Yes or No. Touch and Go.

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Text messages flew back and forth at 5am this morning. There’d been rain most of the night with a forecast that was a little “iffy”, especially so for a site on the edge of the Bowland fells. There seemed just a small window of opportunity for a ringing session. “Let’s go for it” was the final message, so I met up with Andy at 0615 at Oakenclough. The morning remained grey with the camera set at ISO1600 but in between an odd light shower or two we managed a respectable 33 birds. Our total included one or two warblers and our second Tree Pipit of the week. 34 birds - 11 Goldfinch, 7 Goldcrest, 6 Coal Tit, 3 Robin, 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Great Tit, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Tree Pipit. Tree PipitGoldfinches were around in some numbers today. As noted earlier in the week, there are Goldfinch...

Sunday’s Plan

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They do say the British weather is unpredictable. Well not this year because there’s a definite pattern emerging in this the worst one for many a year. There’s a day of dry, then the next day of rain, and then a mixed up day when there’s sun for half of the daylight hours and rain during the remainder. Mostly it has been breezy or windy come rain or shine. So in a strange way, it is possible to plan birding, ringing and a spot of photography by looking out for the good days, ignoring the rest and planning accordingly. Luckily Sunday’s forecast of wall-to-wall sunshine looked to be one of the better days so I set off early with camera and bins at the ready. The regular as clockwork Kingfisher opened the account at Conder Green. The bird wasn’t for hanging around though and after it quickly flew off I soon saw it again g...
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Gulf News

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We get the impression that Linnets are not early risers. It can be half an hour after dawn before Linnets arrive in small parties at our Gulf Lane ringing site. Of course we don’t know where they all spend the night but it looks like there is no large roost, at least not at this time of year. As the autumn and winter progress, things may well change. This morning I arranged to meet Andy and Bryan at 0600. Within five minutes the first Linnets began to arrive in parties of from 5 to 15 birds. Comings and goings continued until 11.30 when we called it a morning by which time we had ringed 37 Linnet arriving to feed in the wildflower and bird seed crop. Early Start Ringing Linnets provides information essential to their conservation. Ringing allows us to investigate the cause of changes in the population of Linnets. For their pop...
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It’s A Start

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I set off early to meet Andy at Oakenclough where we planned maintenance of net rides and bamboo poles in preparation for our autumn and winter ringing on site. We leave the 12ft poles there in all weathers so as to minimise lugging them around each time we visit. Insulation tape stops water seeping into the bamboo and also helps the net loops slide up and down. BamboosAlthough all seemed quiet we decided to put a couple of nets up as we repaired the poles one-by-one. To be truthful we didn’t expect much of a catch so were pleasantly surprised with the outcome. After four hours we called it a day with a catch of 29 birds of 11 species. This included one Willow Warbler recapture from April 2017, a resident male. Our totals: 8 Willow Warbler, 6 Goldcrest, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Robin, 2 Great Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Chaffinch,...
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Linnet Kick-Off

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The wind and rain finally eased, opening a tiny window of opportunity for Andy and me to kick off Linnet Project 2017/18 at Gulf Lane. We hope to increase last winter's total of 210 Linnets, a project that came to a halt when avian flu intervened.  From a birding point of view the summer is a washout but the crop of wild bird seed is in fine fettle. The days of often torrential showers followed by spells of hot sunshine have produced a profuse crop in both garden and the countryside. The field of seed crop is no different and at this time of year provides a useful height of four feet in which to set single panel nets. Wild Bird Seed field We started at 0600 but by 0900 the wind had picked up to 12-15 mph and we closed the nets. By then we had caught steadily and ended up with 49 new Linnets, zero recaptures from last year and zero...
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Motivation

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As a change from local bird news I searched the Internet and also talked to local contacts about what’s going on in the wider world of birds. So today and below are just a couple of snippets I found. From The Lancashire and Westmoreland Gazette 1st August 2017 – “The Chairman of The British Upland Management Society (BUMS), multi-millionaire, landowner Sir Henry Spindley-Legge welcomed the news that three pairs of Hen Harriers successfully bred in England this year.” “My keepers are tremendously proud of their achievement this year in almost maintaining the 2016 total of four pairs of Hen Harriers in the 50,000 square miles of upland England. For their hard and often unappreciated work that led to this wonderful outcome, each will receive a large pay bonus very soon. These men spent night & day and many long h...
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Wednesday 2nd August

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The forecast for Wednesday wasn’t good. Dry, dull and cloudy for the morning before yet more rain. Luckily I managed a couple of hours birding before dark clouds rolled in from the West and rain spotted the windscreen. It was just eight-fifteen so I was home in time for morning coffee after clocking up an agreeable list of birds in short time. I stopped first at Gulf Lane where Linnets in the wild bird seed crop numbered more than fifty. We plan a ringing session on the first suitable morning to kick off Linnet Project 2017/20018. The latest forecast points to next Tuesday or Wednesday before the weather becomes anything like. A feature of the last few weeks has been the number of Sand Martins at Conder Green. This morning I again noted a large number of martins feeding over the water and along the hedgerows. Mixed in with th...
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Boxed In

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Friday, and once again the week’s weather dictated a lull in ringing, birding or photography. July will surely end as one of the worst ever. The rain held off long enough for Andy and I to meet up at Gulf Lane on Thursday to cut a net ride for the continuation of our Linnet project. While doing so we noted a flock of 40 Linnets and several Tree Sparrows using the crop of bird seed mix. Such a relatively high number of Linnets in a flock situation in July suggests that many Linnets have finished their breeding season and that numbers will climb quickly in the coming weeks. We will set a few nets just soon as the weather reverts to summer or at least a settled autumn feel. LinnetWe called at another farm where the owners regularly see Barn Owls and now wish to attract the species to breed. We looked around the many buildings an...
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Ups And Downs

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I followed up yesterday’s Yellowhammer sighting by going back for pictures on a quiet and sunny Sunday morning. Yellowhammers tend to be late breeders and it’s not unusual to see and hear them in full song in the latter half of the summer. I saw nothing of the female today, just the male sending out his song acrosss the landscape. His mate is obviously sat on a second brood of eggs not too far away from the various song posts. YellowhammerYellowhammer YellowhammerThe Yellowhammer is in poor shape in this part of Lancashire, part of a national and European decline caused by decreased survival rates and agricultural intensification. I can’t do better than quote from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) website and include their graph that really says it all. “Yellowhammer abundance began to decline on farmland in the m...
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