Happy Days.

Posted on - In Birds2blog
Black-throated Diver. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery As a mega for the location, I had to twitch the Blea Tarn Reservoir juvenile Black-throated Diver yesterday, after all it's on my doorstep, well about a mile away anyhow, and with a little elevation over the reservoir from the track to Middle Langthwaite Farm, the bird gave good views, and at one point obliged by keeping still whilst preening....Nice.Smew. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann  The perfect example of 'right place, right time' to find the mega diver there, and reminded me of a visit I paid to this very same reservoir 25 years ago on 5 March 1993, when I called there on my way to do my Saturday bit in the days of delivering car parts, to find a stunning drake Smew there, a scarce if not rare sight in our area today. Another ...
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One That Got Away?

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
2018 continues in the same vein as 2017. Rain, more rain and then more rain with rarely a chance for serious birding or ringing. Fortunately the internet can be a good source of blog material, so for today here is an amusing tale of a controversial bird that may have escaped the twitchers but which certainly provoked a reaction. Such debates are made all the more interesting by the fact that rare birds can and often do turn up in the most unexpected locations, posing a number of questions for dedicated twitchers. In the case below the bird in question was spotted on a remote Scottish island following a particularly wild and wet autumn when a series of storms battered the west coast of Britain. Orkney is difficult to reach and for a mainland twitcher with no time to waste in bagging a First for Britain, an expensive and time ...
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Sheep Wrecked

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
'Sheep Wrecked' is an expression that George Monbiot would use to describe the habitat/landscape that I was undertaking a bird survey in yesterday afternoon; over-grazed, poached and gappy hedgerows with the bottoms eaten out. Nevertheless, I had work to do and spent three hours surveying under full cloud cover with a 4-5 westerly wind. Oh, and it was cold! Sheep WreckedI recorded 24 species which is probably what I would expect based on the habitat and time of the year. I was surprised at the lack of Pink-footed Geese moving and all I had was a group of four flying west. Other fly-overs included two vocal Buzzards and a couple of Cormorants.I was first aware of the Buzzards because a large flock of Gulls got up, including 622 Black-headed Gulls, and then out of the melee the two Buzzards appeared. An adult male Sparrowhawk spooked som...
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Seen Any Butterflies Yet?

Posted on - In Birds2blog
I don't expect to see any for a while just yet, but as with with my birding motto....'what next and where'....I'm going to be looking for my first butterfly of 2018.A Red Admiral was spotted three weeks ago in two counties on New Years Day, and has been reported widely across the south of England since, the temperature in Plymouth yesterday was 12C/53F. A Peacock was also seen on 1 January, and since then, there have been reports of Brimstone and Comma, and nearer to home, a Small Tortoiseshell was seen at Banks near Southport on 7 January.On the subject of butterflies....Small Tortoiseshell. Pete Woodruff.I took this shot of the ST in our garden in August last summer, but until I got the image up on my computer screen, I hadn't realised there was a moth to the right of the butterfly.Even with a serious crop like this, I was only ...

Another Field Day.

Posted on - In Birds2blog
The field waders at Cockersand were reduced in number yesterday, but still a few hundred birds in all fifteen fields I checked there, including 420 Black-tailed Godwit which never fail to impress me, similar number of Curlew and uncounted Redshank, Dunlin, and Turnstone, with Golden Plover reaching four figures still in their favoured field viewed off Slack Lane, and of 3 Grey Plover seen, one was also unusually in a field, and 2 Snipe flushed out of the ditches.Red-throated Diver off Plover Scar 18 January. John Whittle.The bird of the day with Mega status at Cockersands, was the Red-throated Diver off Plover Scar around the high tide, excellent views though difficult to keep up to as it was diving constantly.Up to 225 Oystercatcher were the only waders on Plover Scar at near high tide, and notably odd, not a single one of them m...
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Must Do Better

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
At the end of December the BTO encourage bird ringers to renew their ringing permit by submitting returns and confirming they are fit to continue ringing for the coming year. Fit in mind and body for now, but it gets more difficult each year, especially those 4am summer starts or scrambling up and down a quarry face to catch Sand Martins. So now my permit for 2018 just arrived hot from the Canon Pixma. This rather exclusive piece of paper will reside in the glove box of the car for the inevitable, often puzzled but mostly interested, occasionally irate questions from onlookers. Bird Ringing Permit“Why are you trudging through that muddy field in the middle of a cold, grey January morning picking up wild birds from that funny looking net? Are you harming them? Are you catching them to eat ?” Then try explaining how the vital sc...
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Be Amazed!

Posted on - In Birds2blog
The amazing and complex European Stonechat.A recent post by Noushka showing images of the Stonechat feeding on a frozen lake in Spain has prompted me to look back on Birds2blog to find Brian Rafferty's discovery at Brockholes 8 years ago in January 2010, when he documented with remarkable images, the same behaviour of Stonechats feeding opportunistically in order to survive the severe weather conditions we were having in the UK during the winters of 2009/10 -2010/11.I did research following this discover of the remarkable feeding behaviour of the Stonechat in harsh weather conditions, to find it not quite as unique as at first thought....'Stonechat taking food from water'....C.J.Hodgson British Birds 1978. However, no one could ever have claimed they would one day see the picture of a Stonechat diving into a hole on a frozen lake,...
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Half Decent Weather

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I always seem to be moaning about the weather, but this winter I feel somewhat justified as it seems to be worse than ever. I suppose all the weather statistics at the end of winter will either prove of disprove my feelings. And because of the weather it has been tricky getting out either on the patch at weekends or during the week for work.Mid-week last week I was at my coastal winter bird survey site, with some half decent weather, that covers part of an estuary as well as improved farmland, and also that very ordinary pond that I have mentioned a few times before with the wintering wildfowl. My survey started on the improved grassland with a fairly large count of 21 Magpies. Usually I expect to record Little Egret down on the intertidal stretch of the river, but on this morning I had one on one of the farmland ponds! MagpieThe afore...
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Birding Till Dusk….Again.

Posted on - In Birds2blog
Anchors Aweigh. Pete Woodruff.Yes, birding until dusk at Cockersand again, and saw the FRI LAKE with pilot ahead approaching the lighthouse, sailing out of the Lune Estuary and into the Irish Sea during one of the west coasts famous sunsets. Meanwhile, I was watching the male Stonechat still foraging on the tide wrack near Crook Cottage in the half light of dusk.Merlin. Cockersand 11 December. Pete Woodruff.Also of note earlier, a male Merlin was on the old stone gate post opposite the first kissing gate near Lighthouse Cottage, also a Kestrel here was one of two seen, the second at Bank Houses. Up to 50 Twite were in the rough field by Bank House Cottage, and I found only the male Stonechat opposite the caravan park, with no sign of the female. Five Stock Dove were in a field from where I saw 3 Reed Bunting to...

It’s Never Easy

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
There’s ringing news down the page but first some information not unconnected from the voluntary work that bird ringers undertake. According to a new study, if given funding and support from similar or future new schemes, British farmers have the potential to partially reverse the declines of Linnets and other farmland birds over the past 40 years - Birdguides. “New research funded by Natural England and DEFRA used six years of survey data to track changes in the abundance of birds on farms. The study involved over 60 farms under Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements in three English regions between 2008 and 2014, and revealed that 12 of the 17 priority farmland bird species showed a positive change in abundance, going against the 56 per cent decline in the number of farmland birds nationally since 1970. The Farmland Bird ...
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