Sunday, 30 October 2016

Beardies and Buntings

This morning Ian and I had a ringing session in one the reedbeds at the Obs. Our aim was to target some of the Reed Buntings that move through in late autumn. It is quite interesting to watch them drop in, feed up for a while, and then climb high out of the reeds and head south. I was also hoping to see the two Bearded Tits (male and female) that Ian had ringed here yesterday.

 Reed Bunting

With the clocks going back an hour last night we decided to meet at 6:00 a.m. and get some nets up quickly in the dark and see if we could catch a few Thrushes as well. As I unlocked the gate just before six we had full cloud cover with a very light southwesterly wind.

We accomplished our target and ringed both Reed Buntings and Thrushes. We ringed 29 birds as follows:

Blackbird - 1
Fieldfare  - 2
Reed Bunting - 9
Robin - 3
Redwing - 6
Wren - 2
Goldcrest - 2
Song Thrush - 2
Greenfinch - 1
Bearded Tit - 1


There was actually five Bearded Tits on site (1 male and 4 females), and as we only caught and ringed one female, we don't know whether these were an additional five to the two from yesterday. We have some more ringing sessions planned this week targeting roosting Alba Wagtails, so it will be interesting to see if the 'Beardies' stay around.

 Bearded Tit

The Starling roost on the other side of the hill seemed to have a good few birds in it and at least 20,000 birds exited the roost! There was some vis, difficult to observe here, in the form of seven Fieldfares, 30 Redwings, a Brambling, two Siskins, eight Chaffinches, four Redpoll sp., eight Meadow Pipits and 42 Skylarks. Other 'odds and sods' included a Cetti's Warbler, at least 60 - 70 Alba Wagtails exiting the roost, a female Sparrowhawk, two Buzzards, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and 35 Wigeon over.


It would seem that autumn's not over just yet!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Goosey, Goosey, Goosander

I survived yesterday's beer festival in a sober enough state to enable me to get out birding this morning. The original plan was to go ringing at the farm fields at the Obs, but a forecast suggesting some drizzle early morning made me change my mind to just go birding instead. At first light I was greeted with full cloud cover with a force 1 - 2 southwesterly wind.

I hadn't long set off when Pink-footed Geese started to arrive and land in the farm fields and 510 dropped-in, in a relatively short time. There seemed to be a few Robins grounded this morning and on my walk round I had at least twenty. Talking of grounded migrants there was a few wintering Thrushes lurking about in the form of three Fieldfares, eleven Blackbirds and five Song Thrushes. It was difficult to say whether the two Stonechats that I encountered this morning were grounded migrants or not, as they do winter here and there has been a few about.

It was pretty murky this morning and therefore the vis was light to non-existent and scraping the barrel all I had was three Alba Wags, five Reed Buntings, 16 Meadow Pipits, three Greenfinches and a Grey Wagtail.

The most interesting bird, or birds, were on the sea when I had two Goosanders fly south close inshore. Not rare of course, but I record them scarcely annually on the patch so they were good to see. I only had a quick look on the sea so all I could add in addition to the Goosanders were two Common Scoters.

It's going to be calm in the morning, so hopefully I'll be able to get some nets up!

Friday, 28 October 2016

On The Up

Beer Festivals have got in the way of me updating my blog this week. I was at Lytham Beer Festival yesterday evening and I'm going for round two this afternoon. Consequently this is the first opportunity I've had to give a brief update of my trip to the Moss on Wednesday morning!

Overnight it had rained and by the look of things it had only just stopped by the time I was getting out of my car at the feeding station. As I walked along the track and hedge I was pushing out large numbers of Song Thrushes that were moving rapidly on. In fact I had a total of 28, which is as good a total of Songies that I have ever had. The Songies were accompanied by 16 Blackbirds and 102 Redwings. Interestingly I only had three Fieldfares!

Pink-footed Geese were constantly arriving to feed on the Moss and I had 1022 in total. The numbers of birds at the feeding station had increased and I had 21 Tree Sparrows, five Yellowhammers, ten Chaffinches, three Reed Buntings and a Brambling; so things are on the up!

I flushed three Snipe from the big field and eight Skylarks were there too. A Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest and two Long-tailed Tits later I was back at the car and heading home.

As long as I take it easy at the beer festival this afternoon I should be out birding/ringing both Saturday and Sunday!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Back To Back

Over the past two days I have been carrying out a bird survey in deepest, darkest Merseyside. Yesterday's survey was afternoon to post-dusk and today it was pre-dawn to noon.

The weather conditions yesterday afternoon and evening were 6 oktas cloud cover with a 5 - 10 mph southeasterly wind. The area has coniferous woodland, mixed woodland, broadleaved woodland and arable land in the form of over winter stubbles (spring cropping). The woodland areas held a mix of species including eight Goldcrests, two Buzzards, five Jays, a Siskin, three Redwings and 21 Long-tailed Tits.

In the more open farmland areas, of interest I recorded two Linnets, 30 Goldfinches and five Grey Partridges. The main feature of the survey was the Pink-footed Geese and I had 5817. Five thousand of these were birds flying over low at dusk heading to a coastal roost. Also at dusk I had a Great White Egret fly over with a Little Egret.

 Pink-footed Geese

Fast forward to this morning and it was quieter than I expected. I did expect a bit of vis, and there was some, but only a handful of Redwings, 54 Fieldfares and 47 Skylarks. In the woodland areas were nine each of Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit, plus seven Jays. Pink-footed Geese were a feature again with 1564 recorded.

 Red Squirrel. This little chap crossed the path ion front of me, but sadly
too far away for a decent shot!

I've got to feed on the Moss tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see if the Tree Sparrow numbers have built up or not.

September's Ringing Totals

Over on the right I have updated the ringing totals up until the end of September for Fylde Ringing Group. The only new species ringed for the year during the month was three Treecreepers. As usual you will find below the top 5 ringed during the month and the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year.

Top 5 Ringed in September

1. Goldfinch - 92
2. Meadow Pipit - 78
3. Blue Tit - 32
4. Blackcap - 30
5. Great Tit - 28

Top Ten 'Movers and Shakers' for the Year

1. Swallow - 826 (same position)
2. Goldfinch - 241 (up from 3rd)
3. Blue Tit - 178 (up from 4th)
4. Lesser Redpoll - 161 (down from 2nd)
5. Great Tit - 135 (same position)
6. Meadow Pipit - 131 (up from 9th)
7. Chaffinch - 110 (same position)
8. Reed Warbler - 104 (down from 6th)
9. Siskin - 59 (down from 8th)
10. Blackcap - 50 (straight in)

Sunday, 23 October 2016

North and South

I was back at the farm fields at the Obs yesterday morning and conditions were pretty good for ringing with 7 oktas cloud cover and a light northeasterly wind. However, as I was unloading my car in the darkness it was quiet, no calling Thrushes and my immediate thought was "Hello"!

Nets were put up and MP3 players switched on and over a couple of hours all I ringed were one each of Wren, Greenfinch and Reed Bunting! It was time to pack up and go home.

There were a few grounded migrants around in the form of five Robins, two Song Thrushes, four Long-tailed Tits and a Reed Bunting.


There was some vis, although it was light, and I had birds going both north and south. I had Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Bramblings going both north and south, but the majority of the other stuff went south. My totals in the short time I was observing were a Redwing, 104 Jackdaws, ten Goldfinches, 29 Chaffinches, four Greenfinches, eleven Bramblings, eight Carrion Crows, 100 Pink-footed Geese, 14 Skylarks and two Mistle Thrushes. The only raptor I had this morning was a single Kestrel.

I've got bird surveys to complete in Merseyside early in the week, then a couple of days at a local beer festival later in the week, so it might be towards the end of the week before I get back out on the patch!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Back On The Moss

I had to abandon my farmland bird feeding station on the Moss last year due to flooding, and also the track where I feed became heavily poached by farm machinery. As it has been drier so far this autumn I'm having another go at feeding and last week I made my first seed drop.

Yesterday I did the second feed visit and was pleased to note that four Tree Sparrows and a couple of Chaffinches had found the feed. Small beer at the moment, but fingers crossed the numbers will soon build up.

The best of the rest were a thousand Pink-footed Geese coming in to feed, plus a Siskin, a male Sparrowhawk, four Skylarks south and a Grey Wagtail.

This morning I gave myself an hour off to look for migrants at the Obs and just concentrated on the cemetery. It was obvious that there was a few birds around and I had eight Robins, nine Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, a Song Thrush and a female Blackcap.

A flock of 210 Pink-footed Geese headed south and I also had an adult male Sparrowhawk and an obliging Grey Wagtail running along a wall.

I was looking forward to a bird survey in Merseyside tomorrow, but not the early start!, when I realised that I had some office type work that needed completing this week. So it's going to be a nice morning tomorrow and I will be stuck indoors chained to my desk. Roll on weekend!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

A Little Better

It felt a little better this morning as I headed down the track at the Obs. I had full cloud cover, it was a tad murky and the wind was ESE 5 mph. It was obvious that there had been an arrival of Thrushes as I pushed three Song Thrushes, ten Redwings and four Blackbirds from the hedge alongside the track.

There was also some other grounded migrants around too in the form of eleven Robins, seven Wrens, five Dunnocks, three Stonechats, three Reed Buntings and three Goldcrests. No Siberian Accentors though!

Vis was virtually non-existent with the murky conditions with just two Skylarks, two Chaffinches, six Alba Wags, a Meadow Pipit and a Rock Pipit.

I was birding behind the dunes when a Short-eared Owl came 'in-off' high and proceeded to lose altitude and drop down. It was then chased by Gulls and it disappeared over the reedy bank. What threat a Shortie is to the Gulls, I don't know!

It wasn't a wonderful morning, but it was slightly better than yesterday. It's so depressing seeing what's about on the east coast, but you have to keep plugging away!

Friday, 14 October 2016

You Have To Try

With these easterly winds coming from along way east, even here on the west coast you have to try! I headed out this morning with full cloud cover and a 10 mph easterly wind. There had been bits of rain overnight and I was hopeful for a few grounded migrants. I only had a short amount of time so I headed to the cemetery first.

Sometimes you get a feeling straight away that it was quiet and that's the feeling I got this morning. Sometimes you are proved wrong, but not this morning! From a grounded perspective all I had at first were seven Robins and a Goldcrest. Further round on my walk I came across some Rowans heavily laden with berries and here were seven Blackbirds (some continental), two Redwings and a Song Thrush; so a few more grounded migrants, but only a few.

On the Thrush front I also had two Mistle Thrushes which was nice as they have become scarce here over the years from when they were once fairly common. It used to be a common site in the cemetery to see a family party of Mistle Thrushes, but not anymore.

Mistle Thrush

As I was driving past the marine lakes on my way to the coastal park I noticed some Turnstones feeding in the area that we catch them, so I decided to pull in and see if I could see any of our leg flagged birds. There were seven or eight leg-flagged birds, but every time I would get focused on one to read the leg-flag they would get flushed by a dog walker. In the end I just read two; AH and AY. AH was ringed on 23rd January 2012 and was last observed on 29th January 2014! AY was ringed on 16th December 2012 and was last observed on 8th March 2015. In total there was 167 Turnstones roosting here over the high tide period.

The coastal park was just as quiet as the cemetery with two Goldcrests and two Song Thrushes! It's going to remain easterly until early next week so I'll just have to keep on trying!  

Monday, 10 October 2016

Ten Again

Yesterday morning found me ringing at the Obs again under 7 oktas cloud with a 10 mph northeasterly wind. It was another quiet morning with just another ten birds ringed as follows:

Blackbird - 1
Wren - 2
Dunnock - 1
Greenfinch - 3
Meadow Pipit - 3


At first light there was ten Redwings grounded but nothing else. Vis was again slow with six Carrion Crows, six Alba Wags, two Bramblings, two Reed Buntings, 41 Meadow Ppits, ten Greenfinches, a Grey Wagtail, three Chaffinches, a Goldfinch and three Skylarks.

And that was your lot!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Not Today

At first light at the Obs this morning I had full cloud cover with a 5 mph northeasterly wind. I'm still restricted to one 60 foot net due to my ongoing wasp problem, but when I checked today there was a lot less so hopefully I should be able to use the other net ride soon!

The vis was a little lacking this morning, although I did have my first Jackdaws of the Autumn with a flock of sixty south. I noted the Jackdaw passage later in the morning back at home when I counted 51 heading south over my garden. Other vis totals were 29 Meadow Pipits, 28 Redwings, seven Alba Wagtails, two Chaffinches, twelve Greenfinches, 70 Pink-footed Geese, a Rock Pipit and five Skylarks.

 Pink-footed Geese

I watched a Dunnock take off from an Elder bush close to the ringing station, circle round gaining height and then it headed high to the south until it was out of sight! Vis and migration in action!

I only ringed ten birds this morning as follows:

Meadow Pipit - 2
Blue Tit - 1
Greenfinch - 7


It obviously wasn't on today, so fingers crossed for a better day tomorrow!

 A couple of sky pictures from this morning (above & below)

Friday, 7 October 2016

Wot No Yellow-browed's!

I gave myself an hour and a half off this morning to check the cemetery and coastal park for migrants. When I got up before first light I could see that it had been raining slightly and that combined with the easterly wind got me thinking that there could be a few grounded migrants about. There was and 'few' was the operative word!

I had a look in the cemetery first and the only birds that I would class as grounded migrants were a Goldcrest, two Redwings and eight Robins. The coastal park was the same with just two Goldcrests and a Song Thrush.

Although I wasn't particularly concentrating on vis there was some and included 19 Alba Wagtails, 33 Meadow Pipits, two Chaffinches and two Grey Wagtails.

I've got a weekend of ringing and recording at the Obs so fingers crossed for some birds!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Yellow-browed At Last

I say at last, as I have seen numerous Yellow-browed Warblers at the Obs over the years, so perhaps I shouldn't get too excited about them. Perhaps it's because I am of a certain age and remember when this Siberian sprite used to be a mega! In fact over here in the northwest a Yellow-browed Warbler was the nearest you were going to get to finding your own 'Sibe'! Nowadays we usually expect 2 or 3 at least at the Obs and I don't think it will be long before we hit double figures in the autumn and perhaps that will be this year as we have had four today!

I called at the cemetery first thing this morning and it was fairly quiet with just four Redwings that I would consider as being grounded. The wind was a fairly stiff east-southeasterly and this made viewing conditions difficult as the trees were moving around quite a bit. However, as I was just putting my gear in the boot of my car before heading off to the coastal park I heard a Chiffchaff giving it's sub-song and two Goldcrests calling and I thought "hello"!

I had been in the park for just a few minutes when I caught sight of a small phyllosc moving through some Poplars. I lifted my bins and it was a Yellow-browed Warbler. I made a quick call to Ian and I was just about to try and get some shots of it when I heard somebody shout "is there anything about"? With that the YBW flew off and into some more distant cover! I turned round to see a visiting birder and thought about saying "there was until you shouted", but thought better of it!

This guy then followed me round everywhere chewing my ear off about everything he had seen over the past few days. What's happened to people's field craft today? He continued to name drop both birds and birders as I tried to escape! I heard the YBW calling and got some distant views, but none as good as the ones when this guy flushed it with his booming voice. Some council workers came into the park with mechanical kit and it was 'game over' for me and a sharp exit!

Oh, I nearly forgot besides the YBW there were a few other migrants in the park including ten Redwings, five Song Thrushes, four Goldcrests and a Blackcap. It's a couple of days of catching up on work for me now, but hopefully I'll get out on Friday.

Monday, 3 October 2016

First Redwings

It was another decent morning of visible migration yesterday and I was back at the Obs, but this time I was also doing some ringing. At first light it was clear, calm and cold, and I wished I'd put another layer or two of clothes on!

As I was putting the nets up I could hear Redwings calling but frustratingly couldn't hear them as they were very high, and could therefore only log them as three individuals based on three separate calls. Later in the morning I had a high flying flock of twenty, taking the grand total to just 23.

My other vis totals were 264 Meadow Pipits, three Starlings, 85 Greenfinches, four Chaffinches, 13 Alba Wagtails, four Skylarks, two Reed Buntings, 77 Pink-footed Geese, three Magpies, three Swallows, a Rock Pipit, two Linnets and a Grey Wagtail.

Grounded migrants were restricted to a Song Thrush and I ringed 23 birds as follows:

Wren - 2
Blackbird - 1
Greenfinch - 13
Meadow Pipit - 7


Close to one of my net rides I found a Woodpigeon's nest with two well grown healthy looking squabs in it!

There's plenty of Yellow-browed Warblers around at the moment so I am going to try and squeeze an hour in first thing before work and check a few likely spots; you never know!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Time Limited

I think it's called 'sods law' when you have only a limited amount of time to get out birding and the morning is shaping up to be a good 'n'! This morning was a point in case. The chimney sweep was coming round at 9:00 a.m. so I only had a couple of hours to do some birding. As usual I decided to 'do' the farm fields at the Obs and it was obvious it was going to be a cracking vis day with Meadow Pipits and Pink-footed Geese being the main ingredients.

At first light I had 7 oktas cloud cover with a 5-10 mph southeasterly wind. I wondered if there could be a few grounded migrants around as immediately I had two Goldcrests and eight Wrens. There seemed to be a few Robins and Blackbirds around, plus a male Wheatear along the sea wall.

As I said earlier vis was the feature of my short morning and my totals for my brief watch were three Grey Wagtails, 226 Meadow Pipits, four Reed Buntings, five Starlings, nine Linnets, two Chaffinches, 17 Alba Wags, a Siskin, 677 Pink-footed Geese and five Skylarks.

In addition to the 'Pinkies' I also had six pale-bellied Brent Geese that circled round low, before heading off south. They looked to be trying to orientate themselves before heading off in the right direction!

With all the attention being skywards I paid scant attention to the sea and as a result just recorded an Auk sp. and two Red-throated Divers.

It's going to be clear overnight (clear out night) and clear tomorrow with a light northeasterly wind. I'm not sure how much vis there will be tomorrow after today and with clear conditions it is likely to be high. But nevertheless I'll get out and stick a net up at the Obs and see what's what!