14 Sep 2015

Oystercatchers & Firecrest.

The weekend started with an early morning rendevovous with the rest of the SCAN ringing team in N Wales. The target species was Oystercatcher and a large ringing team was gathered to help set the canon nets and ring / process any birds that were caught. The weather was pretty grim to start with but brightened up as the morning progressed. The birds were a bit skittish and the flock was a bit unsettled but eventually we made a good catch of over 500 birds - including an Icelandic 'control'. Unfortunately I was to busy to get any photographs as the priority was to ring, process and release the birds as fast as possible! A great day but I certainly felt like I'd spent hours in the wind and rain sat on a stony beach when I got home that evening!

I couldn't make Sundays session for Curlew as I had things that needed sorting out at home but when Steve told me he was going to Hilbre for a couple of hours in the afternoon I jumped at the chance and picked him up around 14.30 to drive across. There had been a few migrants around in the morning and we hoped a few would have dropped in over the high tide. Sure enough we saw and heard a few Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. As we were walking the heli trap we could hear a crest moving in the sycamores ahead of us that sounded like a Firecrest. We couldn't see it but it sounded good! Sure enough out popped a stunning male Firecrest that I was very happy to be able to ring.

It was aged as a young male fledged this year by the pointed tail feathers.
Once ringed and released it spent the next hour happily feeding in the obs garden where the warm afternoon sunshine meant there were lots of small insects flying around for it to feed on. Although I've seen a few on Hilbre this was the first one I'd ringed. They're pretty scarce and by no means annual although they've become commoner over the last decade with a total of 25 caught since 1976 but 15 since 2000.

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