Sunday, 29 January 2012

Routine BLUTI

Back in the Woods this weekend colour-ringing Blue Tits and furthering my training as a ringer. I am getting a lot more confident with extraction now, and what a better way to spend your weekend that handling birds such as Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Robin and Goldcrest. 94 birds caught in this ringing session and 27 Blue Tits colour ringed. I managed to fit colour-rings to metal ringed retraps too which was a bonus as we now have some birds in the project that can be aged back to 2009 and before, which may prove to be the defining details of my results!
The others - Cia, Kane, Gillian and Chris enjoying some woodland ringing
Obligatory bite from a Blue Tit before release. It's weird, when you want to get birds caught for colour-ringing, the bite isn't as annoying as when you are just metal ringing them...
Sunday morning started with a net in Kane's garden catching 19 birds inc. 10 Goldfinch, 4 Blackbird, 1 Great Tit, 1 Robin, 1 Bullfinch and 2 Dunnock.
Following this netting session, we headed out to Crompton Lodges where we caught 3 Coot and 2 Canada Geese. This is my first darviced Coot, so it was interesting new experience. Affixing Black-headed Gull Darvics is a lot different and a lot easier if I'm honest!
Continuing the theme of routine of the past couple of weekends, I ended this weekend at Brockholes NR LWT twitching a goose!! Whilst at Preston Docks trying to catch some BHGulls, I got a text off Bill Aspin telling me about a Brent Goose at Brockholes. This was a site 2nd and the first one was a long time ago in the early 2000's long before I started going. Being so close, I thought I had to go, so I left Chris at Preston Station to get the train and I rushed off to Brockholes to meet about 25 other birders watching a Dark-bellied Brent Goose across the Ribble, in a field. This is not only a new race for Brockholes, I believe it's a new race for me in Lancashire (I could be mistaken!)

A great weekend all in all, and cheers to Kane for letting me stay and continuing with my Blue Tit study, and to the others for making it a 'banterous' weekend!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Frayed Knot - 23rd January 2012

Monday night saw Steve, Rachel, Chris, Matt, Ros Green and I head out mist-netting waders. It was fantastically dark, and I'm sure if we'd have 150/200 miles further north, we would possibly have witnessed the Aurora that put on a mighty show for the Shetland Isles
Throughout the night we caught 77 Birds: 50 Dunlin, 13 Knot, 7 Redshank, 5 Oystercatcher and 2 adult drake Mallard.
Knot was a new species for me, and it was nice to get to know the ageing criteria which didn't seem too much of a challenge. They are real stocky birds in the hand and like a fat redshank with short legs...superb!

Several retraps from the night including a Dunlin ringed in Nov 2002, Oystercatcher from 1996 and a Redshank ringed at Penmon back in 2010

A really enjoyable night!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

First Waders of 2012 - 22nd January 2012

My first SCAN wader ringing of 2012 occurred today on Weedy beach between Bangor Harbour and Porth Penrhyn. A rather impressive catch of 171 Redhshank, 5 Oystercatcher and 2 Grey Heron was made. Sadly, because I was off twinkling when the net was fired, I wasn't present to see the Grey Herons in the hand, but I could hear them squawking away! I personally processed 27 Redshank and extracted about 17 birds which I started to get the hang of by the end (I haven't done a great deal of Cannon-net extractions in the past, so was pleased that I didn't struggle too much).
(Above) 2CY bird - retained juvenile Tertails showing a 'saw toothed' pattern where the weaker areas of feather containing white pigmentation gets worn away. This bird is particularly obvious
(Below) Adult bird - adult tertails being mainly uniformly dark with the occasional black barring which is retained from summer-plumage.

(Above) 2cy bird - retained juvenile primary feathers being rather worn at the tips, rather narrow and pointed, and also being a paler brown than adult birds
(Below) Adult bird - much broader and rounder primary tips from the stronger flight feathers, and also are very fresh because they have been newly moulted.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Tits and Gyppos!!! - 21st January 2012

The title probably makes this sound much more of a controversial/interesting blog post subject than it actually is!
Pink Pink Orange
White Red Mauve (recap from previous trip)
I spent the morning in Atherton Woods with Kane catching more Blue Tits for my dissertation project. It was a slow morning due to the wind with only 6 new birds being colour-ringed. There were plenty of recaptures from previous visits also. To be honest, the main goal of this trip was to get my head around where the study area is going to be in the wood, and I am happy to say that I am now thinking clearly about what I intend to get out of the projectAfter a rather nice Pizza lunch back at Kane's (where Pink, Pink, Grey and Orange, Yellow, Red were observed in the garden) we made a quick trip to Brockholes LWT as an Egyptian Goose has recently been investigating the site, so I was keen to see it as it's a site first, so a real 'Blocker' in terms of Brockholes listing! It took a short while to pick up, but the bright pink legs helped it stand out whilst asleep on 'Meadow Lake' (It will always be called Main Pool to me)

A great Day all in all! Thanks Kane for having me!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Gull Therapy - 12th January 2012

After a very inspiring talk from Birding Frontiers leader Martin Garner the night prior, I was eager to get out birding. During the afternoon, I had to endure possibly the most difficult exam I have ever had the misfortune of sitting and was in a bit of a depressed mood. I therefore decided that I would give the Bangor Harbour gull roost a go.
Arriving at 15.45 on the falling tide, the gulls had started gathering but nothing of note was evident. At 16.30, I was starting to think about packing up, until I scanned the mudflats and picked up a flash of white. This was a white-winger and a brute at that! With it being bigger than the surrounding Herring Gulls I assumed it was a Glaucous Gull, but something just didn't seem right. It was long-winged, had a small head and a smallish bill. It was a massive 2ndw Iceland Gull, and a British self-found tick!
The recent invasion of white-wingers in the British Isles, I was hoping to pick one up, but never actually thought I'd actually do it!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Guinness, Gulls and Galway

2012 has started with a bang due to 9 of us young bird ringers making a trip (my first trip) over to Ireland, to Galway where we spent 4 days catching gulls at Nimmo's Pier. 2011's trip saw a really good number of Common Gull being ringed, whereas 2012 saw only 1 Common with a supporting cast of 19 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Herring Gulls being hand caught.
8/9 - Me, Gillian, Craig, Brucey, Birdman, Kane, Ciaran, Andy 'Bigman' Denton (and, off camera, Heather.)
Nimmo's Pier has been a place of legend, personally, for the last 5 or so years due to its regular wintering gulls. As a larophile myself, I hated leaving the pier and heading back to the flat as anything could drop in at any moment! This week has seen a large influx of white-winged gulls in Britain and Nimmo's Pier didn't disappoint with at least 10 Iceland Gulls being seen along with the bird photographed twice below, which I photographed not realising it was actually a Kumlien's Gull! The two-tone bill, pale eye, dark marking on the underwing, and smokey tips to the primaries show this to be a 2nd winter Kumlien's Gull, although I will freely accept comments off my readers.

Iceland Gulls - 4x1st Winters, 2x2nd Winter, 2x 3rd Winter, 1x 4th Winter, 1x Adult Winter

In addition to the plethora of Iceland Gulls, our last morning was spent catching a few more Black-heads at Waterside, Galway. I had packed my camera, so I wasn't able to get any photos of interesting birds that happened to come into view. Sadly, it wasn't long before I picked up something that got the heart racing.
I had a very large dark 1stw Herring come into view that was more of a petey brown than the chocolate brown Herrings also present. It was very dark breasted with the brown extending down to the legs, the tertials were very dark with a thin pale fringe and the tail was all dark, with the outer tail feather being fully dark. Compared to the 4 1st Winter Herring Gulls that it was stood next to (literally 10 feet in front of us) it was considerably more brutish. A very very good candidate for American Herring Gull, and if I had seen this on the other side of the pond, I wouldn't have thought twice about it! Lets just hope that it gets seen again and photographed as it would be nice to get a self-found yank!

A thoroughly enjoyable few days and I couldn't have spent it with 8 better people! Thanks to everyone who made it enjoyable!