Sunday, 26 February 2012

No Rest For The Wicked!

I had a busy day today that included some ringing, habitat management and continued next box building, and I must admit I'm ready for a beer or two now!

This morning Ian and I went ringing at Ian's woodland feeding station and even though we did ring a few birds it was quiet. The fact that we only recaptured a previously ringed bird suggests that the birds are less reliant on the food at the moment and more interested in setting up breeding territories. We processed 12 new birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Blue Tit - 1 (1)
Reed Bunting - 2
Dunnock - 3
Chaffinch - 2
Greenfinch - 1
Blackbird - 2
Wren - 1

Blue Tit


Reed Bunting

We didn't see too much whilst we were ringing but a Brambling and drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker were nice.

After we packed in ringing we headed to the 'obs' to set it up for Spring. We planted five young Downy Birch and Scots Pine trees in one net ride and then planted a further 80 Willow 'whips'. We also gave some of the net rides a 'hair cut' by trimming back Hawthorn and Bramble.

 Newly planted trees at the obs

Interestingly at the obs it seemed as though a few birds were perhaps on the move. We were there late morning and had 2 Grey Wagtails, single Pied Wagtail and 3 Meadow Pipits head north. Spring is just round the corner!

I then headed home to check my 'empty for a second day runnng' moth trap and then I carried on working on my nest boxes. They're virtually finished now other than putting the lid fasteners on and giving them a coat of wood preservative.

Nest boxes now with holes

Saturday, 25 February 2012

A Touch Too Much

This morning Craig and I went ringing to our feeding station on Rawcliffe Moss but the wind was just that little bit too much and it had a detrimental affect on our catch. We processed 8 new birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Great Tit - 2 (1)
Blue Tit - 3 (4)
Yellowhammer - 1 (1)
Chaffinch - 1
Tree Sparrow - 1 (2)
Dunnock - (1)

As we were putting the nets up in the half light a male Tawny Owl called from Curlew Wood and later male Great Spotted Woodpeckers drummed from Tree Sparrow Wood and the L Wood. The female Hen Harrier gave us a great display this morning as she spent a good hour or so close to us giving stonking views as she 'quartered' her patch. At one stage she had a half-hearted go at some Corn Buntings!

We had very little else other than 35 Linnets over and a group of 16 Snipe. Back home I checked my 'empty' moth trap and then got on with building some boxes. See pictures below.

Marked and ready for cutting

Cut up into nest box 'kits'

Assembly begins

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

No Terry's Today

Craig, Ian, Peter, Phil and I had a failed attempt to catch and ring some Turnstones this morning. Unfortunately they are becoming a little net shy and as the weather has warmed up they aren't as interested in the food. These are the theories anyway!

So not a lot for me to report today other than the male Ring-necked Duck still being on the pools when I called on my way home. That will have to do.

Ring-necked Duck

Monday, 20 February 2012

Departing 'Pinkies'

I had an hour or so to spare this morning before having to face a day stuck in the office writing reports, so I headed to the Point to see if there was much on or moving over the sea. At first light there was near complete cloud cover with a brisk and cold southwesterly wind.

The only real notable movements this morning were that of Pink-footed Geese heading north over Morecambe Bay; in total I had 404 in four skeins. I was a bit surprised because the visibility wasn't all that good, but maybe from their altitude it was better and the southwesterly wind would allow them to cover more ground and expend less energy.

On the shore there were few waders and the only half reasonable count was that of 275 Oystercatchers. Two Grey Plovers were nice as I never tire of seeing these beautiful waders. My photo below doesn't do them justice at all. I like them even in winter plumage, but in full summer plumage I think they are even better than 'Goldies'.

All the sea would give up was 97 Eiders, 18 Cormorants, 8 Common Scoters and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers.

I then headed to the Marine Lakes to feed the Turnstones in preparation for a potential ringing session tomorrow, weather permitting. The following pictures depict the process of feeding the 'Terry's'.

When you start putting some food out a few appear over the bank

They come a little closer

 Then a few Starlings or a Black-headed Gull take an interest

They start running down the slope to the food

Something spooks them and they run away

Eventually the Turnstones start to feed!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sunny Sunday

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning when Gail and I went to feed the Tree Sparrows on Rawcliffe Moss today. We fed the usual mix of food and then had a walk across the moss to see what we could see. At the feeding station were 168 Tree Sparrows, 17 Chaffinch and 9 Yellowhammers.

As we headed up the '97 hedge' all we had were 7 Reed Buntings, but we could see a good number of small birds lifting from the wildbird seed plot ahead. As we walked through we had 200 Chaffinch, 60 Skylarks, 30 Linnets, 5 Corn Buntings and a Short-eared Owl.

Somewhere in here are 200 Chaffinch, 60 Skylarks, 30 Linnets, 
5 Corn Buntings and a Short-eared Owl!

We then headed across the stubble towards the plantation and had 11 Brown Hares and some of the females were 'boxing' the males to drive off their unwanted attention! In the fields to the south and west of the plantation were 700 Lapwing and 11 Stock Doves.

 I spotted this Six-spotted Ladybird over wintering next to one of Phil's 
mist net guys

Walking back to the track we flushed 3 Grey Partridges and something was continually spooking all the Corvids, Lapwings and Pink-footed Geese but we couldn't see what. My best guess was either a Peregrine or the Hen Harrier. The 'Pink-feet' numbered 3,500, which is the highest count I have had on the moss for some weeks.

 I 'snapped' these Snowdrops under a hedge as we walked back to the car

All in all a pleasant walk and a nice mix of farmland birds!

Friday, 17 February 2012

A Quiet Week

I say a quiet week, but I have been to my feeding station every other day and also carrying out surveys on some farmland. However, the weather has never been all that brilliant and when I have been to my feeding station it hasn't been nice enough to tempt to go for a walk and do some birding.

The usual suspects are at the feeding station and I have had up to 247 Tree Sparrows, 25 Chaffinch and a few Yellowhammers. As I said before I've been out a couple of days surveying and although it has been good to be back out in the field I haven't seen a great deal. I had a male Bullfinch at one site which was nice. I mention the Bullfinch because on the Fylde they are scarce and you need to know where to find them. Also at the same site I had three Tree Sparrows, but that's 'small beer' compared to my wintering flock.

Buzzards have been very active this week and I have seen several birds at every site I've visited. It's also noticeable that a few Redwings are now on their way back as I had several small flocks with 24 being the largest.

It's the North West Ringers' conference for me tomorrow and I am really looking forward to that as it will be great to catch up with some 'old faces' and pick up some tips. So it will be Sunday before I am out again.

Just to finish you will see a picture below that my good friend Nigel sent me of a Bald Eagle that he caught and ringed recently in Canada. Rather him than me handling that monster! Cracking bird though!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Yellow Bunts Abound

Craig and I ventured forth to our mossland feeding station this morning and even though conditions were a little marginal because of a stiff southeasterly wind we had a successful ringing session.

In the half light as we put up the nets we could hear three different male Tawny Owls calling with only a single female response. Other calls in the darkness came from Fieldfare, Snipe and Grey Partridge. Craig asked me if I had seen the female Hen Harrier of late and shortly after I told him that I hadn't seen it since 24th January she drifted over the hedge behind us and flew over the field between us and the woodland. We had absolutely stonking views of her! As she got to the 'big field' birds were getting up 'left, right and centre' and we could see her chasing something! Other raptors included two Kestrels and a male Sparrowhawk.

We had a few Shelducks heading east and I always think of this as a good sign that spring is just round the corner as birds are returning inland to breeding areas. It was hard to read anything in to the Lapwing movements we had this morning as we had 43 go southeast and 40 west! Probably just local movements between feeding areas.

We processed 22 new birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Yellowhammer - 10
Chaffinch - 4 (2)
Dunnock - 2
Tree Sparrow - 2
Blue Tit - 1 (10)
Robin - 3 (1)
Great Spotted Woodpecker - (1)

 Great Spotted Woodpecker

Blue Tit

Tree Sparrow

It was nice that that 55% of the birds we ringed this morning were red-listed farmland birds. Between 1983 and 2011 we (Fylde Ringing Group) have only ringed 86 Yellowhammers and so far this year we have ringed 13! Not huge numbers, but pleasing nevertheless.


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

On The Moss

Just after lunch I called to 'top up' at my feeding station and as it was such a beautiful afternoon I decided to prolong my visit and have a wander across the Moss. At the feeding station were 164 Tree Sparrows and 17 Chaffinch.

As usual I headed north along the '97' hedge and it was soon very obvious that there were less Reed Buntings around as I only had 5 along here when I would normally expect at least double that. On my whole walk I counted 14 Reed Bunts but they were scattered across quite a large area.

 Reed Bunting

Across the other side of the 'big field' I had three Roe Deer. I bumped into Phil later who was ringing in the plantation and he said there was actually five. As I approached the wild bird seed plot a Barn Owl flew west and I could later see it over the plantation. In the wild bird seed plot were 89 Skylarks but little else.

 Roe Deer

Three pairs of Grey Partridge were recorded this afternoon; two pairs by me on my walk round and Phil had a pair in the plantation. There were 4 Buzzards thermalling over various bits of woodland this afternoon and the only other raptor I had was a male Kestrel.

In the stubbles 12 Stock Doves fed and I flushed 3 Brown Hares as I walked across. I stopped at the plantation for a natter with Phil, where a pair of Yellowhammers dropped in, and then it was time to head off the Moss.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A Good Start To The Ringing Year

Over to the right you will see that I have updated the Fylde Ringing Group totals so far for 2012 and I think it is a good start for us. The top ten movers and shakers are as follows:

1. Chaffinch - 63
2. Blue Tit - 54
3. Great Tit - 38
4. Tree Sparrow - 29
5. Turnstone - 25
6. Goldfinch - 21
7. Blackbird - 15
8. Robin - 12
9 = Dunnock - 9
      Starling - 9

It's nice to see Turnstone in the top ten, but how long it can remain in the top ten I'm not sure!

The Return Of Icelandic Terry

Craig, Ian and I met early this morning at the Marine Lakes for another session rinigng Turnstones. We quickly set the whoosh net and were soon processing 15 new 'Terry's'. In addition to the new birds we recaptured one of 'our' birds ringed in December and th Icelandic bird we caught a couple of weeks ago.


Afterwards I headed to the Moss to feed the Tree Sparrows and I counted 203 along with 22 Chaffinch. I didn't linger on the Moss as the freezing fog was so thick it was difficult to see more than a few yards ahead.

Saturday, 4 February 2012


I went to the Point this morning for first light and even though there wasn't a frost it was perishing cold because of the icy southeasterly wind. My writing hand soon got very cold every time I took my glove off to enter birds into my notebook!

Overall it was a very quiet morning with low numbers of shorebirds and little on the sea. Waders were represented by 41 Oystercatchers, 9 Turnstones, 13 Sanderling, 4 Knot, 3 Ringed Plover and a single Bar-tailed Godwit amongst the Oycs.

On the sea all I had were 26 Cormorants, 39 Common Scoters, 49 Eiders and 11 Red-breasted Mergansers. The most interesting sighting was a male Peregrine that Ian picked up crossing the Bay. As soon as it hit the shore it dropped onto the golf course. Why it flew right across Morecambe Bay I'm not sure unless it was trying to escape harder weather further north.


I then went to the Marine Lakes to feed the Turnstones in preparation of a hoped for ringing session tomorrow. In total there were 61 along with two Redshanks. Out on the lake were a male and female Goldeneye and a presumed injured Pink-footed Goose. I say 'presume injured' as there wouldn't be any reason for it to be there otherwise.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Where Did The Week Go?

The only birding I have done during this past frosty week has been my trips every other day to my feeding station on Rawcliffe Moss. The maximum counts at the feeding station have been 266 Tree Sparrows (best count of the winter so far), 4 Yellowhammers and 30 Chaffinch. One of the Little Owls has been present in its regular spot. It often is present in its regular spot, but because I see it on my way off site I forget to put it in my notebook and subsequently forget to put it on here!

 Little Owl

I usually have a look on the river on my way home and this week there has been 3 males and one female Goosander, but not a lot else. It's looking like we might get some sleet/snow from lunchtime onwards tomorrow, so I'll try and get a couple of hours 'in' in the morning.