Saturday 31 December 2016


I didn't have any time for birding today other than to have a quick look on the Quay when Gail and I were collecting some logs. The tide was running in and most of the mudflats were covered, but on the remaining patches of mud were 61 Redshanks, five Oystercatchers, seven Black-tailed Godwits, two Curlews, 21 Mallards, 100 Lapwings, 12 Wigeons and a Dunlin.

New Years Eve isn't something that I really celebrate, being a Pagan at heart, as the winter Solstice is a more appropriate celebration, but nevertheless I would like to wish you all haud Hogmanay and a guid New Year for tomorrow!

Or alternatively as my Tolkein friend (Mark) posted earlier, "Happy New Imagined Time Phase for the Rotation of your Planet around it's Star"! It doesn't trip off the tongue the same though Mark!

Friday 30 December 2016

In The Shadow Of The Tower

It was cold yesterday morning, and I thought it was a good idea to spend an hour and a half or so under freezing conditions in front of one of the towers at the Point completely in it's shadow! The wind was a brisk east-southeasterly with clear skies, and standing in front of the tower was the only option to escape the 'lazy wind' (cuts right through you) as my Norfolk friends from Lynn would say!

Ian joined me after a short while and we spent a bit of time seeing not an awful lot. Our total of not an awful lot included 18 Cormorants, four Eiders, a Whooper Swan, 102 Oystercatchers, three Red-throated Divers, a Red-breasted Merganser, eight Shelducks, 20 Common Scoters, four Auk sp. and a Great Crested Grebe.

I'm out again in the morning and hope that I don't have another morning of seeing 'not an awful lot'!

Bargain Seasonal Cards

Earlier in the week Gail and I headed to our local RSPB visitor centre to buy some seasonal cards in preparation for next year. That's organised I hear you say, but its more the bargain hunter in me, or should I say Gail!

Outside the visitor centre is a largish man-made lake on the edge of the Ribble estuary and it tends to hold a few diving ducks in winter. In fact many moons camel ride ago (1980s) it used to be one of our regular ringing sites. It has some good coastal cover and in the past we have ringed a fair few migrants there and also a number of Swifts during inclement weather when they were feeding low on the aerial insects forced down by the rain. Off the top of my head I have a seen a few good birds there over the years including Grey and Red-necked Phalaropes, Ivory Gull and Woodchat Shrike to name but a few!

No such goodies during this visit! Gail and I did a full circuit of the lake and as expected there were a few diving ducks in the form of 48 Tufted Ducks and ten Pochards. Nothing spectacular, but pleasant to be out!

Tufted Duck

Wednesday 21 December 2016

December - Round Two

Yesterday afternoon I completed the second half of my December visit for my wintering bird survey. It started off with clear skies, with quite a biting southwesterly wind, and ended up at dusk with virtually full cloud cover.

The area of farmland with associated woodland, ditches, hedgerows etc has become progressively quieter, other than for Geese, as the winter has progressed, which isn't really a surprise. Some of the highlights included 480 Pink-footed Geese, two Buzzards, 53 Goldfinches, three Stock Doves, 17 Skylarks, a Jay, a Goldcrest and a Grey Wagtail.

 Pink-footed Goose

At one of my vantage points there is a small patch of scrub to the right and a Coal Tit popped up on top of some Willow with a peanut in its bill. It then flew to the area of woodland behind me, and I don't doubt it was going to cache it!

I've got various things to do over the next couple of days, so it might well be Friday before I'm out again.

Happy Solstice

I would just like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Solstice!

"May this Solstice and turning of the wheel bring you love, peace and good fortune in the coming year. Let us welcome the returning sun with Hope and Joy"!

Monday 19 December 2016

Working the Water Treatment Works

On Friday morning I nipped to the water treatment works to check on my feeders. They had been up a week and I was interested to see if any birds had found them, and they had, and in fact they were all virtually empty! In addition to the feeders I put some seed on the ground and some apples. I didn't record much other than three Long-tailed Tits and five Goldfinches.

 The area of the feeding stattion

Saturday morning under 7 oktas cloud cover with a light southeasterly wind I was again at the water treatment works, this time to do some ringing at the feeding station. I never go at first light so it gives the birds time to feed first, and my ringing sessions are never longer than a couple of hours, so there is plenty of time for the birds to use the feeding station for the remainder of the day.

A few Pink-footed Geese went over during the morning, c.500, and I found out later that there were two Barnacle Geese amongst them, but when I had a look on some of their favoured fields on my way home they weren't there.

A flock of sixty Linnets were feeding on some grassland adjacent to the treatment works and when disturbed were flying in to the tops of the trees close to where I was ringing.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Song Thrush and two Goldcrests are just about worth mentioning.

I ringed nine birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Great Tit - 2 (1)
Blue Tit - 4 (3)
Robin - 1
Goldfinch - 1 (1 - ringed at another local site on 25.11.13, but not recaptured until today)
Chaffinch - 1


There's been a lot of discussion of late on various blogs, forums etc on the ringing of a rare bird in Devon. I don't intend to go in to details on the 'wheres and why fors' as lots of self-proclaimed experts have commented enough, largely based on third hand information! However, what has been annoying is that several of these self-proclaimed experts have commented on the condition of the bird based on its fat score, and have declared the bird was in poor condition because it had a fat score of 1! What the f***! I have tried to educate some of the main protagonists that fat score isn't indicative of a bird's health, but if fell on deaf ears because it didn't fit their agenda.

Of the fourteen birds I trapped this morning ten had a fat score of 0, two of 05 and one each of 1 and 2. None of these birds were in poor condition, in fact they were just the opposite, fit and healthy with good muscle scores and normal healthy weights. To put it very basically fat is an indicator as to whether the bird is fuelled to migrate, or is storing fat as a survival strategy for sever weather. You would expect a bird that isn't moving to have a zero fat score or one at the most! Then again what do I know compared to these self-proclaimed experts!

Friday 16 December 2016

Wednesday Morning in Merseyside

On Wednesday morning I completed one of my wintering bird surveys in Merseyside. I had virtual clear skies with a 10 - 15 mph south-southwesterly wind.

For the second survey running I bumped in to one of the local birders and it's amazing what a small world it is! We got talking about what we had seen etc, etc and I was asking him about Barn Owls in the area and this lead on to the subject of Southwest Lancs Ringing Group and their work on Barn Owls, and I know many of this group quite well so was able to pass my regards on to some of them via him! He told me about a good friend of his who was coming over to see him this weekend who has just published a book about Spurn, and of course this book is on my Christmas list; what a small world it is!

I had nothing out of the ordinary this morning but did produce a reasonable list of sightings that included two Song Thrushes, three Reed Buntings, six Long-tailed Tits, 21 Redwings, 796 Pink-footed Geese, 18 Linnets, three Goldcrests, 90 Jackdaws, three Coal Tits, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 12 Skylarks, two Mistle Thrushes, a pair of Kestrels, a Grey Wagtail and two Buzzards.

 Pink-footed Geese

When I first arrived before sunrise as I approached a wooded area a number of Magpies were exiting a roost and I counted 56. I think there were far more than this as when I arrived I got the impression that the 'exit' was underway!

High tide was at 1100 and leading up to 1100 way over to the west I could see large swirls of 'smoke like' concentrations of waders, which were obviously Knots, and I estimated that there were at least 10,000, although in all honesty this was more of a guesstimate!

We've got high pressure slipping in over weekend so I am hoping to get out birding somewhere and also to do some ringing at my feeding station. There's a Facebook page that I follow called 'Highland & Islands Weather' and yesterday they posted to say that "an intense jet stream looks likely to develop later next week in the North Atlantic, deep areas of low pressure will also develop, although the exact path of these is still uncertain just now but some computer models bring a storm very close to Scotland on Christmas Eve". Looking at the weather charts that they have produced it looks like we could get some strong southwesterly winds here in northwest England, and with morning tides on Christmas Day it could easily mean some seawatching for me Christmas morning!

Thursday 15 December 2016

Tuesday's Gone

Tuesday morning saw me at the Point for first light, not early at all at this time of year, and I had 6 oktas cloud cover with a 10 - 15 mph southeasterly wind. Later some rain came in from the west and I had to seek shelter under the other tower.

Walking up to the coastal path I put up a Song Thrush and two Redwings from the hedge and these would be the only noteworthy passerines I would record. As the tide ran in and dawn moved in between the mud flats and sky, 102 Cormorants left their shingle island roost and headed off towards their feeding areas.

The only movement overhead was 90 Pink-footed Geese heading north over the Bay, but there was some movement at sea including 14 Red-breasted Mergansers, two Auk sp., 18 Common Scoters, eight Red-throated Divers, a Great Crested Grebe and seven Eiders.

A few waders were around being constantly flushed by dog walkers and included 248 Oystercatchers, 85 Sanderlings and six Turnstones.

Not the best of mornings, but at least there was something to look at!

Sunday 11 December 2016

November's Ringing Totals

Over on the right I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Griup up until the end of November. No new species were added in November and in fact there is very little change in terms of the top ten 'movers and shakers'. It was nice to see Pied Wagtail as the most ringed bird during the month and Linnet coming straight in to eighth position! 

Below you will find the top four ringed for the month and the aforementioned 'top 10 movers and shakers'.

Top Four Species Ringed During November

1. Pied Wagtails - 48
2. Linnet - 39
3. Greenfinch - 21
4. Reed Bunting - 15

Top Ten Movers and Shakers for the Year

1. Swallow - 826 (same position)
2. Goldfinch - 284 (same position)
3. Meadow Pipit - 209 (same position)
4. Blue Tit - 207 (same position)
5. Lesser Redpoll - 193 (same position)
6. Goldcrest - 154 (same position)
7. Great Tit - 153 (same position)
8. Linnet - 134 (straight in)
9. Chaffinch - 131 (down from 8th)
10. Reed Bunting - 113 (same position)

December Gannets

Another murky morning! I needed to collect my ropes from my net rides on the farm fields by the coast, so I decided to do the circuit that I do during the spring and autumn, more just because I was there rather than anything else. I had three oktas cloud cover with a 15 mph southwesterly wind.

The only interest during my hour and a half walk was at sea. No large numbers of auks, divers or wintering wildfowl, but a couple of adult Gannets which are always noteworthy in December. Usually it's after a prolonged period of wind, but it's been breezy of late, not windy. I picked up one adult Gannet fairly close in slowly heading south and it was loosely associating with a feeding flock of Gulls. I watched this bird until it was out of sight and then about ten minutes later I had another adult Gannet do the same thing.

The only other bits and pieces I had on the sea were three Red-throated Divers, two Shelducks and 40 Cormorants.

I then set my feeding station up, better late than never, at the water treatment works. My plan was to set it up and then have a look round. However, I picked up the puncture of all punctures (see below), so the priority was to then change my wheel. I needed a new tyre, so it was an expensive trip to the water treatment works!


Saturday 10 December 2016

Dispersing Cormorants

Friday morning saw me at the Point just after the tide was falling, with full cloud cover and a 15 mph southwesterly wind. It was murky in the bay and there was some light rain about.

Visibility was poor this morning and consequently I didn't record very much and only gave it an hour. In fact it was such a miserable morning I thought it was never going to get light! All the sea produced was six Eiders and a Red-throated Diver.

The only point of interest was the Cormorants. I had 82 fly west out of the bay. I assumed that they were dispersing birds from their night time roost on the shingle island and heading out to feeding areas west and south.

I then went to the Marine Lakes to see if I could read some leg flags on the Turnstones. I found a flock of 30 birds but they were very flighty being flushed constantly by dog walkers. I'm not going to start on about dog walkers, don't worry!

Saturday 3 December 2016

Wot No Wagtails

Ian and I headed to the reedbed this afternoon in an attempt to ring some more Pied Wagtails, but they weren't playing ball! The two nets were duly erected in perfect mist netting conditions of full cloud cover with a light easterly breeze.

We waited, and waited and waited until it got dark and only five Pied Wagtails flew over! There is a second roost site in the opposite direction that they use, so it is likely that for whatever reason they decided to roost there this evening. We just ringed four birds as follows:

Blackbird - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Pied Wagtail - 1

Camped out deep in the reeds and willow scrub it is difficult to bird as any views are highly restricted and all we had was four Long-tailed Tits, a Song Thrush and five Greenfinches!

Waders And Wildfowl - Two Different Sites

Earlier in the week Andy, Graham, Kim and I met at Rob and Diana's farm to attempt to catch and ring some waders and wildfowl on their farm wetland. We met an hour before dusk to get the three wader nets up in preparation for when, hopefully, some wildfowl (Teal) and waders (Jack Snipe and Snipe) would fly in after dark.

It was forecast to be calm with cloud cover rolling in to keep the temperature above freezing. However, the cloud cover didn't materialise and consequently the wetland started to freeze. As you can imagine this is not conducive to feeding Snipe in particular and we didn't end up ringing anything! We weren't disheartened as the site has huge potential and at least we know where to put the nets up, and everything is in place ready for our next visit.

 Mist nets over the marsh

We did record a few bits and pieces when we were at the site including 400 Teal (in the longer vegetation), two Grey Wagtails, a Kingfisher, a Peregrine and 20 Redwings.

This morning I decided to watch the tide run in at the Point and it was a glorious morning with full cloud cover, and it was calm, resulting in the sea being as flat as a mill pond! On the sea I had 25 Cormorants, 47 Eiders, nine Red-breasted Mergansers, two Great Crested Grebes, a Wigeon, 16 Common Scoters and two Red-throated Divers.

 Looking across the Bay to the Lakes

The only waders I had were 46 Oystercatchers, seven Redshanks, a Curlew and four Ringed Plovers. Walking back to my car I had a female Stonechat in the Gorse.


Sunday 27 November 2016

Saturday Afternoon With The Wagtails

It would actually have been more appropriate if my blog title had been 'Saturday Afternoon With The Greenfinches' as we actually ringed more Greenfinches heading to roost than Pied Wagtails, but Pied Wagtails were the target!

It was clear and frosty when Ian and I set up our nets in the reedbed yesterday afternoon with the aim of ringing some Pied Wagtails as they headed to the roost. We ringed 22 birds as follows:

Greenfinch - 10
Robin - 1
Pied Wagtail - 8
Blackbird - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 2


There was probably only 30-40 Greenfinches and 15-20 Pied Wagtails heading over to roost, so the percentage catch was more than acceptable. It was difficult to see anything deep in the reedbed but seven Long-tailed Tits, two Snipes and two Song Thrushes were all that we could add.

We'll be back later in the week for another attempt!  

Thursday 24 November 2016

Ts and VPs

For the past two days I have been down in Merseyside carrying out a wintering bird survey on some farmland habitat in the main, and it's been a mix of transects and vantage points.

Pink-footed Geese have been the main feature and it was interesting watching the behaviour of some yesterday. A group of 1450 dropped in to some stubbles at 0730 and at 0815 a thousand of them left. Doing the maths this left 450, and at 0820 a further 400 left, leaving fifty. Then at 0825 50ish left, leaving a single bird on its own. This bird stood in the stubble, neck outstretched for some time. Why it decided to remain I don't know. After a while I got distracted by a Buzzard, and after the Buzzard had flown by I noticed that the lone Pinkie had gone! Very odd!

 Pink-footed Geese

Buzzard (honest!)

The weather both days was good, although it was a bit cloudy at first yesterday morning, but by the afternoon and for all of today it was glorious, with crisp sunshine and blue skies.

I recorded a reasonable number of species and some of the interesting totals (both days combined) included 2238 Pink-footed Geese, seven Reed Buntings, three Bramblings, 14 Goldcrests, seven Jays, five Buzzards, 47 Goldfinches, 19 Chaffinches, 28 Linnets, 24 Long-tailed Tits, two Song Thrushes, 19 Curlews, 160 Lapwings, 102 Skylarks, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, two Grey Wagtails, a Raven, a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk.

The plan is to set up my feeding station in the water treatment works tomorrow and then on Saturday afternoon some ringing at the Pied Wagtail roost weather permitting!

Sunday 20 November 2016

Another Week Gone

I haven't posted for ages because, well I haven't had a great deal to post about! The weather has been awful, cold wet and windy, and I have been mainly on the feeding station treadmill and carrying out site visits to keep the wolf from the door!

On a cold wet, windy day about a week ago I was working on a farm out on the Fylde photographing grassland, watercourses and hedgerows and struggled to see much because of the frequent heavy down pours and 25 mph northwesterly wind. However I did have a couple of Buzzards struggling against the wind and a flock of fifteen Fieldfares using the cover of a hedge to move along out of the wind. On the same farm on some wet grassland was a flock of 86 Lapwings and 21 Curlews.

A ringing session last week at the reedbeds added another 16 Pied Wagtails to the ringing total, bringing it to somewhere near sixty now for this pre-roost site. As usual we were serenaded by Cetti's Warbler, but there was no sign of the Bearded Tits.

As stated previously my farmland bird feeding station has been keeping me busy, but every time I have gone of late it has been appalling weather and I haven't been able to have a proper look to see what has been there. There has been up to 36 Tree Sparrows, three Yellowhammers, ten Long-tailed Tits, half a dozen Blackbirds, four Song Thrushes and a few Reed Buntings.

However, there won't be many Thrushes now because all of the hedges have been cut and of course this has removed all the berries! Sadly I have had to call 'time' on this particular feeding station because of a  combination of factors such as greater use of the area where I feed for farming activities (it is a farm of course!) and this past week flooding and nowhere to put the seed down.

So I have started going through all my client files and looking over maps to find a suitable alternative location, where hopefully I can continue to support and ring farmland birds such as Tree Sparrows and Yellowhammers. I am hopeful that within a couple of weeks I will be up and running at a new site!

Tuesday 8 November 2016

October's Ringing Totals

October was a good month for Fylde Ringing Group and we ringed 662 birds of 30 species. As per usual I have updated the totals over on the right. Four new species were ringed for the year and these were Fieldfare, Redwing, Yellow-browed Warbler and Bearded Tit. Yellow-browed Warbler was only the second to be ringed by the group and the three Bearded Tits were the first!

Below you will find the top five ringed for the month and the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year.

Top 5 Ringed in October

1. Goldcrest - 130
2. Linnet - 84
3. Meadow Pipit - 78
4. Reed Bunting - 71
5. Greenfinch - 37

Top 10 Movers and Shakers for the Year

1. Swallow - 826 (same position)
2. Goldfinch - 277 (same position)
3. Meadow Pipit - 209 (up from 6th)
4. Blue Tit - 200 (down from 3rd)
5. Lesser Redpoll - 193 (down from 4th)
6. Goldcrest - 151 (straight in)
7. Great Tit - 147 (down from 5th)
8. Chaffinch - 130 (down from 7th)
9. Reed Warbler - 104 (down from 8th)
10. Reed Bunting - 98 (straight in)

We are 420 down from this time last year, so we have our work cut out if we want to catch up!

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Roosting Wagtails

Yesterday afternoon Ian, Tony and Me set a few nets up in the reedbed with the aim of intercepting some Pied Wagtails as they flew to roost. The weather was perfect for the job with 4 oktas hazy cloud and a light northerly breeze. MP3 players were switched on and we sat back and waited.

A male Stonechat made an appearance and as the afternoon headed towards dusk we were serenaded by Cetti's Warblers. As the Starlings gathered for their roost a male and female Sparrowhawk appeared intent on some supper, but I didn't see any successful sorties from the pair.

The Pied Wagtails started to arrive, perhaps about eighty, and they started dropping down to the nets. We managed to ring 17 plus a Great Tit, two Greenfinches and four Long-tailed Tits.

 Pied Wagtail

This morning I called at my feeding station on the Moss and carried out another feeding visit. Tree Sparrows are still slowly increasing in numbers and I had thirty. Other bits and pieces included four Goldcrests, a Reed Bunting, five Song Thrushes and nine Teal.

Sunday 30 October 2016

Beardies and Buntings

This morning Ian and I had a ringing session in one the reedbeds at the Obs. Our aim was to target some of the Reed Buntings that move through in late autumn. It is quite interesting to watch them drop in, feed up for a while, and then climb high out of the reeds and head south. I was also hoping to see the two Bearded Tits (male and female) that Ian had ringed here yesterday.

 Reed Bunting

With the clocks going back an hour last night we decided to meet at 6:00 a.m. and get some nets up quickly in the dark and see if we could catch a few Thrushes as well. As I unlocked the gate just before six we had full cloud cover with a very light southwesterly wind.

We accomplished our target and ringed both Reed Buntings and Thrushes. We ringed 29 birds as follows:

Blackbird - 1
Fieldfare  - 2
Reed Bunting - 9
Robin - 3
Redwing - 6
Wren - 2
Goldcrest - 2
Song Thrush - 2
Greenfinch - 1
Bearded Tit - 1


There was actually five Bearded Tits on site (1 male and 4 females), and as we only caught and ringed one female, we don't know whether these were an additional five to the two from yesterday. We have some more ringing sessions planned this week targeting roosting Alba Wagtails, so it will be interesting to see if the 'Beardies' stay around.

 Bearded Tit

The Starling roost on the other side of the hill seemed to have a good few birds in it and at least 20,000 birds exited the roost! There was some vis, difficult to observe here, in the form of seven Fieldfares, 30 Redwings, a Brambling, two Siskins, eight Chaffinches, four Redpoll sp., eight Meadow Pipits and 42 Skylarks. Other 'odds and sods' included a Cetti's Warbler, at least 60 - 70 Alba Wagtails exiting the roost, a female Sparrowhawk, two Buzzards, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and 35 Wigeon over.


It would seem that autumn's not over just yet!

Saturday 29 October 2016

Goosey, Goosey, Goosander

I survived yesterday's beer festival in a sober enough state to enable me to get out birding this morning. The original plan was to go ringing at the farm fields at the Obs, but a forecast suggesting some drizzle early morning made me change my mind to just go birding instead. At first light I was greeted with full cloud cover with a force 1 - 2 southwesterly wind.

I hadn't long set off when Pink-footed Geese started to arrive and land in the farm fields and 510 dropped-in, in a relatively short time. There seemed to be a few Robins grounded this morning and on my walk round I had at least twenty. Talking of grounded migrants there was a few wintering Thrushes lurking about in the form of three Fieldfares, eleven Blackbirds and five Song Thrushes. It was difficult to say whether the two Stonechats that I encountered this morning were grounded migrants or not, as they do winter here and there has been a few about.

It was pretty murky this morning and therefore the vis was light to non-existent and scraping the barrel all I had was three Alba Wags, five Reed Buntings, 16 Meadow Pipits, three Greenfinches and a Grey Wagtail.

The most interesting bird, or birds, were on the sea when I had two Goosanders fly south close inshore. Not rare of course, but I record them scarcely annually on the patch so they were good to see. I only had a quick look on the sea so all I could add in addition to the Goosanders were two Common Scoters.

It's going to be calm in the morning, so hopefully I'll be able to get some nets up!

Friday 28 October 2016

On The Up

Beer Festivals have got in the way of me updating my blog this week. I was at Lytham Beer Festival yesterday evening and I'm going for round two this afternoon. Consequently this is the first opportunity I've had to give a brief update of my trip to the Moss on Wednesday morning!

Overnight it had rained and by the look of things it had only just stopped by the time I was getting out of my car at the feeding station. As I walked along the track and hedge I was pushing out large numbers of Song Thrushes that were moving rapidly on. In fact I had a total of 28, which is as good a total of Songies that I have ever had. The Songies were accompanied by 16 Blackbirds and 102 Redwings. Interestingly I only had three Fieldfares!

Pink-footed Geese were constantly arriving to feed on the Moss and I had 1022 in total. The numbers of birds at the feeding station had increased and I had 21 Tree Sparrows, five Yellowhammers, ten Chaffinches, three Reed Buntings and a Brambling; so things are on the up!

I flushed three Snipe from the big field and eight Skylarks were there too. A Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest and two Long-tailed Tits later I was back at the car and heading home.

As long as I take it easy at the beer festival this afternoon I should be out birding/ringing both Saturday and Sunday!

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Back To Back

Over the past two days I have been carrying out a bird survey in deepest, darkest Merseyside. Yesterday's survey was afternoon to post-dusk and today it was pre-dawn to noon.

The weather conditions yesterday afternoon and evening were 6 oktas cloud cover with a 5 - 10 mph southeasterly wind. The area has coniferous woodland, mixed woodland, broadleaved woodland and arable land in the form of over winter stubbles (spring cropping). The woodland areas held a mix of species including eight Goldcrests, two Buzzards, five Jays, a Siskin, three Redwings and 21 Long-tailed Tits.

In the more open farmland areas, of interest I recorded two Linnets, 30 Goldfinches and five Grey Partridges. The main feature of the survey was the Pink-footed Geese and I had 5817. Five thousand of these were birds flying over low at dusk heading to a coastal roost. Also at dusk I had a Great White Egret fly over with a Little Egret.

 Pink-footed Geese

Fast forward to this morning and it was quieter than I expected. I did expect a bit of vis, and there was some, but only a handful of Redwings, 54 Fieldfares and 47 Skylarks. In the woodland areas were nine each of Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit, plus seven Jays. Pink-footed Geese were a feature again with 1564 recorded.

 Red Squirrel. This little chap crossed the path ion front of me, but sadly
too far away for a decent shot!

I've got to feed on the Moss tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see if the Tree Sparrow numbers have built up or not.

September's Ringing Totals

Over on the right I have updated the ringing totals up until the end of September for Fylde Ringing Group. The only new species ringed for the year during the month was three Treecreepers. As usual you will find below the top 5 ringed during the month and the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year.

Top 5 Ringed in September

1. Goldfinch - 92
2. Meadow Pipit - 78
3. Blue Tit - 32
4. Blackcap - 30
5. Great Tit - 28

Top Ten 'Movers and Shakers' for the Year

1. Swallow - 826 (same position)
2. Goldfinch - 241 (up from 3rd)
3. Blue Tit - 178 (up from 4th)
4. Lesser Redpoll - 161 (down from 2nd)
5. Great Tit - 135 (same position)
6. Meadow Pipit - 131 (up from 9th)
7. Chaffinch - 110 (same position)
8. Reed Warbler - 104 (down from 6th)
9. Siskin - 59 (down from 8th)
10. Blackcap - 50 (straight in)

Sunday 23 October 2016

North and South

I was back at the farm fields at the Obs yesterday morning and conditions were pretty good for ringing with 7 oktas cloud cover and a light northeasterly wind. However, as I was unloading my car in the darkness it was quiet, no calling Thrushes and my immediate thought was "Hello"!

Nets were put up and MP3 players switched on and over a couple of hours all I ringed were one each of Wren, Greenfinch and Reed Bunting! It was time to pack up and go home.

There were a few grounded migrants around in the form of five Robins, two Song Thrushes, four Long-tailed Tits and a Reed Bunting.


There was some vis, although it was light, and I had birds going both north and south. I had Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Bramblings going both north and south, but the majority of the other stuff went south. My totals in the short time I was observing were a Redwing, 104 Jackdaws, ten Goldfinches, 29 Chaffinches, four Greenfinches, eleven Bramblings, eight Carrion Crows, 100 Pink-footed Geese, 14 Skylarks and two Mistle Thrushes. The only raptor I had this morning was a single Kestrel.

I've got bird surveys to complete in Merseyside early in the week, then a couple of days at a local beer festival later in the week, so it might be towards the end of the week before I get back out on the patch!

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Back On The Moss

I had to abandon my farmland bird feeding station on the Moss last year due to flooding, and also the track where I feed became heavily poached by farm machinery. As it has been drier so far this autumn I'm having another go at feeding and last week I made my first seed drop.

Yesterday I did the second feed visit and was pleased to note that four Tree Sparrows and a couple of Chaffinches had found the feed. Small beer at the moment, but fingers crossed the numbers will soon build up.

The best of the rest were a thousand Pink-footed Geese coming in to feed, plus a Siskin, a male Sparrowhawk, four Skylarks south and a Grey Wagtail.

This morning I gave myself an hour off to look for migrants at the Obs and just concentrated on the cemetery. It was obvious that there was a few birds around and I had eight Robins, nine Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, a Song Thrush and a female Blackcap.

A flock of 210 Pink-footed Geese headed south and I also had an adult male Sparrowhawk and an obliging Grey Wagtail running along a wall.

I was looking forward to a bird survey in Merseyside tomorrow, but not the early start!, when I realised that I had some office type work that needed completing this week. So it's going to be a nice morning tomorrow and I will be stuck indoors chained to my desk. Roll on weekend!

Saturday 15 October 2016

A Little Better

It felt a little better this morning as I headed down the track at the Obs. I had full cloud cover, it was a tad murky and the wind was ESE 5 mph. It was obvious that there had been an arrival of Thrushes as I pushed three Song Thrushes, ten Redwings and four Blackbirds from the hedge alongside the track.

There was also some other grounded migrants around too in the form of eleven Robins, seven Wrens, five Dunnocks, three Stonechats, three Reed Buntings and three Goldcrests. No Siberian Accentors though!

Vis was virtually non-existent with the murky conditions with just two Skylarks, two Chaffinches, six Alba Wags, a Meadow Pipit and a Rock Pipit.

I was birding behind the dunes when a Short-eared Owl came 'in-off' high and proceeded to lose altitude and drop down. It was then chased by Gulls and it disappeared over the reedy bank. What threat a Shortie is to the Gulls, I don't know!

It wasn't a wonderful morning, but it was slightly better than yesterday. It's so depressing seeing what's about on the east coast, but you have to keep plugging away!

Friday 14 October 2016

You Have To Try

With these easterly winds coming from along way east, even here on the west coast you have to try! I headed out this morning with full cloud cover and a 10 mph easterly wind. There had been bits of rain overnight and I was hopeful for a few grounded migrants. I only had a short amount of time so I headed to the cemetery first.

Sometimes you get a feeling straight away that it was quiet and that's the feeling I got this morning. Sometimes you are proved wrong, but not this morning! From a grounded perspective all I had at first were seven Robins and a Goldcrest. Further round on my walk I came across some Rowans heavily laden with berries and here were seven Blackbirds (some continental), two Redwings and a Song Thrush; so a few more grounded migrants, but only a few.

On the Thrush front I also had two Mistle Thrushes which was nice as they have become scarce here over the years from when they were once fairly common. It used to be a common site in the cemetery to see a family party of Mistle Thrushes, but not anymore.

Mistle Thrush

As I was driving past the marine lakes on my way to the coastal park I noticed some Turnstones feeding in the area that we catch them, so I decided to pull in and see if I could see any of our leg flagged birds. There were seven or eight leg-flagged birds, but every time I would get focused on one to read the leg-flag they would get flushed by a dog walker. In the end I just read two; AH and AY. AH was ringed on 23rd January 2012 and was last observed on 29th January 2014! AY was ringed on 16th December 2012 and was last observed on 8th March 2015. In total there was 167 Turnstones roosting here over the high tide period.

The coastal park was just as quiet as the cemetery with two Goldcrests and two Song Thrushes! It's going to remain easterly until early next week so I'll just have to keep on trying!  

Monday 10 October 2016

Ten Again

Yesterday morning found me ringing at the Obs again under 7 oktas cloud with a 10 mph northeasterly wind. It was another quiet morning with just another ten birds ringed as follows:

Blackbird - 1
Wren - 2
Dunnock - 1
Greenfinch - 3
Meadow Pipit - 3


At first light there was ten Redwings grounded but nothing else. Vis was again slow with six Carrion Crows, six Alba Wags, two Bramblings, two Reed Buntings, 41 Meadow Ppits, ten Greenfinches, a Grey Wagtail, three Chaffinches, a Goldfinch and three Skylarks.

And that was your lot!

Saturday 8 October 2016

Not Today

At first light at the Obs this morning I had full cloud cover with a 5 mph northeasterly wind. I'm still restricted to one 60 foot net due to my ongoing wasp problem, but when I checked today there was a lot less so hopefully I should be able to use the other net ride soon!

The vis was a little lacking this morning, although I did have my first Jackdaws of the Autumn with a flock of sixty south. I noted the Jackdaw passage later in the morning back at home when I counted 51 heading south over my garden. Other vis totals were 29 Meadow Pipits, 28 Redwings, seven Alba Wagtails, two Chaffinches, twelve Greenfinches, 70 Pink-footed Geese, a Rock Pipit and five Skylarks.

 Pink-footed Geese

I watched a Dunnock take off from an Elder bush close to the ringing station, circle round gaining height and then it headed high to the south until it was out of sight! Vis and migration in action!

I only ringed ten birds this morning as follows:

Meadow Pipit - 2
Blue Tit - 1
Greenfinch - 7


It obviously wasn't on today, so fingers crossed for a better day tomorrow!

 A couple of sky pictures from this morning (above & below)

Friday 7 October 2016

Wot No Yellow-browed's!

I gave myself an hour and a half off this morning to check the cemetery and coastal park for migrants. When I got up before first light I could see that it had been raining slightly and that combined with the easterly wind got me thinking that there could be a few grounded migrants about. There was and 'few' was the operative word!

I had a look in the cemetery first and the only birds that I would class as grounded migrants were a Goldcrest, two Redwings and eight Robins. The coastal park was the same with just two Goldcrests and a Song Thrush.

Although I wasn't particularly concentrating on vis there was some and included 19 Alba Wagtails, 33 Meadow Pipits, two Chaffinches and two Grey Wagtails.

I've got a weekend of ringing and recording at the Obs so fingers crossed for some birds!

Tuesday 4 October 2016

A Yellow-browed At Last

I say at last, as I have seen numerous Yellow-browed Warblers at the Obs over the years, so perhaps I shouldn't get too excited about them. Perhaps it's because I am of a certain age and remember when this Siberian sprite used to be a mega! In fact over here in the northwest a Yellow-browed Warbler was the nearest you were going to get to finding your own 'Sibe'! Nowadays we usually expect 2 or 3 at least at the Obs and I don't think it will be long before we hit double figures in the autumn and perhaps that will be this year as we have had four today!

I called at the cemetery first thing this morning and it was fairly quiet with just four Redwings that I would consider as being grounded. The wind was a fairly stiff east-southeasterly and this made viewing conditions difficult as the trees were moving around quite a bit. However, as I was just putting my gear in the boot of my car before heading off to the coastal park I heard a Chiffchaff giving it's sub-song and two Goldcrests calling and I thought "hello"!

I had been in the park for just a few minutes when I caught sight of a small phyllosc moving through some Poplars. I lifted my bins and it was a Yellow-browed Warbler. I made a quick call to Ian and I was just about to try and get some shots of it when I heard somebody shout "is there anything about"? With that the YBW flew off and into some more distant cover! I turned round to see a visiting birder and thought about saying "there was until you shouted", but thought better of it!

This guy then followed me round everywhere chewing my ear off about everything he had seen over the past few days. What's happened to people's field craft today? He continued to name drop both birds and birders as I tried to escape! I heard the YBW calling and got some distant views, but none as good as the ones when this guy flushed it with his booming voice. Some council workers came into the park with mechanical kit and it was 'game over' for me and a sharp exit!

Oh, I nearly forgot besides the YBW there were a few other migrants in the park including ten Redwings, five Song Thrushes, four Goldcrests and a Blackcap. It's a couple of days of catching up on work for me now, but hopefully I'll get out on Friday.

Monday 3 October 2016

First Redwings

It was another decent morning of visible migration yesterday and I was back at the Obs, but this time I was also doing some ringing. At first light it was clear, calm and cold, and I wished I'd put another layer or two of clothes on!

As I was putting the nets up I could hear Redwings calling but frustratingly couldn't hear them as they were very high, and could therefore only log them as three individuals based on three separate calls. Later in the morning I had a high flying flock of twenty, taking the grand total to just 23.

My other vis totals were 264 Meadow Pipits, three Starlings, 85 Greenfinches, four Chaffinches, 13 Alba Wagtails, four Skylarks, two Reed Buntings, 77 Pink-footed Geese, three Magpies, three Swallows, a Rock Pipit, two Linnets and a Grey Wagtail.

Grounded migrants were restricted to a Song Thrush and I ringed 23 birds as follows:

Wren - 2
Blackbird - 1
Greenfinch - 13
Meadow Pipit - 7


Close to one of my net rides I found a Woodpigeon's nest with two well grown healthy looking squabs in it!

There's plenty of Yellow-browed Warblers around at the moment so I am going to try and squeeze an hour in first thing before work and check a few likely spots; you never know!

Saturday 1 October 2016

Time Limited

I think it's called 'sods law' when you have only a limited amount of time to get out birding and the morning is shaping up to be a good 'n'! This morning was a point in case. The chimney sweep was coming round at 9:00 a.m. so I only had a couple of hours to do some birding. As usual I decided to 'do' the farm fields at the Obs and it was obvious it was going to be a cracking vis day with Meadow Pipits and Pink-footed Geese being the main ingredients.

At first light I had 7 oktas cloud cover with a 5-10 mph southeasterly wind. I wondered if there could be a few grounded migrants around as immediately I had two Goldcrests and eight Wrens. There seemed to be a few Robins and Blackbirds around, plus a male Wheatear along the sea wall.

As I said earlier vis was the feature of my short morning and my totals for my brief watch were three Grey Wagtails, 226 Meadow Pipits, four Reed Buntings, five Starlings, nine Linnets, two Chaffinches, 17 Alba Wags, a Siskin, 677 Pink-footed Geese and five Skylarks.

In addition to the 'Pinkies' I also had six pale-bellied Brent Geese that circled round low, before heading off south. They looked to be trying to orientate themselves before heading off in the right direction!

With all the attention being skywards I paid scant attention to the sea and as a result just recorded an Auk sp. and two Red-throated Divers.

It's going to be clear overnight (clear out night) and clear tomorrow with a light northeasterly wind. I'm not sure how much vis there will be tomorrow after today and with clear conditions it is likely to be high. But nevertheless I'll get out and stick a net up at the Obs and see what's what!

Wednesday 28 September 2016

No Reds Today

I suppose my blog title should be 'no reds yesterday' as it was yesterday that I was back in Merseyside surveying, and you've guessed it I didn't see any Red Squirrels!

I was surveying in the afternoon and evening at the same farmland site and it was slow. I didn't have the luxury of some vis to keep me entertained so I won't beat about the bush and just list the highlights! These were two Buzzards, four Jays, a Kestrel, nine Long-tailed Tits, a Goldcrest, four Grey Wagtails, three Skylarks, 317 Cormorants (flying to a roost), 16 Linnets and 11,000 Knots (flying to a roost).


As the sun set and darkness fell the skies were alight with pinks and oranges from the setting sun and I have included a couple of shots below. It could be seawatching in the morning based on the forecast.

Red sky at night.........


Tuesday 27 September 2016

From Merseyside To A Few Soggy Migrants

I had a survey to complete in Merseyside last Friday (23rd) morning on some farmland habitat. It was a slightly overcast morning with a light southwesterly wind and there was a little bit of vis.

Skylarks dominated the vis passage with 55 south and the best of the rest were eight Grey Wagtails, twelve Linnets, 29 Pink-footed Geese, 13 Meadow Pipits, 18 House Martins and nine Mute Swans. I was inland!

Six Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, two Buzzards and four Jays were around some of the woodland, but best of all were the five Red Squirrels that I had. Unfortunately every time I was about to press the shutter button on my camera they disappeared!

Fast forward to this morning when it was raining, but looked like the conditions might have dropped a few migrants in. I had to go to the stationers to get some maps copied so I decided to call in at the cemetery and the coastal park.

The southern end of the cemetery was sheltered against the blustery southwesterly wind but it was obvious straight away that there was a few migrants about and I quickly had ten Robins, four Goldcrests, two Chiffchaffs and two male Blackcaps. I then headed to the park but I couldn't find any shelter and all I could add migrant wise to the tally was two Chiffchaffs and two Song Thrushes.

During the breaks in the cloud and when the rain ceased a few birds started to move including a Grey Wagtail, 16 Meadow Pipits and three Swallows.

It's back to Merseyside tomorrow and hopfelly I'll be able to get a snap or two of a Red Squirrel!

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Dairy Country

I spent of all of yesterday morning surveying more hedges on another dairy farm, but this time out on the Fylde plain. It was a glorious morning with 5 oktas hazy cloud cover and it was flat calm. I was measuring and photographing hedges, but as always when you're out doors you are always birding. In fact I would go as far to say that if you are awake, no matter where you are you are always birding!

When I bird my regular patches I record everything I see and hear so I can submit complete lists to the BTO's BirdTRack online bird recording system. However, when I visit 'one off' sites I just record anything I consider to be of interest and worthy of entering it in to my notebook.

It was obvious that there was some vis this morning but passerines were in short supply and Pink-footed Geese dominated the passage. Passerine wise all I had was eleven Meadow Pipits, seven Skylarks and four Grey Wagtails. The Pink-footed Geese were going over high and heading south and for the last couple of hours I was on the farm I had 1,239 go over. There was more than this as on numerous occasions I could hear 'Pinkies' but couldn't see them!

 High flying 'Pinkies'

For want of a better term on my walk round the 'best of the rest' included a Jay, five Buzzards, a Reed Bunting, a Kestrel and 51 Goldfinches


We could do with some of the east coast goodies that are around at the moment making it over to the west coast! I suppose I should get out looking!

Sunday 18 September 2016

No Fog But Few Birds

Thankfully when I got up this morning at 0530 there was none of the forecast fog! I headed to the Obs under 4 oktas cloud cover with a 5 mph southeasterly wind. I unlocked the gate and drove down the track and even in the half light there was still loads of wasps close to one of my net rides, so I decided to put up just one net and target Greenfinches and Meadow Pipits.

Unfortunately it was quiet and I only ringed seven birds as follows:

Greenfinch - 4
Wren - 2
Meadow Pipit - 1


 Meadow Pipit

It was quiet on the vis front too and yesterday had obviously been a bit of a clear out day. However, there was some vis and my totals included 55 Meadow Pipits, three Alba Wagtails, two Swallows, six Grey Wagtails, a Chaffinch and thirteen Greenfinches.


The only grounded migrants I had were four Dunnocks. They appeared on top of some hawthorns and were quite agitated. They then took off, circled round gaining height and headed south. Migration in action!

Workwise I have a very busy two weeks ahead of me and I might be restricted just to weekends for birding, but as ever I will try and squeeze some mid-week sessions in!

Saturday 17 September 2016

First Pinkies of Autumn

I had a walk round the farm fields at the Obs this morning and I wasn't too hopeful of much due to the clear skies and the 10 - 15 mph northeasterly wind. I had my first Pinkies of the autumn when I had a close encounter of the wasp kind and I had to do a runner to escape some angry wasps! All I could put in my notebook was c.30 Pinkies because it was just as I was going to count the individuals in the small skein that the wasps showed some interest in me! My interaction with the winged tigers with a sting in their tail was close to one of my mist net rides, so I won't be putting that net up in the morning!

I had a further five Pink-footed Geese during the morning, and there was a bit of vis albeit it very high due to the clear skies. My vis totals included 128 Meadow Pipits, seven Alba Wags, four Grey Wagtails, a Reed Bunting, a Siskin, two Skylarks and three Swallows.

 Meadow Pipit

Due to the clear overnight conditions I didn't expect any grounded migrants but I did record single Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, and three Wheatears. The sea was fairly quiet with ten Cormorants, a Great Crested Grebe, four Auk sp., a Guillemot, fifty Common Scoters and four Sandwich Terns.

About 20-30 House Martins were feeding on aerial insects along the sea wall and a flock of three Little Egrets once again gave the morning a continental feel. As I hinted at before I will be returning here again in the morning for a ringing session. The forecast is for very light southeasterly winds, but with fog. I'll need to check the fog situation first before committing myself to putting up mist nets as most of what I ring will be brought down by playback lures and fog and vis don't go together!

Friday 16 September 2016

August's Ringing Totals

Over on the right I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of August. We have ringed 2213 birds of 49 species and are just 162 short of where we were this time last year. Only one new species was added in August and this was a pulli Ringed Plover.

Although similar to last month I have listed below the top five ringed during August and the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year so far.

Top 5 Ringed in August

1. Swallow - 653
2. Reed Warbler - 42
3. Willow Warbler - 16
4. Blue Tit - 15
5. Sedge Warbler - 13

Top 10 Movers and Shakers

1. Swallow - 826 (same position)
2. Lesser Redpoll - 159 (same position)
3. Goldfinch - 149 (same position)
4. Blue Tit - 146 (same position)
5. Great Tit - 107 (same position)
6. Reed Warbler - 96 (up from 8th)
7. Chaffinch - 90 (down from 6th)
8. Siskin - 59 (down from 7th)
9. Meadow Pipit - 53 (same position)
10. Pied Flycatcher - 49 (same position)

Marsh Harrier in Merseyside

On Wednesday I carried out a reconnaissance visit to a site in Merseyside that I will shortly be surveying. It was a glorious day and looked spot on for a migrating raptor. In fact back at the Obs Ian had two Ospreys through and it was this species that I had in mind.

I had already had a couple of local Buzzards making use of the thermals when I picked up a female/immature Marsh Harrier drifting across the fields. Sadly an Osprey didn't materialise, but I was happy with the Marsh Harrier!

Birthday Birding

Unfortunately I had to work on my birthday last Monday and I found myself in the Lune Valley surveying some hedges. I was pretty much focused on the hedges, so couldn't really have my eyes skywards, but I did manage to catch sight of a Raven and Buzzard. Fifty Greylag Geese headed towards the riverside pastures to graze and a single Grey Wagtail was alongside a beck.

The view from the 'office' on my birthday!

East or West?

I'm playing catch up with the blog due to lots of work that has come in, but don't feel sorry for me! Last Sunday at the Obs it seemed that the Swallows couldn't make their minds up which way to move! The coastline at the Obs faces north in to Morecambe Bay and visual migration is generally east or west. The direction of movement can be seasonal, generally east in spring and west in autumn, or affected by the weather. On that morning I had 17 Swallowsgo west low and out to sea, and 14 go northeast high up!

In addition to the Swallows on vis I had seven Alba Wags, nine Grey Wagtails, a Peregrine and four Meadow Pipits. The sea was nearly as quiet with 870 Knots west (heading to Ribble estuary presumably), three Auk sp., 43 Shelducks, three Guillemots, two Sandwich Terns, a Great Crested Grebe and nine Grey Plovers. A Chiffchaff along the edge of the golf course was the only grounded migrant!

Friday 9 September 2016

Getting It Wrong

I checked the tide tables last night and I could see that this morning high tide was early, but not as early as I thought! My misreading of the tide tables resulted in me making the decision to go down to the estuary and look for a few waders as the mudflats are better on a falling tide. However, when I got down to the estuary this morning at a leisurely 7:00 am, there was an awful lot of water in the river and it was just on the turn! My mistake was looking at yesterdays times for today and not adding the hour for British summertime! The result was that there was barely any exposed mud for the waders!

Walking down to the estuary a Blackcap and a sub-singing Chiffchaff were the only warbler species that I recorded. Out on the small area of exposed mud I had 250 Lapwings, 120 Redshanks, five Curlews and a single Dunlin!

Two Stock Doves crossed the river and three Little Egrets gave me a buzz, and even though they are relatively common now it still gave the morning a continental feel to me! On the pool were seven Coots, ten Little Grebes, ten Tufted Ducks and a pair of Mute Swans with four cygnets.

A flock of 22 Goldfinches and four Linnets fed along the estuary edge and two Grey Wagtails south was the only 'vis' that I recorded.

I then headed to the farm fields by the school and cut my net rides (see below) in preparation for my first autumn ringing session here. The forecast is borderline for ringing tomorrow, plus I'm in Manchester tonight watching the mighty Roy Harper at one of a handful of 75th birthday gigs, so the ringing will have to wait until the first decent morning after tomorrow.



Saturday 3 September 2016

A Few Grey Wags

There was a window of a couple of hours this morning before the rain came in so I decided to have a look at the farm fields on the coast surrounding the school at the southern end of the Obs recording area. I had full cloud cover with a 15 mph southwesterly wind.

There wasn't any evidence of grounded migrants this morning other than perhaps six Dunnocks and six Robins. And the only vis was wagtails; ten Grey Wagtails and five Alba Wags all heading south.


The sea was equally quiet with just 15 Common Scoters, a Wigeon, two Eiders and a Gannet. I always enjoy seeing Little Egrets, so a single flying over made it into my notebook as did a female Sparrowhawk.

So that was it, short and sweet! It's going to be dry tomorrow morning with a nuisance northwesterly wind, so I might just have a walk down to the estuary.

Thursday 1 September 2016

That's It!

Graham, Ian and I attempted what turned out to be the final ringing session of the year at the Swallow roost last night. As I hinted at before we did have a good idea that this might be the last session. We only ringed three Swallows, which was a surprise as there wasn't any Swallows roosting. A group of fifteen birds were interested in our playback lures and this is where the three ringed came from.

A Sparrowhawk was present in and around the pools and reeds as were three Buzzards. There was nothing unusual on the pools and that draws to a close the Swallow roost ringing season until next year. Subject to a final count we have ringed 715 at the roost this year, so that's not too bad at all!

Wednesday 31 August 2016

Last Swallows?

Monday evening saw Graham, Ian and Me ringing at the Swallow roost. At first we didn't think we were going to catch any, but at dusk just two hundred roosted and we managed to ring 35, taking the year total to 712.

Over recent years we've found that the Swallow roost in the Obs reedbeds tends to break up towards the end of August and they switch to roosting in maize. We're going again this evening so it will be interesting to see if any are still roosting; fingers crossed!

In addition to the Swallows we also ringed a juvenile male Sparrowhawk and a Sedge Warbler. The only other raptor we observed was a Buzzard and on the pools the point of interest was a Shoveler.

I'll let you know how we get on tonight.

Monday 29 August 2016

After The Thunderstorms

During the early hours of Sunday morning up here in northwest Lancashire we had some quite 'beefy' thunderstorms with some heavy rain. By about 6:15 a.m. it sounded like it had stopped raining so I got up and went out birding.

My first port of call was the cemetery to look for any grounded migrants, but just as I arrived the heavens opened and I had to sit patiently in my car for three quarters of an hour until it stopped raining. On my walk round I didn't record a single grounded migrant, which wasn't completely surprising as the rain had started fairly early on in the night preventing a number of migrants from moving. Two Snipes and a Grey Wag over were the only species of interest that I entered into my notebook.

There was a fairly early morning tide, and I was limited for time I decided to head to the Point and count the roosting waders. It was a 'low' high tide and this was reflected in the lower numbers of waders roosting. I counted 132 Ringed Plovers, ten Turnstones, 37 Sanderlings, two Curlews, a Redshank and 57 Oystercatchers.


 Ringed Plover and Sanderlings

In between counting the waders I kept a brief eye on the sea and recorded nine Common Scoters, a Guillemot, a Wigeon and eight Sandwich Terns. Four Wheatears on the shore were obviously grounded migrants and that's your lot.

This evening we are at the Swallow roost and it will be interesting to see how many are roosting as it has been a good day for movement for them. I'll let you know!

Sunday 28 August 2016

Dawn And Dusk

Yesterday morning Ian and I had a ringing session in one of the reedbeds at the Obs. At first light we had 6 oktas cloud cover with a light southeasterly wind. There was much promise given the wind direction but in the end it was fairly quiet. We ringed thirteen birds as follows:

Reed Warbler - 4
Robin - 1
Blackcap - 1
Blue Tit - 2
Greenfinch - 2
Dunnock - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Garden Warbler - 1


 Long-tailed Tit


The birding was fairly quiet too, but being of a certain age Cetti's Warblers and Little Egrets still excite me so a Little Egret over and three Cetti's Warblers during the morning was a result as far as I'm concerned!

During the evening Ian and I headed to a different reedbed to hopefully ring some more Swallows coming to roost. The numbers of Swallows roosting had reduced to about 2,000 birds, probably as a response to the advancing thunder storms that came through during the early hours. Nevertheless we still managed to ring 42 taking the grand total of Swallows ringed this year to 677. It will be interesting to see how many Swallows are roosting Monday evening after a day of decent weather.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

A Bit Of Normality

After the emotional roller coaster of the last ten days it was nice to have a bit of normality this morning and I was out in south Cumbria completing my last bird survey for work for this particular project. Again it was an area of newly planted woodland and this site was along the River Winster not a million miles from Grange Over Sands.

It was a glorious morning with clear skies and virtually t-shirt weather from first light! First up were two Ravens flying over north giving their brilliant croaking call!A few phylloscs were present in the form of two Willow Warblers and a single Chiffchaff, but that was it on the warbler front.

The only raptor I recorded was a Buzzard flying low over the plantation and other flying birds included a Tree Pipit and two Grey Wagtails.Red listed farmland birds were represented by four Tree Sparrows and on the wader front a calling Common Sandpiper and 22 Lapwings over were the only takers.

Nothing amazing, but just great to be out nonetheless!

Tuesday 23 August 2016


Since the end of July there has been a Swallow roost at the Obs and the roost has been centred on two areas of pools and reeds within close proximity of each other. Traditionally the Swallows have roosted at just one site, so the fact that they are coming in to two areas has afforded us the luxury of being able to attempt to catch and ring some on every available evening without disturbing the birds.

The roost peaked at 10,000 birds a couple of weeks ago and a Hobby and Merlin have appeared on some occasions to hunt the Swallows as they come in to roost along side a couple of Sparrowhawks.

Last night Ian and I had a ringing session at the Swallow roost and we ringed 114 birds as follows:

Swallow - 107
Sand Martin - 5
Reed Warbler - 2


There were approximately 6,000 Swallows roosting and also at least 5,000 Starlings that fortunately kept well away from our net. It was nice to see a Yellow Wagtail coming into roost with the Swallows, but sadly long gone are the days when they used to roost in good double figures! A moulting Gadwall on the pool was a nice addition and if I kept a year list it might well have been a year tick, whatever one of them is!

A quick look back at a notebook from 2013 reminds me that I need to clear the net rides in the coastal fields and hedges at the Obs, as 22nd August in 2013 was my first ringing session in that part of the Obs for the autumn that year. Looking back it was a quiet morning with just a single Black-tailed Godwit in the 'front' field of note!

Saturday 20 August 2016

July's Ringing Totals

Before I go into the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group until the end of July, I feel that I need to explain my lack of blog postings of late. I am not usually one to relate personal details of my life as it really isn't relevant to the blog and I also like to keep the personal details of my life, well personal! However, my lack of postings have been caused by mother recently falling ill and then passing away earlier this week.

Over on the right you will see that as usual I have updated Fylde Ringing Group's ringing totals up until the end of July. At 1,388 birds ringed so far we are just 20 behind where we were last year! Five new species were ringed for the year in July and these were Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail and Jackdaw.

Below you will find the top five ringed for July and the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year.

Top Five Ringed In July

1. Swallow - 173
2. Reed Warbler - 33
3. Goldfinch - 13
4. Whitethroat - 11
5. Blue Tit - 10

Top Ten Movers and Shakers

1. Swallow - 173 (straight in)
2. Lesser Redpoll - 159 (down from 1st)
3. Goldfinch - 148 (down from 2nd)
4. Blue Tit - 131 (down from 3rd)
5. Great Tit - 95 (dwon from 4th)
6. Chaffinch - 79 (down from 5th)
7. Siskin - 59 (down from 6th)
8. Reed Warbler - 54 (straight in)
9. Meadow Pipit - 53 (down from 7th)
10. Pied Flycatcher - 49 (down from 8th)

Sunday 7 August 2016

Yet More Surveys

You will be fed up of reading it, and I'm fed up of saying it, but I've had yet more bird surveys to complete these past couple of weeks and as such this has been virtually the only birding I have been able to blog about!

I've had three sites to survey; one west of Penrith, another east of Penrith and the third south of Kendal. Again all three sites are former farmland sites planted relatively recently with broad-leaved woodland. Highlights from the three surveys have been 20 House Martins, two Song Thrushes, 21 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, two Lesser Redpolls, a Linnet, a Grey Wagtail, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Yellowhammer, a Goldcrest, three Tree Sparrows, three Stock Doves, two Redstarts, a Garden Warbler, two Siskins and two Buzzards.


I shouldn't grumble, but I'm desperate to get out on the patch!

Thursday 28 July 2016

Kite Country

My work of late has predominantly taken me to north Cumbria, but on Friday it took me a little further north to southwest Scotland. I had two site visits; one to the southwest of Dumfries and the other to the northeast of Castle Douglas. Both sites are firmly in 'Kite country' and I was looking forward to seeing some Red Kites during my site visits.

I wasn't disappointed at seeing three Red Kites, but was hoping for a few more. However, this wasn't to be as the weather conditions during my site visits was particularly wet with poor visibility, not conducive for seeing Kites. Having said that it was still a thrill to see three of these great big lolloping raptors!

Hopping back south of the border I had another survey of young plantation woodland to do close to Penrith. The site is fairly isolated without any corridors connecting the plantation to habitat in the wider landscape and as a result bird usage has been minimal. Meagre highlights of this last survey included five Tree Sparrows, a Buzzard, a Raven and a Willow Warbler.

 Pied Wagtails regularly forage in the young plantation woodland.

We've got Swallows again this year roosting at one of the pools at the Obs so hopefully I'll have some news from there soon!

Monday 25 July 2016

Return To The Reeds

During the past few days Ian and I have had two ringing sessions in the reeds and scrub at the Obs. These were the first sessions since we cleared the net rides just over a week ago. I've lumped together the ringing totals for both sessions and we ringed the following species (recaptures in brackets):

Blackcap -3
Whitethroat -3
Blue Tit - 4
Reed Warbler -5 (1)
Sedge Warbler -2
Greenfinch -4
Chiffchaff - 1
Wren -3 (2)
Willow Warbler - 2
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Robin - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Dunnock - 2
Blackbird - 1


As we were putting the nets up we had at least fifteen Pied Wagtails over that were exiting a roost somewhere on the docks. Talking of wagtails during both sessions we had a Grey Wagtail fly over high to the southwest and it is a bit too early for a proper migrant and was likely a local bird moving around.

On the subject of movement 150 Jackdaws went over heading west. They were flying quite high and had come from over the river. After we packed up we had a look on the pools on our way out and counted 25 Coots, 18 Little Grebes and eleven Tufted Ducks.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Just Before The Mini Heat Wave

Earlier this week I had another bird survey to complete in north Cumbria, not too far from Wigton, and I got it done just before the mini heat wave of Tuesday and Wednesday. Once again it was in some relatively young plantation woodland and it held a few birds. In no particular order I recorded three Lesser Redpolls, three Song Thrushes, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Coal Tit, three Willow Warblers, a Whitethroat, two Chiffchaffs, eleven Chaffinches and four Blackcaps.

Back home and in my garden during the afternoon I had a Grey Wagtail go over. Probably not a proper migrant but likely to be a local breeder or juvenile bird dispersing!