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Showing posts from December, 2009

South Ayshire Hogmanay

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Having made our way up to Girvan yesterday afternoon, we awoke to a bright and sunny morning though bitterly cold. There's little snow around here but plenty further east and north. A quick glance towards Arran revealed snow covered mountains - a spectacular view from here.

We decided to have a quick look along the coast north of Girvan and up to Maidens. The first stop was Dipple, next to the alginate processing factory. Here there were 45 Lapwing, several Turnstones and Redshank. A few Wigeon and Eider were off shore but otherwise there was very little. Next was Maidens harbour where a Black Redstart had been seen lately. We didn't see it but the wrack in the bays was covered in birds. You don't often see Song Thrush, Grey Wagtail and Turnstones feeding together. There were plenty of Meadow and Rock Pipits including a greyish one with a hint of a salmony coloured wash on the upper breast - probably a Water Pipit or possibly littoralis Rock Pipit. The bird showed briefly b…

Rishton Reservoir 29th Dec

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With reports of the Black-necked Grebe coming past the promenade yesterday, I headed out to the reservoir in the bitterly cold east wind and the oncoming gloom. There were plenty of birds again, and most pleasingly the two Great Crested Grebes had returned.

Three drake Shovelers and eight Tufted Ducks sailed out from the yacht club briefly. Fifteen teal were perched up on the dam wall whilst seven Goosander and 17 Cormorants fished the reservoir. Most obvious was a site record count of 299 Canada Geese on the far bank along with 120 Lapwing, 300 Starling and 16 Coot.

It took a while but I eventually located the Black-necked Grebe in the far corner again and patiently watched it as it dived repeatedly, making its way down to the yacht club where I lost it. I kept my fingers crossed that it would do a circuit and 20 minutes later I was delighted when it popped up jst to the left of the promenade. It rapidly made its way past me towards the overflow at which time I rattled off some dark, …

Three new garden ringing ticks!

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With the prospect of ringing some more Redpolls in my garden, Mark came round with his nets this-morning for another three hour session. It was just after nine when we had the nets set up and almost immediately we were rewarded with a good catch that included a Lesser Redpoll and our first garden ringing first of the day in the form of a Wren..

I had the feeders all set up along the hedge line with the mist net in between. The other net was 'down the dip' but only trapped a Robin all day. The next good bird to get was a female Reed Bunting, one of a pair that have started to feed at the base of the apple tree.

The final new bird was rather unexpected in the form of a Pied Wagtail. We usually get Greys in and over the garden and Pieds are quite unusual, especially as it was no a fly-over.

All in all, we trapped 42 birds with another three retraps; all from last winter and none from our session a few weeks ago - very interesting! Great and Blue Tits were very much at the forefront …

Christmas birding

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The pre-Christmas cheer in the way of birds continued as the Black-necked Grebe continued to skulk in amongst the partly submerged willows on the railway embankment at Rishton Reservoir - a nice bird for Christmas Day. A couple of Gadwall were also a very welcome addition to the local birds.


The Velvet Scoter at Barrow Lodge has attracted birders from all over the county - I told you they were rare in Lancashire! We had another trip over there today now that the roads were clear. It was extremely active swallowing copies amounts of fresh-water mussels before having a lunchtime doze.

Back in the garden I've now had two different Redpolls and a pair of Reed Buntings feeding on the ground-scattered seed were overdue. I'll have to keep an eye out for Brambling.

Black-necked Grebe results in another East Lancs Twitch

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My final day at the old Mullards site in Blackburn finished at 10:30 when we all said our goodbyes and trudged off through the snow to the car park. Though I knew this day was coming for several months, it was a very emotional time as most of us had been there a long long time.
Bernie decided I needed cheering up so we went home, grabbed the optics and headed for the sun-baked promenade of Rishton Reservoir (she's very understanding!). It was as if the local birds had decided to cheer me up too! There were loads of gulls on the far bank; about 1500 Black-headed, 200 Common, 80 Greater Black Back, 50 Lesser Black Back and 1200 Herring. Then I was delighted to see five Shovelers (4 drakes and a female), four Tufties, two Goosander and twelve Teal - a real duck fest for this neck of the woods.
Then I did a double take. There, in the far corner of the reservoir, was a winter-plumaged Black-necked Grebe - Nirvana! The second really good East Lancs bird in two days - I could get used to…

An East Lancs Mega!

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It was my penultimate day at work and as I had half a day's holiday left I decided to take it and sort out a few things at home before Christmas. The snow has been problematical these last few days - the hill from our house proving an insurmountable barrier if I hadn't gritted it and yesterday we ran out of grit! Fortunately I have decided to park the car at the top of the estate so that I had a fighting chance of getting on the road.


As luck would have it, I'd just finished my lunch and the ever-reliable Bill Aspin left me a message about a Velvet Scoter on Barrow Lodge. Well it's only about five miles away, so having successfully traversed the skating rink I got on the main roads and slithered to a halt at the lodge. Allen Holmes and Pete Morris were viewing the bird, a female, as it dived repeatedly on the only open patch of water in amongst lots of Mallards and Black-headed Gulls.

Having done my usual informative talk with some of the locals, I joined up with Allen o…

Atlasing SD75W

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With a fine morning forecast it was time to do another tetrad in East Lancashire. I'd chosen an area north of Bolton-by-Bowland as the area hadn't been surveyed yet. I'd never birded here before but that's one of the reasons why I quite like this task - it just makes you look at areas that wouldn't get a second glance normally.

Things started off reasonably well in this rural, livestock-rearing neck of the woods with a reasonably sized flock of Redwings and a calling Green Woodpecker (something not often encountered in Lancashire generally). Though there was a frost over the ground, it hadn't penetrated the surface and the going was heavy.
One nice aspect to this tetrad was that Tosside beck flows through it but there were no Dippers on the three stretches I could get to. Nuthatches were much in evidence at a couple of places and I came accross a nice bracken covered bank that looks good for Whinchat in the summer.

On several occasions, single Siskins flew over b…

A ringing recovery!

Well this took me quite by surprise. Mark has just informed me of the recovery of one of our Redpolls last spring. It was trapped in the garden on 30 Dec last year, re-trapped on 21 March this year and then controlled on 18 April at the Calf of Man. Splendid!
It's Marks first recovery outside Lancashire as well.

'Banding' in the garden again

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With the hope rather than expectation of some reasonable ringing weather, Mark came round with his nets yesterday morning to get an update on the birds in my garden. Things started very well - the first bird in the nets was a male Bullfinch, probably one of the ones that managed to acrobatically avoid the net in March.

Unfortunately, no other finches were playing ball though there were a larger number of Tits in the nets. Around 10 we got a total of 13 birds in the top net all at once. these included a coupleof retraps of adult Tits and female Bullfinch.
A new bird for the garden ringing list was the only bird caught in the net at the bottom of the garden, a splendid male Goldcrest.

Mark had to go to watch Burnley lose again around 11:30 but in the two and a half hours the totals were:

Goldcrest              1
Coal Tit                 3 plus 1 retrap
Blue Tit                 7 plus 2 retrap
Great Tit               10 plus 1 rettrap
House Sparrow      2 
Chaffinch               1
Gold…