Monday 29 June 2015

Nearly There

Just a quick post to remind you all that I am still 'out here'! I am just over half way through my enforced two weeks of no 'pure' birding. Of course whilst I was away in western Scotland last week I was birding every day when we were out and about, and I think as birders we are birding all the time that we are awake! I have another weeks holiday this week with 'her indoors', but this time we are basing ourselves at home and just going out for day trips, so this coming weekend I will be back fully in the 'birding saddle'!

I shouldn't complain too much as I have been indulging in my other passion outside birding & wildlife and that is archaeology and history, and we have visited some cracking historical sites this past week.

Whilst we were away in western Scotland we did see plenty of birds and these included in no particular order Red-throated Diver (2 - 3 outside our cottage everyday), Common Sandpiper (regular on the beach outside the cottage), Hooded Crow (everywhere), Red-breasted Merganser, Twite (it's like winter birding on the patch), Siskin (large numbers coming to the garden feeders), Buzzard, Gannet, Rock Pipit, Fulmar, Rock Dove, Shag, Whinchat, Raven, Lesser Redpoll and Black Guillemot.

Below are a few holiday snaps!

 (Blurry) Hooded Crow

 One of the regular 'Red-throats'

 The hamlet where our holiday cottage was

Harbour Seal

 Arran (above & below)

See you at the weekend!

Friday 19 June 2015

May's Ringing Totals

Blimey, I can't believe it has been five days since I last posted! This past week has seen me locked indoors report writing - again! In the week Kim and I checked a Barn Owl site and there were two small young in the nest site, so that's one to re-visit in a few weeks. There will be few postings for the next couple of weeks as I am away on holiday, but normal service will be resumed when I get back and it will also be autumn!

Over on the right you might have noticed that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of May. I've struggled to compile a top five ringed for the month, so it's a top three! And as usual I have included the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year.

Six new species were added to the ringing list for the year and these were Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Woodpigeon, Wheatear, House Sparrow and Tree Sparrow.

Top Three Ringed in May

1. Great Tit = 31
2. Pied Flycatcher = 21
3. Blue Tit = 10
    Starling = 10

Top Ten Movers and Shakers for the Year

1. Blue Tit = 141 (same position)
2. Great Tit = 94 (up from 3rd)
3. Willow Warbler = 81 (down from 2nd)
4. Goldfinch = 57 (same position)
5. Chaffinch = 55 (down from 4th)
6. Lesser Redpoll = 49 (same position)
7. Long-tailed Tit = 41 (down from 6th)
8. Goldcrest = 36 (same position)
9. Meadow Pipit = 26 (same position)
10. Blackbird = 25 (same position)

See you in a couple of weeks!

Sunday 14 June 2015


This morning Kim and I headed to the Hodder Valley to ring the remaining brood of Pied Flycatcher chicks. After all the carnage last weekend we kept our fingers crossed that they would have survived and they had as we were greeted with a box of seven large, healthy chicks that were duly ringed!

We then headed down the hill to the Fylde to meet Huw at some good friend's of ours farm, Robert and Diana, to check some more boxes and do a bit of birding. Both Robert and Diana do some fantastic work for conservation on their farm and they are very supportive of our ringing activities there, and we are most grateful for this. First up were two big boxes; one in the orchard and the other near the pond, and both had incubating Stock Doves in. The box in the barn contained two adult Barn Owls, but no sign of any chicks. It is likely that the adults were roosting in the box whilst some large young were in another location on the farm.

The Kestrel box had a female Kestrel in residence either incubating eggs or brooding small young. The beauty of this box is that you can see in it from a distance and therefore don't have to disturb the adults to check the activity.

Tree Sparrows were active in all of the hedgerows and in the woodland were singing Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler. The scrape held a single Little Ringed Plover and House Martins, Sand Martins and Swifts all hawked for insects above the pool. I look forward to returning to hopefully ring the Kestrel chicks and do some regular birding throughout the rest of the year.

Friday 12 June 2015


Yesterday teatime Ian, Kim and Me checked one of our Kestrel boxes. We knew that there were five young in the box as there is a camera in the box linked to the science department of the school where the box is located. And sure enough when Ian went up the ladder and peered in to the box there were five healthy Kestrel chicks. All five were ringed and replaced in the box and it was nice to have a successful outcome for a change based on recent losses in some of our boxes.

 Kim ringing one of the Kestrel chicks

What a cutey!

Stay tuned for hopefully more Kestrels and one or two other birds from boxes soon!

Saturday 6 June 2015


Gail and I made what was probably the last check for the season of our Pied Flycatcher boxes and only one word sums it up and that is 'disaster'! Last night when I was calculating what we might ring based on last week's visit I came up with a conservative estimate of perhaps 80 pulli, and we actually ringed just 24!

Out of 21 boxes that we checked this morning eight contained dead young. Five of these were full broods that had died and the other three contained some dead birds amongst remaining chicks. As last week brood sizes were small with Blue Tit broods of 6, 3 & 4, and Pied Flycatcher broods of 6 and 5. It was pretty disheartening to find three broods of dead Pied Flycatchers including a brood that we ringed last week. I know that this is the worst year for me at this site in terms of losses over the 14 years that I have had boxes at this site!

 Pied Flycatchers (older birds above & younger birds below).

On the positive side the young that were in the boxes that we ringed this morning and those that had survived from last week looked fairly healthy and I think they will probably fledge okay. I imagine that this is a picture that is emerging up and down the country. Fingers crossed for good over winter survival and a good breeding season next year!

 Nuthatches about to fledge.

It's Open Farm Sunday tomorrow and I'm leading a walk on a local farm, so I'm looking forward to that, but it's yet another day not birding on the patch!

Friday 5 June 2015

North Of The Border

Over the past few days I have clocked up over 700 miles doing breeding bird and breeding wader surveys north of the border, in north Cumbria, the North Pennines, the West Pinnines and even the South Pennines! So it will be nice tomorrow to stay relatively local and check my Pied Flycatcher boxes! Hopefully there should be a few broods ready to ring. I'll let you know how I get on.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

All Murk And No Birds

Conditions were very tricky this morning and the bay was completely 'locked down' with murk, resulting in very poor visibility. I persevered for an hour but gave up after that as it was virtually impossible to see anything at all. All I had in that time were four Gannets and three Auk sp. flying out of the bay.

The weather is picking up from tomorrow onwards which means I can get some of my surveys out of the way, so my next post is not likely to be until weekend when hopefully I should be ringing Pied Flycatcher chicks!

 A couple of Sanderlings from yesterday

Monday 1 June 2015

Is It Really June?

Seawatching at the Obs this morning I was nearly in full winter plumage with thermal vest, quilted shirt, woolly hat, thermal snood and gloves all adding to the layers to keep the cold 20 mph southwesterly wind out! Is it really June?

The sea wasn't too bad this morning and I had a few bits and pieces to look at including 200 Knot, six Cormorants, 32 Auk sp., 1 Pomarine Skua, 35 Gannets, 8 Razorbills, a Great Crested Grebe and 108 Canada Geese. The only vis this morning were five Swallows west.

 Canada Geese


I decided to count the waders and started walking along and scanning the shingle beach. It didn't help when the guy in the picture below came walking right along the beach with his mutt and straight into all the roosting waders; what a tool! In fact he did the same thing yesterday! And the worst of it is, is that he walks one way and flushes everything and then comes back the other way and does it again!

 Wader Flusher!

Anyway I managed to count them and there were 139 Sanderlings, 81 Dunlins, 82 Ringed Plovers and four Turnstones.


 Dunlin and Sanderlings

Ringed Plover

The forecast is for some more untypically June weather with rain and strong winds overnight and into tomorrow. So it will be another day of not being able to work, so I'll have to go seawatching again instead!