Friday 29 January 2016

What A Weary Week!

I don't need to tell you what the weather has been like of late and as a consequence I have been seeing very little. I've been out, but nothing is changing, and it hasn't been worth telling you that I haven't seen anything of note, but I suppose that's just what I am doing now!

Take the sea for instance, it has been very quiet throughout January and I fear it will remain so until we get in to spring. Last weekend I spent an hour seawatching, and at the end of it all I had was a single male Red-breasted Merganser, six Cormorants and 42 Pink-footed Geese. And that's why I was just there for an hour!

There were a few waders knocking about including 407 Oystercatchers, 22 Sanderlings and 30 Ringed Plovers. Of the most interest were a nice flock of 40 Linnets and a single Siskin over.

I've been religiously topping up my feeding station every few days but it has just been the same old, same old! Bits and pieces barely worth mentioning have been 18 Magpies, a male Sparrowhawk, four Goldfinches, a Song Thrush, six Chaffinches, a Goldcrest and a Buzzard.

I've been checking the Geese all week and there has been about 400 Pink-footed Geese, but nothing else with them. Today there were 170 Lapwings in the fields as well.

 Pinkies this afternoon. A check of the Geese was preceded by a pint of 
real ale; the best way to check Geese!

So you can see I have been trying. Roll on spring!

Tuesday 19 January 2016

A Morning On The Marsh

Yesterday morning I headed out to the marsh in the cold overcast conditions. It wasn't as cold as the day before, but the southeasterly wind was still biting.

I had a look on the pools first but they were quiet with just three Little Grebes, 30 Coots, a male Pochard and five Tufted Ducks. A singing Song Thrush indicated that perhaps spring was just round the corner, but there's still a fair bit of winter to go through first. A Magpie carrying nest material presumably thought that spring was just around the corner too!

 Tufted Duck

As I headed out along the saltmarsh to have a look at the Gulls on the tip I flushed a male Pheasant. Hardly noteworthy I can here you say but they are relatively scarce on the patch and I only ever record one or two a year! I was hoping for a few Twite but had to make do with four Reed Buntings, six Rock Pipits and fifteen Goldfinches.

I edged over to the mudflats alongside the river and had a look at the waders and wildfowl. My totals included 173 Wigeon, 32 Oystercatchers, ten Mallards, 629 Lapwings, seven Teal, a male Eider and 46 Shelducks.

I had a look through the Gulls and just counted them in one section and had 16 Black-headed Gulls, 440 Herring Gulls, a 4CY Yellow-legged Gull, six Great Black-backed Gulls and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

 Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls

Back on drier land I had a calling Water Rail, a male Sparrowhawk and five Long-tailed Tits along the ditch and scrub. On the small reedy pool close by were another seven Mallards and seventeen Teal.

On my way back home I called to see if there were any Turnstones about that needed feeding, but as the tide was yet to run in they hadn't been pushed on to our feeding area.

It looks like the cold snap will end shortly and a return to mild and wet weather will ensue, but hopefully I can get out again whilst it's dry before that happens!

Saturday 16 January 2016

Fly Over Dick's Pipit

It was exceedingly quiet at the feeding station this morning when Kim and I attempted a ringing session. It was flat calm with a ground frost, and at first we had clear skies and by the time we packed up a couple of hours later we nearly had full cloud cover.

We only ringed six birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Goldfinch - 2
Robin - 2
Chaffinch - 1
Dunnock - 1 (1)
Blackbird - (1)
Great Tit - (2)



It was very quiet on the birding front and there are meagre pickings in my notebook with Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush and Siskin being the highlights except for a fly over Richard's Pipit.

Where we sit at the feeding station it is between a high bramble covered banking and some young Birch/ Scots Pine/Alder woodland. This means that you have a very narrow field of view of anything flying over, particularly if flying north to south or vice versa. This meant that we didn't see the Richard's Pipit, but just heard its loud 'shreep' call! Ian had one on the patch on 31st December and there is a lot of suitable habitat surrounding the feeding station, so it is likely that it is the same bird. It's direction of flight based on the calls was north to south and this would take it from one block of suitable habitat to another.

It's snowing as a type, but this is forecast to peter out later tonight and the forecast doesn't look too bad for the morning so I'll try and get out on the patch somewhere.

Friday 15 January 2016

When The North Wind Blows

It was bl**dy cold this morning as I headed down to the river and stood on the edge of the saltmarsh with nothing in between me and the snow capped Lakeland fells! The wind was a bitter 15 mph north-northwesterly, but with clear skies and the old 'currant bun' in the sky it was a joy to be out!

 The snow capped Lakeland fells behind Fleetwood; they're not as close
as they look!

As I walked across the saltmarsh to get to my vantage point to view the mudflats I put four Rock Pipits up. It's rare to get them in full view on the deck to try and sort out race. There were good numbers of Lapwing on the river and I had 924 in total. Other waders included 290 Dunlins and 165 Curlews.

 Looking across the saltmarsh

Surprisingly I didn't have any Wigeon on the river, and I imagine they were all tucked in under the banking or in some of the larger creeks, but I did have 131 Teal. Walking back to terra firma two Little Egrets flew over and dropped into one of the creeks to feed.

On the reservoir were 46 Tufted Ducks and a couple of Goldeneyes. The wildfowl on the res were hard to see as they were sheltering out of the wind behind the wooded embankment. Walking back to my car I heard a Raven calling, looked up, and it was being mobbed by three Carrion Crows. I know Ravens are big, but when you see one alongside a Carrion Crow you just realise how big!

I called at my feeding station to top up the feeders, but had nothing of note other than a Stock Dove. I intend to have a ringing session here tomorrow as the forecast is looking favourable, but to be honest I'm not confident of a decent catch as it was very quiet this morning. I'll let you know.  

Thursday 14 January 2016

At last..........

..........I got the major report finished that I have been working on since returning to work in the new year! This means that over the next few weeks I am going to be fairly quiet, so that will mean plenty of winter birding starting tomorrow! I would prefer it if my work was quiet in spring and autumn, but unfortunately 'sods law' comes into play and it never works out like that.

In the past few days I have been out, but only for short periods of time. Saturday was a complete washout for my attempted sea watch and lots of murk and rain was the order for the morning. The only things of note were a nice flock of 500 Oystercatchers on beach as the tide ran in. It was that bad that I was surprised I even recorded seven Cormorants, eight Eiders, two Common Scoters and a male Red-breasted Merganser.

I have been feeding at my feeding station and the food is consistently going down. The main species feeding are Chaffinch, Goldfinch and an assortment of Tits. When I called earlier in the week I also had two Song Thrushes, nine Magpies, a Buzzard and a Goldcrest.

There's going to be a cold northwesterly wind tomorrow, but as low water is 0912 I will make the effort and have a look on the estuary.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Could It Be Any Quieter?

Yesterday morning I had my first ringing session of 2016 and it was at my feeding station. It was fairly cloudy with hardly any wind, so perfect conditions for mist netting. However, even though the conditions were perfect the birds didn't know that and it was exceedingly quiet!

All I ringed were two birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Blackbird - 1
Goldfinch - 1
Blue Tit - (1)
Great Tit - (1)

 Great Tit


Even the birding between net rounds was quiet too! The highlights being 200 Pink-footed Geese heading northwest, 23 Magpies, two Song Thrushes, a Snipe, a female Sparrowhawk, a Grey Wagtail and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Later on in the day I had my lunch overlooking the estuary, before having a 'swifty' in the Strawberry Gardens, and had two Whooper Swans in the mouth of the river.

It's looking wet for the next few days before turning drier and cooler next week, so fingers crossed for a few mornings out next week.

End Of Year Ringing Totals

Over on the right you will see that I have updated Fylde Ringing Group's ringing totals for the end of the year. We finished up ringing 3,986 birds, just short of a magic 4,000 total; something to aim for in 2016!

During December two new species were added to the year's totals and these were Grey Wagtail and Firecrest.

Let's hope that the weather improves during January and we can get out more often; fingers crossed!

Sunday 3 January 2016


I was going to blog about the flooding the poor people in parts of Cumbria and Lancashire have been suffering of late and the government's inability to provide the sensible solutions that are required, but there are other people better qualified, more eloquent and articulate than me that have blogged on the subject. One such person is Mark Avery and you can read a highly thought provoking blog HERE

One thing is certain this government and their high powered cronies, people in positions of authority and influence, would rather have their Grouse moors managed as they are to kill things for a giggle, than manage them properly to prevent ordinary people like you and me losing our homes and possessions! Shame on this most corrupt and blackest of governments! 

Friday 1 January 2016

Ne'rday Birding

It was a cooler morning this morning than of late when I set off on my walk at the Obs. The southeasterly wind was biting and the the complete cloud cover didn't compensate with any warmth from the sun.

As I set off on my walk Pink-footed Geese were dropping in to the farm fields across the road and a few small parties headed north. A Song Thrush was nice as I don't always record them when I'm out. There were just two Short-eared Owls this morning and I got some fantastic views as they flew close past me. It was great to look at them with the naked eye and watch them turn there head to look at me and make eye contact; cool!

There has been some interaction between the 'Shorties' and the local Kestrels (three this morning) and I observed one such interaction today. A Shortie had dropped to the ground, presumably on mammalian prey, and a Kestrel steamed in from the right and ploughed in to the Owl. However, the Shortie wasn't having any of it and drove the Kestrel off!

There seems to be plenty of food around for the Shorties, and that's whats probably holding them here, and I saw both Short-tailed Vole and Common Shrew this morning myself.

I didn't push any Snipe off the wetland, just a Grey Heron, but I did lift one Snipe from the dune slack as I walked past. I had a single bird on vis this morning in the form of a Siskin heading south. It always seems to me that Siskins can be mobile at any time of year.

The sea was very quiet, although a single Little Gull south was a bit of a surprise, and the 15 Common Scoters and four Eiders were expected. The walk back to the car was fairly uneventful with just a female Stonechat to add.


I called in at the wood and there was some activity along the woodland edge where a Hawthorn hedge is adjacent to some Alders. I had two Long-tailed Tits, eight Goldfinches, 35 House Sparrows, a Goldcrest and a Song Thrush.

The pools were quiet with just 27 Coots and two Pochards. I then had a look on the 'geese' fields and there was 600 Pink-footed Geese with nothing amongst them, and a Buzzard was searching for invertebrates in an adjacent field.

 Pink-footed Geese

Gail and I had a walk along the coast after lunch and we had a few waders including 99 Turnstones (including two of our leg flagged birds), 30 Redshanks, 163 Sanderlings and 30 Ringed Plovers.

The forecast is looking at bit mixed for tomorrow but there might be half a chance for a couple of hours birding before the rain comes in later in the morning, I'll certainly give it a try.