Friday, 31 May 2013


You may all be aware of this, but just in case you aren't, I thought I would bring it to your attention. I received an email yesterday from one of those e-petition sites asking me to sign a petition against SNH licencing the culling of Buzzards in Scotland. The email then went on to say that Natural England has secretly issued licences to destroy a localised population of Buzzards for the sake of Pheasant stocks in England. What!!!???

A quick search on the internet did indeed confirm that Natural England has issued a licence to kill Buzzards to protect a local shoot. Rather than put it all in my own words the article below from The Guardian of 23rd May 2013 tells the story.

"A government agency has licensed the secret destruction of the eggs and nests of buzzards to protect a pheasant shoot, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The action sets a historic precedent, being the first time such action has been licensed against any bird of prey to protect game shoots since raptors gained legal protection decades ago. Buzzards are recovering from near extinction and now number 40,000 breeding pairs, while 35m pheasants are bred each year for shoots.

It is also less than a year after the wildlife minister, Richard Benyon, abandoned related plans citing "public concerns". Benyon, whose family estate in Berkshire runs shoots, cancelled plans to spend £375,000 on testing control measures for buzzards around pheasant shoots after a public outcry in May 2012. "I will collaborate with all the organisations that have an interest in this issue and will bring forward new proposals," he said at the time.

The destruction of the nests, which took place in the last few weeks, was only revealed after the event through a freedom of information request by the RSPB.

"We were proceeding collaboratively and that is why we are so angry now," said Martin Harper, the RSPB's conservation director. "Most people would prefer to see buzzards soaring in the sky. They are big, majestic creatures in the wild and we don't have many of them in the UK: they are England's eagle. The fact the licence process takes place without public scrutiny is wrong."

The licences were issued by the government's licensing body, Natural England (NE) and permitted destruction of up to four nests and the eggs they held. "The law allows action to be taken against protected species to protect livestock, which includes any animal kept for the provision or improvement of shooting," said a spokesman for NE. "We rigorously assessed the application [and] were satisfied the case met the criteria."

The locations of the destroyed nests were not made public. NE stated the issue was "emotive and sensitive" and cited "public safety". NE issued the licences despite its own expert reviewer stating: "There is no body of published evidence demonstrating that the presence of buzzards is likely to result in serious damage to a game shoot." A related application to kill sparrowhawks was rejected.

The National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) was closely involved in winning the licences and had threatened NE with judicial review if they were not granted. "We believe the long-standing licensing process was correctly used in this case," said a spokesman. "A few buzzards had been consistently killing a large number of pheasants. Most birds of prey are now at or near record levels in the UK, so conflicts with game management and farming are bound to occur from time to time."

Pheasants are not native to the UK and were introduced to stock shoots, but the biomass of the population makes it now the single biggest bird species in the countryside. The growing popularity of shoots in the Victorian era saw buzzards poisoned, shot and trapped until just 1,000 pairs were left, but protection in recent decades has led to a partial recovery.

Jeff Knott, the RSPB's bird of prey expert, said: "The buzzard has full legal protection, so why are we undermining this when all the available evidence shows they are not a significant source of loss of pheasant chicks." An independent study commissioned by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation found that, on average, 1-2% of pheasant poults released were taken by all birds of prey, Knott said, adding that a third of all pheasants are killed on the roads. The NGO spokesman said the buzzard control project was cancelled last year after the RSPB's campaign would have provided evidence of predation: "They can't have it both ways."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: "After a thorough assessment, Natural England granted a licence for the removal of a small number of buzzard nests. Buzzard populations are thriving in the UK and this licensed action had no effect on their population."

Labour's environment secretary, Mary Creagh, said buzzards had recovered under the previous government: "This latest revelation blasts a hole in ministers' empty words about protecting Britain's iconic native species. It is astounding the government has granted licences after ministers were forced to U-turn last year." She also criticised Benyon: "Who exactly do ministers think they are there to serve? "

A key criterion for the granting of the licences was that all non-lethal control methods, such as creating places for pheasants to hide and diverting buzzards away by leaving food out, had been unsuccessfully tried. But the NE expert who reviewed the application reported: "Overall, there is a pattern of [non-lethal] methods being employed inconsistently." The reviewer also noted that "the efficacy of [nest and egg destruction] is untested". Harper said the RSPB was considering its legal options.

The government has previously been criticised for favouring grouse shooting in the Pennines, after NE abandoned plans to ban the burning of peat land on a grouse moor and withdrew from a related legal action against the Walshaw Moor estate"

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised at this based on the track record of this un-greenest of governments.It is so typical of this shambolic coalition and excuse for a government that they sneak this through quietly to keep some of their wealthy chums happy!

It makes me laugh that the governments poodle, Natural England, whose remit is to protect England's wildlife have issued a licence to kill a native species so that a bunch of idiots can release millions of semi-tame non-native birds to shoot at just for a giggle!!! What's wrong with these folks? And don't get me started on Richard Benyon!!! As the above article states Dickie Benyon stated at the time of the original proposals last year to cull Buzzards "I will collaborate with all the organisations that have an interest in this issue and will bring forward new proposals," Does old Dickie suffer from amnesia or is he just a bold faced liar? So the proposals he has brought forward are just to ignore the interests of the public and allow some of his chums to kill Buzzards. I could give old Dickie Benyon a suitable name here but I won't. The best way to sort this out is through the ballot box and remove this anti-wildlife government once and for all.

I won't go on any more and I'll leave you to make up your own minds but this whole episode has a distinct smell of rodent to me!

You can read some other reaction to this at the following links and sites; the Journal, Martin Harper's Blog, Alan Tilmouth's blog and if you want to have a laugh have a look at the Shooting Times who seem to base their argument that it is okay to grant a licence to destroy Buzzard nests because lots of licenses were granted last year to kill Cormorants and there are more Buzzards than Cormorants! What a joke!!!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Late Migrants and Baffling Boxes

I apologise for not posting for a while but work has been getting in the way a bit recently! Weekend saw me at the obs and although it was quiet there were a few late migrants mainly in the form of 66 Swallows north, 4 House Martins north, 7 Redpolls north, 3 Goldfinches north and three grounded Wheatears.

There were a few passage waders on the beach including 22 Oystercatchers, 114 Sanderlings, three Ringed Plovers, 15 Knot, two Dunlins and four Turnstones. The sea was quiet other than eleven Sandwich Terns and an Auk sp!

 Ringed Plover


Bank holiday Monday saw Gail and I doing the round of next boxes. On the Moss we ringed two broods of Tree Sparrows and several other boxes that had young two small to ring last week had either fledged (flattened nest) or had been predated (nest empty, but intact and not flattened).

 Tree sparrow pulli

Over at the Hodder Valley we ringed a brood of six Great Tits and a brood of eight Nuthatches. We have ten pairs of Pied Flycatchers on eggs and we managed to lift a further five females off the nest, so we have now had seven out of the ten. Two of these were new, two contols and one of them was a recapture having been ringed at the site as a breeding female in 2009 and recaptued every year since. Her age at the time of ringing means that she is at least five years old now!

It will be back to the boxes again at weekend with the possibility of some ringing in the reedbeds Friday morning. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Winged Sentinels

I have just finished reading Winged Sentinels: Birds and Climate Change by Janice Wormworth and Cagan H Sekercioglu and it was a cracking read. If you are interested to learn about birds and climate change, and anyone interested in birds and conservation should be, and what effect climate change will have on bird populations then you will enjoy this book. It is a worrying read at times, but then the whole issue of climate change is worrying.

The blurb on the back of the book states "from ice-dependent penguins of Antarctica to songbirds that migrate across the Sahara, birds' responses provide early warning signs of the impact of climate change. Winged Sentinels: Birds and climate change uses colourful examples to show how particular groups of birds face heightened threats from climate change, and to explore how we can help birds adapt in a warming world. Generously illustrated with colour photographs, the book is a fascinating insight into what climate change means for birds, and the potential consequences of ignoring these warning signs". I couldn't have put it better myself!

Chapter headings are:

1. Phenology: seasonal timing and mismatch
2. Migratory birds face turbulence
3. Range shifts and reshuffled communities
4. Seabirds herald ocean changes
5. Climate change, abundance and extinction
6. Tropical warming and habitat islands
7. Shifting ground on conservation

I found the first chapter particularly interesting on seasonal timing and mismatch as this is something I am noting with my nest boxes and in fact I have touched upon this on my blog these past few posts. So go on, teat yourself, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Plot Thickens!

On Sunday Gail and I were once again on the nest box trail and our first port of call were our Tree Sparrow boxes on the moss. Due to weather restraints last weekend we hadn't managed to check them so this was the first visit and it had me scratching my head!

All fifteen boxes were occupied by Tree Sparrows but the puzzling aspect were the boxes with complete nests and no eggs or young and a couple of boxes with flattened nests as if the young had fledged! If this is the case then there is a huge amount of variability between boxes in terms of what stage of the breeding cycle they are at.

Seven boxes had young that were too small to ring and two boxes had full clutches of eggs being incubated. This means that next weekend there should be a few Tree Sparrow pulli to ring. The remaining six boxes were the puzzling ones, so it will be interesting to see what they're like next week.

 Trre Sparrow box

After the Moss we headed off to Bowland to our boxes in the Hodder Valley. We checked all 39 boxes and 17 hadn't advanced at all from the previous week e.g. still empty or still a quarter nest etc, so these will be dropped off next weekend's round. We had eight pairs of Pied Flycatchers incubating full clutches and I managed to lift two females off the nest; both were controls so it will be interesting to see where they have come from. A further two boxes had complete Pied Flycatcher nests in them that were empty last week, so potentially we could have ten pairs this year which would be a record. This is probably as a result of under-occupation by Tits.

 Pied Flycatcher - female

We had four boxes occupied by Great Tits, four by Blue Tits and a single box with six, too small to ring, Nuthatches in. So next weekend we will have the Nuthatches to ring and possibly up to eight female Pied Flycatchers to lift off the nest. Let's hope for some decent weather.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Up The Wenning

Today I had the pleasure of working on a farm that borders the River Wenning in the area of the beautiful Lune valley. The weather was perhaps what you would say a little mixed; sunshine and showers.

The River Wenning

As I walked down towards the river I noticed a few Swifts feeding above the yard buildings and then when I got down to the river there was a good 20 hawking insects above the woodland. Presumably the damp low cloud conditions had brought some aerial insects down to low levels. Further downstream I had another eleven Swifts brinigng my total for the farm to 35.

The large barn in this particular yard is full of holes and crevices in the walls and under the eaves and consequently full of House Sparrows. I don't know how many pairs nest in this barn, but there is a fair few. Walking around the fields and heading towards the river I noticed at least three pairs of Lapwings and two pairs of Oystercatchers on territory, with the Lapwings favouring the bare re-seeded fields. However, when walking back across a field with good grass cover, longer than I expected a Lapwing would choose, I came across the nest with four eggs below. All were warm and obviously being successfully brooded by the female. When the pair of Lapwings selected this nest site the sward height would of course been a lot less.

 Lapwing nest and eggs

Along the river were Sand Martins, Dippers and Reed Bunting. In a re-seeded field next to the river I noticed four small waders running around and displaying to one another next to a small flood. I lifted my bins and could see they were four Little Ringed Plovers. What took me by surpsise was the fact that they were in a re-seeded field, although it was fairly bare with just the first signs of grass growth. The water levels on the river were quite high and this may have pushed them off their more favoured shingle beds.

Heading back to the yard a flock of 18 Linnets lifted from the newly re-seeded field, presumably feeding on seeds that had yet to germinate. On my way back I called for a coffee in the cafe/post office at Dunsop Bridge (the exact geographic centre of Great Britain) and noticed at least 10-15 Swifts feeding above the buildings adjacent to the River Hodder. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Reed Bunting To South Wales

Amongst another bunch of recoveries from the BTO were details of one our Reed Buntings that I ringed at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park (reedbed site) on 14th July 2012 that was controlled (caught by another ringer) at Kenfig Pool, Bridgend, South Wales on 2nd March 2013. See Google Earth image below.

On the morning in question we trapped and ringed four juvenile Reed Buntings together that I assumed were all from the same brood. And as luck would have it I have a picture of this bird, or it's brother/sister, as I ringed two out of the four birds. See below.

This bird travelled a distance of 270 km SSW to presumably spend the winter in South Wales. Of course it could have gone further and been trapped on it's way back north again. However, it is likely to have wintered at Kenfig as it is classic Reed Bunting habitat. In fact we have had a number of our birds controlled at Kenfig in the past, primarily Reed Warblers. 

The Migration Atlas states that an analysis of movement distances between summer and winter was carried out by Prys-Jones (1977, 1984) and that 53% of movements between the breeding season and winter were of more than 20 km and 32% were greater than 50 km. The relatively small numbers of movements exceeding 50 km predominantly resulted in birds wintering in a southerly or southwesterly direction from their breeding grounds (Wernham 2002). This fits in exactly with our bird as well.

Kestrel To Somerset

Amongst the batch of recoveries we received from the BTO recently was details of a Kestrel that we had ringed at Rossall School, Fleetwood, Lancashire as part of a brood of four on 7th June 2012. This bird had then travelled 281 km south to Felton in North Somerset and had unfortunately got itself tangled by it's wing in a building and very sadly starved to death. See Google Earth image below.

The Migration Atlas states that young Kestrels disperse from the nest from July onwards. Although most recoveries at this stage are within a few tens of kilometres of the birthplace (70% within 75 km), some are from much further afield. This movement away from the nest seems to be in random directions and some birds move very quickly (Wernham 2002).

This Kestrel certainly dispersed quite a distance and what we can't tell from the recovery details was whether it had travelled further and was it heading north again to Lancashire when it sadly died. From our own experience of ringing Kestrel chicks I can agree with the statement that they disperse in random directions as we have had birds dispersing north across Morecambe Bay as well. 

Below is a picture of Ian ringing one of this brood of four and this could well be the bird that had a short but adventurous life!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Empty Boxes

Yesterday Gail and I made the first visit to my Pied Flycatcher boxes in the Hodder Valley and the outcome was somewhat interesting!

There were two factors that were very obvious and a little alarming and these were the number of empty boxes, 16 out of 39, and the number of incomplete Tit nests. Out of 39 boxes this is what we found:

- Empty - 16
- Incomplete Tit nest - 6
- Great Tit; clutch incomplete - 3
- Pied Flycatcher; clutch incomplete - 6
- Great Tit; female incubating - 3
- Incomplete Pied Flycatcher nest - 3
- Blue Tit; clutch incomplete - 1
- Nuthatch; female incubating - 1

This is what we found on the 12th May last year; the exact same date:

- Empty - 8 (out of 38 boxes)
- Incomplete Tit nest - 6
- Great Tit; clutch incomplete - 2
- Pied Flycatcher; clutch incomplete - 3
- Great Tit; female incubating - 4
- Incomplete Pied Flycatcher nest - 5
- Pied Flycatcher; female incubating - 1
- Blue Tit; clutch incomplete - 2
- Blue Tit; female sitting - 6
- Nuthatch - 8 small young

Although this is just a comparison between the last two years it is nevertheless interesting to look at the details. Pied Flycatchers are occupying the boxes at the same number but at a different stage to last year. At this time last year based on the above I would say that there were 4 definite pairs of Pied Flycatchers (incomplete clutches + female incubating) and this year 6 (incomplete clutches). This could be a case of a slight increase in Pied Flycatcher numbers taking advantage of the increase in empty boxes this year; 16 this year, compared to 8 last year.

So why all the empty boxes this year and which species hasn't taken them up. Looking again at the above there is a distinct lack of Blue Tits. If we total up the boxes where there was some type of Blue Tit activity in a box this year and last year this equates to 8 in 2012 and just 1 this year. However, there are 6 boxes with incomplete Tit nests in this year and these may turn out to be Blue Tits, in which case numbers would be very similar to last year, but just a little later. Great Tit activity is similar to last year, so it will be interesting to see how the Blue Tits get on. It might be that they have started later to time the hatching of their young with those of canopy feeding moth caterpillars, so crucial for a number of woodland bird species survival. All interesting stuff!

 Above & below - this box obviously started out being used by 
Nuthatches (mud inside box & below lid) before being taken over by 
Pied Flycatchers

 The actual box the Nuthatches were using

Female Great Tit incubating

Walking through the woodland checking the boxes we had several singing Warbler species including two Goldcrests, three Blackcaps, three Willow Warblers and a Garden Warbler. Other species recorded included a female Goosander on the river, 20 Siskins, a Jay and a Treecreeper.

Belated April Rinigng Totals

As per usual over on the right I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group and up until the end of April we have ringed 902 birds of 44 species. In fact April was a good month and our total was 408 birds which is very respectable.

New species ringed for the year during April were a Sparrowhawk, four Tree Pipits, six Wheatears, a Cetti's Warbler, two Sedge Warblers, a Reed Warbler, three Lesser Whitethroats, five Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, nine Blackcaps, 34 Chiffchaffs, 105 Willow Warblers and 36 Lesser Redpolls.

The top five species ringed during April were:

1. Willow Warbler - 105
2. Meadow Pipit - 56
3. Goldcrest - 45
4. Goldfinch - 38
5. Lesser Redpoll - 36

The top ten 'movers and shakers' for the month were as follows:

1. Chaffinch - 34 (same position)
2. Goldfinch - 111 (same position)
3. Willow Warbler - 105 (straight in)
4. Meadow Pipit - 56 (straight in)
5. Brambling - 55 (down from 3rd)
    Reed Bunting - 55 (down from 4th)
7. Goldcrest - 48 (straight in)
8. Great Tit - 37 (down from 5th)
9. Lesser Redpoll - 36 (straight in)
10. Chiffchaff - 34 (straight in)
      Blue Tit - 37 (down from 6th)

It's nice to see five species coming straight in to the year's top ten ringed so far. As we're nearly half way through May I can tell you that May started off okay, but it has quietened down a bit now because of the weather. Let's hope the weather picks up whilst there's still time to catch and ring migrating Acro's.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

'Long-tailed' Lightning Doesn't Strike Twice

As I was heading up the Lune Valley yesterday morning to measure some hedges Ian phoned me to say he had had a Long-tailed Skua, three Poms and eight Arctics off the obs! I gave Ian an expletive laden congratulations and cursed the fact that I had to work this morning during classic conditions for Skua movement!

This morning at 0530 saw Ian and I sat on the beach with our backs against the sea wall, eyes glued to telescope eye-pieces staring out to sea. Unfortunately 'Long-tailed' lightning didn't strike twice and during the three hours that I slowly lost the feeling in my legs from my backside down, we didn't have a great deal. Sea passage included a dark morph Arctic Skua, 65 Common Scoters, 22 Gannets, a Bonxie, 42 Sandwich Terns, four Red-throated Divers, 15 Manx Shearwaters, a Kittiwake and two Auk sp.

There was some vis with Swallows moving west at first and then later northeast. The vis totals were 62 Swallows, two Meadow Pipits and three Swifts.

The highlight of morning, for sheer spectacle, was a stonking male Peregrine gave a fantastic display as it unsuccessfully chased and tried to catch a wader.

No seawatching for me tomorrow, in fact no birding at the obs, as Gail and I are checking my Pied Fly and Tree Sparrow boxes. What a treat for her!

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Wrong Decision?

We had two choices this morning; ring at the obs on the coast or head a little inland (half a mile) and try and catch some Acro's in the reedbed. We went for the latter, but regretted it after catching very little, but that's the beauty of hind sight I guess!

Huw, Ian and I met at 0445 but noted that it should have been 0430, ouch! We had 6 oktas high cloud with a 5-10 mph SSE wind. We put three nets in the willow scrub and reeds and waited expectantly. I must admit it 'felt' quiet as we were putting the nets up, but often it has felt quiet and we have caught well.

All we ringed were two Blackbirds and we recaptured two Reed Warblers from this site in 2011 and 2012. Interestingly the bird originally ringed in 2011 as a breeding male was not subsequently recaptured in 2012.

 Reed Warbler

It was very quiet on the birding front with the only vis being a single Redpoll, four Swallows and two Sand Martins. A good selection of warblers were singing including single Grasshopper Warbler, single Whitethroat and approximately four each of Reed and Sedge Warbler.

After our early finish I had a quick look in the cemetery and had a grounded Chiffchaff, two Willow Warblers and eight Lesser Redpolls. Eighteen Lesser Redpolls headed north in the short time I was there as well as six Swallows, a Swift, a Linnet and four Carrion Crows.

Back home I checked my moth trap and all I had were two Hebrew Characters, a Herald and a Common Quaker. The forecast is looking okay for some birding before work so I'll have my usual stagger around the obs.

Hebrew Character


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sea Parrot

Another morning seawatching and migration monitoring off the point saw me stood by the tower at 0525 with full cloud cover and a 15-20 mph SSW wind. It was very murky out in the bay and during the morning there would be intermittent drizzle.

It was different to yesterday in that there was some vis, but interestingly it was all westerly (autumnal direction) in to the wind. Our totals included a Redpoll, 146 Swallows (some moving out at sea), seven Alba Wagtails, two Meadow Pipits, a Siskin, three Yellow Wagtails (including a male & female that landed on the golf course), 44 Linnets, six House Martins, 51 Goldfinches, two Tree Pipits and six Sand Martins.

Passage offshore was probably quieter than yesterday but included eight Eiders, two Shelducks, 148 Common Scoters, 14 Auk sp., 40 Sandwich Terns, 45 Gannets, 12 Razorbills, 17 Red-throated Divers, a Great Crested Grebe, 42 Kittiwakes, 16 Manx Shearwaters, eight Guillemots and a Common Tern.

The best birds offshore this morning were Arctic Skua and Puffin. We had two Arctic Skuas, not together, that Ian picked up and they were a pale and a dark  morph. The pale morph bird headed into the bay and climbed as if it was going to attempt an over land crossing, but then it turned and headed northwest towards Walney, presumably as the direction of its over land crossing was blocked with murk. The dark morph bird showed very well as it headed in to the bay later in the morning.

Although quite a rare bird in Lancashire the Puffin didn't show very well at all. I picked it up a long way out with some other auks and surprisingly it took us a few minutes to clinch it as a Puffin, with its pale face and small size being the most obvious features at this distance. It kept diving and it was hard to pick up in the swell when it surfaced, also it was drifting further away as the tide went out. This was the second bird at the obs this week and the one earlier in the week was the first since 2010.

A number of waders headed west along the shore as the tide came in and included 681 Dunlins, 980 Knots, three Sanderlings, a Grey Plover, eight Ringed Plovers and a Turnstone. We had two marine mammals this morning in the form of an Atlantic Grey Seal and a Harbour Porpoise.

The forecast is looking okay in the morning to do some ringing so I will be heading to the reedbeds to try and catch some Acro's

Saturday, 4 May 2013

A Quiet Busy Morning!

I realise that my blog title is a bit of an oxymoron but this morning seemed quiet at times, but there was plenty going on! I arrived at the point at 0530 to five oktas cloud cover and a cool 20 mph SSW wind. I was soon joined by Ian and a little later by Len.

All the time we were seawatching Dunlins were flying further up the shore to roost as the tide ran in. In total we had 923 fly past, or should I say 923 that were counted, as there were quite a few more birds than that. Other waders included a Whimbrel east, 32 Ringed Plovers, 59 Grey Plovers, 48 Bar-tailed Godwits and 107 Sanderlings. Amongst the Sanderlings were two colour ringed birds.

At times the sea passage seemed quiet but when everything was totalled up it was quite busy. Totals for some species included 621 Common Scoters flying out of the bay, two Red-breasted Mergansers, 13 Auk sp., 34 Sandwich Terns, 73 Gannets (including some stonking views of birds close in), seven Red-throated Divers, seven Razorbills, nine Manx Shearwaters, three Guillemots, a Great Crested Grebe and a Kittiwake.

At 0740 I picked a diver up flying out of the bay that didn't look quite right and had all the jizz of Black-throated Diver. I got Ian on to the bird and then Len and we all agreed it was indeed a Black-throat. As it headed west out of the bay it was moving further and further offshore.

At 0810 there was more excitement in the form of a pale morph Arctic Skua that Ian picked up just over the beach and giving some of the best views I have ever had of a pale morph Arctic Skua here. As it 'motored' east in to the bay it was steadily gaining height presumably in preparation for an over land crossing to the east coast.

The third excitement of the morning was a male Peregrine that caused pandemonium amongst all the Dunlin and Sanderling asit gave a spectacular aerial display as it gave chase. Unfortunately for one of the Sanderlings it caught it's breakfast at it's third stoop and carried its meal off inland.

Visible migration was restricted to a handful of Swallows heading northeast across the bay and grounded migrants to a couple of Whitethroats. It looks like more seawatching tomorrow, with hopefully some ringing on Monday morning.

Friday, 3 May 2013

From Woodland To Wetland

I carried out my modified CBC survey of a local woodland this morning that I am doing for the Countryside department of the local authority. It is only a small area of woodland, perhaps only about 1.5 ha. It is surrounded by large mature gardens that belong to the large houses that surround the site.

Everything I had this morning was expected and I recorded birds of the following species holding territories; Dunnock, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Blackcap, Goldcrest, Carrion Crow and Robin.

Lesser Celandine was flowering along with the first Cow Parsely and Bluebell, with Ramsons to follow suit shortly. I then headed up to the reedbeds to see if the water levels had dropped enough for us to get in to do some ringing.

A number of warblers were singing as I walked round to the gate and through into the reedbed and these included two Whitethroats, four Sedge Warblers and four Reed Warblers. The water level had dropped sufficiently to enable us to operate mist nets, so over the next few days we'll get in there to ring some of the Acro's.

Thursday, 2 May 2013


I thought it might have been too clear this morning for a reasonable ringing session at the obs, particularly in combination with the large number of Redpolls on the move yesterday, but thankfully it wasn't. At 0500 it was calm with clear skies. By 0645 the wind had picked up to a 5-10 mph southeasterly.

Because it was so clear all the vis was extremely high. In fact it was one of those mornings where you could hear calls but couldn't see anything and everything was recorded as single when several birds could have been responsible for the calls. Consequently the vis totals were low and included four Tree Pipits, 109 Lesser Redpolls, six Swallows, four Goldfinches, four Meadow Pipits, nine Siskins, four Linnets, two Alba Wags, a Reed Bunting and two Yellow Wags.

 Lesser Redpoll

As expected grounded migrants were thin on the ground and included two Whitethroats, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Wheatear, a Whimbrel and a Willow Warbler.

 Lesser Whitethroat

I managed to ring a respectable 46 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Robin - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 2
Lesser Redpoll - 37
Wren - 1 (2)
Willow Warbler - 1
Greenfinch - 2
Goldfinch - 1

 Willow Warbler


I also controlled a Lesser Redpoll and it has been entered onto IPMR, so as soon as I get the details of where it was ringed I'll let you know. In the meantime D451164 anybody?

I have to do a CBC visit to a small local suburban woodland tomorrow morning and then I'll probably check the reedbeds to see if the water levels have dropped enough to enable us to get in there and do some ringing.