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How can a book this good be free?

Posted by on October 16, 2013 7:45 PM | 

Male bearded tit on grit trays - credit Mike Malpass.jpg

Firstly, the stonking Bearded Tit shot is by Mike Malpass - so many thanks for that in the context of an RSPB release I'll come to later...
But before I do that, I've got to remind everyone to gasp in wonder and then enjoy digesting the NEW Breeding and Wintering Atlas of the Birds of Lancs and North Merseyside here
That's right, this marvellous work, an encyclopaedic results of the labours of an army of volunteers out in the field from 2007 to 2011, is absolutely FREE!
Even a mercenary old sod like me has to applaud this modern way of giving every birder in our area the info they need for nothing.
Time was, a book like this would have cost you a fortune, but those lovely folk at the Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Society offer it to us all buckshee.
With the nights drawing in, what better way to spend your time (don't answer that) than to download the pdfs on the link above and get the latest gen on our avifauna, its breeding populations and wintering habits.
An astonishing piece of work, not just by the guys and gals out there who completed the surveys, but the editors who pulled all this information together into a fascinating book.
Just superb....get downloading!
Well done to all involved and many thanks.
A very big hand to:
Steve White (Editor), Barry McCarthy, Stephen Dunstan, Steve Martin, Bob Harris, Graham Hulme and Pete Marsh.
And Mike Malpass' male Beardy?
Here comes the RSPB info from Silverdale.
It's the time of year when people begin to think about stocking up on grit for the winter roads, but at RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve, grit is needed for a very different reason - to help some special residents through the harsher months of the year.
The Silverdale reserve is home to bearded tits, an unusual bird that needs reedbed to thrive in. As the largest reedbed in the north west of England, Leighton Moss provides the perfect place for them to live. Like many birds, bearded tits eat insects throughout the spring and summer, but coming into the colder months, they switch their diet to eating the seeds of the reeds - with the help of grit.
Richard Miller, Assistant Warden at RSPB Leighton Moss, said: "The bearded tits switch their diet so they don't have to migrate like other insect eating birds. However, as they don't have teeth, they eat the grit to grind up the hard reed seed so they can digest it. It might not sound particularly appetising to us, but for the bearded tits, it is a vital ingredient of their meals.
"Here at Leighton Moss, we want to continue to provide a home for these special birds, so alongside managing the reedbed, we put grit out on trays where the birds gather most mornings through October.
"This creates an ideal opportunity for visitors to the reserve to see these otherwise elusive residents, as October is the main month in which the bearded tits make the transition from eating insects to eating reed seeds."
Visitors can look for bearded tits throughout October, but there are also some special Brilliant Beardies guided walks taking place from 9-11 am on Saturday 19 October and Tuesday 22 October. The cost is £5 per adult (£2 for RSPB members).
For more information on other wildlife and events at RSPB Leighton Moss, visit

Before I forget, the growing winter flock of Reed Buntings on the seaward side of the Coast and Countryside Offices at Ainsdale is worth keeping an eye on - now 14+ birds, alongside Mipits, Dunnock, Wren and House Sparrows - they may draw something in yet.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...


Where are the offices, John? Apart from the Coast Road I don't really know that part of town very well.
JD: Hi Jim - turn down to the beach at the Pontins/Sands Pub roundabout, and just before the beach, turn left and drive to end of road (about 300m), where there is a small car park...birds are between buildings and frontal dunes.

The Common Scoter horde has just lifted off en masse on the murky horizon at Ainsdale. At least 1,000 birds, probably more. Very impressive, albeit distant. Adult male Stonechat by Coast and Countryside team's offices at Ainsdale too.

Hi John, Red Kite over Churchtown Moss, 4.00 this afternoon. Mike

Grey Wagtail still knocking around ditch running alongside path between Haskayne Cutting and the fishery. Male Stonechat also travelling up and down same ditch this morning.

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