10 Sept 2020

Wader ringing in N Wales with SCAN

Due to lockdown restrictions we haven't been able to get out much this year but special permission was obtained to attempt a catch of Ringed Plover with the purpose of colour flagging them to help monitor their movements. The permission stipulated a number of precautions including wearing of face masks when social distancing wasn't possible, using hand sanitiser every fifteen minutes and a restriction on the number of people taking part in the session.

Despite the tide not coming a far up the beach as expected we got a pretty good catch of Ringed Plover with 70+ being colour flogged. This year the flags are lime green above the knee with a red marker ring below the knee. 

The ringing team were split into two wit hone concentrating on the Ringed Plover and the other ringing and processing the Dunlin and Sanderling also caught.

Sanderling are lovely little birds close up and the juveniles are a beautiful spangled combination of monochrome with golden brown.

Sanderling are unusual in that they don't have a hind toe and only have three forward facing ones - a characteristic they share with Kittiwakes! most birds have four toes. I found out recently that the Dutch name for Sanderling translates as 'three toed sandpiper.'

All the Sanderling and Dunlin we caught were juveniles.

A successful trip and hopefully we'll be able to get out more in the autumn / winter if regualtions allow.

2 Sept 2020

Yellowhammer on Hilbre

I can't remember the exact date I last saw a Yellowhammer 'in the hand' and it's certainly a rare bird on Hilbre. Growing up in rural Suffolk in the 70's they were still a common birds wintering flocks numbering several hundred birds feeding on winter stubble. Changes in farming practices and the grubbing out of hedgerows and an obsession with keeping them 'neat' has meant numbers have reduced dramatically in many areas. The last time I handled one was at Wicken Fen on 3rd June 1978 when I ringed 3!

We are lucky to have a small number of pairs still breeding around the village where we live and we occasionally get them flying over the garden. We've yet to have one feeding in the garden but I'm hopeful it'll happen one day.

The third record for Hilbre since 2004 was found several weeks ago but proved to be very elusive. I'd had good views in the field but after going absent for several days it was caught in one of the heligoland traps. 

It was a male in heavy moult which probably explains why it has been hanging around for awhile. based on the wear on the tail feathers and un-moulted primaries it was aged as a second calendar year bird (Euring 5).