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Showing posts from January, 2011

Mealy Redpolls in the garden

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Today was another 'Ringing in the garden' day with Mark Breaks so with the nets set up by 8:30, we set about recording the visitors to my garden. The first tranche of birds were mainly re-trapped Blue and Great Tits but a few re-trap Bullfinches started to appear. After a couple of net rounds I was surprised at the number of 'new' Blue Tits we'd ringed as well as more Bullfinches - we ended up with thirteen different birds in the nets including a couple from two winter's ago which means that I've had at least 17 different birds in the garden this winter. A couple of female Reed Buntings took the seed but managed to avoid being trapped.

Goldfinches were in short supply so we decided to play a tape that included Redpoll calls. After about half an hour, whilst emptying the top net, a small flock of Redpolls appeared in the alders. They waited for us to disappear into the shed to process what we'd trapped, then obligingly filled the net along with six other…

A brief sojourn to Fife

Having been up in Scotland for work, I decided that the return journey should include some winter birding en-route. First port of call was Loch Leven; it was mostly frozen still but there were a few open patches of water where all the wildfowl were congregating. There were hundreds of Goldeneye, Teal and Mallard along with good numbers of Goosanders. A single male Smew was a very welcome sight (apparently the first there this winter) and the sight of a Greenshank slipping around on the ice was very unexpected. Near Vane Farm there were a few hundred Pink-footed Geese along with a couple of Barnacle Geese and a single Whitefront (probably Greenland but it was a long way off!).

Next port of call was Ruddon's Point where we eventually found the male Surf Scoter at least a mile out. The accompanying cast included over 100 Velvet Scoters, a few Common Scoters, 30 or so Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Red-throated Divers and four Slavonian Grebes.

Having had our fill of sea duck, we headed for Sla…

Some more Fylde birding

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Nipped out for a couple of hours on Sunday to try and catch up with a few 'local' scarcities. It was pouring down as I left Rishton but blue skies and sunshine greeted me at Fairhaven Lake where the Red-necked Grebe was fishing actively at the eastern end. Too far away ond rather choppy for any photos so I headed for the Ring-necked Parakeets at Lytham Cremetorium. I didn't know where they might be so I parked up outside the gates and as I got out of the car I could hear one call. I walked through the adjacent woodland to the sound of Redwings and Great Spotted Woodpeckers but it was as I emerged from the other end that I noticed four birds flying into the sun.
I was joined by a few others in search of these birds at their only regular north west haunt as far as I know. Seven were perched up in osiers next to the pond.

I headed over Lytham Moss where there were at least eight Bewicks Swans in with 20 or so Whoopers and then onto Marton Mere. A brisk walk around the perimete…

Augmenting the year list

Tuesday 4th

A Reed Bunting in the garden together with several Lesser Redpolls. News of some more Waxwings in Darwen was cue for Bernie and I to head over that way - found them without too much bother - at least 70 birds all trilling away before descending en-masse onto a nearby ornamental cotoneaster that was full of white berries. Even the resident Mistle Thrush and Blackbirds couldn't put them off.

Monday 3rd

Having spent all day yesterday on Scout Moor and adding just Reed Bunting and Little Owl to my year list, I decided that I'd take my now customary early January visit to Conder Green and the Pilling area.

I got to Conder Green just as the tide was falling. Lots of birds here and on the estuary - Plenty of Teal, Wigeon and Shelduck along with good numbers of Goldeneye and a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers. Waders included a Greenshank and Grey Plover whilst a Merlin quartered the foreshore. There were a few flocks of Pinkfeet in the area as well as a lot of lethargic l…

Iceland Gull starts off the new year nicely

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Rishton Reservoir is still frozen, as are all the other water bodies, even though we're five days into the thaw. However today was much colder and horrible as murk and manc spread down through the county today. There is still a small open patch of water near the yacht club where there were nine Tufted Duck and eleven Coots along with a single Great Crested Grebe and four Mute Swans. Crows pecked at the carcass of a mallard on the ice, ignoring the dead Canada Goose close by. Nineteen Lapwings stood out on the ice still so goodness knows where they're feeding.

Siskins, Redpolls and Redwings all called overhead and, back at the house, there were more birds coming down to the feeders. In fact, a lot more than the last few days, perhaps sensing the return of the cold weather.

To get the year off to a good start, I nipped down the M65 to see if the Iceland Gull was still at Preston Docks. It didn't take long to find it on the ice in amongst a nice selection of other gull specie…