Friday, 15 January 2010

Birding Highlights - 2009!


Long-Billed Dowitcher

Velvet Scoter (1st-winter drake)

Red-Breasted Goose

White Stork

When I was first introduced to birds by my dad in the early years of childhood and many people who read this now won't believe what I am about to say..but I used to say birdwatching was boring! I must have been crazy when I said that as over the years, birding has become more and more of one life's daily essentials. It is necessary in every birder's life. If I couldn't go birding, my life would never be the same. Anyway, as the years have shot by from 2000, all the way to 2009, the birds have come thick and fast for me. I just thought I would share with you the best birds for me of 2009:-

Red-necked grebe, Balearic Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Great White Egret, White Stork.

Red-Breasted Goose, Snow Goose, Ferruginous Duck, Velvet Scoter, Hooded Merganser, Capercaillie, Baird's Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Long-Billed Dowitcher, Glaucous Gull, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, White-Winged Black Tern, AMERICAN BLACK TERN, Pallid Swift, Shorelark, Red-Flanked Bluetail, Dusky Warbler, EASTERN-CROWNED WARBLER, Yellow-Browed Warbler, Red-Breasted Flycatcher, BROWN SHRIKE, Red-Backed Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Lapland Bunting.

Enjoy the video of the Glaucous Gull which I filmed at Aberdesach/Caernarfon/North Wales on 30/11/09...

Thursday, 14 January 2010

A few pictures of birds ringed in September plus a few extras...

You are probably wondering how and where I ringed this bird above... Well, I didn't... This bird was caught at Spurn Point Bird Observatory on the Humber Estuary on 15th September 2009 whilst myself and Stephen Menzie were down there for the weekend birding. This bird can be aged as a {3} {born in 2009} with the white arrows on the primaries and a very pointed tail.

The Sparrowhawk and Nuthatch were ringed at Woolston Eyes Nature Reserve on 11th September, {5th and 6th record for the reserve}. Thanks to Stephen for inviting me along.

First Swallow Roost!

170 Swallows ready to be ringed and processed

Afternoon all.. Just thought I would add a few more posts to the blog and then get back to the revision..

Anyway, on the 26th September 2009, it was to be my first passerine ringing session with Steve and Rachel. Knowing that I was going to ring Swallows, it had me excited throughout the week.. As usual, I was picked up at Morrisons car-park in Bangor at around 5pm and as the journey to the site was about 15 minutes, the adrenalin started to kick in.. Arriving on site we met up with Ian, Steve's other trainee. We set about getting the nets and poles out of the van and quickly set the line of 3 '40ft' nets next to the roost.. At this time it was still quite light, but the Swallows had started to build and birds could be seen flying in from every direction.. After a short wait and a little walk around the site, several Water rails were calling from every direction and a flock of Skylark flew over, shortly followed my numbers of Snipe and Meadow pipit coming into roost..

As the Swallow Roost was quite substantial now, we grabbed our bins and assembled on top of a grass mound to watch the spectacle un-fold.. Suddenly, a flock of around 100 Starlings flew in, just missing the mist-net; our hearts were in our mouths at this point as 100 Starlings were not what we were after...

The light was still with us and a quick look at the nets revealed no Swallows as of yet, however a single Blue tit, Reed warbler, Reed bunting and Dunnock had made it into the net, these were extracted and ringed before the show started.... These were then quickly ringed and processed. The Blue tit being the first passerine I had ringed with Steve....

The roost had now grown to at least 300 birds and all of a sudden, birds were piling into the nets. After 10 minutes, the show was all over and all birds were either in the roost or in the net. Now the fun began. Trying to extract 170 Swallows in the dark with no lights - not very difficult actually as our eyes adjusted to the darkness it got easier.. Nets were down and birds put in the back of Steve's van in the mechanism he had built, to keep the birds safe and secure. The journey back to the house was only 10 minutes long so the birds were fine.. On arriving at the house, processing shortly began.. Steve and I were in charge of ringing and Rachel and Ian in charge of processing... As stated above, 170 Swallows were ringed that night.. I certainly know I am more than confident in ageing Swallows now...

With all ringing I keep track of my totals and that night I ringed exactly 70 birds consisting both of juveniles and adult birds.

The birds were roosted overnight and released the following morning by Steve at the site of capture.. Many thanks to Steve and Rachel for a very successful nights ringing.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Leighton Moss Ringing!

Having added a few posts to my blog last night, I thought I would add one more mouth-watering experience of my ringing before I have to start revising for a test on Friday.

Anyway, in the early summer of 2009, I contacted John Wilson from RSPB Leighton Moss who carries out the ringing of the Bearded Tits during the summer. Seeing as though my parents knew John quite well, there was no trouble in asking him if I could go ringing Bearded tits - specifically for them. I ended up going ringing with John twice before the 'miracle' happened. The third time was the best of them all. Arriving at Leighton Moss early one Saturday morning at 5:30am, I met up with John at the end of the causeway nearest the lower hide.

I had no idea of what to expect, so when John pulled up in his 4x4 with Andrew and said: ''Can you bring the boat round to the bridge Chris''.. So off I went, rowing the boat over to John, I just had to step in a deep section of mud didn't I and straight over the thigh waders it went - great start!! The gear was loaded and off we went deep into the channel on our right. After a good 10 minutes rowing, we arrived at the site and nets were erected in several net rides - 8 in total. As if it were a miracle, as I was putting up a mist-net on my own, a juvenile Bearded tit flew straight into the net, literally right next to my shoulder and stayed last!!

During that morning we caught 100+ birds in which I was able to ring most of them thanks to John.. They consisted of 4 species of tits, 6 species of warbler and a few other odd species.. I ended up ringing and colour-ringing 5 Bearded tits that morning. Many thanks to John Wilson and Andrew Cadman for making it a fantastic ringing session and for letting me come along.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Wash Wader Ringing Pictures!

These pictures were not taken whilst out ringing with Brian but I was registered as his trainee at the time... These pictures of Sanderling, Knot, Grey plover and Dunlin were caught down at the Wash with the Wash Wader Ringing Group (WWRG) in Norfolk at the end of August 2009. Some fantastic ringing opportunities to be had there... It was also the first time I met Steve and Rachel as he suggested I should go to the wash....

Bird Ringing at Meresands Wood!

During my time at Meresands Wood, training with Brian and Dave, I was lucky enough to be able to handle and ring some wonderful species, including several exotics. Some of the species listed below, I never thought I would have the chance to see close up, such as Crossbill and Bearded Tit.
  1. Mute swan - 21

  2. Greylag goose - 4

  3. Canada goose - 11

  4. Shelduck - 5

  5. Mallard - 6

  6. Pintail - 1

  7. Pochard - 1

  8. Tufted duck - 1

  9. Kestrel - 1

  10. Sparrowhawk - 1

  11. Coot - 4

  12. Oystercatcher - 82

  13. Ringed plover - 8

  14. Grey plover - 6

  15. Knot - 3

  16. Sanderling - 10

  17. Turnstone - 1

  18. Dunlin - 76

  19. Redshank -8

  20. Bar-tailed godwit - 10

  21. Curlew - 1

  22. Black-headed gull - 2

  23. Herring gull - 1

  24. Woodpigeon - 2

  25. Kingfisher - 1

  26. Great-spotted woodpecker - 2

  27. Sand martin - 1

  28. Swallow - 3

  29. House martin - 1

  30. Wren - 2

  31. Dipper - 2

  32. Dunnock - 14

  33. Robin - 13

  34. Song thrush - 2

  35. Mistle thrush - 1

  36. Blackbird - 15

  37. Garden warbler - 2

  38. Blackcap - 4

  39. Whitethroat - 1

  40. Sedge warbler - 13

  41. Reed warbler - 59

  42. Willow warbler - 13

  43. Chiffchaff - 11

  44. Goldcrest - 1

  45. Pied flycatcher - 1

  46. Blue tit - 19

  47. Great tit - 10

  48. Coal tit - 4

  49. Marsh tit - 2

  50. Long-tailed tit - 12

  51. Bearded tit - 5

  52. Nuthatch - 1

  53. Treecreeper - 1

  54. Starling - 4

  55. House sparrow - 1

  56. Tree sparrow - 14

  57. Grey wagtail - 1

  58. Chaffinch - 33

  59. Brambling - 13

  60. Linnet - 1

  61. Lesser Redpoll - 1

  62. Goldfinch - 7

  63. Greenfinch - 35

  64. Siskin - 6

  65. Bullfinch - 4

  66. Crossbill - 2

  67. Reed bunting - 9

After about a year and a half of training under Brian, I had managed to ring a total of 613 birds, of 67 species and process a further 397 re-traps. Personally I processed a grand total of 1,010 birds, including 80 pullus.

Huge thanks to Brian Hopkins, Dave Fletcher, Kane Brides, Steve Christmas, John Wilson, Stephen Menzie, Seumus Eaves, Phil Ireland, Steve Dodd, Rachel Taylor and Kelvin Jones for letting me come and ring with them over that period.

Welcome to the blog!

After more than 6 months of not being able to update my blog, I have finally found some spare time in which I can start to add updates. Many of you birders and ringers out there, have probably browsed through my blog once before and thought that it was slightly boring. However, now that I have a bit of spare time on my hands, I intend to get it up to scratch once again! A bit about myself - I have been training to ring birds for 2 years now under my trainer; Brian Hopkins. Recently, it has been rather difficult to find time to get out ringing since I moved to Bangor University and due to changing trainers.

When I lived back in Ormskirk, I was training under Brian Hopkins for almost 2 years and on the occasional visit when Brian was otherwise engaged, I was able to tag along with Dave Fletcher to Meresands wood near Rufford. This was the usual site where I undertook most of my training. I would just like to say thank you ever so much for being my trainer for those 2 years Brian and thanks ever so much for everything you taught me; it has certainly paid off now! Huge thanks to Dave Fletcher as well, for teaching me all about ringing and all the aspects I needed to know for the future.

In September 2009, I began my 3 year BSc Environmental Conservation Degree at Bangor University and kicked it off with Fresher's week! During this time, it was getting to know everyone, having several inductions and lots of drinking most nights. What a ball, that's all I shall say. Since then, my life has changed significantly! I am now currently training with Steve Dodd, alongside his wife, Rachel Taylor. When I moved to Bangor, the change between my old trainer Brian, to Steve, was done well in advance so to guarantee my training whilst I was in Bangor. Since then, my ringing has been great as always and my knowledge on ageing birds is for ever increasing. In the summer of 2009, most of the ageing techniques that I had learnt and perfected, had been forgotten, so it was good to get back into the swing of things soon after! I shall now give you an idea of the sorts of ringing I did before I moved to Bangor.