Friday, 2 September 2011

Norfolk Birding!

Just over 4 days rest and I was off again, this time over to the East Coast to Norfolk/Suffolk for a weekend of birding with my dad and grandad. From 25th June until 26th June, Norfolk was the only thing on my mind and what would lay in stall for us over the weekend.

During the weekend we visited Lakenheath Nature Reserve where we had good views of Hobby, Green Woodpecker and Grasshopper Warbler. Despite seeing a Grasshopper Warbler carrying food several times around me and flying down into a thick reedy area, inaccessible to the public, I was somewhat frustrated that I couldn't have a look!

My dad and Grandad scanning one of the lakes for the ever favourite bird's - Hobby. I on the other hand was checking the flock of Coot for colour rings and watching Reed warblers carrying food to their nestlings. No sight nor sound of any Golden Orioles here, just a few Turtle Doves on nearby wires. However I did pick up a Male Montagu's Harrier near to the railway which flew around nearby fields giving exceptional views!

A visit to Weeting Heath resulted in 2 Adult Stone Curlew and a chick, as well as several Green Woodpecker but no Woodlarks..

An evening visit to Dersingham Bog National Nature Reserve however, produced at least 6 churring Nightjars and very close views of a bird circling and wing-clapping around my head some 3ft away.

Around 90 species were seen during the weekend, so not all that bad really.

Killington Lake Visit 2!

Tuesday 21st June and it was our 2nd visit up to Killington Lake in Cumbria for another Black Headed Gull chick round-up. We particularly try our best to make two visits as the first visit is when we attempt to catch and ring as many chicks as possible, with the second visit, we try to ring an additional 100 chicks and check for any dead birds which might be wearing rings.

This visit involved Kane, Myself, Zac and Gillian; a small team but a very welcome 128 new chicks were ringed, plus 2 adults caught by Zac brought our year total to well over 600 birds!

Out of the 447 chicks we ringed on our last visit, 28 of these were found dead on the island and the rings collected ready to be sorted into IPMR. 80 chicks were darvicd on our last visit also and with only 3 of these found dead, we are now hoping for a substantial amount of recoveries from these birds, not being too hopeful yet a while.

Mist Netting the Shakerley Sand Martin Colony!

Sunday 19th June and we were still out ringing.. The summer ringing activities just never stop for us so in the evening, myself, Kane and Gillian joined Steve Christmas at the Shakerley Sand Martin Colony.

We set up 2 nets for just 1 hour, resulting in a good catch of 38 birds. More interestingly, when Gillian extracted the first bird out of the net it was wearing a Cempa Sea, Lisboa ring from Portugal - A310342!

We also controlled another bird - BTO L451555.

A few hours later, we were greeted with some fantastic news! The bird A310342 was the first Portugese ringed Sand Martin to be recovered back in the UK!!

Photographed by Kane Brides

Funnily enough, this bird was actually ringed by ringers from the North - West; Tom and Peter Fearon from Merseyside had ringed this bird on 21/8/10 at Reserva Natural das Lagas de Santo Andre e da Sancha in Portugal! It was aged as a juvenile (3) and weighed 14.8 grams!

Map by Kane Brides

A fantastic end to a ridiculously busy week!

Puffin Island - 18th June!

A short break and we were off again up in to my 2nd home into North Wales. Steve had kindly invited myself and Kane to join them on the visit onto Puffin Island to ring the seabirds. Meeting Gillian and a few other ringers for a catch up later on.. Combining the trip to visit Kane's grandparents - an amazing day awaited us! SCAN visits Puffin Island three times during the summer to ring as many seabirds as possible and our visit was no exception.

Razorbill Chick - Photographed by Kane Brides

Cormorant Chicks - Photographed by Kane Brides

From an early start until late evening, the team managed to ring a total of 600 birds during the day. These consisted of -

•Cormorant – 250 pulli
•Shag – 10 pulli + 1 retrap adult
•Razorbill – 27 pulli + 5 adults
•Guillemot – 299 pulli + 14 adults.
•Kittiwake – 5 adults

The Cormorant chicks were being darvicd as part of the on-going project on the island which Kane thoroughly enjoyed, as well as helping Louise Soanes, (a PhD student from Liverpool), darvic and datalogged 5 Adult Kittiwakes.

Huge thanks to Steve for inviting us along and for a truly superb days seabird ringing!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Mixed mist - netting and various nest checking!

A few days rest from ringing and we were back out for some more action. We kick started the week with some general mist netting catching a couple more Grasshopper Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Willow warbler and Chiffchaff, plus ringing a few broods of Swallow pulli at nearby farms, resulting in 33 being ringed. A visit to Martin Mere to check on the Tree Sparrow boxes which resulted in another 20 pulli being ringed and then a good mist netting session down in Zacs Garden in Preston.

We set a 40ft mist net in the garden resulting in a good catch of 5 House Sparrow, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Coal Tit, 2 Dunnock, 1 Blackbird, 1 Woodpigeon and 1 Bullfinch.

A mist net attempt over a river near Atherton to see if we could catch a passing Kingfisher didn't work, so we headed to Martin Mere for another nest box check of the Tree Sparrows. They were now on their 2nd and 3rd clutches and with a total of 72 breeding pairs at Martin Mere, they have had an exceptionally good year!

A brood of Collard Dove were ringed a long with several broods of Swallow. A couple more Moorhen were hand caught and a trip out on to the reserve late evening, resulted in 1 Barn Owl pullus being ringed by Zac. Barn Owls at the reserve have suffered due to the harsh winter. Compared to 9 Barn Owl chicks last year, just 1 chick this year.

A Sparrowhawk and Collard Dove nest were also checked upon in Atherton as part of our nest recording.

Nest Recording at Pickmere - Cheshire!

Becoming a ringer, you just never know what to expect and what your going to catch, but Friday 10th June was just one of those superb days where everything fell into place!

The start of the day began with myself, Kane and Zac carrying out a thorough nest record check of all the Reed Warbler nests we have at the moment. A total of 43 Reed Warbler nests were checked and 30 pulli ringed.

Mid - afternoon and a short stroll and we had caught a Carrion Crow just out of the nest. This was a species I had wanted to handle for a while and it was great to appreciate such a common countryside crow.

Early evening ringing consisted of a sprint for a Lapwing Chick and a brood of Kestrel at a nearby Coal Mine Site.

Photographed by Zac Hinchcliffe

Late evening and a short session for some general mist-netting resulted in 2 Grasshopper Warblers and 2 Common Whitethroat being caught. The Juvenile Grasshopper warbler was a bird Kane ringed in the nest he found a week earlier..

Photographed by Zac Hinchcliffe

Photographed by Zac Hinchcliffe

Tree Sparrow Nest Boxes!

The survey and ringing work that we carry out during the summer just never stops as we are very keen to get as much done and as many birds ringed as we physically possibly can. On Thursday 9th June, myself and Kane took Zac for a days nest box checking at WWT Martin Mere. We were doing our weekly nest record check of the Tree Sparrow population that breed at Martin Mere.

Throughout the day we managed to check 101 nest boxes, of which 100 Tree Sparrow pulli were ringed and colour ringed.

Also ringed during the day in between breaks included this pullus Stock Dove, as well as 4 Chaffinch, 4 Swallow, 2 Moorhen and 1 Coot.

Moorhen was a new species for me that day, so it was good to finally catch my own by hand and like many other ringers have told me, they do put up a good scratch..

Killington Lake Visit 1!

It was that time of year again when we were due our annual trip to Killington Lake in Cumbria for our Black Headed Gull chick catch. Arriving early on site with Kane and Zac we could see that the island where the gulls nest, was alive and plenty of chicks could be seen from the road side car-park. A quick cup of coffee at the service area whilst waiting for other members of our team to arrive, resulted in many adult Black Headed Gulls being rather tame..

Photographed by Kane Brides

Soon after, a total of 5 birds were caught, ringed and darvics added as part of our North West Black headed Gull Study. (Congratulations to Zac as these were his first hand-caught gulls).

BTO Rings were also read in the car park with EX51401 and EG41030 being the only rings visible. Are these your birds? If so, please get in touch..

Finishing our coffee, we headed over to meet up with Steve Christmas and Aidan. Throughout our time on the island, a total of 477 chicks were caught, with 80 larger chicks gaining a darvic.

Photographed by Kane Brides

Huge thanks to Kane for organising another hugely successful trip and to Steve for supplying the bulk of the rings.

White - Throated Robin!

Early morning on Tuesday 7th June, I met up with Steve at Aber Falls to ring the brood of 6 Wood Warblers, shortly followed by a relaxed 4 hour survey as part of my dissertation project. Having already been up since 6am, completed a 8 mile cycle, 4 hours of surveying - I was looking forward to a rest in the afternoon.

However, this was not to be the case and as soon as I got back down from the Falls and back into mobile phone reception, the phone rang.. Seconds later and I was hurtling along the road on my bike trying to get to Aber Ogwen Nature Reserve where I was to be picked up by Rob Sandham, Martin Jones and Chris Jones. They were on their way to twitch the White - Throated Robin up in Hartlepool. This bird was originally identified as a Red-Flanked Bluetail in the field but once the bird was trapped and ringed, the birds I.D. was soon changed; so I jumped at the chance of seeing this Scandinavian beauty. In the process of cycling to the reserve I managed to get in contact with Zac and get him to the 'pick-up point' in the nick of time..

Arriving at Hartlepool Headland around 5pm and a quick sprint to the Bowling Green/Doctor's Garden where the bird was showing, within a few minutes a birder popped his head out of a garage door ans there pootling about on the lawn of the Doctor's Garden was a 1st-summer Female White - Throated Robin. The 2nd record for Britain!

Huge thanks to Rob for inviting me along, Martin for doing all the driving and to the Doctor for allowing access into his garden.