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!