Wednesday 31 December 2014

New Year's Eve Nothingness

Before I tell you how awful the birding was this morning and how I saw very little I just wanted to rewind to yesterday. Gail and I spent the day walking in the Silverdale area from Yealand Storrs - Cringlebarrow Woods - Leighton Hall - Leighton Moss - Trowbarrow Local Nature Reserve - Yealand Hall Allotment - Yealand Storrs.

 Overlooking Leighton Hall and the Moss

It was a pleasant day, dry and cold, with some sunny intervals. We didn't see a great deal but it was nice to catch up with birds that are scarce in the Fylde such as Bullfinch, Marsh Tit and Green Woodpecker. Walking along the causeway at Leighton Moss we had several calling Water Rails and then a Bittern showed well as it flew over the causeway and dropped into the fields at the far side of one of the meres. So all in all a pleasant day out.

This morning I headed to the Point to have a look on the sea as high tide was 0745, so I knew it would still be in at first decent birding light at about 0830. The wind was a biting SSE and I had five oktas cloud cover. Ian and I found some shelter in front of the tower and we spent the next hour and a half seeing very little. In fact I'm not sure how we managed to last that long, it must be the birders eternal optimism! All the sea gave up for us was seven Eiders, a Red-breasted Merganser, two Common Scoters and an Auk sp.

The Shore Lark showed very briefly as it flew east along the beach in front of us. We had heard it calling earlier behind us and then to the west of us. The poor bugger has been 'kicked' around so much by birders over the past month that it is now very wary and flighty.

I then made a quick visit to my feeding station to feed the expectant 63 Tree Sparrows that were there. I didn't have a lot else on my flying visit other than a Kestrel, Buzzard, Mistle Thrush and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

The forecast for tomorrow is a touch grim with wet and windy weather for most of the day, but if there's an opportunity to get out I'll take it.

I'd like to wish you all a Happy and bird filled New Year, although technically it is the new year already as it started with the return of the sun on the 21st December!

Monday 29 December 2014

Birding In The Morning And Ringing In The Afternoon

It was cold and frosty this morning when I set off for a birding walk around part of the Obs recording area that I regularly cover in spring and autumn, but less so in winter. This is because other parts of the Obs are better in the winter and this area is more suited to migrants.

I didn't see great deal but it was just pleasant to be out in the glorious sunshine. The first birds I had of note were a pair of Stonechats that were attempting to feed in an area of dry reed behind the sea wall. These birds have been present all winter but it's been a while since I have recorded them so it was good to know that they were still here.

Next up was Little Owl, and again it has been a few weeks since I called in this area to check to see if it was in the usual place, and it was. I had a look on the sea but it was quite misty and all I could muster were five Cormorants, five Common Scoters and ten Eiders.

Walking back along the hedgerows with Gorse in flower a Skylark gave a little sub-song. It was flying high on 'fluttering' wings as if it was going to give it's song-flight, but the song it gave was somewhere between a call and a song. It must have been encouraged by the sunny conditions.


I walked back through the copse and found some fungi on a tree stump. I photographed them (see below) and identified them later as Velvet Shank Flammulina velutipes. If anyone knows that they are something else please let me know.

This afternoon Ian and I had a first ringing session at a new site within the Obs recording area which was very successful in terms of the sites potential, but less so purely based on what we ringed this afternoon. The site is private and secure, which is a huge bonus for a ringing site, and it mainly comprises of plantation woodland planted in blocks to screen an industrial site.

We cleared a double net ride (60 - 40 dog leg) and set up a feeding station. The site holds large numbers of roosting Greenfinch, and lesser numbers of Goldfinch and Linnets. The finches roost in some of the evergreen plantings close to the buildings and we have tried to catch them there, but they just drop in to the top of the vegetation completely avoiding our nets.  

We only managed to ring three Greenfinches but we weren't disappointed at all as the site has huge potential once we have sorted out a number of net rides and I think  it will be a good ringing site throughout the year and it has the potential to hold a number of migrants in spring and autumn.


We did see a few bits as we cleared the net rides and explored some of the planted areas including Water Rail, Buzzard, 135 Greenfinches (coming in to roost; probably 400 roosting at least), 70 Woodpigeons (roosting birds), two Sparrowhawks (male & female), 40 Magpies (roosting birds), 15 Goldfinches, two Linnets, Woodcock, Goldcrest and Song Thrush.

It's a day out with her indoors for me tomorrow, so normal birding service will be resumed on New Year's eve.

Sunday 28 December 2014

Last Ringing Session At The Feeding Session For 2014

Huw and I met at the feeding station this morning at a leisurely 0745. Huw was there before me and had Barn Owl come out of the barn as he drove past and Tawny Owl calling in the darkness from the woodland. It was calm with a ground frost, and therefore perfect for ringing.

We ringed 28 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Chaffinch - 15
Tree Sparrow - 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2
Starling - 5
Dunnock - 1
Blue Tit - 3 (18)
Robin - (1)
Great Tit - (3)

 Blue Tit

Just after first light small parties of Pink-footed Geese were heading south from their roost out in Morecambe Bay to their preferred feeding areas, and 2-300 Woodpigeons left their woodland roost to head to their feeding areas as well.

Raptors were represented by two Buzzards and a Kestrel, but no Sparrowhawk this morning. There was perhaps over a hundred Tree Sparrows at the feeding station and somewhere in the region of half a dozen Yellowhammers.

 Tree Sparrow

A few Thrushes were around this morning with 20 Fieldfares and ten Redwings heading backwards and forwards. Fifteen Corn Buntings on the stubbles were nice as were 18 Shelducks that flew west.

The forecast is good for the next few days so it will be birding at the Obs for me in the morning followed by some ringing in the afternoon.

Thursday 25 December 2014

Goose For Christmas

It was a tale of two halves for me this morning. I had been given a morning pass for birding and I needed to feed my farmland birds and I wanted to have a look at the Geese. My feeding station is twenty minutes from home and the Geese were 25 minutes from the feeding station, but thankfully once at the Geese it is only five minutes back home, perhaps even less.

The first three birds I saw as drove down the track towards the feeding station were raptors; a Kestrel, a male Sparrowhawk that flew low in front of the car and then a calling Buzzard from the woodland. Continuing the theme of 'three' I also had three Brown Hares run down the track just ahead of me; they are fantastic animals!

It was just coming light so the birds were just starting to arrive at the feeding station and these included Great Spotted Woodpecker, five Chaffinches, 28 Tree Sparrows, six Yellowhammers and a Grey Partridge. The food was 'dropped' and I headed on to the Geese fields. On my way out from the feeding station I had two Jays by the side of the lane.

The Pink-footed Geese were on both sides of the road this morning and also they were between parking areas. I looked through the birds on one side of the road first and half of the flock was hard to see due to the low sun. Amongst these birds, perhaps 4-500 Pinkies here (including a neck-collared bird), were the two pale-bellied Brent Geese. I had an idea that the Todd's Canadas were also with this group, but couldn't see them.

Brent Goose

On the other side of the road were 2-300 Pinkies and amongst them were the two Bean Geese.They were quite distant and hard to see and kept vanishing amongst the Pinkies. Interestingly they were split like this yesterday apparently, as in the morning we had the Todd's and Brents in one group of Pinkies and later in the day in another group Ian had the Bean and a White-fronted.

My allotted time was up and I had to return home to exchange presents with the family. There is a chance that it might be fit for some ringing in the morning but a lot will depend on the forecast later and how much real ale I consume during the day!

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Birding With Brent And Todd

It was a struggle to know what to do this morning; high tide wasn't until 12:30 pm and they're big high tides at the moment so at low water the tide would be a long way out. It is possible to sea watch at low tide at the Obs, but the location doesn't afford any shelter and in the 25-30 mph westerly wind that was blowing this morning that wasn't an option. There was only one thing to do and that was have a walk down to the saltmarsh and estuary.

As I was walking down Pink-footed Geese were leaving their roost and I had 578 heading inland to feed. A few Redwings, 16 in all, and a Song Thrush were in the scrub, and on the pool were just seven Tufted Ducks, seven Coot, a Little Grebe and a male Goldeneye.

A flock of 36 Goldfinches were  roving around the saltmarsh edge and the only other passerines here were Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit. I walked to the edge of the saltmarsh to look on the estuary and boy was it cold in the blustery westerly. In fact I was getting 'battered' so much that I just did a quick count of 862 Lapwings, 18 Shelducks, 20 Mallards and 360 Teal.

I bumped into Ian and we headed back to have a look through the 'Pinkies' that had dropped into the fields. There was about 5-600 Pinkies and amongst them were two pale-bellied Brent Geese and the two Todd's Canada Geese. So it wasn't a bad couple of hours birding after all.

 Brent Geese

Todd's Canada Geese

It just remains for me to send you all Seasons Greetings and I hope 2015 is full of good birds for you!

Tuesday 23 December 2014

More Winter Thrushes

Just a brief posting today after a brief visit to my feeding station. I didn't get out early today as 'her indoors' had some things she wanted shopping-wise and as she was at work and I wasn't, yours truly had to hit the supermarket. So at what would be normal morning birding first light I was pushing a trolley....., well I had a coffee first and had a little read of 'Birdwatch', before then pushing my trolley round Booths!

At the feeding station the usual suspects were present including two Yellowhammers, nine Chaffinches, 66 Tree Sparrows and a Grey Partridge. Bits and pieces as I walked down to the feeding station included four Grey Wagtails and 120 Lapwings.

I could hear a number of Thrushes calling and had a look on the field close to the woodland, and feeding in there were 90 Redwings, 24 Fieldfares and 300 Starlings. On my way home I called in at the flood and there was just two Green Sandpipers.

The forecast is looking okay for the next few days, just when for some of us the silly Christmas season prevents us from getting out. But not for me it doesn't, so I'll be out birding and enjoying the weather even on Christmas Day!

Monday 22 December 2014

If It Wasn't For Todd It Would Hardly Have Been Worth Posting

There was a mid-morning tide today and the wind had blown quite a strong southwesterly all night, so the only option was to do some sea watching. I got to the tower just as it was coming light, a leisurely 0815 at the moment, and set out my stall. I had full cloud cover and the wind was a good 30 mph southwesterly. Just some of the ingredients required for a decent sea watch, the missing ingredient being the visibility, and the visibility was absolutely awful!

I could see no more than a few hundred metres out to sea and consequently all I had was eleven Cormorants, two Eiders and a male Red-breasted Merganser! After just over an hour of this incredible pelagic action I decided to go and try and find the Geese as Ian had two Todd's Canada Geese amongst them yesterday. Sure enough I found the 'Pinkies' pretty quickly and in the throng were the two Canada's.

I had a quick look on the Distinguishing Cackling and Canada Goose article on the 'Sibley Guides' website and they seemed to fit the description there pretty well:

"B. c. interior – Hudson Bay Canada Goose – Similar in size to canadensis, mantle somewhat browner and darker, with dark continuing uninterrupted to black of neck, feather edges on dorsum average darker, contrasting less with black of neck, breast light to medium grayish towards slaty gray."

 Some dodgy shots (above & below) of the Todd's Canada Geese. The light
was awful and they were quite a long way from the road; that's my excuse 

There was probably about 450 Pink-footed Geese in the field and whilst I was watching the Geese five Whooper Swans flew over. 

The forecast is similar for tomorrow, but not quite as windy, and high tide will be nearer lunchtime. I have to feed my Tree Sparrows tomorrow, so I'll decide what I'm going to do birding wise when I've stuck my head out of the door in the morning and had a peek at the weather.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Bird Photographers

I suppose I'm a bird photographer because when I'm out birding, if I can, I like to take photographs of some of the birds I'm watching. So based on that description a lot of us are bird photographers, or we certainly like taking photographs of birds to enrich our birding and make digital memories for a future date. The difference between my bird photography and the ignorant tosser who walked the full length of the beach today flushing waders is that I respect the birds welfare and I guess that you do too.

Ian and I were seawatching from the observation tower when we could hear waders alarm calling and we just assumed that it was yet another dog walker walking along the beach allowing their mutt to flush the roosting waders. Looking down we were surprised (or perhaps not) to see a, I don't think I can call him a birder, a 'bird photographer' perhaps, walking all the way along the beach flushing Oystercatchers, Sanderlings, Dunlins and Ringed Plovers. He had all the characteristic gear and abysmal field craft of a bird photographer. First up he had no bins, just a whopping great big lens that was covered in camouflage webbing! Of course when you get a top notch tosser flushing every avian creature within 200 yards a bit of camouflaged webbing on his lens is going to make all the difference! I don't know why these clowns don't carry bins, perhaps they don't think they need them because they like to be able to sit right next to the bird and take photographs of the birds eyelid colour with their huge penis extensions, sorry I mean lenses.

This 'character' walked all the way along the beach, perhaps some 500 metres, negotiating groynes, crunching on shingle, until he got to where he thought his 'quarry' was and then headed back. Suddenly he dropped to the deck and became a fully fledged member of the SAS and started to stalk whatever he was after. That bit of camouflage webbing on his lens would have made all the difference of course allowing him to get close to the poor wretched creature that he was trying to fill his viewfinder with. Fast forward some time and he must have been pleased with his efforts as he trotted back along the shore 'high-fiving' a fellow bird flusher! We'll re-visit this character in a bit when we had a close encounter with him and his behaviour got even worse!

It was a fairly blustery old morning with full cloud cover and a 25 - 30 mph WNW wind. It was quieter on the sea than expected and the northerly element was probably to blame, well that's my excuse anyway. Our totals included twelve Eiders, two Wigeons, 15 Pintails, 25 Teal, two Auk sp., a Great Crested Grebe, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Shelduck, two Red-throated Divers and four Kittiwakes.

After perhaps an hour and a half we headed to the Point to count the waders and seemed to have got caught up in a bit of a throng of bird photographers who were moving from the picnic area (where they could be seen  harassing the Shore Lark and our 'new friend' was amongst them) to the shore. I'm guessing they had flushed the Shore Lark after getting too close, which they do on a daily basis by the way, and now wanted to annoy it some more on the beach.

Walking out along the seafront saw our intrepid bird photographer walking the other way. We stopped to count the 50 Sanderling and 44 Ringed Plover and there feeding close in front of us was the 1st winter female Snow Bunting. Suddenly 'bird photo' saw us watching the Snow Bunting and he came running back towards us. He then stood in front of us, jumped over the sea wall and started to run along the beach behind the groyne towards the Snow Bunting. Of course the bird flushed and some half-wit with 'bird photo' shouted "it's flying, it's flying"! I thought "there's no flies on you f*ckface is there"? Before either of us killed somebody we headed back down the Point.

Unsurprisingly the Snow Bunting came 'high tailing' over our heads (obviously flushed by this by now getting seriously tedious idiot) and landed on the beach close to us. Again we were enjoying our views of this cracking little bird when the tedious idiot returned and by now I'd had enough of him. He was about to jump on to  the beach again and I gave him some advice which was basically telling him in language that he would understand that he was to get off the beach and let the Snow Bunting have a chance to feed. Did the advice work? Well it did for as long as we were there, but as we walked away he was back on the beach. What a complete and utter tosser! He needed his big lens taking off him and shoving it sideways where the sun doesn't shine!

It's forecast to be windy again tomorrow, so it will probably be some more seawatching for me, hopefully without the distractions of more bird photographers!

Friday 19 December 2014


I didn't have time for any birding this morning, but the reason I didn't have time was birding related. I had to make a feed drop at my feeding station before heading to the West Pennines for a meeting with Huw and Ian to discuss some potential ringing projects in that area in the form of nest boxes and feeding stations.

Over the past couple of days I have noticed a few more Redwings around on the quiet and on Wednesday morning when I went in to my garden before it was light a couple of Redwings flew from my Apple tree. This morning as I headed to my feeding station I noticed a number of Redwings in the hedgerows alongside the lanes that weren't there a couple of days ago.

As I walked down to the feeding station, in cold horizontal squally rain, I kept flushing ones and twos from the feeding station hedge and then I had a flock of fifty go over. This theme continued after I left the feeding station and headed to the West Pennines. I was meeting Huw and Ian at Roddlesworth Reservoir, and in the surrounding hedgerows were a number of Redwings. So it looks like there has been a bit of an arrival of Redwings into the northwest.

Redwing - coming to a hedgerow near you!

Thursday 18 December 2014

Beating Those Birding Blues

At last my Man Flu has subsided enough enabling me to get out to the feeding station yesterday and to do a bit of birding this morning. I must admit I'm not out of the woods yet, but I had to get out to beat those birding blues.

Numbers of birds at the feeding station seem to have dropped off a little of late and I am assuming it is because of the mild weather we are having at the moment. When it was cold the apples were going down and now these are hardly being touched. Totals yesterday included four Yellowhammers, seven Chaffinches and 55 Tree Sparrows.

I had a couple of 'odds and sods' walking down to the feeding station including a Buzzard, a Whooper Swan and a Mistle Thrush which isn't overly regular here. On my way home I called at the flood and there were no Redshanks and just one Green Sandpiper.

It hasn't seemed to get light today and I can't believe that 'birding light' isn't really until nearer half past eight at the moment, mind you we are in spitting distance of the shortest day of the year now! So why I got to the Point not much after eight I'm not sure! I headed to the observation tower, found some shelter, had a coffee, had another coffee and finally it was light enough to have a look on the sea.

It was very murky out at sea and consequently it was hard work, so I only spent an hour there, and didn't see a great deal. Best of a meagre bunch was a Shag that flew in to the Bay and an adult Med Gull that flew out. Other than that I had just two Red-breasted Mergansers and ten Eiders.

After a coffee at Ian's and half an hour putting the birding world to rights, particularly those pesky bird photographer types who are continually harassing the Shore Lark at the minute, it was time to head home. The forecast isn't the best over the next few days, but on Saturday we might be able to get to the Finch roost. Fingers crossed!

Sunday 14 December 2014

Man Flu!

Once again I have been laid low these past few days with man flu and today with a temperature of 39 I felt pretty shite! In fact I didn't even have a beer last night and if I don't have a beer on a Saturday night then there is something wrong! So my reason for posting is to let you know my reason for not posting of late. You'll be pleased to hear that as I write this I am feeling a little better and I hope normal service will be resumed in the next couple of days! Mind you I don't know what that normal service will be as the forecast is pretty dire for the coming week.

Monday 8 December 2014

Any News From The Feeding Station?

The answer to that question is not a lot really. I have been visiting every other day over the past week and it has been fairly steady with counts of ten Yellowhammers, 62 Tree Sparrows and seven Chaffinches. There's been up to two Buzzards regularly, but these have been the only raptors. I've been putting some apples down and this past week they've started going and when I called the other day two Fieldfares were feeding on them, so it would be nice to hold a few of them at the feeding station. Another couple of visitors on the same morning were two Grey Partridges and a Great Spotted Woodpecker called from the woodland.

Talking of feeding stations, or in this case potential feeding stations, Ian and I carried out a recce of a secure site within the Obs recording area this afternoon, with a view to a first ringing session this coming weekend. We located some potential net rides for general ringing and also an area to operate a feeding station. The beauty of this site is that there is so much cover we will be able to operate mist nets in virtually any wind direction or strength! Another plus is that the site has a decent Greenfinch roost and this afternoon we located the roost and there were at least 300 Greenfinches, 30 - 40 Goldfinches and perhaps a dozen or more Linnets coming in, so I might have some more news on that at weekend.

Sunday 7 December 2014

November Ringing Totals

Over on the right I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of November and we have ringed 3,036 birds of 56 birds. Four new species were newly ringed for the year during the month and these were Kingfisher (1), Grey Wagtail (3), Redwing (7) and Starling (1). As usual I have listed below the 'Top 5' ringed for the month and the 'Top 10 Movers and Shakers' for the year.

Top Five Ringed for the Month

1. Reed Bunting - 52
2. Blue Tit - 50
3. Chaffinch - 33
4. Goldfinch - 28
5. Long-tailed Tit - 23

Top Ten Movers and Shakers

1. Swallow - 712 (same position)
2. Blue Tit - 284 (same position)
3. Great Tit - 193 (same position)
4. Goldfinch - 185 (up from 5th)
5. Reed Warbler - 164 (down from 4th)
6. Meadow Pipit - 118 (same position)
7. Chaffinch - 110 (up from 10th)
8. Robin - 108 (down from 7th)
9. Greenfinch - 104 (down from 8th)
    Reed Bunting - 104 (straight in)

Over the next month it is likely that the top two will remain the same, but there is a chance that Goldfinch will push ahead of Great Tit in to third place as Andy and Phil have been ringing quite a few at their upland feeding station. Reed Warbler is probably fairly safe in 5th spot, but Meadow Pipit could easily be overtaken before the end of the year by Chaffinch, and perhaps even by Robin. I think Greenfinch and Reed Bunting are likely to remain in similar positions at the bottom of the table, unless there is another species 'bubbling under' that could come straight in and usurp one of them!

By the end of last year we had ringed 3245 birds so we are just 209 birds short of last year's total. This means that there is a chance we could beat last year's total  by the end of 2014, but we will need the weather on our side.

To give you an idea what we have ringed each month, below are the totals by month for the year so far:

Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov
27     41     40       93     173     169   429  641    794   300   329

So September has been our best ringing month, in terms of totals, so far this year which isn't surprising.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Patch Invasion - Day 4

The Shore Lark is still around so I envisaged another patch invasion this morning and I was right. I headed to the Point at first light to do some seawatching on the incoming tide and joined Ian in front of the Observation Tower. It was bitterly cold in the 10 mph southeasterly wind, but it was anice and sheltered in front of the tower, and the cloud cover was 6 oktas.

As the morning progressed birders were coming and going to twitch the Shore Lark and in the first couple of hours at least 40 birders or bird photographers had walked past. I mention bird photographers seperately to birders as these are the guys that arrive carrying huge lenses attached to their cameras and don't carry any bins! There were quite a few of them this morning and some in full camouflage and that includes their cameras as well!

I had no intention of going to look for the Shore Lark myself this morning but after a while it came to us as it was a bit more flighty it would seem this morning and eventually it was there in front of us on the beach. Watching the twitchers was nearly as entertaining as the birding, but not quite.

It was quite good on the sea and the highlights were Great Northern Diver, Gannet and Peregrine. Two 'Red-throats' were picked up flying high out of the Bay by Ian and then he noticed another larger diver a little way in front and it was the Great Northern. The birds were flying very high and I imagine they were heading further out in to the Irish Sea to feeding grounds.

The Gannet was a good record for December and during the winter you only tend to get Gannets after a period of strong winds. However, there were good numbers of Gulls out at sea constantly diving to the surface, and obviously feeding on something, and perhaps this is why the Gannet was there as well.

The Peregrine put on a great display out at sea with its interactions with a Carrion Crow. We weren't sure whether the Crow was mobbing the Peregrine and the Peregrine was having a go back, or whether the Peregrine fancied its chances of a Corvid breakfast. But whatever the reason the aerial dog fight that ensued was great to watch.

The supporting cast included 13 Red-breasted Mergansers, five Red-throated Divers, 23 Eiders, 42 Cormorants, 72 Common Scoters, four Great Crested Grebes and four Wigeon.

There was a few waders on the beach including 356 Oystercatchers, thirteen Sanderlings, two Redshanks, three Curlews, 15 Ringed Plovers and 24 Turnstones.


At the site where we have been ringing and fitting Turnstones with leg flags was a single Purple Sandpiper with about 150 Turnstones. I tried getting a few shots of the 'Purp', but it spent most of the time asleep!

 Purple Sandpiper - above & below

The forecast is pretty awful for tomorrow, but I'm due to feed my ravenous Tree Sparrows so I'll be heading to the feeding station in the morning and hopefully it won't be raining too much so I can at least get some birding done.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Patch Invasion

The invasion started yesterday when a visiting birder to Rossall Point found a Shorelark on the beach at midday. The bird seemed to vanish, as Shorelarks seem to do, and by the time it was re-found it was nearing dusk and only a few birders managed to 'connect' with it. Interestingly this was the first record for the Obs recording area since 1970!

I had planned all week to take a couple of hours off Thursday morning and if the weather was fit I was going to have a look on the sea and watch the incoming tide. I headed to the Point under full cloud with a 5 mph ENE wind and I got a text from Ian saying he was watching the Shorelark I joined Ian at the Lark, but said that I was going to disappear when the first birders started arriving and concentrate on the sea.

I took a few pictures of the Shorelark but the light conditions were poor in the grey overcast conditions. We discussed whether it might actually be the North American species Horned Lark, but weren't sure whether they were separable or not. It seems odd that the only Shorelark(s) in Great Britain and Ireland at the minute are three that have been around for ages in Suffolk. This bird is on the west coast and only a few weeks ago across the Bay at Walney Bird Observatory was a Red-eyed Vireo. But who knows?

The birders started to arrive and myself and Ian made a swift exit to the Tower and did some seawatching. However, I didn't put up for this for long as a constant stream of birders drifted past and they thought we were on the bird and we ended up signposting everyone to where it was. I think I must be getting more unsociable as I get older as it was definitely time to leave. By the time I left at 10:00 a.m. 30 - 40 birders must have headed past me to the bird. It just reaffirmed why I try and keep away from mainstream birding.

However, I am grateful to the visiting birder who found the Shorelark as it was indeed a splendid bird and only a second record for the Obs. If I'm honest, I hope it doesn't linger for too much longer, miserable old b*stard that I am!

The sea was really quiet with just three Red-breasted Mergansers, 17 Common Scoters, 29 Eiders and three Shelducks. It's getting windy next week so there could be more seawatching on the horizon.

Monday 1 December 2014

Grey Morning

Yesterday morning Huw and I had a ringing session at the feeding station. We just had one okta cloud cover and the wind was northwesterly anywhere between zero and 5 - 10 mph. We put the usual nets up at the feeding station and an additional net hoping to target some Wagtails.

The targeting of Wagtails worked in as much as we ringed three Grey Wagtails, but the Pieds weren't interested in investigating the MP3 playing songs and calls back to them.

 Grey Wagtail

We processed 29 new birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Blackbird - 3 (including what looked like two continental male types)
Greenfinch - 1
Yellowhammer - 1
Coal Tit - 1
Robin - 2
Blue Tit - 5 (16)
Tree Sparrow - 6 (1)
Great Tit - 3 (1)
Chaffinch - 4 (including a continental male; long wing length)
Grey Wagtail - 3

(Gwyn - if you're reading this I haven't mentioned the Jay that Huw let go!!!)

 Tree Sparrow

The usual caveat applies to birding records whilst ringing and all we mustered were 830 Pink-footed Geese, four Corn Buntings, 100 Woodpigeons, eight Whooper Swans, two Jays and two Buzzards. On my way home I called in at the flood and there were still two Green Sandpipers, but Redshanks had increased to 17.