21 October 2012

A pleasant Sunday afternoon.

After the heavy rain of Friday night/Saturday morning today turned out to be rather pleasant. The morning was spent doing outdoor jobs around the garden and after lunch I managed to finish strimming the lawn. Just as I had finished the strimming Colin rang to say he was going to go over to a ringing site on Deerness to see if there were any Autumn migrants still about.

I met up with him just after half three and we put two nets up. Just as last time as soon as we put on the Goldcrest soundtrack we got an immediate response and there were Goldcrests popping out of the bushes to see what was going on but only one ended up in the net.

It wasn't long before they lost interest in the soundtrack and just carried on flitting through the bushes feeding, the same as the last time we were at this site.

In between net checks we had a wander down the lane to see what else was about. There were good numbers of Goldcrests flitting through the vegetation along the side of the lane and Redwings flying around between the fields. A stop at one of the nearby gardens revealed a couple of female Blackcaps, three Brambling, a couple of Chaffinch, half a dozen House Sparrows, a Robin and a Wren was heard calling.

Back at the ringing site we decided to put a third net up along one of the outer edges of the site as there was a lot of Blackbird activity on that side of the site.

The net checks produced another Goldcrest, a Robin and a couple of Blackbirds. Then as it started to go dark another net check produced a female Chaffinch, two female Blackcaps (could they have been the two we saw earlier in the nearby garden?), three more Blackbirds and the Robin we caught earlier came back for another go!

By now it was dark and a final net check didn't produce anything else so it was time to pack up and head for home. Still no Redwings in the nets.

Final catch for the day was 14 new birds:

Blackbird     8
Blackcap     2
Chaffinch     1
Goldcrest     2
Robin           1

16 October 2012

15 Oct 12 - A Golden Opportunity

Having missed out on a ringing session on Saturday, due to the weather, before returning home from my work trip South I was looking forward to seeing some of the migrants that had been arriving on Orkney while I had been away.

There didn't seem to be too much lurking in the bushes around the garden and in the field that surrounds the cottage there was only a Song Thrush, a Lapwing, a couple of Redshank and twenty Curlew. A drive into town to do a few bits and pieces didn't reveal too much either. Not a Redwing or Fieldfare to be seen.

As I was having a late lunch the phone rang and it was my trainer to say he was going out to a local site on East Mainland to see if there were any migrants about. I arrived at at the site at 3:30 just as he and another member of the group were putting up the first of two mist nets. Once they were both setup, an MP3 player playing Goldcrest calls was started and within seconds the bushes next to one of the nets was alive with Goldcrests popping in and out. Six of them went into the net and it was a promising start to the afternoon.

Having processed the six we went back to check the nets but they were empty. The Goldcrests seemed to have got wise to the MP3 player and were avoiding the net. The player was turned off for a bit and then back on and we caught a few more Goldcrests but not in big numbers. On one net check whilst removing one Goldcrest from the net another one flew straight into the net only 3ft from where I was standing. Most birds would have avoided the nets totally while we were stood next to them.

On one of the net checks we also had a Blackbird. As the the afternoon drew to an end and the light started to fade more Blackbirds started appearing from the surrounding countryside and moving into our catching site. Another couple of  checks of the nets produced a few more Blackbirds for ringing.

Also as the light faded Redwings started to appear but none of them ended up in the nets. Another bird that was flitting around the area and managed to avoid getting caught was a Yellow-browed Warbler, that would have been a new species for me to ring. However it was still a new species for me as I haven't seen one before so at least that was something.

The final net round also produced a male Chaffinch. In total we caught and ringed 21 birds so a good afternoon.

16 Oct 12

As a quick follow up note I had Goldcrests in the garden this morning, so hopefully in the future I might be able to catch a few here too.

8 October 2012

7 Oct 12 - A Raptor in my net

It was an early start this morning; the alarm went off at 5am. I got up and peered out of the window and was confronted with thick fog. This didn’t bode well for a morning out ringing. Still it was early and the weather could improve.

A quick breakfast and I was on my way from the cottage I was staying in on the East side of Preston over to Fleetwood to meet up with Seumus at what was going to be a new site for me. I arrived at the designated meeting point around 6:15am to a clear day. The sun was just starting to lighten the sky and a pair of Robins were having a singing contest. A couple of Redshank flew overhead and a Wren joined in with the singing contest.

Seumus arrived soon afterwards and we headed off down a track not far away to the ringing site. As we were getting the net poles off of the roof of Seumus’ car we were treated to a Barn Owl appearing out of the dark and sauntering overhead.

We set up three nets around the site with an MP3 lure for Greenfinch at one of the nets and another for Meadow Pipits at one of the other nets.

During the morning the fog rolled in and out on several occasions making noticeable changes to the air temperature. Having started off with a temperature of +2C by the end of the morning it was t-shirt and sunglasses.

It ended up being quite a busy morning with 2 retraps and 42 new birds for the site, as follows (retraps in brackets):

Blackbird                 2

Blue Tit                   2

Great Tit                 (1)

Greenfinch              27

Meadow Pipit          10

Robin                     (1)

and the highlight of the day, my first

Sparrowhawk           1 male

A big thanks to Seumus for hosting me again, it was a great morning and hopefully the weather will be good again next Saturday for another session before I head for home.

30 Aug 12 – Knot a bad day

We had been in our new house 6 days and were moving the final boxes over from the rented cottage when my trainer rang to say that he was going to try for a cannon net catch that afternoon as he had found a flock of Knot in amongst other waders on one of the nearby beaches.

As this was a new species for me I was keen to go along, so I took time out from moving boxes and went to the meeting point where I met up with my trainer and a couple of other members of the ringing group.

With the net set up it was a question of waiting for the birds to move up the beach and into the capture area. Just when things were looking good a chap appeared on the beach with a small group of dogs. Everything went on to hold until he and the dogs disappeared. After what seemed to be an age he disappeared off the beach and we were back into readiness mode for the catch when the chap reappeared with his dogs. Back to the waiting game.

Eventually he disappeared, the birds returned, albeit in small numbers, and the net was fired. In total we caught:

Knot                       6

Pied Wagtail            1

Ringed Plover          1

Starling                  1

Knot aren’t ringed very often in Orkney so it was good to have the chance to ring some.

30 Jul 12 - 21 Sep 12 - The Swallow Season

This year saw me make seven visits to the local Swallow roost reed bed. The number of Swallows was down on the last couple of years as like so many other parts of the country the weather hasn’t been the best summer could offer. If it wasn’t raining the wind was too strong to open the mist nets.

So rather than break the season down visit by visit, as I’m trying to catch up on the blog, here is a summary of the birds I ringed this season with retraps in brackets:

Pied Wagtail             1

Reed Bunting           8 (2)

Sand Martin             1

Sedge Warbler         17 (1)

Starling                   1

Swallow                  85

Wren                      2

25 and 27 July 12 - Fleetwood Nature Reserve

It has been a while since I last posted on my blog so now with the evenings starting to draw in and finding myself South on business and a bit of time in the evenings to catch up on things it is time to bring the blog up to date.

Just after I last posted back in July, I put an offer in on a cottage that we had viewed and decided that we would like to make our home. We had been renting a cottage for just over 4 years and with the clock ticking away towards the deadline for us to move out house hunting had been high on our list of summer activities.

Having put the offer in and had it accepted we then had a 5 week window before we collected the key, so sorting and packing became the number 1 activity. However at the end of July I had a work trip South and took the opportunity to go out with Seumus and Ian and do a couple of ringing sessions on the Fleetwood Nature reserve.

Both sessions were fairly quiet but I managed to ring with retraps in brackets:

Greenfinch              1

Reed Warbler           3 (2)

Willow Warbler         1 (1)

Wren                      2 (1)

As usual thanks to Seumus and Ian for having me along and thanks also to Ian for the Wren photo.