24 Apr 2017

Another Siskin control

I've just received another Siskin control from the large number  I ringed in the winter 2015-2016. This one was controlled in N Wales recently.

 That's four controls from around 160 birds ringed during that winter. Two have been returning birds that have been caught in gardens on the Wirral and now N Wales.

17 Apr 2017

Back to the UK

We've just spent a fantastic two weeks in Australia visiting our daughter, son in law and granddaughter and helping them move into a fabulous new house where, every morning, I spent an hour or so on the rear deck overlooking the hills behind the house and watching Nankeen Kestrels catch grasshoppers with Crimson Rosella's, Eastern Rosella's, Kookaburra's and Wedge-tailed Eagles among the supporting cast. One downside of long haul trips is the jet lag and two nights later I'm still waking at stupid o'clock. This morning, despite staying up until 10 pm I woke at 2 in the morning and eventually gave up at 5! A blessing in disguise as I'd never have seen the pair of Tufted Ducks that hd dropped into the pond / flash opposite the house. A garden and new patch tick no less. They didn't stay long and were chased off by the resident Coots but they, or another pair, turned up with reinforcements in the form of a 2nd pair, a few minutes later. They to were chased off but the Coots don't seem to bother about the Teal.

The heavy rain earlier this morning dropped a few migrants in with Willow Warbler and Garden Warbler both in the garden and at mixed flock of at least 100 Sand Martins and Swallows hawking over the pond.

Since we've been away 2 pairs of Robins have hatched young in the garden and one nest box has a Blue Tits nest with eggs. Other boxes are being inspected. A Carrion Crow has built a nest at the top of our Scots Pine whilst a hare has made regular appearances in the field.

31 Mar 2017

Unexpected item in the bagging area!

Hilbre's 4th record of Pheasant was seen by Steve on Wednesday wandering between Middle Eye & Hilbre. Its assumed these birds come across from Red Rocks - the last record coincided with some extensive 'management' work and it looks like the same has happened again this year. Either that or its a genuine returning migrant - a bit like my Siskin mentioned in my previous blog post. Its an interesting record as the bird would have had to travel across at least a mile of open mud and sand or indeed water if the tide was in.

Anyway, I found myself on Hilbre yesterday to meet up with a local guy who's making a short video presentation for his journalism course and wanted to film an interview about bird ringing and hopefully a bird being ringed. Things certainly didn't look hopeful with the wind being in the wrong direction and heavy rain! A quick walk round the heligoland traps revealed this:

The bird was picked up and released in the open where it ran off at full speed without uttering a sound. We did eventually catch a couple of birds with a new Robin and a female Chaffinch being ringed so Danny got his video footage.

30 Mar 2017

Nice Siskin control

I've recently had a nice Siskin control of a bird I ringed in January last year (2016) controlled in a Hilbre members garden by a Hilbre ringer in February this year!

It makes you wonder where it had been in the intervening year.

27 Mar 2017

Little Grebes.

A beautiful sunny spring weekend in my part of Cheshire with Chiffchaff singing in the garden, a Robins nest with two eggs and Great 7 Blue Tits nesting in the boxes I've put up! The Little Owls have been basking out in the early evening sunshine just before it sets and we can see them from the windows.A Great Spotted Woodpecker spent the weekend drumming in a nearby oak and we had another visit from a singing Treecreeper. The whole weekend was spent in the garden replacing rotten fence posts to stop the sheep getting in and generally tidying up.

The pond opposite the house, once again, provided the star bird(s) though - a new house and patch tick. A quick glance early morning Sunday to see if any waders had dropped in over night was rewarded by the presence of a pair of Little Grebes!

Other pond visitors over the weekend included a single male Shoveller, Teal, Coot (now nest building) , Canada Geese, Greylags and a pair of Lapwings. Sunday was a real bird filled day with 40 species being recorded either in or from the garden. The total now for the new patch stands at 70 species for 2017.

20 Mar 2017

A brief visit to Hilbre

Its months since I've had the chance to go across to Hilbre - work & house renovations have got in the way! Luckily I got a chance last week and joined the rest of the regulars to spend the tide over on the island.

Many waders have already left for their breeding grounds but Middle Eye held an impressive number of Curlews whilst the Brent Geese gave good views as they serenely swam down the east side. Only two Purple Sandpipers were seen but there were plenty of Common Scoter around and a male Eider put in a distant appearance.

It was a beautiful sunny day with plenty to see - not many spring migrants but typical early spring fare with overhead migration of alba wagtails and finches. The first Bumble Bees and butterflies were on the wing with both Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock being recorded.

14 Mar 2017

Last SCAN canon netting trip of the winter

A re-scheduled canon netting trip meant  I could make the last SCAN session of the winter and so Saturday morning saw me arriving at Kinmel Bay at 05.45 and gettign uestioned by the local police as to my intentions.......

After explaining to the officer what I was doing a few of the other members of the team turned up only for a 2nd police car to arrive. Apparently, according to local sources (Mark Payne) the area is a meeting point for the local transvestites.........

With two nets set the waiting game began. The target species was Sanderling and during the early morning recce a colour ringed bird had been spotted. Pulse rates quickened as news came in over the radios as to the whereabouts of the birds and how many were in the catching area.

Suddenly the button was pressed and the nets were fired. The nets were moved up the beach away from the in coming tide and the birds covered in hessian to keep them calm until they were extracted and placed in holding cages to await ringing and processing.

A total of 555 birds were processed with over 200 Sanderling being caught - including the colour ringed bird that came from Iceland! It was originally ringed there in the autumn of 2016 before subsequently being seen at several sites on the north Lancashire coast, then Formby and finally Kinmel Bay!

 Juvenile Sanderling (Euring 5, 2nd calendar year) showing  buff tips (very worn) to tertials and inner media coverts.
Adult Sanderling (Euring 6, 3rd calendar year or older) without the buff tips shown by the juvenile

Good numbers of Dunlin were also processed including a bird with a colour ring thought to have originally been ringed in mid-Wales. In addition around 6 Ringed Plover and a single Turnstone were also processed.
Colour ringed Dunlin.

A great day - the weather was kind to us, a good catch (that'll help increase our knowledge of these birds movements and the importance of the local area for them as a wintering ground), good company and a cracking rugby result! Roll on the summer and the start of the seabird ringing season on Puffin Island.

It was great to see local birder John Roberts out and about - I haven't seen him for a long time!