Showing posts from April, 2010

Redstarts everywhere (in SD75W)

A morning's atlasing around SD75W north of Bolton-by-Bowland was the plan for the day and as soon as the car pulled up a male Redstart sang from the roadside treetop. Such a distinctive but not terribly inspiring song!

Everywhere I went in this tetrad I came across more Redstarts with a final count of twenty-one in my two hours. The streams that run through the area were very nearly dry and so there were none of the birds that you'd associate with them - I wonder where all the Dippers have gone - probably on the major rivers as they're so low. Perhaps they'll start to fill up again with the rain that's forecast.

Back home and the Blackcap and Wilow Warbler are singing away in the afternoon sunshine, drowning out the sound of my lawnmower - well not quite. Still not many House Martins around yet and still no Whitethroats.

It's Dotterel time

Whilst we wait for the Dotterel to turn up on Pendle Hill, it's nice to get others in the region and a male present near Abbeystead was just asking to be watched so I finally succumbed to the temptation. Though never close as it had been, it kept mostly out of view in a holow on the other side of a fence - this is not how we are used to seeing them, of course. On top of Pendle Hill you just sit down and they eventually come pretty damn close!

Being a male, it wasn't the brightest button in the pack. That honour went to some absolutely spanking Golden Plovers that shared the pasture.
You can just about make out the Dotterel skulking on the right hand side of the image above.

I had to return to Blackburn quite early but I called in at the flood near Inskip where around twenty Whimbrel were present - nice to see them in the daylight. With over 1000 birds at three roosts a couple of days ago, the Ribble is certainly the place to get good-sized congregations of this species in late …

At last some more spring arrivals

A change in the wind direction has brought some much needed rain to the land and more birds have started to arrive. Yesterday, Willow Warbler and Blackcap were singing in the garden whilst more Swallows seemed to have arrived. Today the garden has been full of birdsong and a pair of Jays have been regular visitors.

On Friday, I had done my first atlas visit of the spring and the lack of summer visitors was most noticeable. Just lots of Willow Warblers, a few Swallows and a couple of Redstarts were the only notable ones - just single Chiffchaff and Blackcap was very surprising. However I got a good number of species including Goosander, Dipper, Siskin and Redpoll.

Today I called in at the Reservoir and much to my annoyance, there was a guy striding around the far bank, disturbing the waders. It did bring my attention to two Little Ringed Plovers though. I called in at a place I call Whitebirk Marsh - a rank piece of habitat that sits alongside the Leeds-Liverpool Canal between the arte…

Is it Ashy-headed or perhaps Spanish?

Things have been generally quiet for me on the birding front this week. I've visited Rishton Reservoir on a couple of occasions but there has not been anything spectacular or even mildly interesting for a while. A walk alongside the River Hyndburn did produce a Kingfisher last weekend and there have been plenty of finches visiting the feeders of course.

Today I called in at Marshside briefly en-route to Ainsdale and Warrington (I know, not what you might call the direct route!) and managed to catch up with a few commoner birds that I hadn't seen this year. It was nice to hear my first Sedge Warbler of the spring. However, things took a turn when I got a message about a Yellow Wagtail on the Ribble near Brockholes that then turned into a message about an Ashy-headed Wagtail. Well I see very few Yellow Wagtails as it is these days so I headed for Brockholes.

After a purposefull hike to the spot where the bird had been last seen, I picked it up straight away with the finder, Carl…

More good times in Bowland

On Thursday, I spent the morning along the Slaidburn - Bentham road and got a few more migrants. A couple of Redstarts were singing at the woods around Kenibus but my main stake out was up on Catlow Fell where a pair of Wheatears sang and fed actively. Over the fell, a Buzzard sky-danced and another pair were display-flying together. This coupled with a female Hen Harrier, adult Peregrine and a pair of Ravens made for a very enjoyable morning's birding.

Today, I met up with Graham Clarkson and a group from SW Lancs for a walk up Langden Valley again. On the way there I stopped up on Marl Hill where there were plenty of waders in evidence with a displaying Golden Plover the most interesting. The Redpolls were again in the larches along the entrance road but I could only pick out one definite Mealy; others in the bright sunshine showed characteristics of Mealy but I favoured Lesser or Redpoll sp. A Peregrine circled above us as we set out.

We were serenaded by several Willow Warbler…

Black Redstart in the Garden!

The Blackbirds were singing at 4:30 this morning as I awoke rather early. I tried to get back to sleep but around 6:30, Bernie had woken up and so I got up to make a cup of tea for her. As I waited for the kettle to boil, I watched the Blackbirds and Dunnocks under the near feeder when a bird appeared a few yards from the back door. It was one of those surreal moments - I thought "Why's that dunnock hopping along like a Robin?" and then as it perched on the low wall and quivered its tail, the fog lifted from my brain and I exclaimed the presence of a female Black Redstart to Bernie.

It flew up into the apple tree, fly catching and then away into neighbouring gardens. I came back down to finish the tea and there it was again! This time I had my bins but then made a dash to get the camera. Unfortunately, that was the last I saw of it as it dissappeared again. I've been searching all morning and issued the word to my neighbours, just in case they notice an odd bird on t…

Sparrowhawks final dash

I'm absolutely knackered after a full day sorting out the garden. All the paths jet-washed, vegtable patch sorted and planted, Shed and benches treated - I need some birding time!

Well there were several birds around as usual but the surprise of the day was this female Sparrowhawk that we found dead at the base of our neighbours hedge. I have seen several Sparrowhawks in the area and only yesterday, one zipped across the road in front of the car as it made its dash between houses. Well this one seems to have done the same but then misjudged the turn and gone crashing into a tree. The head and back patterning was quite well defined but there were several juvenile-like feathers so I guess it's a second-year bird.

The Chiffchaff was singing all day and a Blackcap had arrived. Four Swallows have also arrived at the farm at the back of us - they flew high to mob another female Sparrowhawk as it gloded above the house.

This morning at the Reservoir, there were five Tufted Ducks and…

More Redpolls in Bowland

A sunny and calm morning was the cue for a walk in the Trough today and having called in to see the Great Grey Shrike at Waddington Fell, we made our way to Langden Valley in the hope that there may be some Ring Ouzels about.

Along the entrance road my ears pricked up at the sound of Redpolls in the tops of the larches. There seemed to be several moving about up there and coming in from several direction. I estimated that there were between 15 and 20 birds - I could see some Lessers and two large pale Mealies at least. However, as they moved around, views were obstructed and neck ache hit in after a while.

We headed up past the intake where Pied and Grey Wagtails strutted around, past the trees with several Willow Warblers singing and out onto the track that leads towards Bleasdale. Ouzels are often seen in this first area but not today. I picked out a high-circling Peregrine whilst a Wheatear sang from a nearby hillside. A very pleasant walk was accompanied by relatively few birds ap…

Rishton Reservoir 8th April

Brrr. Winter has come back! So the sight of three Swallows and 20-odd Sand Martins over the Reservoir this-morning was all the more incongruous. Anyway, they should appreciate the warmer weather forecast for the next few days as will the Willow Warbler that gave a brief snatch of song.

No sign of the Shelduck or Tufties today.

Gardening weather

Fine and dry - well mostly - meant that it was time to get out into the garden and start some tidying up. Happily for us, the birds weren't in the least bothered by our presence with several Goldfinches and Lesser Redpolls on the feeders at the bottom of the garden. A young female Sparrowhawk zoomed in and perched on the plum tree whilst we were having a tea break in the sunshine whilst a Chiffchaff started to sing more regularly.

A quick trip to the reservoir was rewarded with a Shelduck - unusual around here nowadays. Seven Tufted Ducks bobbed along in the choppy waters, the breeze having picked up, and there were still five Great Crested Grebes. However, still no hirundines as yet.

I got home to the news of a Puffin found by the side of the road in Salmesbury a couple of days ago.
They MUST have paraphrased Ron Freethy's comments - surely!

Easter break

Another quick trip to visit friends and family in Ayrshire this weekend. Before we left, there were new Lesser Redpolls on the feeders - several males compared to mainly females and juveniles previously.

The trip up was uneventful - dipped the White Stork at Sawley (probably one of the Harewood birds anyway) but the diversion meant that we escaped a two hour delay on the M6. Girvan was beautifully sunny and spring-like when we arrived and, though there was a cool breeze on Sunday, we managed to successfully tidy up the garden. At Maidens, the six Pale-bellied Brents were still in the harbour but not much else out of the ordinary. Even out to sea today and yesterday, there's just been a few sea-birds. Guillemots, Razorbills and Gannets are just offshore from the house and I had a couple of Black Guillemots from the harbour wall this morning. A single Great Northern Diver was in Woodlands Bay. There's not been much migrant activity - just a few loose parties of Meadow Pipits hea…

Meally Redpoll in the Garden

This-morning I braved the biting north-westerly at Rishton Res but there was nothing new around. Still two pairs of Oystercatchers hanging around but no sign of any Tufted Ducks.

Back in the garden, the feeders had been very busy with up to seven Lesser Redpolls on the Niger Seed along with several Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Bullfinches. I decided to reposition the niger seed feeder outside the 'hide' window just in case they were brave enough. A Chiffchaff sang in the trees briefly (at last) and the Treecreepers could be heard down near the stream.

I didn't have to wait too long until the Redpolls found the feeder and showed no fear at all as I took some images. None of the birds I saw were ringed.
Then I was in for a nice surprise when this female Meally Redpoll came into view. It stood out a mile when in the trees as it appeared almost white with a very pale grey head .
It even came to the feeder with this male Redpoll below which could have been a Meally …