Wednesday, 2 January 2013

And so a New Year begins.........

I decided to start the first day of the New Year looking for Waxwings. I didn’t want to follow up on confirmed sightings and elected to try and find some more of these stunning birds for myself. I knew the roads would be quiet, early on at least, which would allow for some very dodgy driving as I scanned gardens and roadside trees with even more effort than I have been doing in recent weeks. I suppose you could have called it a form of kerb crawling at times. At least I had binoculars and a camera on the front seat had I been stopped and it was around 9am after all.

I didn’t just drive round streets in an aimless fashion but headed for areas that had rowans and other berry baring bushes close by. I eventually headed to one group of rowans that had been holding a good crop of red berries the last time I checked them out. There were slightly fewer berries compared with my previous visit but still a very good crop given the date and the influx. I waited for a while but no Waxwings appeared; only a pair of Mistle Thrushes came to feed and then not for long so my year started with a failure.
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
I called in at Pennington Flash next to check out the Black-headed Gulls for rings. A frustrating hour or so eventually resulted in the ring numbers of 2 Lithuanian and 1 British ringed bird being read and photographed. The British ringed bird had been recorded at Pennington Flash before in both 2005 and 2010 and was originally ringed as a chick in Gloucestershire in June 2005.

There were more people about than expected for the time of day, a few had unruly dogs and others unruly children and were the cause of some of the frustration given they could see what I was trying to do. However, most of the frustration was caused by the birds themselves as they repeatedly presented me with the same face of their ring or they were obscured by other birds when they turned to show another face of their ring.

Anyway with 3 controls in the bag or rather the camera I headed for home. I called in at Three Sisters on route to check out the gulls there but some muppet was throwing bread at the birds rather than to them. I knew there would be no chance of reading any rings with that behaviour so I quickly continued the journey home.

After a quick coffee I went to the feeding station at Longshaw to top up the feed. The food had been hammered since my last visit; Greenfinches, Chaffinches and Bramblings quickly returned as I walked away but I also think Woodpigeons have started to take advantage of an easy meal judging by the droppings that were present. I am spending between £20 and £30 a week on bird food at the moment or that is what I will admit to and I don’t really want Woodpigeons putting the bill up but it can’t be helped if they do.

A quick check of the gulls on Orrell Water Park and the German ringed bird put in yet another appearance for the camera. I would have checked through all of the birds but for some more inconsiderate dog walkers that +++nk** ###u== be @+## & ---- off.

The day was still not done so I headed up to Haigh to top up the feeders there. Again they had been hammered despite the mild conditions and I didn’t have enough food with me to fill all the feeders to the top. It was quite late in the afternoon by this time so there weren’t many birds feeding but at least 48 Goldfinches were gathered nearby.

One day down and only another 364 to go. The weather looks reasonably good for mist-netting later in the week and I hope to take full advantage of it.
And finally the first signs of spring were noted today with plenty of hazel catkins on show and some willow catkins budding.
Hazel catkins 01/01/2013

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