Thursday 31 March 2016

More Mipits Than You Can Shake A Stick At

The Meadow Pipit, and early spring vis, floodgates opened this morning with the first decent conditions for some  movement for a few days. At first light at the Obs I had clear skies and it was calm. At 0820 some mist rolled in from the east, which calmed things down for a bit, and this cleared within about half an hour and things picked up again.

My vis totals are nowhere near the numbers that Craig and Ian had at the point. For example they had over 2000 Meadow Pipits through, so keep an eye out HERE in a day or two for the full Obs totals. Between and during net rounds my vis totals included 417 Meadow Pipits, 17 Goldfinches, 34 Siskins, eleven Swallows, two Collared Doves, two Skylarks, eight Alba Wags, three Chaffinches, three Sand Martins, two Woodpigeons, two Sparrowhawks and seven Linnets. This is by far the best vis count at the Obs for the spring so far!

As you would expect on such a clear morning grounded migrants were few and far between and all I had were a male Stonechat, a Goldcrest, three Lesser Redpolls, two Wheatears and two Chiffchaffs.

I ringed eight birds as follows:

Meadow Pipit - 6
Goldfinch - 1
Wren - 1


Back home I checked my garden moth trap and there was just one each of Common Quaker and Hebrew Character.

 Common Quaker

Site visits for me tomorrow so it will be weekend before I'm out again.

Saturday 26 March 2016

I got up and found out.........

.........that the weathermen had got the forecast all wrong! There was a bit too much easterly in the southerly, making it quite cold this morning, and the rain didn't materialise until lunchtime!

In fact the wind was a good 20-25 mph southeasterly and it made birding quite difficult. The only grounded migrants I had at the Obs were a single Goldcrest in the main hedge and a male Wheatear (my first of the spring) along the fence line that got blown across the field when it took off!

There was some vis battling northeast and just two species; 39 Meadow Pipits and five Alba Wags. I had a brief look on the sea from my exposed position on the mound behind the sea wall and just had a Great Crested Grebe head south and 31 Whooper Swans head north being blown around by the wind.

The forecast is similar for tomorrow and there is every chance that I will be foolish enough to try again!

Friday 25 March 2016

Stratospheric Mipits

As Kim and I unlocked the gate at the Obs this morning at 5:30 a.m. it was crystal clear with a 10 mph northwesterly wind. The clear skies would be a feature of the morning, but not in an altogether positive way.

After the wet and murky weather yesterday the clear skies this morning opened up the Meadow Pipit floodgates and they were on the move immediately, but had started to fizzle out by 9:00 a.m. As it was so clear most of the Mipits were very high and could be heard and not seen. This is very frustrating as you can only really enter one bird per call heard in your notebook for certain, even though you know there will be many more! Similarly the few Siskins we had this morning were heard and not seen.

Our vis totals were two Greenfinches, 89 Meadow Pipts, three Alba Wags, a White Wagtail, seven Curlews, three Siskins and a Skylark. Talking to Ian who was seawatching he said that there were huge numbers of Meadow Pipits heading northeast a long way out to sea, which would probably indicate a departure from North Wales.

With clear skies grounded migrants weren't expected and the only grounded bird was a single Reed Bunting. We ringed just five birds as follows:

Meadow Pipit - 3
Blue Tit - 1
Greenfinch - 1

Meadow Pipit

There is a potentially interesting weather synopsis here in the northwest with strong southeasterly winds in the morning and a weather front coming in from the Irish Sea. However, after just looking at the charts the rain front might come in later in the morning and not at first light as per the forecast earlier in the day. The only way to find out is to get up and get out!

Wednesday 23 March 2016

A Bit Of Spring In The Hills

I had a pleasant day working on a clients farm in Bowland yesterday where there was a bit of spring in the air even though it was quite a grey dreary day! The spring like activity in the main came from the breeding waders with displaying Curlews and Lapwings as I walked round.

 The view from the office today!

This particular farm has fourteen ponds on it of varying size and something in the order of 6 - 8 scrapes for breeding waders. All of the ponds have breeding Tufted Ducks on them, so in total there will be quite a nice breeding population of them here. I only had six Tufties yesterday, but I just looked at two ponds.

 One of the wetlands.

There was a steady passage north of Meadow Pipits, although I didn't count them, and a calling Tawny Owl from some woodland was nice to hear. So some spring activity to be sure and as it's a long weekend coming up because of Easter let's hope we get some weather to get out watching wildlife!

Primrose; I came across this lone flowering individual in some woodland.

Monday 21 March 2016

First Moths Of The Spring

I caught the first moths of the spring in my garden moth trap this morning in the form of three Hebrew Characters. It wasn't much but it was a start. There was also a queen Bumblebee species on the wing at 0730 and Meadow Pipits heading north overhead too! I wonder if there are any early migrants around? I've got to go to the water treatment works later to take my feeders down so I'll see if there are any Chiffchaffs in.

Hebrew Character

Sunday 20 March 2016

Weekend Wanderings

My weekend wanderings consisted of two days at the Obs; yesterday and today. It was still cold yesterday with full cloud cover and a 10 mph northeasterly wind. It was obvious fairly quickly that there wasn't a great deal on the move and even less grounded.

My vis count included two Grey wagtails, 106 Meadow Pipits, ten Carrion Crows, eight Alba Wagtails and three Siskins. The sea was quiet too and all that ventured amongst the lines of my notebook were seven Cormorants, five Eiders, eleven Common Scoters, my first Velvet Scoter of the year, a Red-throated Diver and two Teal.

As I said earlier grounded migrants were very thin on the ground and all I had was a single Goldcrest. No Barn Owls this morning but a pair of Kestrels carried the raptor flag.

This morning Kim and I had a ringing session at the Obs but it was very slow. We ringed just eight birds as follows:

Greenfinch - 1
Meadow Pipit - 6
Reed Bunting - 1

 Meadow Pipit

The vis was even slower than yesterday but did include a Brambling north. The Brambling's supporting cast consisted of 37 Meadow Pipits, a Chaffinch, ten Alba Wags and a Grey Wagtail. The only other thing of note was a Barn Owl being mobbed by Gulls as it sped back towards it's nest site!  

Monday 14 March 2016

Mipit Morning

I had a ringing session at the Obs yesterday morning and it was probably the best morning for vis of the spring so far. At first light I had full cloud cover and it was calm. As I drove down the track at 6:00 a.m. a Barn Owl floated past me, which was a good start for the morning. They do breed here, but once you get into spring it takes an early start to see them.

As I was putting the nets up the vis commenced with two Fieldfares and seven Redwings east. As I said before it was the best morning for vis so far this spring and my totals included in addition to the above; two Blackbirds, five Grey Wagtails, 147 Meadow Pipits, 890 Pink-footed Geese, 47 Alba Wags, five Chaffinches, a Little Egret, a Skylark and three Magpies. All this was counted whilst carrying out ringing operations as well!

 Pink-footed Geese

Grounded migrants were thin on the ground with just a single cracking male Stonechat. I ringed 17 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Wren - 2 (1)
Meadow Pipit - 11
Lesser Redpoll - 1 (1 - control)
Blackbird - 1
Dunnock - 1
Greenfinch - 1

Lesser Redpoll

The forecast is looking good for a few days so hopefully work permitting I'll try and get out.out!

Saturday 12 March 2016

A few More Thrushes Perhaps

One of the beauties of working a local patch, I've started a blog posting with that before, is that you can tell if there has been an increase in numbers of a certain species or group of species. You wouldn't be able to test it statistically but you do get a good gut feeling and this morning was one of those mornings.

I headed out at first light at the Obs, just before the rain came in, and it was already overcast and murky with a light southeasterly wind. If it had been April I would have been getting really excited but as it is mid-March I had to keep my excitement realistic and in check!

The first bird I had was an agitated calling Chaffinch from atop one of the trees in the copse, interesting I thought! I put three Song Thrushes up from the hedge and ditch and also eleven Blackbirds! I hadn't walked very far so I thought it could be good this morning, but then the rain arrived and it seemed to put a brake on things.

Surprisingly even though it was drizzly and murky there was some light vis in the form of a Grey Wagtail, four Alba Wags, two Siskins, four Meadow Pipits and two Chaffinches.

And that was very much it. It started off with some potential and then fizzled out! The forecast is looking okay for the first ringing session of the spring at the Obs so it will be interesting to see what that brings.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Quiet Down By The River

Yesterday afternoon I headed down to the river in the hope of a few bathing Gulls as the tide dropped. However, the river hadn't dropped enough and the number of Gulls was limited. I had 187 Herring Gulls, 62 Lesser Black-backeds, 24 Black-headeds, three Common Gulls and two Great Black-backeds.

As the water was high I had very little in the form of waders and wildfowl with just 46 Redshanks making it into my notebook. On the edge of the saltmarsh I had a couple of Reed Buntings and four Skylarks.

On the way back to my car I had a look on the pools and it was fairly quiet with the widlfowl numbers depleted with just eight Tufted Ducks for example. A singing Cetti's Warbler was pleasant to listen to, and it wasn't many years ago that this was quite a rarity here!

It's nest box maintenance time tomorrow and I bet Gail can't wait!

Tuesday 8 March 2016

February's Ringing Totals

Over on the right you will see that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of February. Six new species were ringed during the month in the form of Jack Snipe, Snipe, Song Thrush, Goldcrest, Starling and Brambling.

Below you will find the top four ringed for the month and the 'Top 7 Movers and Shakers'.

Top Four Ringed

1. Goldfinch - 31
2. Chaffinc - 25
3. Great Tit - 13
4. Siskin - 11

Top Seven Movers and Shakers

1. Goldfinch - 78 (same position)
2. Chaffinch - 55 (up from 3rd)
3. Blue Tit - 38 (down from 2nd)
4. Great Tit - 21 (same position)
5. Coal Tit - 13 (up from 6th)
6. Siskin - 12 (straight in)
7. Robin - 10 (down from 5th)

Albas On The Move

I headed to the Point this morning for an hour and a half for a bit of a sea watch and count any early vis that was on the go. It was another cold morning with two oktas cloud cover and a light northwesterly wind. I joined Ian for a short while before he had to leave to do the school run.

 It was clear this morning and the Lakeland Fells were clearly visible across
the Bay.

Waders weren't really a feature of the morning because I left before the high tide was forcing them to roost on the shingle so consequently I just had 28 Ringed Plovers, 62 Oystercatchers and two Turnstones.

 Ringed Plover

The main point of interest was the movement of Alba wags east in to the bay and mainly out at sea; I had 34 plus a Reed Bunting, a Starling, seven Carrion Crows, a Meadow Pipit and a Grey Wagtail.

The sea was quiet with just ten Eiders, three Great Crested Grebes, two Cormorants, three Red-throated Divers (east in to the bay), six Common Scoters and 15 Curlews (east in to the bay).

The only grounded migrant I had was a Blue Tit that dropped into the solitary bush in the dunes next to where I was standing before moving on!

After I left the Point I headed to Freckleton to drop off a birthday card and present for my good mate Andy, and as I was now on the Ribble I decided to call in at Newton Marsh for a quick look before heading home. I hadn't been to Newton Marsh SSSI since I put it and neighbouring Freckleton Marsh into Higher Level Stewardship in 2009!

Looking across the pools and and marsh I counted a very conservative Little Egret, 180 Lapwings, 400 Wigeon, two Gadwall, three Black-tailed Godwits, four Shovelers, 66 Shelducks and ten Teal. It was nice to see the marsh so full of waders and wildfowl!

 Wigeon and Shoveler.

The forecast is for rain in the morning clearing about lunchtime, so if I get time I might just take a walk down to the river after the rain stops.

Sunday 6 March 2016

Early Spring Migrants

It was cold and cloudy with a 'keen' northerly wind when I set off on my walk at the Obs this morning. There was a small amount of vis in the form of five Alba Wags and a Grey Wag north. Grounded migrants consisted of just one species; Stonechat, a cracking summer plumaged male, plus a winter plumaged male and a female.

On the sea there was a steady passage of Lesser Black-backed and Common Gulls north and they all looked resplendent in their fresh summer plumage. The supporting cast on the sea was meagre and included nine Kittiwakes, four Eiders, two Cormorants and two Curlews.

There was great views to be had of all the upland areas surrounding the Fylde and I could see snow covered fells and mountains in Wales, the Lake District, Howgills, Bowland and the West Pennines.

 The snow capped Lakes

Early spring flowers always give me a buzz so it was nice to see plenty of Snowdrops and Gorse in flower; Lesser Celandines to come next!


I then had a look on the pools and had six Snipe, two Water Rails, eleven Coots, seven Tufted Ducks and four Little Grebes. The forecast is looking good, although northerly, for tomorrow so I might try and grab a couple of hours birding in the morning. I was hoping to get out birding in southwest Scotland but some errands that need completing will keep me in the land of the Sassenachs!

Boxing Clever

Yesterday morning I spent the morning making six boxes for Pied Flycatchers to take to my nest box scheme in Bowland to replace any that are getting dilapidated. The series of photographs show the boxes from 6 x 1 planks to resplendent plated boxes!

The Blackbird at the end is 'Mr B' who calls every morning for some meal worms!