31 Mar 2017

Unexpected item in the bagging area!

Hilbre's 4th record of Pheasant was seen by Steve on Wednesday wandering between Middle Eye & Hilbre. Its assumed these birds come across from Red Rocks - the last record coincided with some extensive 'management' work and it looks like the same has happened again this year. Either that or its a genuine returning migrant - a bit like my Siskin mentioned in my previous blog post. Its an interesting record as the bird would have had to travel across at least a mile of open mud and sand or indeed water if the tide was in.

Anyway, I found myself on Hilbre yesterday to meet up with a local guy who's making a short video presentation for his journalism course and wanted to film an interview about bird ringing and hopefully a bird being ringed. Things certainly didn't look hopeful with the wind being in the wrong direction and heavy rain! A quick walk round the heligoland traps revealed this:

The bird was picked up and released in the open where it ran off at full speed without uttering a sound. We did eventually catch a couple of birds with a new Robin and a female Chaffinch being ringed so Danny got his video footage.

30 Mar 2017

Nice Siskin control

I've recently had a nice Siskin control of a bird I ringed in January last year (2016) controlled in a Hilbre members garden by a Hilbre ringer in February this year!

It makes you wonder where it had been in the intervening year.

27 Mar 2017

Little Grebes.

A beautiful sunny spring weekend in my part of Cheshire with Chiffchaff singing in the garden, a Robins nest with two eggs and Great 7 Blue Tits nesting in the boxes I've put up! The Little Owls have been basking out in the early evening sunshine just before it sets and we can see them from the windows.A Great Spotted Woodpecker spent the weekend drumming in a nearby oak and we had another visit from a singing Treecreeper. The whole weekend was spent in the garden replacing rotten fence posts to stop the sheep getting in and generally tidying up.

The pond opposite the house, once again, provided the star bird(s) though - a new house and patch tick. A quick glance early morning Sunday to see if any waders had dropped in over night was rewarded by the presence of a pair of Little Grebes!

Other pond visitors over the weekend included a single male Shoveller, Teal, Coot (now nest building) , Canada Geese, Greylags and a pair of Lapwings. Sunday was a real bird filled day with 40 species being recorded either in or from the garden. The total now for the new patch stands at 70 species for 2017.

20 Mar 2017

A brief visit to Hilbre

Its months since I've had the chance to go across to Hilbre - work & house renovations have got in the way! Luckily I got a chance last week and joined the rest of the regulars to spend the tide over on the island.

Many waders have already left for their breeding grounds but Middle Eye held an impressive number of Curlews whilst the Brent Geese gave good views as they serenely swam down the east side. Only two Purple Sandpipers were seen but there were plenty of Common Scoter around and a male Eider put in a distant appearance.

It was a beautiful sunny day with plenty to see - not many spring migrants but typical early spring fare with overhead migration of alba wagtails and finches. The first Bumble Bees and butterflies were on the wing with both Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock being recorded.

14 Mar 2017

Last SCAN canon netting trip of the winter

A re-scheduled canon netting trip meant  I could make the last SCAN session of the winter and so Saturday morning saw me arriving at Kinmel Bay at 05.45 and gettign uestioned by the local police as to my intentions.......

After explaining to the officer what I was doing a few of the other members of the team turned up only for a 2nd police car to arrive. Apparently, according to local sources (Mark Payne) the area is a meeting point for the local transvestites.........

With two nets set the waiting game began. The target species was Sanderling and during the early morning recce a colour ringed bird had been spotted. Pulse rates quickened as news came in over the radios as to the whereabouts of the birds and how many were in the catching area.

Suddenly the button was pressed and the nets were fired. The nets were moved up the beach away from the in coming tide and the birds covered in hessian to keep them calm until they were extracted and placed in holding cages to await ringing and processing.

A total of 555 birds were processed with over 200 Sanderling being caught - including the colour ringed bird that came from Iceland! It was originally ringed there in the autumn of 2016 before subsequently being seen at several sites on the north Lancashire coast, then Formby and finally Kinmel Bay!

 Juvenile Sanderling (Euring 5, 2nd calendar year) showing  buff tips (very worn) to tertials and inner media coverts.
Adult Sanderling (Euring 6, 3rd calendar year or older) without the buff tips shown by the juvenile

Good numbers of Dunlin were also processed including a bird with a colour ring thought to have originally been ringed in mid-Wales. In addition around 6 Ringed Plover and a single Turnstone were also processed.
Colour ringed Dunlin.

A great day - the weather was kind to us, a good catch (that'll help increase our knowledge of these birds movements and the importance of the local area for them as a wintering ground), good company and a cracking rugby result! Roll on the summer and the start of the seabird ringing season on Puffin Island.

It was great to see local birder John Roberts out and about - I haven't seen him for a long time!

7 Mar 2017

First ringing in new garden

For the first time since we bought our new place last September I've had an opportunity to spend an hour or so ringing. I haven't quite worked out the best places to put mist nets but decided to put 2 x 18ft nets in the back garden. Within 1 hr I'd ringed 14 birds including 6 Goldfinches, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Great Tits and 2 Blue Tits!

The Goldcrests are probably resident as they've been around since we bought the house last September and we have a good number of evergreens in the garden - both male and female were caught in the same mist net at the same time.

Interestingly all but one of the Goldfinches were 2nd calendar year birds and were easy to age because of their retained juvenile greater coverts. The bird below had only one retained greater covert whereas others had two or even three.

It was a pleasant change to be doing some ringing but it looks like I'm going to have to do a bit of planning about wheres best to site the nets.

1 Mar 2017

Med Gull on the house list!

Wit hBlack=-headed Gulls and Common Gulls congregating  on the fields around the house and visiting the pond to bathe I'd been checking them out hoping for something unusual. I still hope for an Iceland or Glaucous Gull but an adult Mediterranean Gull was still a nice find this morning.

I thought I'd seen one yesterday with the naked eye (the black hoods really do stick out like the proverbial sore thumb among Black-headed Gulls) but by the time I'd got the binoculars up it had gone.

Patience was rewarded though when I spotted one in with the Black-headed Gulls this morning only for the whole flock to spook and fly off over the house. They started drifting back but the Med Gull disappeared for 30 minutes before reappearing.

Annoyingly it appears to be colour ringed wit ha white colour ring on its left leg but even at 75 x mag on the scope and the phone camera on full zoom I cant make out the alpha - numeric code.

Still, it on the house and new patch list!

That brings me up to 66 species on the new house list since we moved in on 9th December.
I'm hopeful of a few passage waders and theres obviously all the summer visitors to come yet. Surprisingly I haven't seen a Blackcap whereas they were regular winter visitors to our old garden.