Monday, 24 December 2012

Waiting for the frankincense and myrrh... - 24th December 2012

Arriving at my feeding station at dawn, I was expecting lots of birds to start of Christmas Eve but the place was devoid of birds! I gave it two hours of nothingness before giving up and heading back to my garden.
Even here the birds appeared to be lacking but eventually I spotted the above juvenile female Goldcrest in the 2nd shelf. A lovely bird to catch in my garden and a nice bird to get on Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas to all my blog readers!

Friday, 21 December 2012

New feeding station - 21st December 2012

1 of 5 Long-tailed Tit

I have very recently set up a feeding station in my local woods. This morning I decided I'd have a go at netting it for the first time.
It was surprisingly productive considering how new the station was and I caught 25 birds with the highlight being a group of 5 Long-tailed Tits

10 Great Tit
5 Long-tailed Tit
5 Blue Tit
4 Coal Tit
1 Robin

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

First ringing session as a C-permit holder! - 18th December 2012

My C-permit arrived through the door yesterday and I was eager to get out ASAP to have a go for myself. I erected a 30ft net in my garden for just after 1st light and caught a Dunnock before the net was even fully up!
The last bird of the session was a real surprise being a Treecreeper! This is actually a garden tick for me, let alone a great bird to ring on the first day of my permit! I am still in a slight bit of shock!

Totals weren't amazing, but a nice easy session to ease me in:
3 Blue Tit
3 Coal Tit
2 Dunnock
2 Blackbird (inc. 1 retrap from 2011)
1 Treecreeper

Monday, 17 December 2012

Gulls are like buses! - Preston Docks - 17th December 2012

1 of 20 Black-headed Gulls hand caught at Preston Docks
Kane, Gillian and I went down to Preston Docks today to have a go at hand catching a few gulls. When we arrived, the chip van that is usually always there, wasn't. As a result, the gulls were very hungry indeed and were incredibly easy to catch! It didn't take long at all before we suddenly had 6 in the car ready to be ringed. After the first 15, they became a little more nervous to approach us, so the final five took a bit of time, but to hand-catch 20 in just over 30 mins was superb!

We fitted a darvic ring on every bird and we have now reached 2F19. Hopefully we can get a few repeat days like this due to either cold weather, or a lack of food. They really did appreciate the food we gave them today.

I haven't ringed a UK Black-headed Gull since Ireland, back in January, so it was fantastic to get my hands on lots today. One of my favourite birds to catch without a doubt.

My permit has now arrived through the door, so I hope to get out as much as possible in the next week or so, whether that be ringing in the garden, or out grabbing.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

2 years of training have been worth it!

I began training to ring birds on January 29th 2011 with Steve Dodd as my trainer. Since then, I have ringed birds in Lancashire, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Gwynedd, Conwy, Anglesey, Gtr Manchester, Cumbria and Powys as well as a 7 week trip to the Kvismaren Bird Obersatory in Southern Central Sweden.
In this time, I have handled 105 species including some of my favourite birds in the world (Willow Tit, Bluethroat and Dunlin) and processed an impressive 4500+ birds.
Today I received an email to say that my application for Full C ringing permit has been accepted! I have now sent off the money and should have my permit in the post before too long!

I have put a hell of a lot of effort into my ringing training over the past 2 years and it all seems worth it now I am able to do it by myself.

I would like to say a big thankyou to the people I ringed with and to the people whom have made it a thoroughly enjoyable experience: Steve Dodd, Kane Brides, Christopher Bridge, Craig Brookes, Ciaran Hatsell, Matthew Bruce, Gillian Dinsmore, Ian Lees, Kelvin Jones, Richard De Feu, Adrienne Stratford, Tony Cross, Rachel Taylor, Mark Breaks, Steve Christmas and the rest of the SCAN Wader ringing group.

Hopefully now I have a permit on the way, I will be able to blog a little more!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Mist-netting Passerines - Caernarfon, Gwynedd - 27th October 2012

Today I went out ringing passerines for the first time since Sweden (except for a Swallow in September) so it was strange getting to terms with British ringing terms again and slightly different ageing and sexing criteria.
Redwings were certainly the main species of the day with 17 caught throughout the morning, along with a Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest and 3 Wren.
Totals for the mornings being:
Redwing - 17
Blackbird - 1
Song Thrush - 2
Coal Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 7
Great Tit - 10
Long-tailed Tit - (1 retrap)
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 1
Wren - 3
Goldcrest - 3
Chiffchaff - 1
House Sparrow - 5
Chaffinch - 11

A really lovely crisp morning with lots of Turdidae on the move. It was good to be out.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Pallas's Warbler - Knott End, Lancashire - 20th October 2012

Pallas's Warbler - Knott End
Visiting home for the weekend for my grandparents' diamond wedding anniversary, it happened to coincide with the presence of one of the prettiest birds on the British list being 'within reach'. I got up early and set off to Chris Batty's house in Knott End where he found a fantastic Pallas's Warbler feeding in a Sycamore in an adjacent garden earlier in the week! Arriving on site, I walked round the back of the house and joined Chris and 3 others who were looking at the bird. It proved rather elusive for a lot of the time, but occasionally, it would show itself fantastically at the front of its favourite Sycamore. I generally like to get a good photo from a twitch for the blog, but today, I thought that no matter how good my equipment was, I would never be able to show how beautiful this bird actually was in a photo, so I decided to fire off a couple of record shots to get the diagnostic features, and then soak in the beauty of the bird! What a little stunner and thank you very much to Chris Batty for allowing all us 'dirty twitchers' into your home.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Red-breasted Flycatcher - Breakwater CP, Holyhead - 17th October 2012

 1st winter Red-breasted Flycatcher.
Chris Jones picked me up on his way to Breakwater CP to twitch the 1st winter Red-breasted Flycatcher that Ken found at lunchtime.
The bird had been seen 5 minutes before we arrived so were pretty hopeful, however the bird proved really difficult and it seemed like an age before I heard a rattle and a pipe coming from in the undergrowth. A bird landed on a branch in front of us at about 40 feet and I was rewarded with pleasing views of my first 'tickable' Red-breasted Fly. (I had frustratingly untickable views of a bird in Filey back in 2010)
The bird showed a lovely warm wash to the throat and obvious black and white tail as it cocked it's tail, as well as in flight. The bird was surprisingly vocal as well as being very mobile, so excuse the poor photos!
A really nice bird and a great bird to see locally!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Short-billed Dowitcher and Pallid Harrier - 7th-8th October 2012

Better late than never! I have had some real issues with my laptop over the last couple of weeks, so have not been able to blog about my awesome weekend with Chris Jones as we ventured to Dorset and South Yorkshire result in 2 lifers each. We started off by twitching (can it be called twitching if the bird has been present for so long!?) the Short-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor RSPB. We were rewarded with really nice views down to 60 feet as it fed with Snipe, Lapwing and Black-headed Gulls.
Juvenile/1st winter Short-billed Dowitcher - Lodmoor RSPB, Dorset
The infamous tertials of Short-billed Dowitcher was instantly evident when the bird was turned to it's side
When the bird arrived it was in fresh juvenile plumage but has subsequently started it's moult into 1st winter plumage with some moulting of the scapulars and upper mantle feathering. The body feathers appeared to be very much 1st winter also.
Open-wing shot.

An extract from my notebook describing the plumage of the bird and distinguishing features I picked up on: 'Juv/1stwinter bird. Partially completed wing moult with most of scaps and some of upper mantle moulted. Classis SBD teritals with black centres and golden brown barring similar to rest of juvenile wing coverts. Obvious supercillium on grey head with obviously darker car. Bill seemed broad based with yellowish fade towards base. Barring subtle but obvious on breast and flanks. Yellowy-green legs that must be short on tarsus as bird seemed very squat, even when alert. Feeding with Snipe, Lapwing and BHGulls and appeared larger and stockier than Snipe and was only slightly smaller than Lapwing.'
2 Med Gulls flew low overhead whilst we were watching the Dowitcher.
After watching the Dowitcher, we made our way to Portland Bill with the hope of some migrants and some seawatching. We dipped a Red-backed Shrike and failed to see any Balearic Shearwaters on our seawatch, but were amazed by a feeding flock of 40+ Mediterranean Gulls and 10-15 1st winter Yellow-legged Gulls offshore.
Heading back towards the north, we stopped off at Greylake and were rewarded with brief, but pleasing views of a Spotted Crake.
We were intending on getting to the Pallid Harrier in South Yorks. for dusk in time to see it roost, but were held up in traffic and it was going to be marginal, so we took our time and stayed the night in Doncaster ready for dawn.
Arriving on-site before dawn, we joined an assembled group of 20 birders, inc. Alex Jones. It seemed to take an age for the sun to rise, but as 07.15, someone called the bird and I lifted my bins and picked up a white flash (rump) above the trees. I quickly picked the bird up in the scope and revealed a long winged, thin bodied and thin winged harrier with a thin 'hand'. The bird was an adult female and Pallid was proven by the really obvious dark secondaries and what looked like a pale 'flash' along the median coverts. The underwing wasn't seen for very long, so I can't give an in depth description, but they certainly appeared dark on the secondaries as the base of he wings, near the auxillaries seemed dark, lacking any barring.
The bird was seen for 15-20 seconds as it flew off to feed out on the fields, and what turned to be a departure from the site for ever! We were very lucky

Similarly, the Dowitcher disappeared the following day too, so we were able to see both birds on their last days! Two really great birds and lifers and a really enjoyable weekend. Thanks to Chris for the invite, doing the driving and stumping up for the hotel!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Americans on the Wirral! - 20/21st September 2012

When news broke on Wednesday about a Semipalmated Sandpiper on the Wirral, I was quite excited as this is a species I should really have caught up with by now, however they are very very rare in the north west, and I believe Lancashire has only had 1 prior record (Brockholes LWT). When photos were uploaded to Surfbirds, things weren't as simple as you might first think as the bird seemed to look very much like a Western Sandpiper due to a long curved bill and rufous fringed scapulars. The bird was put out as possible Western Sandpiper.
After the Western Sandpiper at Cley in Winter 11/12 I put quite a lot of research into the splitting of these two similar species so I used all my past references to make my mind up about this bird. I kept going back and forth between ID's as in some photos it looked very Western and in others looked very Semipalmated. I know from past experience that photos can be very misleading and show a bird in a completely different light to what it actually looked like in the flesh which can make you believe a bird is something else. As a result, I decided that I would go for this bird on Thursday to try and make my own mind up on what this bird is.
I arrived to a crowd of about 40 people watching a flock of Sanderling, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. They had seen the bird, but the group had lifted just before I arrived and then settled, so the bird had been lost.
I then joined Chris Batty, Stu Piner, Chris Galvin and Steve Young on the next road along called Curzon Road, and after about 15 minutes of scanning through the flock, Chris Batty picked the bird up at the front of the group. I managed to get onto it almost straight away and was amazed at how much it looked like a miniature Sanderling. The bird was quite distant at c75 meters and in reasonably poor light so I wasn't able to view the finer details of the plumage like the scapulars etc, so I focussed more on jizz of the bird and structure.
The bird has next to no legs for the majority of the time and certainly didn't look leggy like I would generally expect Western to do so. The bill was quite long with a slight curve at the tip. Subsequent reading has taught me that East Coast female Semipalmated Sands can have a long bill with a curve and even a thin tip, instead of a blob tip, so unless a bird shows a very short bill or a very long bill, this feature isn't a sensible feature to use to help with ID. The bird fed by pointing its bill downwards at '7 o'clock' with a bull neck and a concise structure as though the bird was a little ball. It never pointed its bill forwards or stuck its neck out. In terms of position of its legs, they did appear quite far back on the bird with quite a lot of the bird in front of the legs. This is quite often a good indicator of species as Western's legs are really far back. I don't feel that in this particular case, legs position is useful as the bird was facing into strong wind so this could have just been the bird trying to stay stood up! At the distance I was viewing, I couldn't get a feel for the shape of the birds head, but I did note it seemed reasonably large. The face was again a little too 'small in my scope' to get any great detail, but I certainly saw dark ear coverts and what appeared to be a faint supercillium presumably meaning the crown was quite dark.
After 5 minutes of intense viewing, the whole flock lifted and the bird was never located again. I went home with the impression that if I had found the bird, I would sent it out as a probable Semipalmated Sandpiper as I just couldn't turn it into a Western despite trying based on the picutres I saw.
Further reading on Thursday night and observing Steve Youngs photos made the bird look like a Western Sandpiper and the American birders that were asked for their opinions seemed to all think it was a Western. I just couldn't get this impression in the field, so I really wasn't happy and if it turned out to be a Western, I wouldn't be happy with ticking it. I also personally thought that on a lot of photos, it looked like a Semi-p and of the videos of Western and Semip's I watched on Youtube, the Hoylake bird matched Semi-P. I wasn't happy, so talking to Alex Jones, I arranged to go the following day with him to hopefully get better views with better knowledge to hand.
Western/Semipalmated Sandpiper - photo Alex Jones
I met with Alex at Rhyl station for 10.40 and we headed off to Hoylake with a quick detour to Burton Mere Wetland to catch up with a Juvenile Sabine's Gull that appeared the day before. We got really good views of it and it was nice to compare it in structure to the Black-headed Gulls and also see a Sabine's Gull as well as in flight. I have only ever seen one sat before and that was back in 2001 at Seal Sands (I hardly remember the finer details I was 9!)
We made our way to Meols at the base of Roman Road and were pleased when a flock of Dunlin landed about 50 meters away and within 10 minutes, the bird was picked up in brilliant light and we were able to watch the bird for half and hour before it started flying around. It then landed slightly closer and then walked even closer on the rising tide. The views were really pleasing and I was able to pick out the colour of the scapulars which I would suggest was a rich ginger colour that I would certainly say fell within the colour variation of Semipalmated Sandpipers. I was keen to observe the nape as I had read that Western show a very little contrast in colour between the nape and the cap whereas SemiP do. The bird showed a clear dark cap and a pale nape so there was an obvious contrast. The supercillium also seemed pretty obvious compared to the cap and the similarly dark ear coverts. When the bird walked towards us, I (along with Alex Jones) was sure that the breast showed a very faint buff tinge instead of clean white which would be a feature of SemiP. The flock then took flight.
White Rumped Sandpiper - Photo Phil Woolen
Moving down to Hoylake, We found the flock again and within about half an hour, there was a rumour going around that someone had found a White-rumped Sandpiper. Another species that I should have seen by now, but hadn't! It turns out that this wasn't a rumour and someone had found out. The wind was picking up and the flock took flight! I was gutted! However, they landed again and about about 10 minutes scanning, I managed to refind the bird in the flock! I was so happy! This was a fantastic adult White-rumped which was 75% of it's way through the moult into Winter Plumage so appeared quite grey in appearance. The bird was surprisingly smaller than the Dunlin it was with with a really thin body. The primary projection was obvious and it was nice to see the crossed primaries. The main feature that allowed us to pick the bird up was the really obvious supercillium behind the eye. A fantastic bird!

After lots of reading, and lots of views of the bird, I am almost 90% sure the stint sp is a Semipalmated Sandpiper and the only reasons why I am not 100% is that fact that I have no field experience with either and the American birders think it's a Western...

Thanks to Alex Jones for the lift and to Alex and Phil Woolen for use of photos.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The one that got away - Brockholes NR LWT, Lancashire - 11th September 2012

Adult winter Kittiwake on Meadow Lake (Bill Aspin)

It's strange to not get up every day to ring birds and live birds, so its been nice in the last couple of days to do some patch work.
This morning I arrived at Brockholes with the hope of some migrants after the heavy rain of the night before. Checking Meadow Lake for the ever present Garganey produced the above Kittiwake. It was a fantastic winter adult and has to be one of the most pleasing 'common' birds to find in land. It's always a rush, especially when this is only the 2nd record for 2012 down at Brockholes. Bill Aspin and Peter Bainbridge managed to see the bird before it headed NW at c09.30.
Whilst we were watching the Kittiwake, 3 Black-tailed Godwits flew over the site and headed off SE which was a nice record.
Throughout the rest of the morning there was an obvious movement of passerines with Whinchat and Tree Pipit (seen by Bill Aspin) being the highlights along with Meadow Pipit, Linnet and Goldfinch producing an almost constant chorus overhead. (Interestingly, the visit yesterday was mainly dominated by Siskins overhead and I think I only heard 1 today)

The reason this post is called 'The one that got away' is because, whilst stood in the M6 hide overlooking No1, I was scanning the island when a Starling flock took up from the far side of the large island. In this flock was a small wader that I actually initially thought was a Sand Martin because it seemed hirundine size and was a warm olivey brown on its back and pale underneath. It was certainly smaller than a Dunlin which obviously got the alarm bells ringing as it was obviously a stint sp of some sort. It flew around for about 2 minutes until it flew overhead and I managed to hear it call (producing a light buzzing chatter which lead me to believe it may be Temminck's as it sounded very similar to the flock of 9 I heard in Kvismaren. The colour would match too) It seemed to have a very small head and reasonably short bill. As it flew overhead it was in silhouette which made it difficult to make any plumage detail out, but when it was circling the pool at 150 meters range, I could make out an obvious white wing bar, and what seemed to be a lot of white at the rear end. I couldn't say whether the rump was fully white or not as it was distant and the bright sun highlighted the white. The bird flew across the motorway and onto the working over there which are unviewable. I was praying that it would flush and reappear on No1, but sadly, this was not to be and was never seen again........the one that got away.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 53

Today I fly home, so I thought I would sum up the trip by listing the totals for the observatory over the past 53 days. Over 3000 birds have been ringed and processed during my stay and some incredible species have added to that total.

Teal - 2
Sparrowhawk - 1
Little Ringed Plover - 1
Ringed Plover - 4
Lapwing - 3
Knot - 1
Curlew Sandpiper - 1
Ruff - 4
Snipe - 4
Wood Sandpiper - 19
Common Sandpiper - 6
Black-headed Gull - 1
Common Tern - 3
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - 4
Sand Martin - 20
Swallow - 850*
House Martin - 1
Tree Pipit - 54*
Yellow Wagtail - 4
Grey Wagtail - 1*
White Wagtail - 61
Wren - 4
Dunnock - 3
Robin - 123
Thrush Nightingale - 14
Bluethroat - 1
Common Redstart - 3
Whinchat - 1
Blackbird - 22
Fieldfare - 4
Song Thrush - 7
Savi's Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 199
Marsh Warbler - 18
Reed Warbler - 609
Great Reed Warbler - 36
Icterine Warbler - 3
Barred Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 10
Common Whitethroat - 28
Garden Warbler - 68
Blackcap - 53
Wood Warbler - 2
Willow Warbler - 469
Goldcrest - 6
Spotted Flycatcher - 16
Pied Flycatcher - 22
Bearded Tit - 47
Marsh Tit - 12
Willow Tit - 1
Coal Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 144
Great Tit - 107
Nuthatch - 8
Treecreeper - 3
Penduline Tit - 10
Red-backed Shrike -4
Starling - 5
Tree Sparrow - 9
Chaffinch - 65
Greenfinch - 21
Goldfinch - 2
Common Rosefinch - 1
Yellowhammer - 13
Ortolan Bunting - 1
Reed Bunting - 169

*The Swallow and Tree Pipit totals are in fact the highest ever annual totals for the observatory, which is really great to be part of, as well as Grey Wagtail being the first ever to be ringed since the observatory opened in 1961! They aren't common here at all!

In terms of lifers for the trip, Thrush Nightingale, Savi's Warbler, Marsh Warbler and Penduline Tit were lifers that I ringed as well as seeing Red-throated Pipit for the first time yesterday. I also managed to see a few new races of birds including Coal Tit and Nuthatch.

These past 7 and a half weeks have been just incredible! I've have never had such an intensive period of 24/7 birding! Although on paper, the past 7 weeks appear as what you see above, but to me, it will be remembered forever as a pure learning experience picking up techniques and practise that you can only 'learn by doing'. I can't thank Craig Brookes enough for his help over the past 53 days as he's taught me some ringing techniques that should hopefully push me that tiny bit closer to reaching the goal of a 'C' permit in England. Also, thanks must go to Heather McGinty for making for a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable break from the reality of the UK. Finally, thank you to all the past members of the team that visited Kvismaren during my stay.

A trip I will remember forever!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 52

Below are the top three species I have ringed whilst in Kvismaren in terms of enjoyment ringing, and surprise of how much I actually enjoyed ringing them due to learning about their ID etc. The Bluethroat of course didn't surprise in terms of how much enjoyment it gave me, because they are one of my favourite birds and I knew that if I were to ring one, I would be over the moon...I was just over the moon and it went straight to No.1!
Number 1 - Bluethroat / Blåhake
Number 2 - Barred Warbler - Höksångare
Number 3 - Marsh Warbler / Kärrsångare
Number 4 - Thrush Nightingale / Näktergal

This morning we went to Banvallen, but had to take the nets down after a short period of time due to rain. We were only able to catch 7 birds comprising of 3 Robin (1 retrap), 2 Blackbird (1 retrap), a Song Thrush and a Dunnock.

As a result I thought, as today is my last full day, I should post my personal totals for the trip, followed by the stations totals tomorrow.

I have ringed 1217 birds of 56 species with 28 new species experienced in the hand (in bold below)

Species I've ringed since I started work on July 14th:
Ringed Plover - 1
Ruff - 2
Snipe - 2
Wood Sandpiper - 9

Common Sandpiper - 3
Black-headed Gull - 1
Common Tern - 1

Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - 1

Sand Martin - 7
Swallow - 281
Tree Pipit - 16
Yellow Wagtail - 3
Grey Wagtail - 1 - 1st to be ringed at Kvismaren ever!
White Wagtail - 27
Wren - 2
Dunnock - 3
Robin - 49
Thrush Nightingale - 6
Bluethroat - 1
Redstart - 1
Whinchat - 1
Blackbird - 8
Fieldfare - 1
Song Thrush - 5

Savi's Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 68
Marsh Warbler - 6
Reed Warbler - - 221
Great Reed Warbler - 7
Icterine Warbler - 1
Barred Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Common Whitethroat- 14
Garden Warbler - 19
Blackcap - 26
Willow Warbler - 169
Goldcrest - 3
Spotted Flycatcher - 6

Pied Flycatcher - 9
Bearded Tit - 14
Marsh Tit - 6
Coal Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 57
Great Tit - 45
Nuthatch - 2
Treecreeper - 1
Penduline Tit - 1
Red-backed Shrike - 1
Starling - 5
Tree Sparrow - 9
Chaffinch - 25
Greenfinch - 8
Common Rosefinch - 1
Yellowhammer - 2
Reed Bunting- 53

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 51

1cy male Bluethroat (Blåhake)
wing and tail of the Bluethroat (Blåhake)
Stunning throat of Bluethroat (Blåhake)
1cy male (Continental) Coal Tit Periparus ater ater (Svartmes)
Wing of Coal Tit - Note 'extensive' black to the bases of the Lesser Coverts sexing this as male and outer two juvenile Greater Coverts ageing this as a 1cy.
The almost Navy Blue mantle of the Continental race of Coal Tit makes this race look incredibly different to 'ours'

Hectar and I went to Öby Kulle this morning whilst Craig, Heather, Tage and 3 newly arrived Austrian and German girls went to Vallen
Hectar and I only managed to catch 15 birds including 3 recaptures, but there was some quality in our catch.
We managed to catch 2 Robins to help with Hectar's project, as well as 2 Tree Pipit and a Goldcrest which were nice, but the best bird from Öby Kulle was a fantastic 1cy male Coal Tit. I have never seen the continental race before, so it was really nice to see in the hand and note the obvious differences between the British race and the Continental. The mantle and tail colour seen almost navy in some lights and there appears to be much more extensive black on the head and breast.

I got a phone call from Craig to tell me that they'd caught a Bluethroat at Vallen and I should head down! I essentially sprinted there with Hectar in tow, and was amazed when I arrived that they had left the bird unringed so that I could ring it! I was overwhelmed as I have wanted to see one of these in the hand since I started ringing, and the fact that I was able to ring and process it was just amazing!
Without a doubt one of the top 5 birds I have ever ringed and one of my favourite birds of all time.

I can't thank Craig enough for getting in contact with me and letting me ring it.

Not sure I'm going to beat that between now and Monday when I fly home! If I can beat it, then I will be more than happy to blog about it!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 50

1cy male Greenfinch/Grönfink
Wing and tail of 1cy male Greenfinch - Note how yellow on outer web out outer two tail feathers touches shaft of feather, and extensive yellow in the primaries, even at this age.
Incredible wing-deteriorating disease or disorder in a 1cy male Blackap/Svarthätta. Never before have I ever seen this!
Brown Long-eared Bat/Långörad fladdermus found its way into the elevator net. Incredible little mammal!

This morning we were really excited about the possibilities of Ässön as there was rain over night followed by a light 1m/s wind from the north. Strangely, it never really kicked off, presumably due to mild weather, so we 'only' managed to catch 70 new birds and 4 recaps.
There wasn't really any highlight species today except the 2nd Dunnock of the season and a very interesting Blackcap that appeared to have extensive wing-deterioration on almost all of the flight feathers! It made it look incredible short winged when it had its wings closed. Most peculiar!

Totals for the morning: (recaps in brackets)
Reed Warbler - 13 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 4
Willow Warbler - 10 (1)
Blackcap - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Garden Warbler - 2
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 6 (2)
Swallow - 17
White Wagtail - 1
Reed Bunting - 6
Blue Tit - 5
Great Tit - 2
Greenfinch - 1

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 49

Adult male Yellow Wagtail - Bird presumably flava, however in the field, the head seemed surprisingly dark, so thunbergi/thunbergi hybrid influence was considered.
Craig did well to catch this stunning juvenile Black-headed Gull that was hilariously tame. The 'most juvenile' Black-head I've handled outside of a colony.
I posted a photo on 14th August of a juvenile Lesser Whitethroat's tail based on the brown tip to the 2nd outermost tail feather. This adult showed a lovely white tip. A nice reminder for future reference.

Today we visited Ässön, however I stayed in bed for a little longer in order to let out last nights 53 Swallow that roosted in a large cage in the house last night.
We caught a total of 77 new birds and 8 recaptures today and we took down the nets earlier than normal because Ässön is a place where the birds just 'switch off' and three consecutive net rounds produced no birds.
Highlights came in the form of the first adult Lesser Whitethroat of the year, a new juvenile Great Reed Warbler and a smart juvenile Black-headed Gull.

Totals for the morning: (recaps in brackets)
Reed Warbler - 10 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 3
Willow Warbler - 5 (1)
Garden Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 5
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Great Reed Warbler - 1
Blackbird - 2
Robin - 24 (1)
Reed Bunting - 3 (1)
Swallow - 2
White Wagtail - 12
Yellow Wagtail - 1
Tree Pipit - 1
Wren - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Great Tit - 2 (4)
Black-headed Gull - 1

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 48

I have posted a picture of a 1cy and adult Spotted Flycatcher in the last week, so thought I'd post one of a 1cy undergoing moult of the median coverts. (Maybe, I'm just noticing moult in birds a little more, but this is again something I don't think I've seen before? Shows how much I pay attention!)

This morning I visited Öby Kulle with Hectar and Tage in the hope of catching Robins for the Spanish project.
Totals for the morning - (Recaps in brackets)
Robin - 4 (1)
Willow Warbler - 3
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Chaffinch - 16 (1)
Tree Pipit - 5
Blue Tit - 5 (1)
Marsh Tit - (1)
Great Tit - (9)
Blackcap - 2
Garden Warbler - 1
Nuthatch -  (2)

Öby Kulle is also a fantastic spot for watching migration because it is a high up vantage point in which to scan the valley. It is almost surrounded by trees meaning there is a significant wind blog, so any birds flying over can be heard easily, and is very rarely windy, meaning there are lots of insects for migrants to be attracted to.
Observation of migration today came in the form of:
Tree Pipit - 150+ (first observed at 05:49)
Northern Bullfinch - 1+ heard 05:53
Taiga Bean Geese - 2 with 8 Greylag
Siskin - 10+ over
Tree Sparrow - 14 (12 juv) landed in Öby from high up
Mistle Thrush - 1 (new for Kvismaren for me)
Chaffinch - c200 in Öby itself with several moving overhead too
Jay - 5
Redpoll sp - 2 over >S

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 47

3cy+ female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Wing of a 3cy+ Lesser Spot
Shrikes are known for their feistiness...this was no exception
The first time I have seen a contrast within the Great coverts of a Blue Tit. The first time I have been 'excited' by moult in a bird...ever!
(For future reference) Wing of a Garden Warbler

Weather was perfect for Ässön, so we set off from the Obs at 03.45 and were set before it was light. There was a clear movement of migrants overhead with the highlight for me being a single Parrot Crossbill flying low south, calling.
In terms of ringing, we caught 129 new birds and 14 recaps. Highlights came in the form of a new adult female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (my first female EVER!) which was really nice. It was great to see how obvious the bright red eye was, compared to the juveniles. A large surprise was also to catch a juvenile Red-backed Shrike in what we call 'the crap net' because it's in the worst place you could imagine for catching birds (exposed and in the open with very little cover next to the net), but it can be amazing for catching birds!

Totals for the day were: (recaps in brackets)
Swallow - 61
Reed Warbler - 22 (2)
Sedge Warbler - 2
Willow Warbler - 10 (1)
Garden Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 2
Blue Tit - 5 (2)
Great Tit - (4)
Goldcrest - 2
Robin - 11 (2)
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
White Wagtail - 1
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Red-backed Shrike - 1
Nuthatch - 1
Reed Bunting - 5 (3)
House Martin** - 1

**House Martin would've been a highlight for me as this would be a new species seen in the hand, however this was on the one net round that I didn't attend because I drove back to house to get more rings...which we didn't even use! Gutted!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 46

My 1001st bird at Kvismaren!

''1001!?!'' I hear you say! Well I knew today, I would ring my 1000th bird at Kvismaren, so when I reached that number, I took a photo of the said bird. It happened to be a juvenile female Chaffinch which was really smart.
It wasn't until we got home that we realised that there has been a Great Reed Warbler record entered into the ringing database under the name of Craig, and not me. As a result, this is my 1001st, and my 1000th was, would you believe it, a Blue Tit!

This morning we woke up to a very strong, bitter North Westerly wind. The only ringing we could do was at Öby Kulle. This is a fantastic spot because it acts as an ampitheatre, so wind is blocked from about 270 degrees. It is also a small hill with dense vegetation, so is a fantastic spot to drop migrants in in conditions such as this morning.
We managed to catch several Tree Pipit, Chaffinch, Robin and Blue Tit as well as a Goldcrest, Lesser Whitethroat and a Great Tit.

The main aim for the morning was to try and catch Robins because a man called Hectar is here from Spain to do some measurements on Robins and compare them to Spanish birds. We will try our best to catch several throughout his stay. Hopefully Ässön will be ringable tomorrow as we should catch in the region of 20.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 45

 1 of 4 bats caught this morning when setting up the nets.
Tage wasn't too impressed with the lack of birds... (can you tell today wasn't that eventful?)

There was a certain theme about today. We set up the nets and it starts raining very heavily, so we take down very wet nets.
We ventured out to Ässön for first let and set up 18 nets. Literally as I put the last loop of the last net up, it started spitting, getting gradually heavier and heavier. I thought we'd wade it out as it may just be a short shower...5 minutes later, we were running to the nets to take them down. I however couldn't do this until I took 8 Robins and 4 Bats out of the elevator net!
It was a real shame that the rain 'stopped play' because it looked like it may be a really good morning as even before first light, there appeared to be a decent passage of birds, so we could have had some fantastic totals.
We went home and caught up on data until the rain stopped. We then went to Öby Kulle, but again, literally 10 minutes after we'd set up, torrential rain appeared as if from nowhere! We did however catch a Tree Pipit and a recap Great and Blue Tit.
The afternoon saw us have another shot at Öby Kulle, but 30 minutes into ringing, a very very dark thunderstorm was heading our way, so we took down to avoid getting killed! We caught a new Chaffinch and 2 recap Great Tits.

Normally we probably would have called it a day after the dawn ringing with varied weather throughout the day, however I have now ringed 995 during my time at Kvismaren, so was really eager to get out and catch my 1000th!
Hopefully tomorrow will see us catch at LEAST 5 more birds!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 44

Last night we caught Swallow again at Vallen and caught an impressive 183 Swallow, 3 Sand Martin, Yellowhammer and 5 Reed Warbler
This morning, we arose rather reluctantly and headed off to Ässön 3 hours after we had gone to bed! We caught 180 new birds and 10 retraps, which is mainly thanks to 42 Swallow and a large(ish) Tit-flock. Highlights came in the form of a smart juvenile male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, juvenile Yellow Wagtail, juvenile female Goldcrest and a lot of Swallow! We also recaught an adult Sedge Warbler, which is my first I've seen for weeks!

Totals for the morning: (retraps in brackets)
Reed Warbler - 26 (2)
Sedge Warbler - 9 (1)
Willow Warbler - 14
Blackcap - 5
Garden Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Blue Tit - 23 (1)
Great Tit - 10 (3)
Swallow - 42
White Wagtail - 9
Yellow Wagtail - 1
Reed Bunting - 15 (3)
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Robin - 18
Tree Pipit - 1

Weather permitting, we shall try again for Swallows and if last night was anything to go by, we could easily reach 300 birds today, which would be quite impressive!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 43

 Juvenile Barred Warbler
 Juvenile Barred Warbler wing and tail.
1 of 5 juvenile Bearded Tits

This morning, Craig and Heather went to Öby Kulle, leaving the three of us ringing at Vallen. They caught a total of 38 new birds including 2 Wood Warbler and 13 Tree Pipit. I am slightly 'gripped' by the Wood Warbler as I've wanted to see one of these in the hand for a while now!

It didn't matter to me know, because we caught a bird that could well go down as the highlight of my trip! A juvenile Barred Warbler was caught on the 2nd net round. I walked up to the net and thought to myself 'That's a big Garden Warbler...'. It then made a crazy noise reminiscent of Great Reed Warbler. I grabbed the bird and it felt massive! I saw the 'barring' on the rump and undertail coverts and it suddenly clicked what I was holding. I was amazed by how impressive this bird was, as I'm used to a lot of people being quite nonchalant when a Barred Warbler turns up as they aren't as 'pretty' as the leaf warblers etc. This bird however was massive, taking the same ring as a Great Reed Warbler! I had no idea they were so big. I have only ever seen one before and that was a scope view at Spurn back in 2007. A truly awesome bird.
We also managed to catch 5 of a flock of 9 juvenile Bearded Tits which is always really nice. Especially the orange billed males.

Totals for the ringing at Vallen were: (retraps in brackets)
Reed Warbler - 18 (2)
Sedge Warbler - 21
Willow Warbler - 1 (1)
Garden Warbler - 1
Barred Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 2
Whitethroat - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Blue Tit - 6 (2)
Great Tit - 1
Bearded Tit - 5
Reed Bunting - 8 (2)