Above The Wenning

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I was up above the Wenning earlier this week measuring various habitat features.It wasn't a bad morning with 3 oktas cloud cover and a warm southerly breeze.

I walked from the huge old barn which has been sympathetically restored to be still used for agriculture. This is great as a lot of these old barns don't fit in with modern farming practises and are either converted to housing or left to fall down. The barn has also been restored with the colony of House Sparrows that occupy it in mind and lots of holes, nooks and crannies have been left in the external skin of the building for the Spadgers! The twenty or so knocking around the barn seemed happy!

I headed up to the Iron Age hill fort and with such warm weather lots of Buzzards were on the wing and in total on my walk I counted seven. Song Thrushes were singing and I had a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in the woodland. A singing Skylark and three Brown Hares added to the mix.

 Measuring wheel parked on the hill fort!
 
In one field I had a feeding flock of 24 Redwings and 57 Fieldfares which was nice. Along the track at different positions I had two Stoats pop out of the hedge to investigate what the noise was coming from my measuring wheel, but sadly they vanished before I could get a photograph. Three Siskins overhead and a Little Egret down by the river and that was me finished for the day. Not bad for some non-birding work!

Herdies But Not In The Hills

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
Valentine's Day found me continuing with my wintering bird survey in deepest, darkest Merseyside. It was dark when I set out and pretty cold in the 10 mph southeasterly wind. Close to where I am surveying is an area of dunes that are grazed in the winter with some Herdwick sheep, which I think are amongst the bonniest of our native sheep breeds.

 Herdwicks

Nothing stood out during the survey, and as usual a good range of species were recorded including two Sparrowhawks (an immature male and a female), two Song Thrushes (merrily singing away), 1672 Pink-footed Geese, three Goldcrests, 13 Chaffinches, five Long-tailed Tits, three Coal Tits, seven Stock Doves, five Buzzards, 24 Goldfinches, 16 Curlews, a Grey Wagtail, 43 Carrion Crows, 136 Black-headed Gulls and eleven Blackbirds.

All my birding seems to be birding for work at the moment, but I mustn't complain as at least I am getting out! Hopefully I'll be on the patch this coming weekend. I do apologise for saying that as the weather will be awful this weekend now! 

January’s Ringing Totals

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
Over on the right you will see that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of January. The only thing worth noting is the sterling work Phil and Andy are doing on Linnets with 59 ringed during the month. With a number of our ringing sites falling within a 10 km avian influenza surveillance zone, the totals for February will be even more meagre; roll on spring!

I called at my feeding station yesterday and all I had of note was a single Grey Wagtail. I've sacrificed birding this morning for some post beer festival recovery and to get my bird records for 2016 in order for the county recorder!

Up The Wenning

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I spent a pleasant morning today up the Wenning Valley in northeast Lancs close to the Cumbria and North Yorkshire border, before 'rain stopped play' shortly after lunch. I was carrying out some land surveying and wandering round with a land wheel measuring various features and structures, which of course presented the opportunity to do some birding at the same time!

 The Wenning

I had two Skylarks head northeast this morning high up, and I'm pretty certain that they were moving; my first 'vis' of the year. I had three more Skylarks on some maize stubble along with 13 Redwings and 45 Fieldfares. I also had a few more Thrushes in the form of seven Blackbirds and five Song Thrushes in various sections of hedgerow.

Out on some of the pasture were eleven Lapwings, but they weren't setting up territory yet, and keeping them company were three Brown Hares. The only raptor I had was a calling Buzzard from the woodland across the river.

 Lapwing

On the river I had a Grey Heron and Little Egret, and then I pushed off twenty-ish  Teal. On this section of river there is a decent sized Sand Martin colony and I thought it won't be long before they are back.

I finished the day off with a pint of Stanley's in the new Kirkby Lonsdale brewery in the Royal Barn in Kirkby, and very nice it was too!

Starting To Sing

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
Over the past week or so on my travels one thing has been obvious and that has been bird song! A number of species are starting to sing including Dunnock, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Great Tit etc, etc, etc! It's great to hear, and makes you look forward to spring! But, there's still a good bit of winter to get through first and Feb can be a tough month.

It's been fairly quiet at my feeding station and the food I am putting out is lasting 5-6 days, which is unusual at this time of year. There hasn't been anything notable but counts of some species included 21 Magpies, two Buzzards and 15 Goldfinches.

There has been some Pink-footed Geese within the Obs recording area and peak counts have been 800, but sadly I haven't had anything else amongst them despite giving them a good grilling!

 Pink-footed Geese

I have been back to my winter bird survey site in Merseyside for an afternoon count and perhaps of interest recorded 114 Curlews, 26 Goldfinches, 279 Pink-footed Geese, a male Sparrowhawk, a Coal Tit, six Long-tailed Tits, 304 Jackdaws, a Jay, nine Stock Doves, two Buzzards, two Goldcrests, 21 Magpies, 36 Carrion Crows, eleven Blue Tits and 108 Black-headed Gulls.

At one section of the survey area I caught a flash of reddish-orange and saw a Red Squirrel running ahead of me. It climbed up into a Scots Pine tree and was at one stage upside down clinging to the underneath of a major bough! Sadly the sun was behind the tree and my pictures aren't good to say the least, but you can tell it's a Red Squirrel!

 Red squirrel (above & below)



At weekend I had a look at the southern part of the Obs recording area around the farm fields, and this was my first look at this bit of the Obs since Christmas. On my walk round I had a Long-tailed Tit, a singing Song Thrush, 14 Woodpigeons, a pair of displaying Kestrels close to their nest site, a male Sparrowhawk, 34 Herring Gulls and a Mistle Thrush.

The sea was quiet with just 18 Eiders, nine Cormorants, two Great Crested Grebes and two Red-throated Divers.

The weather isn't looking bad for the remainder of the week. I've got a site visit tomorrow and then I'm relatively free for the remainder of the week. Hang on, I've just remembered, it's Fleetwood Beer festival Thu - Sat, and I like to go on at least two days so birding could be intermittent!

Wot No Birding

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
Life has been getting in the way of birding of late, but I'm not complaining, well maybe a bit. I've helped three family members move house lately and I was in Norfolk earlier this week for a couple of days attending the funeral of an old friend; may you rest in peace Steve! When you add in the days of bad weather as well, it has left very little if any time for birding, that's my excuse anyway!

So to get out birding yesterday, even though it was for business rather than for pleasure, was a treat! I was at my wintering bird survey site in Merseyside and it was a tad chilly to say the least. I had clear skies, ground frost and a cold 10 - 15 mph southeasterly wind. Rather than giving you a 'why and wherefore' of what I recorded I had the following bits and pieces of nominal interest; two Song Thrushes, 34 Long-tailed Tits, a Tree Sparrow, eleven Linnets, four Buzzards, 1248 Pink-footed Geese, three Goldcrests, 23 Goldfinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, three Coal Tits, four Stock Doves, 69 Curlews, a singing Mistle Thrush, a female Sparrowhawk, 220 Woodpigeons, 36 Carrion Crows, 12 Blue Tits, 152 Black-headed Gulls and 111 Jackdaws.

 Curlews

 Pink-footed Geese

The only other news is that I won't be doing any ringing locally anytime soon, as the Obs falls within a 10 km surveillance zone surrounding an outbreak of Avian Influenza at Hy-Fly hatcheries near Pilling. Hy-Fly rear Pheasants, Red-legged Partridges etc and the H5N8 virus was found in some Pheasants at the site. The surveillance zone generally stays in place for 30 days, so at the earliest it will be 24th February before I can ring again within the Obs recording area; so it's just birding for the next 30 days presuming life doesn't get in the way again!

December’s Ringing Totals

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
Over on the right you will see that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group for the year. We ended up ringing 3580 birds, which is 406 down on last year. Two new species for the year were ringed during December and these were Great Black-backed Gull and Twite. In fact Great Black-backed Gull was a first ringing record for the group.

Below you will find the top four ringed during December and the 'Top Ten Movers and Shakers' for the month.

Top Four Ringed During December

1. Blue Tit - 48
2= Goldfinch - 28
     Linnet - 28
4. Great Tit - 17

Top Ten Movers and Shakers

1. Swallow - 826 (same position)
2. Goldfinch - 312 (same position)
3. Blue Tit - 255 (up from 4th)
4. Meadow Pipit - 209 (down from 3rd)
5. Lesser Redpoll - 193 (same position)
6. Great Tit - 182 (up from 7th)
7. Linnet - 162 (up from 8th)
8. Goldcrest - 155 (down from 6th)
9. Chaffinch - 132 (same position)
10. Reed Bunting - 113 (same position)

Little Gulls

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I headed to the Point this morning at first light for, as it turned out, a short sea watch as I got rained off. Prior to the rain front coming in I had full cloud cover with a 25 mph westerly wind. Shortly after arriving I was joined by Ian.

It didn't seem overly windy and it hadn't been that windy overnight, but there was certainly some Little Gulls moving out of the Bay and in total we had 32. They were mainly all adults with just a few second calendar year birds mixed in. Other than the Little Gulls we just had three Eiders and seven Red-breasted Mergansers.

In front of our sea watching position a few waders roosted on the beach including 78 Oystercatchers, 141 Sanderlings, 29 Ringed Plovers and 27 Turnstones.

It's going to be a lot more windier tomorrow with perhaps a hint of northerly in the westerly, which isn't good, but I'll give it another go and see what I get.

Drink A Penny

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I decided to have an hour and a half on the river this morning before strapping myself in to my home office to do some work. I had clear skies with a cold 15 mph north-northwesterly wind.

Walking through the 'Hawthorn tunnel' or 'Thrush alley', as I sometimes refer the path to the estuary as, I flushed 22 Blackbirds, two Redwings and a Fieldfare. Some were feeding on the Hawthorn berries and I think some were exiting their roost that seemed to be in dense vegetation on the ditch side.

At the end of the path I walked on to the saltmarsh so I could look down the river and on to the mudflats. Walking across the saltmarsh I put up 19 Snipes and four Rock Pipits. I counted 230 Pink-footed Geese leaving the roost and sat down on a log to have a coffee. Even though the wind was cold it was clear and the visibility was good. Similar to yesterday the numbers of waders and wildfowl were towards the mouth of the estuary, which was too far away to make any meaningful counts.

After my coffee I headed over to the pool to have a loot at any wildfowl on there. In a quiet corner were eight Little Grebes feeding and it was a pleasure to watch them. Once they dived, and the rings of wavelets had dispersed, I could follow them feeding under water by tracking their air bubbles rising to the surface; beautiful!

Little Grebe - Going...

 ...Going...

 Gone!

On Facebook Kane posted today to say that he was working at Castle Espie on Strangford Lough in Ireland, and Strangford Lough is one of my favourite places anywhere. I suppose I am biased as that's where a lot of family come from! Why am I telling you this? The local name for Little Grebe in the Strangford Lough area is 'Drink A Penny', hence my blog title and hence telling you this wee tale!  

Besides the Little Grebes the pool held three Coots, three Moorhens, five Goldeneyes, 11 Tufted Ducks and two Teal.

 Teal

My walk back didn't reveal much else other than a Song Thrush, two Reed Buntings, a single Goldcrest and a Water Rail calling from the small reedbed.

On my way home I stopped off at the dual carriageway to see if there were any Waxwings and there was just a single bird. Where all its mates were I don't know! My last port of call on my ten minute drive home was the geese fields which just held 27 Pink-footed Geese.

 Waxwing

I won't be out again until weekend, so fingers crossed for some decent weather!

Saltmarsh Sunrise

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
The days are starting to lengthen a bit already and this is more noticeable in the evening rather than the morning for some reason, so first light still isn't that early, but nevertheless I was out at first light on the estuary watching the sun rise. It was cold with a ground frost, clear skies and relatively calm with just a hint of a northerly

 Sunrise

As I walked along the edge of the inward edge of the saltmarsh I pushed a few Skylarks from the creek edges and there were eight in total. There was also good numbers of Reed Buntings and I had respectable count of 31. There was also a mixed flock of Linnets and Twite with a split of perhaps 40/20. From the reedbed I had a calling Water Rail and a few more Reed Buntings.

 Reed Bunting (above & below)



There were a number of Gulls flying to the river to bathe and loaf on the exposed sand banks. I picked my way across the marsh putting four Rock Pipits up in the process and set my scope up at the edge of the saltmarsh. The gull flock contained 271 Herring Gulls, 46 Great Black-backed Gulls, 85 Black-headed Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Common Gull and best of all an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

 Pied Wagtail

There was a few wildfowl on the river including 35 Wigeons, 75 Teal, 30 Mallards and 7 Shelducks. Waders were less represented with just 80 Lapwings. Towards the mouth of the river I could see more waders and wildfowl, but they were realistically beyond the range of my optics.

I had a look on the pools on my way back and was pleased to see that there was still at least five Bearded Tits. Coot numbered 64 and Tufted Ducks 20.

On my way home I had a look in the woodland and allotments and was pleased to count 40 House Sparrows! The woodland was quiet other than a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a good winter count of seven Goldcrests.

I'd better do some work tomorrow before heading to my feeding station to do a seed drop!