Monday, 31 January 2011

Leucistic Blackbird

I wasn't going to post today but when I looked out of my window this afternoon I saw a Leucistic Blackbird on my garden fence.  Leucism is a symptom of reduced pigmentation in humans and animals, and it looked just as if someone had thrown an ice cream cornet over it, or even worse, that another bird had pooped on it from above!  The bird's head was almost pure white with the characteristic orange Blackbird beak, and its body had some patches of white on top with mainly dark under parts.

First I went for my binoculars to get a better look and then, as it was staying around for a bit, I went for my camera.  I took a few shots through our mucky patio windows just to get something, before sneaking outside for a better shot.  Unfortunately, by the time I'd got outside the bird had flown up into the hawthorn tree and was more diificult to see.  When I moved a little closer it flew into the next door neighbours' garden and that was the end of that!  I waited for another 15 minutes or so, but it didn't come back.

I've seen a bird like this before but a long way off on a neighbours' roof, and I can't be certain it was the same one -  but it probably was because there can't be too many around here. None of the pictures I took of it are any good having been quickly shot through windows:

The other birds in my garden today were:
  • Blackbird (up to seven at once)
  • Song Thrush
  • Starling
  • House Sparrow
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Blue Tit
  • Coal Tit
  • Great Tit
  • Woodpigeon
  • Collared Dove
Where were this lot when I was doing the Big Garden Birdwatch yesterday?

Sunday, 30 January 2011

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Survey

When I looked out of my bedroom window at 9:35am this morning and saw my first Greenfinch of the year on one of the feeders, I decided it was time to start my first RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch survey.  I've known about the BGB for a while, but I've never actually taken part before.

Armed with my binoculars, a cup of tea, some toast and my recording sheet printed off the BGB website, I shut myself in the dining room with the curtains slightly ajar to avoid being seen by the birds.  I say 'shut myself in' because we have two cats who were under strict orders not to be let out of the house or in the dning room for a hour or else I would see nothing.

The weather was good having warmed up considerably since the below freezing temperatures of yesterday and the sun frequently broke through the light cloud cover. Here's what I recorded:
  • Greenfinch - first time this year
  • Bullfinch - first ever recording in my garden
  • Coal Tit (2) - first time this year
  • Goldfinch
  • Blackbird (4)
  • Starling (4)
  • House Sparrow (4)
  • Blue Tit
  • Dunnock
  • Wood Pigeon
That made a total of 10 species and 20 individual birds that were in my back garden between 9:35am and 10:35am this morning. I also saw the following birds from my window but as they not actually in my garden I didn't submit them:
  • Skein of Pink-footed Geese (200+)
  • Jay
  • Collared Dove (2)
  • Magpie
  • Gull - probably Black-headed (14+)
I was quite disappointed not to see my fairly regular Robin, Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tits and Chaffinch during the sample time but hey-ho, that's what sampling is all about. All in all it wasn't a bad count for my suburban location.

After an hour the session was over and so I logged on the BGB website and submitted my recordings online.  I didn't take any photographs today as I was too busy counting and recording.  The cats can go out now!

Update: I went out for a walk later along the Tyldesley Loopline footpath near my house and also saw Coal Tits, Blue Tits, House Sparrows, Goldfinches, Robins, a Bullfinch, a Chaffinch, Magpies, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons and five Redwing.  Not a bad day's birding on my local patch.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Pennington Flash

Today I arranged to meet Dave Broome at Penny to collect some unwanted Birdwatching magazines from him that were otherwise destined for recycling.  It was a beautifully crsip and sunny morning but being below freezing I was not hopeful that I'd see much as much of the water would be frozen.  I did have another aim and that was to try to see some Siskin which have been reported there this week.

On arriving at 9:30am I had a quick look in Horrocks Hide before returning to the car park to meet Dave and collect a big box of magazines.  From the hide I could see that the Lapwing had returned in great numbers, with well over a hundred of them on the ice at the bottom of the Spit.  There were also some small groups of Teal and a single Shelduck as well as all the usual suspects.  A quick look over the main Flash which was only partly frozen revealed some male and female Goosander, which I've not seen in this location before - I usually see them from Teal Hide.

This report is still  to be completed, but for now here are some of the better pictures I took today at Penny:

Song Thrush at Bunting Hide

Song Thrush
Male Chaffinch at Bunting Hide

Stock Dove at Bunting Hide

Meadow Pipit behind Ramsdale's Ruck
A pair of Meadow Pipits
Meadow Pipit on fence
Not a great picture, but is it also a Meadow Pipit ?
Kestrel near Ramsdale's Hide

Part of a Skein of Pink-footed Geese

Mute Swans landing on the main Flash
Mallard Splash 1
Mallard Splash 2

Male Teal on main Flash

Female Teal on main Flash
Teal and Mallard from Horrocks Hide

Teal Cuddle

Teal head on

Teal close up

I call this one 'Rock and Teal'

A poor picture of a Siskin
Another poor picture of a Siskin
Yet another poor picture of a Siskin
Are my ears frostbitten ?
My daughter thought this was cute - until I told her it was a rat!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Moses Gate Country Park

I decided to go to Moses Gate today to pick a Goosander or two for my new year list.  I was also hopeful I might see a Kingfisher or Dipper on the River Irwell there but no luck there I'm afraid. 

Here's a quick summary of what I did see:
  • Goosander (8 male and 12 female)
  • Grey Heron
  • Tufted Duck
  • Long tailed Tit
  • Dunnock
  • Robin
  • Carrion Crow
  • Great Tit
  • Blue Tit
  • Blackbird
  • Black headed Gull
  • Mute Swan
  • Mallard
  • Pigeon
  • Canada Goose
  • Moorhen
  • Coot
  • and two quite beautiful but elusive deer faun