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A bit of birding at last

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Work has been taking up a lot of my time over the past couple of months so the chance to nip out this-morning to Rishton Reservoir was taken and though the rain was pouring and it was dark and miserable, I still racked up the regulars including the Red-breasted Merganser that has been around for months.Robins, Great Tits and Coal Tits were all singing in Cut Wood whilst at home the feeders are very busy with Tits.

Last weekend we managed to have a quick ringing session in between snow showers and were rewarded with this lovely second calendar year male Sparrowhawk - beautiful orange breast feathers and orangy eye but some brown juvenile flight and tail feathers still present.


A walk this-afternoon followed by our now traditional Christmas Eve meal at the Aspinall Arms at Mitton methinks!

Rishton Res turns up some more good birds

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The messages on my phone yesterday meant a quick lunch hour trip had to be undertaken from work in Barrowford to Rishton Reservoir where two Greenland White-fronted Geese had been seen. Steve Grimshaw found them and a few of the locals had turned up to see them. Bill Aspin kindly gave me permission to use some of his images.
They were feeding quite happily on the west bank though the approach of a couple of railway workers in hi-viz jackets moved them up the hill and eventually down to the reservoir's edge. Not only were these birds present but there was also a first-winter drake Shoveler in with the Mallards, the usual single Great Crested Grebe and to top it all off the Red-breasted Merganser flew in but immediately dived and dissappeared!

Not bad for 10 minutes - that's what the place is like! You never know!

..and the news is that they're still present today!

Red-breasted Merganser at Rishton Reservoir

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Last weekend there was a splendid influx (albeit brief) of wildfowl into the East Lancashire region. Part of that influx was this Red-breasted Merganser that thankfully hung around for me to see it this weekend as I was away!


A couple of Mute Swans have been regular on the reservoir recently whilst four juveniles have been seen on the canal.

At least the weather's been splendid for getting out and about if not for driving birds over to us from the continent. So, from last weekends visit to the Lakes and yesterday in the Ribble Valley......
  

Enjoying the November sunshine

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The national BBC weather forecast had this weekend as wet and miserable. It may be in the south east but whatever they say, we seem to get the opposite so after a fine starry night it was no surprise to have to clear ice from the windscreeen before my morning visit to Rishton Reservoir.

The air was cold and crisp with not a breath of wind. As I arrived at the entrance to Cut Wood I was once again delighted to hear a Nuthatch calling. I soon got onto this male along with a Treecreeper and several Tits and Finches. These now regular sightings mean it's looking good for this species to finally colonise the place. Down by the reservoir there wasn't much happening other than whistling Mallards getting frisky and a sole juvenile Great Crested Grebe. The water level is at full height now and hopefully we should get some winter duck coming in.

The mist closed in around the water so it was time to head home for breakfast and then set out to the coast for some birding. The obvious draw …

Garden Ringing 30 October

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Sunday was forecast to be calm in the morning so the nets were set in the hope of catching a few birds. The garden has generally been quiet with plenty of natural food available, not to mention the regular visits by Sparrowhawks.
We managed to catch a few finches and Tits but nowhere near the vast haul of exactly one year ago. A lot of birds had little or no fat on them suggesting that they weren't too concerned about food availability! Nine Goldfinches were trapped in total including a couple of 3J's, their head feathers still in moult.

No doubt we'll try again very soon now that winter is near.

Long-tailed tits

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Don't you just love Long-tailed Tits? I was just hanging around when a flock of these delightful birds came along the hedgerow.
It wasn't a bad morning over in East Yorkshire where I had had several flocks of Fieldfares overhead and a couple of Crossbills including a bright red male relatively low down. I even managed a quick lunchtime trip to Flamborough where I caught up with a Yellow-browed Warbler and a very brown Chiffchaff with a striking supercilium!

Just have to hope that the Siberian Rubythroat in Shetland fancies a sojourn a bit further south!

It may not be a Rufous-tailed Robin...

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... but two Tree Sparrows in the garden on Saturday were a first for Rishton Bird Observatory. We were just enjoying a cuppa in the sunshine when I heard a chirrup that wasn't quite right for a Chaffinch. A moment later, this bird came into view in the plum tree.
That's 105 for the garden list and though I was hoping for a Yellow-browed Warbler in the sycamore, I guess this species was more likely. The nearest breeding site is about three miles away on the edge of Great Harwood - they've been spreading up the Ribble and then the Calder but no further. Steve Grimshaw's had them in nest boxes at the Brownsills Caravan site for years now.

The morning had been mixed. The passage of Redwings that I heard overnight was continuing - around 120 over in an hour along with around 25 Fieldfares. Blackbirds and Robins were very common whilst finches, pipits and wagtails passed overhead. A couple of Skylarks was good for the time of year along with Reed Buntings passing. A chiffcha…

Solitary Sandpiper in Lancashire

This morning, we were ringing a few birds in my garden. The weather had turned from the hot and sunny spell to a warm and drizzly one. There had been a strong passage of birsd over the garden the last couple of mornings with Meadow Pipits and Siskins the most noticeable but there had also been Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and a few Swallows around. Goldfinches have continued to come down including I reckon the same three juveniles yet to get their red face mask.

However, there were few birds moving around. There was clearly plenty of natural foraging to be had but we did manage to attract in a juvenile Grey Wagtail as well as a hand-full of other birds.

Just as we completed the second net round, I got a message - Solitary Sandpiper at Nateby. What!? We played it cool for an hour or so but things were quiet and we didn't feel at all bad about packing up and heading for Garstang.

I had been bemoaning the lack of American waders around Lancashire as there had 'only' been a Lesser Ye…

Several Shelducks drop in

There were no 'hunters' at Rishton Reservoir this morning and so the far bank had some birds on it - seven Shelducks in fact. They occasionally drop in a couple of times a year on their cross-country moult migration (that used to be much more pronounced) but seven is a good number. And whilst I was there, two drake Tufted Ducks and fifteen Mallards came in.

To go along with the long-term injured Tuftie and Canada Goose, there is now a Black-headed gull with a droopy wing. I'm pretty sure who's to blame for that! I've made contact with our councillors to see what they can do.

There were 12 Lapwings and a small flock of at least 15 Linnets - it'll ne interesting to see if the numbers get up to those of last year. There were no hirundines over the water and I've only seen a couple of Swallows this weekend.

In the garden, finch numbers are rising - lots of Chaffinches visiting and plenty of Goldfinches including a flock of 16. Time to get the nets up soon, meth…

American Black Tern

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Just time to pop a couple of picture up from yesterday's jaunt over to Lincolnshire. I've resurrected my 5mp Sony Cybershot as the other stuff is out of action. The results are not too shabby!
After a bit of traipsing around the saltmarshes of the Lincolnshire coast, I eventually caught up with the two Buff-breasted Sandpipers too!


A ringing and a garden tick

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A trip down to the reservoir these last couple of days hasn't produced a great deal of note apart from the continued disturbance by wildfowlers who are allegedly culling Canada Geese but targetting Mallard and anything else that flies near them. There was a steady stream of Meadow Pipits overhead along with six grey Wagtails in an hour.

A Nuthatch called from Cut Wood - the first I've ever heard there, so I'm fully expecting the area to be colonised more fully. It has been one of those strange enigmas - Rishton is surrounded by woods with Nuthatches but they've been virtually absent from the borough as long as I've lived here.

late on Sunday morning, I met up with Mark to do some more ringing and the first net round produced several Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and this Whitethroat (a garden ringing tick for Mark).

Though the weather was almost perfect, it seemed as if the majority of birds had overflown in the morning when the area was covered with low cloud. However …

Pipts and Goldcrests on the move

A break in the weather at last - but only for a day. I've been unable to spend any time at the coast and consequently missed all these Sabine's Gulls that have been around. Numbers of Leach's Petrels have been surprising few. I did manage to find a littl shelter on Rishton Res on Tuesday and was rewarded with a first-winter Little Gull and a juvenile Hobby.

Today, Mark and I took advantage a a fine spell up at Newton. Spotted Flycatchers were hunting from the farm buildings but none came down to the netting area. However, Meadow Pipits did in abundance with nearly 30 getting themselves ensnared as they were attracted into the boggy area by the willows. Many more escaped though and large flocks were heading over the fell.

A few Chiffchaffs were caught as well as 13 Goldcrests by the time I'd left. We also caught  six year old Blue and Coal Tits - quite amazing that they both came through on the same day.

Later in the evening, I joined a few of the Lancaster ringing grou…

Back home

I've been home just short of a week now and the jet-lag has still not totally gone. The weather has been atrocious but a brief interlude of fine weather on Friday and Saturday got a few things moving.

Long-tailed Tits were noticable as they noisily made their way around the place - there have been very few of late. Steve Grimshaws discovery of a Ruff at Rishton Res enticed me out of work a little early - a good job too as fifteen minutes after I arrived, it departed south whilst the other waders with it, two ringed Plovers and two Dunlin, remained. They weren't there this weekend though.

Three weeks away meant that the garden was getting a little overgrown and the long grass enticed HEdgehogs out into the center of the lawn in the middle of the day. I was delighted to see a Migrant Hawker in the garden on Saturday - we normally have a couple of Brown Hawkers during the summer months but this one taking insects from the rear of the house was a surprise indeed.

Back to work now …

Dropped camera - no focus

After a sultry night in Chicago, I headed for Montrose again this morning. It was cloudy and occasional drizzle filled the air. Thunderstorms are on their way as is some cooler weather.

Anyway, the Magic Hedge was filled with early activity - all manner of Flycatchers looking subtly different left me more than a little bemused. I think I could have stayed all day and not got much further. Maybe next Monday morning when it's cooler. Birds that I could identify - lots of Magnolia Warblers still, Chestnut Sided, Redstart, Wilson's Yellow, Blackpoll, Tenessee and a probable Orange-crowned. Warbling Vireo and Red-headed Woodpecker were added to the list.

On the Shore, there was just the Short-billed Dowitcher and three Semi P Plovers. There was a strong passage of hirundines, mainly Barn Swallow with a couple of Bank Swallows and a Purple Martin but then disaster. My camera bag slipped off my shoulder and landed with a thud on the concrete pier. Though padded all over, the lens had…

Phew, it's hot.

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Following a birding free day checking out some of the sights of Chicago and the promise of a very hot day today, Bernie and I headed for Montrose Point this morning. It was already very warm and the sun was hot at 7:30 as we entered the realm of the Magic Hedge. Straight away, a Warbling Vireo was singing away and we saw several Magnolia Warblers, 'Traill's' Flycatchers, Swainson's Thrush, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher and a latish Yellow Warbler. A wander around the drinking fountain produced more Magnolias and a Pine Warbler but our attention was drawn to the shore where a Short-billed Dowitcher was very obliging, along with a  Baird's Sandpiper, two Leasts and a Semi P (Sand and Plover) as well as a Sanderling.

Having baked a while on the beach, we headed back for shade whilst some locals searched in vain for a repeat glimpse of a Lark Bunting that had put in an appearance yesterday. More Magnolia Warblers greeted us along with this Eastern Wood-Pewee and more Flycatcher…

Montrose Point, Chicago

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Now back in Chicago and we've got wheels. Last night we went to a White Sox baseball game. My only other experience of a ball game had been several years ago in Toronto with a 1 - 0 bore of a game taht was over in 90 minutes. This one didn't start in any more promising fashion! However the sight of a couple of Nighthawks lit up in the floodlights feeding on flying insects and lepidoptera more than made up for that.

So this-morning we made for the local hot spot for migration - Montrose Point, a few miles north of the city and fortunately a relatively easy drive. This place is a magnet for all sorts of birds and though shorebirds could turn up anywhere along the coast or landbirds in any of the shoreline trees, this site has a habit of concentrating them 'Spurn' style. I likened the area to Filey Brigg without the height. The main feature here is the 'Magic Hedge' a line of trees and dense undergrowth that draws in the passing birds - a bit like the top hedge at…

Cottage country

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A second visit to the Lakeshore Marshes and woods on the 24th was quite productive for us. An American Bittern posed for us at Cranberry Marsh and Thickson's Woods gave us our first warbler flock with Chestnut-sided, Canada, Wilson's, Black-throated Blue and American Redstart as well as Olive-sided and Great -crested Flycatchers. As we got to Oshawa's Second Marsh next to the GM HQ, the heavens opened and I narrowly avoided a soaking. All these places have viewpoints and platforms but not a hide in the UK sense was to be seen.

Another trip to Reesor Pool resulted in a single Least Sandpiper, a fly-through flock of Cliff Swallows and a couple of Hooded Mergansers.
We spent a couple of days at a cottage in the Muskoka Lakes region later in the week. The early morning wasn't very productive until around 10 when the insect life got moving and so did the warblers. Over two days I had innumerable Black-capped Chickadees and several Red-eyed Vireos (some feeding young) along w…

Toronto region 23rd Aug

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Having spent a few days in Chicago with our daughter we are now in Toronto for the week and visiting some of the places I've come to enjoy over the years.

Arriving on Monday afternoon, we picked up a hire car at the airport and headed for the pools along Reesor Road before getting to our final destination. The water was pretty high which was not surprising following the downpour that the area received a couple of days ago. A single Trumpeter Swan was chasing Canada Geese around the place and a Great Egret with a green wing-tag stood motionless; unfortunately it was very windy and we were looking into the sun so I didn't get to read what was on the tag - a task for another day perhaps. Checking through the rafts of eclipse Mallard, I picked out a drake Black Duck.

The only waders were several Lesser Yellowlegs and a few Greaters. Ring-billed Gulls and a couple of Caspian Terns circled the edges of the pool and several hirundines were over the water - the North American versions…

Pipit ringing at Newton

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Tuesday morning seemed like the only chance Mark and I could try and do some ringing this week. So we were up bright and early before work  and after three hours had managed to catch a few birds including the target species, this lovely Tree Pipit. Also nearly added Spotted Flycatcher and Whiethroat as they put in an unexpected appearance in the trapping area. Several Meadow Pipits and Willow Warblers along with Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Greenfinch and more juvenile Coal Tits made for an interesting time.



A quick catch up

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The weather and work (!) has put paid to most birding plans these last couple of weeks though I've managed a couple of ringing outings. A colour ringed Coot on Rishton Reservoir has been just about the most interesting thing recently/ Ringed as a juvenile at Stanley Park, Blackpool last October, it has made its way to Rishton Reservoir via Bolton.

This weekend I joined Mark for some attempts at catching Pipits as they migrated over the farm. Saturday morning brought this fine second calendar year female Sparrowhawk into one of the nets. An exciting ringing tick if ever there was one.
Yesterday Mark had a good passage of Pipits over in the morning - it was throwing it down in Rishton but the weather was fine all morning just 15 miles north! I went over again in the afternoon but we just had four Meadow Pipits. We may try again tomorrow!

Blacktoft Sands and some more garden ringing

After the washout last weekend, this week has given me some opportunities to do some birding and ringing. Ringing with Mark firstly at his place on Wednesday afternoon when we trapped several Siskins and Redpolls amongst the plethera of Great Tits, and then on Saturday morning at mine where we got a juvenile Treecreeper in the first round. I think I'll be doing some more Sand Martins this week - all helping in my training. the examination of moult on many of the birds was very interesting and I think I'm slowly getting the hang of it!

On Thursday I was working in East Yorkshire so I called in at Blacktoft on the way to see the Marsh Sandpiper that had been in residence. It was asleep virtually the whole time but eventually popped its head up a couple of times. Twelve Spotted Redshanks including a very black one were really appreciated and the supporting cast of Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Little Egret, Bearded Tit and Garganey made for a very productive hour.

I should've taken …

It's more like September

And if it was, I'd be headed for the coast for lots of lovely seabirds. But it's mid-July and though there would undoubtedly be some shearwaters off Formby Point and perhaps a petrel or two, I've decided to keep checking the local patch just in case something drops in.

There have been up to three Common Sandpipers on Rishton Reservoir over the past week as well as teh usual LRP. Friday and today, there has been an adult Common Tern - once more regular than it is now. Good numbers of Sand Martins were feeding low over the water and the football field and these must have been the draw for a Hobby to dash through. I thought it might have landed so I made my way over towards the wood, being battered by the wind and rain. Sure enough, as I got near to where I last saw it, it dashed out on over the trees.

A female Blackcap was feeding a youngster in the garden today - I've been hearing them all summer so it was nice to have confirmed breeding.

And still the rain pours down!

More unexpected birds

I was up reasonably early this-morning so that I could complete a couple of TTVs around Barnoldswick before the showers came. Initially there wasn't anything out of the ordinary with many family parties around the place, especially Magpies and Blackbirds. As I headed up the steep path next to Copy Nook towards Gisburn Old Road, I heard a call that I realised was a Crossbill! It seemed to have come up from a nearby plantation - part of the influx we seem to be having at the moment.

A couple of juvenile Redstarts a bit further round were really nice to see.

Later, I called in at Rishton Reservoir where the Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers were still present along with three Common Sandpipers and an Oystercatcher. However, I took a double take when I noticed two Little Grebes hauled out on the far bank - an adult and a juvenile. These are very uncommon here so I suspect they've dispersed from somewhere nearby due to water level drops. I checked Parsonage Reservoir later and there…

Some showers, some birds

I've not done a great deal of birding in the last week - well it feels like I haven't but in fact... Sunday afternoon and evening was spent on the Lune ringing Sand Martins (just short of 400 birds caught) as part of my training. This was my fourth session in the last three weeks and yet again I got wet feet! Siskins on the feeders on Saturday were completely unexpected.

Then there were a couple of really good birds reported late on Sunday in the north west. So Monday after work was earmarked for a potential twitch. In fact, both were present on Monday so I decided to go for the Western Bonelli's Warbler (as I've never seen one in the UK) knowing that twitching waders on the Fylde has not been a successful pastime for me! I knew the traffic would be bad so I didn't get to Arnfield Reservoir (just over the Greater Manchester border into Derbyshire) until around 7. Once parked up I found the area straight away as I caught a brief snatch of song - and then again - and…

RBO's First Mothing Session

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A fine Friday evening was a good time to have the first ever Mothing session in my back garden. Bill's been encouraging me to do it for years and so, as everyone was available, we decided to spend a couple of hours seeing what we might collect.
Natasha from next door was at home so she and Tim & Janet Davie came along for a very informative and enjoyable couple of hours. We set up a trap at the bottom of the dip near the stream, one half way up the path near the ringing ride and a light and sheet on the back lawn.
The evening was cool so there wasn't a great deal of activity but enough for us novices. Soon I was acquainted with some common species such as Brimstone and Purple Clay as well as three species of Y Silver, Plain Golden and Beautiful Golden.
This Buff Arches was my favourite of the evening but there were also Ghost Moth, Map-winged Swift, Single-dotted Wave, Coxcomb Prominent and a host of others (for which I'm waiting a list of).
The evening was enlivened by pa…