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.