Monday, 29 April 2013

Grasshopper Warbler

A few days before I went ringing on Saturday, I was talking to Bill Morton at Frodsham Marsh (after school) about how desperate I was to see a Grasshopper Warbler. Bill explained to me the noise to listen out for. If you turn your bike upside down and then spin the back wheel round, that constant derderderder noise is just like the call of the Grasshopper Warbler.

Anyway when I arrived at High Town (where I was ringing on Saturday) me, Dan, my dad and Peter all heard at least three of these remarkable warblers singing at once. We decided to set up near where the warbler was singing to see if we could get any success, and the first time we went back to check that net there was one solitary Grasshopper Warbler. It was brilliant being able to study it close up, as normally they stay very low down in the grass and are hard to spot.

It wasn't just Grasshopper Warblers that were showing well on Saturday, a pair of White Throats also appeared for us. Me and Dan got to hold and ring one each, so I was really pleased with that.

Once again I want to say a massive thank you to Peter and my dad for letting me learn from this flabbergasping experience.

Overall we caught; Grasshopper Warbler, Wheatear, White Throat, Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Blackbird.

Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Good Question 9

Quiz Night Tuesday is back now that the Easter holidays are finished.

And tonight's challenge is; how many species of bird can you identify and name in this picture taken at RSPB Burton Mere. If you click on the picture is does go bigger.

Good luck, I will post my thoughts tomorrow evening.


The birds I can see are Avocet, Black Headed Gull and Common Gull. 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Weekend Round Up

New Feeding Station News

It was a rather early start for me and my mum on Saturday (half five), because I was going to my new feeding station to put up some of my new feeders and supplies from Adrian (from a bird feed company), Sam (from mum's work) and the brilliant BTO. They had all heard about my vandalised feeding station and had sent me some supplies to get started again. It really made me feel positive again to see how kind and generous they were.  

On the way there, through the frosty fields, we saw two foxes together that ran off into the wood as we approached. 

We came back to the feeding station in the afternoon after football to see how the new feeders were, and to my surprise all of the new feeders had been used.

There were a pair of Treecreepers that stayed with us all afternoon and all morning, and because we stood still, they seemed to cautiously approach us. 

This is one of my favorite feeders, me and my dads home made tray, the birds love it, in-fact there was a male Blackcap that went to go on it but then thought "oh there's an insect" and ate that instead. The hanging feeding tray is on a pulley system, so we can lower it if we need to.

And here is the insect munching Blackcap.

As we headed back to the farm we saw about ten to fifteen to twenty Swallows, they are one of my favorite birds to look at. These two were having a mid air tussle.

Frodsham Marsh News

I visited Frodsham Marshes on Saturday afternoon as well, and when we reached the top of the six tank we saw a male Marsh Harrier quartering the reed bed.

I also met up with Guido, who was watching a flock of about twenty Wheatear joined by two Whinchat, as shown by the picture below. If you click on the picture it does go bigger.

Here is a male Wheatear.

On the way back along six tank we met up with Bill Morton who was half way up the bank hiding in the bushes, but not that well camouflaged as I could see him.

 Ringing News

It was dads turn to get up early today - 4:15am this time!

Even though Wheatears look cracking through binoculars, today I had one in my hand and trust me I nearly fainted, they were absolutely beautiful. Today's count also included  Blackcap, Wren, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Blackbird and Chiffchaff.

I'd better not mention dad fallen over.

Football News

Finally we won 5 - 4  against Tytherington on Saturday.  We now should have a good chance of finishing third in the league. My 2nd cup final match is next weekend. 

Hope you all had a brilliant weekend too.

Our World Tuesday

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Blackcaps Are Back

Last weekend I went ringing with Scouse Ringer and we got some great success; we had the first Blackcap of the year, and  I got to ring it. This species of warbler takes an A size ring.

We found that this bird wasn't resident at this site, due to it having quite a bit of fat left (you can see these fat reserves in the picture below). We think it was just passing through and it would be great to know where it ends up for the Summer if another ringing group retrap it.

This Blackcap was a male bird, however my favorite bird experience of last week was a Goldfinch mainly because it was the first bird I held and ringed all by myself (unfortunately my dad didn't get a picture because he was talking to some one). 

This Blackcap has to be one of my most handsome of the year so far. The colours are simple but still quite striking.

Two warblers in one day... The next warblers we had were 4 Chiffchaff. All four of these birds had sticky pollen above their beaks due to them feeding on it.

We also caught three Goldcrest last week, the smallest bird in Europe; A stunning male below.

I was really looking forward to catching some male Chaffinch today, mainly because there beaks were changing colour and they were starting to get that really nice oily black colour just above there beak.

We also caught one female Goldcrest that had quite a bad case of feather mites (a harmless type of parasite).

You can read all about Scouse Ringers version of the day here on his Wilde About Worms post!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

A Very Sad Day for WildeAboutBirds...

My brother had an eye appointment this afternoon so me and my dad took a visit to the feeding station; however when we got there the place was completely trashed, some idiots had trespassed into the wood and had left litter everywhere, damaged and emptied the bird feeders and cut nearly all the branches off the trees around the feeders trying to start fires.

My dad and I decided to find another place to put up some new feeders which will hopefully be just as good when it gets established, but I am just really sad that some people have trashed my old one, and I would never want to be reminded of it again.

I will never understand why someone would want to do this, but I know they will be the people in the future who don't care about the environment. I will still care.

The 4 Blackcaps and 2 Chiffchaffs did make me smile though.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Cheshire Rarity - A Hooded Crow

Before I go to Grandma's, I want to tell you about a species of crow that has only ever been seen twice at Frodsham Marshes; I was very lucky to meet Bill Morton whilst I was at Frodsham Marsh yesterday, and he spotted and pointed out the Hooded Crow to me.

They are lovely birds, and are very rare in Cheshire, however they are seen more often in Scotland and Ireland.  

Bill emailed us this extra information later on last night "There was another Hooded Crow on Bardsey Island today and a presumed hybrid at Hoylake on the Wirral? Osprey over Widnes at 2.30 pm it must have gone over our heads..."

Off to Grandma's now.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Bempton Cliffs & Whitby

Bempton Cliffs

Whilst I was on holiday in Yorkshire, I took a visit to RSPB Bempton Cliffs to see some of the sea birds that had returned for the summer.

 It was fantastic to see the Gannets, the sunset yellow on there necks really made them stand out from all the other birds. 

It was very windy (it even snowed at one point) which made it hilariously funny to watch the Gannets and all the other birds trying to land.

Nearly all the Gannets that are at the cliffs have made their nests, and some have even started mating.

As you can see, there were plenty of Gannets about on the cliffs, they were nesting on every spare bit of rock and had carried up bits of rope and all sorts to make their nests.

The cliffs were full of Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannets, Fulmers, Kittiwakes, Herring Gulls and Great Black Backed Gulls, however a group of three birds suddenly caught my eye......... Puffins, the bird I have been wanting to see this year. A great end to our visit to Bempton Cliffs.

Whitby Harbour

Next up was Whitby Harbour, and that visit started with two male drake Eider Duck; one was swimming round near the car park and the other was close to the mouth of the harbour. 

As the tide went out it revealed a small bay whitch lured in two Redshank and a flock of about 20 Turnstone (no Purple Sandpiper though).

It was really nice to see the Turnstone today, because it was the first time I had ever seen one, and I found them really good fun to watch, the way they scurry about.

We also went on a life boat ride, on the old life boat, not the new one. Although the captain said that if anything went wrong we might get a ride on the new one as well! Unfortunately we did not see anything apart from a solitary Razorbill. 

A great visit to the East Coast (even though it was freezing).

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Red Throated Diver at Flamborough Head

You might be wondering why I have not blogged for a while, and the answer is because I have been in Yorkshire exploring the wonderful countryside and wildlife. As the city of Leeds came into view on the way there, four Red Kites appeared where they had been re-introduced. Our first stop was Flamborough Head to see if any Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannets or Puffins had returned and when we arrived there were much more than I expected (except Puffins, I only saw three at Bempton Cliffs, which I will go in to in my next blog). 

This is the spectacular view from the top of Flamborough Cliffs. The pictures are all a bit dull, as it was so cloudy and it even snowed a bit, but it gives you a good idea of what we saw.

As you can see there were plenty of birds on the water, but one in particular caught my eye...if you click on the pictures you get a bigger image.

A small grebe shaped bird kept diving and coming back up and as I peered through my binoculars I realised it was a Red Throated  Diver; it was great to see and it was the first time I have ever seen one.

Even though they are my least favourite diver out of the Great Northern and Black Throated Diver, it really made my day.

There were plenty of Fulmars that have arrived, I love the tube-nose on the top of the bill, they have greyish black wings and tail and a almost pure white face.

The bird that is always mistaken for a Cormorant, the Shags paid quite a few visits to the cliffs. 

Some white and black birds caught my eye whey out at sea, and when I looked through my binoculars I realised that there we both male and female Eider ducks, I have never seen one of those birds before either.

At Flamborough we also managed to see a Skylark and 3 red deer.

Flamborough Head also has a Lighthouse that was built in 1806 by John Matson from Bridlington without using any scaffolding. It is 85 feet tall. My brother Harley really likes lighthouses.

There is also a very, very old beacon light tower dating back to 1674 and the only known example in England.  It is the oldest surviving complete light house in England standing at 79 feet high.

So that is part one of my trip to Yorkshire, more to come soon.