Saturday, 30 April 2011

Best Seawatch in a long time

With some large tern and skua migration yesterday in the area I thought that it would be worth my while getting down to Rossall Point this morning to see if I could get a few handy yearticks, and also witness the spectacle which is the Arctic Tern migration. I would have liked to have been there at the crack of dawn however due to relying on parents I arrived at the point at 8 o'clock, where I joined Ian, Len and Seamus who were already present next to the coastgaurd tower, they had been there early on and had had over 1000 Arctic Terns past up till when I arrived! It wasn't long before my first Arctic Terns (yeartick) drifted into view, a flock of 15 birds close in heading east, showing off their gorgeous white plumage and long tail streamers. After half an hour or so Len picked out a duck heading into the bay and managed to get Ian onto it who exclaimed loudly Long Tailed Duck (yeartick), a stunning adult male that flew past at middle distance from west to east. Soon after this Seamus picked out the first of 2 dark morph Arctic Skuas (yeartick) flying quite close in, into the bay, which was quickly followed by a much more distant Fulmar (yeartick) heading north. Amongst the Arctic's was a single Common Tern (yeartick) that I picked out heading north past the yellow marker posts, although I briefly thought it could have been a Little. The full total is as follows:

male Long Tailed Duck
2 Arctic Skua
171 Arctic Tern
1 Common Tern
1 Fulmar
1 Red Throated Diver
female Goosander (rare off here)
2 Wigeon
6 Red Breasted Merganser
20+ Common Scoter
4 Shelduck
1 summer plumaged Knot (very nice bird to see)
1 summer plumaged Bar Tailed Godwit (even better!)
4 Whimbrel
1 Lapwing
34 Swallow
2 Sand Martin
1 House Martin
3 Wheatear
1 Lesser Redpoll
3 Greylag Geese

Friday, 29 April 2011

Away from the Wedding

With all the coverage of the royal wedding today I suspect that most of you won't want to hear anymore about it, so this post is going to stay well clear of the topic and instead focus on the birding that I did today. Having said that I did spend half an hour or so this afternoon photographing the Union Jack that is flying from a newly erected 20ft flag pole in their back garden. This was a lot harder than it sounds since it was blowing around madly for a minute and then would either stop or tangle around the pole for the next 5 minutes, so I only had a short amount of time to get the shots I wanted. I'm pretty happy with the results though.

After the coverage finished at 2pm my dad agreed to take me out birding for a while so we went to the woods around Thurnham Hall. This is the best place in the Fylde to see Garden Warbler and after a while of searching I located at least 2 singing birds although they remained stubbornly elusive with a brief view of one at the top of a tree being the only sighting. These were my first in the Fylde and hopefully I will go back later in the week to get some better views of them. The woods around the church where we parked were full of bluebells providng a real spring feel to the atmosphere. From here we checked the river from the hill above Glasson in the hope that an Avocet or two might have dropped in for a feed, and although there weren't any present a pair of Swifts over head made up for it as they were my first of the year and take me up to 166 for the year.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The full Patch

After school today I decided to take a walk around my full local patch, taking in Carleton Cremtorium, Bispham Marsh and then Robins Lane. First port of call was the crematorium where the 3 Coot chicks were still looking as healthy as ever, with the parents tentatively feeding them, however they were also bringing twigs and reeds to the nest which could suggest that they are preparing for a second clutch of eggs. 2 Canada Geese had returned to the pond which could well be the pair that were briefly on the flood on Robins Lane on Tuesday, and the now regular single bird was present in the south fields, along with a pair of Shelduck which I haven't seen since the 1st of this month. I walked round the edge of the crem where I managed to locate 3 singing Blackcap along with at least 1 Chiffchaff briefly.

Arriving at Bispham Marsh it was obvious that there was work in progress around the feeding area, which from what I can see will look very nice when it is finished; I suspect this will be due to the funding for the North Blackpool Pond Trail which will hopefully increase the access and improve the paths around the marsh. On the marsh itself were a pair of Great Crested Grebes on a nest, a female Mallard with 8+ young, a Coot pair with 5 young, and a pair of Grey Herons one of which was very approachable on the east side. In the woods around the lake were at least 3 Chiffchaffs singing away, as well as single Willow Warbler and Blackcap.

The walk from the park to the flood on Robins Lane takes me through some prime warbler habitat, mainly a path with bushes lining it and fields either side of that. A hoped for but still none the less surprising sighting was a Grasshopper Warbler heard reeling at the north end of Robins Lane, amazingly my 7th bird of the year which just shows that they really are having a great year in the north-west (this was also my first on the patch). On the flood the Coots were much easier to count today due to the fact that 2 pairs have now got recently hatched young, one pair with a single chick and the other pair with a duo of young. There was also a fifth adult bird at the back of the flood which was seeing off any Mallards that got too close, which could suggest that there was a bird sitting on eggs nearby. The single Little Grebe was still present but I am now thinking that it is just a single bird and that there isn't anymore lurking around the fringed of the trees.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Evening in the Sun

Back into the school routine meaning that my birding time has greatly reduced, so typically more birds have turned up in recent days, 2 Avocets at Freckleton, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Lytham Hall, Garden Warblers at Thurnham, Pied Flycatcher at Bispham, etc. Hopefully this weekend I will be having at least 1 full days birding in the Fylde, which if all goes well will add at least 1 new species to my Fylde list and also plenty of yearticks. This evening my dad took me down to Lawson's Wetland to see if the Whinchat from a few days ago had stuck around, which of course it hadn't meaning that I was left to listen to at least 2 Grasshopper Warblers reeling away in the undergrowth, the bird I photographed last week showed well once again in the same place. On the way home we stopped off at Mythop flood where the Garganey pair were still present on the back section of water, and several Swallows zipped over the water but no Swifts arrived back yet, it must be soon?

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Back to the Patch

Back to school today after 17 days off school in which i saw 21 year ticks and 2 lifers, and since I was back to school it was also back to the local patch afterwards to check up on the locals and see what else had dropped in. The flood on Robin's Lane held the usual Little Grebe which is still visiting the same area of flooded trees every 10 minutes or so, surely there must be a nest/young in there somewhere? 2 Tufted Ducks were also still present however a pair of Canada Geese were new in. On the crematorium pond the Coots were still feeding their 3 now quite large chicks and from what I could see the colour ringed female could be sitting on a second clutch of eggs, however I couldn't see properly to confirm this. A large group of gulls had gathered in the south fields, an increasing roost over the past few weeks, maybe they will hold something more interesting soon?

Monday, 25 April 2011

A Lancashire First

This morning I was up bright and early (well 8am which for me is early!) to get down to Fleetwood Nature Reserve to see if the Short Toed Lark from yesterday was still about. Arriving in the car park a birder who was sat in his car said that it was on the east side of the reserve on the other side of the bridge over the lake, so I headed round there and found David and Jackie Moreton watching a bird although they weren't sure if it was the lark or not. Unfortunately I discovered that it was a Skylark when I got it in the scope so me and Jackie walked on a bit further while David was sorting his camera equipment, however he quickly shouted to us and pointed to a bird that flew over our heads and landed on the gravel track next to the model aeroplane runway. We walked closer and looking through the scope I confirmed that it was the Short Toed Lark (258), and it allowed us to get right up to the fence next to the path, so it was no more than 30 feet away. With the early morning mist hanging in the air I found it hard to get any decent shots so the below photo is a record only, however to see some of David's much better shots take a look here. I continued to watch it for 15 minutes but it gradulally moved further away and more out of view so I headed back to the car and home, happy with stunning views of this Lancashire first.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


Today I took my first trip of the year out of Lancashire (and only my 3rd out of the Fylde) to go and see my Grandad in Manchester and then go see the Harlem Globetrotters in the evening at the MEN arena. Obviously not much birding was done however a pair of Coal Tit in his garden were a nice surprise and a quick walk around Fletcher Moss in Didsbury produced single Song and Mistle Thrush as well as a female Sparrowhawk briefly. However this excursion out of Lancashire didn't come without a price, as a received a text from Paul Slade saying that a Short Toed Lark had been found at Fleetwood Nature Reserve, the first for the Fylde! It stuck around all evening on site so it's possible that it will still be there in the morning when I will go and take a look, however with a clear night ahead it might decide to carry on migration, here's hoping that it doesn't!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

In between revision

Not much birding done today because I have been revising for my exams that are starting in a few weeks time, however late afternoon my dad took my out for an hour to connect with the pair of Garganey (yeartick) that turned up at Mythop in the morning. A gorgeous pair of birds were only my 3rd and 4th for the Fylde with the previous 2 both being males, in 2007 and 2009. On the way back we stopped off at the mere in the hope that a Black Tern might drop in since there have been lots seen to the south of here, mainly on the East Lancs reservoirs and also Pennington Flash in Manchester. The mere was very quiet with Reed Warblers singing everywhere and a couple of Swallows over being the only things of note.

Early bird catches the Worm

After my disappointment of missing the white stork last night I found out where it was roosting and was determined to see it before it left the roost at first light and therefore planned to get to the site before dark. I had initially planned to walk to the tip however this would have meant me setting off from home at 4am which wasn't something my mum approved of, so she agreed to wake up early and give me a lift there. So at the insane time of 5:30 (yes i know I'm mad!) we set off from home and reached the tip at 5:45 where I was met by Seamus Eaves and Ian Gardner unloading their ringing gear for a morning session amongst the reeds, and they informed me that it has flown of south 5 minutes before I arrived, bugger! Since it had been seen in the Marton Mere area the previous day I hoped it would be there again so we set off again in the hope of connecting with it somewhere along the way, and just as we were passing the goose fields opposite burglar's alley I spotted a large white bird feeding by one of the ponds in the field, the White Stork! It fed in the field for 30 seconds or so before being flushed by a farmer entering the field in a tractor, flying south again low down obviously looking for somewhere else to land, which it did on the football fields by the Bourne Poacher after being mobbed by a whole trail of gulls. The light was terrible so I could only manage a record shot before it once again took off over the houses of Thornton and then south-east towards the river where it was found later on. Amazingly this is the second white stork to turn up in the Fylde in 4 days, as the adult ringed escapee from last month was seen on Lytham Moss on Monday, however as this bird is an unringed 1st summer bird that has arrived during a period of high pressure that has brought lots of Purple Herons and Bee-eaters into the country then I would think it has pretty good credentials to be wild. My first British Stork and my 257 British bird.
The rest of the morning was spent over wyre with the highlights being a Tree Pipit (yeartick) over Fluke Hall, a single Whimbrel on the marsh at Pilling, Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper at the Conder, and a flock of 60+ Skylark from at Bank End. In the afternoon I took a trip down to the mere however since the highlight was 4 Mute Swans that flew in from the north before being seen off by the resident birds, you can probably guess that it was pretty quiet!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Groppers Everywhere

With no transport once again yesterday I got the bus to Cleveleys and decided to walk round the promenade to Fleetwood in the hope of connecting with a few migrants along the way. It was 12am by the time I set off which meant that the over head migration was pretty slow and I only had 12 Swallow, 7 Meadow Pipits and 4 Goldfinch heading north. However the main area for migrants was a patch of reeds to the south of Rossall School (where a Bluethroat was found a couple of years ago), with the best bird being a reeling Grasshopper Warbler that remained typically elusive; other birds present in this area included at least 1 singing Reed Warbler and also a male Reed Bunting. The sea was completely devoid of bird life but luckily I spotted 3 large waders on the shore just past the school and on closer inspection they turned out to be Whimbrel (yeartick). The temperature was starting to nudge the 22/23 degree mark so it wasn't surprising that most of the birds were hiding out of the sun and out of view, although a second Grasshopper Warbler on the golf course showed very briefly before diving back into the long grass it was in.

In the middle of the afternoon Ash called me to tell me that he and Maurice had a White Stork over the mere which they presumed was the same escaped bird from the past month. However a couple of hours later Ash rang me again to tell me that they thought it could be a different bird, due to it having a full set of primaries (the other bird was missing a primary), and later on in the evening it was found on the pool at the back of Fleetwood tip. My mum agreed to take me however I had never been to the pool before and couldn't find a way to view it and therefore missed the bird. I text Paul Slade when I got home who confirmed that it was a 1st summer bird and was also unringed, bugger!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Even More Warblers!

Once again today the weather was simply glorious with wall to wall sunshine and temperatures up into the low 20's! I hadn't really planned to do much birding but I did my usual check of Birdguides anyway in the morning just to see what was about, the start of so many previous twitches! Today was no different with the quarry being a singing male Wood Warbler in a park in Watson Road Park, near south shore, which I discovered was just round the corner from Ash's house when I looked on a map. A quick call to him revealed he was at the sand dunes in Lytham looking for lizards but that he would go have a look on his way home so I decided to take a look as well. It was 5km from where I got off the bus at Victoria Hospital to the park which normally wouldn't be too hard, however I hadn't factored for the sweltering midday sun and by the time I reached the park I was starting to boil! I spotted Aaron under a patch of sycamore trees where he got me onto the Wood Warbler (yeartick) above us, flitting through the branches as it fed. It was quite a difficult bird to follow as when it stopped calling or singing it was hard to locate and disappeared half way through our visit. Paul Slade and Mick McGough turned up and tried to locate it before a living legend of the Fylde bird world turned up, Ed Stirling, who found hoards of rarities in the Blackpool area in the second half of the century, including a juvenile Roller in the very park we were in!

After a while of it not showing we left the others to search and headed back to Ash's for a break before going on to the mere where the rangers had counted 13 Grasshopper Warblers that morning, a huge number for the Fylde. We decided to check Lawson's wetland first as this was the area where most of the groppers had been seen, and sure enough it didn't take long for us to locate a calling bird amongst the brambles, that was the easy part as they can be very elusive and not show at all. Luckily the Grasshopper Warbler soon popped up onto a bramble and began calling away for a few minutes, only 20 feet or so from where we were standing allowing me to get my first good views of the species and also a few dodgy records shots. Another bird blasted out from nearby and we had a 3rd bird further along the path although neither of these showed but remained skulking out of sight. In contrast to these the Common Whitethroats were showing from every bush we found and were seemingly undisturbed by us standing down to 3 feet from them! We counted 13 birds in total between Lawson's field and the green container hide on the north side of the mere, and a single Lesser Whitethroat in the same area as on Saturday. We failed to see or hear Sedge and Cetti's Warbler meaning we only got 8 species for the day, however 10 species in 4 days is certainely not bad going for the Fylde.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Family Birding

From an early age my younger brother came birding with me and was almost as interested in the hobby as I was and still am, but he drifted away from it which suited me fine because it meant that I could get some peace and quiet when I was out. Well on Friday he decided to come and see the Black Winged Stilts with me which were a lifer for him, as was the Yellow Wagtail that we briefly saw while on site, and on returning home we totted up his life list and it came to 199 species for Britain, not bad for a 13 year old. Of course he wanted to reach the 200 mark so yesterday we headed to Lytham Crematorium to see the almost guaranteed Ring Necked Parakeets (new for him) that have taken up residence there. We could here them as soon as we got out of the car and we quickly located a flock of 5 birds that flew around for a bit before alighting in a blossom tree that they began feeding on. The light wasn't very good so the shots didn't come out great, the top one is my brothers and the bottom is mine (his was taken at eye level whereas mine was looking directly up above me).

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Mere 9

A glorious day dawned this morning and I was up bright and early, no not to go out but instead to watch the Chinese Grand Prix which was one of the best races I have ever watched (and Hamilton won :D). With the temperature rising outside I decided to take advantage of the warmth and take myself down to the mere to look for a few warblers that had been seen in the past few days. Walking from Stanley park towards the reserve I took a different path to my usual route as it took my along a stretch of brambles and bushes which is usually a safe bet for a few warblers to be singing. Literally the first bramble patch I walked past held a singing Whitethroat (yeartick) which was skulking around in the bottom of the bush hence the crap record shot below of it hiding from me.

Walking further along and after passing another Whitethroat I heard a trilling sort of call coming from a small area of reeds and brambles, a Grasshopper Warbler (yeartick). Although it was only no more than 15 metres from me I only glimpsed it once before it darted away again, I'm hoping to get back in the next few days to get better views of it or another one on the reserve. I also heard a second bird just before the entrance gate in the north west corner but once again it was elusive and didn't show. Along the north side I saw or heard Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Reed Warbler in quick succession before a strange call just after the container hide caught my attention and I paused to listen out for it again. I had an inkling that in could have been a Lesser Whitethroat however since I didn't recognise the call I tried to get views of it for confirmation, easier said than done! 20 minutes later I had had lots of brief views of the bird all of which seemed to confirm what I thought, so I rang Ash and asked him to play the song (from his phone) so that I could check if I was right, and yes it was a Lesser Whitethroat (yeartick), my earliest ever record of the species. Since I couldn't get a photo of it I had to be contempt with the other warblers that were around, like the Willow below.

On the exposed bank along the back of the mere a brisk wind made for a slight chill to the air however the mere looked sun baked and calm in the midday sun. I notched up my 8th species of warbler for the day with a Sedge Warbler singing near to the outflow, and further round past the Fylde Bird Club hide the song of a Cetti's Warbler blasted out from the reeds, completing my Mere 9 species of warbler for the day which is the first time I have been able to do so.

Away from the birds Butterflies were very much in evidence today with my first Speckled Wood of the year seen along with single Green Veined White, lots of Peacock, Small White and Small Tortoiseshell.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Black Winged Stilts

The Birdguides server was down most of yesterday and this morning which meant that I didn't find out that a pair of Black Winged Stilts had been found at Martin Mere till a couple of hours after the news had gone out. Luckily for me my mum was off work and agreed to take me to see them, my little brother also tagged along even though he isn't much of a birder anymore. Luckily when we arrived at the Ron Barker Hide the Black Winged Stilts were still present and showing well, a male and female feeding together in the shallows. In 2006 a pair of birds attempted to breed on the mere but the nest failed, and this could possibly be the same pair returning again and hopefully they will attempt to raise young once again. I got a couple of distant record shots as they fed at their closest point to the hide (still quite far away though).

Other birds present on the mere included a fine Yellow Wagtail (yeartick) that dropped in briefly before disappearing into a ditch and not coming out again. 42 Avocets were counted from the hide and these didn't include the birds that were present on the actually mere itself, so the site count will probably be much higher. At least 2 Ringed Plovers were feeding around the shingle islands and I briefly spotted what I think was a Little Ringed Plover that was moving along an area of mud that had grass growing in front of it, so the views were obscured hence why I didn't get a positive ID.

Another Sea Watch

Yesterday morning I decided to get down to Rossall Point early to try and make the most of the migration both on the sea and also overhead. Unfortunately when I arrived at 6:30 there was a mist offshore that restricted visibility to c50 metres. It cleared up after 30 minutes or so and in the next 3 hours I saw:

1 Little Gull

24 Gannet

39 Sandwich Tern (shot from farne islands)

12 Red Throated Diver

2 Red Breasted Merganser

21 Common Scoter

7 Auk sp

4 Razorbill

1 Guillemot

2 Shelduck

2 Mallard on the sea!

131 Meadow Pipit

37 Swallow

2 Wheatear

7 alba Wagtails

Ash joined me for the last half an hour before the visibility decreased again so we decided to head to the mere to see if any early more warblers had dropped in. We met Larry the ranger just before we reached the mere who told us that 2 Grasshopper Warblers had been heard and also a few Whitethroats seen, however typically I didn't see or hear any of them. There had obviously been a big influx of Sedge and Reed Warblers as we heard at least 3 and 8 respectively around the reeds. 2 different Sparrowhawks were hunting around the mere and I managed to grab the below shot of a female that shot through the reeds past us.

More migrants

A relatively early start (for me) saw me at Rossall Point at 9:30 to see what passed through in the high winds that were blowing in from the sea. I used the coastgaurd tower as shelter and over the course of an hour I had:
73 Sandwhich Tern, 23 Gannet, 2 Little Gull, 2 Red Throated Diver, 1 Guillemot (yeartick), 1 Razorbill, 12 Auk sp, 2 Red Breasted Merganser and 16 Common Scoter. The Guillemot took me to 150 for the year in Britain in 2011.

Later on in the afternoon my dad agreed to take me out for a few hours so we headed down to my local patch first for a quick check on the numbers. A small flock of hirundines were feeding over the flood on Robins Lane and in amongst the 8+ Swallows I picked out a single House Martin (yeartick) which hung around for the next 10 minutes or so. The male Little Grebe was still present and 3 Gadwall (1 male) were new in. Finally it was up to the Conder estuary where my dad located the Little Ringed Plover (yeartick) on the pools by the road, with the two Spotted Redshanks close by starting to come into thir summer plamage.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Bullfinch Brightens up the Day

The recent high temperatures dropped away today and coupled with a stiff westerly wind there was a definite chill in the air. I had a relaxing morning around the house before a quick visit to Rossall Point early afternoon produced a single Gannet (yeartick) flying south but not a lot else. Clearly the best time to be there is the morning as auks were passing by at a rate of 500 per hour early today and there were 3 Pomerine Skuas off Heysham at 8:30. Hopefully I will be down there early morning either tomorrow or Thursday.

In an attempt to tick off a few more year birds I headed across to Myerscough Quarry where 9+ Little Ringed Plovers were seen the other day, but of course today they had all disappeared and there was absolutely no birds of note present. Slightly disheartened by this I remembered that I was relatively close to Preston so my dad agreed to take me to Cottam Brickworks where I hoped to catch up with my most glaring omission for the year, Jay! Walking around the site a couple of singing Chiffchaffs were located and several Swallows passed overheard north, but none of my target species were found; however just as I was heading back a flash of red out of the corner of my eye made me turn round and set my eyes on a gorgeous male Bullfinch (yeartick). This was my first Bullfinch for 6 years in the Fylde and takes my British yearlist up to the 150 mark, and 147 for the Fylde. The photo above was from Leighton Moss last year.

Greylag Goose pics

I've just got round to processing these images of a Greylag Goose washing itself infront of the FBC Hide at Marton Mere at the weekend.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Spring Mixture

With more warm weather forecast I asked my mum to drop me down at Rossall Point in the morning for a bit of vis mig and also a seawatch. I arrived at 9 which I suspected would be a bit too late for migrants and sure enough when I reached Paul Ellis, Paul Slade, Kinta Beaver and Len Blacow at the point I was told that they had already had a couple of Tree Pipits over, along with lots of Lesser Redpoll and also Arctic Terns offshore. There were plenty of Sandwich Terns (yeartick) offshore, at least 30 being a good estimate, many of which were feeding offshore and were joined by at least 2 Little Gulls (yeartick) for a while before they disappeared. More usual fair on the sea included a Red Throated Diver, 10+ Red Breasted Mergansers, 100+ Eider and 3 distant auk sp that could of been guillemots however they were too far out to be positively ID'd. One of the strange sights of the day was a scoter that was hanging around the eider flock, that had a long white line down the side of its body. In the past couple of days it had been reported as velvet however today we got good views and it was clear that it was in fact an aberrant Common Scoter! The only vis mig of note were 4 Lesser Redpolls early on and a few White Wagtails lower down. I met up with Ash, Aaron and Maurice who were a little further along the promenade and I got offered a lift to the mere with them.

Like yesterday the mere itself was pretty quiet with 3 female Goldeneye being the best birds, although 5 Great Crested Grebes seemed to be a bit of an influx. After a while of being in the FBC hide I heard a warbler calling briefly in the reeds to the right, and a couple of minutes later Ash and Aaron also heard it and confirmed it to be a Reed Warbler (yeartick). We decided to move down to the "tin can" hide to try and get closer to it and although it didn't sing again, a Cetti's Warbler blasted out its song right next to us and we watched 2 birds chasing each other around the reeds, at one point even flying behind the hide! We walked to the bench in the NW corner watching the different warblers along the way, at least 8 Blackcaps (2 female), 3+ Chiffchaffs and a single Willow Warbler. To finish things off we walked round to the dam at the outflow in the possibility of hearing a Sedge Warbler (yeartick), and surprisingly we located a singing bird just south of the outflow, although it was singing sporadically and quite quietly for a species which is usually very loud. 6 species of warbler in a day in early April is exceptional for me and both the Sedge and Reed Warblers are my earliest ever by one day. 4 Yearticks today take me up to 148 for the year and leave me on 5/2 for the holiday, way on the way towards my target of 17 in 17 days.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Finally a Yeartick

It was 11 days ago that I got my last year tick which was a bit of a disaster since I was trying to keep in contact with the top listers in the Fylde Yearlist Competition (currently 6/14). Luckily for me I am now off school for 17 days so I have set myself the task of seeing 17 yearticks which will bring my Fylde Yearlist up to 157. So to get started I headed down to Marton Mere today to see what new migrants had dropped in with the targets being House Martin and Blackcap. Well no sooner had I arrived on the mere than I heard a loud song coming from the area of bushes around the viewing platform, and when I went to investigate I found a stunning male Blackcap (yeartick) singing his heart out from the top of a hawthorn bush. There were at least 3 more males singing around the mere along with more migrants in the form of a single Willow Warbler, 7+ Chiffchaff and 3 Sand Martins briefly before flying north. Some rubbish record shots below just to prove that the migrants were around.

The mere was markedly quieter than on recent visits as most of the ducks have now moved off to their breeding areas. 3 Gadwall and 2 Shelducks were the best on the mere itself and a single Oystercatcher was sitting on the scrape before flying off south. There was only one Cetti's Warbler singing today which could suggest that the other birds have now paired up and are going to breed, so hopefully in a couple of months we will have a few young birds appearing. Generally the birds were elusive today but the usual pair of Greylags were feeding in front of the Fylde Bird Club hide allowing for a few photographs.

Away from birds I noted 5 species of butterfly today, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Green-Veined White and Comma. Also a surprise mammal sight in the form of a Weasel running across the path at the west end of the mere, my first one here for many years.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Some of my favourite Moths

Below are photos of a few moths that I have caught the past week or so, some of which are my favourite species that I have caught. From top to bottom they are Hebrew Character, Clouded Drab, Early Grey (my personal favourite) and Early Thorn. I am hoping to get a moth trap in the next few weeks which will greatly increase my catches and the number of species I catch.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

First young already Hatched

After nearly a week of rain and cloud the sun finally broke through today and produced a very nice and warm day although the winds remained relatively strong. After school I made my way down to Carleton Crematorium to see if the fair weather had livened up the bird life in the area and also see if any migrants had turned up. There was some building work being done near the pond last week which lead to reduced numbers of ducks present, however today they had finished which meant that the Mallards had returned to normal numbers, 15 in all, 10 of which were males including the bird with a broke leg. 2 Canada Geese had also returned after the disturbance and at least 2 Greylag Geese were calling out of sight in the fields to the south, although many more could have been present. I spotted half of the resident pair of Coots repeatedly feeding in the shallows before returning to the same area of reeds, so after a while I headed round to get a better view and spotted the second bird sitting on the nest. As the two birds met to pass a food parcel two small red heads appeared from under the adult on the nest, 2 new chicks! This was a big surprise to me as I don't expect to see any young for at least another month, and from what I could see there was still at least 1 more egg waiting to hatch so hopefully by tomorrow there will be a whole family together. The photo below is from Dorset last year as today I stupidly forgot to put the memory card in my camera, so no pictures unfortunately! A male Reed Bunting was flitting around the reeds all the time I was there so you never know, they might breed here as well. The other surprise from here was a Cormorant which flew in at 16:05 and began to fish on the pond, the first time I have seen one on here. After catching a fish it flew off south at 16:23 and apparently according to Cliff Raby it did the same thing last Friday. Also today I took my first look at a new pond just round the corner from the crem which is behind a house and therefore not properly viewable from a public area. I spoke to the owners and they have allowed me to go onto their property to view the pond and do some counts of the birds which visit it throughout the year. It is clearly a site with some potential and since it is more out of the way it is less disturbed than nearby Bispham Marsh which may account for the higher numbers of different ducks present. The highlight was an adult Little Grebe with the other birds present being 6 Teal, 2 Tufted Ducks, 4 each of Mallard and Coot, and 2 Moorhens.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Patch the House Sparrow

Last June I noticed that one of the recently fledged female House Sparrows visiting my garden had pure white wing bars and outer tail feathers, a striking bird especially in flight. Since then she has been a regular visitor to my garden and I have nicknamed her patch however until today I have not been able to get a decent photo of her that shows the pattern that gives her her name. Well today she was feeding on some seed under my neighbours feeders and I managed to get a single shot of her with her wings outstretched, showing the pattern of white on the feathers. Hopefully in the next few weeks I will be able to get some more photos but for now I hope you can appreciate what a striking and I think beautiful bird this is.

One less Collard Dove

The weather has been atrocious the past few days with strong winds mixed with intermittent rain showers, so I haven't been able to get out as much as I would have liked. Instead I have been concentrating more on the garden birding and today provided a few unexpected highlights. A small flock of 10+ Greenfinches were flying around the fields throughout the afternoon which is keeping in line with a marked increase of this species I have been seeing in my local area recently. A single Swallow that flew north was the first migrant from my house this year and the second soon followed in the form of a Chiffchaff skulking through the hawthorn bushes along the train track; this is amazingly only the second record from my house however I suspect that I may have overlooked them as like the one today they generally have a very secretive nature and don't sit still for very long to be positively ID'd. A now daily pair of Goldfinches visited my garden on a number of occasions again today, allowing great views as they generally sit in the trees right next to my window. However the best moment of the day, depending on your perspective, was when I noticed the local female Sparrowhawk circling quite high up above my house. I didn't think much of it as this is their classic behavior, but as a pair of Collard Doves flew into one of the bushes a blur of brown appeared out of nowhere and shot into the branches after them. It took me a few seconds to realise what was going on and by this time one of the doves had flown and landed on my lawn, clearly shaken and apparently injured or at the very least stunned. Getting my scope onto the area of the bush the hawk had gone in to I picked out the blazing yellow eye of the bird sitting on the ground holding a still struggling dove in its talons. It quickly dispatched the bird before setting about the task of plucking it, throwing pale feathers in all directions whilst the local Magpies watched on ominously. After 20 minutes of doing this the magpies got too close for the hawks comfort and it took off with its prize still clutched in its feet, flying over the bushes and away into the field. Unfortunately for the whole time it was under the brambles meaning I couldnt get a clear shot, so here instead is a bird from a couple of years ago that was drying out after a rain shower, showing off her stunning plumage.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Local Migrants back on Territory

In the past couple of days a pair of Swallows have returned to a farm near to my house where they have been present for at least 4 years now (although whether it has been the same pair each year I don't know). Hopefully in the next week or so there will be a big influx of these birds and bring with them the sunshine that they have been used to in Africa over the winter. Another bird that is back on territory is a Chiffchaff that has returned to the same patch of weeping willows from where it sang all of last spring on my route to school, however this year it has a rival that is singing about 100 metres away on the other side of the railway track, whether this second bird will stick around is any ones guess but at the moment it is great to listen to them staking their claims to their own little areas. Another surprise whilst walking to school this morning were a pair of Coal Tits flitting through the undergrowth near to the same patch of willows that held the Chiffchaff, these are by no means a common bird in my area with only a few records from my garden per year. A male Great Spotted Woodpecker flying through the trees on Derby Road was the best bird of the morning as I very rarely see them in my area and if I'm lucky they may even breed in the local area.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Long Tailed Tits

I took these photos at Marton Mere last Monday but I never got round to posting them. There were 2 Long Tailed Tits feeding in the weeping willow next to the viewing platform at the west end, and at times they came very close. They were accompanied by single Goldcrest and Willow Warbler at different times.