Back In Bowland

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
Tuesday morning saw me take to the hills in Bowland to carry out a site visit to look at the condition of two areas of species rich grassland. My client's farm is full of breeding waders as he farms exceedingly sympathetically to cater for them; he's amended some farming practises to reduce any potential impact on eggs and chicks, created habitat features such as scrapes to provide additional habitat and adjusted stocking densities to create the correct sward heights. He's a great bloke!Walking between the two fields that I had to survey it was obvious that most of the waders had finished breeding. Nearly all of the Lapwings had gone and just a few pairs of Curlew and Oystercatcher were still about. I had an interesting first wader breeding record for the farm in the form of a Common Sandpiper. I can't claim any credit for discovering this ...
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First Moths For A While

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I ran my garden moth trap for the first time a few days ago and had a pleasing little catch, well for me anyway. I don't like to catch too many as it takes me quite a while to go through them, mainly because I don't run my trap often enough to get my eye in. However, I caught 21 moths of eight species as follows:Brimstone - 2Sallow Kitten - 2Garden Carpet - 4Riband Wave - 1Heart and Dart - 4Dark Arches - 3The Flame - 2Large Yellow Underwing - 3Brimstone Sallow Kitten...

Holiday Snaps

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I've had to hit the ground running this week with work, with lots of site visits and today is the first time I have had time to post anything since getting back from Scotland at weekend. Gail and I had a week in a holiday cottage on the Kilninver Estate south of Oban overlooking Loch Feochan. When it wasn't raining we had cracking views to Kerrera, and Mull beyond that. I say when it wasn't raining because we had quite a dreich week!We didn't see a huge selection of birds, but you know what it's like as a birder you're always birding wherever you are. Highlights included lots of Siskins everywhere we went, Hooded Crows a plenty, Cuckoos, a couple of Golden Eagles, Goosanders, lots of Song Thrushes outnumbering Blackbirds, Spotted Flycatchers, breeding Wheatears, Stonechats, Peregrine, Ravens and Rock Dove (not sure how genuine they are here...
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May Ringing Totals

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
Over on the right you will see that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of May, and they haven't increased that much. This is because of a ringing suspension due to a local avian influenza outbreak, which thankfully was lifted on 7th June. So we need to hit the ground running now and get some birds ringed!Three new species for the year were ringed during May and these were Lapwing, Pied Flycatcher and Nuthatch. Below you will find the top three ringed during May and the top nine 'movers and shakers' for the year:Top 3 Ringed In May1. Blue Tit - 512. Pied Flycatcher - 243. Great Tit - 20Top 9 Movers and Shakers for the Year1. Blue Tit - 74 (up from 4th)2. Lesser Redpoll - 70 (down from 1st)3. Linnet - 59 (down from 2nd)4. Goldfinch - 49 (down from 3rd)5. Great Tit - 27 (straight in)6. Pied Flycatcher - ...
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Big Boxes

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
Gail and I had a second day of checking boxes on Sunday, but this time it was at our good friends Robert and Diana's farm near Nateby. We had three 'big boxes' to check; two Owl boxes and a Kestrel box. It was positive news for the box in the barn as it contained four healthy Barn Owl chicks ranging in age from 16 - 25 days, ish! The Barn Owls were duly ringed and we moved on to the other Owl box. Barn OwlThis box contained an old Stock Doves nest from last year. In fact I think in most years since it has been up it has been used by Stock Doves.The Kestrel box in the wet woodland was certainly active and from a vantage point in the field we could see the female Kestrel sitting in the box. It is likely that she was brooding small young rather than incubating eggs, and as such we didn't disturb her. We will return in a week or so's time ...
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Last Pied Fly Gig Of The Year

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
On Saturday morning Gail and I headed to the Hodder Valley to carry out the final check of our next boxes here for the year. We knew we would have a few Pied Flycatchers to ring and in total we ringed 47 pulli. Quite a few of the chicks hadn't developed much during the week because of the cool changeable weather leading to a struggle for the adults to find food. And I must admit I am worried about them now after two full days of constant rain. If it wasn't for the fact that I go away to Scotland this weekend I would go back and check to see how they are getting on. Probably the first thing that I'll do on my return is go and see if they have managed to fledge okay; fingers crossed!Pied Flycatcher...

The Birding Doldrums?

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
It's at this time of year that a lot of birders almost hang their bins up! Some switch their attention to dragonflies or moths, and some just go in to complete hibernation until autumn. However, there is always something of interest and it's just a matter of being out there to chance upon it. I have a broad interest in natural history, so being out in the field is just, well being out in the field and enjoying whatever you are looking at or listening to.I completed two bird surveys this week to earn a crust. One was to do with planned development and the other was conservation based. But, both were equally as enjoyable! My planned development related survey was in lowland Lancashire on some fairly ordinary farmland, whatever that is?! I was stopped at one of my vantage points when I heard a Raven calling from behind me. It's loud croaking c...

Continuing Pied Fly Fest

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I make no apologies at all for posting some more on Pied Flycatchers as Gail and I checked our boxes again in the Hodder Valley yesterday. A few boxes no longer needed checking because they were still empty or hadn't progressed from a half completed nest for example, but we had a few birds to ring so it still took us a couple of hours. Pied FlycatchersIn total we ringed 49 birds made up of 32 Blue Tits, 14 Pied Flycatchers and three Great Tits. All were chicks from the boxes, and next week we should have something like 60 Pied Flycatcher chicks to ring! The clutch sizes of the Tits have been very small and this is certainly a phenomenon of recent years, and perhaps indicates the difficulty the adults are having finding food for their chicks. Climate change is certainly playing a roll in this with the hatching of young out of sync with ...

Up North

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
I have had a full week of 'stupid o'clock' alarm calls to head up north to Cumbria to complete the second surveys of the plantation woodlands that I am surveying for birds. On Monday Gail joined me at an upland site where there are tremendous views of the Solway and over to the Criffell in Dumfries and Galway.These second surveys tend to be the quietest of the three as they are at a time where a good percentage of breeding birds are feeding young. This site was no exception and the few highlights included a Song Thrush, a Chiffchaff, a Stock Dove, two Siskins, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Buzzard, a Willow Warbler and a Blackcap.An early start, means an early finish, so afterwards we had finished the survey we headed over to the Scottish side of the Solway to have a look at the seabird colony at Balcary Point. We did a four mile circula...
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More On Pied Flycatchers

Posted on - In Fleetwood Birder
Earlier in the week Gail and I checked our nest boxes in the Hodder Valley and it is looking very good for Pied Flycatchers. We definitely have eleven occupied boxes and they are all incubating completed clutches. I lifted a further three females off the nest and one was one of ours (ringed as a chick last year), and the other two were controls.I was very interested in the good numbers of Pied Flycatchers occupying our boxes and through social media I asked other nest recorders if they were finding similar. Interestingly one local scheme reported average numbers as did a recorder from Wales, but mainly it would seem that most observers are reporting increased occupation. Several reasons have been put forward for this and include good over-winter survival, increased survival during spring migration and poor breeding success for Tits last yea...