Friday, 22 October 2010

Not what we were after but we'll certainly take it!

The Safari was worried that Warren's comment yesterday would come true and we'd be waiting all day for the electrician. Thankfully he called early to say he was on his way and then his job didn't take too long. We had a light lunch then hit the nature reserve.
Not much on the water on a murky grey afternoon. About 200 Teal on the scrape and after lengthy scanning we rooted out a single Snipe. A pair of Gadwall were briefly joined by a second male who was swiftly sent packing. Something upset the Teal and they had a bit of a flurry during which we managed to pick out a lone Shoveler, we didn't see the cause of the ago and the nine Cormorants on the bund were as impassive as ever so it almost definitely not what we had come to see.
A solitary Redwing went over the bushes on the far side of the mere, while close by in the reeds we had a Cetti's Warbler giving a snatch of sub (or perhaps juvenile?) song. This Moorhen came so close to the hide window but saw us setting up the camera and scarpered back down to the water' edge and a little out of range.
MMG joined us an we had a mooch down to the next hide where we saw two then a third female Goldeneyes, we knew two were back but the third is a new one in and all three were the first of the season for use. Meanwhile over on the far side a stream of Fieldfares came in, sort of counted at around 200 but we could have missed a few from the front of the flock. Too good an opportunity to miss we high-tailed it round to the Feeding Station where we hoped to find some of them chomping on the apples. No such luck. Plenty of Blue and Great Tits, a Robin or two and a Dunnock or two too. We couldn't decide whether or not there were two Coal Tits.
Checking the feeders a dodgy looking thing was hanging off the far left hand seed. Knock us down with a feather - a Tree Sparrow!!! Site tick and a real rarity here, MMG hadn't seen one here before either and without checking we think it's the first since the 50s or early 60s!!! Needless to say both of us we chuffed to bits. Couldn't get a pic as it disappeared but then fortunatley reappeared in the tree next to the table in front of us. Thank goodness for record shots and a reliable witness otherwise...

It came onto the table and started to feed giving the opportunity to get the little camera out and do a bit of digiscoping...but the scope wouldn't focus that close so we had to move it to the far end of the hide. Luckily out of a load of shots we got a couple of half decent ones, apart from the anti Pheasant wires that is.

What a little beauty!
What happened next had us in raptures...two!!!
Then FOUR...
Then FIVE one of which was ringed, but we were unable to read the numbers. There are several colonies of Tree Sparrows not overly far away including a next box scheme and due to the recent rarity staus of this species they are intensively studied so we would imaging a ringing rate of just 20% is either flukily low or means that the birds aren't locals, maybe some of the ringers who read this can shed some light on these figures.
The one in the middle is a male Chaffinch, the fourth Tree Sparrow is hanging on the wires at the back...
A stonking male Great Spotted Woodpecker was more or less ignored - poor thing turned up at the wrong time!
Talking of turning up, CB turned up at just the right time as the sparrows had vanished when a heavy shower set in but not long after he arrived the rain eased and the Tree Sparrows reappeared. Lucky guy and an up and coming youngster.
Where to next? Back to the reserve there's still a matter of a mammal to complete.
In the meantime let us know what was waiting for you round a corner in your outback.


Fleetwood Birder said...

Hello Dave,

Paul Slade has a nest box scheme for Todderstaffe Hall, which isn't very far away as the Tree Sparrow flies.

Mind you, you just never know. We controlled a Tree Sparrow on Rawcliffe Moss in 2006 that had been ringed 141 km away in south Staffordshire.



Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Thanks Seumus, was wondered about the ratio of ringed to unringed birds locally. There has also been a bit of passage in recent days, spotted two had been seen at Walney on their blog for today, hope they stick around and we can read the number.
Great little birds - remind me of my increasdingly distant youth.


Craig said...

Hi Dave, Thats great about the Tree sparrows, the reserve is going from strength to strength.
Now what we need is.....ospreys next summer!

best wishes,

Warren Baker said...

Corrrrrrrrrrr!!! Tree Sparrows! They look brilliant as well, not seen any since the 70's

Good job that electrician turned up early then ! :-)

unlucky against Birmingham today. Your lot played well for the first half hour.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

The 70's Warren - that's a long time without!!! Used to get em in the hedge on the way to the cricket club were we could get served long before we wwere 18 in the mid 70's - probably still there.
Quite a few sites not too distant from here but a real rarity on the reserve.
You'll note I didn't mention the footy...really need a win!!!!!

Monika said...

Nice with the tree sparrows! Sort of crazy they're so rare over there where they belong, and I regularly have 15+ at my feeders here.