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Showing posts from January, 2010

Redpolls again

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The Redpolls are back and they included a paler looking one today with extremely white wingbars, tertial fringes and a pale wing panel. Very white inderneath and feint flank markings. Could be a female Mealy but it was flighty. The other Redpolls were actually quite brave yesterday, coming relatively close as I re-filled the seed hoppers and they included a ringed male..
The bird on the left is similar to the pale ones of last year that turned out to be Lesser from the measurements. Anyway, hopefully they'll continue to hang around for another week or so until the next ringing session or until I can get some better images.

Two Ravens croaked overhead yesterday morning and a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were around early on. Still plenty of finches though not quite hit the numbers of last year yet.

Goldfinch-fest!

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The weather was again perfect for ringing yesterday - calm and overcast - and so I collected Mark and we set up the nets in the garden. The first net was up by 8:30  as we made our way down the dip to set up a second net in a slightly different place in the hope of catching more birds. Once we were happy with it we appeared back up to the top of the garden to find eleven birds in the net already!

It was nice to get some Goldfinches again as we had a few female birds but another two male Bullfinchesbrought the total of that species to ten so far this winter. The tits were notable by their absence to start with but things picked up around 10:30 when a large flock of Goldfinches appeared in the trees. Suffice to say we were please to get five in the top net (with another four species) as well as six in the bottom net. Altogether we trapped 17 goldfinches and one re-trap from December.

Mark caught a snatch of a Treecreeeper and a little later we had added the species to the garden ringing…

The one that got away?

I was just messing about in the garden yesterday when I heard a flock of Long-tailed Tits moving through the mase of the garden. Nothing unusual there you might say but I've only had a flock of three all winter so a larger flock was both new and interesting knowing that they'd survived the recent cold snap. However, one of the furthest birds appeared to have an all-white head but as soon as I'd dashed to get some sort of optics on it, they'd gone. I'll just have to keep my eyes and ears peeled - with the wonders of wireless connections, I think I'll be 'working' in the shed today.

The Grebes are back

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No, not the Black-necked, but the Great Crested Grebe pair were on Rishton Reservoir this-morning, both in breeding plumage already. Two drake Tufted Ducks were still present but I couldn't see the drake Pochard that was present yesterday afternoon. 73 Lapwings were still standing around on the ice that still covers a proportion of the reservoir along with a few gulls. Eight Goosanders were also actively fishing by the far bank. There was plenty of bird activity in the wood with Long-tailed Tits still very much in evidence as well as a flock of 15 Goldfinches.

I headed over to Southport via Hesketh Out Marsh for a while. The south-easterly wind cut through you like a knife - or rather it cuts through your legs in the 'shelter'. I was immediately rewarded with a fine Merlin forcing Redshanks to plunge-dive to escape and a second bird chasing a Crow. As usual, most of the birds were in the eastern section with lots of Lapwings, a few Redshanks and Curlews and a single Golden…

An Ermine Stoat steals the show

This morning was meant to be relatively fine so I set out for Gisburn to do my second visit on SD84E. The drizzle was rather heavy as I pulled up at Stirk House, very much like the last time I did this square. The only difference seemed to be the lack of birds!

The first few fields were devoid of life but as I crossed the railway, a few Fieldfares brightened the gloom. A little further on and there was a good flock of Chaffinches in a set-aside field that was used for Pheasants. Sliding my way down the aptly named Steep Wood I came accross a few Stock Doves and a few Sika Deer, two of which watched me watching them from about 20 yards away. There was little else of note other than to say that Woodpeckers and Treecreepers were very much in evidence.

As I made my way back up, I thought I heard a Teal call. Sure enough, below Stirk House there is a small pool hidden behind an embankment; I could just about make out a couple of Teal. I continued along the path when a whole flock of around…

More garden visitors

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The snow has gone and there are plenty of birds around. 24 Goldfinches and eight Redpolls were around the feeders most of the morning. This female Sparrowhawk had already been through a couple of times when it perched in the plum tree and actually waitied for me to get my camera and take a couple of shaky hand-held shots in the late afternoon gloom. On Thursday we had a cracking adult male near the shed and a large female has also been in the area.

Garden Ringing - 14th Jan

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As forecast, the weather was dull, calm and overcast so having dropped Bernie off at school, I met up with Mark and we came back to set up the nets in the garden. Bullfinches have been very regular and we caught another two young males.

The large numbers of Blackbirds that have been coming to the garden were well represented as we caught another five but we only trapped a single Lesser Redpoll. On the plus side we got another ringing tick in the form of a Great Spotted Woodpecker (young male) that was nearly joined by a male Sparrowhawk in the bottom net.


Three Robins and three Dunnocks were our best haul for those species and we managed another 5 Blue and six Great Tits. Three Long-tailed Tits went into the net together. One of them was the ringed one I had seen a few days earlier and it tunred out to be the one ringed in March.

Final totals
1  Great Spotted Woodpecker
3  Robin
3  Dunnock plus 1 retrap
5  Blackbird
2  Long-tailed Tit plus 1 retrap
5  Blue Tit plus 1 retrap
6  Great Tit…

Birding around the Lune - Wed 13th Jan

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It had been a while since I'd had the chance to get out and do some birding so I borrowed Bernie's car (so I could get up the hill in the snow) and headed for Bowland to pick up Mark. We gingerly traversed the Trough road and headed for the coast at Pilling and then making our way around the Lune estuary.

Though the tide was in, there wasn't a great deal at Pilling. Several Pinkfeet were out on the marsh as well as a single Little Egret but everything was quite far out and the wind was cutting us in two! We decided to head for Cockerham Sands via the back roads where we might find some geese (without luck). The water was right up to the bank and there we had nice views of Bar-tailed Godwits, a couple of Grey Plovers and a couple of Turnstone. A single Shoveler looked rather forlorn against a backdrop of Wigeon. Back in the fields we found seven Whooper Swans in amongst the throng of Mutes and at Conder Green we managed to pick up a Geenshank and Spotted Redshank right next…

The return of the Redpolls

At least 12 Redpolls have been on the Nyger seed feeders today; five on each feeder at one time - five of the birds ringed and five unringed. Then, later in the afternoon whilst watching a 1st winter male and adult male Reed Buntings stocking up as seeds were being revealed by the retreating snow, a couple of Redpolls came into the small feeder. These had very white wing-bars, were white underneath and one seemed to have a very white rump.

All the birds were soon spooked by the second Sparrowhawk visit of the day but soon birds were back - apart from those two Redpolls. Plenty of Chaffinches now as well as a couple of Long-tailed Tits, one of which has a ring on it (we've only rung one in my garden and that was last winter).

Feeding the birds

The past few days I've been making sure that there's been plenty of food in the back garden. At least ten Blackbirds at one time in the garden and eleven Goldfinches. The Redpolls have been fairly regular again with up to five at any one time including three unringed birds. The male Reed Bunting is regular in the bottom corner of the garden and the numbers of Chaffinches are increasing.

Down on Rishton reservoir, there is a gap in the ice maintained by around 150 Canada Geese. There were 22 Coot there yesterday and lots of gulls, at least 2000, coming in and out from the tip for a drink and bathe before going off to roost at Fishmoor. Nothing unusual in amongst them though.

The weather seems to be getting milder (when out of the wind) and hopefully we'll have a bit of respite which will let me dig my car out and get it up the hill tomorrow!

Some more excellent winter birds

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The sun was shining again this-morning so I decided to try and find the Water Pipit down at Girvan Harbour and get some images of it - which, as you can see above, I eventually managed to do. It was still chasing the Rock Pipits around as it defended its patch of shore-line.

On to Dipple and there were three Black-throated Divers and two Razorbills offshore as well as plenty of Eider, Goldeneye and Wigeon. A few Grey Seals bobbed offshore.

I decided that it would be a good time to visit Loch Ryan so I headed south, stopping briefly at Lendalfoot where there were around 1000 Herring Gulls and a few Greater Black-backs in the fields or on the shore. A Merlin zoomed across the road near Cairnryan.


The rafts of Scaup were quite close to the shore with several Brent Geese in amongst them. There were loads of Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers, Eiders and Wigeon along with Mallard, a few Tufted Ducks and Common Scoter. As I pulled in at Bishop Burn, a large flock of gulls came in and I immed…

New Years day in Girvan

A fine and calm morning meant that it was a good time to finish off my Atlas survey for Girvan so Bernie and I headed out around town at not an unreasonable time. The streets were very quiet and so bird calls were easy to discern and we quickly picked up birds around the houses. There were loads of Chaffinches around ans House Sparrows abd Stalings don't seem to be affected by declines elsewhere in the country. It was nice to find a Dipper virtually in the town centre as well as lots more commoner garden birds that have not been apparent on previous visits. Finishing off in Glendoune, we came accross a large flock of Linnets and Goldfinches as well as more Chaffinches with a few Bramblings mixed in. Plenty of winter thrushes were feeding in the leaf litter and Goldcrests sang from the tree tops.

Having done that, I headed out to the harbour where a Water Pipit had been reported the day before. It was high tide so there wasn't much exposed seaweed. I made my way carefully up to…