Sunday, September 12, 2021

Signed Off

That’s it for a while. When I finished at Cockerham today I packed the ringing gear away for a couple of weeks because Sue and I are off to Greece. There will be no ringing in Skiathos but for sure there will be a spot or two of birdwatching. 

Sunday was to be the last go at the Linnets so I started early in the half-light with zero wind and visibility across to the Lake District some 45 miles away. There was lots of noise when about 300/400 Pink-footed Geese lifted off the salt marsh and flew just half a mile away to land on farmland. We set our year calendars by the arrival of the Pink-footed Geese, always within a day or two of mid September. 

The “pinks” probably arrived from Iceland during the clear night after their 800 mile journey and then roosted out on Pilling Sands until breakfast time. I heard them later in the morning from a distance away so they found a spot safe from the guns for now until the shooters realise their wintering “sport” is back. 

Pink-footed Geese
 
I caught a couple of Linnets early doors but it soon became obvious that the numbers of up to 200 individuals didn’t equate to those of two days ago when the count was closer to 250 or maybe 300. 

In fact I finished today with seven new Linnets plus a single Robin. That makes 74 new Linnets (zero recaptures) caught here in this latter part of summer entering autumn, and 66 of those were juveniles/birds of the year. Such a high percentage of juveniles points to a highly productive year for this, a Red Listed species. 

I’m also sure that a number of those 74 Linnets have arrived from further afield, if not from Iceland, then certainly Scotland. 

Robin

Linnet

Birding was pretty quiet too although there was the now regular Sparrowhawk targeting Linnets. Flyovers came from a single Black-tailed Godwit and two Golden Plover. Also 14 Lapwing, 8 Curlew, 4 Swallow, 1 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel and 1 Grey Heron. 

The next post from Another Bird blog will be from Greece. Watch me fly!! 

Landing - Skiathos

Skiathos

No promises for bird pictures amongst the sunny Greek landscapes but I will try. 


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Double Jobbed

I was out ringing on Tuesday morning but an urgent phone call sent me scurrying back home with just 5 birds ringed. 

The morning began with a blanket of mist. Brightness above the grey indicated the sun would quickly break through. The yellow blob cleared the mist in no time and a look in the nearest net showed a Chiffchaff and a male Blackcap side by side. 
 
Blackcap
 
Chiffchaff

Linnet
 
This excellent start continued with 3 more Linnets from a flock in the bright blue that quickly built to upwards of 150 Linnets with ten or more hangers on in the shape of Goldfinches. This was looking good. With 48 Linnets in the bag so far this autumn (42 first years and 6 adults), a half century was certain. A few other birds enlivened proceedings, the best of those being a double whammy of two Great Egrets and a male Sparrowhawk. 

And then the phone calls. The local Post Office had mislaid the packet of Euro currency ordered for our Greek holiday and I needed to retrieve paperwork from back home. After a swear word or three nets were stashed away and off I went.  Fortunately everything turned out OK when our Euros were found in the main office where an unnamed operative had stored the package for “safe keeping”. 

Fast forward to Thursday when the Doom & Gloom Forecast said “rain”, but I was not convinced so set off towards Cockerham village. At 0600 there was a light shower followed by much brighter skies and a very decent morning of zero wind. The mobile was switched to “off” and I switched on to where I left off on Tuesday. 

The Linnet flock was now more than 200 strong plus smaller groups and singles that became attached and then broke off, behaviour which makes for counting difficulties. The counting was even harder when Sparrowhawks appeared, tried to grab a Linnet and scattered the flock in several directions. Definitely two Sparrowhawks today, a female and then a noticeably smaller and more agile male, both of which came in low and fast in the element of surprise, but neither connected with a meal.

Sparrowhawk
 
Linnets

The overall number of Linnets in the area must have improved the catch with 19 new ones today. There was another Chiffchaff, this one a male with a wing length of 64mm compared to Tuesday’s 56mm female. At this time of the year wing length is the only way to sex a Chiffchaff unless a wing measurement falls half way between the two extremes when the bird becomes of unknown sex. 

Chiffchaff
 
Linnet
 
Other birds today - Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 20+ Goldfinch, 2 Chaffinch, 3 Stock Dove, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret.

Back soon on Another Bird Blog. Don't go away.

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


 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Flying Machines

Sunday 5 September - a fine sunny start with a gentle southerly breath of air, ideal for a little ringing and watching the world of birds go by. 

Carrion Crows get heaps of bad press, not least on Another Bird Blog. It’s a species whose population and poor reputation has outgrown any positives, and for birders especially, the species is Public Enemy Number One. 

However, for birders the black brutes do have one saving grace - their superb eyesight and intelligence combine as an early warning of raptors close by. Invariably the average Carrion Crow will spot a bird of prey before the average birder and so allow the birder to see a bird they might otherwise miss. 

That’s how it was this morning half way through a spot of ringing when noisy crows drew my attention to the arrival of an Osprey, partly hidden from view but effortlessly circling a nearby stretch of water. I have it on good authority there are no Osprey sized fish in the said water, something which the Osprey soon realised as it changed course and then headed off north east towards the River Lune. Needless to say this brief encounter with an Osprey was the highlight of an otherwise slow spot of ringing whereby an Osprey at my local patch makes for a day to remember. 

Osprey

This Osprey was almost certainly on its way from Scotland to the South Coast of England, just part of a long journey ahead. 

Ospreys arrive back in the UK from late March onwards. Male Ospreys get here first and start to set up their breeding territory, near lakes where they can catch a supply of fish to eat, while waiting for a female to arrive. The pair then makes its nest in a tall tree, and by late April the female has usually laid 2–4 eggs. The young can fly about 50 days after hatching, but they depend on their parents for another month or so. 

Females start the return migration, followed by males and then young. After crossing the English Channel, they travel down through France and Spain into North Africa. Some then cross the Sahara Desert directly, while others follow the West African coastline. 

Most of our Ospreys spend the winter in West African countries such as Senegal, though Ospreys from Eastern Europe may travel as far as South Africa. Ospreys travel by day, using thermals to gain height over land. They migrate more slowly than many birds, stopping at favourite feeding sites along the way - sometimes for a week or so. Each bird travels alone and follows its own route. 

With the ringing now something of an anti-climax, I reached double figures in the course of 7 Linnet, 2 Great Tit and a Robin. 

Great Tit
 
Robin
 
Linnet
 
To fill out today’s post here are a few pictures of mechanical flying machines from Knott End beach. This was Saturday afternoon’s Lancashire Landing charity event in aid of fallen soldiers from Lancashire’s local infantry regiment The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers - Lancashire Landing

Local fliers land on Knott End beach and allow the public to inspect and enjoy their flying machines.  

Click the pics for close-ups.


The tides of south Morecambe Bay travel great distances. From close to Knott End it is possible to cross the bay on foot to arrive at Grange Over Sands 20 miles away.  It's a walk for those experienced in navigating tides and quicksands and certainly not for a Sunday saunter. 








 



Back soon with more flying things. Stay tuned to Another Bird Blog.


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Change Of Scene

A number of weeks had gone by since the last visit to Oakenclough. A look here on the blog revealed it to be 2 July when we halted ringing until pal Andy would feel fit enough to return after his knee op of 15 July. Seven weeks later he returned to the fray and well on the way to full mobility. 

In the meantime I had pottered alone at Cockerham ringing mainly Linnets and Reed Warblers but looked forward to returning to the edge of the Bowland Hills and a change of species. 

Bryan joined us this morning at 0600 to a clear dry start and the promise of a trifling easterly in sunny skies. The £zillion Met Office computer programmes got it wrong again when the morning was way off the forecast of warm, sunny skies but instead produced zero sun, an occluded sky and a naggingly cold easterly breeze. 

By 1030 we had packed in with a mixed bag of species and a total of 18 birds in all - 3 Wren, 3 Blue Tit, 2 Bullfinch, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Coal Tit, 1 Great Tit, 1 Robin,1 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap. 

In June and July there had been no evidence of Bullfinches here, a site where they once bred but not in recent years. Catching a moulting adult female and a juvenile together today signified that the species may have returned to breed in the height of summer, and while we cannot be certain, it’s a species to look out for next spring. Most of the time all birds present ringers with puzzles that they are unable to answer, part of the reason that ringing remains an essential tool of conservation research. 

The short, stubby beak of the Bullfinch is specially adapted for feeding on buds and they are particularly enthusiastic eaters of the buds of certain fruit trees. Due to their bud-eating habits, many thousands used to be legally trapped and killed each year in orchards mainly in south and central England. There are few if any commercial orchards in this part of Northern England. 

Bullfinch

Bullfinch

Bullfinch
 
With a single one caught the lack of Willow Warblers this year was again evident when many more should be around by late August/early September. There’s little doubt that the icy mornings during the whole of May put paid to the Willow Warblers’ ground nesting lifestyles. 

Willow Warbler
 
Goldcrests have probably fared OK this year as they nest in the comparative warmth and shelter of conifer trees. The two caught today may represent the beginnings of a noticeable September and October migration.
 
Goldcrest
 
Blackcaps appear to be in short supply with a single adult male caught today. 

Blackcap
 
Our birding was uneventful except for a noticeable movement of Swallows heading south and fairly high but not lingering as the morning “warmed” slightly. In all approximately 90 Swallows with several or more Sand or House Martins in the mix against the grey skies. 

There's more news and views soon. Stay tuned to Another Bird Blog.

Linking this weekend to Eileen's Saturday Blogspot and Anni's Blog.

 

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