Cornwall over Easter – 7-10th April 2017

Posted on - In Zac Hinchcliffe
I'll start this off with some fantastic news! I asked Danni to marry me and she said yes! Result! Could not be happier with the person I have chosen to spend my life with and start a family with. Getting engaged is something I certainly only ever plan to do once so I couldn't just carry on like it wasn't an amazing thing. As a result, we booked a holiday over easter. In fact, we booked two over the course of 10 days. We spent the four day easter weekend in Cornwall and then headed to the supposedly warmer shores of Mallorca...more on that later (or you've already read about that trip depending on which you chose to read first!)We set off at 04:30 on Good Friday with the intention of missing the holiday traffic and also get to our first location in reasonably peak birding time. We arrived at Ham Wall RSPB. When twitching the Hudsonian Godwit...

Housing Shortage for Pied Flycatchers?

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
Just returned from a visit to one of my nest box schemes in the Lune valley. Over the past 10 years the number of nesting Pied Flycatchers has increased from one to a high of six pairs in 2016. Today of the 39 nest boxes only four were unoccupied.Of the occupied ones 33 were tits, mainly Blue Tits most of them at the laying stage only two were incubating and two Pied Flycatchers both with only males in attendance.Tit numbers appear to have increased dramatically from just 26 last year to 33 this year and the highest occupation rate to date. It looks as though the tits have survived well over the past mild winter. The high tit occupation rate means there are only 4 empty nest boxes for the later arriving migrant Pied Flycatchers unless they take over the two tit nests which were not yet fully built. Seriously wondering if we should tak...

Blog Post: Skydancer from Russia with love

Posted on - In Sky Dancer
The RSPB's Bowland Project Officer James Bray gives the lowdown on Bowland's special new visitor. RSPB staff and volunteers on the United Utilities estate in Bowland are out in the hills monitoring and protecting birds of prey every day of the week in all types of weather. We have been spending much of our time looking for returning hen harriers over the past few weeks in some rather un-spring-like weather so yesterday I was elated when I looked up and saw a mature male harrier skydancing low over my head. The bird disappeared out of sight down a gulley very quickly so I headed to a different position for a different view, happy that another male hen harrier was back on the estate. Over the next few hours the harrier was skydancing and hunting the slopes, mostly at very long range in a welcome bit of heat haze. I gradually got better and b...

A Little Birding Magic.

Posted on - In Birds2blog
Avocet. Conder Pool 26 April. Pete Woodruff.The Avocet were on Conder Pool again yesterday, though interestingly they were nowhere to be seen when I called back again five hours later. This bird was initially on the nest but then started a cleaning up exercise around the site, picking up bits of vegetation and other debris and throwing it to one side. A Kingfisher landed briefly on the outlet, and a Brown Hare was seen running off. In the creeks, 3 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, and 'the' lone Black-tailed Godwit seen again.Seen on the Lune Estuary from the bowling green towards the Conder mouth, birds hanging on to what remained above water as the tide raced in, 120 Redshank, 85 Dunlin, and 34 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Eider seen but probably more out of sight on the bank on the river bend below Colloway Marsh. At least 15 Sand Mar...

Beyond Those Mountains

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
The one thing that can be said about this week, and it's the same nationwide, is that it has been bl**dy cold! I have been doing bird surveys beyond those mountains in the middle of Cumbria and with 4:00 am alarm calls the the thermometer has been showing a negative figure! After I had finished a survey in north Cumbria yesterday I had to see a couple of clients in Bowland and driving over the top from Bentham to Slaidburn it was like driving through the tundra! I should have stopped and taken a few shots of the snowy landscape but I couldn't spare the horses to make sure I was at my meetings on time! Looking back towards those mountains.The cold spring has been having an impact on migration, and still there are only dribs and drabs of summer migrants coming through. Also, when it is weather like this birds just seem to appear quietly ...

Hot-Spot Cold-Spot

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
The still northerly breeze meant no ringing but the early morning sun dictated a birding trip to the customary hot-spots, starting at Conder Green. On Saturday four Avocets fed together but today it was back to perhaps an earlier pair, probably the two that arrived a couple of weeks ago. Following a good few days of sunnier if not necessarily warm weather the female is now sat on a nest. Meanwhile the two second year Avocets that spent a few hours here on Saturday morning seemed to have gone and were merely passing through on their way north and/or east. Avocets don’t normally breed until their third year whereby second year birds make up the numbers in the colonies that Avocets sometimes, but not always choose to breed. Conder Green is large enough for several pairs of Avocets but that is not necessarily a good thing as the s...
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The Conder Avocets.

Posted on - In Birds2blog
It's against the norm that the Conder Pool Avocet pair have turned up here again this year in that they usually nest colonially....but not these two. When I arrived yesterday morning, they were at the front left hand of Tern Island, one bird was sitting on a shallow hollow nest with a little dead vegetation noticeable around the rim, the other was roosting close by, they had been observed mating (AC) on Sunday. When I returned later in the day at 2.05pm the pair were still on the island, but 30 minutes later one was seen in the creeks, at which time the other bird on the island also flew off and was almost certainly the one I saw at the Conder mouth on the Lune Estuary 20 minutes later at 2.55pm. These birds - reasonable to assume the same pair seen by birders every time - have bee...
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Full Spooner

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I headed to the Point first thing this morning and joined Ian and Howard, and boy was it cold! The skies were clear and the wind was a sharp 15 mph northwesterly! It was a toss up between standing on the bank and in the wind, but with the sun on your back, or standing behind the tower out of the wind, but with no sun; I opted for the windier but sunnier option.There was some vis this morning and the direction of passage was anywhere between north and east. My vis totals were 25 Goldfinches, 165 Pink-footed Geese, 248 Meadow Pipits, nine Swallows, 19 Linnets, two Sand Martins, four Carrion Crows, eleven Lesser Redpolls, four Siskins, three Tree Pipits, two Alba Wagtails, a Rook and amazingly a Blue Tit that came high over the dunes and was lost from sight as it headed out to cross Morecambe Bay!The best bird offshore was undoubtedly the 'ful...
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Two More Colour Ringed Avocets

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
Three of the 40 avocets on the Allen Pool at Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay RSPB Reserve are colour ringed. One ringed in Brittany as a chick in 2008 has been breeding there since 2012. This year two more appeared and we have just discovered that they were both ringed as chicks on the same day (24/5/15) at the same site at Seal Sands Teesmouth although not from the same brood. After leaving Teesmouth one was seen in Lincolnshire and the other in the East Riding both in mid July. But there has been no further sightings until now. Both now appear to have mates and are nesting on the same island. This is almost certainly their first breeding attempt as many waders do not breed until their second year. It also shows ,along with the French born bird the dispersal of this species.John...

Good Morning

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
The morning started in fine style. Not a cloud in the sky and a promise of sun all day. There was no ringing today so I set off birding camera at the ready as mist began to clear from the ditches and dykes. Pilling morning, LancashireAll was quiet at Conder Green save for the usual display flights of the Oystercatchers and the resident Shelducks still sorting out their pairs. I looked across at the far bank hoping to see the elusive Avocets but instead of the expected two I saw four. There seemed little aggression between the four as they all fed together until at one point two flew across to a nearer island. After a few minutes the pair flew back to join the others on the far side of the pool and I turned my attention to what else might be lurking unseen.  It was cold and just 3°C at 0730. Visible migration seemed nil apart fro...
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