Thursday, May 14, 2020

Stay Alert Birding

There’s good news. Ringers in England may go ringing again subject to following the constraints which apply to the public as a whole. It’s bad luck for ringers who live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, whose devolved governments have taken a tougher line on releasing folk from house arrest. 

Andy tells me that via cameras in each box, the Kestrels of 2019 have five eggs while the Barn Owls are in situ but yet to lay any eggs. Mid-June should see more progress with both species and a then a spot of ringing when the youngsters are big enough. 

Barn Owl 2019

 Kestrels 2019

I was due to meet Andy later for a foray to a private site that has ringing possibilities. But first came a trip to Conder Green with the heated seat switched firmly “on” and the cabin heater to “max” when the dash said “-3°C” and I saw the layer of ice on the windscreen. 

A quick check of Conder Green’s pool and creeks revealed a few changes but nothing extraordinary. Both Avocet pairs appeared to be on eggs, one of the females is shown in the picture below sitting in her depression in the ground while her mate feeds closely by. There were still two pairs of Common Tern finding food here on the pool or out on the near estuary and where the tiny fish soon become presents to sitting a mate. 



Common Tern

A pair of Great Crested Grebe put in a brief appearance before they flew off in the direction of Glasson Dock where the species breeds in most years dependent upon disturbance and suitable water levels. A pair of Canada Goose have success by way of 4 tiny goslings. 

In the creek Godwits continue to fluctuate with today 44 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Black-tailed Godwit. There was a single Greenshank and a lone Dunlin. Four Swift was my highest count of the year so far on this the fourteenth of May. 

That completed the lightning visit to Conder Green because I was due to meet Andy at a local farm. The farmer, let’s call him Tom, Dick or Harry, emailed last week to ask if I would spend time on his little piece of heaven and make an inventory of the birds seen so as to help with his green credentials. “No more than two people”, he stressed. 

 “OK Boss”, I replied. 

 “I will take a look once lockdown is ended.” 

Now by mid-May we hoped to find active Skylark nests on his land and better still, ring a few youngsters before the season ends. Initially, and somewhat rarer than finding Skylarks were 2 pairs of Corn Bunting. 

It was pretty hard work as the males were very mobile around a number of song posts both fence and bush. It’s likely that females were sat on eggs or even tiny young but Corn Bunting nests are notoriously difficult to locate. It’s probably 20 years ago that I last ringed nestling Corn Buntings so it would be nice to reacquaint with them when they have become so very scarce. 

Corn Bunting 

Corn Bunting 

Skylarks were fairly thin on the ground with at least 5 singing but little sign of activity at ground or fence post level. We’ll take another look soon when there may be more action if the larks are late or failed on first attempts. 

There’s a small copse and a few nice stands of phragmites reed where we found 6 singing Reed Warbler, 4 singing Reed Bunting and 2 Sedge Warbler. In the copse that surrounds a tiny pool we discovered Little Grebe, Grey Heron, 4 Tufted Duck, an overhead Buzzard and a patrolling Kestrel. 

Reed Warbler 

Sedge Warbler

Reed Bunting

We were surprised by a small flock of Linnets that numbered 12-15, a little late in spring for Linnets to be in company rather than paired up for breeding. In other areas we found 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 Little Egret, 4 Tufted Duck and 8 Stock Dove. While not spectacular, and local birding rarely is, we found a good variety of birds and I guess more visits are on the card for the coming weeks. 

Back home in the garden there are Greenfinches feeding chicks. Trouble is, the nest is high in a conifer where I would need a ladder and sky hooks to reach.  Probably better to stay safe at ground level?  

Back soon with more from Another Bird Blog where the messages remain much the same – Enjoy All Birds, Stay Alert, Stay Safe, and Control Your Urge to Watch the BBC, C4, ITV or Sky. 

You know it makes sense.

Linking this post to Viewing Nature with Eileen and Anni in Texas.


eileeninmd said...


Love the baby Barn Owl and Kestrels. Looks like you had a nice outing, the Avocets are beautiful. One of my favorite is the last photo of the Reed Bunting. Most of my birding is done closer to home, I am missing all the shorebirds that were migrating. Happy birding. Take care!
Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy weekend.

italiafinlandia said...

the baby Kestrels are so cute, but I like the Avocets very much.
Let's hope you can resume ringing soon.

Stevenson Q said...

Those barn owls and kestrels look so adorable Phil! I searched for the meaning of ringing and now I know what it is. Thank you so much Phil for taking care of our birds, the next generation owes you and your birding friends that they will see more of them still in the world that we live in. I hope you can start ringing again soon and so as your friends from around Britain and also on other parts of the world affected by the lockdown.

Happy Weekend my friend Phil! Typhoon here in the Philippines, very unusual for May.


Elkes Lebensglück said...

how cute the young kestrel and this barn owl too.
The other birds are also beautiful.
I'm always happy to read about you and all the good things you do for the birds.
All the best and hopefully soon ring again!
Greetings Elke

Anu said...

Hello. Wonderful photos. If the greenfinches nest is too high, please, stay ground level :)

Mae Travels said...

Because I visited a nature center in Jerusalem where they were "ringing" birds (and speaking British English) I wasn't confused by your post. Over here in the US we call it bird banding.

Your account of local birds is fascinating. Our birds fill the same niches but are almost entirely different.

be well... mae at

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, I would have loved seeing the Bar-tailed Godwits.
A great report and a lovely collection of birds and photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy weekend! Take care and stay safe!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Baby owls and baby kestrels...oh my! They are adorable! I'm glad we can get out on our trails now and we've had a preserve open all through this pandemic. It's been a life saver for us! Take care and stay safe! And I careful how much tv news you watch!

Adam Jones said...

Great find with the Corn Bunting Phil. It's either by luck or by a planned trip to your neck of the woods to see these birds each year. Skylarks are thin on the ground here too this year. They nest locally but I'd say half the number of birds this year.

Powell River Books said...

You have a busy job keeping up with all the birds. Good you can get out a bit now. I've never seen an owl in a natural setting, but I am always hopeful. - Margy

sandyland said...

i enjoy thi s blog so much wee kly

RedPat said...

That Reed Warbler is a pretty little bird!

Jean said...

Those kestrels are so fluffy! Glad you can get out and about a bit more now. Really enjoyed reading about your adventures this week.

Liz Needle said...

What an interesting post this is. BTW We call it banding in Australia too. You saw a great variety of birds on your expedition. Thanks for sharing.

Anni said...

Wow that male corn hunting is a treasure! All your photos, Phil, are superb. And reading your post, I can feel your joy getting out and about, back to banding!

As always, I thank you for taking time out in your day to show off your birds with us at I'd Rather B Birdin this week.

Jenn Jilks said...

What lovely birds! You're keeping busy.

Betty Crow said...

As always, amazing selection of birds. I have to say, my favorite is the barn owl. I also enjoy reading the narrative. Have a wonderful week.

R's Rue said...


Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

I like your admonition at the end. I'm beginning to not-watch the daily government briefing as it's taken on the nature of a liturgy, the same text read out loud every day with very little new information.
I'm not usually a 'bird' type of person but I'm finding it's the bird blogs that are making me most miss being out and about. Last year I visited the 'Singing, Ringing Tree' near Burnley. It's a large sculpture on a hill, designed to catch the wind and 'sing'. In the event it was the singing of larks which stole the day.

Srishti Verma said...

I was thinking about this blog is written good. Thanks forposting verynice post, keep posting,love from India.

Alexa echo dot

Rhodesia said...

Such a lovely selection of photos and I just love those young kestrels. You will be glad to get back to ringing again and what an accommodating farmer, if only they were all like that.

Still only hearing the Little owls and not seeing them. Too many trees and a lot of foliage with all the rain we have had. No sightings of them near the building where I saw them earlier in the year!! I keep hoping.

Stay well and safe, Diane

NanaHood said...

Beautiful birds! I wish I could see them in person!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

so many wonderful photos - love the owl and baby birds

NCSue said...

Lovely series of photos and a wealth of information on your blog, every time.
Thanks for sharing at

Sandra Nachlinger said...

I'm enjoying your beautiful photos... and learning a lot about birds, too. Thank you.

Karen said...

Great bird shots! Love the baby kestrels.

Veronica Lee said...

The baby kestrels are adorable!

So glad you can get out and enjoy the company of your feathered friends!

Happy Tuesday, Phil!

Angie said...

Phil - climbing ladders at our ages is usually not a good idea, but I still ask my husband to do it when stringing the Christmas lights, so I suppose looking at a high nest is completely in order.

I read my hubby your last paragraph, and he had such a belly laugh. If ever we get to travel to the UK again, perhaps we should meet up for a cuppa!

P.S. Lovely bird photos!

Lowcarb team member said...

Such a great collection of birds in your photographs …

All the best Jan

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