Up There. Somewhere.

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Migration, the regular movement of birds and wildlife from one part of the world to another and back again is one of the wonders of the natural world. It’s a subject often discussed or referred to here on this blog when a post concerns the ringing of birds. We know lots about bird migration, most of it gleaned through the ringing of birds, but there is still a great deal to learn. There are techniques developed in recent years which have the potential to add to our knowledge of how, when, where and why birds orientate and navigate. There are new and developing methods like data logging through radio tracking, radar observations or aural (listening). The physiological basis for bird migration has also received considerable attention, particularly the effects of seasonal increases and decreases in daylight and the seasonal rhythms that...
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Shakespeare And Stroganoff

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
There was no ringing planned today so instead I had a scoot around Cockerham way. It’s guaranteed to produce a good variety of species and sometimes excellent numbers of birds. I kicked off at Conder Green, where for an hour or more the place was alive with Swallows and Sand Martins taking breakfast. The cool morning produced a hatch of thousands of insects above the hedgerows and close to the water’s edge. The birds took full advantage as many took insects on the wing while others fed on the ground, almost as if they were collecting nesting material.  It was hard to estimate the mass of birds, especially as some perched up in the straggly hedgerow briefly before returning to the bonanza. My best guess was 350 Swallow, 25 Sand Martin and 15 House Martin. Some of the House Martins were from across the way where they ...

Low Level Ringing

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Oakenclough is very much an autumn and winter ringing site where nothing much happens in the summer except for nest boxes containing Pied Flycatchers. But the autumn/winter and early spring of 2017/18 was so wet and miserable that we never managed to get here until today, our first ringing at the site since November 2017. In the meantime we enjoyed our hottest, driest summer for 50+ years with very little rainfall. The nearby reservoir is about one third full and where the typical water level is near the top of the brick towers and covering the immediate bank of stones. Low Level Water I met Andy at 0630 and we hoped to catch up a little on our lack of visits. We packed in at about 10.30 when the early minimal breeze wind increased to unmanageable levels. But we had a nice mix in the catch of 8 Willow Warbler, 2 Garden Warbl...
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A Wild Day With Honey

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Saturday morning and there was time for a whizz around Conder Green before I met up with Andy at lunchtime. We’d agreed to take part in a “Wild Day” at Cockerham. But first. Early doors showed things were pretty tame at Conder Green despite the sight of 380 Lapwings, the most I've seen here this autumn. Mostly the Lapwings stayed on the island or the rough grass beyond and very few ventured close to the viewpoint. Lapwing Lapwing numbers fluctuate here according to the tidal bore of the River Lune a quarter of a mile away. It’s not unusual to see three or even four thousand Lapwing on the Lune sandbanks in autumn and winter where they often mix closely with flocks of Golden Plovers and Redshanks. Waders otherwise numbered 95 Redshank, 10 Curlew, 10 Oystercatcher, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Common Sandpiper and 2 ...

More Dove Destruction

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Two weeks ago I shared a story about the Turtle Dove a seriously endangered species of the pigeon and dove family at  Dove Tales. Incredibly, and despite pleas, requests and irrefutable evidence of the species continued decline, the French are about to ensure the Turtle Dove loses another 100,00 of its population this coming autumn. This from the LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux). “100 000 Tourterelles des bois seront chassées cet automne” - 100,000 Turtle Doves will be hunted this fall.” Turtle Dove“France has until August 30 to suspend hunting for this endangered species as requested by the European Commission. And for good reason, the global workforce of the Turtle Dove has fallen by 74% since 1980 and, for France, by 44% for the last ten years alone. The responsibility of our country is e...

Demo Time

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
On Tuesday I joined Andy at Marton Mere Nature Reserve Blackpool to help out with a demonstration of bird ringing. A start time 7 a.m meant a bit of a lie-in. Demo Time Events like this present a great opportunity for non-ringers to see birds in close-up instead of through a pair of binoculars.  It’s an opportunity to learn a little about how bird ringers’ age and sex birds by using techniques involving the taking of biometric measurements, studying feather wear and moult or by simple but sometimes subtle differences in appearance.  The morning dawned bright with a few cursory showers but not enough to deter the 12 or so people who initially turned up. A good number of those volunteer at the reserve and give freely of their time and energy to make the nature reserve a better place for visitors and birds alike.&...
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Smart Moves

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
The plan was to meet Andy at the Sand Martin colony at 0630. I set off at 0600 as an HGV accident on the M6 near Garstang on Thursday resulted in closure of the motorway overnight, gridlock on the alternative A6 and local congestion on the A588. One accident and the whole of the North West ground to a halt. Luckily, no one was hurt and I heard that one side of the motorway was opened early morning. Following our last visit to the colony on 3rd July 2018 I paid a few visits but looked from the road above so as to not directly trouble the nesting birds. The visits were mostly inconclusive but I suspected that after the first broods of June and early July many birds had already left as numbers seemed not to exceed one hundred birds. Getting up close this morning showed the numbers present to be about 180 and possibly...
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A Rare Find

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
I was on the way home after an uneventful morning when up popped a real rarity near Pilling. Not only was this bird a major rarity but there was also proof of breeding by way of an adult with several youngsters in tow. It is a species now so rare, so scarcely if ever seen in recent years in this part of Lancashire that I for one believed to be locally almost extinct. "The Grey Partridge, a native game-bird has declined enormously and, despite years of research and the application of a government biodiversity action plan, the continuing decline shown by the Common Bird Census and Breeding Bird Survey suggests that all efforts to boost the population in the wider countryside have so far been unsuccessful. Grey Partridge is one of the most strongly decreasing bird species in Europe, with steep declines evident in all regions since 1980....
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A Cure For Ornithophobia

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
I’ll bet we have all met people who don’t appreciate birds. You know the type. Just as you’re enjoying a quiet spot of birding, relishing the grace and beauty of a Spotted Flycatcher or watching a Peregrine beating up the waders, along comes Mr Dickhead, all mouth and an over-abundance of non-functioning brain cells. He’s hoping to wind-up a nerdy birder. Although he’s never met a birder he knows they are all nerdy 'cos his mate in the pub told him. Spotted Flycatcher"Spotted anything interesting pal? What f...ing use are birds anyway? I can’t sleep at night because of bloody seagulls on my roof from dawn until dusk. And they shit too much. That is when they are not rooting through my bin bags and scattering KFC boxes all over.” “And those sodding pigeons, rats with wings I call them, clogging up the town centre an...

One Good Tern

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
The Common Terns at Conder Green are very unhelpful to anyone with a camera. Since they arrived in May they have kept their distance from the nearest viewing point. They are so fast, erratic and unpredictable in their flight patterns that it’s only possible to get a decent in-flight picture with a very fast and expensive lens. With its long tail streamers, general shape and zig-zag flight there’s a good reason that the species was once known colloquially as the “sea swallow”. It’s a term that has fallen out of fashion and one I never hear nowadays. Fortunately the pair that bred at nearby Glasson this year have been a little more obliging by resting occasionally, especially so this morning. There’s a question; did you ever see an adult tern sit on the water? I’m not sure I have. Common Tern Common Tern Dur...
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