Thursday, April 30, 2009

Garden Robin

Ah, the joys of not going out anyway. It means you can get really anal over common things in the garden. Like this Robin.

A 2cy, no less. That's, er, a first-summer, sort of. One of the great things about ringing is that you can translate what you see in the hand into what you see on a bird in the field. Providing views are good enough, obviously. Here, you can see a nice difference between the outer greater coverts (top left inset), which are retained from juvenile plumage, and the inner greater coverts, which are slightly longer, more olive tinged adult feathers (moulted last autumn), lacking the pale tips of shown by the juvenile feathers - but some adult birds can show small thorns to the tips of their greater coverts so a bird with pale tips to the greater coverts isn't always an immature bird. The shape of the tail on this bird is also quite obviously juvenile with clearly pointed tips (bottom right inset); in adults, the tail feathers have more rounded tips, though there is variation. Sadly, that was the clearest picture I managed to get. The bird refused to stay still for long!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's that weekend again

The weekend before my sister's birthday when I aaaaalways manage to find my first Swifts.

This year they were just up the road and came down during a rain shower. Quite pretty really as they flew around in front of a big double (triple?) rainbow. Here's the rainbow:

And, through the power of modern mobile phone-camera technology, here's one of the birds:

Impressive, huh?

Saturday, April 25, 2009


A couple of bits from this weekend - Lesser Whitethroat & Common Snipe. More in-hand pics here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Frodsham.... again.....

With the tide out, I spent most of my time this afternoon around the Weaver bend. Most waders were distant on the far bank. Fourteen Blackwits were on the exposed mud along with two Ruff (male below), a handful of Ringed Plover, and a Common Sand was my first this year. A Yellow Wag flew over, a White Wag was on the grass, and a Wheatear was further up by the farm.

Predictably, No. 6 was quiet with just three Blackwits, though there were five R*ddy *ucks that had escaped the DEFRA shotguns.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Frodsham again

Back again, though not so many waders this time. Two Blackwits were the best on No. 6 along with a handful of Ringed Plovers and nesting Lapwings.

Passerine action made up for the lack of waders with Reed Warblers now back in the reedbed, several Whitethroats in the scrub along the tracks, and a couple of Sedge Warblers singing away. Down at the far end there was a small group of about 30 Meadow Pipits with a few wagtails mixed in with them - two Pied, two White and six Yellow. Spot the Yellow Wag:

The usual small flocks of Linnets and Goldfinches were by the track, and a smart male Kestrel was chomping away on a headless vole before a pair of Lapwings chased it off. Just as I was leaving, a Whimbrel flew over the track towards No. 6.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

'tis wader season once again

Monday at Frodsham was pretty dire, with 2 White Wags and 2 Redshank... Thankfully, today was a bit better.
There were lots of Blackwits on No. 6 (275, to be exact), along with 25 Knot and 2 Ruff. A selection of smaller waders were strewn out across the middle of the tank, consisting of 52 Ringed Plover, 12 Dunlin, and 3+ (probably 4) Little Stints, and there were a dozen or so alba wagtails including at least one White and at least five Pied. And, erm, that's about it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


It's just been drawn to my attention that the layout of my blog is completely screwed for anyone viewing it in Firefox... hopefully that's all sorted now, though.

*end of public service broadcast*

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Spring back

Ah, hello there. Long time no, er, blog...

Anyway, my draft dissertation is done and handed in, I've got a bit of time off work, and I've had my last ever lecture. So, short of a a few nights out, it's birding all the way. Until a fortnight's time, when I'll panic about getting my final dissertation in.

Last week I went for a quick look at the Cattle Egret that's been hanging around just east of Frodsham. In 'blustery' conditions, I got decent flight views of the bird as it took off, got blown about 1/4 mile in the wind and battled its way back. The farmer kindly invited me into the farm for a closer look but the bird was playing silly beggars and quickly moved into a hollow that was impossible to view.

Today, with the onset of warm weather, I headed across to the Dee Estuary and down to Burton Marsh. A Swallow was over the fields by the road as I arrived, mobbing a Sparrowhawk. Out on the marsh, a 1st winter (female?) Hen Harrier was hunting. Top quality video below:

It was amazing how many Little Egrets are out there, unseen. The hunting harrier must have flushed in excess of 30 birds in a relatively small area.

Further along there were five Northern Wheatears (3 females, 1 ad male & 1 2cy male).

^ 2cy male & 2 females

^ ad male

An '2nd winter' (3cy) male Marsh Harrier flew west along the marsh at 14:45 and a Raven was milling about further out.

At Inner Marsh Farm, 2 Ruff, 1 Spotted Redshank, and 16 Avocets were on the pools, along with the usual stuff.

^ Common Snipe - 2cy? Seemed to show some juvenile type lesser coverts... does anyone care?

^ Dunnock.... female...

At least 6 Sand Martins dropped in early evening, though none lingered for long.

On the way back, I called in to Frodsham for a quick look around, only to get a text asking if I knew anything about the White Stork at Frodsham... er, no. Turns out it had flown over about an hour before - there was no further sign of it (unsurpringly), though there were two Ruff on the Weaver and a pair of adult Med Gulls overhead.