28 Mar 2016

Migrants beginning to arrive

A good long walk around the patch Saturday resulted in my 1st singing Chiffchaff of the year along the railway embankment. I was hoping for a Wheatear but no joy. My only other Spring migrant was a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Wintering birds are still evident and I came across a nice flock of 40 Fieldfares obviously on their way back north along with several smaller flocks of Redwings.

Stanley Woods has been very quiet and there's no sign of any Lesser Spotted Woodpecker activity. Although, on saying that, even the Great Spots have been quiet. I did find 3 pairs of Nuthatches collecting mud to brick up their nest chambers and watched a pair of Treecreepers displaying. A good local record was a female Peregrine! 

Siskins numbers are tailing off but I'm still catching a few and am now up to 120+ in the garden. There's been a few Lesser Redpolls with them & I caught and ringed this young male.
There's also a larger paler looking bird that is possibly a Common (Mealy) Redpoll. 
All in all a good selection of birds considering the wet and windy bank holiday weather! 

21 Mar 2016

Common Scoter

An enjoyable few days recently wit ha stop over on Hilbre Friday night and an early morning on Saturday. Not many migrants around but we did ring  another new Goldcrest. Common Scoter seem to be hanging around the island in small numbers and give some pretty good views from the Obs garden!

Surely it won't be long until something rarer is found with them.

The local Siskin invasion is continuing with over 100 birds now ringed since they first appeared in early January. Another good garden bird was a Treecreeper that turned up Sunday morning for a few seconds - by the time I'd grabbed the camera it had gone.

15 Mar 2016

Details of Siskin control

Received this today from HQ.

Dear Phil
Here are the details of a ringed bird you have reported.
Species:Siskin (Carduelis spinus)Scheme:GBTRing no:V017769
Ringing details
Age: 3J Sex: - Sex meth: - P.ringed: 0 P.alive: 0 Condition: -
Colour marks added: - Metal marks added: N Act1: A Act2: -
Ringing date: 29-Jul-2013 14:30:00
Reg code: PEE Place code: PEE Site name: PeeblesScottish Borders, UK
County code: GBSBO Grid ref: NT2540 Accuracy 0 Co-ords: 55deg 39min N 3deg 11min W Accuracy 0
Hab1: F2 Hab2: --
Biometrics: Wing: 71 mm. Weight: 12.5 g. Time: 14:30:00hrs
Ringer: Borders R.G., 9153

Finding details
Ring not Verified Age: 6 Sex: F Sex meth: -
Colour marks added: - Metal marks added: - Act1: - Act2: -
Finding date: 08-Mar-2016 08:35:00
Reg code: - Place code: BACCRO Site name: Backford CrossCheshire, UK
County code: GBCHE Grid ref: SJ3873 Accuracy 0 Co-ords: 53deg 15min N 2deg 56min W Accuracy 0
Hab1: F2 Hab2: --
Biometrics: Wing: 72 mm. Weight: 12 g. Time: 08:35:00hrs
Finding condition: 8:20 Movement: -
Controlled Intentionally Taken
Remarks: -
Duration: 953 days Distance: 268 km Direction: 177deg (S)
Finder: P S Woollen, 3093

Nice to have details of this control through so quickly and it fits a general pattern.

I've also had notification that one of the birds I ringed on 27th Feb was caught in a garden 5 km away the next day!"

14 Mar 2016

A beautiful spring weekend.

Saturday was WeBs count day on Hilbre and I was up early and in the garden listening to the birds singing by 06.30. A good move as I had my first skein of Pinkfeet of the year heading south west towards the Dee Estuary! A new species for my 2016 Patch Challenge. I put a mist-net up for a brief period whilst waiting for Mark Payne to arrive and immediately caught another 6 Siskins and a Lesser Redpoll!

With the arrival of Mark we set off for Hilbre stopping briefly for essential supplies from the supermarket on the way. There was a slight mist over Hilbre and it soon became evident there'd been some migration with a number of new birds being ringed including 2 Robins, Song Thrush, Redwing, Blackbird, Goldcrest and a Dunnock!

Attention turned to the sea and a male Eider flying along the west side before promptly disappearing was a good start. A female Velvet Scoter was picked up in flight with Common Scoter and local birder Elliot Monteith had a male Velvet Scoter as well. There were few Great-crested Grebes and even fewer Red-throated Divers but 6 Purple Sandpipers roosted on the weest side cliffs.

By now hunger was setting in and we retired to the Obs for a full cooked breakfast and a brew before venturing back out into the field for a last look around.
We managed to leave the island and get home in time to watch the rugby after which I took a walk round the patch in the hope of picking up an early spring migrant but the best I could manage was a good sized flock of Redwings sitting in the top of an isolated oak tree.

8 Mar 2016

Controlled Siskin

The garden Siskin flock is diminishing as birds start moving north to their breeding grounds. I've managed to catch a few more including my first control (a bird ringed by another ringer elsewhere!). I aged and sexed the bird as an adult female based on tail shape and the fact all the wing coverts were of the same generation.

Interestingly this bird was quite grey around the face. it will be interesting to see where and when she was ringed when I get feedback from the BTO.

I also caught a male Chaffinch in the same session wit ha wing length suggesting it to may be soon migrating north as Scandinavian birds are generally larger than our resident ones.

Male chaffinches are beautiful birds close up and the grey head is a result of the brown tips of the crown feathers wearing off rather than the bird undergoing a pre-breeding moult.

This bird was aged as a 2nd calendar year male and you can see the pointed and worn tail feathers and browner retained juvenile tertials in the photos above.