Saturday, March 26, 2022

Staying Grounded

Saturday 26 March. There was a cold start at 0600. The temperature gauge displayed 2°C as I erected nets alone while musing over what the next four or five hours might bring. 

During the week bird news from Merseyside, North Morecambe Bay and North Wales confirmed my observations of the early week - low-key migration with small arrivals of Chiffchaffs, Lesser Redpolls, Goldcrests and Wheatears, together with unusually low numbers of Meadow Pipits in the run of clear-cold mornings. 

In North Wales there was an early Willow Warbler on Thursday 24 March together with nine Black Redstarts! I was expecting most of the above but definitely not a Black Redstart, although it was almost 12 months ago to the day of April 1st 2021 that I unexpectedly saw a Common Redstart perched at the gateposts. 

Common Redstart

By 0630 I was up and running with a cup of steaming coffee, the car ticking over and the heater turned to “Hi”. 

This site at Pilling is certainly good for Reed Buntings, already the most ringed bird here for 2022 with another three on the books today. 

Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting

In the furthest mist net lay yet another Brambling, one that at first glance looked identical to the Brambling caught on Thursday. When I turned the bird over to begin extracting there was no ring on either leg and I could see that this was also a second year female, marginally paler than the one of Thursday. 

Unlike us in the grey winter of Northern England the Bramblings may have faded in their winter sun destinations of France, Iberia or The Cornish Riviera. 



From here on the west coast Bramblings have a long journey yet before they reach their eventual destinations of Scandinavia and further east, into that presently troubled part of Northern Europe. Bramblings breed in coniferous and birch woodlands in much of Scandinavia, a large part of Russia, and northern Kazakhstan and Mongolia. 

Brambling Range in Europe
I gradually shed layers of clothes as the sun rose higher and grew increasingly warm. Unfortunately the clear blue skies and zero wind probably helped birds to move off site very quickly. A couple of Lesser Redpolls, 2 Pied Wagtails, Blackbirds and a singing Chiffchaff all evaded the nets and I was left to birdwatch rather than ring birds. 

There were lots of “pinkies”, Pink-footed Geese, around this morning, with perhaps an influx of those that wintered in Norfolk and South Lancashire, birds now ready to set off for Iceland. There seemed to be many hundreds, even thousands, over 3,000 of them when they panicked from their feeding in the Cockerham meadows when the regular aircraft climbed off from Black Knights Parachute Centre loaded with thrill seekers. 

Pink-footed Geese
For adrenalin junkies there’s the opportunity to throw your body out of a light aeroplane for as little as £199 with a “One Jump Taster”.  With luck you will land in Cockerham and not in Morecambe Bay.

Black Knights Parachute Centre - Cockerham Marsh
I think I will give that a miss, stick to solid ground and watch from below rather than have the ground rush up to meet me. 

Other birds seen today – 3 Little Egret, 2 Skylark, 1 Buzzard, 8 Linnet, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Meadow Pipit. 

Andy is back from Egypt this weekend, keen to show off his sun tan and eager to get out ringing again, if slightly miffed to miss two Bramblings. Let’s hope bird numbers improve soon for his ringing fix. 

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


eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,
Wonderful birds, the Redstart is a favorite. Cute shot of the singing Chiffchaff. I would be too scared to jump out of a plane. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and the new week ahead.

Jenn Jilks said...

Lovely birds, as always.
I wouldn't jump either.

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

Loved to see the Chiffchaff singing Phil. The birds will come and hope next time you get more ringing done. Love the Brambling. I never saw one this year at all. There was a Black Redstart in NI fairly recently although not in my area so i did not see it. Have a lovely week ahead.

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

It's amazing how erratic the weather can be in the spring. Lovely photos of the birds. Enjoyed them.

NCSue said...

Great photos!
Thanks so much for sharing at

Glenda Cates said...

Like you I will stay on the ground, but I did enjoy seeing the Birds you shared with us. Thank you for taking the time to do that.

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil,:=) Beautiful shots of all the birds. Impressive amount of Canada Geese, and I love the shot of the singing Chiffchaff. I'm not at all adventurous. Jumping out of a plane
is for thrill seekers, not for me. I get my excitement from bird watching, with my feet firmly planted on the ground. Better luck with ringing next time.

Veronica Lee said...

Splendid shots of the birds, Phil!

My favourite is the singing Chiffchaff.

I would be too petrified to jump out of a plane!

Happy Tuesday!

Veronica Lee said...

Hi again, Phil. Those owl photos in my blog were shot in a bird park.

Wally Jones said...

The Brambling certainly makes a long journey!

It is fascinating to think about the annual spectacle of bird migration. Miraculous, in my little opinion.

I see you're still having "brisk" mornings. Not sure I even own sufficient "layers" of clothing to keep me warm. As long as you supply the hot coffee at least I can have the illusion of being warm.

I'm all for enjoying a bird's eye view from within a plane, but see no reason to exit one as long as it is still in working order.

We're scheduled for three days of thunderstorms, so, once again, you can brag about your weather being superior to our own. I'm already having "birder withdrawal" symptoms.

Gini has filled the house with the aroma of freshly baked zucchini, blueberry and walnut bread. Time to brew coffee. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Rain said...

I don't think I'll ever throw my body out of an airplane lol...great photos of the birds Phil! ☺

Angie said...

Phil - love the shot of the Pink Feeted Geese. Like you, I am not interested in jumping out of a perfectly good airplane! Have a great weekend!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil
Beautiful collection of birds and photos. I love the Brambling and the singing Chiffchaff. Great capture of the Pink-footed Geese in flight. Wonderful sightings from your outing. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I don't think I could get out in temps that cold but I know you were anxious to get outside again. You saw some neat sightings and I am always amazed at the number of Geese! WOW! We are having a stormy day today in Florida but I still see little Finches coming to our feeders!

Anni said...

Wow, wow, wow! That sighting of the P F Geese in flight is extraordinary. I would be so thrilled. [Of course, I've been told I make a cheap date. You don't need to spend money on wining and dining me....just give me a time like this, birding and I'll be very happy!!]
Me, jump out of a plane? Not on your life. Like you, I'll stick to the solid ground and watch 'em free-falling.

Great series, welcome back Andy. And, Phil, thanks for the ID of the pectoral sandpiper! I don't know why I didn't realize that. I was just too busy with the "yellow" legs. lol

Thanks, too, for sharing your bird banding this week.

Linda said...

Great shots! I have no desire to jump out of a plane.

Powell River Books said...

As a pilot I was never tempted to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. We are staying in an RV park in Tucson, Arizona, and there is a Cactus Wren building a nest in the middle of the small tree in our parking space. she has been fun to watch bringing in dry grass and bits of fluff to line the old stick nest that was there when we arrived. - Margy

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I love all the markings on the feathers - Handsome birds. That redstart looks like robin to me - are they connected?

Serhii said...

Hello Phil,

Hope you are doing well these days.

This is Serhii from Technaxx.

Technaxx is launching a new smart feeder designed & engineered in Germany to record and observe birds and small animals - Full HD Birdcam TX-165.

Technaxx Birdcam TX-165 has a unique design and many advantages. It’s an all-in-one bird feeder that doesn’t need to attach a camera with a stick to the existing bird feeder and no need to adjust the camera angle and distance to achieve the best photo/video result by trying it. The plug & play function, distance and angle of TX-165 are already fixed for best results. Among other pluses this feeder has a removable food container, a tit dumpling hook, a bird food flap with lock and 8MP camera with wide display. The integrated removable camera allows you to watch your garden birds and small animals feeding with video - and sound recordings.

Learn more about the product features from the press release and from our promo video:


Would you be interested in testing and reviewing this product in your blog? Thank you!

Stay safe and healthy!
Warm regards,


Phil Slade said...

Hello Serhii

I was impressed by your Feeder Station video and description. I would be happy to review the same and post the review here on Another Bird Blog. If you contact me via Facebook Messenger, I'll see what I can do.

Rhodesia said...

Lovely photos and no I would not want to jump out of a plane either! Sorry I am not keeping up with things very well at present, and although I have photos I seem to be continually short of time. The Cirl Bunting is becoming a regular😊 I hope all is well, Diane

NCSue said...

Thanks for sharing, Phil! I'm always astounded by your photos, flabbergasted that you are able to capture and hold these feathery critters!
Thanks for joining this week's party at

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