Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eye Spy

Another Bird Blog is taking a day off from birding today, doing a few chores, watching the Hungarian Grand Prix and indulging in a spot of garden ringing in pursuit of Goldfinches. 

There's been a good number of juvenile Goldfinches appearing on the feeders together with one or two adults. 




A Woodpigeon blundered into the net and handling a monster like this takes some adjustment after working with tiny Goldfinches. The woody proved to be a female, males usually bigger, the wing measurement a way to sometimes determine the sex. 


Here's an unusual news story concerning a ringed bird. After posting a picture of a Kestrel yesterday I later and quite accidentally found the following story buried in Saturday's newspaper. 

“Turkish authorities have cleared a renegade bird captured in the Ağın district of the eastern province of Elazığ of suspicions of working for Israel's state-of-the-art intelligence agency. Residents of Altınavya village became suspicious that the little kestrel could be more than a bird that lost its way when they found it wore a metallic ring stamped with the words "24311 Tel Avivunia Israel," and delivered it to the district governorate. 

Local authorities submitted the bird to careful medical examinations to ensure that it did not carry microchips. An X-ray test carried out at Fırat University in Elazığ finally convinced the authorities that the bird was just a simple specimen of Israeli wildlife. However, the X-ray showed the initial degree of suspicion, as the bird had been registered under the name "Israeli spy" by medical personnel. 

Following the tests, the authorities decided not to press official charges and the falsely accused bird was free to fly away.” 

Kestrel Spy?

Israeli use of non-human spies is apparently a large concern in the Middle East. In May of 2012, authorities in Ankara dissected a European Bee Eater after becoming concerned that it was carrying an Israeli listening device, and in December an eagle with an Israeli tag in Sudan was captured and touted as a Mossad spy. 

In 2010, an Egyptian official said Israel-controlled sharks could be involved in a number of attacks on tourists in the Red Sea. 

Aren't we lucky that our UK birds don't ever become embroiled in such political intrigues? 

Log in soon to Another Bird Blog for more news, views, pictures and birding tales.

Linking today to  World Bird Wednesday .

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Toughing It Out

My early morning car journey produced another Barn Owl this morning, the bird flying across Head Dyke Lane just ahead of a cyclist. So close was the owl the cyclist might well have been surprised enough to stop for a closer look. He didn't, so maybe he needed to get to work and not clock in late after lingering to bird watch. 

I had about five seconds with the owl before it continued on its way across the roadside fields. Further along the road a Kestrel sat atop a roadside pole. After a horrific winter and spring Kestrels in these parts are definitely scarce this year with my own sightings limited to one or two a week. I fear many starved to death in the new year. 


There's been a high turnover of birds at Conder Green this week, the twice a day very high tides serving to clear birds from the marsh, many being pushed firstly into the creeks and eventually to the pool beyond. But when I arrived at Conder this morning there wasn't much doing on the pool or in the creek so counts are on the low side. 

After high counts of Little Egrets this week, think of a number between 1 and 16, today just two. Three Grey Heron, one on the pool, two on the marsh. One Greenshank, 35 Redshank, 24 Lapwing, 2 Common Sandpiper and 1 Little Ringed Plover. Yes, the plover that has been playing hide-and-seek with birders reappeared along the muddy edges before quickly trotting off to conceal itself on the back pool. Two Stock Doves and 2 Pied Wagtails picked through the muddy margins where the swans and now the cattle are doing a splendid job of turning it to wader heaven. 

 The wildfowl at least are mostly consistent even though I couldn't see/find any Little Grebe today, just 1 Goldeneye, 2 Wigeon, the Tufted Ducks with 4 young, and 4 Canada Goose. 

Canada  Goose



Lots of Swifts this morning, 40+ here at Conder with 15 more at Glasson. A decent number of Swallows at Glasson, with 30+ hawking the walkways, the yacht basin and the dock. 

Barn Swallow

Black-headed Gull

There were 8+ Whitethroats alongside the churchyard and the canal tow-path, all skulking in the flower-filled brambles. It's going to be one hell of a year for blackberries. I stopped to take a picture of a family of Mute Swans, Mr Swan being especially assertive and more than a liitle aggressive. I reminded him that I may well have upended him to fit that blue ring some years ago, and if necessary I could defend myself. 


Mute Swan

Mute Swan

Linking today to Weekly Top ShotCamera Critters and Anni's Blog.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pilling Circus

Pilling wasn't too productive yesterday but I thought to give it another go in the hope that the Marsh Harrier might show again, especially after overnight downpours probably influenced the bird to stay around. 

On Wednesday the harrier was out beyond the tide line halfway to Heysham, today a little closer but still miles away. It stayed high, drifting and circling to the west in the direction of Knott End and Fleetwood where some other birder would surely see it a few minutes later. This species, Circus aeruginosus, wherever I see it in the world is a real bogey bird as far as my photographs go, today's effort as poor as ever and yet another "record" shot.

Marsh Harrier

The harrier interrupted my attempts to get photos of Skylarks feeding their second (or third) brood. The adults were dropping to different spots in some long grasses and by the size and quantity of the grubs they carried it was clear the youngsters were out of the nest. 



The high tide produced a few bits and pieces but mostly my sightings proved unremarkable again. A few waders arrived with the incoming tide – 60+ Lapwing, 22+ Dunlin, 10 Knot, 8 Redshank, 2 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 12 Oystercatcher and 300+ Curlew. Curlew numbers build rapidly here once the breeding season is over, so while 300 is a good number the final autumn and winter total will be many more. 


Three Grey Heron again today and rather surprisingly, a zero count of Little Egret at this their Over Wyre stronghold and nearby roost site at Lane Ends. 14 Shelduck and 3 Great Crested Grebe on the full tide as 4 Common Terns came in from the west, headed east to Cockerham and then disappeared from view. 

Small numbers of Swift, Swallow, Linnet, Goldfinch and even Greenfinch completed the picture for another day. 

Don't forget, "click the pics" for a close up view and come back soon.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday's Waders

There was a Barn Owl hunting the fields next to Head Dyke Lane this morning - almost inevitable for an early morning in July. Just as predictable was the way it veered across the landscape and out of sight as the car drew level. Never mind, I was to enjoy a good few hours birding and a bit of photography quite soon. 

When I arrived at Conder Green there was the usual gaggle of Redshank and Greenshank in the creek and a smaller bird amongst them. When I studied the bird more closely it turned put to be a Curlew Sandpiper, an adult in partial summer plumage, the species an annual visitor in small numbers to these parts. 

Curlew Sandpiper - Photo credit: Mick Sway / Foter / CC BY-ND

The Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) is a small wader that breeds on the tundra of Arctic Siberia. It is strongly migratory, wintering mainly in Africa, but also in south and southeast Asia and in Australasia. It is a vagrant to North America. These birds are slightly larger than the closely related Dunlin, but differ from Dunlin in having a longer down-curved bill, longer neck and legs and a white rump. The breeding adult has patterned dark grey upperparts and brick-red underparts, the reds in the plumage giving rise to the Latin ferruginea. In winter, this bird is pale grey above and white below, and shows an obvious white supercilium. Juveniles have a greyer and brown back, a white belly and a peach-coloured breast. 

There were other waders sandpipers about too, the presumed same Green Sandpiper of recent days plus the more reliable and numerous Common Sandpipers, nine or ten today. Redshank totalled 40, Greenshanks 4, Lapwing 15, Curlew 6, Oystercatcher 8, Spotted Redshank 1, and Snipe 1. 

 Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

Looks like Little Egrets have now arrived in autumnal numbers as I counted 8 on the pool this morning and 2 more in the creek, but only 1 Grey Heron. One or two of the Egrets were quite obliging if I kept out of sight and provided the large vehicles leaving Glasson Dock didn't noisily park up overlooking the pool. Glasson is two minutes down the road so why do these wagons stop so soon again after leaving the docks? Beats me. 

Little Egret

Wildfowl numbers remain the same – 2 Little Grebe, 2 Wigeon, 2 Tufted Duck,4 Canada Goose. A Kingfisher put in a brief appearance at the sluice gate, sitting there long enough for me to rattle off a few distant shots before it streaked off towards the canal. 


Up at Glasson I counted 15 Swifts screaming overhead, 2 Common Terns paying a quick visit, 10 Tufted Duck on the yacht basin and a single Grey Heron in the accustomed spot. 

Grey Heron

Narrow Boats at Glasson

After neglecting Pilling Lane Ends for few weeks I decided to pay a visit on the way home today. There wasn't much doing apart from a Marsh Harrier half way to Heysham and had I stayed for the midday tide the bird would almost certainly have showed closer in. 

Otherwise 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Stock Dove, 3 Grey Heron and 1 Buzzard. 

More news from Another Bird Blog very soon.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Morning Sights

A bird wasn't the initial sighting this morning. Instead it was a hitch-hiker heading home from a Saturday night party. He didn't appear to be carrying bins and 'scope so I gave a cheery wave then stepped on the gas.

Next was a Roe Deer standing in a field alongside Head Dyke Lane, the main A588, where on a quiet Sunday morning I would normally expect to see a hunting Barn Owl. I slowed the car, wound the window down and reached for the camera but the deer had turned and already hi-tailed it towards a small copse. There was a Barn Owl near Cockerham but it too turned tail and disappeared over the fields before the camera could be readied. 

A good selection of waders awaited at Conder although it took some time to round them all up from the pool and the creeks. The Spotted Redshank of late continues to change its dusky coat into something more suited to blending with the greys of winter, the present mix of new and old feathers a study in wader moult. What a puzzle bird this could be for an inexperienced watcher without a field guide? Apologies for the poor picture, water reflections and digital cameras don't work well together.

Spotted Redshank

Common Sandpipers reached a round dozen today, most of them in the roadside creek where they vied for attention with 4 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank, 50+ Redshank, 3 Curlew, 20 Lapwing and 6 Oystercatcher. 


The elusive Green Sandpiper reappeared briefly on the far side of the pool while 3 Snipe worked their way around the muddy edges. Two Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron were in residence with an increase to 8 Teal and the now ever present Goldeneye. 

Little Egret

There were 4 Stock Doves feeding at the roadside again this morning. The species is something of an early morning speciality here, unlike the closely related and commonplace Wood Pigeon and the less so Collared Dove, the two never making it into notebook entries for here. 

At Glasson village there seemed to be more Coot than of late, my count of 32 pointing to an autumnal and post breeding influx to a site which regularly holds 150+ of the species. I found some recently fledged Swallows, youngsters via the invisible-from-above nest lodged under the road bridge which crosses the keepered lock. Boats regulalrly pass to and fro between the yacht basin and the dock, eventually into the River Lune or Morecambe Bay beyond. 

The Swallows were so young I can only think they fledged from the nest this morning while sleepy Glasson slumbered.

Glasson Dock
Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Don't forget to "click the pics". Join Another Bird Blog very soon for more sleepy town news and pictures.

Linking today to World Bird Wednesday.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seeking To Find

After a couple of days with no birding I returned to the fray this morning. But if the birding is a little quiet the current sunny days do at least give a few photo opportunities when birds cooperate. 

When I arrived at Conder a juvenile Grey Heron stood waiting for a chance to go fishing. After what seemed ages it finally took the plunge and entered the water as I took several pictures, hoping to get one of the bird grabbing a meal. The heron tried really hard to catch breakfast but I didn't see it take anything from the water; when a car and occupants drew noisily up it fled off over to the creek to try its luck there. 

Grey Heron
Grey Heron

 Grey Heron

Grey Heron

The Oystercatchers are as aggressive as ever now, even though their chicks are very big, and I watched the adults chasing off a Black-tailed Godwit, a Redshank and then a Lapwing. 


Things were much the same on the pool and the creek with 7 Dunlin, 6 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 2 Black-tailed Godwits the “cream” of the autumn waders while 70+ Redshank, 21 Lapwing and 4 Curlew made up the numbers. The waders and wildfowl are somewhat repetitive at the moment with just small variations on a daily basis. But hey, no one ever found a bird by staying at home and I need to see birds most days, even though I saw plenty on the other 364 days. After all, “finding comes from seeking”. 


Teal increased to 4 today, plus an overflying drake Goosander, the all alone Goldeneye still in-situ, plus 2 Tufted Duck and a single Little Grebe. 

Tufted Duck

“Small” and “other” stuff today – 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Bunting, 6 Linnet, 3 Meadow Pipit, 1 Pied Wagtail, 5 Greenfinch. 

Stay tuned to Another Bird Blog - who knows what you might find soon.

Linking this weekend to Camera Critters and Anni's Birding Blog .

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What Bonaparte’s?

Resisting the slight temptation to drive the 20 miles to Heysham for sight of the Bonaparte’s Gull I instead spent a solitary hour or two this morning looking through waders and gulls at Conder. 

Patience paid off when both Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper showed again. They would appear to be the same birds seen last Thursday and which have been playing hide-and-seek with birders ever since. 10 Common Sandpiper this morning, plus 4 new-in Dunlin (3 adults and 1 juvenile), 3 Snipe, 1 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 40+ Redshank, 35 Lapwing, 2 Curlew and 12 Oysterctacher. Fifty Swift, 3 Sand Martin, 10 Swallow and 15 House Martin hawking around and above the hawthorn hedgerows. 

Others- 1 Raven, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Wigeon, 2 Tufted Duck, 1 Teal, 1 Goldeneye, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Tree Sparrow, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Pied Wagtail, 4 Meadow Pipit. 

Meadow Pipit

Below are pictures of Bonaparte’s Gull and Black-headed Gull. Black-headed Gulls actually have a chocolate brown hood during the breeding season. 

Black-headed Gull

Bonaparte's Gull - Len Blumin / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Bonaparte's Gull Chroicocephalus Philadelphia is named after a nephew of Napoleon, Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a leading ornithologist in the 1800's in America and Europe. The scientific name philadelphia was given in 1815 by the describer of the species, George Ord of Philadelphia, presumably because he collected his specimen there. 

Bonaparte’s are rare vagrants to Western Europe, where they usually associate with the somewhat larger Black-headed Gulls, just as the Heysham bird is doing. How long it has been hanging out with Black-headed Gulls is anyone’s guess but full marks to the birder who found and identified it amongst the black-heads. 

Bonaparte's Gulls breeds across subarctic North America from western Alaska to the Hudson Bay and spend winters along the Atlantic coast from Virginia, along the Gulf Coast inland to southern Missouri, and south into northern Mexico, and along the Pacific coast from Washington south to central Mexico. Their preferred habitats include large lakes, rivers, and marshlands. It is the smallest gull seen over most of North America and it is also the only gull that regularly nests in trees. 

They have a black hood and a short thin dark bill. The body is mainly white with pale grey back and upper wings. The underwing is pale and the wing tips are dark. They have pink legs. In winter the head is white. 

Aother Bird Blog is linking today with Stewart's Photo Gallery .

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Spot And Finch Finds

There's a little news from Conder after a quick but quiet visit, followed by details of recent ringing recoveries. Just 3 Common Sandpipers today as the species' onward migration continues. Two Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 50+ Redshank, 18 Lapwing, 15 Oysterctacher, 3 Grey Heron. Usual counts of Reed Bunting, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Shelduck, Goldeneye etc. Here's an Oysterctacher I surprised at Conder - too close for a full framer, plus a handsome gull pictured at Glasson Dock. 


Lesser Black-backed Gull  

From the BTO there are three ringing recoveries concerning birds of the finch family captured at Out Rawcliffe, Lancashire and a fourth one of a Siskin captured in Will's Garstang garden. All four records show typical springtime movements of the species concerned. 

2012/2013 was a “Brambling winter”, when wintry conditions on the Continent forced many Bramblings westwards and into the UK, providing bird watchers and ringers a chance to observe or handle these handsome birds. Y461678, a first winter female Brambling I caught on 13 December 2012 was later recaptured by ringers at Grasbakken, Ringsaker, Norway on 4 May 2013. The latter is an interesting date since by May 4th the Brambling may have been still on migration or with more distance to travel within Norway, north and east to Finland or even further east to Russia. The distance between Out Rawcliffe and Ringsaker, Norway is 1134 kms, the elapsed time 142 days.

Brambling - Lancashire to Norway

Female Brambling

In addition to this recovery there is still an outstanding record of a male Brambling bearing a Stavanger, Norway ring ED8766, the bird captured at Out Rawcliffe on 2nd March 2013, the original ringing details yet to be notified.  

The next record concerns an adult male Lesser Redpoll Y461490 I trapped on spring passage at Out Rawcliffe on 25 March 2012. This was a period of intense Lesser Redpoll migration when many were very noticeably heading north but only a small proportion trapped. The bird was later later found dead, the victim of a domestic cat the following year on 25 May 2013 at Beith, North Ayrshire, Scotland, a distance of 238 kms from Rawcliffe Moss. By late May 2013 the bird was almost certainly breeding in the Beith locality after spending another winter many miles south of there. 

Lesser Redpoll - Lancashire to Ayrshire

Male Lesser Redpoll

Goldfinch D130275 a juvenile female travelled from Wigan, Greater Manchester on 14th October 2012 to Out Rawcliffe, Lancashire on 30 April 2013. The months of both October and April are classic migration times for Goldfinch. There's no way of knowing where D130275 spent the intervening time, except to surmise that it probably travelled south of Manchester in the autumn of 2012 and north of Rawcliffe in the following spring. 

Goldfinch - Wigan to Out Rawcliffe

Female Goldfinch

A male Siskin D204043 captured and ringed at Boyton, Suffolk on 6th April 2013 was recaptured near Garstang, Lancashire on 27th April 2013. Almost certainly this bird had wintered across the English Channel and was on its way north to Scotland or beyond when intercepted. The elapsed time is just 21 days, the distance involved 343 kms. 
  Siskin - Suffolk to Lancashire

Male Siskin

More news, views and pictures soon from Another Bird Blog.
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