Going For Goldeneye

Goldeneyes - Freeman's PoolsFollowing last week's flying visit by a female scaup, it was another classic winter duck species that dropped in on Monday morning.A considerable flotilla of 14 goldeneye were present at Freeman's Pools for the first couple of hours of daylight with all but two females having moved on by mid-morning.It doesn't half make you wonder what turns up and subsequently clears off unseen...Otherwise the big numbers of birds were concentrated on the flooded fields by the Wildfowlers' Pools fields. Here there were large numbers of probing redshank, along with a handful each of curlew, dunlin, snipe and black-tailed godwit.Approximately 230 black-headed gulls, and a few common gulls, were also taking advantage of whatever abundant food-source had attracted so many birds. Teal too were notably numerous with in excess of 120 d...
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Bearded Tit Gritting Season Draws to A Close

The last few days have seen very little activity on the gritting trays at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. From September 23rd to November 27th we have recorded a total of 305 sightings of colour ringed birds involving 64 different individuals. Of these 36 were adult birds and 28 this years young.We don't record every day but we have some interesting statistics on the number of visits birds make to the trays.Sixteen have been recorded on only one day. At the other end of the scale the most recorded bird was a juvenile female which visited on 15 days visiting first on September 30 and last on November 27th.At each visit the birds sort through the grit which is mainly builders sharp sand. They can stop on the trays for up to 10-15 minutes and they appear to swallow regularly. This is in line with some research in Germany where they found an ...

Back With A Vengeance.

The swans are back with a vengeance at Cockersand, I've seen some distant in the area since 13 October, but yesterday the number had increased dramatically and I put in some effort to get nearer to them via a public path, I was able to count up to 340 Whooper Swan. These birds are here much earlier than last winter when they didn't arrive in such number until mid-January, with a peak on 3 March when I recorded up to 400 in this same area.Another excellent count at Cockersand was of up to 120 Snipe in the air and over the Abbey Farm fields. Until I saw c.200 Snipe on a flood at Crimbles Lane on 30 August, and a similar number on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock on 31 October, these kind of numbers of Snipe were firsts for me, but there was Snipe in and coming up out of just about every field I looked at today at Cockersand.  A...

Ecuador 2016: Too many birds

The jet-lag is easing, the bites aren’t quite as swollen and I’ve only got about 1,000 images to go through from a storming three week birding trip to Ecuador with Mike Stocker and June Watt, and that elusive lost man of the rainforests, Tropical Thomason. We survived Amazon green hell, a spot of altitude sickness in the Andes, collapsing roads, psycho-drivers and some of the friendliest folk and most beautiful scenery this side of the Pecos. Birding was top notch with 526 sp seen between us. Here’s a few of the countless highlights, although I did find the Cock Of The Rock above a tad vulgar… 57 sp of Hummers ranged from the brutish Giant Hummer to the dazzlingly beautiful Velvet Purple Coronet. I’ll do a full blog on the adventure of course and post a link on here once I get it started, in the meantime her...

True Grit

Luckily, and after studying the weather forecast I’d prepared well with a good breakfast, double socks and outdoor clothes warming over the kitchen radiator. Minus four (-4°) flashed the temperature gauge as I set off towards Pilling to meet Andy for 0800 at Gulf Lane where we hoped to catch more Linnets. We set the usual 3x single panel nets in the frosty, low vegetation and retired to the car for a coffee or two until the birds arrived. Initially the Linnets seemed not to visit the seed heads in the field of set-aside but to instead spend time perching along the roadside barbed wire fence that faced into the slowly rising sun. A good number of them also spent time in the roadway taking grit from the surface until approaching cars forced them to fly off. Grit is eaten a lot by seed eating birds. The grit accumulates in the g...
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There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills.

A brilliant day on Saturday, and nothing was going to stop me from another visit to Birk Bank, and how pleased I ended up being about that, there was more gold to be found as I soon found out as I levelled up on the climb to the top of Birk Bank and found my first of 6 Stonechat, seen as three pairs bringing the total to seven wintering pairs in my last two days in Bowland. Fourteen Stonechat on winter territory does'nt sound like the record book is bursting at the seems with the species, until you look at the recent history book that is....This is looking good. Jack Snipe Marc HeathNot many yards on after finding the Stonechat, a Jack Snipe waited until I almost stood on it before being flushed from it's secluded, well-vegetated soggy place, startling me and characteristically&nbs...

Saturday Afternoon With The Wagtails

It would actually have been more appropriate if my blog title had been 'Saturday Afternoon With The Greenfinches' as we actually ringed more Greenfinches heading to roost than Pied Wagtails, but Pied Wagtails were the target!It was clear and frosty when Ian and I set up our nets in the reedbed yesterday afternoon with the aim of ringing some Pied Wagtails as they headed to the roost. We ringed 22 birds as follows:Greenfinch - 10Robin - 1Pied Wagtail - 8Blackbird - 1Long-tailed Tit - 2 GreenfinchThere was probably only 30-40 Greenfinches and 15-20 Pied Wagtails heading over to roost, so the percentage catch was more than acceptable. It was difficult to see anything deep in the reedbed but seven Long-tailed Tits, two Snipes and two Song Thrushes were all that we could add.We'll be back later in the week for another attempt!   ...

Big Day….Follows Big Dip.

Hen Harrier Simon HawtinOn Thursday I had the good fortune to witness the unexpected, one of the features of birding that keeps us all pressing on, though if I'm going to be honest this is one of the last places on earth I wanted to see a ringtail Hen Harrier. A perfect days birding for me, well it would be perfect wouldn't it 'cos I found 5 Stonechat on the west side of Hawthornthwaite, they were seen as 3 male and 2 female, I suspect three pairs wintering on here at the moment, though if there are, the third female escaped me....I'll be back to check this out early next year. Also on the fell, at least 17 Red Grouse, and a Kestrel perched in a tree at Cam Brow as I drove away from here.Stonechat Martin Jump  On the east side of Hawthornthwaite I found another pair of Stonechat wintering up here, with 6 Red Grouse,...

Berry Time

The morning started with a double first of the winter – a squirt of de-icer on the windscreen followed by switching on the heated screen and bum warmer. I’m all for gadgets that do away with scrapers and icy fingers, not to mention enjoying the luxury of a cosy backside while birding. The heater was on full blast as I drove slowly east over Stalmine Moss and towards Cockerham. On the outskirts of Pilling village I watched a Barn Owl hunt over the whitened fields. “Rather it than me” I thought as I watched it glide along the icy gullies and then slowly vanish into the distance of the next farm. Barn Owl I stopped at Gulf Lane to check on the Linnet flock and found 200+ comprised of three or more highly mobile groups still finding food in the single field of set-aside. A bird ringer in Scotland contacted me to ask about th...
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Scaup Scarpers

I was surprised to see that Freeman's Pools remained unfrozen this morning but as a consequence the number of ducks had increased a fair bit.Most notably a female scaup had dropped in to join the 12 tufted ducks present. It was present when I checked the pools at at 9.15am but when I returned at 10.40am it had moved on.Gadwall and teal numbers were up and there were at least 5 little grebes on the pools.A female sparrowhawk buzzed through causing the ever-wary woodpigeons and redwings to scatter in panic.Elsewhere it was the same old stuff, the only thing of note being the arrival of a few fieldfare in Freeman's Wood and along the cycle track.   Jon...
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