Thursday, January 21, 2010

The walk along the beach from Point of Ayr towards Gronant was, at getting on for 2 miles each way, a bit further than I had expected and was generally birdless except for a Raven that flew over the dunes. Down by the entrance to Presthaven Sands Holiday Park, the Shorelark was showing well on the beach.

Notice how it takes me nearly to the end of the short video to actually focus on the bird...

Other bits 'n' bobs included some Sanderling and a Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach, and a Stonechat in the dunes on the way back.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It was a toss up between a 50 minute drive for a female Red-crested Pochard at Southport that would have been a Merseyside tick or a 20 minute drive to Frodsham for a female Red-crested Pochard that would have been, erm, a year tick. And a Frodsham tick if I kept one. I haven't seen a Red-crested Pochard in the UK for a good few years now and decided to take the latter option and head to Frodsham.
The bird was out in the middle of nº 6 with the Pochard and Tufted Duck. It had an odd habit of tilting its head downwards in between dives, which made it quite easy to pick out at range when it was actively feeding.

Also on nº 6 was a drake Pintail, a single female Ruddy Duck, and the usual Teal, Wigeon and Mallard.
Plenty of Ketrels around today with at least 12 scattered around at various points along the track. In the southeast corner of nº 4 there were very few Meadow Pipits, only one Pied Wagtail and, perhaps not unexpectedly, no sign of the Water Pipit.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A phonecall in the morning from Alan Hitchmough alerted me to a flock of 'about 70' Pink-footed Geese flying west over his house a mile or two away towards mine. And sure enough, a minute later, over they few.

65 in total, so not a bad estimate on Alan's part. A few minutes later he rang again to say there was now about 150 heading over in the same direction... Strangely though, somewhere between his house and mine, all but 19 of them managed to disappear! And the 19 that were left were looking rather confused, first flying southwest over then turning and heading back north over the house before finally heading off west again, calling constantly as they did.

In the afternoon a (the) male Great Spotted Woodpecker was (back) in the garden.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The snow has gone and the party's over. There's sunflower husks everywhere, half-eaten apples all over the lawn and vomit in the flower beds. And to top it off, all the birds have disappeared, including the Fieldfare and all but a handful of the Woodpigeons. And anyone who's ever held a Woodpigeon will know you don't get many to the handful...

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Fieldfare is still taking advantage of the apples on the lawn though, with the snow melting, it's starting to spend more time out of the garden.

Finch numbers have gone up again and there's now regular flocks of tits passing through the garden - I wonder where they've been hiding away? Woodpigeon numbers have reached at least 13 birds; highest count was 12 at one point, though this didn't include the juvenile bird that was in the garden again in the afternoon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hell isn't a fiery furnace filled with brimstone, it's a cool 0 °C with ice and constant snow. The souls of sinners are tortured not by demons with burning pitchforks but with the prospect of thawing snow only to wake up in the morning to find another 1 cm has fallen over the night. That's a bit less than part of an inch, for those of you who still deal in old money (or live in America).

By the end of the day there was another 2 cm of snow on top of the couple of inches that are already left from last week.
The Fieldfare was still in the garden, more interested in the apples than it was yesterday (see above) but still not scoffing them at the same rate it was over the weekend.

Grive Litorne

This Great Tit was more interested in trying to find tiny bits of dropped seed around the patio that it was in going to the easy option and using the feeders.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another day, another Woodpigeon with suspended primary moult.

This one only has the outer couple of primaries old. Adults can, apparently, suspend moult over the winter months with one or two outer primaries left unmoulted. Woodpigeons have 11 primaries, with the outermost being greatly reduced. I imagine therefore that '1 or 2 outer primaries' means primaries you can actually see, so in this case p10 and p9; and on a Woodpigeon, P8 and P9 are the longest primaries, more-or-less the same length as each other. So on this bird, the old brown primary we can see in the wing is p8 (with p9 and p10 hidden behind it and p11 hidden somewhere up in the primary coverts). That means, assuming no feathers have been missed out when moulting, this bird has 3 (or 4) outermost primaries left unmoulted. In that respect, it would be unusual if this bird was an adult, and indeed the visible old primaries do look rather brown and very narrow, but look at the rest of the bird, too. Compared to the 'adult-type' bird, behind in the picture below, the bird with the old primaries has a much duller pink breast, a smaller white neck patch, more dark in the iris (making the pupil look bigger), and a less developed bill. As with yesterday's bird and Sunday's bird, on the evidence available, this bird is also a 2cy ('1st winter').

And, just in case you were wondering, as for the 'adult-type' bird, from what we can see, this could be an adult or it could be a 2cy that hatched earlier last year and has undergone a complete post-juvenile moult. Consequently, it's best left unaged other than it definitely not being a 1cy!

The Fieldfare was in the garden still, though it seems to be losing interest in the apples. Also nice to see Goldfinch numbers increasing again and a few Long-tailed Tits passing through.

And in the neighbour's garden, a victim of the milder weather:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Thankfully, finally, the big thaw looks like it's arrived. It's slow going though. This is what our road looked like 1 O'clock this afternoon:

The ice and compressed snow is turning to slush... and you can even see some tarmac!

The most exciting visitor to the garden today was not a thrush of some sort but this:

A male Great Spotted Woodpecker. I suspect it's probably the bird I saw for the first time on Christmas Day, feeding on the same feeder, then again just after New Year when it hung around in the treetops for a bit but never actually came down to feed. Despite breeding in the woods just up the road, this is only the 3rd (or 5th) record for the garden. The Fieldfare is still here, there's been 5 or 6 Starlings down on the lawn, Chaffinch numbers have gone up again but Greenfinches and Goldfinches are still in short supply. A Dunnock is back in the garden, as well, along with a Robin and 3 or 4 Blackbirds.

Following on from the picture of the rather young looking Woodpigeon in the garden yesterday, here's another bird that is a little bit more advanced.

I'm pretty sure they are both young birds... The restricted white on the neck certainly points that way and the so-far unmoulted body feathers do seem quite brown, even for a really worn/bleached adult. Woodpigeons have a complete (or nearly) complete post-juvenile moult, so the fact that both of these birds show two generations of primaries isn't a problem for them being young birds. Both birds seem to have suspended primary moult.

Yesterday's bird
Day 7, 10:14 A.M.
After a week in the garden the birds are pleading for your vote. The Fieldfare is eating apples in the diary room.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 6, 3 P.M.
Roost time in the garden.

Day 6, 2:55 P.M.
The Fieldfare is still on the lawn eating apples.

Day 6, 2:34 P.M.

The Fieldfare is on the lawn eating apples.

Day 6, 2:17 P.M.
The Fieldfare is in the Cherry Tree. Unexpectedly, a Wood Pigeon still undergoing post-juvenile moult has landed on the wendy house roof.

Day 6, 2 P.M.
A pair of Great Tits appear in the garden. An investigation is under way by OFCOM for indecent exposure before the watershed.
Day 6, 1:57 P.M.
The Blue Tit heads for the jacuzzi.

Day 6, 1:56 P.M.

A Blue Tit has appeared in the garden. It's currently on the lawn. Feeding on apple.

Day 6, 1:50 P.M.

The Chaffinches and the Goldfinch move to the shed roof. The Fieldfare flies down from the flowering Almond tree and joins them.

Day 6, 1:42 P.M.
The Chaffinches have moved to the wendy house (umm, the other shed) roof, where a Goldfinch has joined them.

Day 6, 1:27 P.M.
In the top of the flowering Almond tree, thinking they are out of view of the camera, a pair of Collared Doves are having a heart-to-heart. Is there romance in the garden?

Day 6, 1:24 P.M.

The Chaffinches are feeding on the shed roof. The Fieldfare is sitting in the flowering Almond tree.

Day 6, 12:58 P.M.
Lunch time in the garden. The birds are given more apples and fresh seed.

Day 6, 12:25 P.M.
The Fieldfare is in the diary room.

Day 6, 12:23 P.M.
After sitting in the Cherry Tree, the Fieldfare flies to the Mountain Ash tree.

Day 6, 12:22 P.M.
The Fieldfare is back in the garden.
Day 6, 11:59 A.M.
Ashamed of its actions, the Fieldfare has left the garden.

Day 6, 11:44 A.M.
A pair of Blackbirds arrive in the garden. The Fieldfare does not like this and straight away the Blackbirds are chased out of the garden by the Fieldfare. The incident is now being investigated by OFCOM as a racially motivated attack.

Day 6, 11:43 A.M.
After eating apples on the lawn, the Fieldfare has flown to the Cherry Tree.

Day 6, 11:18 A.M.
The Fieldfare is back on the lawn.

At the other end of the garden, on the shed roof, tensions are high as one of the Chaffinches is accused of having put on considerable weight since she entered the garden.
Day 6, 10:55 A.M.
The excitement on the lawn is short lived; a Magpie flies low over and the Fieldfare flies back to the Cherry tree.

Day 6, 10:54 A.M.
Excitement on the lawn at the Fieldfare discovers the fresh apples.

Day 6, 10:53 A.M.
The Fieldfare is still on the lawn, feeding on the old apples.

Day 6, 10:37 A.M.
The Fieldfare is back on the lawn. The other birds in the garden watch as it choses to eat the old apples at the back of the lawn and leaves the fresh apples.

Day 6, 10:36 A.M.
Fresh apples have been put on the lawn but there's no sign of the Fieldfare. Has it left the lawn?

Day 6, 10:05 A.M.
After eating some apple, the Fieldfare is relaxing in the Cherry tree.

Day 6, 10 A.M.
The Fieldfare is feeding on apples on the lawn.