Thursday, 24 February 2011

Ring Reading in Bangor

Photographed by Zac Hinchcliffe

After finding the Herring Gull and Black-Headed Gull bearing Darvics at seperate locations, once I was back in Bangor I was keen to get down to Bangor harbour to have a look and see if there were any more ringed gulls.. Several trips were made at the end of January and a few at the beginning of February with some interesting results..

Myself and Zac spent more than 16 hours down in the harbour trying to read the rings that 3 Black-Headed gulls were wearing! Several packets of chips and many photos later, we had solved their identities.. We managed to obtain the full codes of 2 of the birds but the 3rd bird eluded us!

7T69449 - Brussels
ST239892 - Finland
3.61-.--- - Holland

Photographed by Zac Hinchcliffe

I am not going to be defeated by the last bird so in the next few weeks when I actually have some time spare, I will be down in the harbour in search of that gull and its ring sequence!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Delightful Darvics

During the last few weeks there has been a clear lack of posting to the blog, which is mainly due to the increased workload at university and not enough free-time.. Since my last post about the intriguing sighting of the Short-eared Owl in Bangor Harbour, my day-to-day life has been somewhat rather busy..

Throughtout the next few days I shall give a full update on my ringing antics..

Taking a look back to my trip to Moore Nature Reserve with Alex Jones, where we were in search of the elusive Lesser-Spotted Woodpeckers, I mentioned that I observed a Herring Gull wearing a Darvic. Reading the Darvic proved rather tricky and with so many gulls roosting on the same lake, the bird just didn't keep still. However, after about 10 minutes of constant obervations and several pictures later, I am pretty sure the Darvic read - 19G0. However, I have recently been informed by Kane that the bird was ringed by the North Thames Gull Group in London, but unfortunately we are unable to identify the individual due to poor pictures. {not so clear in the photos above and below}. I do know that this bird was ringed either at Pitsea or Rainham Landfill site!

In the mean time, this bird wasn't ringed in Britain and so has travelled quite some distance.. This message is aimed at anyone who is a bird ringer abroad - if you read or follow my blog, have you ringed this Herring gull and if so, please contact me through the blog.. cheers!

The other Darvic that I read was at Newton Park Lake at Newton-Le-Willows in Manchester, on 23/1/11. I have to admit, this was a bit of a surprise find! I had been ringing with Kane for the past few days and after being dropped off at the station, I had literally just missed my train home, so a quick look in the park opposite the station was in order, equppied with some left-over butties, this is what greeted me..

This Adult Black-Headed Gull - Red Darvic V374 with white writing, is a bird that was ringed somewhere abroad. If you read my blog have you ringed this bird and if so, please do get in touch..

It makes you wonder what else is lurking in urban parks and other gull flocks?!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Sun, Sea, Chips and s*** me it's a shortie

Over the last few days the weather has been absolutely atrocious in North wales! Waking up this morning, it was a nice surprise to see the sun shining and cloudless blue skies all around.. Spending the morning in lectures and then having a practical in the module - 'Practical Conservation and Ecology' involving the whole class splitting up into groups and observing taxi registration numbers throughout the whole of Bangor as part of a mark and recapture report, I had had enough by lunchtime and met up with Zac down in Bangor harbour for some birding and to see if I could pick up a few yearticks along the way..

Down in Porth Penrhyn, we found a section of beach where we had a quick scan around! The next thing we know, a large flock of Oystercatcher and Dunlin flush from a nearby embankment and a raptor is in hot pursuit of the flock.. A quick look and bluddy hell - it was a Short-Eared Owl!! With this strange sighting, we queried ourselves as to whether or not it was a winter migrant?!

Photographed by Zac Hinchcliffe

Basing ourselves on a wall down by the boat yard in Bangor harbour, a Peregrine Falcon shot through low, right in-front of us, spooking everything in sight. Next was an Adult Mediterranean Gull that Zac spotted in the harbour. Great stuff!

Alex Jones soon joined us in the harbour on his way home from lectures, he too enjoyed this beautiful adult gull unfortunately with no darvic on!

Other birds seen on our 4 hour break include:-
- 7 Pale-Bellied Brent Geese
- 25+ Common Scoter
- 6 Goldeneye
- 1 Rock pipit
During our break, we also managed to observe 10 ringed Redshank which were more than likely birds we had ringed through SCAN.
Seeing as though Zac had his Canon 40D camera with him and his lense, I had a mess around at some photography as I shall be buying his 30D camera soon..
Here are some of my efforts from today..

Whilst we were down in the harbour we observed 2 foreign ringed Black-headed gulls, however we are missing a few digits from both birds, so we will be back down in the harbour tomorrow morning to finish off the job. This evening we spent our time down at Tesco in Bangor in search of a Pied wagtail roost. To finish a great day off, we found the roost which contained between 100-120 birds so hopefully we will try and have a ringing session in the few weeks and see if we can catch a few, so I will keep you posted on this in due course.. Cheers for now!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

SCAN - 5th/6th February 2011

Unfortunately, the weather for last week was forecast to be very wet and windy. The weather forecasters actually got it right for once, so we were in for a wet and windy weekend. Although the weather for the weekend turned out to be alot worse than I originally expected. Unfortunately, this weekend was SCAN Ringing Groups {Shropshire, Conwy and Anglesey} last cannon-netting weekend of this winter and amazingly, after our catch at the weekend - SCAN Ringing Group has successfully ringed just over 404,045 birds since it was set-up!

This weekend I was joined by mates Kane Brides, Craig Brookes and Ciaran Hatsell who drove up to Bangor to give us a hand over the weekend. Throughout Saturday, we began to deal with the fact that the rain wasn't going anywhere. So with a break in the rain, we set 2 cannon-nets quickly and efficiently on different beaches so to maximise our disturbance to the site as the tide was on it's way in. During the morning, we fired both of the nets; resulting in 16 Shelduck, 1 Wigeon, 1 Redshank and 5 Turnstone being caught.

With such a small catch, it gave us more time to concentrate on the criteria we use for ageing these birds. More importantly, it was a chance for other folk to appreciate the birds in the hand and to practise fitting larger rings..

Robin Sandham, new to cannon-netting - holding his first wader - a Juvenile Redshank..
Spending time on ageing the Shelducks enabled us to truley appreciate the beauty of these over-looked wildlfowl.

Craig Brookes and Kane Brides discussing the age of a Shelduck with my trainer, Steve Dodd..
My warden in my flat at university, came along as I had promised him that he could take some photographs for his course and to hold some birds during the weekend.. Hamzar Yassin has had an interest in birds for a few years now, but bringing him along to this weekend, he truley appreciated the sheer beauty of the birds and it was great to show him the birds in the hand that he had been watching during his time at Bangor..
Huge thanks to Steve and Rachel for yet another great weekend's cannon-netting. More thanks to Hamzar Yassin for doing all the driving and transporting us to the sites. Thanks to Kane Brides, Craig Brookes and Ciaran Hatsell for making Saturday night an interesting night out in Bangor, all of us were pretty drunk, but we can't not forget young Zac..

This weekend was Zac's first experience at cannon-netting and he thoroughly enjoyed it! To see other accounts of this weekend, visit:-

- Zac's site @

- Kane's site @

- Craig' site @

Our efforts on Sunday were ended due to the wind being too strong, so no attempt was made to set a net.. Hopefully, I will be out ringing with Steve in 2 weeks time, as Steve is away this weekend, but check back soon as I plan to get out birding sometime this week..