Sunday, 27 February 2011
Friday, 25 February 2011
After this we headed back to the mere where we located a pair of Long Eared Owls in the same bush that they were in on Tuesday, one of which was showing very well, staring at us with its fiery orange eyes. At this point the ranger Larry joined us and informed us that the adult Mediterranean Gull was still present on Lawson's Field, but before we headed there we called into the container hide to check the gulls on the mere in case it had sneaked in without us noticing. No sooner had I set up my scope than Larry called "Water Rail" (year tick) and pointed us in the direction of one which had emerged from the reeds and attempted to cross the water before seeing that it was a bad idea and turning round and heading back from whence it came. We then walked towards the field and a call above us drew our attention to a pair of Curlew that were heading high to the west as did a large flock of Rooks. A beautiful female Kestrel was hunting near to Lawson's field and showing very well as it perched up in a tree above us, and a Coal Tit calling from a bush next to the path was a surprise addition to the day list and the only one we saw during the day. As we reached the field it became clear that the gulls had all dispersed as there were only 50 or so birds present, however some of them were Common Gulls in their summer plumage which are always nice to see. We decided to head back to the feeding station at the mere and return later on in the hope that our target bird would re-appear.
The feeders were alive with birds coming and going, lots of Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits on the fat balls, Reed Buntings on the seed and a couple of Robin and Dunnock foraging around on the floor. However it was the scarcer species which provided the highlights of the stop, with at least 5 Tree Sparrows feeding alongside 2 Brambling and at least 20 Chaffinches. Then Larry appeared and told us that there was a pair of Siskin feeding in the alders outside of the hide that we had probably walked right past on the way to the hide! 2 male birds were showing very well and even called occasionally, a brilliant noise.
We made our final stop off at the FBC hide for an hour in the hope that a Bittern might do a fly past. The wildfowl numbers had increased on those from the morning, with small numbers of Greylag and Canada Geese making a racket in front of the hide, Moorhen and Coot chasing each other about the mere defending their own territories, and the male Pochard with the broken foot in its usual spot on the scrape sleeping. A trio of Gadwall were feeding on the far side of the mere, the two males in their sleek grey plumage chasing off any Mallard that came too close for their liking. Aaron picked up a pair of Buzzards soaring over the barns at the back, before they were joined by 2 more birds coming across from the Staining direction; amazingly these were then joined by another 4 birds and all 8 circled together on a thermal, a sight record for me. A pair of Kestrels were also present in the fields at the north side, one of which alighted on the owl box which is situated on the island. It hopped down onto the entrance to the box and peered inside before quickly jumping back and away which suggested to us that there must be something already in the box that had scared it off. A pair of Jackdaws also alighted on the box but they decided not to investigate which was probably a good idea!
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Monday, 21 February 2011
(Top Left Bird) Orange BTO/Green Black - GR26319 - Adult ringed at Stanley Park on 18/01/2011
(Top Right Bird) Yellow BTO/Yellow Green - GR24363 - 2nd year bird ringed at Stanley Park on 24/09/2010, seen by me at Stanley Park on 02/01/2011
White BTO/Orange Black - GR24390 - Adult ringed at Stanley Park on 29/11/2011
Pink BTO/Orange Mauve - GR25103 - Adult ringed at Southport Marine Lakes on 02/12/2010
Dark Blue BTO/White Black - GN08864 - 2nd year bird ringed at Stanley Park on 02/09/2010
Orange BTO/Mauve Orange - GR26303 - Adult ringed at Stanley Park on 02/12/2010, seen by me at Stanley Park on 02/01/2011
The other 4 birds that I didn't photograph are as follows:
- Yellow BTO/Yellow Orange - GR24362 - 2nd year bird ringed at Stanley Park on 24/09/2010, seen by me at Stanley Park on 02/01/2011
- Orange BTO/Yellow Black - GR24358 - 2nd year bird ringed at Stanley Park on 22/09/2010
- White BTO/Orange Green - GR24386 - Adult ringed at Stanley Park on 10/11/2010, seen by me at Stanley Park on 02/01/2011
- Dark Blue BTO/White White - GN08865 - Adult ringed at Stanley Park on 09/09/2010
It was Fluke Hall that provided the main spectacle, with several thousand Dunlin roosting on the marsh and performing brilliant aerial displays when they took off. In amongst these were at least 200 of my favourite wader, the Grey Plover, with several birds in full summer plumage. The sea also provided some interest with 2 each of Great Crested Grebe and Red Breasted Merganser, 4 male Pintails west and an adult Whooper Swan that drifted in on the tide. Despite looking around I couldn't locate any large Pink Footed Goose flocks, where are they all?
Sorry for the lack of photos in the last few posts, the weather has meant that my camera hasn't left its bag but hopefully with some milder weather forecast the blog will once again return to its colourful self.
After this we headed to Starr Gate to do my first proper seawatching session of the year. I quickly logged at least 500 Common Scoter (year tick) close inshore, a single Red Throated Diver, at least 6 Great Crested Grebes and 8 Pintail south. I had been speaking to Starr Gate regular Dave McGrath the previous evening and he had told me of a large flock of gulls that feeds on the dropping tide to the south of the promenade so I headed here in the hope of bagging something interesting. After some time I located an adult Yellow Legged Gull (year tick) amongst a group of large gulls on the waters edge. I suspect this flock could produce something interesting in the near future.
On Sunday the weather had turned chillier with a biting south-easterly wind. Nevertheless a large crowd of birders had gathered at Warton Bank to watch the tide once again come rushing up to the bank. The best birds were a pair of Marsh Harriers (year tick) seen distantly hunting over Hesketh out marsh on the opposite side of the river. Unfortunately they didn't cross over to the Fylde side so they are yet to make it onto my Fylde year list. Only 3 Short Eared Owls were seen and they seemed less inclined to hunt than on the previous day, but the female Merlin once again zoomed past us and perched up on it's favourite post, giving brilliant views. The Pipits put on another instructive showing close to the bank with at least 3 Water Pipits seen with similar number of Rock and Meadow to previous days, also a candidate for Scandinavian Rock Pipit was briefly seen but not all the features could be noted whilst it was on view.
British Yearlist 2011 - 127 species
Fylde Yearlist 2011 - 126 species
Saturday, 19 February 2011
Thursday, 17 February 2011
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
The Pink Footed Geese were once again present in the fields at the south end of the crematorium, around 500 birds in all. As usual they were very flighty and didn't allow any close viewing so I couldn't find anything else amongst them. Other birds present in the fields included 18 Greylag Geese, 2 Canada Geese (new in), 8 Mallard, 2 Coot (both unringed), 3 Moorhen and a large flock of c3000 Starlings. On the main pond were the usual 5 Canada Geese, 12 Mallard, 2 Moorhen and 2 Coot (1 colour ringed bird). I was confused about where the second colour ringed bird had gone however I had noticed another small pond to the west of the crematorium that could be viewed through the side fence. On this were single Moorhen and Coot and as I had suspected the Coot was the second colour ringed individual. I have received the ringing information about both of these birds from Kane Brides and as I suspected they were both ringed on Stanley Park during the cold snap in mid december. It will be interesting to see if we get any more cold weather and if so whether they will move back to the park.
Other birds present around the crematorium include a single Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Great Tit, 3 Blue Tit and a pair of Chaffinch. Below is a brief summary of the changes in wildfolw numbers which I will update after each visit:
Pink Footed Geese - about the same at around 500
Greylag Geese - down 6 from 24 to 18
Canada Geese - up 2 from 5 to 7
Mallard - down 3 from 23 to 20
Coot and Moorhen equal at 5 and 6 respectively
Monday, 14 February 2011
My plans were somewhat scuppered by the entire length of Bradshaw Lane between Pilling and Eagland Hill being closed! This meant I couldn't search an area where I had seen geese on my last visit and also lost any chance I seeing a Short Eared Owl which had been in the area. Instead I headed down to the Lane Ends car park in the hope some geese would be out on the marsh. Only 500 Pink Footed Geese or so were present from the sea wall however they were close in meaning they were easy to search through, another neck collared bird was noted amongst them but I couldn't read the letters, there seem to be allot of them about this winter. A large male Peregrine Falcon was sitting on the edge of the marsh watching the waders feeding out on the mud, surely the same bird that I saw 2 weeks ago at the same location? A flock of 22 Whooper Swans were feeding on a small pool in the distance, and although I didn't manage any photos today I think the blog needs a dash of colour so below is a picture of the bird present on Fleetwood Marine Lakes a few weeks ago.
Although spring seems to be on its way the light still starts to go at around 5pm so I thought that before it faded I would head down to Knott End in the hope that some birds would be present on the incoming tide. Plenty of Cormorants were flying west out of the bay as did a trio of Kittiwakes (yeartick) and a pair of Eider. A large flock of gulls were present on the beach off the esplanade but unfortunately most were sleeping so I couldn't find anything else amongst them. With my year tick I headed home happy and I am now on 121 species for the year all in the Fylde.
Sunday, 13 February 2011
As I set up my scope I spotted a familiar figure walking towards me across the field, Len Blacow who I did my work experience and volunteering work with and also a top local birder. We started searching the lake from out view point but with only 50% visible it was difficult. A nice flock of 5 Goosander (2 male) were present along with 2 Teal and a single Oystercatcher roosting on a pontoon. A flock of feral geese were present on the fields to the right of the lake, 12 Greylag, 5 Barnacle and 2 Chinese Swan Geese, but the Egyptian goose wasn't with them. However after about 20 minutes I eventually spotted the Egyptian Goose (year tick) swimming across the lake towards the far bank and managed to get Len onto it. Obviously the origins of these birds are always dubious but it's going on the list as when it hauled itself out of the water we could see that it was unringed.
Regular readers of the blog may have noticed that I haven't yet left the Fylde during 2011, this is because I am focusing on the Fylde Bird Club Yearlist Challenge this year and want to be competitive as the past 2 year I have finished 11/14. If you want to keep up to date on how everyone is doing check out this link Fylde Yearlist 2011.
Since I was close to Ellel Grange I thought that a stop off here might produce Kingfisher and Jay for the year as I saw 3 of each on my last visit on the canal, however once again neither of them were showing. Luckily the woods around the canal were full of birds, with large flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare being hurried off by at least 3 Mistle Thrushes that were determined to protect their local patches. An area of flooded woodland by the side of the canal looked good for Woodcock (year tick) and sure enough almost immediately I noticed one scuttling away through the undergrowth, my first one in almost 2 years. A single Raven flew north as did 2 Buzzards.
The plan after this was to head down to Preston via a quick stop off at Myerscough Quarry to get Goosander for the year, however this "quick stop" turned into a thorough search of the area and it meant that I didn't get time to get down to Cottam Brickworks. The quarry lake was alive with gulls, hundreds of Black Headed Gulls and Common Gulls, 14 Goosander (1 off the site record I believe), 6 Goldeneye (2 males which were displaying) and over 250 Wigeon. A strange Aytha hybrid was present on the lake and after getting home I found out that it was a Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid. The Goosander and Woodcock take me up to 119 for the year out of 146 species seen in the fylde so far in 2011.
Thursday, 10 February 2011
Walking along Blackpool Road towards Carleton Crematorium I was surprised by the number of flowers that had bloomed into flower overnight, plenty of snowdrops and even a few crocuses poking up through the soil. I was also amazed to see my first butterfly of the year flutter across the road in front of me, and the few seconds it took me to comprehend this early sighting stooped me from being able to identify which species it was, but it wasn't large so maybe a Small Tortoiseshell.
Reaching the crematorium I thought it would be a good idea to monitor the bird numbers on the small pond at the south end. Today the totals were 23 Mallard (12 males), 5 Canada Geese, 3 Greylag Geese, 4 Moorhen, 3+ Coots. Initially there were 2 Coot on the pond, 1 of which was colour ringed, probably a bird that was ringed at Stanley Park during the cold snap.
I was then confronted with a surprise in the form of a large flock of at least 500 Pink Footed Geese feeding in the fields at the south end of the crematorium. This put pay to my previous plans as I decided to search through them in the hope of finding anything interesting. There was a flock of 21 Greylag Geese present with them which according to one of the local dog walkers are resident birds at the crematorium, but are separate from the 3 that live in the pond. I suspect that this was the same Pink Footed Goose flock that I saw a few days ago on the other side of Carleton, as this flock also contained a neck collared bird, which this time was close enough to read, LAF. I'm going to send the details off soon.
After searching through the pink feet i headed back to the pond and was surprised to see a different colour ringed coot feeding on the bank, however the original bird was nowhere to be seen, both were with an unringed companion. So either there were 2 different pairs which had swapped whilst I was watching the geese, or the original colour ringed bird had been moved on by the second bird (there was definitely only 2 birds on the pond at any one time). It should be interesting to see how this site develops during the course of the year.
Other birds seen included single Mistle and Song Thrushes, Robin, Goldfinch and 2 Grey Heron over.
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
I've also been looking on some maps and mapped out a course of a new local patch for me that takes in lots of different areas in Carleton, Bispham and Poulton which I will walk around during the year and hopefully get to know the local birds. Talking to a friend from the Fylde Bird Club he reckons the area would be good for migrants such as Redstart and Pied Flycatcher in the Spring and Autumn so I will keep an eye out. Hopefully soon I will do the full walk around the patch and I will do a blog post about all the different areas, watch this space.
Monday, 7 February 2011
I heard a large flock of Pink Footed Geese somewhere close by when I reached Carleton and spotted them going down on the north-west edge of the village, so I decided to go investigate and try and locate them (once I had picked up my binoculars from home of course). I had a pretty good idea where they would be and I managed to locate them in an area of fields along a stretch of road between Poulton and Bispham. However typically they were keeping their distance and I had to search for a closer vantage point, which although I managed to get slightly closer, still meant that half the flock was out of sight. I would estimate around 400 birds but nothing out of the ordinary apart from a single neck collared bird, although it was too far away to read.
I still had a good walk however with plenty of birds around, the totals being: 6 Mute Swans, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Moorhen, 8 Mallard, 1 Kestrel, 3 Redwing (first I have seen in a while), 2 Wren, a Pied Wagtail and a Curlew. Not bad for my local area and 4.5 km walking is never bad for you.
Also forgot to add that I had a great house bird in the form of a Merlin on sunday! Only my second record from the house..
Saturday, 5 February 2011
The month ended in a flurry with a stunning Hobby at Brockholes Quarry on the 28th being overshadowed by a Purple Gallinule at Saltney, which despite being an escapee was still a gorgeous bird to watch.
With a wealth of birds present on the east coast I managed to persuade my mum to take me for an over night stay in Durham to try and get some lifers. Plenty of seabirds during the morning at Whitburn with 2 Black Terns, 8 Roseate Terns and a Great Skua before a trip inland produced a lifer in the form of Spotted Crake at Shibdon Pond along with a Garganey. Then the next day a Great Northern Diver past Hartlepool Headland was followed by my second lifer of the trip, a juvenile Whiskered Tern at Saltholme RSPB. On the last day of the month I made my first visit to Pennington Flash near Manchester, an excellent site and a 1st winter Little Gull took my year list up to 200 species.
Thursday, 3 February 2011
However by the afternoon the wind was starting to pick up and the clouds were rolling in. Walking home from school after a badminton match was certainly an experience with pieces of trees and plastic bags providing flying obstacles which needed dodging round on occasion. A large flock of 250+ Pink Footed Geese headed over north at an incredible rate of knots with the wind behind them. At the moment whilst writing this I can hear the wind rushing through the trees and the banging of fence posts, it could be interesting walking to school tomorrow as during the last round of storms I had to take a different route due to a tree blocking one of the paths!
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
The sea wasn't much better for birds with a small passage of Cormorants numbering 74 in total, however a surprise did come in the form of a Shag (yeartick) flying north, not a common bird in my area, this is only my third. The only other birds were 9 Eider floating around on the tide. The Shag and Ringed Plovers take me up to 117 species for the year.