Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Swallows

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

 Swallow

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.

 Goldcrest

I shouldn't grumble, but I'm desperate to get out on the patch!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Kite Country

My work of late has predominantly taken me to north Cumbria, but on Friday it took me a little further north to southwest Scotland. I had two site visits; one to the southwest of Dumfries and the other to the northeast of Castle Douglas. Both sites are firmly in 'Kite country' and I was looking forward to seeing some Red Kites during my site visits.

I wasn't disappointed at seeing three Red Kites, but was hoping for a few more. However, this wasn't to be as the weather conditions during my site visits was particularly wet with poor visibility, not conducive for seeing Kites. Having said that it was still a thrill to see three of these great big lolloping raptors!

Hopping back south of the border I had another survey of young plantation woodland to do close to Penrith. The site is fairly isolated without any corridors connecting the plantation to habitat in the wider landscape and as a result bird usage has been minimal. Meagre highlights of this last survey included five Tree Sparrows, a Buzzard, a Raven and a Willow Warbler.

 Pied Wagtails regularly forage in the young plantation woodland.

We've got Swallows again this year roosting at one of the pools at the Obs so hopefully I'll have some news from there soon!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Return To The Reeds

During the past few days Ian and I have had two ringing sessions in the reeds and scrub at the Obs. These were the first sessions since we cleared the net rides just over a week ago. I've lumped together the ringing totals for both sessions and we ringed the following species (recaptures in brackets):

Blackcap -3
Whitethroat -3
Blue Tit - 4
Reed Warbler -5 (1)
Sedge Warbler -2
Greenfinch -4
Chiffchaff - 1
Wren -3 (2)
Willow Warbler - 2
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Robin - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Dunnock - 2
Blackbird - 1

 Whitethroat

As we were putting the nets up we had at least fifteen Pied Wagtails over that were exiting a roost somewhere on the docks. Talking of wagtails during both sessions we had a Grey Wagtail fly over high to the southwest and it is a bit too early for a proper migrant and was likely a local bird moving around.

On the subject of movement 150 Jackdaws went over heading west. They were flying quite high and had come from over the river. After we packed up we had a look on the pools on our way out and counted 25 Coots, 18 Little Grebes and eleven Tufted Ducks.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Just Before The Mini Heat Wave

Earlier this week I had another bird survey to complete in north Cumbria, not too far from Wigton, and I got it done just before the mini heat wave of Tuesday and Wednesday. Once again it was in some relatively young plantation woodland and it held a few birds. In no particular order I recorded three Lesser Redpolls, three Song Thrushes, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Coal Tit, three Willow Warblers, a Whitethroat, two Chiffchaffs, eleven Chaffinches and four Blackcaps.

Back home and in my garden during the afternoon I had a Grey Wagtail go over. Probably not a proper migrant but likely to be a local breeder or juvenile bird dispersing!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

One Fulmar Does Not A Seawatch Make

On Saturday morning I headed to the Point for my first seawatch in some time. I had 7 oktas cloud cover with a 15 mph west-northwesterly wind. It was quite warm and looking back at my notebook for this time last year I was complaining about having to wear hat and gloves, so maybe this summer is marginally better!

The first bird that I had heading west out of the bay was a Fulmar and as it appeared so early on I thought there was some hope of a reasonable count and haul of species. The Fulmar gave me a false sense of hope and I should have realised that as there was some northerly in the westerly (I don't how many times I have said that here), it wasn't going to be a good seawatch!

The Fulmar was the star of the morning and the supporting cast at sea included a Sandwich Tern, a flock (yes a flock) of five Great Crested Grebes, three Cormorants, 13 Common Scoters and three Gannets.

And that was it! There was only one sensible option and that was to take up Ian's offer of a decent coffee back at his. So I did and as usual we put the birding world to rights!