Wednesday, 30 November 2011

More Notes on Migration - Mipits - Early Oct 2011

The Mipits this year offered the best counts I have ever had during my past three years at Hutton Roof.

The first main peak count was on Monday September 26th 2011 – that’s bang on with any expected “peak” date. Over four hours I had 495 birds. And then there was another secondary main “peak” count on Saturday October 1st 2011 of which I counted 541 birds.

But for me the main primary count this year was on Tuesday October 4th 2011, with a count of 1004 birds all heading South to South West. And these included some great parties of, 40,30, lots of 22’s and 20’s etc. I actually got this “higher than normal” count from a area slightly to the SE of my usual watchpoint (Clawthorpe Road) and the area chosen was very close to the vicinity of Kelker Well, the area was recorded as: (SD5591778345).

The reason I chose this area instead of the usual “Clawthorpe Road” watchpoint, is that I could see birds in the far distance crossing over the Kelker Well area in some quantity and so by the time I actually got to the Kelker spot, I had obviously missed lots of birds. The day had very strong winds of a Westerley 25mph gusting to 30mph at times, and then the wind actually swung around to the North West. It was quite noticeable that some of the parties of birds did seem to be coming from in the bottom, having already come from the Newbiggin side of Farleton, but suspicion led to a probability that the bulk of the birds could well have been coming from the direction of the Lupton area. And furthermore it was also suspected that birds could have also been crossing from further over into the next valley which runs from Sedbergh to Kirkby and close to the area of Barbon. Some of the birds did give the impression they may well have come down this routing.

It was clear there was a massive broad movement that morning and the birds seem to meet up and funnel through what I now call “Kelker Gap” (SD5591778345) and sort of climb up and over to follow on in the direction of Trig Point (SD5560477458), and onward to a presumed Littledale/Trough of Bowland onward passage.

I do think that probably why it was so good on that morning was because of the strong Westerley winds, which actually kept the birds down to a low altitude (eg: Max of about 20-75 ft high and which in turn gave good visability to them. If the winds had been more kind I do think they would not have funnelled but gone through in a more direct course at higher altitudes.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

"Bus Pass Birders Bus" - the 555

Couldn’t help this folks! I was looking through my old notebook and found this doodling sketch (please click over sketch to enlarge).
It was great to have this vision of the “Bus Pass Birders Bus”, in fact it was the 555 which stops right outside my house in Burton, so how’s that for a service….. with a smile. Well whether it’s a smile from him at the wheel, I’m not so sure, but its certainly a smile from me. 95% of the drivers I get will either give a great welcome “hi”…, and sometimes some have a smile to go with it, and some I find greet you with a just about audible “grunt”, and there are others who are just carrying on giving someone the “silent treatment” maybe from breakfast or maybe to be sociable is not their thing. Nothing wrong with that if that’s the way they want it…But yesterday, and today I choose to be with the happy chappies.

These new buses are great, especially with that bigger than life upstairs front seat panoramic view. And the buses are aptly named after the “pikes” so far I’ve had “Helvelynn”, “Loughrigg” “Langdale” and yesterday it was the mighty “Skiddaw”.

I must remember to take some photos of those buses next time out. Thinking about it others might say, "there goes another blinkin anorak"! so what!, what’s wrong with “another anorak”, some of us were train spotters in the 50s, and it still rubs off, and some of us are also birdwatchers today! And some of us might even be daft enough to go to the same place everyday and count birds flying past.

I did say, for my part Birdwatcher yes! but Twitcher no! Will somebody please tell them the difference. I really do have to smile or there again I might even laugh when someone calls me a “Twitcher”. I guess sometimes I may even resort to the “screwed up face mode” with the extras thrown in of “eyebrows raised high” whilst at the same time trying to smile! how cheesy that must look, eh..!

And I do often think about the “Bus Pass Birders Bus” needing further improvements such as having windscreen wipers and demisters going when its raining.

Keep up the good work “Stagecoach”

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

More Notes on Migration - Autumn 2011 - Chaffinch and other Finches

More Notes on Migration – Autumn 2011.

Chaffinch and other finches.

Chaffinch this year have been in similar numbers to previous years.

Its always been a mystery to me why the birds seen at Hutton Roof (my watchpoint which is from the watershed summit of the Clawthorpe Road), traverse in a Westerley or alternatively a Easterley direction. At this watchpoint I have never seen this species go in a Southerly direction as you would expect when on autumn migration. Furthermore the same applies to other finch species as well, but there have been odd occasional exceptions where some Linnet and some Goldfinch have gone South Easterley, this could be possible due to the fact they are making wind compensation. It is not a question that all species do this E or W move because in contrast the Meadow Pipit and the Wagtails at this watchpoint always goes strictly in a Southerly direction, just occasionally with slight adjustment to SSW or SSE and probably taking in these adjustments purely for wind compensation.

I do know for a fact that if you were to stand at the bottom of Clawthorpe or on Vicarage Lane, you will see Chaffinch and other finches on migration (in a far lesser degree to HR), and they will be traversing a typical direct Southerly route, which you would expect. This route I have seen coming over Curwen Wood, Russell Farm, Dalton Estate and onward to where I would have presumed was Capernwray and Littledale. I have as yet not checked out the Kirkby Lonsdale, Lupton side. So why on earth would birds wish to traverse that short corridor either East or West as they do? Especially when they have come from the lower plains at both sides of Farleton.

Brambling this year has been poorly represented, with just the odd pair here and there. In the past I have been privy to occasional parties anywhere up to fifteen in number. I don’t think there’s a shortage, its probably a similar situation to the Thrushes this year with their marked absence as yet.

Goldfinch and Siskin have been good this year with many small parties, it is noticeable that the Goldfinch parties mainly cross over to the East or South East side. Odd parties of Siskin have been seen, but mainly they are in singles or pairs coming from the East to West.

Greenfinch, good numbers from October on, they show far later than most of the other Finches, but when they come, they seem to come with vengeance! And good parties can be seen. Equal status to West or East passage.

This year like last year did see small numbers of Twite, nothing to go mad about, but always especially pleased to see this species. In relation to Linnets, odd parties where seen, in fact one party of 32 going West. It has recently become quite noticeable that some of the “silent” finch parties going through West can be of this species. It sometimes can be so hard to hear the slightest of Linnet call and you need the highest degree of concentration with very kind winds and silent background. I have had good records of Redpoll, no high numbers, just the odds or pairs but regular.

Crossbills have been super this year with several noted pairs or small parties. Some have gone West, but the majority seem to have headed in a North East direction.

Hawfinch, not really seen any at the migration watchpoint, but have had them over on the Dalton side, presumed sedentary.

Bullfinch – a definite occasional movement through this area, the best record was a party of five moving East. But regularly seen to come in from the East and alight on nearby trees before spreading out on to the Roof.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Dalton Crags - The Place to Be - Mon Nov 14th 2011

Dalton Crags – The place to be for me to see…. Birds!

Without doubt the place to be for me to see,
Birds! And more birds, was Dalton Crags…
Straight away ten Fieldfares where having their say,
Cackling and chacking between feeding away.
Redwing at least forty where gliding and see-ipping,
Blackbirds four and twenty and the rest,
Sounded annoyed and scolded at their best

Noisy the Greenfinch, trilled with joy,
Whilst softly does it those Siskins ploy,
Explosive ticks of Hawfinch found,
Not one but eight did make that sound,
Noisily they left that beech so bare,
To another North West they did fare.
But back again tomorrow I’m sure,
For three weeks now, they’ve took the bow.

Jay at bay, skulking behind the hazels,
Pecker pecked on lonely trees,
Must make the most for now, without a care,
Cos Shrike’s not here yet, and I’d bet,
If he were he’d have his say,
Worth checking out another day…….

November 14th 2011.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Further Notes on this years Migrations - 2011 - Starlings

Further Notes on this years Migrations – 2011.

(Where’s the Thrushes? – cos the Starlings have made it

Further points of interest, is that the Starlings were about ten days late in their main arrival peak date this year compared to previous years eg: instead of starting usually on or around the 15th October (peak), it turned out this year that the main peak arrival date was 24th October.

From my records I can confirm that the 24th October was the “peak” arrival of Starlings in any quantity, and also that the previous day (23rd) had also shown slight increases of Starling passage. I should also mention that I had been recording small Starling parties coming in from the East to the West from about the 24th September onset and still ongoing to press.

So from this it could be presumed that the birds (Starlings) had made their crossing of the North Sea on the previous days of the 22nd and 23rd October, when obviously conditions had become suitable for this species in particular, but certainly this did not apply to Thrush species or should I say that Thrush species never took any advantage of this weather as the records show minimal vismig of Thrushes, perhaps just a slight increase in Fieldfares.

Another interesting point I would like to make is that on the following day (25th October) it suddenly became very noticeable that there had been a massive increase of birds (Starlings) (approx 6000 in a single ball) coming out of the Leighton Moss roost. Up until this date the birds leaving the roost and which do travel in this direction on a daily basis was almost negligible and certainly the quantitites would be quite limited and hardly noticeable.

So that day (25th) was in fact the first day that a momentus murmuration happened for me, and was so delightfully experienced. All birds head directly East from their roost over Hutton Roof, almost in line with the Clawthorpe Road corridor. It’s a corridor shown by its topography as a sort of dip in the middle separating Farleton side and the Hutton Roof side, in fact it’s the same corridor the finches all take as well. It can be seen from miles away and I suppose it offers the birds a type of “valley” shelter protection, when it is necessary for them to pass against the winds and close to the ground.

Like I have said the day after the peak was the ultimate, when that single ball gushes over and close to your head and seems to go on for maybe a minute or two, yet as the days go on the birds become even thicker in population, they then spread out in width to a situation where they are seen from as far as the eye can see one way, to as far as the eye can see the other way. But obviously the depth is not a ball, but say a 20ft deep lineage view.

So now I wonder!, its become obvious that the Starlings have arrived in full, maybe a little late, but they are here in their full compliment, well at least as far as the Leighton Moss roosting birds are concerned, the estimate records already submitted by various confirms this.

Perhaps I should also add, is that although Starlings are coming through Hutton Roof, East to West on autumn migration, it is certainly in very small parties and I would consider it a very poor migration corridor in relation to this species, and on the evidence so far I would be thinking that perhaps the best East to West migration corridor lies somewhere further to the South of Hutton Roof, within the North Lancashire areas, possibly crossing over the M6 Motorway (southbound) somewhere between the Forton Services and the M55 Blackpool junction, and onward to their chosen roosting areas of Leighton Moss and Marton Mere.

The vismig counts for this morning are:
Sat Nov 12th 2011 - Hutton Roof

0745hrs to 0900hrs - Wind: S5-8mph.

Fieldfare: 7 (of which came in together and then split with 4 going NW and 3 going E.
Redwing: 10 E
Blackbird: 3W (and lots on Hutton Roof and Clawthorpe Lane)
Chaffinch: 58 (some E some W)
Siskin: 2,
Greenfinch: 3 (1E 2W)
Goldfinch 2W,
Yellowhammer: 1E
Meadow Pipit: 2S
Woodpigeon: 14E

Friday, 11 November 2011

Further Notes on this Years Thrush Migrations.

Today on my way up to Hutton Roof, it was very noticeable that there had been a very large fall of Blackbirds in the night, I had over a score just going up the Lane, and there were many more on the roof itself.

The wind spoint things yet again , it was a Easterley and blowing at 20mph+ gust. The only records are: Chaffinch: 8, Greenfinch: 1, Goldfinch 1W, Wren a couple of them scolding me as usual, Fieldfare could be heard but was not seen. Redwing: 5W. and some Common Gulls (18) were going East. Nice to see thousands of Starlings going East having left their Leighton Moss roost.

A follow up to yesterdays notes on this years "Thrush Visible Migration":-

The dates this year where so early, well at least in the special case of the Fieldfare, and reading more into this, that is probably the answer to the “shortfall” question.

I agree the inception would have started prior to the 14th and fortunately for the Thrushes they found a suitable short window on the 13th and the 14th quickly terminated by blocking fronts on the 15th.

Because of this short window I am sure that it was necessary to take advantage for the “bulk” of the Thrushes to use this in what was probably a more so than usual “high concentrated” effort to get through.

Fieldfare numbers where seen to come through on the 14th more or less from first light, which would indicate that they had probably come through (crossed North Sea) on the 13th. The 15th saw a reduction in birds by 50% compared to the previous day 14th, and the 16th and 17th saw yet a further reduction by 50% compared to the 15th and since those dates there has been very little in the way of incoming thrush passage, other than minimal slight upward surge on both the 6th and 7th of November, this slight surge coincided with a change from East to Northerly winds. The birds recorded on these dates where only a eight on the 6th and a tenth on the 7th of the original counts going back to the 14th October.

Another fine example of “bulk birds” on this same day (14th October 2011), but more so in regards to Redwing, was the experience of Martyn Priestley of (Caldene Fields, Bradford, W. Yorks) on the 14th October 2011, recording no less than 3604 Fieldfare, but a exceptional count of 29,371 Redwing. And his comments for that day read:

“An unprecendented watch! With a movement of thrushes I have not witnessed before in all my time of Vis migging! Pre dawn Redwings could be seen were coming in from the N mainly directly over my head due to the low mist. Then around 08.19 light rain moved in this weather system provided a break in cloud cover to the E of Caldene Fields over the East Bierley and Tong area. This window and the light rain brought literally thousands and thousands of Redwings into view including two 4,000+ counts!! Around 0945 till 10.30hrs Fieldfare pushed through again to the S with a single party of over 1000+”.

Also some further notes from Martyn read: “So I am thinking that they were moving above cloudbase and when my window appear + the rain, bingo!”, and yet another further relevant note: Why did no one else get the flood< which I expected. I can only think that as they cleared my window they gained height again with the onset of cloud etc. Because early in the morning I was getting smallish visible parties but overhead calls of unseen birds and suspected they were some above cloudbase or they started to disperse further S. I tend to favour the first option”.

Now then, this example shows what can happen when rainfall enters the equation. He would have had a good count that day like most of us, I am sure, but would he have ever had such a fabulous count but for the welcome “light rain interference”that morning, I doubt it very much. I am sure the light rain had brought the birds down into view from probable earlier unseen high altitude.

The weather this time has so far been sadly dominated by Easterlies! Whereby for me, I associate good “push days” with light Westerlies, and especially light Northerlies, but after saying that, last year the push date for here was on a very light South Easterley, and again that is probably why even last years count was less than half of the 2009 count!!
Obviously it would be very nice to see more birds, and I am sure that more birds will come if we get more favourable windows and the weather goes worse in the Baltics or the Scandinavias, but for me as I see it the bulk of the birds, have already passed by long ago.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Old Wall & Fence? at Deerbolt, Grasmere

Yesterday whilst walking from Grasmere, via Rydal to Ambleside, went through Deerbolt Woods, and then at the gate at the top which brings you to Loughrigg Terrace, the random wall had stones with circular cut-outs above one another to enable fence post to be put in through the holes which would then extend the wall even higher with fixed net wire. This wall looked very old, just like the method of fixing post.

I could not help but think, but why? If you were putting these in whilst building the wall, why would you not build the wall a little higher in the first place! I wonder if it was to preserve stone? (Click over photos to enlarge)

Vismig nears its end for another year - Report on Thrush Numbers

I have been out earlier, but it was heavy rain, so gave that up after one hour and came home, and went out again around the 0830hrs mark, this time going up on the other side of Hutton Roof at Dalton Crags. By then it had stopped raining, but really dull, dark and dismal to the sides making visability very local. A sort of ghostly quiet sky, with nothing happening whatsoever. The only birds to record, where large groups of Blackbirds, and also a party of about 10 Redwing feeding up and resting in Dalton Crags.

Well I suppose its that time of the year once again, and for me it’s the winding down period. In regards to Thrushes, I’ve always considered that if the birds are not in by bonfire night, then that’s it, and that’s always rang true now for many years. I wonder if this year will be the same or are there going to be little burst every now and again of fresh arrivals.

Certainly this year, we have had it so mild, with only one night of substantial frost to call. Has it been a similar weather pattern over in the Baltics or the Scandinavia’s, Could this mild weather have prevented birds from coming over here. If the weather is still mildish over there and there is still plenty of food, why would they bother to come over here, YET.

This year in particular was very strange, first of all I had both Redwing and Fieldfare arrive on the same day eg: Tuesday October 11th 2011 – a party of 9 which consisted of 5 Fieldfare and 4 Redwing. As a rule the bulk of the Fieldfare are recorded in most cases to be about 10 days later than the Redwing.

Normally I would get the bulk of the Redwing “main push” on or around the 16th October, and the bulk of the Fieldfare “main push” on or around the 26th October. This year, especially in the case of the Fieldfare, they started to come in so early as shown in the example, and it was even more strange to record such a early “push” day with this species, eg: (Friday October 14th 2011 and good but reduced counts for the follow up two days also).

I’ve also thought that when Thrushes are on their first major push, which this year was on Friday October 14th 2011 (Fieldfares only). That if the bulk don’t arrive or are not on their way during the same time of that initial push (eg: that day and the following 2 days), then I am of the opinion, we are not going to get them.

I am now beginning to think that this year we have probably missed observing them. For me the reasons we have missed them, is through them over flying us at very high altitude. I am sure that this is very common every year, and more so in weather favourable years than others, and as such some years you will get good records and other years poorer records. Possibly this year was a good favourable weather situation for the birds in mid October and they were able to pursue their migrations at such high altitude leaving us with a much poorer records year.

I have in the passed experienced on no less than three separate annual occasions that the weather conditions have been so good for the birds, that they are flying at high altitudes, and when checking out with my binoculars, a party already high at cloud base, have then noticed, yet another party resembling just ever so small black dots, going through at a far greater high altitude than the first party. And if you hadn’t been lucky enough at that time to have been checking the first party with your binoculars, then I’m afraid you would have missed them (Quite easily). When this is the case, I think it could be well possible that we get lower counts than we probably expected. Yet even in these “bird favourable weather” conditions, we do get birds also at lower and mid altitudes as well.

Also, I suppose another possibility in regards to a shortage of thrushes could be that although the onset of the migration had started off OK with good weather during the earlier crossing, and then the weather turned to more unfavourable conditions, that the follow up birds, may decide to not bother with their intended North Sea crossing, and instead head South down the mainland.

Yesterdays belated vismig report:

Visible Bird Migration – Wednesday November 9th 2011.Hutton Roof, Cumbria.
0700hrs – 0900hrs
Wind: E 5mph
Movement: South unless stated.

Redwing: 77 (11W 66E)
Fieldfare: 56 (25SW 31SE)
Blackbird: 1 W
Mistle Thrush: 1 E
Alba Wagtail: 1
Chaffinch: 88 (E & W)
Goldfinch: 3 E
Siskin: 2 E
Greenfinch: 6 E & W

Also could hear Golden Plover but not seen.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Visible Bird Migration at Hutton Roof - Tues Nov 8th 2011

Visible Bird Migration - Tuesday November 8th 2011.
Hutton Roof, Cumbria.
Wind: E 12-15mph, Visability poor to both flanks but OK close. Light drizzle at times.
Movement: South unless stated.

Again very poor today with few birds, and not the best conditions, what few Thrushes we had were going in silly directions from us eg: North, North East.

Fieldfare: 130 (N/NE/E) best: 50,20,20.
Redwing: 100 (E & NE) best: 50,30.
Blackbird: 1 W
Chaffinch: 63 E & W
Goldfinch: 1 E
Greenfinch: 2 E
Meadow Pipit: 2
Starling 3 W (thousands ex roost to East with leisure)
LBBG: 7 E (probably from roost).

Monday, 7 November 2011

Visible Bird Migration at Hutton Roof - Mon Nov 7th 2011

Visible Bird Migration - Monday November 7th 2011.
Hutton Roof, Cumbria.
0815hrs - 1030hrs
Wind: NE 8mph, Total blue sky.
Movement: South unless stated.

Fieldfare: 435 (345 W, 90 E) best: 100,80,50s..
Redwing: 301 (271 W, 30 NE) best: 120, 40s..
Blackbird: 5 W
Chaffinch: 46 (W or E)
Greenfinch: 3 W
Goldfinch: 14 (One party of 12E)
Bullfinch: 1
Meadow Pipit: 4
Woodpigeon: 26 (14E and 12W)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Visible Bird Migration at Hutton Roof - Sun Nov 6th 2011

Visible Bird Migration - Sunday November 6th 2011.
Hutton Roof, Cumbria.
Wind: NE 5-8mph
Movement: South unless stated.

Redwing: 630 (50W and 580NE/E/SE) (best: 140,80,50,50,50)
Fieldfare: 294 (110W 184E)
Mistle Thrush: 13 W (one party)
Chaffinch: 194 (W & E)
Goldfinch: 15 (W & E)
Siskin: 2
Linnet: 4
Greenfinch: 5 W
Meadow Pipit: 6
Skylark: 2
Jackdaw: 14 SW (one party)
Alba Wagtail: 2
Woodpigeon: 55 E (several small parties)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Visible Bird Migration at Hutton Roof - Sat November 5th 2011.

Visible Bird Migration - Saturday November 5th 2011
Hutton Roof, Cumbria.
0745hrs - 1015hrs
Wind: N 8-10 mph
Movement: South unless stated.

Today still quiet in general, but did have Woodpigeons going South and one skein of Pink Feet.

Thrush Sp. 100 S (at first light)
Fieldfare: 53 S (one party 50)
Blackbird 1 W.
Starling: 26 W (20,5,1)
Woodpigeon: 254 S (60,140,50,4)
Pink Footed Goose: 60 S/SW (one skein at 0900hrs)
Meadow Pipit: 35 (30 of them one ex blogging party)
Greenfinch: 8 W
Chaffinch: 79 W & E
Goldfinch: 10 W & E
Siskin: 2 E
Skylark: 1
Jackdaws: 13 S
Alba Wagtail: 1

Friday, 4 November 2011

Visible Bird Migration at Hutton Roof - Fri Nov 4th 2011

Visible Bird Migration - Friday November 4th 2011.
Hutton Roof, Cumbria.
Wind: SE/S 3 - 4 mph
Movement: South unless stated.

Fieldfare: 1 W
Chaffinch: 28 E & W
Goldfinch: 3 E

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Visible Bird Migration at Hutton Roof - Thr 3rd November 2011.

Visible Bird Migration - Thursday November 3rd 2011
Hutton Roof, Cumbria.
Wind: SE 5-8mph
Movement: South unless stated.

Fieldfare: 28 SE (3W,11SE,14SE)
Redwing: 24 W (4,20)
Chaffinch: 39 W & E
Alba Wagtail: 2 E
Meadow Pipit: 2
Siskin: 1
Crossbill: 8 NW (one party)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Visible Bird Migration at Hutton Roof - Wed Nov 2nd 2011

Visible Bird Migration - Wednesday November 2nd 2011.
Hutton Roof, Cumbria.
0700hrs - 0845hrs
Wind: Easterly 12-15mph
Movement: South unless stated.

Again so quiet! Cant ever remember having a Nov 2nd without lots of Fieldfares! Goldcrest on the move.

Redwing: 26 W (7 from East dropped into Roof for feeding)
Fieldfare: 2 E
Chaffinch: 62 (E & W 50%)
Goldfinch: 1 E
Greenfinch: 3 W
Siskin: 8 W (One party 6)
Linnet: 2
Goldcrest: 4 E (2,1,1) (Very rare here on passage)
Alba Wagtail: 1
Stock Dove: 2
Cormorant: 1 W

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Visible Bird Migration at Hutton Roof - Tues November 1st 2011

Visible Bird Migration - Tuesday November 1st 2011.
Hutton Roof, Cumbria.
Wind: SW 10-12 mph.
Movement: South unless stated.

Fieldfare: 24 W (2,2,7,8,1)
Redwing: 5 W (1,2,2)
Blackbird: 2 W
Chaffinch: 135 W & E (75% W 25% E)
Greenfinch: 4 W
Siskin: 15 W (best party 6)
Redpoll: 2 W
Brambling: 2 W
Linnet: 1 E
Goldfinch: 1 E
Meadow Pipit: 9
Starling: 2 W (hundreds extremely high going E from roost to feed)
Great Spotted Woodpecker: 1 W
Woodpigeon: 7 SE (5,2)
Lesser Black Backed Gull: 129 all going SE (probably from roost out to feed)