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Rishton 29th Dec

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I haven't gone very far in birding terms over the past few days with the season's festivities and cold weather. The garden has been busy with the regular finches and tits but a good number of Blackbirds feeding on the apples were joined today by a couple of Fieldfares - always a lovely bird to see and to have one in the garden was a real pleasure.

A couple of days ago, a trip to Ewood Park to watch a dismal game of football was briefly enlivened by the sight of a Snipe wiffling down onto the River Darwen that runs alongside the ground. It's the only cobbled river I know of and matches the cobbled streets perfectly! At least yesterday's result was welcome! Anyway, back to the birds...

Today, I spent a little while at Rishton Reservoir in the swirling fog. As it lifted, I could see a small patch of open water in which a Great Crested Grebe swam. Six teal were flushed from the bank along with 37 Lapwings and there was a small assortment of gulls on the ice. Suddenly I hea…

Ol' white cheeks is back

Another hard frost last night and plenty of Blackbirds in the garden feeding on the windfall apples that I've scatted around the place. It was nice to see the return of on instantly recognisable male blackbird with white cheek/neck feathers that we'd ringed last winter. There were at least 19 Goldfinches and six Lesser Redpolls but no sign of the large grey first winter male I had yesterday afternoon - it was bigger and bulkier than the Goldfinch it was next to and had very grey plumage tones - as good a candidate for a Mealy as any.

A quick trip to Rishton Reservoir this morning for the WeBS count found the reservoir virtually totally frozen over with just a small puddle in front of the yacht club. John Metcalf was there and told me of 150 Lapwing and five Curlew that were put up by a group of three shooters - here we go again! There were six Tufties on the small patch of water along with a single immature Mute Swan, a few Coot and Mallard and a few Gulls of various denominat…

No flight delays here

The back garden was busier than Heathrow this morning with innumerable birds visiting the, now, eight feeders that are either in view of the house or sheltered down the dip. I've been putting plenty of fat out and the Tits and Starlings are loving that! It was good to see nine Long-tailed Tits in one family party, so it seems they're hanging on in there.

Still good numbers of Goldfinches and Bullfinches along with at least five Lesser Redpolls. Just hope they're getting good enough shelter overnight.

Another new addition to the garden ringing list

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We didn't start ringing too early today - we let the first feed of the day go undisturbed as it was another cold night but nowhere near as cold as it had been. There were plenty of birds in the area and it seemed that we've had reasonable survival of our resident birds. The main draw today was the return of the Lesser Redpolls as I have been seeing a few more of late so it was unsurprising that we captured a few new ones today along with the male we trapped a couple of weeks ago.

However, we started at a more genteel pace compared to previous sessions with a steady flow of birds through the garden an into the nets. The first highlight was a couple of young Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Next we were delighted to get a Goldcrest and this adult Wren along with the first of several Goldfinches
And then the Lesser Redpolls started to arrive - mainly youngsters like this one.
And then a garden ringing tick - we trapped four Starlings as they've been coming down to eat the fat recently…

A welcome splash of orange in the garden

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The winter snows finally reached this part of the country this week with a record low at home of -10 on Thursday night. The canal has been frozen for some time and a visit to Rishton Reservoir yesterday confirmed that there was only a small patch of open water on the main reservoir around which some 750 Herring, 400 Black-headed, and tens of Lesser Black-backed, Greater Black-backed and Common Gulls loafed around.

The garden feeders were filled up and lots of fat cake dotted around so it was a great relief to see a healthy population of birds in the garden this-morning. All the more exciting was the sight of a Brambling early on - only the second garden record and a different splash of colour in amongst the veritable paint-pot that common garden birds bring.

The sleet is coming down now and I need to get more seed! The quiz is ready for Monday's ELOC meeting so I just hope the weather behaves itself.

Back with two sacks of sunflower kernels and there's two Lesser Redpolls on th…

Finches galore as garden ringing session breaks three figures

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A close eye on the forecast and a gap in my work schedule meant that today was to be another ringing day in the back garden with Mark Breaks. Mark arrived at 7:20 and by 8 we had all the nets up and were busy taking in the first four Blue Tits from the top nets. No sooner had we processed these - all retraps - we could see the bottom net was burgeoning. As we opened the shed door, the top one was getting quite heavily populated too! A Grey Wagtail was calling repeatedly but never came near to the net area.

We hastily emptied the net of the first catch that was of more Blue Tits along with lots of Chaffinches and Goldfinches. The odd Greenfinch was caught as well, a far cry from previous winters, and of course several Bullfinches old and new. We nearly ran out of bags so we processed this first full batch as quickly as we could. Twenty five minutes later, they were all done so it was out for the next round and we had just as many including the first Lesser Redpoll of the winter - an ad…

Splendid November day in East Lancs and a Great White Egret to finish off

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The weather forecast had predicted Friday to be a calm and sunny day so as I wasn't required at work I decided I'd try and do the two Barnoldswick timed tetrad visits (TTVs) that I'd committed to. I'd only just taken these on as I had offered Tony (the BTO organiser) to fill in the remaining gaps of tetrads that no-one wanted to do. So these two together were assigned to me.

I'd arrived at Letcliff Park on the outskirts of Barnoldswick at 8:15 - it seemed a good spot to park my car as it was bang on the edge of each of the two squares. I was greeted by a very nice flock of Siskins and Goldfinches feeding in the birches and Blackbirds abounded in the park. I made my way down through the park and town centre towards the soccer (that's my daughter's state-side influence, sorry) pitches and the sewage works. Plenty of common bird interest at the latter but my attention was drawn to the trilling of Waxwings near the football club and I could see three in the tre…

Pied-billed Grebe, Hollingworth Lake

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Serendipity was the order of the day as I had already booked this day off work as we were getting some bedroom furniture fitted, so for it to be a fine morning and a mega on the doorstep, things could hardly be better.

Bernie had noted that there were several Blackbirds in the garden competing with the Bullfinches for the last of the Rowan berries - new arrivals I guess from the continent with their all-dark bills. Even more Blue Tits and Chaffinches were at the feeders and several unringed.

Once the bedroom people had arrived, I put the optics in the car and headed for Rochdale.Forty minutes later, the car was parked and I headed off round the lake, pausing to chat with a few friends on the way. The bird had been showing near the road but seemed to have headed back to the samll pool so I went round there and soon found it in amongst the willows.

Very soon, it made its way through the inlet and onto the small pool where I managed to get a few shots.
Very obliging in my opinion and as t…

Another day's ringing - and more Waxwings

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.... no, unfortunately not caught but again today at Barrow where the sun shone and around 50 of these birds were still gorging themselves on the berries.

Having sated my appetite for the cute trilling calls, I headed to Waddington Fell where the Great Grey Shrike was showing distantly away from the gunfire of the clay-pigeon shoot. I guess it will be here until next April and will entice more birders into the area once again.

On Saturday, the nets were up in the garden just before dawn on a windless, clear morning. The sun was going to be a problem later on but that didn't stop a good number of birds being caught - quite a few re-traps from last week as you would imaging but a few more from last winter and lots of new birds. Blue Tits and Bullfinches have clearly done OK this year and the number of Chaffinches ringed is certainly up.
We caught another Treecreeper, from the bill measurements we reckon it's a male but ageing and sexing these is difficult even in the had.

Birds ca…