Tuesday, 23 February 2016

First Vis Of The Spring!

I might be a little bold in declaring 22nd February as spring, but there was a definite spring-like feel to the morning. With clear skies and calm conditions there was only one thing to do and that was some ringing at my feeding station.

After a few hours I had only ringed 7 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):

Coal Tit - 1
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Chaffinch - 2
Goldfinch - 1 (1)
Goldcrest - 1 (1)
Song Thrush - 1
Long-tailed Tit - (1)
Blue Tit - (1)

 Coal Tit

Ringing-wise it was a morning of quality, not quantity perhaps!

As I hinted at in the blog title I recorded my first vis of spring this morning. My feeding station lies half way between the coast and the estuary on the Fleetwood peninsula and therefore is in a good position in terms of vis. I had two Skylarks and a Siskin over. Not rocking exactly, but it's a start. I also had a second Siskin 'drop out' and in to the Alders to feed on the catkins.

Best of the rest were two Song Thrushes, three Coal Tits, two Stock Doves and a Buzzard.

The forecast is looking okay again tomorrow so I might try and sneak out birding for an hour or two somewhere!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Rain Gods With Zippos

I intended to do a blog post on Saturday with this title as it's a favourite Fish album of mine and also the Rain Gods were certainly out in force Saturday morning making seawatching impossible! Ian and I attempted it but we were either taking shelter from the rain or if it stopped momentarily the visibility in the bay was poor.

There are less birds using my feeding station at the moment and when I went to top up yesterday some of the niger feeders were still a third full. Lots of birds are singing and back on territory now and have probably moved away from the feeding station. I will keep them going through March and into April in the hope of a few Lesser (or Arctic or Mealy!) Redpolls and Siskins.

After we had that short cold snap just over a week ago the Pink-footed Geese disappeared from the Obs but I noticed they were back yesterday. There were only two hundred but there wasn't anything amongst them.

This morning I was seawatching again and the conditions were clear this time with a 20 mph northwesterly wind. It took me a while to find a sheltered position, but in the end I ended up using the viewing area on top of the tower. There was a constant stream of Herring, Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed, Common and Black-headed Gulls west as they exited their estuarine roost.

Passage at sea was slow, mainly because of the northwesterly wind, which is the worst direction off this particular stretch of coast. Meagre pickings included nine Cormorants, 38 Eiders, a Red-breasted Merganser, three Kittiwakes, three Common Scoters and a Little Gull.

By the time I left there was still an hour until high tide and therefore the waders were just starting to roost including 49 Sanderlings and twelve Ringed Plovers. The forecast is looking quite good over the next few days and I might actually get out to do some ringing!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Feeding Stations

Over the past few days everything I have done has been feeding station/ringing site related starting last Thursday when I joined Andy and Phil at their feeding station with Jean. It was a glorious morning and there was actually some sunshine and a frost!

Andy and Phil's feeding station is actually an all year ringing site, but in the winter the ringing is based around a feeding station with Lesser Redpoll and Siskins as the target. Thursday morning didn't disappoint on the Siskin front as we ringed seven of these cracking little finches; probably the nicest UK finch alongside Redpoll in my opinion!


Curlews and Oystercatchers were taking advantage of the clear sunny weather and groups of each were noisily flying around and calling, not quite displaying, but not quite far off! A Great Spotted Woodpecker formed part of the supporting cast and two Mistle Thrushes had a singing dual, with four of this large Thrush species flying over later.

Friday morning saw me making a feeding visit to my feeding station but it was quiet. The feeders were nearly empty so there are birds around but during my visit all I logged were two Long-tailed Tits and seven Goldfinches.

This morning I headed inland to the hills to have a look at two of Huw's ringing sites that are sometimes operated as feeding stations. As a relatively recently qualified C ringer Huw just wanted some advice on net ride location at these sites and it was great to see that he was already putting nets up exactly where I would have placed them. We didn't see very much other than Kestrel and soaring Buzzard as these sites are woodland plantation and scrubby farmland type habitats and won't hold many birds until spring. Roll on spring!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

January Ringing Totals

Over on the right I have updated the totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of January. We are 25 down on where we were this time last year, so that's not too bad considering the awful weather we had through the month,

I have listed below the top three ringed for the month:

1. Goldfinch - 47
2. Blue Tit - 32
3. Chaffinch - 30

Monday, 8 February 2016

Deja Vu

Every day out at the minute has that deja vu feeling about it and that's because it is the same old routine. I had a site visit this morning looking at some habitat creation for farmland bird populations and then I headed to my feeding station. Storm Imogen was doing her worst, although up here in the northwest her teeth weren't that sharp! However, it did mean that frequent squally showers combined with the strong winds birds were liying low.

Two raptor species were in the vicinity of the feeding station in the form of two Buzzards and a female Sparrowhawk. The feeders themselves were quiet but the usual Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch and Goldfinch assemblage were close by.


On my way home I had a look at the Geese and they were in a slightly different spot and there was only two hundred Pink-footed Geese and I couldn't find anything amongst them.

 Pink-footed Geese

It's looking very similar for the rest of the week with driving westerlies and showers. Birding will be at a premium!

Friday, 5 February 2016

I Should Be Working!

Mrs Hairy Birder provided my blog title today! Gail was off this afternoon and when she got in I said I was struggling to come up with a title for my blog because it had been quiet (again) when I was out birding this morning, and she suggested 'I Should Be Working'! It was said with a touch of sarcasm and a wilting look!

My alternative title was 'dreich', because it was most certainly a dreich morning. It was grey, bleak, damp and a bit miserable to be honest. The visibility across the bay wasn't awful, but it wasn't good either! As a consequence the birding was slow, which is the story of my life at the minute!

The sea was very quiet, not a sniff of the decent numbers of Little Gulls I have missed over the past few days, with just eight Cormorants, 60 Eiders and three Red-breasted Mergansers. Few waders were on the beach as the tide ran in too, only 210 Oystercatchers, 43 Sanderlings and 22 Ringed Plovers graced the pages of my notebook.

I cut my losses and headed to the Marine Lakes to see if I could re-sight any of our leg-flagged Turnstones. There was about ninety roosting on the island or feeding on some seed left out by a passer-by on the shore, but I couldn't pick out any leg flags!


On my way home I stopped to look through the Pink-footed Geese and like a couple of days ago there were about a thousand. The Barnacle Goose was still amongst them and a Greylag Goose was an addition.

 Pink-footed Geese

Just for a change the forecast is pretty awful for tomorrow, which is just as well as we are meeting some friends this evening for a few jars of real ale!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Peanuts and Pinkies

I had to call at the feeding station this morning to top the feeders up and it was a glorious morning with clear blue skies. It was still quite windy but I was just glad that it wasn't raining.

Over recent weeks nearly all the feeders are empty when I go to feed except for one niger feeder that is invariably a third to half full. However, today it was empty and I am hoping that this is a sign of more birds perhaps. Feeders were topped up, seed spread on the ground and a few apples rolled out!

 One of the net rides at the feeding station complete with feeders and 

I had a quick look round the surrounding scrub but it was relatively quiet other than 28 Magpies, four Long-tailed Tits, four Goldfinches and a female Sparrowhawk.

On the way back home I stopped to have a look at the Pink-footed Geese and there were about a thousand. Over recent weeks there hasn't been anything amongst them, but today there was a Barnacle Goose! I looked hard and tried to string a few Pinkies into Bean Geese, but it wasn't happening!

 Pink-footed Geese

At one point something flushed the Pinkies....

...and when they landed some of them were a little closer

A 'grainy' Barnacle Goose

The forecast is looking very changeable again for the next seven days at least, so it remains to be seen what I can get out and do.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


This morning Andy and I checked the wetland and surrounding fields on a good friend's farm to assess the potential for ringing through dazzling and mist netting waders and wildfowl. There was plenty of water in the wetland and it was doing what it said on the tin as it was very wet!

 Views of the wetland (above and below)

At first it seemed a bit quiet until we inadvertently put up at least 350 - 400 Teal and to say that we were dazzled by the spectacle was an understatement! The only other wildfowl we had were six Mallards and on the wader front just six Snipes and two Lapwings.

 Some of the 400 Teal

The best of the rest were two Stock Doves and a Buzzard mobbed by Crows over the woodland. We will return one dark night for a ringing session and I'll let you know when we do!