Redpolls Return

December 27, 2015 at 7:58 pm

As if the Goldfinch and Bullfinch numbers in the garden this month were not impressive enough on the 24th we were visited by six Redpolls. This is our first December record for Redpolls and most of these birds have returned for a daily feed. Two are males and even though we are well away from the breeding season there is plenty of red plumage on show. This weeks gallery shows what they will look like by the time we reach May. Click here

I have spent some time during the last three months searching the Pennines for Owls and in all my travels I have only flushed two Woodcock. There should by now be plenty of Scandinavian Woodcock locally and it is a complete mystery as to why they are absent this winter.

The big event of the week has been the record-breaking rainfall and the flooding that has followed. This has not helped the Barn Owls mentioned in last weeks blog and I wonder how many of the recently established Otters have drowned in their holts? Time will tell.

Starving Barn Owls

December 20, 2015 at 7:42 pm

The last six weeks weather patterns with heavy and prolonged rain overnight (and sometimes during the day) could not have been worse for our local Barn Owls. In rain their feathers become waterlogged and they are unable to fly. This, together with the fact that most of their prey remains hidden away, forces them to hunt during the day when catching conditions may be more favourable. On Thursday of last week more than a dozen Barn Owls were out hunting during the day in East Lancashire which is an exceptional number and driven by the continuous wet weather. Lets hope that they eventually found food and are able to survive the rest of winter in whatever weather is thrown at them. Click here
In the garden on the 17th we had our first ever December Siskin. Seventeen House Sparrows fed one day although  one has since been taken by our old male Sparrowhawk. Hopwood woods produced a Coltsfoot in full flower on the 19th. It is certainly a topsy turvey winter so far.

Garden Records

December 13, 2015 at 6:39 pm

For some reason whenever we have wet weather there are lots of birds feeding in the garden. This week has been exceptional with two garden records being broken after 47 years! Firstly on the 11th seven Bullfinches came to feed together and comprised of five males and two females. The following day, at 9.00am, an incredible 39 Goldfinches were present either on the feeders or on the ground. I tried to make it forty but could not find the extra one! Click here

The only bird movements during the week was the appearance of Goosanders locally along the canal with a pair and four others seen.

Lapwings Gather

December 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm

Once again Lapwings are gathering for winter on the roof of Industrial units. My local flock has now reached an impressive 280 on the 28th November and may well increase further as winter progresses.

November has now proved to be the warmest on record and with seven inches of rain the wettest locally since records began. The warmth has resulted in a Hedgehog still feeding in the garden on the 3rd December which is a remarkable date. As for all the wet nights I fear that at least half of all the young Owls that fledged this summer will no longer be with us!

The Merlin is one of the Pennines most secretive raptors and seldom seen away from the hills. The only one that I have ever seen locally was on the 26th December 1976! I had gone out to ring my 1000th Greenfinch of the year (How times have changed!) and what should turn up in the net but a female Merlin! It certainly made my Christmas. This weeks gallery includes photos from breeding Merlin in Bowland. Click here