Friday, December 17, 2021

A Numbers Game

November 26th was the day of the BTO notification that our bird ringing would cease with “immediate effect.” The now almost annual outbreak of bird flu in our geographical area had struck yet again in Preesall/Pilling, just a few miles from our coastal ringing sites in Pilling and Cockerham. 

Luckily we have our ringing site at Oakenclough on the edge of the Bowland Hills that is well outside the 10km control zone and so unaffected by the ban, except that until now inclement weather prevented ringing here too. 

This upland site is close to a reservoir, the water catchment placed strategically to collect the maximum amount of water from both rain and run off from surrounding land. The open situation of the site also means a fair amount of windy weather too; rain and wind, the nemeses of bird ringers everywhere. 

At last, a bout of high pressure promised a few days of settled weather and ringing, even though we knew that mid-winter catches at this site are small in numbers. I met up with Andy at 0700 in the blackness of morning, less than a week from the shortest day and the Winter Solstice of 21 December. Soon the days get steadily longer, lighter, warmer and may be even drier? 

The first net round brought a couple of always nice to see Redwing into the nets but none of the 50+ Fieldfares that stopped briefly before continuing to the east. 



Just as expected our catch was low in numbers with just eleven birds, 3 Coal Tit, 2 Chaffinch, 2 Redwing, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Goldcrest and 1 Wren. At least we managed a spot of ringing; and as a bonus the sun appeared. 



Coal Tit

Birding was pretty quiet with Barn Owl, a single Siskin and the aforementioned Fieldfares the highlights.  

On the way home I noted near Nateby a pair of Kestrels at roadside poles. As I carefully stopped hoping for a photo the male flew across to a tree which held a good sized crow nest; a tree worth keeping an eye on in the coming months. Kestrels begin their courtship in the cold winter months to ensure their bond is secure before the breeding season begins. Pairs usually mate for life. 

Looking forward, we are on countdown, hoping to hear soon that the ringing ban is lifted at our coastal site. But in any case I will be visiting soon to top up the supplementary food.  

Failing that we will return to Oakenclough for another dozen or so birds. Stay tuned to Another Bird Blog. 

Linking this weekend to Eileen's Blogspot and Anni in Texas.



Shiju Sugunan said...

Inclement weather plus ringing ban is so bad. I like the details in these closeups.

My latest post:

eileeninmd said...


Great captures of the Kestrel. One of my favorite birds is your Goldfinch, the Fieldfares, Redwings, Coal Tit and Chaffinch are all cute birds. I hope the weather is better soon and the ban comes to an end soon. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your weekend!

John's Island said...

Hi, Found you on Saturday’s Critters. Your bird photos are great. It must be wonderful to be able to hold those little beauties in your hand. Thanks for sharing! John

Mike Attwood said...

Keep it going Phil, There are a lot of us cannot fulfil our duties because of the various handicaps that surround us. Happy Christmas.

Anni said...

Well the flu ban is not a good thing to read about, let alone not being able to get out and be able to ring and study the bird population & migration. I do hope, sooner than later, you will be able to get out once again & be successful. Love your photos Phil.
Have a blessed holiday season, be safe and healthy! Thanks for linking in this week.

Wally Jones said...

Here's hoping this year's avian flu has minimal adverse effects.

The photo of the Redwing underscores why you did a double-take on our recent post with the Northern Waterthrush. Pretty similar!

It's good you have other options for ringing and we remain hopeful the weather gods will give you a few good days this winter to enjoy coffee with the net-set.

Well, the grandchildren found something to give us while we were in Texas. Germs! No exotic Covid or Black Plague for us. "Common cold" was the diagnosis. Soup, sleep, repeat. Sigh.

We are bouncing back quickly and will try to keep an unsociable distance from our birds as we resume pursuing them!

Gini and I wish you a wonderful holiday season! Hugs will have to wait until the New Year.

EricaSta said...

Wonderful Birds, fantastisc captures...

...Merry Christmas - I hope your days are blessed!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I must say the birds you caught are beautifully colored.

NCSue said...

A great series of photos! Thanks so much for sharing at, and have a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2022 (hopefully mask-free at some point!!!)

R's Rue said...

Absolutely beautiful.

Veronica Lee said...

Your bird photos are fantastic, Phil.

I especially love the Goldfinch. What a beauty!

Adam Jones said...

Yes, bad news with bird flu Phil. There seem to be more reports near me this year than I remember in the past. Hopefully your second site can turn up some good numbers for you. Have a great Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

Rhodesia said...

Sorry due to so many different things I have not been blogging but I just wanted to say that I am wishing you Happy holidays and all the best for 2022, may we all get back to living some sort of normal life once more, Cheers Diane

Angie said...

Phil - love the Kestrel picture. Will the pair use the old crow nest? Merry Christmas to you!

Lowcarb team member said...

I enjoyed seeing all of the birds and a wonderful shot of the Kestrel.

All the best Jan

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Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil,:=) Happy New Year, I wish you all the best for you and your family for 2022, and also hope the bird flu doesn't last long, so you will have both sites to do your ringing. Beautiful bird images as usual. The Kestrel is a good shot, not a bird I see often on your posts.
Hoping the weather improves for you.
All the best, and stay safe.

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