26 Jan 2020

Curlew ringing with SCAN

Before Christmas the SCAN ringing group attempted a Curlew catch near Llanfairfechan. Curlews can be notoriously hard to catch and as part of the long term sampling of wader populations in the Lavan Sands area Steve was keen to catch a larger sample of Curlew.

The nets were set in an area known as the 'doughnut' which meant a bit of a wade across a submerged causeway when the tide was in! Whilst waiting for hight tide and the roost to develop we were treated t oa gorgeous sunrise over the hills behind us

Ultimately a decent catch was made and it included a Finnish controlled Curlew and a Bar-tailed Godwit.

 Below: ringing team attempting to cross back to the mainland without getting wet!

Sadly, as with many other bird species in the UK, our breeding Curlews are in steep decline. Winter numbers are boosted by migrants from northern Europe as ringing recoveries have shown. Long term monitoring, such as undertaken by SCAN, can help spot population trends and hopefully set in motion schemes to help such declines.

21 Jan 2020

Sandwich Tern movements.

I recently received an email from Steve about some of the Sandwich Tern chicks we ringed at Cemlyn  - see here for details.

We've recently had 2 more sightings from Africa:

AMY at Banc D’Arguin, Mauritania  01/12/19

ANX at Strand, South Africa  18/12/19

Neither were seen during the autumn, and represent their 1st sightings.

Along with previous ones in Gambia & Namibia – I’m pretty pleased.

These are pretty impressive movements for young birds in their 1st calendar year!

8 Jan 2020

Eastern Stonechat, Ashtons Flash, Cheshire

When news broke just before Christmas that Dave Bedford had found an 'Eastern' Stonechat on his local patch I hoped it would stay until I could get along. With a full on schedule including my father in laws 90th birthday and a first time Christmas visit from my mum and a party of 15 for Christmas lunch I was probably in danger of being lynched if I'd upped and left Jan to entertain everyone!

Eastern Stonechats are a conundrum - it appears the two species we regularly get in the UK can't easily be separated without DNA analysis and this bird was frequenting flooded scrub in an old lime bed which makes getting a DNA sample pretty dangerous. However, since I’ve been in Australia I understand a poo sample has been collected that may allow a DNA analysis.

Although the identification features are becoming better known there are still photos of birds that look like Siberian Stonechat that turned out to be Stejnegers and vice-versa.

I managed to get down with Mark Payne on the 28th December and saw the bird distantly on a number of occasions. My first impressions were that it was maurus or Siberian Stonechat rather than Stejnegers. The overall paleness and frostiness coupled with a peach coloured rump seemed a better fit for this species. Hopefully someone will be able to get a DNA sample for analysis to confirm.

Unfortunately it was too far to get any usable photos although others have had better luck when its been a bit closer. I did manage a bit of very distant video which doesn't really bring much to the identification party but if you look at the very end you can just about make out the very pale rump as the bird flies.