Weeks had slipped by since our last visit to Oakenclough . The last one was 14th August 2020 when we still caught Tree Pipits and Willow Warblers even though the cool morning air suggested autumn was close and that warblers might morph into finches and thrushes.
Our visit was so long ago that on Sunday while studying the weather forecast I had to remind myself of how we were doing with each species until continual foul weather stopped us dead in our tracks. Up to 14 August and a very mixed bag of 363 birds and 26 species below:
Blue Tit 20
Coal Tit 26
Willow Warbler 84
Tree Pipit 12
Song Thrush 2
Lesser Redpoll 15
House Sparrow 1
Garden Warbler 6
Pied Flycatcher 2
Long- tailed Tit 2
Sedge Warbler 1
Meadow Pipit 9
Would we continue with summer warblers or move almost imperceptibly into autumn birds?
We met up at 0630 Ringers Three - Andy, Bryan and The One Who Takes the Pictures. The air was cool at 5.5 °C and very little stirred. The earliest sightings came from a flurry of Swallows heading south, flights that continued throughout the morning until we had counted approximately 120 by finish time at 1130.
Catching was slow but steady with a handful of warblers together with the appearance of the first autumnal Meadow Pipits. Birds caught 22 of 8 species only - 6 Meadow Pipit, 5 Willow Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Chaffinch , 1 Coal Tit , 1 Wren and 1 Siskin.
The most unexpected bird of the morning here at 700 ft above sea level was a Marsh Harrier, a brown female/juvenile that appeared from the west, flew along the northern boundary and then down into the valley. Although we see most raptors here, this was the very first sighting of a Marsh Harrier.
Other birds noted - 2 Nuthatch, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 10 Pied Wagtail, 10 Meadow Pipit, 3 Sand Martin, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Kestrel.
Another overhead sighting came with the appearance of a brightly coloured hot-air balloon that sailed overhead south to north in the direction of Morecambe Bay. Let’s hope the pilot dropped anchor before sailing out over the Irish Sea.
Stay tuned. There’s a newly published book review on the way.