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!