Monday, 30 January 2012

Green Wood at Lound

On Sunday morning moving the 40' net to just outside the ringing ride in the woodland at Lound Lakes seemed to have been a poor decision. I had hoped to catch one or two of the Blackbirds that are always flying across the larger open area between the end of the ride and the lake edge but by the time the frost was dripping off the trees all that had been caught was a single Great Tit. When checking the 30' net by the feeders a Green Woodpecker flew down the net ride and turned towards the newly positioned net. A short run found me extracting my first GreenWoodpecker since becoming a C ringer - brilliant!

2 CY (5) female Green Woodpecker

Other birds of note included a retrap Goldcrest ringed last October. It is always amazing how such tiny birds can survive throughout the winter and whilst it has been predominantly mild so far there have been a few colder days and February could always throw up some nasty surprises.

 2 CY (5) male Goldcrest, left and stunning adult male (6) Blue Tit, right.

Totals - 25 new, (27) retraps
Green Woodpecker - 1
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 2, (1)
Blackbird - 2
Goldcrest - (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 6, (6)
Coal Tit - 1, (4)
Blue Tit - 5, (12)
Great Tit - 7, (2)
Chaffinch - (1)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

January Farmland Visit

Tuesday saw me trudging along the bridleway to set the nets around the wild bird seed strip on Eastwood Farm in Lound. This is the third visit as part of the Waveney Bird Club project investigating the effectiveness of various farm stewardship options.

Once again the weather was sunny thus reducing the number of birds caught but despite this thirty new birds were caught although not having a single retrap was disappointing. There seemed to be an unusually high number of thrushes present in the hedgerows comprising almost a third of the total catch. One Song Thrush had a colour aberration in which the tips of the adult median and greater coverts were white.

  Regular Song Thrush, left, Song Thrush with colour aberration, right.
Both birds are 2 CY (5) with clearly visible retained juv. greater coverts.

Despite buntings and finches being somewhat elusive on this visit to the seed strip it was fantastic timing when the Ed, the tenant farmer turned up just as I was extracting five Yellowhammers and a couple of Goldfinches from one net.

 2 CY (5) male Goldfinch, left & 2 CY (5) male Yellowhammer, right.

Despite the bright conditions it was a reasonable session although it would have been good to see more finches and buntings as well as some retraps. Having had a good look at the seed strip it would seem that much of it has been eaten out already so Ed has kindly given us some wheat with a view to attracting birds to a whoosh netting area.

Totals - 30 new with no retraps
Dunnock - 5
Robin - 1
Blackbird - 8
Song Thrush - 3
Great Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Goldfinch - 2
Yellowhammer - 5
Reed Bunting - 4

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

WWRG Weekend - January 2012

On a chilly Friday evening the assembled team arrived at Snettisham Beach to set four small mesh cannon nets with a view to catching part of the Knot flock that had been seen there on the recce that morning. Saturday morning, however, didn't go according to plan. Upon arrival the flocks were still feeding on the mud but started marching towards the beach in line with the nets with the advancing tide. Suddenly, without warning and for no apparent reason Knot started to leave the beach and a loud whoosh was heard by the team waitng behind the seawall as most of the remaining flock lifted leaving a small number of Curlew and Oystercatcher which were always going to remain well out of range and so the decision was made to pack up and return to base.

On Saturday afternoon a team headed out to Terrington Marshes to set mist nets over the usual pools. This was the first time that I had mist netted with the group so I was keen to learn the ropes and it was interesting to note how much more tension was employed with end poles being triple guyed. Once the nets were set two people remained to keep an eye with the rest of the team returning after dark and once the tape lures had been set.

Walking out on the salt marshes at night is an interesting experience and one with obvious dangers, it is essential therefore, to follow an experienced team member already familiar with the network of creeks that cut across the marshes. Even more interesting is learning to extract Dunlins in darkness without using artificial light of any kind. As high tide neared waders arrived at the pools with increasing regularity and hands became very cold indeed.

Once high tide had past the nets were taken down and ringing and processing teams established to deal with the birds that were waiting in the keeping cages behind the sea wall. A good number of species were caught with several people handling new species for the first time including Derek Beamish from Colin Carter's Kessingland group. After ringing a Black-tailed Godwit and processing a Redshank, new species for me, I helped less experience team members fit F rings on Oystercatchers before joining the processing team to weigh.

Totals - 78 new, (5) retraps
Oystercatcher - 6, (3)
Grey Plover - 1
Knot - 9
Dunlin - 52
Black-tailed Godwit - 4, (1)
Bar-tailed Godwit - 5
Redshank - 1, (1)

Bar-tailed Godwit

On Sunday morning small teams headed off to various beaches along the Norfolk side of the Wash to do some resighting of colour ringed birds. Derek, Sarah Dawkins - the group's fieldwork co-ordinater, and I arrived at Snettisham to find just a few Oystercatchers on the beach that departed as soon as they saw us. On the Ken Hill fields, however, there was a large flock of Pink-footed Geese numbering in the region of 3500 as well as two Snow Geese. Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit were also present. We headed of to Heacham North which had already been covered by another team but it was good for Derek to get some CR resighting experience although having left his scope at home he had scribe for Sarah and I before it was his turn.

Wildlife Garden Greenfinch

Despite heading off for a Wash Wader weekend there was enough time on Friday afternoon to fit in a short session in the wildlife garden at Lound Lakes. The first bird, a Blue Tit, was caught whilst putting putting up my 30' net across the gap in the hedgerow. Feeders hung in the hedge ensure a constant stream of birds are trapped and ringing sessions are brief with many birds being caught and processed in a short space of time.

Whilst catches are unsurprisingly largely comprised of tits this time a couple of Chaffinches and a stunning male Greenfinch was caught, adding much needed variety.

Adult (6) Male Greenfinch

Totals - 30 new, (9) retraps
Long-tailed Tit - 9, (7)
Coal Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 8, (2)
Great Tit - 9
Chaffinch - 2
Greenfinch - 1

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

First Sparrowhawk of the Year

It was a fairly gloomy Sunday morning that greeted Paul and I for the first garden ringing session for the New Year. With the mild weather that has characterised the winter so far continuing throughout the Christmas period and into January birds haven't been dependent upon feeders and thus Paul's Burgh Castle garden seems particularly quiet.

The highlight of the morning saw Paul sprinting from the ringing table into the net rides after seeing a Sparrowhawk cruise over looking for an easy meal. The grin on his face indicated success and the first Sparrowhawk - a 5 male - of 2012 was ringed.

Second CY (5) male Sparrowhawk

Totals - 46 new, (42) retraps
Sparrowhawk - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - (1)
Wren - 1
Robin - (2)
Blackbird - 2, (5)
Song Thrush - 3
Goldcrest - 2, (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Blue Tit - 3, (13)
Great Tit - 5, (10)
Chaffinch - 5, (1)
Greenfinch - 7
Goldfinch - 13, (8)
Siskin - 2
Bullfinch - (1)

Monday, 9 January 2012

Kitti heads South ...ish

It was a very pleasant surprise to receive an email from Colin Carter this weekend with this photo of a Kittiwake attached.

The bird is one that I ringed as a chick with Colin and Derek at the SLP Kittiwake wall in Lowestoft harbour on 27 June 2011 and was subsequently photographed on 06 January by Pim Wolf off the southern North Sea coast near Westkapelle in Zeeland, Holland. Colin informs me that this is the fourth foreign ringing recovery of one of his SLP Kittiwakes and the only CR resighting from a bird in flight.

2 CY (5) Kittiwake 
This recovery highlights the significance that colour ringing projects can have for enhancing the collection of data on species that aren't frequently retrapped.