Saturday, 30 April 2011

NestCam Update

Six eggs at breakfast time today - I got up a bit later this morning and the birds had already gone.  However they did return from time to time to bring in fresh feathers.  It's pretty windy at the moment and the mike in the nest box makes it sound like a hurricane (but you can't hear that on the NestCam at present).

Friday, 29 April 2011

Astley Moss and Rindle Road

Whimbrel in field
I went out fairly late this afternoon for a look round Rindle Wood and Astley Moss in the hope of seeing the cuckoos which have been reported there this week.  There were no birds at all along the often packed feeding station track as I left the car and approached the Wood.

Whimbrel on the move
The first thing I saw was a pair of Whimbrel in a field and so I spent some time trying to get a decent photograph through the trees along Rindle Hedge - unfortunately the results aren't that great - it was very windy and I couldn't keep the camera completely still without a tripod.

One Pheasant has been alerted by my presence
I also saw a pair of plump Pheasants in the same field who scurried away as soon as they heard me coming and I could hear Willow Warblers in the trees but I couldn't see any here.

And now bith of them have
By now I was at the bottom of Rindle Hedge and so I decided to walk the opposite way round the SSSI trail to my normal anti-clockwise route. The water in the scrapes here was very low and there were quite a few flies about.  There weren't many birds about at all, save for a couple of Carrion Crows above the trees in the distance.

Then, as I approached the newly created raised pools, I heard a Cuckoo call in the distance.  After 10 minutes of looking through my binoculars I couldn't see it and so I carried on up the path where I did see a Reed Bunting and a Yellowhammer in the trees and several other LBJ's flying from the Moss into the trees that border the ploughed field.

A little further down the path the Cuckoos called again, this time for a longer period of time. When I looked though my bins I got a brief glimpse of two grey birds flying over the distant trees on the edge of the Moss - I'm sure these were two Cuckoos because their wings were very pointed - and then they were gone, not to be seen again tonight.

At the far end of the path I met up with Dave Thacker and we had a good chat whilst looking in the newly ploughed field behind Rindle Wood.  There were many different birds here, which I've listed below:
  • A single Oystercatcher
  • Lapwings
  • Skylarks
  • Blackbirds
  • Mallard
  • Mistle Thrushes
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Many Swallows flying low over the ploughed field catching flies

Before leaving we had a last look for the Cuckoos to no avail, but we did see a couple of Willow Warblers singing their hearts out and silhouetted against the sky as the sun was going down. As we walked back to Rindle Road, we heard a Curlew calling in the distance and then eventually saw it on the ground in the far field next to the new Rindle cottage.
  • A single Curlew
  • 2 Grey Partridges
  • A Marsh Harrier

We had great views of the Marsh Harrier being mobbed by the Curlew and a Lapwing as it looked for nests on the ground.  It had a couple of inner primaries missing from its right wing and Dave now thinks this was a 2nd calendar year male, but I'll have to take his word for that! 

Here's how the story unfolded:

Curlew sees Marsh Harrier
Curlew goes for Marsh Harrier
Curlew hits Marsh Harrier and veers off
Lapwing joins in
Lapwing bides its time
Lapwing goes for it
Marsh Harrier flies off luckily without losing any more feathers

Thanks Dave, I'd have a missed a lot these birds if you hadn't been there tonight. Here are some enhanced pictures of the Marsh Harrier with a bit of artistic license:

NestCam Update

There are 5 eggs in the nest box this morning and we're now wondering how many we're going to get.  Another box I know already has 9 and the average in 8.  It's Will and Kate's big day today, they're going to be watched by millions on TV - the wonders of my little nestcam and the internet!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

NestCam Update

There were four eggs this morning at 5:30am when I checked, keeping true to the 'one-a-day' laying schedule so far.  At this time the male bird was calling outside and the female left for a short while before returning to sit on the nest.  While she was doing this the male flew in and out feeding her caterpillar grubs several times as he did last night. Later on she left the box and currently (9:30am) the four eggs are in full view.

Minor Update 1:

Crikey she's been busy this morning! When I last looked at 9:35am the four eggs could be clearly seen - now at 9:54am the nestbox is absolutely full of feathers!

Minor Update 2:

Today's four eggs at 5:19pm this aftermoom - a much clearer picture than the one taken this morning.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

NestCam Update

This evening for the first time we got a good view of the male Blue Tit feeding the female whilst she was sitting on the eggs.  He would fly away into a nearby willow tree and return with small whitish grubs which are probably caterpillars.

When he got near the nestbox he would make a short call and the female would make an excited reply from the nestbox.  Then he'd fly into the box and pass the grub to her.  This carried on for about ten minutes or so with the male returning every 2 or 3 minutes with another grub for the female.

Pennington Flash

I spent a very pleasant few hours walking round Penny today hoping to add some new birds to my list.  Here's the best of what I saw:

  • Black-necked Grebes - excellent views only a few metres away from me at Horrocks Hide
  • Common Sandpiper - year tick
  • Redshank
  • Oystercatcher
  • Common Tern
  • Little Ringed Plover
  • Abberant Lesser Redpoll with yellow poll on forehead

No sign of the Scaup or the Garganey though.

NestCam Update

Three eggs this morning and counting - it seems that one is being laid every night.  The female only returns to the nest a few times during the day when she brings in more feathers and sits on the eggs for while.  She seems to be settling down for the night round 7:30pm and getting her morning alarm call from the male at about 5:45am.

I did a bit of research on the web yesterday and have discovered that Blue Tits lay between 5 and 16 eggs, although 8 seems to be the average.  They take 14 days to hatch and up to 19 days to fledge - we can't wait.

There's also been a Magpie snooping around this morning so I'll have to put my cats on sentry duty - they'll never catch it but they might scare it off.

BTW - we've decided to call them Wills and Kate - how cheesy is that !?!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

River Ribble - Marles Wood to Dinckley Hall and Hurst Green

I went for walk along a short stretch of the River Ribble with two work colleagues today and this produced the follwoing birds:
  • Female Goosander with seven young in tow
  • 2 Dippers near the bridge
  • Female Mallard with about ten ducklings
  • Two drake Mallards
  • Lots of swallows over the fields
  • Curlew calling
  • Chaffinch and Chiffchaff singing loudly in the woods near Stonyhust College
  • Lots of unidentified warblers - still learning the calls
  • Grey Heron over the river on the way home
I wrote the original report of these sightings on the Manchester Birding Forum

NestCam Update

At 5:40am this morning the Blue Tit was sitting on two eggs and still continuing to make improvement to the nest.  Anytime now I expect to hear the male calling outside and the female will then leave the nestbox for a while to feed revealing the eggs.  However, she does seomtimes seem to deliberately cover up the eggs with feathers, perhaps to keep them warm or just hide them whilst she is away, and so they may not be visible.

Keep watching as the clarity and colour of the video will improve as the light increases. At this stage there are still long periods of inactivity when the female is out feeding and so during some of these I'll replay video clips taken during the day.

Please feel free to leave a comment or tick a reaction box at the bottom of these blog posts.

Monday, 25 April 2011


We have one Easter Egg in the Big Birdie House!  This was laid sometime between 11pm last night and 6am this morning.  I got up when I heard the male bird calling from outside and the female had already left the box when I got downstairs, revealing one tiny little Blue Tit egg.

The nestbox has been empty for most of the day when I've looked, but it's obviously been visited regularly because a pile of new white feathers have appeared.  These seem to have been used to cover the egg whilst the female was away.

As of 19:46 tonight the female Blue Tit is currently setting down for the night, whilst sitting on the egg and improving the nest by weaving the feathers into it.  The male is still outside calling at the moment, perhaps to let her know that everything is OK.  This will stop soon and he'll return in the morning.

Great Stuff! - Come back in the daylight for some better pictures with a touch of colour. And in the morning there maybe some more eggs in view.

Friday, 22 April 2011

This Evening in My Garden

It was like Manchester Airport with all the aerial traffic in and over my garden this evening when I saw the following:
  • Blue Tits in and around the nest box
  • Blackbirds - severall pairs
  • Goldfinches - singing loudly from the tops of conifers and rooftop aerials
  • A Greenfinch singing in a conifer and then from a rooftop aerial
  • A Coal Tit briefly
  • A Magpie lurking around the rooftops
  • Starlings - ever present
  • House Sparrows nesting in my next door neighbours eaves - young making lots of noise
  • Collared Doves
  • Woodpigeons
  • Carrion Crows over
  • Gulls returning to roost from Astley Tip I expect
Earlier in the day I also saw Kes, our resident Kestrel from a distance and two low flying Carrion Crows one of which had so few ofeathers in its wings I could see straight through them.

Our Nesting Blue Tits

The time now seems right to mention our nesting Blue Tits.  I bought a bird box with a camera from Aldi in February last year and although I put it up last spring, it hadn't been used by any birds until now.  Then in March of this year two Blue Tits started to pop in and out fairly frequently, although there was no sign of any actual nest building.  The female bird would regularly fly in and peck away at the wooden floor of the nest box and this would be accompanied with wing spreading and fluttering for up to five minutes at a time before leaving.  Sometimes both birds would enter the box briefly with the female looking submissive to the larger male.

This behaviour went on for most of March and into April with no signs of nest building at all.  The female would peck so hard at the floor of the box that it could be heard from quite a distance away and it sounded quite like a woodpecker.  After doing some research on the net it seems that this activity is very common but no-one has a definite explanation for it.  Some think the bird is testing the structure to check that it is stable and secure, whilst others think it's part of the mating ritual.  Our birds didn't actually peck away at the entrance hole like some do, but to me it went on for so long and with such vigour that she seemed to be trying to make a hole in the bottom of the box, perhaps to allow air to flow through the nest - just my two penn'orth though.

Anyway, the good news is that in early April the birds (probably only the female) started to bring in some moss and grassy bits. Each night when we got home from work we'd anxiously look to see what had happened during the day.  It was very strange because sometimes there seemed to be less material in the box the box than on the previous day and we suspected that the box might be being raided by another bird, although we never actually saw this happen. And then last week the female bird started to bring in feathers and so it was starting to look serious - but I do know that even at this stage the nest can still be abandoned.

On Monday of this week (18/04/11) I noticed that our other nest box (which is quite close but lower down and without a camera) was being investigated by some Blue Tits - first one and then both of them went inside the box.  I assumed that they were the same pair that we'd been watching over the last few weeks.  When one bird started removing nest material from the top box to the lower box I thought they were considering moving home, but then it clicked - this was a new pair of birds looking to set up their own nest in the lower box by stealing material from the upper box. 

I soon confirmed that there were at least three birds when I saw one on the camera in the upper box and two other birds squabbling outside the lower box.  These must have been the two males because they started chasing each other all round the garden as one defended it's territory from the other. So the mystery of the disappearing nesting material was solved and the culprit was caught with feathers in its mouth.

But now back to the main story: last night (21/04/11) the female bird nestled down and spent at least some of the night in the box - I don't actually know how long it was there because I went to bed at about 11pm and it wasn't there at 6am in the morning. And. as I go to bed tonight, the bird is once again snugly tucked in - things are definitely looking promising so watch this space.

Live Video Feed

As soon as the feathers had been brought in, I investigated how to make a live video feed from the nest box camera for my blog and eventually I settled on running a streaming video server from my home computer using the excellent WebCamXP software.  While the birds are nesting. you'll see the live video stream at the top of the blog page.

This is my frst go a running a live webcam and although the quality is not brilliant, you can see what's happening.  I may also post some recorded videos of good moments when there are any worth viewing.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Tyldesley Loopline and Environs

A quick walk round my local patch before tea produced:
  • Kes, our resident Kestrel hunting and perched in a tree
  • Luke, our local leucistic Blackbird who I see quite frequently
  • 3 Chiffchaff singing
  • 1 Song Thrush
  • 4 Robins
  • Several Blue Tits and Great Tits
  • 2 Magpies
  • Many Blackbirds and Woodpiegons
  • Another acrobatic Grey Squirrel

Lilford Woods and Environs

First of all I need to say what a great place this is - if you've never been or have not been for a few years like me, get yourself down there.

Apart from a couple of weeks ago, the last time I came here was about 10 years ago, when I was only focused on tiring the kids out on the playground. It's a shame the animal section has long gone, but there's a new trail around the edge of the flood basin and through the woods, and lots of little diversions off it into the trees. A fantastic place in the early morning spring sunshine and the woods were alive with birdsong.

Whilst there today I saw the following birds:
  • Chiffchaffs singing but not seen
  • Many Chaffinch, Blackbirds, Blue tits and Great Tits
  • 2 Long-tailed Tits
  • 1 Nuthatch ascending a conifer trunk
  • 1 Wren (carrying nest material I think)
  • Several Magpies, Crows and Woodpigeons
  • An acrobatic Grey Squirrel - they maybe regarded as vermin but they're still fun to watch
I didn't manage to see a Green Woodpecker or a Treecreeper which have both been reported here, but the Nuthatch and Wren madeup for it. There's stiil loads more for me to see so I'll probably be back again this week.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Tyldesley Loopline and Environs

A quick walk round before United play City in the FA Cup this afto produced:
  • 1 Jay (I've finally found one here)
  • 1 leucistic Blackbird - must be the same one that appeared in my garden
  • Several other Blackbirds
  • Loads of Robins singing away and posing for photos
  • Several Chiffchaff, one of which was quite obliging for photos
  • Blue Tit
  • Great Tit
  • Goldfinch
  • Bullfinch
  • House Sparrow
  • Magpie
  • Woodpigeons
  • Carrion Crow over
Under a Chiffchaff


A Singing Chiffchaff



Robin on Ground
Robin Closeup

Robin in Tree



Luke - our local leucistic Blackbird

Silver Birch Tree

Friday, 15 April 2011

Astley Moss

A pleasant early evening stroll round the edge of the Astley Moss SSSI with Dave Thacker prodoced:
  • Ring Ouzel - only a fleeting glimpse but positively identified by white bar on chest
  • Blackbirds - one with a white spot (mistaken by me for the Ring Ouzel at first)
  • Whimbrel
  • Wheatear
  • Yellowhammer
  • Fieldfare
  • Mistle Thrush
  • Lapwing
  • Swallow
  • Great Tit
  • Wren (ticking away in Rindle Wood)
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Mallard (three drakes together in a field) as well as a single elsewhere
  • Willow Warbler (one sighted as well many singing)
  • Woodpigeon
Dave kindly pointed out the Long-tailed Tit's nest that he's been watching develop over the last week or so.  On the Manchester Biridng Forum he recently explained how he sat down and held out feathers which the birds came and took from his hand to build their nest - amazing!

Nice to also briefly meet Melanie Beckford (with the big hair as she puts it) as I was heading for home.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Rindle Road, Rindle Wood and Astley Moss SSSI

Tonight, between 4:30 and 6pm on a very pleasant walk with my other half round Rindle Road, Rindle Wood and the trail around the edge of the SSSI, produced:
  • Male and Female Pheasant on Rindle Road near Nook Lane
  • 2 Tree Sparrows in f67
  • 2 Yellowhammers in f67
  • 1 Chaffinch in hawthorne along road
  • Buzzard over the trees near the railway line
  • Several Lapwing displaying in f67/68
  • Many Carrion Crows and Wood Pigeons in f69
  • 2 Kestrels (1 over Astley Moss and the other over f67)
  • 2 Mallards in pools
  • 3 Blue Tits in Wood
  • 1 Great Tit in Wood 
  • 1 Wren in Wood
  • 4 Wheatear in the ploughed field between the SSSI pools and Rindle Hedge (year tick)
  • 1 Yellowhammer and a Pied Wagtail in same ploughed field
  • 2 Mistle Thrushes and 2 Grey Partridges in f69
  • Several Crows, Magpies and Blackbirds around
  • Several other unidentified LBJ's (moved too fast for us)
On leaving the 'Moth Man' (whose name I'm afraid I don't know even though I've met him many times) said there had been a Corn Bunting on the wires near Rindle Cottages earlier in the week.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Tyldesley Loopline and Environs

I've finally got round to starting a new thread on the Manchester Birding Forum called 'Tyldesley Loopline and Environs'.  This is a narrow strip of land that centres on the old railway line route in Tyldesley which separates the main road from the large housing estate down below. 

The railway line which used to run to Worsley and Eccles was scrapped by Beeching in the 1960's and in this area it's been turned into a wooded pathway by planting a variety of trees about 25 years ago when I first moved in.  I, and a few neighbours who moved in 1982-3, have still got some of the cinders and rocks in my garden because we used to raid the disused trackbed for rockery and other materials for our newly-built houses and gardens.

This is now my local birding patch as it's only about 500m from where I live and I intend to post my sightings here at least once a week.  So watch this space!

On my trip out tonight I saw the following birds:
  • 3 Chiffchaffs singing and two seen
  • 1 very vocal Wren
  • 2 Robins proclaiming their territory
  • 3 Blackbirds
  • 1 Goldfinch
  • 2 Magpies
  • 2 Great Tits
  • 2 Blue Tits
  • 1 Carrion Crow over
  • Several Gulls over
  • Numerous Woodpigeons
Aye Jim lad !
But the surprise of the evening was a green coloured Parrot or Macaw with a yellow and reddish underbelly and a greyish head. It was tame and ringed and it flew down on to my back whilst I was photographing it munching the blossom.

I walked with it on my back (aye Jim lad) for a few hundred metres but it flew off when I opened my car door. Anyone know what this bird might be and if I should I report if somewhere?

Who's a pretty boy then?

And no, I haven't put it on my life list.


Thanks to Steve Christmas on the Manchester Birding Forum this parrot has now be identified as a Senegal Parrot - cheers Steve!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Moss Lane, Astley Moss

Moss Lane
Even though I've got loads of work to do, I couldn't resist going out again today as the sun was still shining, intermittently at least.  I went in search of the Wheatear that has been sighted down Moss Lane but ended up with a Little Owl instead!

Little Owl

I've seen a Little Owl only once before down here last year, and when I looked again over the following weeks, I couldn't find it again.  So it was very nice to see it again today -  I never did see the Wheatear though.

Little Owl

Boy has it changed down Moss Lane since I last came a few weeks ago. All the high banks on the north side of the Lane have gone and the fields where the pipeline work has been done have been made good and ploughed. It all looks a lot more open again now.

Moss Lane