Wednesday 28 December 2011

Blown away by 9/9!!!

On a night when we had trouble standing up, let alone manage to hold the net steady, we were delighted to catch 9 Woodcock out of 9 seen. We don't get a huge density on our sites so to see 9 on just a short 4km wander was very nice. It seems that adults have moved in as 7 out of the 9 were adults, a much higher proportion than previously this season.
The feather markings on Woodcock are quite variable but this bird was notable by the tiny triangles on it's primaries - they seemed much smaller than any we have seen before.
Two of the birds we caught were retraps. EW93661 we ringed just across the road a couple of weeks ago. EX37965 was more interesting - we ringed that on 22nd Feb this year. That is now our 3rd retrap from a previous season. Now what we want to know is where our site faithful birds go for the summer.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Retrap Woodcock say's Happy Christmas via ? !

Failed !! On the 48 hours off.....But worth it !!
EW93674.. our 2nd site faithful re-trap Woodcock of the week. This bird re-trapped 379 days later.
Two new Woodcock also ringed tonight.
Just to complete the day....a 5am re-visit to last night's site provided Fieldfare and Meadow Pipit to the list of captures.
Owen of The Woodcock Network had a Christmas ringed Woodcock recovered in Leningrad !
Why not us? Will try and put the rings on some tomorrow.........maybe ??

Friday 23 December 2011

48 hours off for Christmas......maybe not...

Maybe the last night out before Christmas....the fresh wind helped tonight.
With 5 Woodcock caught and ringed, and 4 other species seen under the lamp.......perhaps not the 48 hours off ??
This juvenile Snipe was caught a couple of night's ago, still plenty in the fields tonight.

Three species lamped ...but overshadowed too...

Golden Plover a new species for our Boncath site, Meadow Pipit unusual-
The star of the night..EX37963...a retrap Woodccock.
Our 1st retrap of successive winters. EX37963 was ringed 13th February 2011 ..that a 4am venture!! A juvenile in February, a nice adult now, recaptured one field from the original ringing, I guess you call that site faithful...
What present will tonight deliver...not Christmas yet !!

Saturday 17 December 2011

Ghostly Woodcock.....turns to Stock Dove

After a couple of Woodcock trapped and ringed, pulses raised !
A ghostly grey body sitting in the grass turned into a roosting Stock Dove. We had seen 1 at this site before... and watched it fly off as totally unexpected. This time was different !!!

Juvenile Stock Doves moult during their first year, therefore difficult to age.
Owen Williams of the Woodcock Network has been asking if Woodcock numbers are down ? We are not sure.......but we are enjoying the variety of species on the hills this Winter.....
What will we find tonight ....??

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Buzzard and a dash to Beaumaris

Does this look like a good start to a morning's ringing - hailstones embedded in ice on the car at 5am!
We were cannon netting with the SCAN wader ringing group. Our site for the morning was Bangor harbour where there is a regular Redshank roost at high tide.
After carrying all the heavy cannon netting equipment across the gravel from the car park, the layers soon came off and fingers were luckily warm enough to wire up the cannons.
With a good number of Redshank in the right area and minutes away from firing, a Buzzard shot along the beach and sat in a tree above the net. The waders were off in a flash and didn't return.
Pressing the high tech red button to fire the cannons will have to wait for another day. Luckily across the Menai Straits the other team had great success catching over 400 birds so we shot round to Beaumaris to help.
With many pairs of hands, the Dunlin were soon extracted and put in keeping cages.
In total, 6 Turnstone, 331 new and 91 retrap Dunlin were processed. One retrap was ringed in Jan 1999.

We usually catch our Dunlin one at a time at night by lamping so it was quite an experience to deal with so many and with the stunning backdrop of snow covered mountains.
Thanks to Steve and Dave and the rest of the SCAN team for a very educational day.

Monday 12 December 2011

Retrap Woodcock in a storm - our Ist !

Moonrise at 18:08,
A howling sky, full of rain on the hills, led me to an early visit with the lamp !
Field 1 -- unexpectedly full of sheep, but in the following field, a Woodcock eye glistened !
Easily caught, but ringed already.
This an amazing 1st for us. Other Woodcock ringers regularly catch retraps, but with nearly 100 birds ringed on our local sites in the past 2 years, not one until this evening.
EX37994 was ringed on 28 November 2011, at this site. Though only ringed c2 weeks ago, it is a sign that not all our birds are on a rapid passage (as I was thinking?) being so far west, and with Ireland in view from a flying height.....

Wednesday 7 December 2011

First Jay, but Woodcock before dawn..

Another new bird for the garden - it must be something to do with the good apple crop this year. A large number of Thrushes and Starlings are attacking the windfalls noisily today.
This one certainly knew how to bite and not let go!

The black cross bars on the wing coverts show a typical juvenile irregular pattern. The number of black cross bars on the outermost greater covert is another helpful ageing feature.
The day had started at 5am ringing 3 Woodcock before dawn. With the moon not setting until the middle of the night, evening lamping sessions are too bright so a morning wander with the lamp and net is the answer.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Follow the red Woodcock road.....

Another 2 Golden Plovers, 2 Woodcock and a Meadow Pipit ringed on The Frenni last night.
Our new gadget logs our route and records where on the site we catch Woodcock. As the data builds up over the years we will be able to see distribution around the fields and if we do get retraps will be able to see how faithful to a location they are. The ring numbers of the two Woodcock caught last night have been added to those previously caught at this site. Thanks to Owen from The Woodcock Network for recommending it.
The path (4.9km,184m ascent, 2hrs 39 mins) looks totally random but the changes in direction usually means that we have spotted a bird and are heading towards it then moving round to get the wind in the right direction before approaching it. In the gale last night the birds were jumpy and also 3 badgers were wandering around the best part of the field so a lot of wandering but well worthwhile.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Mistle again ! But out foxed too......

Our 2nd Mistle Thrush in one week !!
Our 1st hillside Redwing joining the regular Fieldfare under a night time lamp.
Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and Redwings in Wendy's garden....

Woodcock for the Group processed through IPMR passed the 100 this week..
But last night -- 4 Foxes on one site I suspect made the Woodcock jumpy, with only 2 caught.
But where are our re-traps ?? See the Woodcock Network for more...

We still love our sedgies... another control... a passage adult with us in late May 2011, controlled returning south at our sedgies favourite watering hole....Loire-Atlantique, France on 18th August 2011.

Monday 21 November 2011

Mistle completes the garden set

A nice surprise! A Mistle Thrush in the garden was a new species for the ringing group.
It turned up in a garden net alongside a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
The Woodpecker was a juvenile. The picture shows the old brown unmoulted Greater Coverts and the white tips to the primaries.
Over the winter we plan to have regular sessions in the garden to keep the trainees up to speed with a good variety of birds, not just Blue Tits!
As well as a 60 foot net near feeders we have a net in an adjacent field that catches species like Redwings, Bullfinches and Song Thrushes. A couple of nets between a group of apple trees catches Fieldfare, Blackbirds and Starlings.
Plenty to keep us busy alongside our nocturnal wanderings for Woodcock and Golden Plover which are successfully continuing too.

Friday 18 November 2011

The Woodcock Network show us the way...

A trip up to Aberystwyth yesterday to learn how to fit geolocators to Woodwork was an all round great learning experience. As we work with The Woodcock Network, it was good to meet Owen Williams, the Director and Dr Andrew Hoodless, Scientific Advisor.
Following a successful trial of geolocators by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and having secured funding the plan is to fit geo locators on between 35 and 40 woodcock. This effort will be as a part of a wider collaboration between the Woodcock Network, GWCT, and The French Game and Wildlife Department.

Practical experience is obviously the way to learn so out in the field Andrew showed us how to fit the geolocotor.
We were using dummy satellite transmitters which are bigger than Geolocators but the fitting technique around the legs of the Woodcock is the same.
The transmitter sits comfortably and securely on the Woodcocks back and does not interfere with preening or flying.
Enough Woodcock were caught for us all to practice on different birds. All the birds were also ringed and biometrics taken as usual. There is a useful pictorial ageing guide on the Woodcock Network website.
As well as learning this technique, the invaluable part of the evening was the lengthy discussions about the different equipment we all use. Not one net was the same and we have come back with new ideas about lamps and nets and a shopping list! Also it was good to compare the field type and Woodcock habits at sites we use. Could earthworm density and different farming practices be a big factor in Woodcock usage is something that would be interesting to look at in the future.
Thanks to Owen and Andrew for a very enjoyable, educational evening.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Last year a leo, this year.... a shortie !!

Over the last 2 evenings carrying out regular winter wader ringing in coastal Ceredigion fields Arfon has caught and ringed, 3 Woodcock, 5 Snipe and 14 Lapwing. Effort rewarded not only with these waders but a Short-eared Owl last night.Last December, Paddy and I, on coastal South Pembs fields for Skylarks found this Long-eared Owl. Winter night time ringing does provide the chance for some otherwise near impossible birds to ring, and research.
Tomorrow evening, back to Woodcock on the hills -- geolocator fitting the lesson...

Thursday 10 November 2011

Kevin calls......from Walney !!

BKR001 -- what a tale....
This little Goldcrest - see post below;-
Amazingly ringed by one of own (Kevin Johns) who emigrated to Cumbria a year ago!
Kevin ringed this Goldcrest at Walney Obs - his new ringing base on March 28th 2011.
Well done at Walney.....send more west coast migrants our way......

November Cetti's..... but is it our's?

Sessions for migrating Redwings are going well with a few more ringed at our CES site this morning. We are also catching Blackbirds with longer wings than our local population, suggestive of continental birds. A new Cetti's warbler was good too, maybe a passage bird rather than one that was bred on the reserve.
This was only our 8th Cetti's this year compared with 18 in 2010.

Sunday 6 November 2011

BKR001 -- goldc

After yesterday's little jewels (see post below), what could we find ?
A couple of Redwings, a couple more Blackcaps, and a few Goldcrests....
1 a gem !!
Goldcrest BKR001.........the 1st Goldcrest control for us, with new crests and Blackcaps daily...where was this ringed??
Ideas welcome..!
Enjoying our birding too.......The Gower Isabelline Wheatear to end the morning !!

Saturday 5 November 2011

Not One !......I've got TWO !!!

Teifi Marshes this morning;-
(photo Tommy)CES net 11 came up with Wendy's target bird of the morning session,..... 2 Firecrests, not just the one in the plan !
A female on the left sexed on attitude, then wing length and crown colour, a male on the right.
CES is over and we try and get into some of the rides late in the year, on the 7th November 2010 a Garden Warbler was the prize.
Today also delivered 2 Blackcaps, and 10 Goldcrests all juveniles.
Last night whilst setting up nets, 9 Redwings were nice....
...we will see what this evening and tomorrow morning bring......

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Extreme ringing

.... we could have gone bigger but not smaller!
The day started with a 4.6g Goldcrest in warm sun and ended with a 330g Woodcock in a howling cold south easterly wind.
Our coastal dune site continues to add to our Goldcrest totals for the year but was otherwise quiet. A late Small Copper butterfly was a nice sighting there.
A wander round the Frenni fields under a starlit sky with the lamp was also quiet but we caught two juvenile Woodcock. Two Golden Plover, a Fieldfare and a Skylark were the only other birds seen.
Our Rock Pipit numbers are creeping up with another 13 caught on Sunday at Patch. Unlike last Autumn we still haven't caught any with Scandinavian features.

Sunday 30 October 2011

We...and our sedgies love Western France....

This map above we produced in June showing our Teifi ringed Sedge Warblers passing through western France on their way south last Summer.

The larger map shows our latest Sedge Warbler movements, with the Loire Atlantique featuring twice again. The Pyrenees movement is shown below, as this Sedge Warbler is a Teifi breeding bird. - Most of our Sedge Warblers are passage birds.

The Woolston Eyes juvenile was a bird that reached us in 3 days.

Sedge Warbler 5634103
Ringing date: 10-Aug-2009 Age - juvenile
Site name: Les Barthes-de-Quartier-Bas, Villefranque, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France
Grid ref: Co-ords: 43deg 27min N 1deg 28min W

Finding date: 05-Jun-2011 Age - adult
-- this bird, presumed male was re-trapped several times after the June date given.
TEIFIC Site name: Teifi Marsh, Ceredigion
Grid ref: SN1845 Co-ords: 52deg 4min N 4deg 39min W

Duration: 664 days Distance: 987 km Direction: 347deg NNW

Confimation received of our control of a Portland ringed Willow Warbler, and the recovery of a Swallow roosting in the Teifi Reed-bed 2nd August, then roosting at Langorse Lake 1st September - both 2011.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Four on the Frenni

Out on Frenni Fawr again last night - four species caught! Our first two Woodcock of the autumn, a Fieldfare, Golden Plover and a Meadow Pipit.
This is a juvenile Woodcock showing rounded inner primary tips and wear on the outer primary tips.
The Meadow Pipit was also a juvenile with a good contrast between the new adult greater coverts and the retained juvenile feathers.
And to complete the four, a Golden Plover (one of 13 seen)
and the Fieldfare being ringed.(photos - Mike)

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Our hills are Golden with Fieldfares too

The first nights of the season up on the Frenni;-
On Sunday with Paddy, a great start ! 5 goldies and 2 Fieldfares.Last night Wendy & I ringed 3 Fieldfares, unbelievably under the stars. The rain and wind having past !!
No Woodcock seen on either visit. See Talk of the Devil for more West Wales goldie info including a Belgian goldie...........courtesy of Tony C !!

Monday 24 October 2011

Rock Pipits at Ceibwr

Our usual spring trapping site in the Teifi estuary was being battered by high winds yesterday so we tried a sheltered bay just down the coast.
A reasonable number of Pipits and Pied wagtails were feeding around the piles of seaweed. Despite plenty of insects and a tide that was really too low, some Rock Pipits and Meadow Pipits were tempted by our waxworm bait.
The Rock Pipits showed none of the Scandinavian features of those we were catching last Autumn. This site is going to be a good alternative when strong winds from the south stop us doing anything else. Still 40mph gusts today but with heavy rain as well, even spring trapping isnt appealing!

Sunday 23 October 2011

Tales of ....tails from the Teifi RG

Not of Bluetails....but the first garden ringing session, with lot's of BlueTits and a photo of 1 of yesterday's Long-tailed Tits.Also, nice to retrap a Nuthatch, and catch up on ageing Great spots...this one a juvenile having completed his first primary moult.(Photos Mike)
We were garden ringing due to the wind, but this did not deter an after session drive to an even windier Burry Port Harbour,....for a fine male Long-tailed Duck... a rare bird in these Western parts these days and...a bogey bird for one ringer !!

Friday 21 October 2011

A few hours at Gwbert

A rare respite in the wind yesterday enabled us to spend a couple of hours at our new site in the dunes at Gwbert.
What looked a promising stream, boggy area and pond last year to draw migrants in has dwindled to a muddy trickle. Wellies not really needed this year.
Just a few Goldcrest and Chaffinch were moving though the site but plenty of migration was visible high overhead.
It is always good to catch a few of the same species to compare moult.
Even common birds are photogenic to a newcomer to ringing. Mike was with us for the first time to see what his little sister gets up to and enjoyed taking some photos including this Dunnock, Goldcrest and Chaffinch.

Garden ringing tomorrow so probably some pictures of Blue Tits coming up......

Monday 17 October 2011

More from Portland

TRG in action!
While at Portland, we started each day by running the ringing site at Culverwell. This is a small patch of woodland and scrub just up the road from the Observatory. It's a sociable place where passing birders stop to chat and take photos. Thanks to Bagsy for this picture. Some birds we processed yesterday morning are on The Bagsy Blog