Expect The Unexpected

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Five-fifteen. The alarm buzzed. “What would the day bring?” With luck the forecasts had been right, so through the "office" window I checked the darkened trees for signs of sway. They looked still, while above the street light there were breaks in the ghostly cloud. I heaved a sigh of relief, prepared for the off and for the 35 minute drive up to Oakenclough. For a ringer, the anticipation, the excitement of expecting the unexpected never quite goes away. At Okenclough it was still dark at 0630 as outer branches stirred ominously. It was more like 10-12 mph than the 6mph decreed by the experts. That 4+ mph can make a difference when birds with powerful eyesight can spot movement in the fine mesh of a mist net. Soon after dawn Redwings arrived. We caught a few in the dark as they continued to arrive in dozens and low hundred...

Different Day, Different Birds

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Monday saw a catch of 33 birds up at Oakenclough. Domestic commitments meant I couldn't make it on the next suitable morning, Wednesday, even though I was raring to go. Andy went alone and caught 60 birds, including another 15 Redwings and 8 more Lesser Redpolls. With so many millions of birds on a migratory push through the UK and Europe at this time of year there is a guarantee that each visit brings new birds to our nets. So with yet another excellent forecast we arranged to meet up again at Oakenclough on Thursday. We were joined today by Bryan H. At 0700 there was a slight breeze from the east with nil cloud and a temperature hovering around 2°C. The lack of cloud meant that migration might at the least prove hard to pick up or even non-existent if birds had found their way through the clear starry night. We needn...

Rare As Hen’s Teeth

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
As predicted, a weekend of Storm Callum made for several grey, wet and windy days and left no chance of a ringing session. During this time it seemed unlikely that many of our target birds had made it south to Lancashire through such unfavourable weather systems, despite good numbers of Redwings, Bramblings and Fieldfares in the Northern Isles of Scotland, some 6/700 miles away.  Sunday afternoon was bright and sunny to further heighten expectations for Monday morning, already pencilled in as the first “probable” day for a rush of birds from the North. At 0630 I met Andy at our regular ringing site near Oakenclough, a hamlet that lies on the very edge of the Pennine Hills. Before today at this site we’d handled over 620 birds for the year but with luck September and October see a major arrival of many birds into the UK – ...

First Redwings

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
This has been a frustrating week of watching and waiting. Watching the weather forecasts and waiting for a morning that might allow Andy and me to get up to hills and catch winter thrushes. Redwings are on the move with small numbers reported from the east coast and Scotland early in the week with a possible “thrush-rush” on the cards any day soon. Tuesday evening and the forecast was “iffy” but with a chance of a couple of hours before an increase in wind speed later in the morning. After yet more chart watching we decided to go for Wednesday as the only likely day for at least a week ahead. We met up at 0630 to a 10mph south-easterly, far from ideal. But at least it was dry. We caught our first Redwings of the autumn but the overall catch was pretty poor due to the ever increasing wind that caused us to pack up at 1...
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Recent Recoveries

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
There’s no birding or ringing for a day or two thanks to continuing poor weather so I’m posting information about a couple of recent ringing records. One is a Sand Martin at Cockerham quarry, the other a Linnet from our Linnet project at Gulf Lane, Pilling/Cockerham Marsh. Linnet We ringed Linnet number S800115 as a juvenile male on 10 August 2017- Biometrics: Wing: 81.0 mm. Weight: 17.8 g. Time: 10:00:00 hrs Our Linnet was recaptured on 04 May2018 at Walney Island Bird Observatory, Cumbria. Although the distance between the two points is negligible, the date of both the original ringing and the recapture are much more interesting. The month of August points to a juvenile dispersal, maybe from Cumbria but with a possibility that the bird’s place of birth was further north. The timing of its return on a northward trac...
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The Rats Are Winning.

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Grotty weather again today, so nothing doing in the birding or ringing stakes.Instead, here’s an interesting study on cats versus rats. Cat lovers and bird lovers rarely agree, but in this case it seems that pussy cats are not the ultimate rat catchers but prefer instead to eat a bird or a mouse.  Pussy CatJournal Reference: Michael H. Parsons, Peter B. Banks, Michael A. Deutsch, Jason Munshi-South. Temporal and Space-Use Changes by Rats in Response to Predation by Feral Cats in an Urban Ecosystem - Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2018. "Like any prey, rats overestimate the risks of predation. In the presence of cats, they adjust their behaviour to make themselves less apparent and spend more time in burrows," says the study's lead researcher Dr. Michael H. Parsons, a visiting scholar at Fordham University. "This raises ...

The Rats Are Winning.

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Grotty weather again today, so nothing doing in the birding or ringing stakes.Instead, here’s an interesting study on cats versus rats. Cat lovers and bird lovers rarely agree, but in this case it seems that pussy cats are not the ultimate rat catchers but prefer instead to eat a bird or a mouse.  Pussy CatJournal Reference: Michael H. Parsons, Peter B. Banks, Michael A. Deutsch, Jason Munshi-South. Temporal and Space-Use Changes by Rats in Response to Predation by Feral Cats in an Urban Ecosystem - Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2018. "Like any prey, rats overestimate the risks of predation. In the presence of cats, they adjust their behaviour to make themselves less apparent and spend more time in burrows," says the study's lead researcher Dr. Michael H. Parsons, a visiting scholar at Fordham University. "This raises ...

Why Skiathos?

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Keen eyed readers will note how the header picture changed. I swopped the Glasson Dock Common Tern for a Skiathos Yellow Wagtail. Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) is familiar to British birders but throughout Europe there are many overlapping races and intergrades of Yellow Wagtail, whereby literally dozens of races and sub-species have been described. This makes identification and assignation difficult, especially at migration time in Central Europe in the case of juveniles like the one shown.I'm thinking that the header bird, the one below, may be Motacilla flava beema, also known as Sykes’ Wagtail, especially since other Yellow Wagtails I saw fitted the same criteria. Yellow wag experts out there may wish to comment? Yellow WagtailOtherwise, birding on Skiathos Island proved rather unexciting during very hot, clear weather an...
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Colder than Greece

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Boreas the Greek God who brings winter winds tried his best to stop us leaving Skiathos on Tuesday night and early Wednesday. But by Wednesday lunchtime he’d run out of puff but the leftover headwind meant the plane had a flying start and didn't need a refuel at Kavala as planned. Most unusually, Manchester was bathed in sunshine when we landed an hour early. There was some catching up for me when I met Andy at Oakenclough on Friday morning where the temperature hovered around 6° rather than the accustomed 25° of Greece. In two weeks of my absence Andy had dodged the rain and caught over 250 birds with the usual good mix of species including Bullfinch, Meadow Pipits and yet more Mistle Trushes. It was a similar story today with 33 captures of 12 species, only one of which was a recapture from recent days - 8 Chaffinch, 6 Me...
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Boomerangs

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September means Skiathos where Sue and I join the Boomerang Club, people who return year after year to this very special Greek Island.  Don't forget - click the pics.Skiathos is the most popular of the Sporades, the group of islands east of Volos and north of Evia on mainland Greece. The island of Skiathos is actually an extension of wooded Mount Pelion 100 miles away on the mainland and the scenery reflects this. Skiathos is a green island with pine forests and abundant water with fig, olive, plum, and almond trees, as well as grapes.  SkiathosLeaving SkopelosSkiathos embraced tourism many years ago where on glistening beaches, wooded hillsides and in peaceful valleys are a number of the finest hotels in Greece. We stay in one such place that shall remain our secret.Skiathos has much to offer people of all ages and national...
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