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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 Pipit

Goldfinches were around in some numbers today. As noted earlier in the week, there are Goldfinch flocks beginning to appear in a number of localities. 

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

One of our two new Willow Warblers was a tiny individual. The juvenile female had a wing length of 60mm and a weight of 7gms, much on the lower limits of Willow Warbler size and more equivalent to the biometrics of a Chiffchaff. 

Willow Warbler

At 1030 we packed in when a strengthening wind brought a heavy shower. 

Other birds noted this morning – 1 Jay, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 10 Swallow, 30+ Goldfinch. 

Finally, and having the delight of seeing magnificent Marsh Harriers in action this week I was appalled to see the video below. There truly are some disgusting individuals at large in the British countryside.

Please watch it and if you feel as aggrieved as I do, write to your Member of Parliament about what is happening to raptors in upland Britain.




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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 going in the opposite direction. This time it carried a small item of prey. Kingfishers can have more than one brood of chicks. 

I turned my attention to the water where 10 Little Grebe ducked and dived for the same thing the Kingfisher wanted. Four Cormorant were after bigger stuff to eat but they quickly come and go from the estuary 100 yards away where they find the bigger prey. The grebe count should double before the year is out on this a very regular winter gathering place. Meanwhile a Tufted Duck still chaperones 4 growing youngsters - quite an improvement on recent years of zero success. 

Cormorant

 Little Grebe
 
I saw my first Snipe of the autumn with 2 in the creeks and a single on the island. Redshank numbers are on the increase with 65 today, a single Greenshank, a couple of Curlews and 4 Common Sandpiper. Most of the Curlews and Lapwings are on the estuary and inland fields, exampled by a later count of 270 Lapwings in a single field on Pilling moss. 

Apart from the above the pool and margins are very quiet with 4 Little Egret, 6 Pied Wagtail and 3 Stock Dove to add to the above. I found a good flock of circa 50 Goldfinch along the hedgerow where a couple of Whitethroat can still be heard churring. I did a circuit of Jeremy Lane to get a male Sparrowhawk, a few Swallows, a good flock of juv Starlings, a very tatty Kestrel and a very obliging Wheatear.  Don't forget to "click the pic".

Don’t you just love ‘em when they perform so well? 

Wheatear

Wheatear

Wheatear

Kestrel

Swallow

Swallow

Juvenile Starlings are comical this time of year in their mix of adult and baby feathers. They behave in a rather strange way as if they are partly lost, looking around for where to go and what to do without a guiding adult. Then all of a sudden they spook for no reason and off they go in a blur of noise. 

Starlings

I stopped off at the moss where for the third time this week I saw a Marsh Harrier; a little distant as usual. Also, the aforementioned 270 Lapwings, 2 Buzzard and 12 Pied Wagtail. 

So what's in store next week on Another Bird Blog?  Well Monday is baby sitting. After that it's anyones guess but I dare say there will be birding or ringing soon, so stay tuned.





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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 population to be stable and to preferably increase from current lows, the production of new breeding adults, which is dependent on breeding success and survival of immature birds, must balance or outweigh losses due to mortality. For effective conservation we need to know why the Linnet population is changing. Marking birds as individuals is the only way that survival rates can be estimated and therefore is an essential part of bird conservation. This is especially so for a Red Listed species like Linnet. 

Linnet

We processed 37 Linnets in 5 hours. A breakdown of the individuals showed 5 adults (3 female, 2 male) and 32 juvenile/first years (19 male and 13 female). Added to the 49 ringed on Saturday last that is 86 Linnets ringed this week, a figure which rather begs the question of how many Linnets pass through this site in the course of a day or week? 

“Processing” each Linnet involves a number of steps where we collect information. As experienced bird ringers we each have a long-standing principle of processing a bird as quickly as possible. This is based upon the premise that the bird’s welfare always comes first. In the course of each ringing session we collect basic data that combined with past, present and future data sets are used further along the line for analysis and scientific research. 

Ringing station

1) Firstly of course, and as obvious as that may sound, we identify the bird as to its species and note this on the working field sheet for later input to a computer system. A week or two later the same information is transferred to the central BTO database that holds records of all birds ringed in Britain. 

Linnet

2) Once identified the bird is fitted with the correct ring size, in this case a Linnet requires an “A” size, and the letter/number combination fitted is noted on the work sheet. 

Linnet

3) We measure the wing length according to whether the ringer is left or right handed. Wing length is very often a clue as to the sex of the bird being processed. In many species, especially passerines, the wing length of a male is greater than that of a female. Where both sexes are alike e.g. Meadow Pipit, the wing length can help decide the sex of the bird, but this is never the deciding factor of ageing. 

The wing length of a Linnet is within a quite tight range whereby it is the plumage differences throughout the year that determine a Linnet’s sex. In the case of Linnet, the wing length helps only to confirm the sex i.e. males are bigger than females. For the coming winter our own thoughts are that some of our winter Linnets may originate from Scotland and be recognisable as the forgotten Scottish race Linaria cannabina autochthona by their longer wings. 

Linnet

4) We sex each Linnet according to well established criteria, mainly the amount of white in the 7th to 9th primary feather. In the spring and summer this process is made easier by the striking difference in male and female body plumage. The sex is noted on the field sheet next to the age. 

Female Linnet
 
5) We check each Linnet and determine the amount if any of moult. If moult is present we note it on the working field sheet. Moult is a useful indicator of the health of a bird and its whereabouts in the yearly cycle of plumage change. Adult Linnets have a complete but staged moult of all their body and flight feathers during July to September. First year Linnets undergo a partial moult July to September. Of the five adult Linnets today, all were in active moult, a couple of them more advanced than others. Spotting the marked difference between old feathers and new feathers was very easy. 

Adult Linnet moult

 
Adult Linnet moult

5) We weigh each Linnet to the nearest tenth of a gram. Weight can give an indication of the health of the bird. We combine the weight with an examination of whether or not the bird has visible fat and if so how much; the combination of the two may lead to the conclusion that the bird is storing fat in readiness for migration or during a cold spell. If fat is present we “score” it on the working field sheet alongside the weight. Normally, Linnets appear to carry little fat. 

6) We note the time of weighing. A bird’s weight can change during the day so it is important to combine information about the weight with the actual time of day. 

7) The bird is released. The whole process has taken a couple of minutes in which to collect a set of valuable information. 

Bryan and Andy 

Ringers' Manual
 
Ringing kept us pretty busy but we also managed to see other species this morning. In particular we noted 1 Marsh Harrier, 2 Kestrel, 2 Pied Wagtail, 6 Goldfinch, 3 Tree Sparrow and 2 Skylark. 

  Gatekeeper - Thanks Bryan

Stand by for more news, views and pictures soon on Another Bird Blog.



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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. 

Bamboos

Although 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, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Tree Pipit and 1 Redstart. 

Ageing autumn Willow Warblers in the field is well-nigh on impossible but much easier in the hand. The potential problem is that adults go through a complete autumn moult while juveniles undertake a partial moult, so that by late summer/early August individual birds of different ages appear the same. In the hand, in general but not absolutely, adults have whiter bellies than first year birds but this on its own and because of the separate moult strategies and species’ races variation, is not enough to separate the two age groups. Reliable ageing of this species also involves checking the wear and shape of both tail feathers and flight feathers and then comparing the ground colour and the gloss of the same feather tracts. 

Willow Warbler - adult

Willow Warbler- juvenile/first year

Oakenclough is a strictly woodland site where we expect to catch woodland species. Imagine our surprise then to catch a Sedge Warbler, the first ever here. When we thought about it more, the emergent vegetation that lines the margins of a nearby reservoir fits the bill of a Sedge Warbler’s preferred reed scrub habitat, but we don’t expect to catch another.

Sedge Warbler

The Sedge Warbler had classic fault bars across the tail. Fault bars are translucent cross stripes where during the growth of the feather a disturbance has taken place, under stressful and adverse environmental conditions, usually hunger and/or bad weather,

Fault Bars - Sedge Warbler

We don’t catch many Redstarts, here or anywhere so were pleasantly surprised to find we had a juvenile/first year male. 

Redstart

Redstart

Our catch of Goldcrest included three juveniles/first year birds from on-site or very close-by. 

Goldcrest

We caught a single Tree Pipit, a species which bred here until about the early 1980s when habitat changes and range retraction led to quite marked losses in breeding numbers. 

Tree Pipit
 
The graph below shows the population changes of Tree Pipit found by combined results from Common Bird Census and Breeding Bird Survey 1966 -2009, BTO. 

Tree Pipit - BTO

Species noted but not caught today included Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Redpoll and Kestrel.

Well, what do you know? two o' clock and it's raining again. At  least we made a start on our Oakenclough year.



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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 recaptures for the morning. 

The catch consisted of a single adult male and 48 juveniles/birds of the year with a ratio of 25/23 in favour of males. Those figures might suggest that adult Linnets have sent their young off to explore and allow the adults a second brood.  Most certainly today, a number of the youngsters were not long from the nest whereas others were several weeks old. Sexing of the Linnets is carried out be examining the amount of white in the primary feathers.

Field Sheet

Linnet

Female Linnet

 
Male Linnet

Observations today over three hours suggested upwards of 70 individuals on site at any one time but a catch of 49 would indicate the actual numbers involved to be much higher. The lack of same day recaptures also points to the well documented mobility of Linnet flocks and their ability to fool bird counters. 

It was just nine-fifteen so I drove back home via the moss roads and picked up a few birds near the summer flood. On the long shot there are 80 or so Lapwings, Black-headed Gulls, a couple of Pied Wagtail and a good number of Starlings. Out of camera range I noted 3 Buzzard, a male Sparrowhawk and a juvenile Marsh Harrier. Nearby I found a party of Whitethroat, a couple of Greenfinch and a Yellowhammer. 

Pilling/Rawcliffe Moss
 
Mainly Lapwings 

Whitethroat

Now please excuse me while I enter those linnets on the database. Back soon with more news, views and Linnets on Another Bird Blog.

Linking this post to Anni's Birding Blog.




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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 hours in the uplands to ensure that all our birds of prey were accounted for. Their newly issued hi-tech night-time goggles and digital equipment allowed them unrivalled views and close inspection of nesting Peregrines, Merlins, Goshawks and Hen Harriers at their overnight roosts and daytime haunts. Unfortunately the early find of the first Red Kite nest in our area could not be followed up due to inclement Spring weather when the kites decided to head back to warmer climes.” 

Gamekeeper

“Sad to say that accidents do happen and whilst patrolling on a particularly cold and windswept dawn when no one else was around, our most experienced keeper Olly Winchester tripped over a large boulder and accidentally discharged his shotgun in the direction of a sitting Peregrine. Needless to say, Olly was distraught and despite his best efforts to revive the bird with chest compression and then placing the expiring creature under a warming clump of thick heather, the poor thing died.” 

“When the RSPB later informed us that the incident had been captured on their CCTV, and despite ours and Olly best efforts to explain, he was in the frame. Nevertheless I explained to Olly that unfortunately we had to quickly find a replacement keeper but that upon Olly’s release from Pentonville his bonus will still be paid and he will have the responsibility of mucking out the dog kennels.” 

Hen Harrier - Graham Catley - Pewit Blogspot

But now from local contacts come reports of a new bird sightings pager company, Speedbird at speedbird.org. Their stirring motto? “Our Message Is Your Motivation”. 

The company, under the direction of its birder-founder Les Vane is offering a package to rival, and in most cases beat, those of established pager companies, but from a much user friendly and acceptable starting point of £99 a year. 

Les claims that his bargain pager service is “the ultimate tool” for birders with live news of over 100,000 sightings per year, updated on a constant 24 hour, 7 day basis by his team of experienced but retired twitchers now looking to augment their somewhat depleted nest eggs. 

Subscribers will have access to the Speedbird web page and Smartphone coverage offering live stream videos of birds and twitches as they happen. Les says “In this way birders can not only check up on the bird in real time but also on the birders who are there, or more importantly, birders who are not there.” 

Speedbird pager

There will be a large Photo Gallery to share photos, but as Les explains, “This will be restricted to 50 photos per rarity per person and just 1000 pictures per rarity overall, as our systems may be unable to cope with so much digidata”. He adds mischievously, “and in any case when you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all”. 

Les described how a “Previous Records fully searchable database” will include all accepted rarities in Britain and Ireland, with colour maps, stats, photos, and an important novel feature, the highly important name(s) of those credited with the find. 

He also claimed his pager to be “unhackable” to ensure there will be no false records from rival twitchers posting messages that send birders in the wrong direction to often far flung places in search of birds that don’t exist. A valuable feature Les. 

Twitchers

There are worthwhile links from Speedbird.org. Users can click onto Car Hire firms, a list of B&Bs located all over the UK, and even private hire boats and planes based at local ports and airports. In addition to these special offers Les has even signed up many petrol stations to give discounts to Speedbirders.

Another Bird Blog normally steers clear of recommending products and services to its readers but in this case I will make an exception. Les is offering a free 6 month trial to the first one hundred subscribers so come on folks, give Les a go. 

After all, another pager service must be a good thing and we can never have too much news of rare birds can we? 




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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 the martins were lesser numbers of both Swallows and Swifts, a mass of fast moving birds that I estimated at 140 Sand Martins, 40 Swallows and 10 Swifts. This appears to be an early morning phenomenon linked to the post-dawn emergence of many thousands of insects from the immediate area. A visitor later in the day will see very few of the same bird species. 

A mile away is the now highly successful Sand Martin colony at Bank Lane where on Monday I counted 350 Sand Martins but today less than 50. If I were a Sand Martin I too might be tempted to head for Africa rather than persist with an English summer. 

Meanwhile, and back at Conder Green  2 Common Terns continue to loaf around the floating pontoon where the species bred this year. Whether some three weeks after breeding these two birds are the self-same pair is anyone’s guess; probably not, as the species is both widespread and as common as the name implies. 

Four Goosanders floated across the water and took turns to dive for fish. As is often the case here, autumn sightings consist of a female and three or four offspring but rarely a male. 

Goosander

Wait long enough and Lapwings that roost on the island show themselves by “spooking” at something unseen. The Lapwings seemed especially nervous and took to the air several times before returning to the island a minute or so later, their worries over for now.  I counted 160+ today.

Other waders and wildfowl today: 22 Redshank, 14 Curlew, 10 Oystercatcher, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin, 5 Little Grebe, 3 Little Egret, 2 Tufted Duck, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Cormorant. 

Common Sandpiper

“Bit and bobs” were few and far between and limited to 6 Linnet, 4 Goldfinch, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Stock Dove, 1 Tree Sparrow and 1 Willow Warbler. 

It was a little too breezy for the regular Kingfisher to sit around so I drove up to look on Glasson Dock where the water is protected from the wind by buildings, tallish boats and the walls of the dock. My luck was partially in with a brief view of a Kingfisher on mooring ropes and a Grey Heron fishing the shallow edges. A small fishing boat gave out voices and outboard motor sparked into noisy life to ripple the water. Both birds fled the scene and I cursed that I hadn’t been there earlier. 

Grey Heron
 
Grey Heron

Kingfisher

Lesser Black-backed Gulls

On the larger expanse of water I saw a Great Crested Grebe, a second Grey Heron, a Common Tern and four Cormorant. 



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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. 

Linnet

We 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 and suggested a couple of spots where suitable boxes might be erected, using plans and ideas found on www.barnowltrust.org.uk

The Barn Owl Trust website is a useful and informative for farmers and landowners looking to attract owls onto their property. There is lots of practical advice on nest boxes plus guidance on how and where to locate a box for best results. For the lazy or like me, the simply unskilled at woodworking, they sell nest boxes ready assembled and suitable for Barn Owl, Tawny Owl or Little Owl. 

Barn Owl nestbox

In a couple weeks we’ll call back at the farm and see how their work is progressing. Fingers crossed for a suitable outcome for owls, famers and ringers alike. 

Barn Owl

I called at Conder Green where the wind whipped across the pool and many Lapwings sheltered on the grassy island. I had a good count of returning Black-tailed Godwits - 46 to add to the 140 Lapwing, 40 Curlew and 30 Redshank, but no show from either Greenshank or Common Sandpiper. In the choppy conditions I noted just a single Little Grebe but expect more were sheltered in the lee of the islands. Three Pied Wagtails and 2 Stock Dove around the margins, plus 2 Little Egret partially hidden from sight. 

There was a Tufted Duck with five fluffy youngsters and I think this was a different female to the one noted here a week earlier with just four young. The family swam across the water to avoid marauding Carrion Crows looking for a meal. 

Tufted Duck
 
A Kingfisher put in a brief appearance low down in the channels and out of the wind. Sand Martins rather liked the conditions as 40 or more plus a few Swallows flew continuously up, down and around the hawthorn hedgerow to pick off the many highly visible flying midges. 

Saturday morning looks slightly better and I’m sure I will be out somewhere or other bins and camera at the ready. Read about it here soon. 



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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.

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

The 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 mid-1980s. The downward trend has continued to at least 2009, although with substantial increase in Scotland since 2003. The Breeding Bird Survey map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that in Britain there is a sharp divide between decrease in the east and south and limited increase in the northwest; the population in Northern Ireland has also declined. 

Atlas surveys in 2008-11 indicate that range loss in Northern Ireland and western Britain, first noted in 1988-91, has continued strongly. The species, listed as green in 1996, has been red listed since 2002. There has been widespread moderate decline across Europe since 1980.” 

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Less than a mile away I found another male in song, this time from the top of a hawthorn bush. Like many species, Yellowhammers like to sing from a prominent post so as to project their voice far and wide. 

Yellowhammer

Not far away I found a few Jackdaws on typical territory - chimney pots. Yes, Jackdaws increasingly nest in disused chimney pots now that people have central heating rather than fires at the bottom of the chimney.  However not everyone likes Jackdaws around their property and a simple mesh can do the trick, but maybe with the addition of a “Keep Out” sign? 

Jackdaws

Jackdaw

“Jackdaws have increased in abundance since the 1960s and more recent Breeding Bird (BBS) Survey data suggest that the increase is continuing in all UK countries. The BBS map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates an increase fairly uniform across the UK range, but with some minor decrease in eastern Scotland. Numbers across Europe have been broadly stable since 1980.

The graph for the Jackdaw is a mirror image of that for the Yellowhammer.

The morning was getting busy with hordes of wannabee Bradley Wiggins' crowding noisily across the carriageways so I made a beeline for the relative quiet of Gulf Lane. 

The farmer here is undertaking a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme until 2020/21. He receives Government money via Natural England to set-aside part of his land to enhance wildlife, in this case planting a large field with a wild bird seed mix.

We ringed 208 Linnets here in the winter of 2017/128 and plan to start ringing very soon and through to March/April 2018. Let’s hope that next winter there’s no more avian flu in the area to throw a spanner in our essential work to discover what id happening to this Red Listed species.

Wild Bird Mix

 Goldfinch

Whitethroat

There’s a good mix of birds here now - a small flock of Linnets, a couple of Whitethroat, ten or twelve Tree Sparrow, plus a few Reed Bunting and Goldfinch. Next week Andy and I will go and cut a ride through the crop mix in readiness for our first ringing session of the new season.

And finally, in particular for my friend Anni in Texas, here's a Yellowhammer telling us all about his "little bit of bread and no cheese".


Back soon. Don't miss out.