Sunday 29 June 2014

Juveniles in a June reedbed

This morning we had a great session in the reedbed surrounding the Mallard Pond and across to the hedge around the water meadows at Heron Pond.
One of the first birds of the morning - our first juvenile Reed Warbler of the year, a couple more to follow and 14 more adult retraps. Great for our RAS study. The Mallard Pond is in the foreground, looking across the reed-bed to Heron Hide on the hillside.

Seven more juvenile Sedge Warblers - great to ring these before the passage birds start arriving, we are likely to catch 500 in July and August, and we have ringed over 200 so far this year, though few breed on the site.

Four new juvenile Cetti's, likely from two different nests, and great to retrap one of our breeding females.
An early juvenile Redstart was nice and also interesting to catch two male Linnets. Six juvenile Blackcaps added to the warbler mix, and with the usual residents a total catch of 87 birds.
Chris and Dawn were ringing at a site on the far side of the photo, Wendy and I near the Mallard Pond.
Chris managed to colour-ring seven more Reed Buntings in this session, four of them adults, again great for our RAS on this species.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Gulls, Cormorants, Stormies and CES 6

Some varied ringing for the Group in the last week.
We visited Caldy Island with the Pembrokeshire Ringing Group to ring Herring Gulls as part of a study that Steve has been running for 46 years.
A beautiful spot to spend a couple of hours ringing 200 gulls in what is probably the third largest Herring Gull colony in the UK
One of the gulls was leucistic. There is a leucistic adult Herring Gull in the area so maybe this is its chick.
 Compare the paleness of this with a normal Herring Gull chick
The next island to visit was St Margarets, just off Caldy, to ring Cormorants. Some numbers from Steve later but there were a good number of healthy large young Cormorants, many too big to ring.
As the moon enters a phase of rising later it is time to head to the coast at night to catch Storm Petrels. On Thursday night, when it never really seemed to get dark, we ringed the first 2 of the year at Mwnt. This brings the group's total caught to 60.
Back to our regular ringing site on the Teifi Marsh for CES 6 this morning. It was a slow with the temperature only 7°c but a successful morning with 79 birds caught , 57 new and 22 retrap. Juvs of several species including this Kingfisher.
Some nets were also up on a different part of the reserve and three early juvenile Sedge Warblers were ringed there along with the first juvenile Reed Bunting to be entered into our colour-ringing project.
Hoping for some calm weather this week for some late night sessions to try to catch more Storm Petrels. Reed Warblers should be fledging soon along with early returning migrants so our nets will be up in the reed beds when weather permits.

Just working through today's CES retraps,
X974517 a male Chaffinch was ringed nearly 5 years ago in September 2009. Today is the first time that we have retrapped him........amazing as we ring the site frequently !!

Saturday 14 June 2014

Skokholm Bird Obs....Seabirds and more...

The Manx Shearwaters are Skokholm Island's most iconic bird, and surveying this important colony is a large task.........but great fun.
Here we are playing the call of a male down each burrow in one of  the study plots and awaiting the reply from a male....or not if a female present. for more details see here

Wendy and I have just returned from spending a week on the island and here is a selection of further activities we have been involved with.
Oystercatchers ...
Juvenile Oystercatchers were proving difficult to find, hiding down burrows is an effective defence against gulls.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls...
Reading yellow darvics, became part of our daily routine, this part of an experiment for the BTO, who are tracking their feeding movements with data loggers. see here

Great Black-backed Gulls...
Adults have been marked with red darvic rings, just the start of a RAS project amongst the 85 pairs this year. The ringing of juveniles will help monitor the colony when hopefully they will return as breeders in a few years time.

General migration...
Heligoland Traps and mist nets (weather permitting) were checked regularly. Lucky for us Brian opened and did all the early...and most often all the morning checks. A very quiet week for migration as expected for June, but surprising no scarce or rare migrants...

Guests to Skokholm Island
Wardens, Richard & Giselle with Will, the Storm Petrel researcher took all the guests down to the main Storm Petrel colony in the Quarry to watch petrel activity in the dark. After a fascinating 20 minutes watching the action, back to the cliff top and the main transect to watch the ringing of Manx Shearwaters.
The catching, ringing or collecting the retrap data is the main nightime activity for visiting ringers. More than 100 birds are caught along this transect each night, moon and weather permitting.

Puffins !
More about the long-term colour-ringing of Puffins on the island in a post at the end of June.

A benefit of being out surveying in the field, is that you are out !!

 Whilst on the cliff top near North Pond we saw this Purple Heron arrive attracting the attention of the breeding gulls, then fly over North Pond and away to the mainland. Luckily Rich B. got my text in time and with Giselle and most guests managed to glimpse the bird as it departed, the motor home in the background is actually on the mainland !!!
(Photo Rich B)

For more details on visitng Skokholm Island Bird Observatory, see the Skokholm Blog
This is updated daily with news of the day's highlights and activities, and has links to booking accommodation,  and the Annual Bird Report.

Thursday 12 June 2014

Woodcock shot 2845km away

News of one our Woodcock that we ringed late in the season on 2nd April 2013 on Y Frenni sheep pasture in the Preselis. It was shot 396 days later on 3rd May this year in the Vologda region of the Russian Federation. This is the second of our Preseli Woodcock to be shot in the Russian Federation.
Although a shame that these Woodcock were shot it is good that the rings were spotted by the shooter and reported.
Final totals for Woodcock for the group this year were 59 of which 53 were new, 5 retrap and the one recovery above.
As well as going to the BTO, our records go to the Woodcock network  to assist in the long running research project being run by their lead Scientist, Dr Andrew Hoodless. To learn more about the migration of these fascinating birds have a look at Woodcock Watch where you can follow the movement of satellite tagged birds.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Surprising Siskins....and Long Point Ice

Just back from Long Point Bird Obs. in Canada - every year is different !!
Taking us to The no-one has ever seen..
Before more ice....and North American birds....

Breeding Siskins....
In late May early June 2013 we caught a number of locally breeding Siskins. By the 7th June 2013 we had ringed four 3J birds, and 10 in total by the end of the month.
By the end of today - the 1st June we have ringed 27 juvenile (3J) Siskins, a huge increase with no change in catching effort. Surprisingly one of the juvenile Siskins from Wendy's garden reached mine (6km) 24 hours later which indicates how far these very young birds may wander.
A retrap Lesser Redpoll, a breeding male (with cp) was another surprise yesterday too.
Alas our local Siskin research will stop for the week....
Skokholm Bird Obs. ...our destination tomorrow !

More about the Long Point Bird Obs. trip when back.... but a couple of photos to start...

Days without ice, then a change in the wind....gulls loved to roost on the ice, Glaucous Gulls peaked at seven, and the Breakwater Banding Station crew picked out a Snowy Owl on one iceberg !
Numbers were slow and low, but good birds appeared..
The first Golden-winged Warbler
An unbelievable year for Summer Tanagers, we had three one day.
Four Yellow-breasted Chats too...
                                                                                                                                      (photo LPBO)
More about this wanderer from Ohio State, USA ...... but it was the 397th species to be recorded at Long Point Bird Observatory Canada.