21 Jan 2019

2019 patch year list off to a flying start........

New Year saw me laid up wit ha bad back so most of my birding was done from the warmth and comfort of the house with the occasional foray into the garden. Never the less I finished New Years Day with a reassuring total of 37 species including only the 3rd record of Bullfinch since we moved here in December 2016. This time a beautiful male!

Although we've had very little rain and the pond opposite the house is nowhere near as full as in previous years it has attracted a few good birds and so far I've had Mute Swan, Shoveller, Teal, Lapwing and Coot pay a visit.

Although the Little Owl has deserted the usual hole after the farmer cut off all the lower branches of its preferred nesting / roosting tree using a flail (!) it is still somewhere locally and can be heard most nights and seen occasionally.

At the end of the 2nd week of January the patch total stands at a modest 55 species. By the end of January 2018 my total was 64 species and I've, hopefully,  still got a few relatively easy ones to get.

Heres to another successful year of patch birding!

14 Jan 2019

First trip to Hilbre of 2019

An early morning start saw us arriving at the Obs just around dawn. With the high tide just after 11 am there was time for a walk around the island before a good cooked breakfast. Initially we only found 5 Purple Sandpipers feeding at the north end but as the tide rose and they went to roost they were joined by two more. The bird in the video below spent a lot of time preening before settling down to roost.

Two Eider loafed around before settling to roost on Middle Eye. One has a damaged wing and has been around for awhile but the other is uninjured.

The sea was quite quiet with only 3 Red-throated Divers and 27 Great-crested grebes being seen along with around 300 Common Scoter.

Several Song Thrushes have been overwintering on the island and both were caught in the newton heligoland trap The first had originally been ringed on Hilbre on the 1st December 20128 but the 2nd was a new bird. We also caught a female Blackbird and these represented the first two birds of the new year to be ringed on Hilbre. Both first winter birds.

Heres to another successful year for Hilbre Bird Observatory and its small band of dedicated volunteers.

8 Jan 2019

First SCAN trip of 2019 and an Icelandic surprise

With good weather forecast the decision was taken to have a night time wader ringing session along the N Wales coast to try and catch a sample of Redshank as part of SCAN's long term study.  Nets were set over water slightly inland from the coast and as the tide forced the birds of the foreshore we started catching good numbers of Redshank with a smaller number of Oystercatchers, Curlew three Black-tailed Godwits. Despite being on a number of wader canon netting and mist netting expeditions with SCAN over the last 8 years these were the first Black-tailed Godwits I'd seen close up!

Among the Oystercatchers caught was a bird that was ringed in June 1982 (the month and year I graduated from University! ) and not subsequently caught again since. This makes it 36.5 years old. Not the oldest Oystercatcher ever recorded but very close to the UK record:

Haematopus ostralegus
43yrs 4mths
Killed by bird of prey
GB & Ireland 
SS 88071
36yrs 11mths
Found dead

Bird of the night though was a Redshank bearing an Icelandic ring. Only the 3rd one caught by the group and probably only about the 10th ever in the UK. 

Another highlight, given my involvement with Hilbre Bird observatory, was the recapture of a Redshank we colour ringed an 2007 (and subsequently re-caught again by SCAN in 2010), making this bird at least 11 years old.

A great nights ringing and I eventually arrived home at 2.30 am and fell into bed fully clothed with the alarm set for 6.30 the following morning for a trip to Hilbre!