Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Wheatears and Radio Tags - 30th April 2013

This afternoon, Matt and I joined Rachel in our Twite valley to train with the radio tracking receivers for the up and coming field work of my Masters project.

There was quite a lot of standing around waiting for people to get in position and various prolonged moments when we were acclimatising ourselves with the various technologies we will be using during the fieldwork.

As a result, we set up a few spring traps as there were Wheatears everywhere! Almost every 100 metres through the valley, there was pair 'tacking' away. We were able to catch 3 adult male birds and two of these were ringed by me. This is a new species for me in the hand and they're just lovely!

Really excited for the field work as it will be so beneficial for the future of Twite in Wales and the future of my career! It will be very hard work, but nothing in life worth having comes easy.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

5 of the 6!

 Common Lizard
 Slow Worm
 Grass Snake

Today I took part in a field course for my Herpetology module at Uni and did some reptile surveys at 2 sites in North Wales. We had really great views of the 4 species above (inc 28 Slow Worms) as well as 4 fantastic Sand Lizards at one site. I didn't get any photos of the Sand Lizards as we were trying to minimise disturbance, so I was just pleased to get great views of 2 males and 2 females.

A really enjoyable day and nice to see two UK first for me! - Grass Snake and Sand Lizard.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

No deer were harmed in the making of this post!

I haven't quite mastered digiscoping yet...especially when I'm all shakey with excitement!

On sunday, when I was packing the car in Preston, ready to head back to Bangor after the Easter break, I checked Facebook (because I have no life and require Facebook as a life-support!). I noticed that Rob Smallwood posted that there was a Killdeer at Alston Res, Longridge!

I instantly dropped the packing and got into the car to drive the 5 miles to Alston! I got a phone call half way there off Bill Aspin to tell me the bird had flown off! I stopped off at Grimsargh Res to quickly check in case the bird had dropped in, but failed to find anything that would even remotely harm a deer! As a result, I continued to Alston with the hope that it would come back.

Upon arrival, the 15 birders present were running around like headless chickens, so I parked the car and sprinted to the nearest viewing screen. The bird was back!

A superb bird that really showed off during my time viewing the bird. It showed the characteristic double breast band, and when it took flight, it showed the striking orange rump and startlingly white wing bars which reminded me of the inside of a Cream Egg! The call was also very striking and sounded like a cross between a Lapwing and Golden Plover. It was remarkably loud and you could hear it calling even after it departed the wetland at 11.50 (ish...)

Gavin Thomas must be the luckiest man on the planet currently after finding a Killdeer in Ireland 10 days prior to finding it the same/another bird on his local patch in Lancashire! This is a first for Lancashire and a real deserved award for dedicated patchers of Alston (Gavin and Tony Parnell)

My personal thoughts are that the Irish bird and the Alston birds are different after looking at photos of the two birds, but I will leave that to the 'higher ups' to decide.