Thursday, August 8, 2019

Catch Up

Birding and ringing took a back seat this week as school holidays and grandparent priorities came first. Thursday was the first available morning for me so I drove to Conder Green for a catch up before the main task of the day, Gulf Lane. 

The water margins are quite good for waders at the moment during what is peak migration time.  There’s good numbers of Greenshank Redshank and Lapwings. I counted 12 Greenshank, 230 Redshank, 140 Lapwing, plus 6 Common Sandpipers and a handful of Curlews. 

A pair of Avocets now has 4 large youngsters close to full size. 




Juvenile Avocet 

It’s been a troublesome season on the single nesting platform when Oystercatcher, Common Tern and Black-headed Gull all tried to nest in close proximity. The winners appear to be the Black-headed Gulls closely followed by the Common Terns but the Oystercatchers lost out completely and raised not a single youngster. Meanwhile the 6 Common Terns also used the natural island and today I counted 4 adults and at least 2 fledged but now flying juveniles  

At Gulf Lane our Linnet Project is about to enter the fourth winter. Unfortunately Andy could not join me for a spot of hard work cutting a ride through the vegetation as he too was on Granddad duty. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. 

In recent weeks I paid a few visits and noted how groups of four to eight Linnets built to a small flock of 25+ on 4th August. Many of the plants are already dropping seed for the Linnets. 

Game Cover and Bird Seed Plot 


With luck the flock should build to 200/500 Linnets that will remain here throughout the winter months. We start the season with 577 Linnet captures and a number of phenomenal records from Scotland and the Northern Isles which prove that the Linnets here travel many miles to winter in this part of Lancashire. 

I recently contacted Oliver Seeds, the suppliers of the seed mix employed in the field. The mix is named WBS1 – “a winter hardy annual wild bird seed designed to provides cover and feed for small birds, mammals and game throughout the year. It is recommended for those parts of the UK where more frost hardy species are required. It provides shelter in “open” cover and deposits seed through the late Autumn and Winter period.” 

The constituent parts of WBS1 are: 
30% Spring Triticale
 25% Spring Wheat 
25% Spring Barley
 8% Linseed
 4% White Mustard 
4% Forage Rape 
3% Phacelia 
1% Fodder Radish 

I cut a ride through the 5ft high lush growth and then tested the length and width with a single net in readiness for the first ringing session. This shouldn’t be too far away once the Linnets increase their numbers and form a tighter flock. 

While taking a breather, a single Linnet found its way into the net and opened the account for winter 2019/20. A good omen for the weeks and months ahead I hope 

Linnet - Number One 2019/20 

Male Linnet - Number One 2019/20

There’s a poor weather forecast for the days ahead but stay tuned, there will be news and views of some sort. 

Linking today to Anni's Birding and Viewing Nature With Eileen.


italiafinlandia said...

I like Avocets so much.
Sorry for the Oystercatchers... they are also fine birds.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Good morning Dr, Slade: Firstly, let me say that I am glad that you have been a good grandpa of late. I did my part here and it's only fair that you should take your share there. I always view Redshank as a particularly handsome shorebird, so I appreciate your sharp, clear picture and I confess to having a soft spot for avocets so it is encouraging to see that youngster. Actually an American Avocet has been at Hespeler Pond in nearby Cambridge for about a week now, unusual this far north, and quite outside its breeding range. A Linnet in the net is a good augury, indeed, and of course I wish you well for the upcoming season as you continue with your important monitoring of this species, work which has already revealed a great deal about its breeding areas in the north, and its migratory journey from Scotland through Lancashire. This morning we will be attaching radio tags to 25 Barn Swallows to follow them to South America. The scientist from Environment Canada who comes down from Ottawa to do this is no doubt glad to be involved with the swallows, but I think the real reason that he comes is that he knows one of Miriam's mouth-watering blueberry muffins will be there to greet him. But don't call him shallow, just call him sensible.

Rhodesia said...

I am almost jealous of your grandparenting, we have no children so no grandchildren obviously. Most of the time I am happy with the situation but occasionally I wish... I am the end of the line in our family, both of my parents being only children and my brother was killed in a car accident at only 21.
Anyway, love your photos, the Avocet is a bird I only know from photos and the Redshank and Greenshank I do not know at all, so all very interesting for me.
Have a good weekend, Diane

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

That field with that wonderful mix is now all set up for the arrival of flocks of Linnets and it was great that you netted one. A good omen I would say Phil. Great to see the juvenile Avocet. I have seen a very young one but now at this stage of plumage. I am back from my travels at least for a little while so thank you for any comments during that time when I could not comment. Have a fabulous weekend.

eileeninmd said...


It is sad to read about the Oystercatchers, maybe they should have pick another spot to nest. The Redshank is a beautiful bird. I love the pretty Avocet, lovely collection of birds and photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, wishing you a happy weekend!

riitta k said...

Those birds look like ballet dancers with their long legs!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It sounds like you have been busy but in a good way! Love seeing all the shore birds today. I've been trying to sketch a few lately and love seeing their sleek lines and elegant poses!

Linda said...

Great pictures of the water birds!

Cath said...

Another enjoyable post...thanks for sharing

Anni said...

Great commentary as usual! My grandparenting days are long over as now my youngest grandson has a wife! She takes care of him. lol. Love your birds...favorites is the avocet. Looking forward to reading next week.

Happy day, and thanks for sharing this post with us at I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend.

Veronica Lee said...

WOW! Such awesome photos of the birds!

I really enjoyed your post, BTW.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I always enjoy visiting you - glad you had good grandfather activities and lov e your birds photos.

Sandra Nachlinger said...

Although I'm not a birder, I enjoyed your lovely photos. Such variety, and a good reason to get out into nature. Enjoy!

Fun60 said...

Ahh the joys of being a grandparent. I have been looking after mine for the last four days. They will be going home this evening. I am shattered. At aged 5yrs and 18mths they rung rings round me. Tryingto have a few minutes to catch up on blogging whilst the younger one is having a nap. Truth be told it should be the other way round as I am desperate for 40 winks. Great photos as well as another informative post.

Wally Jones said...

It is gratifying to know you have your priorities in order and place being a Granddad at the top of the list.

The Oystercatchers need to apply for permission to construct a new island! It's good to see other birds had a successful breeding season. We are just beginning to observe migrating shorebirds and look forward to some rarities in the coming weeks.

Your field certainly appears lush! What Linnet wouldn't love to spend the winter there? Number One in the net is hopefully a sign of good things for the season.

Gini and I are still dodging raindrops but have been having some wonderful adventures afield. We both wish you a terrific new week!

Angie said...

Phil - how wonderful this farmer has planted this field to benefit wildlife. Looks like a tough go on your own to cut through that lush field. Well done. Look forward to seeing the captures!

judee said...

I enjoyed seeing all of your wonderful bird shots. Nothing like getting out into nature.

Lady Fi said...

Such lovely shots! Glad you enjoyed your grand-parenting!

Tanza Erlambang said...

Juvenile Avocet look beautiful....lovely bird.
Have a great day

Lowcarb team member said...

I love the longer summer break the schools have, it means we get to spend time with all of the grandchildren, I look forward to it and enjoy every moment :)

Great photographs here Phil.

All the best Jan

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