Thursday 26 January 2017

Wot No Birding

Life has been getting in the way of birding of late, but I'm not complaining, well maybe a bit. I've helped three family members move house lately and I was in Norfolk earlier this week for a couple of days attending the funeral of an old friend; may you rest in peace Steve! When you add in the days of bad weather as well, it has left very little if any time for birding, that's my excuse anyway!

So to get out birding yesterday, even though it was for business rather than for pleasure, was a treat! I was at my wintering bird survey site in Merseyside and it was a tad chilly to say the least. I had clear skies, ground frost and a cold 10 - 15 mph southeasterly wind. Rather than giving you a 'why and wherefore' of what I recorded I had the following bits and pieces of nominal interest; two Song Thrushes, 34 Long-tailed Tits, a Tree Sparrow, eleven Linnets, four Buzzards, 1248 Pink-footed Geese, three Goldcrests, 23 Goldfinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, three Coal Tits, four Stock Doves, 69 Curlews, a singing Mistle Thrush, a female Sparrowhawk, 220 Woodpigeons, 36 Carrion Crows, 12 Blue Tits, 152 Black-headed Gulls and 111 Jackdaws.


 Pink-footed Geese

The only other news is that I won't be doing any ringing locally anytime soon, as the Obs falls within a 10 km surveillance zone surrounding an outbreak of Avian Influenza at Hy-Fly hatcheries near Pilling. Hy-Fly rear Pheasants, Red-legged Partridges etc and the H5N8 virus was found in some Pheasants at the site. The surveillance zone generally stays in place for 30 days, so at the earliest it will be 24th February before I can ring again within the Obs recording area; so it's just birding for the next 30 days presuming life doesn't get in the way again!

Sunday 15 January 2017

December's Ringing Totals

Over on the right you will see that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group for the year. We ended up ringing 3580 birds, which is 406 down on last year. Two new species for the year were ringed during December and these were Great Black-backed Gull and Twite. In fact Great Black-backed Gull was a first ringing record for the group.

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

Top Four Ringed During December

1. Blue Tit - 48
2= Goldfinch - 28
     Linnet - 28
4. Great Tit - 17

Top Ten Movers and Shakers

1. Swallow - 826 (same position)
2. Goldfinch - 312 (same position)
3. Blue Tit - 255 (up from 4th)
4. Meadow Pipit - 209 (down from 3rd)
5. Lesser Redpoll - 193 (same position)
6. Great Tit - 182 (up from 7th)
7. Linnet - 162 (up from 8th)
8. Goldcrest - 155 (down from 6th)
9. Chaffinch - 132 (same position)
10. Reed Bunting - 113 (same position)

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Little Gulls

I headed to the Point this morning at first light for, as it turned out, a short sea watch as I got rained off. Prior to the rain front coming in I had full cloud cover with a 25 mph westerly wind. Shortly after arriving I was joined by Ian.

It didn't seem overly windy and it hadn't been that windy overnight, but there was certainly some Little Gulls moving out of the Bay and in total we had 32. They were mainly all adults with just a few second calendar year birds mixed in. Other than the Little Gulls we just had three Eiders and seven Red-breasted Mergansers.

In front of our sea watching position a few waders roosted on the beach including 78 Oystercatchers, 141 Sanderlings, 29 Ringed Plovers and 27 Turnstones.

It's going to be a lot more windier tomorrow with perhaps a hint of northerly in the westerly, which isn't good, but I'll give it another go and see what I get.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Drink A Penny

I decided to have an hour and a half on the river this morning before strapping myself in to my home office to do some work. I had clear skies with a cold 15 mph north-northwesterly wind.

Walking through the 'Hawthorn tunnel' or 'Thrush alley', as I sometimes refer the path to the estuary as, I flushed 22 Blackbirds, two Redwings and a Fieldfare. Some were feeding on the Hawthorn berries and I think some were exiting their roost that seemed to be in dense vegetation on the ditch side.

At the end of the path I walked on to the saltmarsh so I could look down the river and on to the mudflats. Walking across the saltmarsh I put up 19 Snipes and four Rock Pipits. I counted 230 Pink-footed Geese leaving the roost and sat down on a log to have a coffee. Even though the wind was cold it was clear and the visibility was good. Similar to yesterday the numbers of waders and wildfowl were towards the mouth of the estuary, which was too far away to make any meaningful counts.

After my coffee I headed over to the pool to have a loot at any wildfowl on there. In a quiet corner were eight Little Grebes feeding and it was a pleasure to watch them. Once they dived, and the rings of wavelets had dispersed, I could follow them feeding under water by tracking their air bubbles rising to the surface; beautiful!

Little Grebe - Going...



On Facebook Kane posted today to say that he was working at Castle Espie on Strangford Lough in Ireland, and Strangford Lough is one of my favourite places anywhere. I suppose I am biased as that's where a lot of family come from! Why am I telling you this? The local name for Little Grebe in the Strangford Lough area is 'Drink A Penny', hence my blog title and hence telling you this wee tale!  

Besides the Little Grebes the pool held three Coots, three Moorhens, five Goldeneyes, 11 Tufted Ducks and two Teal.


My walk back didn't reveal much else other than a Song Thrush, two Reed Buntings, a single Goldcrest and a Water Rail calling from the small reedbed.

On my way home I stopped off at the dual carriageway to see if there were any Waxwings and there was just a single bird. Where all its mates were I don't know! My last port of call on my ten minute drive home was the geese fields which just held 27 Pink-footed Geese.


I won't be out again until weekend, so fingers crossed for some decent weather!

Monday 2 January 2017

Saltmarsh Sunrise

The days are starting to lengthen a bit already and this is more noticeable in the evening rather than the morning for some reason, so first light still isn't that early, but nevertheless I was out at first light on the estuary watching the sun rise. It was cold with a ground frost, clear skies and relatively calm with just a hint of a northerly


As I walked along the edge of the inward edge of the saltmarsh I pushed a few Skylarks from the creek edges and there were eight in total. There was also good numbers of Reed Buntings and I had respectable count of 31. There was also a mixed flock of Linnets and Twite with a split of perhaps 40/20. From the reedbed I had a calling Water Rail and a few more Reed Buntings.

 Reed Bunting (above & below)

There were a number of Gulls flying to the river to bathe and loaf on the exposed sand banks. I picked my way across the marsh putting four Rock Pipits up in the process and set my scope up at the edge of the saltmarsh. The gull flock contained 271 Herring Gulls, 46 Great Black-backed Gulls, 85 Black-headed Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Common Gull and best of all an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

 Pied Wagtail

There was a few wildfowl on the river including 35 Wigeons, 75 Teal, 30 Mallards and 7 Shelducks. Waders were less represented with just 80 Lapwings. Towards the mouth of the river I could see more waders and wildfowl, but they were realistically beyond the range of my optics.

I had a look on the pools on my way back and was pleased to see that there was still at least five Bearded Tits. Coot numbered 64 and Tufted Ducks 20.

On my way home I had a look in the woodland and allotments and was pleased to count 40 House Sparrows! The woodland was quiet other than a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a good winter count of seven Goldcrests.

I'd better do some work tomorrow before heading to my feeding station to do a seed drop!

Sunday 1 January 2017


I started off at the farm fields this morning and I was stood in the copse waiting for it to get light, listening to Pink-footed Geese dropping in to the farm fields to the east. I had 7 oktas cloud cover with a biting 15 mph northerly wind.

I did my usual circuit but it was slow. All the farm fields and hedges revealed were a Song Thrush, 239 Pink-footed Geese, 19 Meadow Pipits, 70 Jackdaws and a Reed Bunting.

I managed to find a bit of shelter to enable me to look on the sea but it was hardly worth it with just three Cormorants, three Common Scoters, a Red-throated Diver and five Eiders.

As I was nearly back at my car I received a phone call from Ian to say that he had some Waxwings in the Rowans on the dual carriageway. I was there in five minutes and sure enough five Waxwings were feeding merrily away on the Rowan berries. Even though the sun was behind us, the sky was so bright that it was difficult to get some decent shots, but if you look below I think you can tell what they are.

 Waxwing (above & below)

I then had a look on the Marine Lakes, and the two smaller lakes have been drained to carry out maintenance work and are attracting a few birds; I had 143 Turnstones, two Goldeneyes, 78 Redshanks, a Red-breasted Merganser and 60 Black-headed Gulls.


I finished my mornings birding by having a look at a section of the estuary as the tide ran in and recorded 70 Mallards, 59 Redshanks, 40 Wigeons, 61 Lapwings and a Peregrine.

I'm not sure what I am doing tomorrow, it could be walking with her indoors or some more birding, I'll let Gail decide.