Saturday, 31 December 2011 have some big boots to fill! - Happy New Year!

Even though I am yet to complete a full year of ringing, 2011 will always be the year that I started ringing and I started with a bit of a bang. Below are the totals of each of the 71 species I have handled

Species Full Grown Pulli Retrap Total
Shag 1 42 0 43
Manx Shearwater 2 0 0 2
Mute Swan 0 0 17 17
Canada Goose 14 0 7 21
Shelduck 4 0 0 4
Mallard 1 0 0 1
Teal 1 0 0 1
Wigeon 1 0 0 1
Tufted Duck 1 0 0 1
Coot 12 2 2 16
Moorhen 3 0 0 3
Little Egret 0 2 0 2
Kestrel 0 5 0 5
Oystercatcher 54 0 23 77
Lapwing 1 3 0 4
Sanderling 28 0 0 28
Dunlin 48 0 2 50
Redshank 30 0 0 30
Turnstone 12 0 2 14
Curlew 4 0 1 5
Black-headed Gull 16 152 0 168
Common Gull 1 0 0 1
Herring Gull 28 0 0 28
Great Black-backed Gull 1 0 0 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull 15 0 0 15
Puffin 1 0 0 1
Razorbill 10 10 2 22
Guillemot 2 5 0 7
Woodpigeon 1 1 0 2
Stock Dove 0 1 0 1
Collared Dove 0 1 0 1
Barn Owl 0 1 0 1
Tawny Owl 0 1 0 1
Long-eared Owl 1 0 0 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 0 0 1
Swallow 24 9 0 33
Pied Wagtail 9 0 0 9
Robin 3 0 1 4
Dunnock 7 0 5 12
Wren 2 0 0 2
Blackbird 8 4 0 12
Song Thrush 4 0 0 4
Redwing 1 0 0 1
Sedge Warbler 2 0 0 2
Reed Warbler 5 28 1 34
Grasshopper Warbler 2 0 1 3
Common Whitethroat 1 0 0 1
Blackcap 6 0 0 6
Willow Warbler 3 0 2 5
Chiffchaff 11 0 0 11
Goldcrest 1 0 0 1
Long-tailed Tit 8 0 7 15
Blue tit 67 15 24 106
Great Tit 32 30 9 71
Coal Tit 4 0 4 8
Treecreeper 1 0 0 1
Nuthatch 2 6 0 8
Pied Flycatcher 9 28 2 39
Starling 2 0 0 2
Tree Sparrow 2 94 0 96
House Sparrow 6 0 0 6
Chough 0 13 0 13
Chaffinch 18 4 0 22
Greenfinch 7 0 0 7
Goldfinch 15 0 4 19
Siskin 2 0 0 2
Lesser Redpoll 7 0 3 10
Linnet 3 0 0 3
Bullfinch 6 0 3 9
Reed Bunting 5 0 1 6
Yellowhammer 2 0 0 2

Total 578 415 123 1116
Species 62 23 21 71

What an incredible calender year I have had and external ringing highlights have included 21 British lifers including some of the rarest birds I have ever seen inc: Surf Scoter, Golden Pheasant, Sooty Shearwater, Purple Heron, Common Crane, Kentish Plover, American Golden Plover, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Wilson's Snipe, Upland Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs
Bee-eater, Red-rumped Swallow, Richard's Pipit, Olive-backed Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, White-throated Robin, Desert Wheatear, Rose-coloured Starling, Northern Waterthrush, Scarlet Tanager.

In addition to this, I have been to America for the first time and seen some truly stunning birds.

Happy New Year to everyone and thank you to everyone who made 2011 one of my best years of all time!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Lesser Scaup - Slimbridge WWT

After seeing my photo of the Slimbridge Lesser Scaup on Gillian's blog, I felt that I was wrong to just throw it onto my external hard-drive back-up. I thought I'd share it with my followers!

Kane had to work so Gillian, Ciaran and I spent all day around the reserve seeing the Bewick's, the Whitefronts, the Bitterns and the captive species including the superb Wader Aviary where you can be in the same space as Black-winged Stilt, Avocet and Redshank. This is also the enclosure where the Spoon-billed Sandpipers will be kept in the summer months....a return trip is in order!
A great trip and it was very interesting to see Kane do his Bewick's Swan feed under floodlight which was a first for me!

Happy New Year to my readers!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Last post of 2011? - 28th December 2011

Kane and I spent all morning at Atherton Woods with 3 nets up at 2 feeding stations. A newly erected feeding station towards the centre of the wood really kept Kane busy! We decided that I would go off and do the ringing whilst he extracted as this was better for my totals and he was able to extract much quicker. We finished the session with over 70 birds processed and 25 newly colour-ringed Blue Tits (I liked the combination of White White Mauve, so thought I'd include the photo above!). I also had the privilege of ringing my first Treecreeper that I was really excited about as I've been wanting to handle one of these since 2007 when I saw one in the hand for the first time with Mark Breaks.
Back in Kane's garden Blue Tits: Pink Pink Grey and Orange Yellow Yellow have been joined by Pink Pink Pink and Orange Yellow Red.
A really enjoyable day, albeit cold and slightly fast paced. Thanks to Kane for helping with with my ongoing training and also for letting me stay.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

A decent batch of CR-Blue Tits - 22nd Decemeber 2011

above - White, Red, White and White, Red, Dark Blue
I joined Kane and Gillian this morning at Atherton Woods to try and get a decent number of Blue Tits colour-ringed for my 3rd year project. We managed 13 newly colour-ringed Birds, plus 1 retrap (Orange, Red, White) which was ringed as a 2CY female on the nest, back in May.
Above - Orange, Yellow, Yellow in Kane's garden
In addition, I observed Orange, Yellow, Yellow and Pink, Pink, Grey in Kane's garden 1 mile away in Atherton, which was nice!
A really fun day rounded off with a trip to Blackburn Ice Rink where we had our first ever 'Ringer's conference on Ice'! Cheers to Kane for putting me up for the night, and to Kane and Gillian for being patient with me whilst I dealt with the tediousness of colour-ringing tits!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A smattering of Tits - 18th December 2011

As we approach the Christmas break, everyone is finally back from their far-flung jobs, so Ciaran, Craig, Gillian, Kane, Heather and myself met up at Kane's on Saturday night and went for a Christmas meal, and to celebrate 40 years of the Loganhurst Ringing Group set up by Steve and Tim Christmas.
This morning, us young ringers were up bright and early to do a spot of ringing in Atherton Woods followed by a session at Shakerley. Despite it being very cold indeed, the morning was very slow. I suppose this could have been because the sun was very low and was shining on the net, so the birds could see it? Anyway, we caught 4 Great Tit, 2 Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Blackbird and a Reed Bunting.
This mornings ringing was particularly special for me because I was able to colour-ring the Blue Tit as part of a small project I've set up with Kane for my 3rd year Honours project. It's still getting used to colour-ringing at such a small, fiddly scale, but I rather enjoyed it and think they really do look smart! I can't wait until next breeding season's fieldwork, watching colour-ringed Blue Tits in the field!
A really enjoyable weekend and really good to catch up with Ciaran and Craig and hear about stories from the Farnes and Sweden/Denmark.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

My first 2 ring-recoveries!

I've received my first two recoveries from Kane over the last week or so, and both have been ring recoveries from Black-headed Gull - my favourite ringing species!

I ringed this bird on our 2nd trip to the Killington Black-headed Gull colony back on 20th June this year. On 25th November, Kane and Gillian were ring-reading 90km south of Killington in a Manchester park only 5-10 minutes away from Kane's house when he read a ring that sounded familiar. It turns out that it was on my birds - EY02115! Remarkable!

EX54095 (2A07) - Loch Ryan, Stranraer has now been the location for two of our darvic ringed Black-heads re-sightings. The first was one of the Killington chicks (2A64) but in the last week, 2A07 (above right hand bird) has also been seen. This was one of the first Black-heads I ever hand caught at the services at Killington. The re-sighting was 166km away from the ringing location and 185 days later.

I personally believe the reason Black-headed Gulls are so great to ring is because they are stunning birds, albeit generally overlooked; handcatching is one of the most exciting and enjoyable methods of catching birds, their affinity to duck ponds means that recoveries can be very frequent. There are lots of foreign recoveries also which makes ring-reading very exciting.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Dunlin cure the sense of déjà vu - 10th December 2011

Meeting SCAN wader ringing group at Bangor Town Beach at 05.30 this morning, we set 2 nets in the same spot as 2 weeks ago. The tide was an hour or so earlier, so we were set up well before first light which was an odd feeling. Chris and I were put on twinkling duties and I waited for instructions in the car park overlooking the 'beach' (also acting as 'long stop' preventing dog walkers from walking onto the beach near the net...)
Déjà vu soon set in as there were a decent number of potentially 100 Redshank approaching the net on the rising tide. Probably 3 minutes later and we would have fired, but a Buzzard flew through and flushed everything in site!
Steve and another group were on the other side of the Menai in Beaumaris and at high tide they fired on a very impressive flock of 400 Dunlin! Everyone from our side of the Menai, except for Dave, Kelvin and I, went round to Beaumaris to help with extraction. The three of us who stayed with our nets were left to pack up both nets. With a group of 10 or so people, packing up a net-set isn't too strenuous, but with just 3 of you, I was 'dead' by the end!
Dave and I finally got round to Beaumaris at 12.30 where I contributed 20 Dunlin to the ringing totals. I really didn't think we were going to get round in time so was delighted to handle the small number I did!

So to summarise...Dunlin are amazing!