I've had further work this week in the Wenning Valley, and as I've trundled my measuring wheel along I've been able to do some birding again. Unfortunately I didn't see quite as much as last time but my sightings included three House Sparrows, 130 Common Gulls, three Lapwings, 16 Teal, 40 Woodpigeons, five Long-tailed Tits, a Woodcock, two Brown Hares, a Goldcrest, two Song Thrushes and 110 Fieldfares.
Primrose - I came across a good number on a wooded embankment.
It's looking wet and quite windy for weekend, but I'm hoping as always that there'll be an opportunity to get out.
I tried to go out Saturday morning but the heavy squally showers wouldn't allow me to, several attempts were made, but each time I had to beat a hasty retreat indoors. My plan was to go down to the river, but there was no way I was going to stand exposed on the saltmarsh in the cold wind and rain. Perhaps I'm getting softer as I get older, or is it just getting wiser?
My plan was top do the same Sunday morning but Ian told me that it was really quiet on the river and he was struggling to put anything in his note book, so I decided that when I went to feed at my farmland bird feeding station I would have a bit of walk round as I hadn't done that for a while.
I knew that I had probably got until 1100 before the forecast rain was due to come in and it actually came in an hour earlier cutting my walk short. I set off on my walk with full cloud cover and a cold 15 mph SSE wind. The feeding station itself was very quiet, perhaps the quietest it has been all winter, with just 22 Chaffinches, a Yellowhammer and 18 Tree Sparrows in attendance. This might also have been the first time that Chaffinches had outnumbered Tree Sparrows.
I headed up the '97 hedge', but there wasn't much doing here, and when I got to the top fields it started raining. I had to abandon my plan to have a look in the plantation and head back along the lane looking in the wet fields as I walked past. Feeding in the wet stubbles were 45 Fieldfares, 33 Skylarks, a Green Sandpiper, 35 Redwings and 15 Corn Buntings. In the field on the opposite side were five Shelducks and I also flushed five Roe Deer from the copse.
By the now it was really pouring down and I legged it back to the car. The forecast for the week is a bit grim, but you have to remain optimistic!
For the past couple of days I have been working in the Wenning valley, and although technically it hasn't been wild or I haven't been wild, it was a better title than 'doing a bit of birding whilst measuring field boundaries in the Wenning valley'! Although that title would have explained what I was actually doing and whilst walking along field boundaries trundling my measuring wheel along it did enable me to do some birding.
The view from my office at lunchtime.
On Monday it was cold with clear skies for most of the time with a fresh raw wind and today it was a good deal calmer and milder with a few spots of rain. I only had my 'point and shoot' camera with me, so no pictures of birds I'm afraid, just a few habitat/landscape shots etc.
I came across these Crab Apples on the floor, hopefully something will
make use of them.
Some early Hazel catkins.
I had quite a good selection of birds, plus a few mammals too, and I have lumped both days sightings together as they were on two different parts of the farm. In no particular order I had three Buzzards, 18 House Sparrows (a healthy population around the old bar in the yard), three Skylarks, eleven Robins, 58 Redwings, seven Brown Hares (other mammals were Field Vole and Common Shrew), 15 Blackbirds, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, two Goldcrests, two Long-tailed Tits, five Song Thrushes, three Mistle Thrushes, three Kestrels, a Siskin, a Sparrowhawk, three Jays, a Linnet, 26 Fieldfares, a Woodcock, a Reed Bunting, three Snipe, 158 Common Gulls, ten Lapwings, a Curlew and a Teal. Nothing mega, but it was pleasant nevertheless.
My first Ladybird of the spring.
I'm office bound tomorrow (and it's going to be wet), continuing decorating Friday :( and hopefully birding and ringing at weekend!
Towards the end of last week I had an enforced two days indoors as I was having a wood burning stove fitted in the lounge and since installation I have also been on decorating duties! At weekend I managed to get a walk round the Obs in and also managed to feed at the two feeding stations I'm operating at the moment.
I was greeted with clear skies and a 5 - 10 mph northeasterly wind as I headed off on my walk round the Obs. One of the first signs of spring at this time of year, besides lots of species starting to sing, is the build up of Common Gulls, and this morning I had 42 on the fields. Talking of Gulls there was a steady northwards passage of big Gulls this morning, mainly Herring and Great Black-backed and I only counted them for a few minutes whilst I stopped for a look on the sea and had 92 and 15 respectively. The real figure would actually have been many hundreds!
The wintering male and female Stonechats were still around and it will be interesting to see if they stop to breed or whether they are just purely wintering. A good flock of 42 Meadow Pipits were feeding behind the sea wall and this is the biggest count I've had all winter, and I suspect it is the first murmurings of a bit of spring passage.
I had my first definite spring vis in the form of three Skylarks north and a single Siskin; not much but it has to start somewhere!
I called at my farmland bird feeding station this morning and over the weekend and sightings included two Buzzards, two Jays, 15 Chaffinches, 67 Tree Sparrows, three Yellowhammers, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a singing Corn Bunting.
When I was there this morning pandemonium broke out as something was causing mayhem as 300 Jackdaws, 70 Shelducks and 80 Teal all took to the air and took along time before they settled. In fact some of the Shelducks cleared off west. I can only assume it was a raptor and if I was to put money on what species I would guess at a quartering Hen Harrier. The reason I say this is that the local birds are used to the Buzzards and Peregrine is also fairly regular (although I did also have Peregrine down as a possible contender), so a quartering Hen Harrier would certainly cause a commotion!
I met Ian at the water treatment works this morning to feed and at last our niger feeders are going down and there was a nice flock of 25 Goldfinches hanging around. The peanut feeders always empty and there is obviously an army of Tits munching through the peanuts! Best of the rest was a Buzzard, Song Thrush and a few Long-tailed Tits.
Back at home in my drive taking my boots off the House Sparrows suddenly fell silent and an immature male Sparrowhawk shot across my front garden and crashed through my thick privet hedge! It then flew up in to the Hawthorn and a House Sparrow decided to leg it and the Sparrowhawk gave chase. They both flew across the road and I was impressed with the speed of the House Sparrow. I saw the House Sparrow fly between two houses and the Sparrowhawk wasn't following, so had obviously given up the chase. A Sparrowhawk doing what it says on the tin; chasing Sparrows. Superb!
Over on the right you will see that I have updated Fylde Ringing Group's ringing totals for 2015, or should I say I have put up the first month's totals for the year. In January 2014 we only ringed an abysmal 27 birds, so at 177 ringed for 2015 we are quite a bit up.
Below are the top five ringed birds in January 2015:
I took an hour and a half out this morning to go and have a look at the Gulls on the river. As I walked along the edge of the saltmarsh I had full cloud cover with a light northwesterly wind. Pink-footed Geese were leaving their estuarine roost and heading off to feed and I had 550 go over.
I didn't see much else as I walked along the edge of the saltmarsh other than a couple of Reed Buntings, a Song Thrush, Rock Pipit and 700 Lapwings. I started to look through the Gulls and estimated there to be 7-800 Herring Gulls with low double figures of Great Black-backed Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 80 Black-headed Gulls. All I could find amongst the Herring Gulls was a single adult Yellow-legged Gull.
In addition to the Gulls I had 14 Reed Buntings and when I got back to the Nature Park (that name's a laugh) I had a male Stonechat. The Nature Park is a very depressing place now with huge number of dog walkers that have trashed and continue to trash the site, and this morning I could actually smell the disgusting aroma of dog shit floating towards me on the northwesterly breeze!!!
A couple of singing Skylarks brought me out of my 'dog walker' induced depression, whilst a Cetti's Warbler called from the margins of the pools and two Pochards and six Tufted Ducks were on the pools. Back at home I had the adult Med. Gull that has wintered around my house for the second year now.
It's site visits in deepest, darkest, inland, upland Lancashire for me tomorrow so I'm not too hopeful for many birds. I'll let you know.
I had a break from report writing this morning to carry out a feed at my feeding station. Under full cloud cover with a 15 mph northwesterly wind I headed down the track loaded with apples, peanuts and seed. At the feeding station were 17 Chaffinches, 44 Tree Sparrows and four Yellowhammers.
Walking back along the track I had 400 Pink-footed Geese go over and two Buzzards were around the woodland. I decided to go and have a look on the stubble field and on my way there I flushed two Grey Partridges from the hedge bottom. In the woodland alongside the stubble's a male Tawny Owl called, and on the stubble's were nine Blackbirds, 23 Fieldfares, 80 Starlings, 15 Corn Buntings and 13 Redwings.
The forecast is looking quite good for ringing over the next couple of days, but I have some site visits to complete, so I might just try and sneak out birding for a couple of hours tomorrow morning.
Just in case you were expecting news of a cracking ringing session at the water treatment works I thought I should tell you that we weren't able to get a session in due to the weather. Overnight we had quite a dense fog and in fact this morning it was so dense that I didn't go birding. It didn't really improve at all during the day so Ian and I met at the water treatment works late morning just to top the feeders up. The feeders were virtually empty, so that was good news, but we didn't have many birds as we were topping them up; in fact just a couple of Song Thrushes. The high pressure is supposed to stay around all week, so fingers crossed for some birding and ringing during the week.
Over the past few days my birding has been limited due to attending the above beer festival, and as I write I have just returned from yet another very pleasurable afternoon sampling a variety of real ales!
Yesterday morning I headed down to the estuary in calm, crisp conditions and it was a pleasure to be out. The usual mix of hedgerow species greeted me as I walked through the linear Hawthorn scrub including Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit.
Walking down to the estuary you pass a small reedbed and at this time of
year I enjoy the contrast of colour between the grey seed heads and
Looking towards the mouth of the estuary and the lakeland fells beyond.
Out on the estuary were the usual mix of waders and wildfowl including 34 Redshanks, 1,440 Pink-footed Geese, 40 Curlews, 70 Wigeon, 722 Herring Gulls, 22 Shelducks, 117 Lapwings, eleven Teal and 80 Dunlins. Walking back over the saltmarsh to have a look on the pool I had two Rock Pipits and on the pool itself were 17 Tufted Ducks, three Pochards, five Little Grebes and five Goldeneyes.
Before heading to the beer festival I called at my feeding station and I had yet more Ravens in the form of two calling birds; at last the Ravens were singing! Numbers of birds at the feeding station over the past couple of weeks have been fairly light and all I had today were 32 Tree Sparrows, seven Chaffinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Yellowhammers and five Fieldfares.
The weather looks fit for some ringing tomorrow and fingers crossed I'll be out at the water treatment works.
With reports to write and a farmland bird presentation to prepare I was forced to remain indoors today other than to call at my feeding station to feed. On my way to the feeding station I had two Ravens go over as I was down by the river. Funnily enough Ian and I were commenting yesterday that in Feb you do seem to get a few birds moving about.
It was quieter than I expected at the feeding station with just 48 Tree Sparrows, a Song Thrush, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Yellowhammer. Raptors were represented by a single Buzzard and Kestrel, and a flock of 50 Golden Plovers went over.
It's still looking calm towards weekend so I am keeping my fingers crossed, but if I don't get out ringing I've got two afternoons at a beer festival to look forward to!
..........(And Other Stories) is a cracking Prog album by Steven Wilson and if you're a bit of an old, or even new, Prog Rocker like me you'll love it! The Raven that flew over the Water Treatment Works this morning as Ian and I were topping up the feeders, also refused to sing, but it looked fantastic against the crisp blue sky.
A late night courtesy of some folk rock in the form of Fairport Convention and a still biting north-northwesterly wind, caused me to switch my alarm off before it rang out at 6:30 this morning. Instead I met Ian at the Water Treatment Works and as I have already said we topped the feeders up. It wasn't exactly jumping and in addition to the Raven we had a couple of Song Thrushes, ten Goldfinches and a Buzzard.
It's remaining northerly, more or less, next week, but there is a chance that some high pressure might build towards the end of the week and hopefully this my lead to some ringing opportunities. Fingers crossed!