Sunday, March 31, 2019

New Birding App

Another Bird Blog is proud to exclusively reveal a new and revolutionary birding app available from today. Birdchase® from the team at Delight Labs Design can be downloaded via Google Play Store from midnight tonight 31st March 2019. 


Through existing UK-wide business to business platforms, complex algorithms, GPS, V2V communications and cloud computing, Birdchase® is to offer a new concept to UK birders. Birdchase® will integrate existing bird messaging from UK-wide WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook Messenger and other bird-chat systems into one fast, up-to-the minute, subscription free service that offers instant access to bird news. 

From today there is no more paying for phone text messages, unreliable, obsolete and costly technology like pagers, or searching through time-wasting multiple web sites for news of the latest and best birds.  From now, such news is available in one package via a single hand-held and constantly updating app on your device. 

If preferred or even additionally, Birdchase® will download to most existing In-Car Satnavs and Infotainment Systems, primed and ready to go at the most central point of the birding action. Killing two or more birds with one stone takes on a whole new meaning. 

How does the new Birdchase® app work?
  • The revolutionary technology is able to integrate, check and filter received messages for authenticity and present to the user a list of birds to target in a specified area during a stated period.
  • The user, whose location, birding preferences and daily routine are previously known to Google hits the buttons to specify the geographical radius and time scale of their birding slot. This could be as small as a 10-20 mile radius from their home, combined with a two hour period, a day, a weekend, or even a full week. 
  • Instantly and after pressing “go” to their desires, the user is presented with a full itinerary for the mission ahead - routes, stops-offs, suggested timings, and of course, birds to target. 
  • Because the app is constantly updating through unified messaging the user can alter their agenda to that suggested by one or more recent updates - so important during peak migration time. The designers thought of everything by way of an on override button that allows the user to delete unwanted birds whereupon the app will reload a new schedule over and over until a more satisfactory list is achieved. 
  • All this tech wizardry leads to less time spent on the road, a better hit rate of targets and ultimately, a saving of precious fossil fuels on wasted journeys. The latter is especially important to eco sensitive birders. 
  • The app is so clever that its suggested bird hit-list for the specified period and localities will include discounted but optional meal stops at the users’ previously favoured watering holes as decided by their Smartphone or Sat Nav history, be it McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Express or Motorway Services. 
  • Assimilation of Radarbot into the Birdchase® app will sound-alert travelling birders of both mobile and fixed speed cameras that operate on their chosen journey.  A potential money and licence points saver for fast moving birders.

I Skyped Rob Crook, the designer of Birdchase® at his home in Liverpool for his take on the conception and how birders would react to the ground breaking app. 

“My team spent many, many weeks and months creating this app.  They scoured the Internet  for England, Scotland Wales and Ireland, searching for pockets of birding information that would seamlessly integrate into their creation. Reports of reasonably common birds will be kept to an absolute  minimum, so I am satisfied that through trial and testing of the interface that Birdchase® will become the lead player in birding information. From research and questioning birders directly we know our app will be in huge demand."

"Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep Birdchase® running without subscription fees and whether this announcement means we have to introduce third-party ads. We're  sure that birders will expect a few ads in exchange for this life enhancing freebie, but any ads will be based around their Internet searches such as birding equipment, birding holidays and life-style goals."

Rob was absolutely clear. "Our objective remains to avoid spam and unwanted advertising within the app and to soon extend the service into Europe and North America while preserving a zero cost package."

"And let’s be clear, we are not in this for the money.” he added firmly.

Birdchase® is free to download for all iPhone and Android Smartphones. There’s a bonus to the first 50 downloaders who will be given the opportunity to buy a Birdchase® tee shirt at the reduced rate of £5.50 in S, M, XL or XXL.  

Tee Shirt - Birdchase®

Take a closer look, download the app and then give it a try via the Birdchase link.  Please tell Another Bird Blog via Blogger Comments if you like our recommendation of this product. 

Back soon with more birding news and photos. Remember, you heard it here first.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Mostly Redpoll

Thursday morning promised more in the way of migration when the weather forecast suggested a brighter start and a 5 mph breeze from a WSW direction. I met up with Andy at Oakenclough at 0630 where we were joined today by Bryan who was keen to see a few spring redpolls. 

It seemed like we were onto a winner when soon after first light came a flurry of small finches and a tiny passage of high-flying pipits in the clear visibility. After the initial burst of activity we went through a quiet patch with hardly any birds finding the nets followed by a dribble of more redpolls that did. 

There was a noticeable lack of Goldcrests and Meadow Pipits this morning, two species that should be on the move in large numbers at the end of March. At 1130 we packed in with a total of just 20 but of mostly birds with high migratory credentials: 11 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Siskin, 2 Goldfinch and one each of Great Tit, Dunnock, Treecreeper and Meadow Pipit. 

The shape and colour uniformity of the pipit’s median and greater coverts told us that the Meadow Pipit was an adult bird rather than a second calendar year. 

Meadow Pipit


Lesser Redpoll 

Lesser Redpoll 

Lesser Redpoll

During much of the year, and certainly in March, it is virtually impossible to age or to sex a Treecreeper. 


Once home I visited the next stage of the ringing process, entering the twenty birds into DemOn (Demography Online). My blogging birding pal David Gascoigne in Ontario remarked just the other day how quickly the BTO returned information to us about a ringed Siskin we caught at Oakenclough.  

David is absolutely correct. Ringers in the UK are helped enormously by the BTO’s online system DemOn that allows the same day input of birds caught, and then with the click of a button the transfer of that data to the BTO and their national database. 

Entry page - DemOn - Demography Online - BTO

A glance at the input page of DemOn gives an example of how much data can be collected by ringers. Ringing is not simply a question of fitting a ring and then releasing that bird. Through DemOn bird ringers collect many different sets of information, much of it obligatory, other bits suited to a particular project or interest of the ringer, but all of it highly valuable to further the cause of conservation of birds. The time and place of capture together with the habitat, plus the age, sex and biometrics of the individual add new dimension to the information that ringers are able to provide about a bird’s life history. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


It was on Wednesday 20th March that I told of a ringed Siskin we caught up at Oakenclough. The super-efficient BTO with their on-line ringing database DemOn soon came up with the answer; and a good one too. 

Siskin S896866 had been ringed as an unsexed juvenile on 18 July 2017 at Cnoc, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Although full grown Siskins can be easily assigned as either male or female, during July all juveniles appear alike. By 20 March 2019, 610 days and 282 km from Cnoc we were able to accurately age and sex it as an adult male. 

We can be pretty sure that this Siskin was born close to Cnoc in 2017 but we cannot be sure of its journeys in the intervening period. Mr Google tells me that “cnoc” is a Gaelic word for “hill” or “mount”. 

Siskin - Cnoc to Oakenclough 


Fast forward to this morning where Andy and I met up to another damp and misty start with a cold NW breeze, despite the forecast of a bright and sunny morning; another case of the Londoncentric mind-set that dominates UK media. 

The session began in a rather strange way with a previously unheard of phenomenon of a net containing 7 Coal Tits, none of them recaptures from previous days or carrying a ring from elsewhere. UK Coal Tits are rather sedentary and rarely travel any great distances. 

The cold wind stayed, turned more northerly and even increased slightly to put paid to the chances of any visible migration. Although there was a flurry of 10-15 Siskins about 1000, we caught none of them and finished quite early with just 14 birds - 7 Coal Tit, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Blue Tit, 1 Wren, 1 Great Tit and 1 Chiffchaff. 

Lesser Redpoll 

The Chiffchaff was our first of the spring. It's a week or so early to expect a the "chiff's" close relative the Willow Warbler up here. 


We hope to be out ringing very soon. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Siskin Control

After almost three weeks of rubbish weather I feared there would be no ringing ever again. The perpetual winds eased on Monday when Andy managed to get up to Oakenclough for the first time since 1st March. I couldn't make it but was hopeful for later in the week. 

Andy caught the first migratory Meadow Pipits of the spring plus 3 Goldcrest, 2 Lesser Repoll and 2 Siskin, all probable migrants. 

The vast majority of Meadow Pipits returning north at this time of the year have wintered in France, the Northern Spanish coast Portugal, inland Southern Spain and Morocco. They often pile through in huge numbers, especially so if they have been held up as they have this year. The early bird catches the best breeding territory as well as the early worm. 

Meadow Pipit 

After a day of mizzle and drizzle on Tuesday the forecast of zero wind for Wednesday gave us more hope so we arranged to meet up at Oakenclough at 0630, despite the chance of early mist and light rain. 

A Misty Day 

The forecast was correct with mist/fog plus visibility down to 70 metres holding until 1130. Although we caught 20 birds, the poor conditions prevented any obvious visible diurnal movement of Meadow Pipits. 

Our 20 birds comprised 7 Siskin, 4 Chaffinch, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Goldfinch and one each of Lesser Redpoll, Brambling, Wren and Blue Tit. In the poor light all today’s photos are at ISO3200. 

One of the seven Siskins, had a ring on the left leg, immediately telling us as right-leg ringers, that we had a “control” – a bird ringed elsewhere. S896866, an adult male had probably been ringed in 2018 or early 2019. We will find out in a day or two. 

Siskin - adult male 

Siskin - adult female 

Siskin - adult female  

The single Lesser Redpoll caught was a rather dull second calendar year female. 

Lesser Redpoll- second calendar year female 

Towards the end of the session came a pleasant surprise by way of second calendar year male Brambling. Bramblings have been especially scarce during the winter, but this can be a good time of year to pick up on species as they head north from places unknown. 

Brambling - second calendar year male 

Brambling - second calendar year male 


The Ringing Station 

Stay tuned. There's more birding, ringing and pictures soon if the weather holds good.

Linking today to Anni's Texas Birds and Eileen's Saturday Blog.

Sunday, March 10, 2019


Up here on the Lancashire coast March lived up to that old adage of “In like a lion, out like a lamb”. At the moment the Atlantic Jet Stream sits over us like a heavy wet blanket bringing just this morning a hoolie of wind, rain, sleet and hail, plus a dollop of sunshine. The few brief days that promised spring are but a distant memory as we settle in for another week of foul weather. 

With little chance of ringing or birding for a day or two, here’s a note or two about a very common but mostly forgotten species. 

In those few hints of spring I’d heard the familiar loud and rapid chatter of the diminutive Wren, one in song then quickly followed by a reply from the second. I knew it was territory time. Wrens are famously good singers, and a male will duet so as to sing down and hopefully silence a nearby rival. 

On one of my dashes to the garage freezer this week I disturbed a Wren taking dried up material from the base of last year’s hanging basket. I watched as the Wren scuttled off along the fence like a clockwork mouse and promptly disappeared into the ivy covered hedge that separates us from next door.  Nest-building already, but maybe not for real as the Wren is one of those species known to build “cock nests”, a nest built by a male bird as part of the courtship ritual. Several such nests may be built by one male, one of which will be selected by the female. 


The Wren’s scientific name of Troglodytes troglodytes is Greek "troglodytes" ("trogle" a hole, and "dyein" to creep), meaning "cave-dweller", and refers to its habit of disappearing into cavities or crevices whilst hunting insects or to roost. Many a Wren nest looks much like a cave, dark and forbidding with a just tiny entrance hole where none but the brave dare enter. 

Wren - Photo: Armin Kübelbeck, CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons 

I often feel rather sorry for the common Wren, neglected by birders and barely mentioned because it has no rarity value. Depending upon which book or Internet page read, the Wren is one of the commonest and most widely distributed British birds with breeding pairs estimated at 7–8.5 million. 

The Wren population is generally sedentary but perhaps surprisingly, there are a number of recoveries to and from the near Continent and Scandinavia. Our own ringing group has a database of almost 3000 Wren captures that show few if any migratory tendencies but some evidence of the species longevity of up to 6 years. 

When winter weather hits hard Wrens can become penguin-like by huddling together for warmth. In the winter of 1969 a Norfolk nest box was found to contain 61 Wrens. Such severe but fortunately rare winters can finish off anything from a quarter to three-quarters of the Wren population. Hence the reason that a Wren lays between 5 and 7 eggs at a time and a pair can rear two broods of chicks in a single year. 

The Wren is unloved by most bird ringers as an annoyance in a mist net as it twists and turns through the mesh in its eagerness to go nowhere. Should the ringer fail to take charge of the initial encounter, the open cuffs of a shirt or jumper provide another handy crevice or cavity into which the Wren will quickly escape. When using a car as a ringing base and processing a wriggling Wren, a ringer is well advised to close all doors including the rear hatch. An open car door is a large, open and welcoming cave to a Wren; even more so are the nooks and crannies of a vehicle dashboard. 


In 2015 the Wren never made it to be the most loved British Bird when in a national poll involving over 200,000 people the Wren languished fourth behind the Blackbird in third place, the runner up Barn Owl and the jubilant Robin. 

 Robin -1st

Barn Owl - 2nd 

Blackbird - 3rd 

Wren - 4th 

The English surname of Wren is said to derive from being applied to people who were small, busy, quick and energetic just like our little bird. Sir Christopher Wren is perhaps the most famous, so active and endlessly occupied as to design St Paul’s Cathedral as well as fifty two other churches after the Great Fire of London. And he lived to be ninety-one. 

I am old enough to remember the British farthing (1⁄4d) coin, (from "fourthing"), a unit of currency of one quarter of a penny, now long redundant, but where the Wren found short-lived fame. Recognition came again in 2017 when out little friend appeared on the first-class stamp in a Royal Mail ‘Songbirds’ series. 

A Farthing Wren

Wren stamp

That's all for now. Wish me and the little Wren luck with that weather.

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Bits And Bobs

The Wednesday trip to Oakenclough wasn't very productive despite our enthusiasm for an early start. I’d met Andy at 0700 to a cold but bright morning of 5°C. 

Although there was an early movement of small finches overhead, and from their quiet “jizz”, Siskins and not Redpolls, we succeeded in catching just two. The first two Siskins of spring 2019 proved to be a first winter/second calendar year male and a fine adult female, both caught at the same time. It’s notable that where two Siskins are caught together they are often of the opposite sex, as if pairs are established and maintained before they reach us 

The Eurasian Siskin, Carduelis spinus, is a member of Fringillidae, the true finches. Although what is a fringillid and how these birds are related to each other has been the source of debate, most true finches are seed-eating passerines that are found in the Northern hemisphere. The Eurasian Siskin is small – smaller, and in the male at least, brighter and more delicate than the similarly green but more bulky European Greenfinch, Carduelis chloris



Siskins breed in coniferous woodlands and winter in riverside birches and alders as well as gardens. They are seed-eating birds, especially consuming seeds from conifers, alders and birch, as well as some insects. Siskins will also eat berries and other fruits, especially in winter. It is fairly recent years that Siskins found a liking for peanuts and the seed of Niger. The latter is the seed that we use to attract Siskins to our feeding station here at Oakenclough. 

Otherwise our meagre catch revolved around discussing how to set the world to rights and watching out for signs of spring. A local couple stopped and related their recent sighting of a pair of Osprey over the nearby reservoir and their surprise that an orange-eyed owl with “sticky-up ears” never flinched when they walked within yards of its hawthorn hideaway. 

As the clock ticked slowly by our ringing failed to reach such levels of excitement with just a few Goldcrests and Coal Tits to add to the two Siskins. 


We discovered that as predicted, Blue Tit AKC5385 caught here on 14th February here had been ringed not far away at Middleton, Morecambe Bay on October 18th 2018. It’s but a hop, skip and jump of 10 miles up here to the edge of the Pennines, but interesting that the Blue Tit was ringed during what is a busy migration period for many species. 

Back to the day where a flap-glide Sparrowhaw, 2 mid-morning Buzzards and a procession of Oystercatchers, Curlews and Lapwings heading for the hills gave a degree of satisfaction that spring had indeed sprung. 

Back home we recently learned that our near neighbours with their loathsome bird-hunting cat are soon to leave for killing fields anew. Good riddance. With a watchful eye I set an afternoon net in our garden where Goldfinches rule when left alone. 


During 2018 the BTO Garden Birdwatch reported twice as many Goldfinches in gardens as normal, with some gardens having had flocks of up to 20 birds at any one time. During September 2018, Goldfinches were reported in 61 per cent of the weekly submissions sent in by 15,000 Garden Birdwatch volunteers who monitor their gardens, compared with a 20-year average of 30 per cent. 

Our own garden has daily numbers of between 2 and 20 Goldfinches and where the number of Goldfinches is often in direct proportion to the number of Niger feeders scattered around suitable cat-proof points from which to hang feeders. 


Wintering Goldfinches move around in search of food. Goldfinches are a partial migrant and while many stay in the UK some migrate to France and Spain, hence the chance of one of “my” Goldfinches being found many miles south of here or vice-versa and the reason to continue this legitimate pursuit. 


A reader enquired about the header photo of the bunting with no name.  It's a Little Bunting caught at Rawcliffe Moss almost 6 years ago on 13th March 2013. It stayed around until at least 30th April when it was recaptured for the fourth time.

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