Saturday, 31 December 2011

The End of 2011!

There is just enough time left tonight for one last post for 2011. I would just like to wish all my followers and everyone that follows this blog a very happy new year.

Hopefully 2012 will be busier than 2011, ringing and nest recording effort will be doubled and my time at Bangor University will have come to an end, after I graduate in July.

Last but not least is to show you all a video that Kane produced today, of our ringing highlights from 2011 which can be viewed here - 2011 Ringing Highlights by Kane Brides.

All the best everyone, as tomorrow brings a new start to life and the first trip of 2012 - more on this to follow next year.

My Ringing Year!

There have been rather a large amount of changes in 2011 and one in particular is the day that I recieved my C Permit through the post at the end of October.

Ringing began a week or so later after all the necessary kit had been bought. Looking back at all the ringing I managed to squeeze in from October 21st - December 31st, I am very happy with my ringing totals for the year.

Taking into account these birds have all been caught and ringed with a variety of traps, as I don't have my mist net endorsement yet, ringing couldn't have been much better.

The last week in Bangor I visited a friends garden in Conwy resulting in 2 new species being caught. A Blackbird and 3 Greenfinch were very welcome to the traps as was a Goldfinch a week or so before.

Amongst the 12 species I have ringed with my permit, in exactly 72 days, Blue Tit has been the commonest with 87 birds now caught and only 3 re-traps.

Blue Tit - 84 (3)
Great Tit - 11 (1)
Robin - 8
Coal Tit - 8 (1)
Dunnock - 3
Long-Tailed Tit - 2
Wren - 1
Nuthatch - 1
Black-headed Gull 1
Goldfinch - 1
Greenfinch - 3
Blackbird - 1

2011 was a great start for my ringing career, but 2012 will be even bigger, better and brighter for ringing and nest recording. 129 birds in 72 days with traps -bring on 2012!

Pyrenean Paradise!

I've lost track of the amount of times I have stated that I will try and keep this blog updated, but somehow I have always managed to forget. Times are changing and this is now the last time I will say this; from January 1st 2012 I will be keeping this blog upto date and there certainly won't be a long gap between postings.

I thought I would finish the year off with a few posts of my recent activities, mostly from inside the UK, but also from my most recent birding trip abroad, to the Spanish Pyrenees.

At the end of November I flew out to Barcelona with Ralph Jones, Eugene McCann and his son Tom McCann, for a few days of high pyrenean birding.

Throughout our few days of birding we managed to see all the species that we set out to see. These included the 3 main species that all birders seek when venturing into the Pyrenees.

A total of 7 Lammergiers were seen throughout the trip, as well as 2 Wallcreeper, 6 Alpine Accentor and a Black Woodpecker.

I must say a huge thanks to all who came along on the trip and for Ralph and Eugene for doing all the driving and for sorting all the technicalities of the trip.

Where will 2012 take me I wonder?!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Departure time!

Just a quick post tonight as I shall be leaving the UK and heading out to the Spanish Pyrenees tomorrow morning at dawn, for 5 days of high mountain birding with Ralph Jones, Eugene McCann and his son, Tom McCann.

Several species such as Lammergier and Wallcreeper are the main targets but there are also several other species that we are hoping to seem along the way..

A full update will be available on Tuesday night, so check back then to see how we get on!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Photographed by Gillian Dinsmore

There is nothing better than catching birds by hand and so when Kane mentioned that he would be out catching Canada Geese, Coot and Mute Swan, along with mist-netting Goldfinch in the garden at the weekend, it was time to pack up my gear and head to Atherton once more. The weekend was, as always, interesting and a good time was had by all.

Gillian, Kane and I spent the weekend catching a few Coot around several of our sites in Manchester, as well as helping Steve Christmas catch a brood of 3 Mute Swans at Dunham Massey, with a small addition of a few Canada Geese.

Photographed by Gillian Dinsmore

During the weekend we also set the mist net up in the garden which produced a few Goldfinch, Long-tailed tit and Blue tit.

Photographed by Kane Brides

Both nights during the weekend I took the guys out dazzling to see if I could catch anything for them, but as is my luck at the moment, nothing went right those nights, so I am yet to catch anything when I am out dazzling.

Stay tuned as this may well change by the end of the week.

Huge thanks to Kane and Gillian for an awesome weekend!

Red Darvic V374!

Just a brief post this morning about a Red Darvic ringed Black-headed Gull that I observed on Sunday 23rd January 2011, at Newton Lake, in Newton-Le-Willows, near Manchester.

I had just finished ringing for the weekend with Kane and happened to wander across to the local park as my train wasn't due in for another hour; soon stumbling across this little guy.

I recieved the information back from the ringer and from the help of Kane just yesterday and it turns out the bird was ringed in Denmark.

Ring number - Copenhagen 6H....5239
Colour ring - Red V374
Species - Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Age - Pullus
Ringed on 18/6/2009
Ringing location - Hirsholm, Frederikshavn, DK02 57.29N-010.37E

Once originally ringed in Copenhagen in Denmark, this bird has only been seen in the UK once and was last seen at Hirsholm in Denmark on 14/7/2011. I wonder where he is now?

Huge thanks to Kjeld Tommy Pedersen for the ringing information and Kane Brides for helping me distinguish the birds origin.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Scottish Ringers Conference 2011!

Photographed by Gillian Dinsmore

I have always wanted to attend a ringing conference and I have to say, it is a great experience. I would recommend it to any ringer who has never attended one. The weekend that has just passed; Kane and I, along with Gillian, headed up to the Scottish Ringers Conference in Carrbridge for a long weekend; situated in the Cairngorms National Park.

The trip began early morning on Friday and as we left Manchester Piccadilly station, Kane and I were really looking forward to a weekend of talks, lectures and ringing. A few hours later and we arrived at Linlithgow station, soon greeted by Gillian. A short drive and we arrived at Linlithgow Loch and within minutes we had our 1st Scottish Coot, ready to be ringed. The 1st bird of the Scottish Coot Project was hand-caught by Gillian and now wears CAA! Well done Gillian!

Throughout the morning a total of 20 new Coot were caught, including 1 retrap. Several Black-headed gulls were also caught during the morning including a superbly caught Swedish control by Kane!

Photographed by Gillian Dinsmore

A trip to Airthey Loch in search of Coot drew a blank, however this stunning male Goosander wandered into grabbing range and was caught by Kane. What a stunner!

After a hugely successful days ringing it was soon time to travel north to Carrbridge. Arriving in Carrbridge we booked into our rooms and settled in with a few drinks. This year the Scottish Ringers Conference was being held by the Grampian Ringing Group and I have to say it was a huge success as we all thoroughly enjoyed it!

A selection of talks and lectures was given, covering many interesting ringing projects throughout the Grampian Ringing Groups Range. Hand catching gulls in the local harbours drew a particular interest to us as we have never seen this method used. Talks by Raymond Duncan, and Ewan Weston introduced us to their Waxwing and Sandwich Tern projects, all superb stuff! I hope to try this gull catching method in the next week or too so I shall let you know how it goes.

A brief visit to the RSPB Loch Garten reserve proved rather rewarding. Our main aim was to locate Crested Tits for Gillian and Kane as they had never seen them before but we were soon distracted by the abundance of Coal Tits, later to find that they fed from our hands as you can see from the photos above! I think the hour or so we spent hand feeding Coal tits was one of the main highlights of the trip for us.

On Sunday morning we left Carrbridge for Stirling as Kane was giving a talk to some of the students at the university there. This was later followed by a trip around the City of Edinburgh in search for Coot but to no avail, but 13 Black-headed gulls and 1 Tufted Duck sure made up for it at St Margaret's Loch.

A massive thanks are in order to Gillian and Kane for a superb weekend and to Gillian for doing most of the driving throughout the trip! The Grampian Ringing Group also gets a huge thanks for providing an awesome ringers conference and many enjoyable laughs along the way. I am sure we will be back again next year guys to exchange some more catching methods.

For Kane and Gillian's account of the weekend, please see Kane and Gillian's Blog.

Out with the old and in with the new!

Most of you will have noticed that the blog has been dormant for quite some time and this is due to a variety of matters, mainly due to the fact that I have been so busy over the last few months that I haven't had time to sit down and get it upto date.

I am now in my final 7 months of my 3 Year BSc Environmental Conservation Degree here at Bangor University and as you can probably imagine, my workload has now tripled and I have around 35,000 words to write during the few months ahead of me.

A combination of university work, long days, early starts, late nights, ringing conferences, travelling around, ringing and having the time of my life, has lead to a very busy life and I love every minute of it. It has reached the point where I am living my life by the hour as I never know what I will be doing next.

With regards to the title of this post, I have given up twitching for good as I just haven't got time for it these days. Time, money and effort; it just isn't worth it. I now have my C Permit and as you have read, I have been catching good numbers of birds during the past 4 weeks which has been great!

I have said this several times before but from the moment this post publishes I shall be keeping this blog updated regularly instead of a month gap. Apologies to everyone if you have been waiting for an update but you have no need to worry now.

I shall be out ringing this weekend so an update will be available at the beginning of next week.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Testing The Traps!


Recieving my C Permit through the post in October was a very memorable day and so ringing took a back seat for a week or too, as I needed to buy a few extras before the ringing could begin. Then when the time came, the birds just kept on coming. I set myself the challenge to try and catch and ring 100 birds in under a 4 week period and I am very proud to say that it was a huge success. My IPMR (Integrated Population Monitoring Reporter) Database now contains 103 ringing records and I am also happy to say that all these birds have been caught in either Potter or Chardonneret Traps.


This is a mass post of all the ringing I have done on my own, in the past 4 weeks mainly illustrated with a selection of pictures that I thought I would share with you all.

Coal tit

Long-tailed tit

Great tit


At the moment I have 2 seperate trapping sites in North Wales and the picture featured above is basically the setup I use and with the trap below all the feeders it is a good temptation for them to investogate. This method has proved highly successful and I am sure I will catch several 100 using this method.

Ringing Totals from October 21st - November 15th are as follows:-

  • 67 Blue tit (1 Recap)
  • 10 Great tit (1 Recap)
  • 8 Coal tit (1 Recap)
  • 8 Robin
  • 3 Dunnock
  • 2 Long-tailed tit
  • 1 Wren
  • 1 Nuthatch

Darvic Kittiwake!

During the passage of Leach's Petrel in September, whilst scanning I picked up this Kittiwake roosting on the a beach amongst several other gulls and Oystercatchers. Soon realising it was Darvic's, alarm bells started to ring and I knew where was ringed just by the colour!

After half an hour of constant watching and photographing, the bird finally gave up it's indentity. A quick email to Steve and my suspicions were proved correct.

This Kittiwake, (Red Darvic TV) EL48596, was ringed as an adult in 2008 on Puffin Island in North Wales and is the 1st sighting of any ringed Kittiwakes from the Island! Fantastic stuff!

The bird flew off before I could take a video but if you do see any Kittiwakes wearing Red Darvics please do get in touch with me.

A net of Gold!

Photographed by Kane Brides

During the 1st week of October I made a weekend visit to Atherton to help Kane with some garden ringing. The garden had been alive with very large numbers of Goldfinch and thankfully when we attempted to catch them we were not dissapointed.

Photographed by Kane Brides

Throughout out the morning we managed to catch a very sufficient number of birds which included 42 Goldfinch and 2 retraps, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Coal tit, 1 Blue tit, 1 Wren and 1 retrap Dunnock.

Many thanks to Kane for a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, lets hope we get some recoveries from the Goldfinch.

Coot Catching in Cheshire!

Catching our 1,000 Coot for the north-west study on the movements of Coot was a great day, but there was no time to rest as we had to begin the new project. Finishing our combinations of 3 colour rings per bird, we have now switched to using darvics. These are white darvics with black lettering and so far we have managed to catch and ring about 40 birds.

Whilst out catching these Coot we don't often get the chance to have a picture with them but in this cicumstance the bird allowed us to take some very memorable shots. To this day I have never seen a Coot sit so still before!

Huge thanks to Kane for allowing me to take part in the new Coot project. I am sure there will be many more Coot to be ringed in the coming months!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Leasowe Leachy's!

Every year there is one bird in particular that I look forward to seeing and this year I managed a visit, just in time for their departure. In 2010 whilst in Dumfries and Galloway on a week's holiday I missed the 900+ Leach's Petrels that were seen in the north-west; mainly around the Wirral.

Hearing that Leach's Petrels were being seen off the wirral coast I knew it was time for a visit. Turning 21 a few days beforehand; Wednesday 14th September I had a 7 hour seawatch off Leasowe. This rewarded superb views of at least 30 Leach's Petrel, 2 Grey Phalaropes as well as a few other nicities during the morning.

Meeting up with John Tubb at our usual seawatching site mid morning produced a Kittiwake and Mediterranean Gull both wearing darvics. A full update of the bird's history will be available on the blog in the next few weeks.

Early afternoon and it was time to head for home and plan a visit to Atherton to catch some Coot in the next few days..

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

C Permit - 5816!

You may have noticed that I have changed the description of the blog, (situated at the top right of the blog) and as the title of this post states, I am now the proud owner of my C Permit!

I sent the forms off to the BTO the morning I left for Iceland on Thursday 14th July and exactly 3 months later the permit was in my hands here at Bangor University. I owe huge thanks to everyone that have helped me along the way to obtaining my C Permit and these will be mentioned later on in this post.

This permit is a Restricted C Permit which doesn't allow me to use mist-nets just yet, but I hope to ammend this next year at the beginning of March. This permit is based on the use of catching any species of adult bird by using traps and my hands as well as ringing any species of pullus in any situation.

Most of the birds I catch will be caught using potter, spring or chardonneret trap as well as catching birds with my hands which is something I somewhat used to. These traps will be described in a later post. Dazzling will also play a major role in my catching effors which is catching birds my a lamp and net at night.

Massive thanks go to Steve Dodd, Rachel Taylor, Kane Brides, Stephen Christmas, Kelvin Jones, Adrienne Stratford, Tony Cross, Dave Fletcher, Brian Hopkins, John Wilson, Andrew Cadman, Seumus Eaves, Phil Ireland, Craig Brookes, Karen Moss, Andrew Moss, Will Price, Phil Slade, Sverrir Thorstensen, Aevar Petersen, Peter Alker, Stephen Menzie, Richard De Feu, Wes Halton, Nicola Edmonds, Kevin Scott and Sean Gray for all their continued support along my journey!

Thanks also to Gillian Dinsmore, Ciaran Hatsell, Zac Hinchcliffe and Mathew Bruce for their support also.

I have managed to catch some birds already, 30 in fact with the permit, but a full update will be available of what these have been tomorrow night.

1,000 Colour - Ringed Coot!

During the last 2 years I have been heavily involved in Kane's Colour - Ringing Coot Project in the North-West of England. These 2 years have been very busy and have been really good fun helping Kane catch as many Coot as possible. Good laughs and memories come flooding back to me.

More importantly, on Wednesday 21st September, Kane caught the 1,000 Coot for the project which ended the 3 colour ring combinations we were using on the birds.

Over the 2 year period these birds have travelled some distance and more information on these movement and the birds themselves can be viewed here on this specific blog post on Kane's Blog.

Sightings of colour - ringed birds can still be sent to kanebrides'@' and any darvic sightings can also be sent to the same address.

Huge thanks to Kane for allowing me to be involved in the project over the 2 years and for all the good laughs we have shared together and with other ringers. Congratulations on a massive achievement Kane - 1,000 Coot all caught by hand!!

More on Darvic Coot to follow soon!

My 1st hand caught Coot!

Photographed by Gillian Dinsmore

Too long have I wanted to catch my 1st Coot and so on Sunday 28th August; Kane, Gillian and I headed out to Crompton Lodges and Plattsfield for some Coot catching.

I just knew in my gut that it was my time to catch my 1st Coot. A juvenile (Age 3) swam upto me in amongst some Mallards and Mute Swans and turned it's back on me and that to me was a bad move and within seconds I had the bird in my right hand. Fantastic!

I have known Kane and the lads for at least 5 years now and now I can even more Coot back in North Wales once things get rolling.

Gillian also went onto catch her 1st Coot at Plattsfield Park and with 18 Coot caught during the morning it was a great hand catching session!

Rutland Bird Fair!

Arriving back from Iceland on Sunday 14th August, exactly a week afterwards and we were back out networking at the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water. I joined Kane and Gillian for the weekend and as this was my 1st time to the fair, I was rather impressed by the size of the site!

We all got ringed during the weekend as part of the BTO's ringing demonstration. These bands had individual ring numbers from 3 particular species; Pied flycatcher, Osprey and Garden warbler and members of the general public could research about where these birds had been ringed etc. A great idea to involved the younger generation of bird ringers.

Throughout the weekend Kane was mostly working on the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) stand talking about various projects that the trust are currently working on. Gillian kept herself occupied, whilst I spent most of my time at the ringing station along with Kelvin Jones.

Birds caught included Garden, Sedge and Reed warbler but best of all was an adult Nightingale! Having handled this species in Spain a few years ago it was great to see them up close, in the UK this time.

The weekend was also a great chance for me to meet new people and catch up with old friends. Meeting Lee Barber and Dave Leech from the BTO, Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle from Bardsey Bird Observatory and many other people from different organisations made the weekend superb!

Meeting celebrities like Simon King, Bill Oddie, Johnny Kingdom and the Urban Birder was even better!

I also managed to win the Bird Observatories Competition at the Bird Fair!

Once we arrived back in the north-west we had a quick visit to Redesmere where we caught 8 Coot with 6 of these being new and the other 2 being controls.

Whooper Swan, Golden Plover and Whimbrel!

During out last 2 weeks in Iceland, our time was spent with Sverrir Thorstensen catching more Whooper Swan adults and cygnets around Akyreryi in the north of Iceland.

Our ringing totals for the 2 weeks ended with another 138 Whooper Swans being caught which included 48 retraps and 90 new birds. Some were controls included a few birds wearing BTO rings from the UK.

Kane and I usually waited in the truck whilst Sverrir caught the swans on the lake, keeping a close eye on his wear abouts and number of swans on the lake.

I also had my 1st go with the boat this year and managed to catch 5 Adult Whooper Swans, all in moult.

We were lucky as the weather during the swan catching was glorious as you can see from the photos above. Clear skies and stunning scenery added to a superb end to the trip.

Like last year we managed to catch Golden Plover and Whimbrel chicks, so this summer we caught 30 Golden Plover and 10 Whimbrel chicks.

A brood of 4 Ptarmigan chicks were caught but as you can see from the photo above they were to small to ring, very cute though!

That just about sums up our trip to Iceland this summer so I hope you have all enjoyed the read and huge thanks go to Sverrir, Thorey, Aevar and Solla for putting up with us 'Bluddy tourists' for 4 weeks. Thanks guys and see you again next year.

Husavik Humpbacks!

Whislt in Iceland during our Whooper Swan research work we had a few days off so we decided to travel over to Husavik on the northern coast of Iceland for a day of Whale Watching.

The harbour at Husavik is beautiful and with a clear and calm sea, we had picked the perfect day to go whale watching. During the 3 hour cruise out to sea we witnessed a group of 3 Humpback Whales which ventured to within 1 metre of the tour boat!

Here is the link to the video on youtube that I took of the 2 Humpback Whales that came within 1 metre of the boat. Whale Video in Iceland

The surrounding hills were lightly covered in snow and when a Storm Petrel flew on by the boat, it was the ideal location to sit back and enjoy the views!

Skagafjordur Whoopers!

The second part of our trip in Iceland began on Monday 1st August where we began catching, ringing and surveying the Whooper Swans as part of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trusts work, (WWT), in the North of Iceland in the pristine valley of Skagafjordur. Our base for the next 2 weeks would be in the northern area around Akyreryi.

Our work was spent visiting several well known Whooper Swan breeding locations to try and catch as many moulting adults and cygnets as possible, where metal and darvic rings were added.

A total of 50 Whooper Swans were captured during our few days in Skagafjordur, some new, retrapped and controls.

This was to be a truly unforgettable experience for Kane and I as the method used to catch these Whooper swans was by hand. Running across marshes for several miles to catch a brood of cygnets and both adults really was great fun!

Once we had completed most of the broods on the marshes, we cooled off by catching moulting adults in the freezing cold glacial rivers and as you can see from the photos above and below, I was not joking.

This Whooper Swan (pictured above) was not going to slip past me and after a few seconds the bird came close enough and it was safely captured and ready to be ringed - albeit a bit wet afterwards! Kane on the right and I on the left always working as a team.

Whilst out in the marshes we managed to catch 14 Wigeon, 2 Teal and 2 Mallard which were all moulting so unable to fly, making an easy catch.

I also managed to track down 2 baby Snipe chicks which were at least 300 yards away. Practising listening to their 'peeping' calls on Flatey Island was the only way I could have found these chicks.

However, relaxing in the hot tub at base camp was just what we all needed after a long day in the marshes!

All photos by Kane Brides.

Mnay thanks to Olafur Einarsson, family and friends for a superb few days! I am sure we will back next year!