27 Feb 2023


As part of a long term project I was out with the SCAN ringing group at Rhos-on-Sea a couple of weekends  back canon netting wintering waders  - in particular Turnstone. We've been colour flagging these for a number of years and the aim was to fit more flags on any Turnstone caught. 

A successful morning with a total catch of 112 birds comprising a few Oyster catchers and Redshanks and a good number of Turnstones. Some of which we'd 'flagged' in previous years. One of the re-trap Turnstones was first ringed in 2005 - imagine the kilometres its flown back and from its Arctic breeding grounds during that time. 

Redshank having total head & bill measurement taken

Above & below : Turnstone flags

The beach at Rhos - on - Sea was quite busy with people walking and enjoying the February sunshine. Our ringing activities generated a lot of interest and we had a constant stream of people coming up to see what we were doing. It's brilliant engaging with members of the public and showing them birds in the hand - especially the children. At times I feel this public engagement is almost as important as the data we are collecting

All in all a great mornings work.

17 Feb 2023


Australia possesses some truly unique wildlife. Not least are a group of egg laying mammals called monotremes. There are two species of monotreme in Australia. The star of many wildlife documentaries, the Duck-billed Platypus and the lesser known Echidna. The Echidna resembles our hedgehog in that it has a protective body armour of spines. However the resemblance is superficial. Apart from laying eggs, as opposed to the normal mammalian trait of giving birth to live young, Echidnas have forward facing claws on their front feet and backwards facing claws on their rear feet so they can quickly dig themselves a burrow and escape danger. They also have a four-headed penis! Don't ask me how that works. My biology degree didn't extend that far as to study the sex lives of Echidnas but theres an explanation here: Echidna

I've been lucky enough t osee both species of Australian monotreme and on our most recent trip we came across an Echidna ambling along the side of the road. When it realised we were close it started digging its way into the bank. Deciding to wait until it felt safe enough to move on I waited whilst my wife walked on. After 40 minutes waiting in the baking sun I gave up. Photographer 0 - Echidna 1. The only photo I got was of a spiny ball half buried in a roadside embankment.

A few years ago, on a trip to Merimbula, we were fortunate to find an Echidna outside our apartment. That one gave much better views.

They're truly remarkable little animals and I can't help smiling everytime I see one. An egg laying mammal with a four headed penis. How ridiculous! 

5 Feb 2023

Swallow Shrikes

 Woodswallows are a group of Australian birds whose hunting  habits closely resemble those of shrikes - they perch up and launch themselves to catch flying insects or will pounce on prey items on the ground. They'll often eat their prey whilst still in flight. There are several species in Australia but the ones I've seen are the Dusky, White-breasted and White-browed Woodswallows. 

The commonest around where our daughter lives is Dusky Woodswallow and I was lucky enough on our visit to find several pairs feeding recently fledged young.

Above: Adult Dusky Woodswallow

Above & below: juvenile Dusky Woodswallow