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First Redwings

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Tuesday 10th October. There was a chance of Redwings this morning after a good number were seen in the UK in the last few days, mainly on the east coast. I’d seen a handful of Redwings over the house early on Monday so hoped that Tuesday might be suitable for ringing up at Oakenclough with an opportunity to catch our first Redwings of the autumn. The forecast of an early 15 mph wind, cloud and showers was rather marginal but after some deliberation we decided to go for it on the basis that on a westerly the nets are fairly sheltered, and also on the expectation this might be the only suitable day of the week. 

I met up with Andy at 0645 when it was still quite dark and very soon after dawn we caught the first couple of Redwings and then a few more as the morning continued. We finished at 11.30 with a good mix of 12 species and 51 birds in total which included eight Redwings. 

Species and numbers: 16 Goldfinch, 12 Goldcrest, 8 Redwing, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Great Tit, 2 Chaffinch, 2 Blue Tit, 1 Coal Tit, 1 Blackbird, 1 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Reed Bunting. 

Redwing - first autumn/winter


We aged and sexed the Reed Bunting as a first autumn/winter male. 

Reed Bunting

 The single Blackcap proved to be an adult female. 


Our catch of Lesser Redpolls was smaller than recent weeks and almost certainly due to the bluster and short, sharp, showers. Below is an adult male. 

Lesser Redpoll
The morning’s visible migration was not especially eventful but even as the wind dropped with clearing skies about 10am, any arrival or movement of birds was hardly noticeable. The highlight was the 90+ Redwings we counted in singles, small parties, or the biggest one of 30+ birds which arrived without any obvious directional movement during the cloudy and showery period. 

Otherwise our biggest counts came from the number of Goldfinches about in small parties that totalled over 100 individuals. The Goldfinches we caught came mostly from our feeders that are designed to catch mainly Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin. 

Others noted this morning: 2 Jays, the first seen or heard here for many months. Also, 8 Pied Wagtail, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Raven, 1 + Bullfinch.

Linking this post to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.

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Out For The Count

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Sunday morning and there was time for a gentle run around the block before rain arrived about 10 o’clock. 

I was early enough to check Lane Ends where Little Egrets were beginning to leave their tree roost. Second one out was a Great White Egret, followed by 32 Little Egrets and then four or more Little Egrets still sat in the trees when I left 20 minutes later. Scattered across the marsh was a count of several thousand Pink-footed Goose, perhaps up to 9/10,000 and 29 Whooper Swans. Also, two male Sparrowhawks flew in and out of the trees in a rather strange way and I got the impression that they were not adversaries but perhaps siblings of the family that bred here this year. 

Just up the road at Gulf Lane I dropped seed at the Linnet project. There have been 100+ Linnets for a couple of weeks now but we’ve not been able to ring there due to constant wind across the open field. Patience is the name of the game and we know we will get a go eventually, preferably when numbers have built to 200+. 

There was a Barn Owl this morning on the distant fence and also a Kestrel, both birds showing a particular interest in one patch of ground. Three Swallows flew quickly through heading south-east. 

Barn Owl

Conder Pool was rather quiet again with few birds to set the pulse racing. A Common Sandpiper is still around, perhaps destined to be this year’s wintering one. Also, 40 Lapwing and 8 Snipe but a handful only of both Curlew and Redshank.  Apologies for the poor shots, the light was poor. 



In the wildfowl stakes - 84 Teal, 12 Little Grebe, 2 Wigeon, 1 Cormorant and 1 Goosander. 

It was spitting with rain when I checked the flood at Pilling/Rawcliffe where I found 40 grounded Meadow Pipit, 18 Pied Wagtail, 40 Linnet, a Grey Heron and a single Buzzard. 

The rain didn’t last long and by now and back home I found more to do. All week there’s been waves of Goldfinch coming through so I set a single net in the garden for a few hours. 

I ended up with a catch of 2 Robin, 1 Blackbird, 1 Dunnock and 16 Goldfinch, a bonus for the day’s birding. All but one of the Goldfinches proved to be juvenile/first autumn birds. I could not sex a couple of them as even now in early October they had yet to attain sufficient head colour to determine male or female.  Is breeding well into September part of the secret of the Goldfinch’s success of recent tears? 




And now own up, who thought that the Robin in their back garden was always the same one? 

More birds soon with Another Bird Blog.

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Into The Moonlight

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At last, a morning without a howling wind and rain with a chance to do some ringing. I met Andy at Oakenclough at 0645, just before dawn in the light of a full moon. 

Full Moon

Nets were up in double quick time in readiness for whatever arrived on site. After more than a week of poor weather where little migration took place we hoped for an interesting and productive morning. 

As predicted there was a light wind and sun from the off. After 5 hours we were pleased enough with our steady but unspectaular catch of 35 new birds and five recaptures making up the total of 41 birds. Lesser Redpoll topped the score sheet for the first time ever here with finches outnumbered by tits, although our five recaptures were Blue, Great and Coal Tit from recent times. 

Totals caught: 9 Lesser Redpoll, 9 Great Tit, 6 Coal Tit, 5 Blue Tit, 5 Goldfinch, 3 Meadow Pipit, 3 Goldcrest, 1 Chaffinch. 

We catch fewer Meadow Pipits than Tree Pipits here in the hills so we made a special effort today to even up the score. 

Meadow Pipit

This is the last year that we separate Lesser Redpoll and Common (Mealy) Redpoll because from January the two species are “lumped” together as one (again); and not before time in my humble opinion. 

At this time of the year most of our redpolls are left unsexed as they show very little if any redness in their body plumage, especially so if they are birds of the year,

Lesser Redpoll

Below is a first winter male Chaffinch. Easy enough to age via tertial colour, tail wear and colour contrast in the primaries, even in the field for those birders so inclined to show their prowess in  the often erroneous world of competitive birding. 



In the clear skies the visible migration this morning was far from spectacular with small groups of Lesser Redpoll and Goldfinch as the main constituents but noticeably few Chaffinches, hence the single one caught. 

Otherwise we noted 6-8 Swallows, a number of on-high Meadow Pipits, 5 Pied Wagtail and 1 Grey Wagtail but quite a number of birds too high to identify with any certainty. It was 10.30 before Buzzards took to the warming air whereupon we counted 6 or more in the sky together with one Kestrel.

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This And That – Sunday October 1st

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A run around the block on Saturday before the rains came didn’t produce too much in the way of birds. Sunday and it's still raining. 

I checked out the Linnet flock at Gulf Lane in the hope of a ringing session soon but a glance at the weather for the coming week doesn’t hold out much hope. While I was away in Greece Andy added another 25 Linnets and a handful of Goldfinch to the totals. Looking today most of the Goldfinch seemed to have moved on with the flock of 100+ birds almost exclusively Linnet. October is the peak migration time for Linnets so we expect the flock to increase again soon and also that those birds will include Linnets from further afield. 

Of course in Greece I’d missed the mid-September first arrivals of Pink-footed Geese to Lancashire but rather made up for it with many skeins flying off the marsh and over my head towards an inland destination. I’d counted more than 1700 in dozens of flocks before the movement died off and I too moved on. 

Pink-footed Geese

There was a Wheatear on the gateposts at Braides Farm with approximately 90 Lapwing and 100 Curlew scattered across the long grassy fields. 


A good find on a flooded field at Pilling/Rawcliffe Moss was a single Ruff feeding amongst a flock of 95 Lapwing but little else with a Saturday shoot with its accompanying noise and disturbance about to begin. 


So in the absence of local news, and not much prospect for the coming week against the tail ends of two hurricanes, here’s more from Greece, 14-28 September 2017. 

A friendly horse - Platanias, Skiathos
Alonisos, Skiathos

The Yellow-legged Gulls of Skiathos are quite unlike our large UK gulls in exploiting the process of rubbish disposal and the British love of feeding birds. The Yellow-legged Gulls of Skiathos rarely come ashore but spend their time feeding offshore and sitting on the mostly flat sea, apart from on windy days. It was along the shore here at Alonisos that we had super views of an Eleonora's Falcon as one dashed left to right and quickly out of sight after being chased off by a Kestrel. 

Yellow-legged Gulls, Alonisos, Skiathos

I didn’t get any new birds this year but had a butterfly “tick” by way of a White Admiral Limenitis arthemis, a woodland species that we found along the margins of an olive grove near Alonisos. It took me a while to find this on Google because perhaps naturally enough, I searched for “black butterfly”. Doh! Seemingly, this species occurs in the UK and is increasing. 

White Admiral

We saw many, many Swallowtails this year, probably hundreds - a very beautiful butterfly that we also see during May in Menorca. “Papilio demoleus is an aggressive and very common butterfly. It is perhaps the most widely distributed swallowtail in the world.” – Wiki. 


Below is yet another Red-backed Shrike and then a Whinchat. We saw very few Whinchats this year due to the lack of migrant birds as a whole. Also, not a single Wheatear and very few Yellow Wagtails. 

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike


I knew that Spotted Flycatchers occasionally eat fruit but never witnessed it until this year in Skiathos. In the dry summer of Greece blackberries aren’t nearly as plump as those from a UK hedgerow but clearly good enough for a Spotted Flycatcher. 

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher


The Boat Yard, Skiathos

Stay tuned for more news, views and photos soon.

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Home From Skiathos

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Sue and I are back from Greece and as usual, up to our ears in catch-up with friends and family. Until I get up and running with birding I put together a few pictures of the last two weeks in Skiathos. Please "click the pics" for better views.

Two weeks of late September wall-to-wall sunshine, temperatures in the thirties and not a cloud in the deep blue Skiathos sky. I found myself feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the almost total lack of birdlife during what should be a period of peak migration. Yes, we saw House Sparrows, Collared Doves, swallows, and hundreds of the ubiquitous Hooded Crow and Yellow-legged Gull but had to search hard to find the limited number of migrants hiding from the burning midday sun. 

Nr Ligaries, Skiathos

Agia Paraskevi, Skiathos

The Bourtzi, Skiathos Town

The Bourtzi, Skiathos Town

Skiathos Town

The ferry - Skopelos to Skiathos and vice versa 

Where to go - Skiathos Town

 Coffee Time - Skiathos Town

I have experienced this strange sensation before on Skiathos and also on islands such as Menorca, Lanzarote, and closer to home on Bardsey Island and North Ronaldsay. Such times reinforce the understanding of the effect of the weather on bird migration during spring and autumn when theoretically there should be migrant birds at every turn but when ideal holiday weather makes for poor birding. A drop or two of overnight rain or preferably one of the famous Skiathos thunderstorms would have made for interesting mornings but it was not to be. 

It was in the relative cool of the hills and the monastery gardens that we found Spotted Flycatchers together with small numbers of Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Garden Warblers and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. Up here close to the pine forests we saw Honey Buzzards circling and small numbers of Bee Eaters and swallows, both Common and Red-rumped. 

Church at Evangelistria
To the Monastery

Spotted Flycatcher
Willow Warbler

Red-backed Shrike

Red-rumped Swallow

Hooded Crow

Unlike our own farmland Barn Swallow the Red-rumped Swallow is a bird of the open hilly country of southern Europe and Asia where they build quarter-sphere nests with a tunnel entrance lined with mud collected in their beaks. They normally nest under cliff overhangs in their mountain homes, but will readily adapt to buildings and bridges. 

Red-rumped Swallow

It doesn’t matter where you go in Skiathos. There’s always a Red-backed Shrike to enliven proceedings and inevitably one that lacks any red in the plumage but displays the autumn russets of a juvenile or female.

The Red-backed Shrike is a very common bird in all of Greece and the Greek Islands, and a bird well known to Aristotle, the original Greek birder. The Latin/scientific name of the Red-backed Shrike is Lanius collurio, the genus name, Lanius derived from the Latin word for "butcher" and the specific collurio is from Ancient Greek “kollurion”. 

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

In the pine forests there are fire crews on permanent watch to ensure that help quickly reaches any conflagration. A few years ago forest fires in mainland Greece spread by strong winds across the waters of the Aegean to the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos where they devastated huge swathes of forest and claimed many lives. Only now have the forests recovered. 

Fire Crew - Skiathos

Our forest dwelling Jimny

Spotted Flycatcher

From the forested Kanapitsa peninsula of Skiathos it is possible to see the church of Agios Ioannis Kastri out towards the neighbouring island of Skopelos and where scenes of Mamma Mia were filmed. The film runs through the summer season in the open air cinema in Skiathos Town. The church stands on top of a rock and provides amazing view to the coasts of Skopelos and to Alonissos. Its name actually means Saint John on the Castle, assuming that probably there was a small castle there in the past to protect the island from pirates.

The "Mamma Mia" church of Agios Ianiss Kastri

Open Air Cinema - Skiathos Town

Me? I'd rather be birding than watch that awful film. Log in soon for more birding.

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Home from Home

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Sorry there’s no recent news. Sue and I are in Skiathos, Greece for a few days. Back soon but in the meantime there are pictures from recent years in Skiathos. Enjoy, and don’t forget to “click the pics” of Skiathos and its birds. 

 Skiathos - centre right

Red-backed Shrike

Hooded Crow


Yellow Wagtail

Skiathos Town

Skiathos Town

Skiathos Town


Isabelline Wheatear


Little Egret

Yellow Wagtail

To The Beach

 Alonisos -Skiathos

Skiathos - Kastro


Woodchat Shrike

Eleonora's Falcon

Red-backed Shrike

European Shag

Koziakis - Skiathos Town

View towards Skiathos Town

Let's finish with a video of Skiathos. It features the headland of Kastro where the Eleonora's Falcons spend the summer months . Enjoy.   

Back soon.

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A Smelly Old Business

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How do birds navigate over long distances? This complex question has been the subject of debate and controversy among scientists for decades, with Earth's magnetic field and the birds’ own sense of smell among the factors said to play a part.

It’s a subject discussed previously on Another Bird Blog but here's an interesting update by way of scientific experiments on an island I know very well.

In new investigations researchers closely followed the movements and behaviour of 32 Scopoli's Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea off the coast of Menorca. 

Scopoli's Shearwaters breed across the Mediterranean on Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera, Cabrera, Conillera and Dragonera. The majority of the population of Scopoli's Shearwater spend the non-breeding season in the Atlantic, including areas off the west coast of Africa and east coast of Brazil. They return to the Mediterranean in spring where they breed on rocky coasts and offshore islands, often close to or alongside Balearic Shearwaters Puffinus mauretanicus.  Hence, I see both species of shearwater when I visit Menorca in early May each year and when both are clearly visible from the shore, numbers varying with the daily weather conditions.

 Scopoli's Shearwater  - Daniele Occhiatto

Baearic Shearwater -Marcabrera [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons 


Now, researchers from the universities of Oxford, Barcelona and Pisa have shown in a new experiment that the sense of smell (olfaction) is almost certainly a key factor in long-distance oceanic navigation, eliminating previous misgivings about this hypothesis. 

For the experiment the birds were split into three groups: one made temporarily anosmic (unable to smell) through nasal irrigation with zinc sulphate; another carrying small magnets; and a control group. Miniature GPS loggers were attached to the birds as they nested and incubated eggs in crevices and caves on the rocky Menorcan coast. But rather than being displaced, they were then tracked as they engaged in natural foraging trips. 

Study leader Oliver Padget, a doctoral candidate in Oxford University's Department of Zoology, said: "Navigation over the ocean is probably the extreme challenge for birds, given the long distances covered, the changing environment, and the lack of stable landmarks. Previous experiments have focused on the physical displacement of birds, combined with some form of sensory manipulation such as magnetic or olfactory deprivation. Evidence from these experiments has suggested that removing a bird's sense of smell impairs homing, whereas disruption of the magnetic sense has yielded inconclusive results"

"However, critics have questioned whether birds would behave in the same way had they not been artificially displaced, as well as arguing that rather than affecting a bird's ability to navigate, sensory deprivation may in fact impair a related function, such as its motivation to return home or its ability to forage. Our new study eliminates these objections, meaning it will be very difficult in future to argue that olfaction is not involved in long-distance oceanic navigation in birds."

All birds went out on foraging trips as normal, gained weight through successful foraging, and returned to exchange incubation periods with their partners. Thus, removing a bird's sense of smell does not appear to impair either its motivation to return home or its ability to forage effectively. However, although the anosmic birds made successful trips to the Catalan coast and other distant foraging grounds, they showed significantly different orientation behaviour from the controls during the at-sea stage of their return journeys. 

Scopoli's Shearwater - Martin Garner

Instead of being well-oriented towards home when they were out of sight of land, they embarked on curiously straight but poorly oriented flights across the ocean, as if following a compass bearing away from the foraging grounds without being able to update their position. Their orientation then improved when approaching land, suggesting that birds must consult an olfactory map when out of sight of land but are subsequently able to find home using familiar landscape features. 

Senior author Tim Guilford said: "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that follows free-ranging foraging trips in sensorily manipulated birds. The displacement experiment has rightly been at the heart of bird navigation studies and has produced powerful findings on what birds are able to do in the absence of information collected on their outward journey. But by its nature, the displacement experiment cannot tell us what birds would do if they had the option of using outward-journey information, as they did in our study. This heralds a whole new era of work in which careful track analysis of free-ranging movements, with and without experimental interventions, can provide inferences about the underlying behavioural mechanisms of navigation. Precision on-board tracking technology and new analytical methods, too computationally heavy to have been possible in the past have made this feasible."

Story Source: University of Oxford. "Sense of smell is key factor in bird navigation, new study shows." Science Daily, 29 August 2017. 

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Change Of Plan

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The forecast for Wednesday was decidedly “dodgy” but with it being the best for several days ahead, we decided to chance a ringing session up at Barnacre. The problem was when I got up at 0530 and looked out of the window the trees were wafting around so I sent Andy a text and said I’d go birding instead. 

I was early so stopped at Pilling Lane Ends to count the Little Egrets at the roost. Thirty-five was my total but I suspect many were hidden from view in this so called “amenity area” that is now just a neglected wilderness. 

At Braides Farm - 80+ Curlews and a roosting Buzzard. 

At Conder green Once again Lapwings proved the most numerous bird with at least 240 scattered around the site, on the island, the grassland and in the tidal creeks. Other waders were few and far between with just handfuls of Curlew, Redshank, and a single Common Sandpiper. Fishing the pool was a single Goosander, 4 Cormorant and 4 Little Egret. Two Little Grebe have moved to the creeks where I also found 8 Teal. 


Little Egret

It was on a circuit of Jeremy Lane that I stopped to look through a flock of 600-800 Black-headed Gulls. Almost on cue I found an adult Mediterranean Gull I had hoped to see. There have been lots of “med gulls” sighted along the coast in recent weeks and the best way to find one by searching through flocks of Black-headed Gulls. While it’s nice to see one, the “med gull” is no longer a rarity. 

Mediterranean Gull - adult winter by M. Jackson, Mull Birds

The Mediterranean Gull is the most recent addition to the species of seabirds breeding in the UK. By 2010, there were over 600-700 nesting pairs, mostly on the south and south-east coasts of England. 

The range of the Mediterranean Gull expanded markedly over the last 50 years. A westward expansion started in Hungary, where it was breeding regularly by 1953, then into Germany and Belgium during the 1960s and the Netherlands by 1970. Range expansion also occurred in an eastward direction during the 1970s and 1980s. The first breeding occurrence in Britain was in 1968, at Needs Ore Point (Hampshire). Thereafter, a pair bred at Dungeness (Kent), in 1979, increasing to two pairs by 1985. A site in north Kent was colonised in 1983, which later became established as one of the major colonies in England. Also during this period, a handful of other breeding attempts were made, including pairings with Black-headed Gulls.  

I wasn’t finding much around Jeremy Lane until I stopped to watch a Kestrel hovering over the footpath at Cockersands. There was a Marsh Harrier again, this one hunting the fields behind the old abbey, seen off in turn by Carrion Crows and Lapwings. After a while the harrier did a disappearing act, something they are good at for such a large bird. 

Marsh Harrier and Lapwings

I stopped at Gulf Lane where I dropped seed at the Linnet field and did a spot count for the week of about 100 finches - 50/50 Linnet/Goldfinch again. The weather forecast for the week ahead, wind above 15mph every day, will put paid to plans to ring any time soon. A couple of Stock Doves have found our food drop. 

Stock Dove

I was on the way to Knott End to grab some shopping but stopped along the promenade to watch the incoming tide. Recent days have seen good numbers of Sandwich Terns roosting on the sands at high tide, migrant terns that feed in Morecambe Bay while passing through the area on their way south to winter off West Africa. My minimum count was 250 with many roosting for a short period and then as the tide arrived, flying off over the jetty, south-west and up the River Wyre. 

Sandwich Terns

Sandwich Terns

 Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern - Range by CC BY-SA 3.0 Wiki 

Knott End Ferry

 Back soon with more birds on Another Bird Blog.

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Some You Win

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The weatherman kindly told us that Thursday 31st August was the Meteorological End of Summer. I tried to recall more than a handful of summery days during of May, June, July and August that resembled summer but I quickly gave up. 

Friday 1st September. I took a flying visit to Conder Green where a distant Kingfisher proved the only bird of note as it dived into the now shallow water from the top of the marker post. Otherwise there was the usual fare – An increase to 17 Teal, 9 Little Grebe, 80 Lapwing, 5 Snipe, 1 Goosander and 1 Common Sandpiper. The female Tufted Duck is reduced to just three youngsters now. A few pairs of Tufted Ducks have bred on the pool for the last three years but always struggle to get more than one or two youngsters up to full size. 


Tufted Duck

I was on the way to Gulf Lane to unload a bucket of rape seed into our net ride in preparation for a ringing session on Saturday. The seed is back-up to the natural food that the 300+ Linnets and Goldfinch now target because those large numbers of birds will soon make a large dent in natural food availability. 

Saturday 2nd September dawned misty but bright with the promise of sun and little wind for our ringing. I met up with Andy at 0630 just as the sun rose over to the East. 

Pilling sunrise

Looking West at Pilling

Unfortunately the Linnets didn’t perform as well as have come to expect and we ended up with a meagre catch of just five birds, a total quite unlike our catches to date this autumn.  Howver, all is not lost as those five bring us to 150 newly ringed Linnets so far this autumn.


The composition of the flock has changed considerably this week with now something like 50/50 Linnet/Goldfinch and just 200 birds in total this morning. Given the natural abundance of food at this time of year, both on site here and in the local area, the birds have many choices of where to feed. Additionally, the preferred feeding patch on site is some way from our single 80ft cut through the crop. 

We have seen a Sparrowhawk on at least three recent spot visits which leads us to think the hawk is a very regular visitor and may be deterring the finches from their usual habits. As Sparrowhawks are liable to do, once they find a reliable source of food, they come back time and time again. The hawk made two visits today, once trying to snatch a Linnet in the air and then later, moving along the fence line from where it could wait to pounce. The hawk flew off when I walked along the road towards its lookout post. 

Some you win, some you lose and it won't stop us trying again soon.

We may not have had the biggest catch of the year but it was certainly good to be out in the sun for a change. 

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Never The Same

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The alarm clock buzzed at 0520. I was due to meet Andy and Bryan at 0630 for another ringing session near Oakenclough. The weather forecast of a 2mph wind with no rain proved to be accurate and we enjoyed an eventful morning of both ringing and birding. Three pairs of eyes and ears proved extremely useful during the usual lulls in ringing. 

After an initial round of Great Tits, Coal Tits, a Blue Tit and just a single Willow Warbler it seemed as if the session might be below par for this always productive site. But within an hour the species changed when visible migration began, and after five hours we had caught 51 birds of 10 species. 

While no two ringing sessions are ever the same it was finches top of the leader board again with yet more Goldfinch and Lesser Redpoll. We had handfuls of both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff together with another Tree Pipit. 

Totals - 14 Goldfinch, 8 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Willow Warbler, 5 Goldcrest, 4 Chiffchaff, 4 Chaffinch, 4 Coal Tit, 3 Great Tit, 1 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Blue Tit and 1 Tree Pipit. 

Willow Warbler

Long-tailed Tit
The Ringing Office

Lesser Redpoll

Tree Pipit

Birding proved very interesting and began with our second Osprey of the week. This one followed a similar route to the one on Friday last by flying North to South alongside Harris End Fell before disappearing from view. Seven Grey Herons appeared together from the south, circled for a while before they lost height and dropped to the north and towards the fisheries near Scorton. 

Other raptors seen – 2 Sparrowhawk,1 Kestrel and 9 Buzzard. The Buzzards appeared late in the morning as a “kettle” of 7 plus 2. Three Ravens added to the action on high. 

We noted a steady stream of high-flying hirundines with Swallows to the fore. 60+ Goldfinch and 30+ Chaffinch dominated the arriving finches where Lesser Redpolls seemed less vocal than normal. We were a little surprised to catch nine redpolls when so few seemed to be around. 

An initial count of 5 or 6 Mistle Thrushes turned into a massive 29 when two parties that arrived unseen at the North West corner of the site took to the sky flying east. As the thrushes spread out we counted a flock of 22 and then a gang of 7, all heading the same way. 

It’s often in September that people mistakenly report Fieldfares arriving early in the UK, when in fact Fieldfares do not really arrive here from Scandinavia until late September/October. What those observers have actually seen is a far less common but not unknown flock of Mistle Thrushes. Just last week a local birder, Bryan Yorke saw over 80 Mistle Thrushes in the hills north of Lancaster. 

Mistle Thrush

Seems like our largest UK thrush has enjoyed a good breeding season! 

Other birds noted in the plantation – a single Nuthatch and 2 or more Bullfinch.