic, but it is impossible to view it until you're upon it!

We set the usual two nets up and waited. Waiting for the Swallows to come in we managed to ring eight Sedge Warblers and five Reed Warblers. Just like previous recent visits some of the Reed and Sedge Warblers were carrying large amounts of fat.

The only raptors we had were a single Buzzard and Kestrel, and unfortunately no Hobby come in to hunt the Swallows! The roost was greatly reduced in size, 3-400 birds, probably as a result of the previous two days rainfall and consequently we only ringed 38 birds.

As it was such a good night I ran my moth trap last night but I have to admit my catch this morning wasn't what I expected with just five Light Brown Apple Moths, seven Large Yellow Underwings, a Common Wainscot, Burnished Brass, Common Rustic and two Shuttle-shaped Darts.

Burnished Brass - above & below. Apologies for the unnatural setting!

It's going to rain up here overnight and into the morning, so no birding for me, although I would have struggled as I'll have a late night tonight as I'm off to see Black Star Riders. If you haven't heard BlackStar Riders before click HERE Yes, they do sound like Thin Lizzy and that's because they were the latest incarnation of the mighty Lizzy before changing their name to BlackStar Riders. Their music isn't overly complicated, no fancy time signature changes, just pure and simple rock and roll|! And that's Scott Gorham you can hear riffing away! A mighty band!

Friday 1 August 2014

Ton Up

Ian and I had a more successful session at the Swallow roost last night and we were joined by Graham and Huw. It was perfect conditions for ringing Swallows as it was calm, overcast and warm, and as such the Swallows responded early to the MP3s.

We put two nets up; one close to the roost amongst the reeds and a second covering an open area alongside the pool. We managed to ring 108 Swallows plus five Reed Warblers and two Sedge Warblers. Again the Reed Warblers were interesting as they were carrying a lot of fat with scores of 40 and 50 respectively. This site does seem to be a good fattening area for Acros.

The forecast is a bit 'iffy' for the next couple of days, but fingers crossed we should be back at the Swallow roost either Sunday or Monday night.