First Trickle Of Vis

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I headed to the southern section of the Obs recording area and had a walk over the farm fields and a brief look on the sea. I had 6 oktas cloud cover with a 10 mph southeasterly wind..There was quite a few Magpies around this morning and in total I had 15. If any of them had been flying a little higher I would have said that they were on vis. However, I did have the first trickle of vis this morning in the shape of 13 Woodpigeons, five Skylarks and two Siskins. All were high and heading S/SE into the wind. Ian had a similar mix of species at the Point with the addition of Grey Wagtail and Mistle Thrush.Pink-footed Geese were dropping in to the farm fields across the road from first light. I could hear them, but not see them, other than a group of 97 and another skein of 50 heading north.I just go to the sea wall as the tide was turning and ...
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VP Red Kite and Raven

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
Yesterday morning I was out at one of my wintering bird survey plots on some Lancashire mossland carrying out a Vantage Point (VP) and transect survey. It was a lovely clear day, for a change, with a light southwesterly wind and Gail had joined me for a bit of fresh air and exercise. Gail does occasionally join me and in addition to providing me with some most welcome company, another pairs of eyes is useful. She is very good at picking birds up at a distance, even though she might not be able to identify them, and sometimes gets on birds before me! I had quipped on Facebook yesterday that it was a belated Valentine's Day treat for her, but in reality the treat was the sighting of a Red Kite.Anthony McGeehan in his book 'Birds Through Irish Eyes' says Red Kites are big, lanky basketball players. Gangly at rest, with long limbs and a loping ...

Brass Monkey Weather

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
It's funny how a brief interlude of cold weather gets us all talking these days. Frost has now become a scarcity in my neck of the woods, a bit like how snow used to be; snow is virtually non-existent now! Gone are the days when farmers couldn't lift their spuds because the ground was frozen, now they can't lift them because it is too wet to travel on the fields, or the numerous days in winter when I was at infant school and our little bottles of milk would arrive frozen!It was cold this morning when I started my hedge survey in the north of the county, in fact it was minus 5 degrees Celsius with glorious clear skies and not a breath of wind. The farm I was on is divided in two by a road and I surveyed hedgerows below the road close to the river first, before surveying the hedges across the road on the hillier section of the farm.The farm h...
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Thrushes

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
It was chilly yesterday morning at my survey site in west Lancs, and the cloudy conditions with a biting east-northeasterly wind didn't do anything to raise the temperature or my spirits! But some Thrushes did, well raised my spirits anyway.Bits of field work has been done since my last visit here and some stubble has been ploughed, but a flock of 43 Chaffinches were still finding areas to feed. Woodpigeons, numbering 122, were also feeding in similar areas to the Chaffinches, but others were feeding on some wet fields.The wet fields were where the Thrushes were and they were a pleasure to watch; 133 Fieldfares and 37 Redwings. Occasionally a few rays of sun momentarily broke through the clouds, and if the Fieldfares and Redwings were facing the right direction they were illuminated like a spot light on an actor or soloing musician on a sta...
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Sounds Of Spring

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
There's some snow threatened for tomorrow, but over recent days there's been some sounds of spring with an increase in bird song. Day's are lengthening, hormones are building and birds are singing!This was very noticeable during a survey last week. Even though it was a cloudy and cold day a good few songsters could be heard. The avian orchestra consisted of a Goldfinch, a Great Tit, two Song Thrushes, two Dunnocks, five Robins, a Mistle Thrush and a Wren. Even one of the Redwings was doing a bit of sub-song! GoldfinchThe morning started spectacularly when a female Sparrowhawk brought down a Feral Pigeon 30 metres in front of me! I saw the Feral Pigeon fly from left to right and then thwack, the Sparrowhawk hit! She had the Pigeon on the ground and was struggling to subdue it, so I moved away in case my presence was keeping her from her...
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A Skylark Kind Of Day

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
It's wet and miserable outside again as I write, so I want to rewind to Friday when it was a glorious sunny day, a Skylark kind of day. I was carrying out one of my wintering bird surveys on an area of Lancashire mossland, and I had clear skies with wall to wall sunshine, with just a whisper of a northeasterly breeze. The MossOne of the outstanding observations that I made this morning was of a Red Admiral butterfly that danced passed me in the warmth of the late morning sunshine! I was hoping to get a photograph of this red, black and white sprite, wakened from it's slumber by the warming sun, but it fluttered past without dallying! Red Admiral (but not from today)An increase in bird song was noticeable this morning and out of four Song Thrushes, two were singing males. Skylarks were also singing this morning and it lifted my hea...

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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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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The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Birders…

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
...sometimes get kyboshed! On Sunday morning the plan was to go to Cockerham to have a look at our latest ringing/birding site, where the owners have given permission for ringing group members and their vehicles to access their private land. A variety of habitat can be found at the site, but one area of interest are some wet fields where we hope to catch and ring Snipe. The idea was to have a look and get an idea of how many Snipe were present. However, after three days of frost I guessed that any water would be frozen and Snipe departed for the coast, so it will have to wait until next weekend.Instead, Gail and I headed down to the estuary, my second visit in as many days. It was a glorious morning with clear blue skies, virtually no wind and a frost. A quick look on the reservoir revealed a number of Tufted Ducks, plus a respec...

Wood Pigs Not War Pigs

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
It was clear and cold yesterday, with a 15 - 20 mph northerly wind, that my Norfolk friends would call a 'lazy' wind because it blows through you and not round you! I bumped in to Ian just as it was coming light and we walked down to the estuary.The main feature of the morning was a southeasterly movement of Woodpigeons and in total we had 378 cross the river and head southeast. Besides where were they going and why, the other question was where had they come from? Woodpigeons do often move ahead of cold weather, but up until fairly recently it has been mild with just a couple of days of frosty weather. My guess is that it was a weather related movement, and probably a cold weather movement from further north.Out on the estuary was a single adult Whooper Swan with a supporting cast of 2,120 Pink-footed Geese, 71 Curlews, 20 Teal (probably n...