Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Black Redstart.

A few notes about the Black Redstart to fill my birding/blogging gap. 

Too big a gap if you ask me, and I think Birds2blog may well have to be renamed 'The Weekly Post'....I'm rapidly becoming a broken man you understand!

Black Redstart Geoff Gradwell

Today the Black Redstart (BR) is regarded as a scarce but annual passage migrant in our recording area. I can recall three BR in/around our area over the past few weeks, the most recent one being at Cockersands where - void of any accurate details - this area has a good record for the species, one of which I found myself here on 9 November 2009, this bird stayed for a week which is as long as the current one here actually.

Going back in time to the mid-late 1800's, Mitchell regarded the BR as a rare winter visitor, Oakes noted a bird in our recording area at Hornby in October 1940, and recorded a male in song for a month during the summer of 1949 in Liverpool which has been regarded as 'perhaps the first breeding record' for Lancashire and North Merseyside. In fact the first confirmed record of breeding was made in Liverpool in 1977. The first record of BR in Britain was in London 1829.

The BR's distribution is widespread across S Europe, Middle East, and from Caucasus through Iran to E Tibet. It has long been a scarce breeding bird in England, but the number of pairs rose steadily for 50 years from 1940 until 1990 reaching a peak of around 120 pairs. A dedicated survey in 1977 reported just over 100 territory holding males with 60 pairs proven to breed. Large industrial complexes such as power stations - one was at Heysham in April last year -  are known to be popular with the BR as breeding sites, though it goes without saying these sites are prone to high disturbance and in fact several areas have established Black Redstart Action Plans in attempts to improve the nesting environment for the species. 

There is an interesting record of BR in a secluded cloister in Westminster Abbey in 1940, they were first seen by a lady visiting London from Windermere in Cumberland, now Cumbria. Further investigations regarding these two birds found two BR's around the old Abbey Gardens, on one occasion they were observed hawking flies like a pair of Spotted Flycatchers. Even more interesting was the fact that one of the birds was found to have been a juvenile whilst the other was a parent female, proof of breeding was therefore achieved.

The Black Redstart in song....

And finally....well nearly!

Wheatear. Pete Woodruff.

With the days becoming longer its hard to believe its within reason that you could find your first Wheatear of the year in four weeks time, one of the first signs that spring on its way.

Corn Bunting Simon Hawtin

I see an amazing record of 241 Corn Buntings at Rawcliffe Moss on Saturday, a record not beaten here since 2004. The record can be found HERE 

Barn Owl Brian Rafferty  

And definitely finally....

Couldn't close without another one of those 'can't resist this one' photographs showing the Barn Owl with its latest meal. Don't forget to take advantage of the link to BR's won't regret it.

I have no idea why this post has a mainly white background, nor at this point do I have any idea how to get rid of it. What I do know is....I don't like it!



Warren Baker said...

I'm hoping for a spring BR this year Pete, very rare here, but the odd one has turned up in the past. I'm already scanning the fencelines in preparation for the first Wheatear :-)

news said...

Hi Pete.That was an amazing cpunt of Corn Buntings at Rawcliffe JWB.

Pete Woodruff said... thing for sure, if a Wheatear turns up in your neck of the woods I sure know who will be the one to find it first.

Yes, an amazing count John. I tried to recall the exact three figure number we had one day on Union Lane about a couple of years ago.