Sunday, 6 December 2015

Sunday Birdwatch Challenge 3

Our weekly Birdwatch was done this morning at 9:30 for an hour, just to see if time of day affected the results. At mine there was an overcast and a few showers, Ryan's was windy, but that didn't stop the birds from showing. We saw a lot of individuals each, but Ryan's species was very low, 4 compared to my 12. These are our results from today compared with each other (I'm the blue).

 The male Chaffinch which came down was hopping as it was missing a foot. It looked in quite good health otherwise and so did the female. The Goldcrest and Song Thrush were a nice bonus for today. I usually only see them in the garden around this time of year when it starts getting colder. There was about 17 Feral Pigeons sat on the roof, however only four came down into the garden. Here are todays results with the previous weeks.


Results are definitely fluctuating, can't see any patterns yet, we will have to wait to see what they are like with a few more weeks for comparison. I did a Birdwatch this Tuesday just gone (1/12/2015) but it was throughout the day. This is what I saw
3 Dunnock
2 Feral Pigeon
3 Blue Tit
6 Blackbird
3 Magpie
2 Robin
5 House Sparrow
2 Great Tit
1 Coal Tit
4 Jackdaw
1 Treecreeper
14 Long Tailed Tit
3 Collared Dove
1 Woodpigeon
1 Crow
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker 
There are some good species coming into the garden like the Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Woodpecker etc, but their numbers are low, possibly to do with their territories for the winter.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sunday Birdwatch Challenge 2

This weekend Ryan and I did our second challenge of counting the bird species and individuals we saw in our gardens for an hour. We started at 13:00 and finished at 14:00. Within that time both of our weathers have been very windy (30-40mph), it has rained and been very grey.

View from the window

From the looks of the trees bashing about in the wind, we both didn't think we would get any birds at all. With a cuppa and pineapple and ham panini in hand, the clocks started. these are our results...

Ryan                                                                             Me

5  House Sparrow                                                        6  House Sparrow
                                                                                     5  Blackbird
                                                                                     2  Blue Tit
                                                                                     2  Great Tit
                                                                                     2  Dunnock
                                                                                     2  Collared Dove
                                                                                     2  Feral Pigeon
                                                                                     2  Magpie
                                                                                     1  Robin
                                                                                     1  Coal Tit
                                                                                     1  Wren
                                                                                     1  Woodpigeon

Total 5                                                                          Total 27

We are putting the lack of birds at Ryan's down to the weather. Giving the wind was over 40mph, not many birds braved it. Or the birds are just be tougher up north. These are our results compared to last weeks...



Monday, 23 November 2015

weekend birdwatch challenge

At the weekend was the North West bird festival. Unfortunately I couldn't go, but I managed to get out and do some of my own birding. On Saturday I watched my football team, undeservedly, get beaten by Blackburn Rovers 2-1 boo! However, I got over it (so I say) with two great games of bowling and arcade games. Sunday was supposed to be a day out in Yorkshire, but was unfortunately cancelled. So I set off out with dad to do some birding at Newton Marsh.
We spent about two hours there and in that time a few birders came and headed off. The first bird I saw was the usual Kestrel perched on the phone wires, looking very chuffed with itself. The bankings were full of Wigeon, calling to one another. Most of them were sleeping or preening, they soon became more lively when the Kestrel flew overhead.

The odd Teal was dotted about within the group of Wigeon, along with Mallards. It was nice to see six Shovellors dreaming away on the sides, which didn't really move the whole time I was there. What was even better to see were three Gadwall which were calmly paddling about around the centre.

A small group of Canada Geese were in the field to the left and another flock of geese flew right inland. Whilst dad was in the car warming up, I went on a little wonder down the road, just to see if anything was there. I didn't see much on the way down but coming back up, I accidently flushed thirteen Common Snipe which I didn't even notice. There was also a pile of feathers, an unlucky Redshank. When I got back to the car, one last look across the marsh, showed a Hare running through the sheep.

Whilst the sun was still unusually shining, Ryan asked if I would like to do an hour Birdwatch and compare results. So at 1:30 we put food out, sat back and waited. By five minutes he had had  thirteen House Sparrows and I had had one Sparrow and one Dunnock. The species and numbers started increasing, but not by many, and before we knew it, time was up. By 2:30 these were our results...
Ryan                                  Me
1 Blackbird                      2 Blackbird
1 Dunnock                        3 Dunnock 
2 Woodpigeon                  1 Woodpigeon
2 Blue Tit                         2 Blue Tit     
1 Robin                             1 Robin
14 House Sparrow           4 House Sparrow
1 Magpie                         2 Magpie
6 Starling                       3 Great Tit           
1 Collared Dove                1 Wren

total 29                              total 19

It was very good fun and a competitive challenge which for both of us ended in a cuppa. Same again next weekend!

Ryan's view from window

Sunday, 8 November 2015

28/5/15 Dock walk

Me and my Granddad usually go to the docks to feed the birds seed and watch the Common and Arctic Terns nesting on the break waters. Whilst he chats to the fishermen I wonder off on a hour walk along the banking's. I have found some good skulls along here including a male Goldeneye. However, I thought I may as well push the time limit as it was a nice day and I felt like I may find some more things further down in a part I hadn't explored before. I hadn't found anything really on my usual banking, so I was hoping this new part would offer up some gifts. I was right!

As soon as I turned the corner, there was a mute swan skeleton, I had seen this one in the dock basin and had been looking for it for some time. However the skull wasn't there. So I continued my walk. There was a female Mallard with eleven ducklings feeding in the grasses, along with two Shelduck. Under a tree I found some black feathers but didn't think much of them. However not so far away, there were more, I found a washed up Cormorant!! I had first found one of these at Cockerham, but I wasn't really into bone collecting then so didn't take it home. So I was very happy when I found this.

I carried on downstream and found three sheep, I don't like taking Sheep skulls, so I left them. However there was a Lesser Black Backed Gull skeleton not so far away, so I took the skull from that. I was supposed to be heading back now but I still felt as if there was something else to find. And again I was right! Next to a log was another bird. It looked like a huge version of a Guillemot. It had a white belly and breast, a greyish head and neck and the feet, beak, back, wings and tail were black. I was torn between a Diver (which was most likely) and a huge Guillemot, as the plumage wasn't really in great shape to judge it by, so I waited for the skull to be cleaned.

It turned out to be a diver. I had just found the Black Throated Diver skull a few months ago, so I was hoping it was a different species. The Black and Red are very similar, so it was a game of spot the difference. After more debating whether it was one or the other, we came to a decision...
It's a Red Throated Diver!!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Italy wildlife

I went on the college trip to Itlay on the 22nd to the 26th. We did all sorts, but whilst others where looking at the rocks and monuments i was also looking at the wildlife.

There were a lot, and i mean a lot, of butterflies. The common ones such as Large and Small Whites, Small Tortoiseshells and the odd Painted Lady were flying around, with them were Swallowtails, Brimstones, Ringlets and i even saw a Hummingbird Hawk Moth. These butters were on Capri and at the very top of Mt Vesuvius, which really surprised me.
I also managed to see a few lizards scuttering around, many many bats, dragonflies and a snake. One night i found a large beetle being eaten by ants, which was great to see up close.

I didn't managed to get much birding done but i did do my best. I went out with my friend one night and was watching about 30 screeching Swifts fly along the cliff face and soar in the sky. We got a very close encounter with a LBB Gull, and I saw four unidentifiable birds throughout the trip. I'm a terrible birder.... Took my bins out when they weren't needed and left them when they were needed, typical. We went to a birdless lake which was supposedly the entrance to Hades, but it wasn't birdless at all. It was full of Coots, the odd Great Crested Grebe and a very ugly Muscovy (no offence to those Muscovy lovers).

By the end of the trip, my bird book had the odd pressed flower in from the places we visited instead of new ticks. But overall, I had a great time!!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Southport Hides

On the 30th May me and dad went on the motorbike to Southport to do some birding. I found two prickly cockles and a geocache, but the birdies i saw were; Whitethroat, Swifts, Skylarks, Swallows, lots of Gulls, Dunlins, Godwits, Little Grebes, Gadwalls and Shovellors. I've seen warblers before but haven't had the skills to properly identify them, so this time, i got some pictures of one and managed to ID it as a Reed Warbler. I should be ashamed that I've only just managed to tick it off, but....well i don't have a good reason. But at least that embarrassing tick is over and done with.
I also ticked off Mediterranean Gull and Avocet. I'm glad these are ticked off as well. The Avocet is a very smart bird and i love its beak, very smart.

Friday, 3 July 2015


Well I'm off to Cockerham for a week or so as usual. I'm hoping to see some more great new birds and bump up my year list (which isn't going very well so far). I've got my bags packed and my camera ready, fingers crossed for some amazing wildlife spectacles. Throughout summer I've got a few things planned which should keep me outdoors most of the time.

Italy was great last week and the views and monuments were beautiful. I saw many different butterflies, even up around the crater of Mt Vesuvius! Even a Snake in a bird less lake (which wasn't bird less at all, not sure where they came up with that name). Anyway, enjoy summer!!


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Fairhaven Diver

I wrote about a twitch I went on to Fairhaven Lake back in February, to see the Red Throated Diver ( click here to see it ). At the bottom I had written I had found a Great Northern Diver. Well... turns out it wasn't a Great Northern. At first I had measured it to be just over 160mm range, which was in the right area for a GND.

However, once I had the final skull, it measured to be 120mm. The feathers had added an extra 40mm on! After some conversing with Ben Garrod and Paolo Viscardi, we concluded that this is a Black Throated Diver!!
The skull needed a bit more cleaning, so I scrubbed it and left it soaking in some hydro pero over night. This is before the cleaning to the end result.

I am really pleased with the final piece, it is definitely one of my favourite skulls in my collection now. I doubt I will find another one of these, so this to me is very valuable!

Red-necked Phalarope Twitch 7.6.15

I have college starting again tomorrow and I had nothing to do today. I decided to go to church and whilst I was there, I received two messages about a Phalarope which was at Newton Marsh. I didn't really think I would be able to go, but luckily my dad got back home from work for two. Within half an hour, I was in my motorbike leathers and we headed off to look for Newton Marsh, never mind the Phal. We did get lost, and ended up down some country lanes leading to a farm. By 3:00 we had found the area and was waiting. I went to talk to a birder who was already there, he told me, if it's here, then it's hiding. Another birder came, and looked quite familiar. We recognised each other from the Great Grey Shrike twitch up at Lytham Moss. He told me about a Corncrake which I should go and see, it has even been spotted trying to mate with the local Grey Partridge!


By 3:30, the Phalarope made a distant appearance, in one of the meanders. It was just a black spot! It stayed around that area for about half an hour, until a Buzzard flew over and the next time I looked, it had disappeared.

Most of the birders had gone, I also saw someone I recognised but they didn't stay as they had already been there for a few hours before. At 4:20 we spotted the Phalarope in the middle of the channel, which were better views than before, but not the best, due to the reflection of the sun. Unfortunately it was only there for a minute as it was rudely disturbed by a defensive Shelduck. It was later spotted back in the meander. We decided to head back home, I'm hoping to go back on Wednesday if it is still there.

Thursday, 28 May 2015


Last August my aunty rang me up and told me that she had found something for me, and that I shouldn't tell mum. It was a Badger she had found at the side of the road. It was in pretty bad shape at the start, but I went along with it to see what the final result would be like.

I have not seen a live wild Badger, but this encounter allowed me to study it up close and personal. It is definitely a digging machine, the muscles and the huge claws on the paws where incredible. The fur was rough but I love the pattern on it. I left it at the bottom of the garden and waited quite a few months until I finally saw it again. When I did, I knew it was going to be a task putting the skull back together. There were over 30 large and small pieces that made up this skull. Unfortunately I didn't managed to find the right place for a few of them, but I still am happy with the result it came out like.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

My very own pond

Well, instead of building in the fields behind me, the city council are giving me my very own pond and they don't even know it! They have been building a lot of houses around where I live and I thought they were going to end up filling the fields behind. They have been planning the building for a few years now and no one around here wants them to do it. I really am against the whole process, but if it has to be somewhere, I'm glad its not behind my house.

When they have built in some places, they have been collecting a protective species of newt. I get them in my garden but didn't know they were this important to building sites. The Great Crested Newt is my favourite amphibian and I love finding them in the garden, along with smooth newts, common frogs and toads.
They have collected quite a lot, and this pond they are making is to house these newts. It's a good size and depth. The workers have been on it for over a week now and this is the progress so far.
In the past three days they have moved on to the field behind this one and are making another pond! It's like the council are making me my own little nature reserve. Canada Geese have returned for the fourth year going and have already taken their territory back and are protecting it from their own youngsters. Their offspring from past years have nested in various ponds around the fields. It's always great fun to watch them and especially when their eggs hatch and the littlens are waddling in the long grass. However it's only good fun to watch from a specific distance as I once found out two years back when I was trapped between barbed wire whilst an adult flew at me making a noise.

Meanwhile in the last few weeks or so the Canada Geese have been keeping close to the nest area. The female has been sat on the nest but I haven't had a glimpse of any eggs yet, and the male is keeping on guard. The pond has filled up a lot, and Hawthorn has been planted on one side, so really only we can see into it from the bottom of the garden or from my tree house. The Moorhens have been wondering around it. I think this pond is going to turn out really nicely and hopefully draw in some different wildlife to the area.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Fabien the Fox

On the 28th Dec I went birding at Pilling and found a fox. Here's the tale of the Fox (pun intended).
Unfortunately this fox (now named Fabien) had been hit by a car along one of the country lanes. One of the legs had been badly hit and broken. I found the skeleton behind a fence and only managed to see it because the tail and part of the bottom vertebrae was on the grass verge. At first I thought it was a rat at a distance but as I got closer, I saw the long tail and thought that it wasn't an abnormally large rat, but a fox.
2013 FOX CUB
It was my first ever fox I had found. I have been wanting to find one for ages and then my chance came. I was so happy and couldn't wait to clean it up and add too my collection. I don't have many mammal skulls, mostly birds. My aunty had given me a road killed Badger, but it doesn't feel the same as finding it on my own.
So I cleaned it up a bit and then left it soaking in water over a month or so. Then for a two nights it was left soaking in hydrogen peroxide. This makes it go a clean, whitish colour. However it can't be left in too long otherwise it will go brittle and maybe break, then it was left to dry. It has all its teeth, however the gaps you will see in the following photos are where teeth have fallen out and the bone has healed over. So here is the finished Vulpes Vulpes.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Cockerham at Easter!

Finished college on Friday and came straight up to the caravan at Cockerham. Have been here for two weeks and it's been so good. The weather has been a right mixture; sun, wind, rain, mist, snow and hail. It was unusually misty for four to five days and only seemed to be here and no where else. I tried to get out birding everyday and also did some beachcombing.

I went to Abbey to try and see the Little Owl. Didn't see it unfortunately, but I did find some owl pellets in this spot I know of. There was a Great Tit skull, 2 mice, 7 shrews and 12 voles in the 7 pellets.

I went to Conder Green a few times and managed to find a Mute Swan skull (minus the top beak) and a Pink Footed Goose skull. There were Redshank, Teal, Little Grebe and many other waders on the pools. I keep trying to see the Spotted Redshank which is usually there, but I haven't yet distinguished it from the other Redshanks. At Glasson, there wasn't many 'good' sightings. There were the usual swans and Mallards but not much else.

On one occasion I walked left, past Cockersands and Bank End. I saw loads of mermaids purses but I'm under strict orders not to pick anymore up. Although I did take back a partial Gull skull, which is puzzling me with its true identity.

The rest of the time I spent at Cockerham Sands itself. I went on many walks along the beach and found many more skulls (2 Guillemots, 2 Rabbits, a Herring Gull and a Greylag Goose). Along with over 70+ mermaids purses and 8 Oysters. I got to see my first Swallow of the year on the 8th April flying around the caravans. I got a close encounter with a female Reed Bunting, which wasn't really looking too well.

On one of the sunny days I walked left from the site along the wall, taking macro shots of the mini critters, which had some iridescent colours being hit by the light. There were loads of Drinkers, Spiders, Ladybirds and Beetles climbing up the grass stems, so it was hard to get the camera focused on them.

On the Friday before I went home, I bumped into Pete Woodruff, well I say bumped. Truthfully my grandad dragged me over to talk to him. As we were talking, small groups of Snipe left the marshes as the tide was pushing up the sands. He told me the Wheatear are back near Plover Scarr and that he hadn't seen much else. What we both didn't see coming was that following Monday. I had gone home and he informed me he was following a Wryneck around the caravan site!! A Wryneck in April!!! Here's his post on it...