Sunday, August 7, 2011

Late Lasagne

It was Saturday evening but even Sue’s Legendary Lasagne washed down by a glass or two of grapey Shiraz would have to wait a while; Will and I had hastily arranged a spot of ringing, a session which by 930pm proved just as fruitful as Aussie’s best, with a handy total of birds ringed plus two or three scarcities seen.

Before we even put up nets the evening started on a real high with sight of a Cuckoo, a species now as rare as hen’s teeth here in Lancashire, and a bird which has become something of a major target for year listers. So infrequent are Cuckoos that after both mine and Will’s many, many hours of local birding and ringing this year the single juvenile Cuckoo represented our first and possibly our last local sighting of the year.


After feeding close by for a short while the Cuckoo flew off towards the strip of woodland where we originally saw it. We then turned our attention to ringing and the hoped for Goldfinches from the nearby roost. In all we caught 24 birds, 21 new and 3 recaptures which included several more juvenile Goldfinch and more Sylvia warblers. New captures; 10 Goldfinch, 4 Whitethroat, 3 Willow Warbler and 1 each of Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chaffinch and Great Tit. Recaptures: singles of Willow Warbler, Goldfinch and Whitethroat.

Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla

Garden Warbler - Sylvia borin

Whitethroat - Sylvia communis

Willow Warbler - juvenile


The numbers of Goldfinch going to roost had fallen slightly, with perhaps 80/90 birds overall, so our catch of 10 new ones proved worthwhile. Once again our captures were all juvenile birds, leading us to speculate once more that this is indeed a roost of juveniles only.

Goldfinch - juvenile

As we watched between net rounds we clocked up 2 more scarce species with a single Marsh Harrier heading off to roost in a distant barley field, and then brief glimpses of 3 Grey Partridge, an event which set off a discussion on the rarity value of the two species. We came to the sad conclusion that whilst Marsh Harrier is now fairly common following its population expansion of the past twenty years it still has adequate prestige to set the pagers buzzing; conversely the once common, but now threatened with local extinction Grey Partridge can probably never achieve such heights of birding fame.

Grey Partridge

Swallows have proved very interesting this last week. We counted approximately 700/900 birds during the course of the evening as they flew in a south easterly direction towards a local roost, probably in the extensive and now quickly growing maize fields. The number was way down on our count of several thousand Swallows a few nights ago, a period during which the massive Fleetwood roost also dispersed. So it appears that huge numbers of Swallows have imperceptibly headed south in the last week or so: equally there are many more to come from the north and/or east and Swallow roosts are dynamic, ever changing in composition, with the result that roost numbers will almost certainly build up again in the coming weeks.


Other birds seen in our few hours: 25 Linnet, 1 Corn Bunting, 1 Tawny Owl, 2 Buzzard, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 30 Tree Sparrow and 40 House Sparrow.

The lasagne? Yes it lived up to its mythical status, but this ringing and birding lark certainly works up a thirst and that bottle of plonk proved a life-saver.


Millhouse Photography said...

Fantastic images again, love the swallow with the one in the background. And the cuckoo - excellent sighting, excellent shot!

Modesto Viegas said...

Very good work!!!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Happy Sunday Phil, yum lasagne sure sounds good to me right now. I have just lost over 20 pounds on a diet and am being so good;) What a wonderfully fortunate sighting of the Cuckoo for you and Will. Very special looking bird! Your Grey Partridge sure is a stunner, and those little Swallows melt my heart. Have a grand week~

mick said...

Again a very interesting post and great photos. Why have the cuckoos become so rare? Habitat loss??

grammie g said...

Hey Phil...I don't know about takes a man of will( not with Will) to go of leaving behind a nice Lasagne meal!!
You are a "true blue... died in the wool" bird bander! : }
Good job the Patridge more colorful then the patridge here!
Be good to the little wife..and have a good week!!

Stuart Price said...

I had no idea Cuckoos were so rare in Lancs these days, we have loads here still.

Marsh Harriers not as scarce as Grey Partridges? Wow, things sure have changed since I was birding regularly in those parts.

Tatjana Parkacheva said...

Wonderful photos.


Larry said...

An excellent accounting of your ringing day Phil. That Cuckoo is quite the find and the Grey Partridge is gorgeous! I must say I'm partial to the Willow Warbler, what a beautiful specimen!

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