Friday, 31 December 2010

A familiar trill - Preston, Lancashire - 31st December 2010

Whilst washing my dad's car, I heard a trill towards the end of my road. A group of Poplar trees at the end of my road usually hold a group of Starling, so I always check them for Waxwings just incase. This trill was coming from that direction and didnt seem like the 'tit' trill that I have recently been fooled by. I decided to let curiosity get the better of me and low and behold, there were 5 Waxwings. This winter really has been superb for Waxwings and it's still the first half of the winter! I do worry about their food supply as most trees appear to have been stripped from what I have witnessed in Bangor and Preston. The above photo at least shows a decent supply of berries on my road, and as I can view these birds from my bedroom window, I say stick around and get comfy!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Roaming around Preston - 20th December 2010

I started off the morning checking the Tickled Trout hotel for the redhead Smew. 30 minutes of no sign made me lose hope, but as I was scanning the river from the Brockholes exit bridge, I happened to look up as the Smew flew overhead downstream. This was a Brockholes site tick for me (it can be seen from onsite, so counts!)
Treecreeper - 52P Male Bullfinch - 52P
I then carried out a tetrad survey for the BTO as a favour to Chris Batty. This covered the area of Frenchwood and east of Avenham Park in Preston. I was quite excited to do this tetrad, as it covered 2010's Black Redstart breeding site, so I was keen to check if they had wintered. Sadly I was not able to locate anything remotely 'redstart' (Peregrine was seen at this site though). I moved on to where the tetrad meets the R.Ribble and had Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Goosander and Nuthatch as highlights for the particular survey. They may not seem like 'stop press' birds, but Bullfinch is a hard bird to come by in the Fylde and although this is past the eastern most limits of the Fylde recording area, It was still a surprise to see.
Moorhen - Lancaster Canal - 53F
A second tetrad was done around the area of Ashton-on-Ribble and Cadley where the highlights were 2 Waxwing that flew from the Lancaster Canal within the tetrad limits and then flew onto the previously reliable site of Stock's Road. Nice to see there are still a couple of birds hanging on in my home town. The canal itself was extremely iced over still with at least 5 inches of ice covering the surface!
Iceland Gull - Preston Dock
There is no question that it's a White-winged Gull
Preston Docks
I went in to get another view of the Iceland Gull and was pleased to see it on the ice below the car park, so I was able to get some improved photos.
Cottam Brickworks
I went to see if I could get the Willow Tit for the first time this winter. The feeders were empty, but a tit flock around the feeder did hold the little gem. Willow Tit are by far my favourite resident breeding bird. I would love to be able to ring a Willow Tit during my training over the next year or so. It would be fantastic to observe such a charismatic bird up close and personal

53 Species - A decent days birding considering I didn't leave Preston!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

'Rishton Bird Observatory' - 29th December 2010

young male Great Spotted Woodpecker
I got a kind phone call off Mark Breaks whom was preparing to do in ringing session in Dave Bickerton's garden, inviting me to join them. I was certainly keen to go to the ringing session as I have just applied for a trainer to teach me how to ring birds. As a result, expect more frequent posting during my training phase.
I arrived at the apply christened 'Rishton Bird Observatory' to join Mark, Dave and John Wright to have a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon ringing garden birds. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to ring a great number of birds because the weather was much milder and it was also the afternoon so the garden became quite quiet. The best bird was a retrap Great Spotted Woodpecker which was trapped in one of the lower mist nets at the bottom of Dave's garden.
Thanks must go to Mark for inviting me, and thanks to Dave and Bernie for the hospitality and cups of tea!
Blue tit
It was great to see some fellow Lancashire birders as I've been fraternising with North Wales birders recently...and we can't have that ;)
I hope to get out tomorrow to see the Brockholes/River Ribble Smew before it disappears, as well as performing 2 tetrads for the BTO as a favour to Chris Batty.
This will therefore not be my last post before we enter into 2011, but I will wish everyone a very Happy New Year now and good luck in 2011 in finding some mega's!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Gull portraiture in the Snow - Preston Docks - 18th-19th December 2010

Now being back in Preston for Christmas, I have tried to get down to Preston Marina as much as possible to get some pictures of the Iceland Gull that arrived about 3 days after I last went back to Bangor. At the start of the autumn, I exclaimed to Bill Aspin that the two main targets for the winter were Lapland Bunting and Iceland Gull. I have never before been able to connect with Lapland Bunting until my trip up the Great Orme in September, and Iceland Gull has been a bogey bird of mine for years! I arrived at the docks armed with bread and camera. The Iceland Gull wasn't playing ball, so I decided I wouldn't leave with nothing, so began taking portrait shots of the resident 'common' gull species.
Preston Docks - 19th December 2010
The commonest species by far was Black-headed Gull, and the vast number of these birds allowed them to be a little more obliging. The cold weather may have helped this as they needed the food. I was pleased with a lot of the photos I got, including a few that included snow flakes. I love taking photos of birds in the snow as the sunlight reflects off the blanket of snow and lights the birds from underneath giving them a unique light that can only be caught in the way (as well as from surf in bright sun)
adult winter Black-headed Gulls

Herring Gull were by no means as common as Black-headed as there were only about 20 birds and of those, only 4 came to bread. The adult bird below had a metal ring that read - GA40230. I will post details when I receive them.

above - GA40230 - Adult Herring Gull
I would estimate that there were 6 Common Gulls present over the weekend and this 1st winter bird has to be one of the prettiest immature gulls I have ever seen. I adore 1st winter Common Gulls as they have so much character.
The Iceland Gull gave up its location when I was beginning to give up hope until someone feeding a massive number of gulls attracted the gorgeous bird to the water below. The light was fading, so I wasn't able to get some stunning photos like you can observe on the Fylde Bird Club website. I am however pleased with the few decent photos that I did get. Although an immature bird, I was impressed with how stunning a bird it is, and am pleased I have finally seen one. It was also the bird that has taken me to 223 on my yearlist, meaning that 2010 is now my record year.