24 Apr 2015

Bangor University Bird Club visit to Hilbre.

Many of the trainees ringers I ring with in SCAN are members of Bangor University Bird Club and They're pretty active and have organised a number of  field trips recently. Remembering my days at Manchester University Bird Club and some of the great trips we organised, (Spurn Bird Obs, Anglesey, Suffolk, the Scottish Highlands)  I suggested they come across to Hilbre for the day.  I pointed out  I couldn't promise them many birds to ring though. As it happened we had a great day and those with ringing permits were able to process a number of new species.

I arranged to meet up with them at West Kirby marine lake and drive them across to Hilbre and we were on the island by just after 8 am. Steve had been on overnight and phoned me to say they'd had a small number of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs but that there was also a Redstart on the island.

With introductions made I the group were  soon involved with processing a few birds whilst Steve & I wandered off to see if we could find the Redstart. We did and it was conveniently in the heli!

The jet black throat and lack of moult contrast in the wing coverts made this an adult male as opposed to a 2nd calendar year one we'd caught the previous week. Taking it back to the Obs I ringed it and pointed out the ageing criteria to the group and it was duly ringed and released. It stayed on the island for the duration of our stay and was seen several times.
With overhead migration in full swing and a few birds to ring we were kept busy. Doreen kept us well lubricated with tea ( or in some case hot chocolate!). Although we didn't catch many birds we were also able to show the group a Greenland Wheatear that Conor had the pleasure of ringing whilst Molly ringed a Linnet. Everyone got to see meadow Pipits in the hand and a Rock Pipit allowed John to show Will the finer points of  pre-breeding moult.

There was even a new bird for me to ring when a 2nd calendar year White Wagtail was caught in a Potter trap. Although I've ringed the Pied race I'd not had the pleasure of ringing the nominate White race.
All in all it was a very enjoyable day and it was a pleasure to entertain such an enthusiastic group.
Left to right: Amelia, Conor, Janni, Molly, Will and yours truly.

With many thanks to Steve, John, Colin & Doreen for helping out and letting the group ring some birds. It was touch and go Friday whether my Landrover would be back on the road as it needed a new steering drop arm and front shocks but it was finished in time thanks to Stewart's hard work.

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