Monday, 31 January 2011


Sorry for the lack of posts the last few nights. I've been trying to sort out my photos off my new camera and been hitting several problems which has meant I haven't had time to focus on my blog. However I have now sorted everything out with the camera so normal service will be resumed tomorrow and I will do posts about both days birding at the weekend. A couple of photos below from the weekend.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

More comprehensive post tomorrow ...

Had a great days birding today around the Fylde and was also delighted when my new camera arrived at lunch time, so I tested it out in the afternoon. However I hadn't changed one of the settings so now all the photos from today are currently in the RAW format and can't be uploaded at the moment. Hopefully I will have them fixed by tomorrow so will do a proper post on the days sightings.

I managed 9 year ticks today, taking my list up to 115 for the year and so far they have all been in the Fylde. The highlights of the day were as follows:
- 2 Barn Owls showing brilliantly in the early morning sun at Bradshaw Lane, also Stock Dove (yeartick).
- An adult White Fronted Goose (yeartick) in fields west of Pilling Lane Ends with pink feet, also a male Peregrine Falcon sitting on the marsh.
- No sign of the Snow Bunting at Cockersands but I did manage a gorgeous male Brambling (yeartick) with a flock of finches in the trees, also Great Crested Grebe (yeartick) and Sanderling (yeartick).
- A Little Owl (yeartick) sitting on the ruined farm house next to Jeremy Lane.
- An adult Whooper Swan on Fleetwood Marine Lakes showing amazingly and allowed for some great photographs.
- Male Ring Necked Duck (yeartick) on the ICI Reservoir, the 3rd year in a row I've seen the same bird now.
- Red Necked Grebe on Fairhaven Lake, although it didn't show as close as it has done during it's stay preferring to be in the middle of the lake.
- male Mandarin (yeartick) on the pond at Ashton Gardens in St Anne's, also a Siskin (yeartick) with a flock of at least 50 Greenfinches in the trees above the pond.
- Seeing 78 species in the day

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get down to my local patches Marton Mere and Stanley Park to try out the camera again, and also to see if I can photograph more of the colour combinations of the coots at Stanley Park. Will report back tomorrow.

Friday, 28 January 2011

New Camera on the Way

Checked out eBay last night to see how the prices were doing for some camera's and lenses I would like, and low and behold there was a Nikon D90; the camera I have really wanted for ages; with 10 minutes left and for a not too high price. So I now have a new camera on it's way which should arrive on Monday and will hopefully mean that my photography will improve.

Walking home from school today a small flock of Long Tailed Tits were present in the churchyard in Poulton, and I managed to pick out a single Goldcrest amongst them, a gorgeous bird even if it is Britain's smallest. Below are a couple of Long Tailed Tit photos from last year.
Tomorrow I have got a whole days birding planned around the Fylde to clean up on some remaining year ticks, and if all goes well I could get 25 year ticks which would be brilliant. However I will be happy if I can get 14. So beware that it could be a very long post tomorrow...

Thursday, 27 January 2011

4th Song Thrush!

Setting off for school this morning I heard a sound that has become very familiar recently, a Song Thrush was singing it's heart out at the top of a tree at Gerrard's Terrace near to my house. This is now the fourth Song Thrush that I have found singing along my route to school, which suggests that the population is very healthy at the moment despite the big freeze. Also when I was at Stannah last weekend I found a single bird that was cracking snails on a rock underneath a bush, I watched it for 5 minutes as it went about it's work, brilliant technique.

Also seen this morning was a Mistle Thrush flying onto the nearby football fields by the civic centre, where the have bred for the last 2 years raising 4 and 5 young respectively. Hopefully they will be as successful this year and similarly I hope the Song Thrushes do as well.

Finally I received a text from Paul Slade today saying that the Ring Necked Duck had once again turned up, this time on the pools at Fleetwood Park Nature Reserve. It seems ti be very good at disappearing for a month at a time before being re-found only a few miles from it's last position, I've no idea where it has been hiding out as I know all the local sights have been checked since the new year.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Day Off

Woke up this morning with a head that felt like it was going to explode and kept blacking out from dizziness, so a day off school was in order. It wasn't until 12:00 that I could get out of bed without falling over so I thought I would do a couple of hours garden birding to pass the afternoon.

The local female Sparrowhawk was once again hunting around the fields and terrorising all the small birds. It always seems to be the female I see hunting in winter and the only times I see the male is when he is perched in the trees around the garden, which the female never does. I love learning all the little habits of the local birds which helps me to understand their behavior. There wasn't much else around today, a small flock of Fieldfare flew north in the distance but the main bulk of winter thrushes seem to have moved off now.

Since there weren't many birds around I cut short the watch and routed out one of my logbooks from last year in which I had wrote down a running total of species for the year on each day till the start of April when I forgot about it. Using the young birders yearlist thread on birdforum from last year I managed to complete the rest of the year on the computer and also entered this years totals so far. This should help me to see how I ma doing in the yearlist compared to last years, and today I am up 14 species from last year.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Another Song Thrush

Yesterday whilst walking to school I thought I heard a Song Thrush calling near the train station in Poulton. So this morning I made a mental note to listen out for it and as I suspected a male was singing it's heart out at the top of am oak tree. This may be the bird from Derby road relocating a few hundred metres as I haven't seen that bird for a few days, however it could be a new bird all together. The regular bird next to school was still in it's favourite tree, singing all morning and afternoon when I finished school. Not many other birds around today however but the weather is meant to pick up for the rest of the week so the birds may become more active.

Below photos of an adult and a juvenile bird taken in my garden in the past 2 years. I usually get a family that visit the garden after they have fledged from the nest nearby in late summer.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Review of the Year 2010 - Part 2

The month started off with a couple of days seawatching off Rossall on the 2nd and 6th to clean up on some yearticks, as it was my first seawatch of the year. The 2nd turned out to be a great day with 6 Red Throated Divers seen before I managed to pick out a Black Throated Diver (my first in the fylde) on the sea before it flew south. My first Sandwich Terns of the year were seen on the 6th as well as single Kittiwake and a close in Guillemot. Other summer migrants seen over the next few days were House Martin, Swallow, Blackcap and Little Ringed Plover. However there were still plenty of winter birds around and I managed to see my first Mealy Redpoll at the car park by the Langden Valley on the 13th, along with a distant Hen Harrier and a female Ring Ouzel. My last birding of the month was at Heysham on the 18th, a day that my dad had categorically said would not be for birding, until a Hooper (lifer) came up in birdguides. It showed well along the north harbour wall and then even closer on the nature reserve for 10 minutes before disappearing over the trees and out of site. Also a fine male Redstart seen on the nature reserve.

I decided a trip into north Lancashire was in order on the 1st to try and get some of the trickier summer migrants that are hard to see in the fylde. I managed to track down a singing Garden Warbler, amazingly only my second ever, at least 2 Tree Pipits and a Lesser Redpoll before I remembered hearing about a Pied Flycatcher pair nesting by the car park at Abbeystead. Both birds showed really well going back and forth to the nest site and at one stage a second male appeared but was quickly chased off by the resident birds.

I also concentrated more on my local patches of Stanley Park and Marton Mere in 2010, which resulted in many brilliant wildlife moments. None were more encapsulating however than the Great Crested Grebe pair at Stanley Park on the 22nd which performed parts of their famous courtship dance just 10 feet from the bank where I was stood, magical. A newly hatched family of Mute Swans were also nearby allowing for some nice shots. A good day was rounded off when I spotted a pair of Spotted Flycatchers high up in the trees on the north side of the park, my first in the Fylde and not an easy bird to see anymore.

However it was the end of the month that saw the real birding action take place with a family week in Dorset, a few miles from Weymouth and Portland. From the 29th-31st I caught up with lots of local specialities with the highlights being: an Arctic Tern with the Common Tern colony at Lodmoor, 2 Turtle Doves and the putative male Hooded Merganser at Radipole Lake, and at least 50 Manx Shearwaters gliding past Portland on the evening of the 31st.

I was in Dorset for the first 4 days of the month and was determined to get some of the south coast specialities onto my life list. I didn't hold out much hope of seeing many birds on the 1st as my parents wanted to go and see the swans at Abbotsbury, yet a Spoonbill on the Fleet certainly wasn't expected and showed for a long period of time albeit a little distantly. Little Terns were seen on the 2nd at the other end of the Fleet at Ferrybridge where they nest on man made rafts, but this was overshadowed by one of the best evenings of my life on that day.

Me and my dad headed to Arne RSPB in the evening to try and get a glimpse of Nightjars. The sun was low in the sky bathing the entire area in a golden glow. At least 3 Cuckoo's could be heard making their characteristic calls in the surrounding woods and at least 5 Tree Pipits called from the gorse bushes scattered around the heather. As we waited on a bench over looking a large area of heath a movement in the bushes below me and I was amazed to see not 1, not 2 but 3 Dartford Warblers (lifer) steadily moving along the gorse giving amazing views. Just as the sun was going down a truly amazing and awe inspiring sound swept over the heathland, the churring sound of the Nightjars (lifer). 4 males were calling from separate areas of the reserve and whilst walking back to the car I managed brief flight views of one as it darted between trees, the white tips to the wings and tail shining in the now rising moonlight.

A local had tipped me off that a local wood could be a good place to get another lifer so on the last evening of the holiday I took a walk through them and managed 3 brief views of a Nightingale (lifer). This ended an amazing week with 112 species of bird seen. The rest of the month past without anything of interest seen as it was back to school and the exam period.

Sunday 23rd - Neck Collared Goose

Sorry about not doing a post yesterday it completely slipped my mind, so I'll do 2 today to make up for it. I received the details today of the neck collared Pink Footed Geese that I saw at Warton Marsh on the 3rd of this month. It had a white neck collar on with the letters NTP on it, the details of it's movement are as follows:

Some familiar names on there as the bird is now in it's 3rd winter in Lancashire. The previous 2 winters it was seen in Scotland and the data also highlights that the flocks frequently move between Norfolk in Lancashire in spells of hard weather, like this bird did in the winter of 08/09.

I didn't get out much yesterday however the birds around the garden provided some other interesting long staying birds. There are 2 partially leucistic birds in my area, a female House Sparrow with white wing flashes and a Carrion Crow with white inner wing feathers. Both these birds have been out for at least a year now. I am hoping to get some photos of the Sparrow soon as it is a particularly striking individual.

If you can't get a larger version of the picture the details are:
Ringed 02/04/2006 Site - Balmedie Region - Aberdeenshire

18/04/2006 Ythan Estuary Aberdeenshire
18/10/2006 Newton/Rosefield Inverness
18/02/2007 Middleton of Rattray Aberdeenshire
10/10/2007 Loch of Strathbeg Aberdeenshire
14/12/2007 Bruntlands, Roseisle Moray
30/10/2008 WWT Martin Mere Lancashire
09/11/2008 Boundry Farm Lancashire
01/01/2009 Anmer Norfolk
04/01/2009 Anmer Norfolk
17/02/2009 Eagland Hill Lancashire
29/12/2009 Todderstaffe Hall Lancashire
14/02/2010 Thurnham Lancashire
03/01/2011 Warton Marsh Lancashire

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Another day when fog enveloped the landscape first thing. My brother was having his birthday party today from 12:30-13:30, and typically the highest tide of the year so far was at 12:49. I wasn't particularly bothered as the fog would have meant that it would have been virtually impossible to see anything anyway. However when it started to lift at 11:30 I thought I would try my luck at persuading my dad to drop me down there while they were with my brother, and luckily he agreed.
I arrived about an hour before high tide but the creeks were already full so I decided to wait at the bench by the car park that looks out over the main area of marsh, and it very quickly started to disappear under water. There didn't seem to be many waders about unfortunately but there were plenty of Teal and Wigeon on the river. Skylarks were going up from the marsh in small numbers and after a while I took a walk along the river towards Skippool Creek to see if there would be any more birds on the marshes down there. However I found that the river had come right up to the path further upstream and in parts flooded over it meaning that I had to change my original route somewhat.

Since I had nowhere else to go I had to back the way I had come, which luckily meant that I spotted the large flock of small birds on the part of the marsh that wasn't flooded. The amount of dogs around finally worked to my advantage as the flock was flushed close to me and I managed to see what species it was made up of. 30+ Skylark, 40+ Linnet, 20+ Meadow Pipit, 10+ Goldfinch and most surprisingly of all a single Twite (yeartick 100). A couple of Snipe (yeartick 101) were also flushed by the dogs and a female Red Breasted Merganser flew downstream.

In the afternoon the fog was still lingering at around 100 metres visibility which was good enough to warrant a quick whiz round Over Wyre for a few yearticks. Conder Estuary was allot better than on my last visit, with Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Grey Plover and Little Grebe being added to the yearlist, but Glasson Marina was still devoid of any Great Crested Grebes, where are they all?

On the way home we pulled in at the feeding station at Bradshaw Lane to try and get Stock Dove for the yearlist, however there was already a car present with a birder looking into the fields on the opposite side of the road. Getting out of the car he pointed us in the direction of a stunning Barn Owl (yeartick 106) that was hunting in a far field. It steadily made its way closer to us until it was in the field closest to us giving great views. Then as it flew down the hedgerow that separated the fields I noticed another white bird in the bush behind it, a second Barn Owl! I said to my dad and the other birder present that there were 2 birds and they replied "yes it's mobbing the first bird now", hang on a minute? 3 birds! I've only ever seen 2 birds together before so this was a real treat and a truly magical moment. The original bird continued to hunt for the next 5 minutes whilst the 3rd bird perched on a hay bale and the 2nd bird remained in it's bush. At this point the fog rolled back in so we called it a day and headed for home.

(can just make out 2 birds in this shot)

2011 yearlist - 106 species

Friday, 21 January 2011

More Fog and A Missed Mega

Firstly the photos of the Dusky Thrush that I mentioned yesterday were posted today on the Internet and made me green with envy, the photos and details of the find can be found Here (be warned the images are gripping!). It really does show how rare birds can turn up anywhere and it's always worth searching through the flocks of Redwings and Fieldfare in case there is some beauty like that lurking amongst them.

Back home the fog from yesterday had lingered till the morning meaning that once again the visibility was poor and I relied on my hearing mostly to find out what birds were around. The pair of Pied Wagtails that hang around the neighbourhood in winter were in the next street next to mine but as usual didn't hang around long and were very skittish. The Goldfinch flock on Derby Road had grown in number with at least 12 birds present, and a brief view of a bird that could have been a Lesser Redpoll but the flock flew off before I could get good views. Once again both Song Thrushes were in full song, with the bird near to school being particularly adept at imitating a car alarm in the middle of its song! This is a talent usually seen in Starlings, which I've heard do perfect imitations of car alarms, other birds and once a bird that had me looking around for 10 minutes whilst it was doing a great parakeet impression.

Hopefully I will get out this weekend for the high tides at either Warton Marsh or Stannah.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


A day where the visibility was no more than 20 metres or so meant that it wasn't exactly going to be a great day for spotting birds. However both of the Song Thrushes were in their usual positions and one was in full song from the top of an sycamore tree. One of the local Mistle Thrush pair had taken over the berry tree on derby road, chasing away the small Redwing flock that briefly tried to alight on it, in a similar way to when they chase waxwings from their rowan trees.

Maybe I should have been looking through the redwing flock more carefully after news broke this evening of an adult male Dusky Thrush seen and photographed in Leigh near Manchester on the 8th December! This is a stunning species and a bird I would have loved to have seen. The full details and pictures are being posted on the Manchester County Birding Website tomorrow so I await them with interest and also dismay at the same time.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

More Geese

A strangely quiet day today, with most of the birds choosing to hide away from me. However a definite increase in the number of Pink Footed Geese moving around the area, with at least 10 flocks flying north and half as many going in the opposite direction, between the Ribble and the Lune. Kane Brides emailed me today saying that I should have the information on the neck collared bird from Warton Marsh soon, always a fun wait of expectation, thinking about where it has been.

Even more Blackbirds around today, many of the males singing away from the tops of trees, along with a couple of Song Thrushes which seem to have their own territories set up now as they are always in the same area. If the spell of nice weather persists I might take a walk along the train tracks tomorrow after school to see what birds are in the fields, and mainly try and find a Snipe or 2 on the floods.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

First signs of spring?

Despite a frost covering the ground this morning, it definitely felt like spring was finally making a mark on the long winter. Despite flocks of Pink Footed Geese, the most obvious symbol of winter, going over throughout the morning the birds seemed to be acting differently. At least 3 Blackbirds were in full song along the route to school, one of the great sounds of British nature. A pair of Blue Tits were also attempting at their songs nearer to Poulton, although a flock of Redwing nearby reminded that winter hasn't done with us yet.

The Green Winged Teal from yesterday was re found on the Conder Estuary this morning and as can be seen from the shots on the Fylde Bird Club's blog (link in sidebar) by Stuart Piner, was giving crippling views. This is a real blocker on my Fylde list and one that I hope to remove come the weekend if the bird is still present.

Finally sorry for the lateness of the postings over the last week, I've been very busy with exams so just having enough time to squeeze in a quick post at the end of each day. Normal service should be resumed tomorrow as my last exam is in the morning.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Right Place, Right Time, However ...

Since the weather had been so bad over the weekend, my mum agreed to take me out birding after school today. Since I still needed some easy yearticks; little grebe, great crested grebe, greenshank, jay, stock dove, etc, I decided that a trip up to Glasson would be good as there is usually a good selection of waders on the Conder Estuary.

Yet luck seemed to have deserted me as I turned up at the conder to an empty estuary apart from 4 Teal and 2 Curlew. The pool also drew a blank for the hoped for Little Grebe but it was at this point that I got the text from Paul Slade, "Green Winged Teal, Glasson", YES! Finally a stroke of fortune and within a minute I was behind the bowling green looking out over the estuary with the finder. Unfortunately the ducks were on the far side of the river and the finder informed me that he had lost sight of the bird. Stuart Piner turned up within minutes and together we searched through the assorted Teal and Wigeon for the next 45 minutes until the light prevented us from continuing, typically there was no sign :( Just goes to show that you can be in the right place and still miss the bird. No yearticks at all during the evening so I'm still stuck on 99.

Sunday 16th - Garden saves the day

Sorry about the missed post yesterday, for some reason it would only let me write the title and not the rest of the post. So just a quick summary of the sightings.

A large flock of waders were flushed up from the river Wyre meaning that they were in view from my house. At least 1000 Lapwing were giving a spectacular display along with 100 Dunlin and 50 Redshank, and despite my best efforts I couldn't locate any snipe which I still need for the yearlist.

The local female Sparrowhawk was causing the blackbirds some grief, giving at least 2 of them a chase around but failing to catch either, however a starling wasn't so lucky as it was clasped from the flock of at least 2000 that were in the fields.

Then in the evening the daily Starling flocks that roost on Blackpool North Pier passed overhead, 5 flocks totalling well over 30,000 birds, a simply stunning sight.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Miserable Weather, Great Birds

Waking up to the rain lashing against my window is never a good start to a day, so I decided to get my head down and do some Chemistry revision for my exam on Monday. However I kept checking birdguides just in case something good turned up and although nothing new was found, the Red Breasted Goose and Great Northern Diver were still present around Fleetwood. Luckily around lunch time the weather lifted for about an hour and my dad agreed to take me to try and see both of them.

Driving up Amounderness Way I couldn't see any geese in the fields where they had been reported, so instead I thought it would be worth checking the field south of Farmer Parrs which the birds tend to favour; where I have found White Front and Bean Geese in the past; and once again that's where they were. At least 700 Pink Footed Geese was my estimate and after a while I picked out the Red Breasted Goose at the back of the field, a beautiful bird but unfortunately too far away for photographs.

We then went to check the docks for the Great Northern Diver and since the barrier was open we drove right in and parked at the south end. The bird was quickly located fishing inbetween the boats but once again the rain and wind meant that the photographs didn't come out very well so the photo above is from when it was at the Marine Lakes last year.
2011 Yearlist - 99 species

Friday, 14 January 2011

Review of the Year 2010 - Part 1

Another new year, so another round up of the past years birding. I am going to be splitting up the review into 4 sections covering 3 months; each will be a few days apart so that people have a chance to finishing reading one before starting the next. Anyway here goes with January to March.

Usually New Years day is quiet for me and my parents had said that they wouldn't take me out, however since the drake Ring Necked Duck that had turned up at ICI Reservoir on the 29th had been relocated on Fleetwood Marine Lakes my dad agreed to take me down there, great views were obtained. A high tide at Warton Marsh on the 3rd meant that a few local birders were down there at midday, however unfortunately the tide only covered the outer marsh so it didn't flush anything closer too us. Luckily a Short Eared Owl performed admirably, along with 2 each of Peregrine Falcon and Merlin. A report of an American Bittern at Marton Mere on the 16th meant that the next day I was down there early and stayed for the whole day, and although the yank didn't show up, 2 Bitterns, 1 Cetti's Warbler (lifer) and an adult Yellow Legged Gull were good consolation.

The 30th provided the first full days birding of the year with a trip up to Aldcliffe near Lancaster, and Leighton Moss. I located the beautiful redhead Smew on freeman's pool at Aldcliffe pretty quickly and it showed well albeit a bit distantly, then on to Leighton Moss where the 4 Snow Geese (lifer) that had been present for a few months were showing well with the large Greylag Flock in front of Lilian's Hide. Dubious origins as with any snow geese but they arrived and left at the right times with a wild greylag flock which goes in their favour.

The month started cleaning up yearticks and dipping an adult drake American Wigeon on the River Lune at Cockersands. However on the 7th I was at Glasson; after already seeing Brent and Barnacle Geese on the way there; and whilst scanning along the river bank picked out the American Wigeon (lifer) with a group of Eurasian Wigeon. Typically I had left my phone at home so it by the time I put the news out the light was going, luckily someone connected with the bird that evening and it continued to show for the next 3 days.

I'd always wanted to visit Gigrin Farm in Wales to see the Red Kites being fed, and when a juvenile Black Kite turned up their in January, I planted the idea in my parent's minds that a weekend in the area might be a nice holiday, and amazingly they agreed! The 19th-21st of February were probably 3 of the best days of my life, with 3 days of snow in a gorgeous cottage by a river which had a garden full of birds. The garden held both Willow and Marsh Tits and a Tawny Owl, whilst Dipper and Kingfisher were seen on the river. Gigrin Farm was carpeted in snow on the Sunday and the hide was packed with birders and photographers. The most amazing site I've ever seen ensued with 80+ Red Kites coming to feed from the meat that had been put down, performing some stunning aerial displays.

It took 30 minutes but eventually the Black Kite (lifer) appeared and gave mind blowing views allowing for some great photos, just a sample below.

A quiet month by rarity standards, with no lifers added however a number of scarce birds were seen including one of Britain's finest. An adult Mediterranean Gull on the Playing fields opposite Stanley Park on the 6th showed well and allowed for some photographs.

The next day I headed up to Leighton Moss to try and get a few good birds that had been in the area. After turning off the motorway you drive through Yealand Redmayne to reach the reserve, but whilst driving through the village I noticed 3 birds of prey above us, so I asked my dad to pull over so I could get a better look. The first 2 birds were Buzzards however when I looked at the third the pale underside and barring on the chest immediately shouted an accipiter. The size and shape immediately ruled out Sparrowhawk which only left one of the most awesome birds in our country, an adult male Goshawk. It circled over for about a minute before the Buzzards drove it away and it flew fast northwards, and a Great White Egret at Leighton made for a very impressive day. On the 21st I saw the Ring Necked Duck back at it's original site on the ICI Reservoir and I managed to get the hat-trick of American Ducks with a Green Winged Teal at Marshside on the 27th, rounding off a good start to 2010.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Ringing Recoveries

I'm still waiting for the information on the Pink Footed Goose (White LPT) that I saw on Warton Marsh on the 3rd, however I have received the details on the mystery coot from Stanley Park and a Mute Swan that I photographed on Fleetwood Marine Lakes last year.

It seems that Kane had made a slight error when entering the details of the Coot into his database and that it wasn't anything exciting, it was an adult male ringed at Stanley Park on 13th December 2010. I'm hoping to get back there on Saturday to specifically try and photograph more combinations, will report back then if I am successful.

Last week Zac Hinchcliffe photographed a Mute Swan with the blue darvic ring BX4 at Fleetwood Marine Lakes. I make a point of photographing the rings on the Mute Swans whenever I visit the marine lakes so I knew that this bird had been present at least a year. However once again Kane stepped in and emailed us both saying that it had been ringed on 24/09/2006 at Fleetwood Marine Lakes, so had been in the area for at least 4 years.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Return of the Geese

For the first time in what seems like an age, a noisy flock of Pink Footed Geese over school today certainly brightened up my day. My house is on one of the main flightlines from the Ribble to the Pilling/Cockerham region, the 2 areas where there are the largest numbers of birds present, which means that throughout the winter I get thousand of geese passing over my house and the neighbouring fields, and occasionally alighting briefly too. I always check the flocks as they go over just in case they contain something more interesting, a single Barnacle Goose in October being the only of note, however with plenty of other species in the area (Red Breasted, Bean, Brent and White Front), there is always a chance something will one day grace my airspace.
Will also report back tomorrow on a couple of recent ringing recoveries that I reported, including the mystery coot from mondays post ;) tune in tomorrow to find out where it came from.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Livening up at Last

Whilst walking home from school this afternoon in glorious sunshine,; for what felt like the first time in weeks; I noticed how much more active the local birds were, and also how noisy they were. Just outside of school a small flock of Long Tailed and Blue Tits were flitting about a Hawthorn bush, along with a Song Thrush that gave a half hearted attempt at a song, before giving up and returning to feed.

Down Derby Road the resident Goldfinch flock was in a tall alder flock and numbered 6 birds, I have had Lesser Redpoll with them the last 2 winters but none so far this year. A berry ladened bush next to the path that never seems to have any birds on it finally delivered today with 7 Fieldfare and 6 Redwing gorging themselves. A Mistle Thrush flew over calling as did a Pied Wagtail and a male Chaffinch. Finally as I reached the top of my street, the high pitched call of a Goldcrest rose from a small area of bushes, how they have managed to survive the recent weather I will never know!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Colour Ringed Coots

Over the past 2 years, north-west ringer Kane Brides, along with the help of others has been colour ringing Coots, mainly at Southport Marine Lakes and Stanley Park in Blackpool. I have seen several of these colour ringed birds while I've been out and about and have photographed all of them. Of the 23 birds I've photographed so far some of the more interesting movements have been:

GC59952 - A juvenile female bird ringed at North Duffield Carrs in the Lower Derwent Valley NNR in Yorkshire as a part of a different colour ringing scheme. It was first noted at Preston Docks in mid November but was missing a colour ring. Luckily a ringer managed to read the metal BTO ring which confirmed it as this bird. I photographed it still present at Preston Docks on 01/01/2011.

GR05429 - Adult bird ringed at Southport Marine Lakes 11/01/2010. I photographed this bird at the De Vere Hotel next to Stanley Park on 26/03/2010, the first time it had been seen away from the marine lakes and a distance travelled of 17km. I then photographed it again on 02/01/2011 at Stanley Park, showing that it has now been in the area for over 9 months.

GR24400 - Adult bird ringed at Stanley Park on 03/12/2010. I photographed it at Stanley park a month later on 02/01/2011, not very interesting? Well it was seen at Pennington Flash in Manchester on 31/12/2010, which means that it had moved there after being ringed then come back to the park in 3 days, probably after the flash froze over.

And finally a bit of a mystery. This bird (Left Leg - purple over red, Right Leg - Dark Blue over Metal) was at Stanley Park on 02/01/2011, however Kane doesn't know when or where it was ringed and is currently trying to find out any information on the bird, so it could be another bird from Yorkshire or maybe further afield? Only time will tell, can't wait to find out though.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Limited time, Limited sightings

I didn't have much time to get out today because I've got exams in the next 2 weeks so have to revise allot. High tide was around 2pm but I only had the morning which limited where I could go, so I decided to punt at Fleetwood area in the hope that I could locate the waders at Cleveleyes and find the Purple Sandpiper. However the weather had other ideas and it was blowing a gale when I got there and there didn't seem to be any waders at all on the beach :(. A couple of Eiders and a Red Throated Diver offshore made for the only year ticks of the day.

I was hoping to go and see the Great Northern Diver at Fleetwood docks but I don't know how the access works to the site or where to view from so my mum didn't want to give it a try so I headed home quite demoralised which I seem to be feeling allot recently, hopefully the birding will improve in the next week.

2011 Yearlist - 97 species

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Day of Two Halfs

Definitely one of those days where the morning if completely different to the afternoon. I started off with a drive over wyre to look for the 1st winter Red Breasted Goose which has been with a Pink Footed Goose flock near Stalmine for the past few days. Unfortunately the Pink Footed Goose flock was as far away from all the roads as possible so very difficult to view, and although there were at least 600 birds there I couldn't locate the bird. However I did finally manage to add Pheasant to my yearlist!

Then it was up to the Fleetwood area where I quickly added yearticks in the form of Red Breasted Merganser and Turnstone on the marine lakes. We then went to Cleveleyes to look for Purple Sandpiper with the Turnstone flock however the beach was packed with dog walkers so the waders never stayed still long enough to be looked through. Will definitely be going back tomorrow. At this point it seemed that the day was going from bad to worse, but hopefully my final target would be more obliging...

Getting out of the car at Fairhaven Lake I immediately spotted the Red Necked Grebe (lifer 255) on the water next to the near back. Unfortunately as always seems to be the case when I go to Fairhaven the light was terrible and it started to rain so I only managed a crap record shot as it swam away into the centre of the lake. If the weather is nicer tomorrow I will go
get some better shots.
2011 Yearlist - 95 species

Friday, 7 January 2011

The Feral Pigeon - Not so Boring

Every morning on the way to school I walk past a large care home on the outskirts of Poulton Le Fylde, and every morning the sound of Feral Pigeons "cooing" comes from the roof. It is one of my favourite sounds and although most people think of Feral Pigeons as "rats with wings" I think that when you look at them closely you see that they are allot more colourful and interesting; especially around the neck area where in the right light colours from dazzling purple to irridescent green are on show, better than any piece of art in a gallery.

The other thing which I love about them is a sight which I suspect most people will have seen, a small flock of pigeons flying in tight formation over a town which are captive birds. I can watch them for ages as they twist and turn at some extreme speeds and then as they turn a flash of white underwing briefly dazzles the sight.

P.S. - There might well be more of these tributes to the commoner species throughout the year on the days which are slower on the birding front.
2011 Yearlist - 88 species

Thursday, 6 January 2011

First Dip of the Year

With the weather forecast looking good for the afternoon I thought that it would leave me enough time to get to Fairhaven Lake to see the Red Necked Grebe before the light went. I figured out that to have a chance of seeing the bird I would have to get there by 16:15 to have enough light. However the first bus from Poulton to Blackpool took longer than I suspected which meant that it was 16:30 before I got to Lytham and the light was nearly gone. I went round to the south east corner where the grebe had been seen however the only birds there were the usual Mallards and Coots and I couldn't spot anything else on that half of the lake before the light went. This would be a lifer for me so I really hope that it sticks around till Saturday and that the lake doesn't freeze over the next 2 nights.

No yearticks today so my 2011 yearlist remains on 88 species.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Sparrowhawk Ages

First day back at school today so not much birding done again, however the resident Grey Wagtail pair provided a good yeartick. On the way home I had a couple of sightings of Sparrowhawks and it got my thinking about some of the birds I've photographed in my garden and what ages they are. I think they are as pictured above:
1) Adult female
2/3) Juvenile Female
4) Adult Male
5) Adult Male in moult?
Any opinions appreciated.
2011 Yearlist - 88 species

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Last day of the Holidays

Last day of the Christmas Holidays today and the parents were back at work, so something was bound to turn up. Around lunch time I got a text off Paul Slade informing me of a Red Necked Grebe on Fairhaven Lake in Lytham, bugger!! This is a big gap in my life list but unfortunately I couldn't get out to see it today so I'm praying that it will stick around till the weekend.

I did some birding from my bedroom in the hope that I would connect with the local Pheasant and maybe some other year ticks, however it was deathly quiet all except for another flyover Raven. This is the 3rd time I've seen this bird in 2 weeks so it must be hanging around the area.

2011 Yearlist - 87 species

Monday, 3 January 2011

Raptor Fest

Another day clearing up the yearticks today and getting down to the south of the Fylde this time to try and see the raptors that are usually present over the marsh at Warton. High tide was at 10am so I got down there in the morning and joined a small group of birders on the bank over looking the marsh. Maurice Jones was there and informed me that 1 of the 10 White Fronted Geese from the previous day had been shot by wildfolwers that morning and none others had been seen while he had been there. There were at least 2000 Pink Footed Geese on the marsh however all I could pick out amongst them was a single Leuistic bird and a white neck collared bird with the letters LPT on it (awaiting details).

Single Merlin and Peregrine were easily located on the many pieces of wood and metal strewn across the marsh and after 10 minutes the ringtail Hen Harrier appeared from the east and continued to quarter the marsh before disappearing off towards Lytham. Sprrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrel also showed well on the marsh but unfortunately I missed a Marsh Harrier that turned up briefly that would have completed the Ribble 7 as Colin Bushall (link in sidebar) puts it.

(photo taken last year)

The White Fronts didn't show up while I was there so I decided to go to Lytham Crematorium to get the Ring Necked Parrakeet's to the yearlist. I could here them as soon as I got out of the car and immediately 2 flew over calling in their high pitched voices. Quite a few other birders were present and they pointed out some more in the trees, 6 birds in all and a flyover Skylark also made it onto the yearlist.

2011 yearlist - 86 species

Sunday, 2 January 2011

My Favourite Bird

A fantastic day today at the local patches, Stanley Park and Marton Mere. I tend to only visit them when my parents are out as it means I can only get out by using the buses, as was the case today.

I took my usual route from the bus stop at Victoria hospital, through Stanley park then past the De Vere hotel to Marton mere. There were plenty of birds in the woods at the north end of the park, at least 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Nuthatch were showing well.

The only area of open water on the lakes were under the 2 bridges separating the lakes. These areas were crammed assorted ducks, geese and a female Goldeneye which is a good bird at the park. There were plenty of Coots present and many of these had colour rings on their legs, I managed to photograph 18 of them and get the codes so will have the details back about them by the end of the week.

(This photo was taken earlier in the year)

On to Marton Mere where I first went to look to see if the owls were in their usual spot, and as usual at least 5 Long Eared Owls were roosting in the hawthorn bushes on the north side.

On the mere itself the ducks were gathered in a small area of water in front of the Fylde Bird Club hide so I headed round there to see if I could catch up with the regular ducks and also water rail and cetti's warbler. A few birders were already present and informed me that the Bittern had been seen during the morning so this gave me hope. Several Gadwall were feeding in the water with 20+ Pochard, 75+ Wigeon and several hundred Teal. It was at this point that all the gulls to the right of the hide flew up and this is a sure sign that a Bittern is around, and sure enough it flew right past the hide from left to right giving stunning views! Typically my camera was in my bag but I got it out at this point just in case it returned, and luckily a few minutes later it flew back the way it came and I managed a few shots. This is without a doubt my favourite bird, such a powerful and majestic beast and I am extremely lucky to get them on my local patch.

With this I decided to head back, stopping off at the feeders where I managed to pick out a Lesser Redpoll with a flock of 12 Goldfinch in the alders opposite the hide. On the way back to the bus stop I walked through Stanley Park, where I added Goldcrest and Treecreeper to my yearlist. These take me up to 76 for the year and I am hoping to get out tomorrow and if I'm lucky reach 100 species.

2011 Yearlist - 76 species