Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Yeartick 234

The yearlist this year isn't at its best to put it briefly. Being away in Iceland has a lot to do with it but I wouldn't have missed that trip for the world! The realistic target for this year has been set at 280 and that is at a push, unless in the next 4 months something amazing happens and I see all my targets - we will just have to wait and see for the time being! Having had a month in Iceland, a week in Norfolk and an amazing 24 hour ringing session, it was time to hit the books and get some revision done. 3 Days hard work from dawn til dusk and it was time for a break so when news reached me of 3 Juvenile Wood sandpiers at Martin mere from Ron Barker hide, that was my break for the afternoon..
On arrival on 21st August, I picked up all 3 birds straight away out on the mud to the right hand side of the main channel. After an hour or so, one of the birds came a hell of a lot closer than it was before!

The Kingfisher then appeared on the large concrete block situated on the channel, sort of infront of the hide and faffed about on there for half and hour or so..

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

200+ Swallows and 200+ Warblers!!!

I knew this summer was going to be a busy one but not this busy! After a week's worth of cannon-netting down at the wash and 2 days rest, I hopped on the train to Bangor for an evening Swallow roost with Steve and Rachel, followed by a CES visit the next morning... A few weeks ago, they netted the Swallow roost and with 150 or so birds in the roost one night, a smithering of 12 birds was caught.. Several weeks on and the roost had grown considerably! 3 60'ft nets were quickly erected and once this was done, we could sit back and enjoy the show. At dusk, 500+ Swallows had gathered and without any kind of clue, one after the other they piled into the roost site in small flocks. 10 minutes later and only a few Swallows were flitting about - time to extract and see what we had got!
210+ Swallows awaited us in the 3 nets - great extraction practise!
The birds were taken back to the house as usual to be ringed and processed and then roosted overnight and released the next morning - my job..

Steve + 3 60'ft mist-nets

Also, about half a dozen Starlings were mist-netted during the start of the roost and believe me, they are terrible to extract..

The morning after, {19th august} it was up at silly o'clock - being 4am and off for a morning's CES session. The Swallows were all released while Steve and Rachel went and set the 10 nets which are dotted around the site.Now, their last CES visit produced a massive 230 birds in one morning, that was on 12th August! We had hoped that things might have calmed down a bit by now... Don't be silly, had they hell!!
During the morning we caught 215 birds and about 95% of them were warblers. Willow warbler, Chiffchaff, Garden warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser whitethroat, Reed warbler and Sedge warbler were all caught and ringed! If I remember rightly, we had singles of Blackbird, Song thrush, Blue tit, Great tit, Magpie and Starling!
In less than 24 hours we had mist-netted 415+ birds!
Every time I go out ringing now, with whoever it may be, recording what I ring is quite important and in this case I personally ringed about 70 Swallows and 70 warblers.. These records are for when I am ready for my C Permit Application..
After finishing around 11am, it was time to hop back on the train and begin the revision for my 2 re-sit exams back at Bangor univeristy.. Wish me luck...

Wash Wader Ringing Group

No sooner had I landed back at Manchester airport on Saturday 7th August with the lads, I was already planning my next trip - This time with Steve and Rachel.. Home on 7th August and off again on 10th August for a week's cannon-netting waders down on the wash in Norfolk!

7th August - Flew back from Iceland
8th August - Washing and packing
9th August - Train to chester/drove down to the wash with Steve, Rachel and Louise

Each year the teams are split into 2, one on the Terrington side of the wash and the other on the Lincolnshire side of the wash. Myself, Steve, Rachel and Louise were on the Lincolnshire side..

The Lincs team

Ringing totals for Lincolnshire Team:-

Bar-tailed godwit - 314 new + 20 recap
Curlew - 3 new
Whimbrel - 1 new
Oystercatcher - 348 new + 56 recap
Redshank - 10 new + 1 recap
Knot - 18 new + 1 recap
Turnstone - 1 new
Dunlin - 14 new

Total :- 710 new + 78 recap

Ringing totals for Terrington team:-

Bar-tailed godwit - 7 new + 2 recap
Black-tailed godwit - 191 new + 4 recap
Curlew - 32 new + 1 recap
Whimbrel - 4 new
Oystercatcher - 52 new + 23 recap
Grey plover - 32 new + 1 recap
Redshank - 71 new
Knot - 5 new
Turnstone - 6 new
Ringed plover - 19 new + 1 recap
Sanderling - 169 new + 49 recap
Dunlin - 625 new + 21 recap

Totals:- 1213 new + 102 recap - inc a pullus Skylark = 1214 new and 102 recap

A summer-plumaged male Bar-tailed godwit

Norwegian/Oslo control - JJJ6

Also caught was a Pullus Skylark newly out of the nest, a new species for Rachel and not long out of the nest.. Louise and myself kindly got a lift to Boston station, where we caught the train back to Liverpool Lime street - late on sunday evening..

Louise is currently doing a PHD on Puffin island studying the feeding habits of Kittiwake and Shag and so she kindly asked if I would like to help out with her fieldwork next year on Puffin island, as well as Alderney and Skomer - seems as though I will have yet another busy summer next year!!!

Please see the link in ''Ringing and Birding blogs'' on the right hand side of my blog for more information on The Wash Wader Ringing Group and to see what their work is all about - you may even want to try cannon-netting out for yourself?

Gentle Gyrfalcons!

Before our trip to Iceland began, I put together a list of 3 taregt species I wanted to see. These included: Gyrfalcon, Barrow's Goldeneye and Harlequin Duck! Instead I got all 3 of the above, plus 4 LONG-TAILED SKUAS and a single ARCTIC REDPOLL!

So when I saw my first Gyrfalcon, it was absolutely f***** massive! I mean, it would out do a Peregrine Falcon anyday! Many individuals were seen and a few at nest sites with young, including these 2 well fledged juveniles! Strangely, since they were not used to man at all, we were able to creep to within less than a metre from them and this is no joke!
See for yourself!!!

Absolutely unreal!!

These are wild birds don't forget!

Photographs of the Gyr's in their natural environment - photographed by Kane brides!

Slavonian grebes

During our trip to Iceland I think we managed to see at least 50 Slavonian grebes and god knows how many chicks, maybe more than that! These set of pictures were photographed by Kane brides on a secluded little lake near Lake Myvatn - we were less than a metre away from her/him at times, the views were crippling....

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Whooper Swans...

Flatey island has to be the best ringing expedition I have ever witnessed, so when we were due to leave on Sunday 25th July, I was somewhat sad to leave such a delightful and peaceful island. However, our fun didn't stop there and as stated before - we duly headed off to the North of Iceland to Akureyri with Sverrir Thorstensen a few days later, to help out with the Whooper swan work, in which Kane has been involved in over the past few years.. For the next 10 days we were to be based at Sverrir's house with his lovely wife Dorey Ketildottir. The day after we arrived, the work began!!

Every morning we were up early and out searching the many lakes around where Sverrir has been monitoring the Whooper swans for many years.. Once a Whooper swan family had been located on a lake, the fun began.. First job was to get as close as we could to the lake so we didn't need to carry the boat as far - motor attached - swan jackets and hook at the ready and off Sverrir went in search of the adults and cygnets...

Myself and Ciaran with the boat - complete with a mouthful of Blackflies

Adult Whooper Swan

Some days we managed to catch and Darvic at least 30 birds, but some days it was less than 20 as we had other things to do..

Whooper swan totals:-

82 new + 33 recaps

Brood of 6 cygnets and 1 adult

Whoopers swans have been ringed with Yellow darvics for the past 24 years {this is both in Iceland and the UK}, so when we had used up the last yellow darvic, it was time to change and begin the new scheme of red darvics.. A total of 82 Whoopers somewhere, wear bright new red darvics; so this winter, keep your eyes peeled and please, please.. send sightings to

There were times just like this one, where the lake was too weedy for the boat to go out, so...

These Whoopers were in for a shock!!

It wasn't just swans we were catching - Whilst on the look out for whoopers, we were also on the look out for any Golden plover or Whimbrel chicks..

Golden plover chick

Whimbrel chick

After 10 days > 7 new Golden plover + 3 new Whimbrel

With a combined effort with ringing totals from Flatey Island and the Whooper swan work -

2140 birds caught inc..

2035 new + 105 recaps

Myself and Ciaran also managed to catch 2 baby Ptarmigan chicks with our hands, however they were to small to take rings..

Once again, huge thanks to all who took part on an absolutely fantastic ringing expedition, Especially thanks to Kane Brides, Sverrir Thorstensen, Aevar Petersen, Solveig Bergs, Dorey Ketilsdottir, not forgetting Craig Brookes, Ciaran Hatsell, Steve and Tim Christmas... Cheers guys!!

Bring on Iceland 2011!!!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Ringing on Flatey Island

The main purpose of this trip was to carry out ringing work on Flatey island in North west Iceland. This yearly fieldwork is carried out by Aevar Petersen and Sverrir Thorstensen, but this year they invited myself, Kane, Craig and Ciaran to take part. On Flatey, if a bird can fly, it gets caught and ringed. The other good thing about ringing on Flatey is that we don't start working until the clock is in double figures.. Usually work started around 10am or so!



Ringing totals for Flatey:- 2012 birds caught = 1941 new + 71 recaps

Black guillemot - 71 new + 3 recap
Arctic tern - 417 new + 4 recap
Snow bunting - 5 new
Ringed plover - 11 new
Snipe - 5 new + 7 recap
Mallard - 18 new + 4 recap
Meadow pipit - 16 new
Kittiwake - 1146 new + 14 recap
Red-necked Phalarope - 61 new + 3 recap
Redwing - 2 new + 2 recap
Redshank - 5 new
Dunlin - 7 new
Fulmar - 111 new + 17 recap
Puffin - 18 new + 11 recap
Oystercatcher - 3 new
Shag - 38 new + 6 recap
Eider - 7 new

Red necked Phalarope

Arctic tern

Snow bunting



Meadow pipit


We left Flatey Island on Sunday 25th July and headed for Borganes where we camped overnight, slept for the whole day on Monday and collected by Sverrir Thorstensen in the evening and headed for Akureyri for 10 days fieldwork catching Whooper swans - hopefully with the odd Golden plover and Whimbrel..

Birding in Iceland

During our month in Iceland we managed to see some pretty spectacular species with a truely unexpected bonus.. I added a total of 5 new species which consisted of -





and ARCTIC REDPOLL which I was unable to get a photo of so here is a stunning adult Iceland gull..


Birds seen included:-

Whooper swan, Pink-footed goose, Greylag goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Scaup, Tufted duck, Eider, Common scoter, Long-tailed duck, 30+ Harlequin duck, 100+ Barrow's goldeneye, Red-breasted merganser, Ptarmigan, Red-throated diver, Great-northern diver, Slavonian grebe, Fulmar, Cormorant, Shag, White-tailed eagle, Kestrel, Merlin, Gyrfalcon, Oystercatcher, Ringed plover, Golden plover, Knot, Purple sandpiper, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Black-tailed godwit, Whimbrel, Snipe, Red-necked phalarope, Grey Phalarope, Arctic skua, Great skua, Long-tailed skua, B.H.Gull, C.Gull, H.Gull, L.B.B.Gull, G.B.B.Gull, Kittiwake, Glaucous gull, Iceland gull, Arctic tern, Puffin, Black guillemot, Razorbill, Feral-pigeon, Meadow pipit, White wagtail, Grey wagtail, Wheatear, Redwing, Blackbird, Wren, Raven, Starling, Mealy redpoll, Arctic redpoll, Snow bunting!

A grand total of 69 species!

Iceland 2010

Yesterday afternoon I landed back in the UK after a superb month's ringing trip to Iceland, accompanied with Kane Brides, Ciaran Hatsell and Craig Brookes. Being in Iceland since July 10th was certainly a long enough break for us all. The purpose of this trip was to carry out ringing work on Flatey island in North west Iceland for just under 2 weeks and then some Whooper swan work up in Northern Iceland around Lake Myvatn.

Before I begin, I must thank Kane Brides for inviting me on this trip as it has to be the best trip I have ever embarked on, so thanks ever so much Kane. Many thanks to Craig and Ciaran also. Even more thanks are in order to Aevar Petersen and Sverrir Thorstensen who allowed us to take part in the ringing work on Flatey and Lake Myvatn. Huge thanks too Solveig Bergs and Dorey Ketildottir who fed and looked after us for our time in Iceland! Thanks to Steve and Tim Christmas for attending for a few days..
Time is ticking as I have to get ready for a week's trip down to Norfolk down at the Wash for some Cannon-netting. Ciaran and Kane are in the same boat as they fly out once again to Romania for 3 weeks at the ringing camp there..
Birds seen in Iceland first..