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My Train Driving List

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Old Friday 3rd May 2019, 10:40   #1
andreadawn
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My Work (Train Driving) List

I've never bothered keeping lists but decided it might be interesting to see how many species I have seen whilst doing my job of driving trains. I have only included species where I have been 100% sure of the identification. I see lots of birds but often only very briefly and my slow-working brain (as far as bird ID is concerned anyway!) can't always identify things in the few seconds available especially when it comes to small passerines. My boss also somewhat annoyingly insists that there are more important things for me to be looking at!

1. Mute Swan.
2. Canada Goose.
3. Barnacle Goose.
4. Greylag Goose.
5. Pink-footed Goose.
6. Shelduck.
7. Wigeon.
8. Mallard.
9. Shoveler.
10. Gadwall.
11. Pintail.
12. Teal.
13. Pochard.
14. Tufted Duck.
15. Goldeneye.
16. Red-breasted Merganser.
17. Goosander.
18. Eider.
19. Cormorant.
20. Great Crested Grebe.
21. Little Grebe.
22. Black-headed Gull.
23. Common Gull.
24. Herring Gull.
25. Lesser Black-backed Gull.
25. Great Black-backed Gull.
26. Oystercatcher.
27. Avocet.
28. Ringed Plover.
29. Lapwing.
30. Golden Plover.
31. Sanderling.
32. Knot.
33. Dunlin.
34. Redshank.
35. Common Sandpiper.
36. Black-tailed Godwit.
37. Curlew.
38. Snipe.
39. Woodcock.
40. Grey Heron.
41. Little Egret.
42. Great Egret.
43. Spoonbill.
44. Moorhen.
45. Coot.
46. Red-legged Partridge.
47. Grey Partridge.
48. Pheasant.
49. Woodpigeon.
50. Collared Dove.
51. Barn Owl.
52. Tawny Owl.
53. Little Owl.
54. Short-eared Owl.
55. Osprey.
56. Common Buzzard.
57. Red Kite.
58. Marsh Harrier.
59. Sparrowhawk.
60. Kestrel.
61. Merlin.
62. Peregrine.
63. Green Woodpecker.
64. Great Spotted Woodpecker.
65. Swift.
66. Swallow.
67. House Martin.
68. Skylark.
69. Meadow Pipit.
70. Pied Wagtail.
71. Grey Wagtail.
72. Dunnock.
73. Wren.
74. Starling.
75. Blackbird.
76. Song Thrush.
77. Mistle Thrush.
78. Fieldfare.
79. Redwing.
80. Robin.
81. Stonechat.
82. Wheatear.
83. Blackcap.
84. Chiffchaff (usually confirmed by voice when I have the window open).
85. Long-tailed Tit.
86. Blue Tit.
87. Great Tit.
88. Coal Tit.
89. Jackdaw.
90. Carrion Crow.
91. Rook.
92. Raven.
93. Jay.
94. Magpie.
95. House Sparrow.
96. Tree Sparrow.
97. Chaffinch.
98. Goldfinch.
99. Greenfinch.
100. Siskin.
101. Linnet.
102. Yellowhammer.

Not too shoddy I guess, though there are a few introductions in there. It no doubt helps that the main route I drive is a fairly slow speed route, and crosses two large river estuaries and passes through a RSPB reserve (Leighton Moss). Unfortunately trains also kill lots of birds but it is perhaps best that I keep my kill list to myself.

Last edited by andreadawn : Wednesday 19th June 2019 at 16:14. Reason: Minor change to thread title
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Old Friday 3rd May 2019, 10:54   #2
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Ooooh!! What a great job you have Andrea... and in such a lovely area too.

That's a pretty good list you've got there lass.
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Old Friday 3rd May 2019, 11:57   #3
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Fantastic stuff Andrea, as a lad I of course dreamt of being an engine driver but switched to birds when steam finished! Your boss sounds a real fusspot, worrying about red lights or closed level crossings instead of letting you clinch a species id.
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Old Friday 3rd May 2019, 11:59   #4
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No rails on that list?
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Old Saturday 4th May 2019, 04:41   #5
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Quote:
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No rails on that list?


I do see lots of sea creatures as for some odd reason wagons used by the engineering departments are all named after marine organisms. So I probably see plenty of dogfish, turbot, sealions, starfish; maybe a few walrus too and very occasionally a mermaid!
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Old Saturday 4th May 2019, 06:46   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrea
I do see lots of sea creatures as for some odd reason wagons used by the engineering departments are all named after marine organisms. So I probably see plenty of dogfish, turbot, sealions, starfish; maybe a few walrus too and very occasionally a mermaid!
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Old Wednesday 19th June 2019, 16:12   #7
andreadawn
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Managed to add a couple of species in the last couple of weeks.

103. Bar-tailed Godwit - on the saltmarsh pools at Leighton Moss.
104. Marsh Tit - poking about in the vegetation on the disused bit of the platform at Silverdale, also adjacent to Leighton Moss.
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Old Wednesday 19th June 2019, 19:06   #8
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It beats any office job, even with the commute thrown in, I suspect
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Old Wednesday 19th June 2019, 20:41   #9
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Originally Posted by andreadawn View Post
84. Chiffchaff (usually confirmed by voice when I have the window open).
Quote:
Originally Posted by andreadawn View Post
Managed to add a couple of species in the last couple of weeks.

103. Bar-tailed Godwit - on the saltmarsh pools at Leighton Moss.
104. Marsh Tit - poking about in the vegetation on the disused bit of the platform at Silverdale, also adjacent to Leighton Moss.
Shouldn't be too difficult to add Willow Warbler in the same way - must surely be some audible at one or another of the stations you stop at
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Old Thursday 20th June 2019, 20:47   #10
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Shouldn't be too difficult to add Willow Warbler in the same way - must surely be some audible at one or another of the stations you stop at
Yes, Willow Warbler ought to be on my list but maybe I just tune it out whilst focusing on something else. Chiffchaff on the other hand cannot be tuned out whatever else I am doing! I'll make a special effort to add Willow Warbler.
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Old Saturday 21st September 2019, 14:53   #11
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Added today, another one from the saltmarsh pools at Leighton Moss -

105. Greenshank.

There was a large flock of mixed waders present. I know from a recent visit to the reserve that there have been Spotted Redshanks and Curlew Sandpipers in that flock but I'm not sure I'd be able to pick them out from a train passing at 60mph if they are still present.
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Old Sunday 6th October 2019, 18:13   #12
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Saw what was almost certainly a ringtail Hen Harrier a couple of days ago whilst driving Preston to Blackpool North. Just needed a few more seconds I think to be certain of the ID so can't really add it to my list. It's a bit frustrating sometimes.

Have been seeing lots of Tawny Owls in the past few weeks but they are already on the list. Perhaps this year's young dispersing to find new territories?

Last edited by andreadawn : Sunday 6th October 2019 at 18:22.
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Old Monday 7th October 2019, 09:17   #13
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Saw what was almost certainly a ringtail Hen Harrier a couple of days ago whilst driving Preston to Blackpool North. Just needed a few more seconds I think to be certain of the ID so can't really add it to my list. It's a bit frustrating sometimes.

Have been seeing lots of Tawny Owls in the past few weeks but they are already on the list. Perhaps this year's young dispersing to find new territories?
Look out for the Great White Egret if you cross Arnside viaduct. Saw three near there the other day. They're still about too.
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Old Monday 7th October 2019, 17:08   #14
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Will do. Thanks.
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Old Thursday 10th October 2019, 13:09   #15
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106. Whooper Swan - a small group with some Mute Swans in flooded fields by the River Leven estuary today.

Doing well at the moment though I am checking all the birds I see more carefully than I used to.
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Old Thursday 10th October 2019, 21:38   #16
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Have been seeing lots of Tawny Owls in the past few weeks but they are already on the list. Perhaps this year's young dispersing to find new territories?
Yes, now is exactly when they do that
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Old Friday 11th October 2019, 06:28   #17
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An interesting and different sort of list - with the added benefit of not having to keep your eyes ‘on the road’

Laurie
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Old Friday 11th October 2019, 09:09   #18
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What a great route to drive for someone who's into birds! It would actually be interesting to know what birds have been hit by the train. (Almost all of us take trains or drive cars so we're all responsible for bird deaths.) Barn Owl will be one no doubt. I knew a birding train driver who used to bird the RSPB reserve where i worked, part of the line went right alongside it, on one occasion he let me go in the cab up front with him - really weird to be looking straight ahead rather than sideways!
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Old Friday 11th October 2019, 16:55   #19
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106. Whooper Swan - a small group with some Mute Swans in flooded fields by the River Leven estuary today.

Doing well at the moment though I am checking all the birds I see more carefully than I used to.
There's a few flocks of Whooper Swan passing through the Kent estuary.
They eventually head towards the Arnside viaduct and will stop either side generally.
Big numbers of Lapwing between the Arnside viaduct and Sandside also. over 600 last week but they should build up to over 1000 soon.
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Old Saturday 12th October 2019, 13:48   #20
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OK, first a warning. Some people may find this post depressing or upsetting.

Quote:
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.....It would actually be interesting to know what birds have been hit by the train.....
This is my current casualty list.

1. Shelduck.
2. Wigeon.
3. Mallard.
4. Black-headed Gull.
5. Herring Gull.
6. Lesser Black-backed Gull.
7. Oystercatcher.
8. Common Redshank.
9. Grey Heron.
10. Red-legged Partridge.
11. Pheasant.
12. Feral Pigeon.
13. Woodpigeon.
14. Collared Dove.
15. Barn Owl.
16. Tawny Owl.
17. Little Owl.
18. Common Buzzard.
19. Sparrowhawk.
20. Kestrel.
21. Merlin.
22. Green Woodpecker.
23. Swallow.
24. House Martin.
25. Pied Wagtail.
26. Dunnock.
27. Wren.
28. Starling.
29. Blackbird.
30. Song Thrush/Mistle Thrush.
31. Fieldfare.
32. Redwing.
33. Robin.
34. Blue Tit.
35. Great Tit.
36. Jackdaw.
37. Carrion Crow.
38. Magpie.
39. House Sparrow/Tree Sparrow.
40. Chaffinch.
41. Goldfinch.
42. Greenfinch.

These are the species I know with certainty I have killed. Many of the birds I hit are just a sudden blur of wings followed by either a thud or a splat so I have no chance of identifying them. Sometimes I manage to go a whole week without killing anything, other times I kill several birds in one day. It probably amounts to a few thousand birds over the twenty five years I have been driving.

Probably not many people will lose sleep over the Pheasants and Feral Pigeons. They are probably the commonest of my casualties. I killed four Pheasants on my last trip today. The only other casualty today was an unidentifiable LBJ, which at 85mph at least wouldn't have known much about it. I also had a slightly unpleasant near miss with some geese in the dark this morning. I'm pretty sure they were Pink-footed. Large numbers of them have been arriving lately. They flew across right in front of me as they were heading out into Morecambe Bay from the fields beside the line. A couple of them were rather too close to the windscreen for comfort.

Some incidents are sadder than others, the single Merlin, a lovely male, particularly so. At the end of the journey I found him hanging from the front of the train, his head jammed underneath a handrail.

All three of the owl species on the list have an unfortunate habit of perching on the rails and not flying up until it is too late. I've killed eight Tawnies in the last two and a half years.

Common Buzzards often feed on the many Roe Deer carcasses to be found along railway lines. Then a train comes along and they are a bit slow getting airborne and become casualties themselves.

On a drizzly day last summer I hit a House Martin and its head got jammed between the windscreen wiper arm and the wiper blade. I had to sit and look at it flopping back and forth across the screen for ten minutes until the next stop when I was able to get out and remove it.

Other notable near misses have included a Marsh Harrier at Leighton Moss which drifted across a bit too close in front of me. In winter Peregrines like to perch on the railings of the viaducts across the Leven and Kent estuaries and often leave it very late to fly off.

I could go on but that's all a bit depressing so maybe I'll stop there. I have at least got used to it and I should perhaps say that the vast majority of wildlife experiences I have whilst working are very positive ones.

Last edited by andreadawn : Saturday 12th October 2019 at 14:45. Reason: typos
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Old Saturday 12th October 2019, 22:31   #21
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Thanks for that info (and for your honesty), personally i find it very interesting indeed; sad yes, but very interesting. I have used trains extensively over the years so have in a way contributed to bird deaths in this way. I'd forgotten how fast trains go - 85 mph along a wildlife corridor, or adjacent to RSPB reserves, is going to result in casualties. I've actually never seen any data at all on this, whereas we often see data on cars - eg monitoring of Barn Owl corpses along new trunk road schemes etc.
It's been suggested to me by an bird ecologist who works in renewables, that power lines are probably killing millions of passerines every night during migration times, but the small corpses are almost always unnoticed.
And i read somewhere that brightly lit buildings in N America kill a lot of birds. I guess everything we do impacts wildlife in some way.
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Old Thursday 24th October 2019, 16:15   #22
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Why do so many owls insist on perching on railway lines? There are walls, fence posts and overhanging tree branches they could use, but no, they have to perch on the actual railhead.

This week it was a Barn Owl between Cark and Ulverston. The headlights picked it up from a reasonable distance but despite several blasts on the horn it just stood there. It finally flew off with about two seconds to spare. I think it got away but I lost sight of it below the bottom of the windscreen.

I would have thought that the vibrations through the rails would spook them, but apparently not. Same with both Little and Tawny Owls.

This week's casualties were a single Pheasant and seven unidentifiable LBJs. This threads seems to have taken a bit of a morbid turn!
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Old Saturday 26th October 2019, 12:00   #23
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As you cross the Arnside viaduct and reach the Grange side there's a stream running parallel with the railway on your right. it's often full of birds. A Green Sandpiper was here during for quite a while a few years ago. Its an ideal undisturbed habitat for it.
Look out for the House Martin- type white band as they fly off- they generally take an upward trajectory high into the air when they take off.
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Old Wednesday 30th October 2019, 08:09   #24
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Thanks. I usually have a look in there as I get a good view of it but have never seen a Green Sandpiper there.
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Old Thursday 12th December 2019, 13:08   #25
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Owls are still causing me a lot of stress at work! On the last train back home at midnight last night a Tawny Owl flew across right in front of me, a wing tip almost brushing the windscreen. It just made it OK. A few minutes later there was a Barn Owl perched on the rail of the adjacent line. It stayed put as I went past six feet away at 60mph. If it flew up after it had disappeared from my line of sight I hope it didn't get sucked into the train's slipstream.

On a positive note the large flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares erupting from the trees along the lineside at the moment are enjoyable to watch.
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