Saturday, 26 September 2020

Black-headed Gull 246A Returns

 It's been a couple of weeks since I was last down at Rufford, so I popped across this morning for a couple of hours. It was still quite quiet, with about 50 Black-headed Gulls present, along with a single juvenile/1st winter Lesser Black-backed Gull, and 6 Mute Swans.

As before, the the majority of gulls were young, unringed birds, but I did spot one wearing a ring, 246A. This is a bird that I ringed (my first ever), on 21st December 2019, at Center Parcs, about 2km away ( click on the label 246A for details). It was a 1st winter bird when ringed. I saw this bird twice last winter, once at Rufford on 19th February 2020, and then again at Clumber Park on 22nd February. 

246A - February 2020

246A - today

One of the Mute Swans present was also ringed. Its ring number W17328, shows it to be a 8 year old female, that was originally ringed, as a juvenile, in October 2012 in nearby Edwinstowe. It was my fifth sighting of this bird at Rufford since August 2019.

Linacre Ringing - 12th September 2020

 Ringing at Linacre this year has been, as you can understand, pretty much non existent. Thankfully, however, we were able to a small team together on 12th September to have our second mist net ringing session of 2020. It was a quiet return, but we did manage to catch and ring 23 birds, including our first, and most likely last, summer migrant of the year, along with a Great Tit that we had originally ringed here in 2018.

As we'd expected, we'd missed most of the warblers this year, but, we did manage to catch one Chiffchaff (a juvenile bird). The other species caught were (new/retrap): Blue Tit 11/0, Great Tit 4/1, Coal Tit 1/0, Goldcrest 2/0, Dunnock 1/0 and Robin 2/0.

Other birds seen whilst on site were: Raven (1 over), Swallow (5), House Martin (13), Chiffchaff (3 feeding on buddleia, including 1 singing) and Tawny Owl (heard).

It was quite sunny whilst we were there and we also recorded several insect species: Red Admiral (1), Small Tortoiseshell (2), Small White (1), Speckled Wood (1), Meadow Brown (1) and Brown Hawker (1).

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Whitby Gulls - 31st August 2020

On the way home from Northumberland, Jayne and I stopped off in Whitby for the day. Whilst there, we spotted 3 darviced Herring Gulls.

Two of the gulls we saw, Y:633 and Y:B15, were new to us. Both birds had been ringed at Rufford Waste Disposal Site, at York. Y:633 was ringed on 20th May 2016, and Y:B15 was ringed on 17th February 2017.


Y:B15 in full voice!!

The 3rd gull, 1R1B, was a bird that we had seen here in Whitby before, once in July 2015 (see here) and again in July 2017 (see here). Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the project where this bird was ringed, or been able to ring the metal ring number, so I don't know where or when it was ringed.


Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Northumberland Birding

 This Bank Holiday weekend I was up in Northumberland with Jayne. We had visits to St Mary's Island (Whitley Bay), Amble and Bamburgh, and recorded some nice birds, including six "year ticks".

We started at St Mary's Island on Saturday in 40 mph winds and driving rain!! Despite the weather conditions we saw many wader species including Dunlin, Sanderling, TurnstoneRinged Plover, Golden Plover, Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatcher. Other birds seen here were: Herring, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gulls; Sandwich and Arctic Terns, Eider Ducks and 5 fly-by Pale-bellied Brent Geese.

On Sunday we had a walk around the harbour at Amble, where we added Mediterranean Gull (1 adult) and Shag to the weekend's bird list. The Shag, a first year bird, was ringed with a darvic XUN, and had been ringed on 20th June 2020, as a chick, on the Isle of May.

Mediterranean Gull

Shag XUN

After a quick walk around Warkworth, we headed up to Bamburgh, where we had a walk around "Stag Rocks", adding Purple Sandpiper (1 bird) to the Year List.

Year List update:

158 – Pale-bellied Brent Goose 

159 – Eider Duck

160 – Arctic Tern

161 – Golden Plover

162 – Sanderling

163 – Purple Sandpiper

Friday, 28 August 2020

Gulls, Parakeets and a Swan

 Yesterday, I had my first visit to Alvaston Park in Derby since January (see here), hoping to catch up with some returning Black-headed Gulls. Unfortunately, I was too early, as there were only about 30 birds present, none of which were ringed. Whilst there, I did record 20+ Mute Swans (non ringed), 30+ Canada Geese, Coots, Moorhens, a Stock Dove and 2 Ring-necked Parakeets.

Afterwards, I drove across to Rufford CP and, despite there only being about 30 Black-headed Gulls present, I did manage to find one ringed bird, 230A, a very well known bird (see here).


Also present were a couple of Mute Swans, including a male bird with a metal ring, W17328. It's a bird I've seen here before (in September 2019), and it was ringed by the Birklands Ringing Group, 3km away at Pittance Pond in Edwinstowe on 5th October 2012, as a 3 (born that year). 

Mute Swan W17328

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

 I spent a couple of hours at Pleasley Pit Nature Reserve yesterday afternoon, after seeing reports on social media, of both Small Red-eyed Damselfly and Brown Hairstreak (butterfly) there.

When I arrived I went straight to the "dragonfly ponds", where I met (by accident) the person who had posted details of both species the day before. He gave me directions of where to find the damselfly, and I managed to get excellent views (about 2m away) of at least 4 males. This is only my fourth siting of this species (see here), and my first in Derbyshire. I managed to get lots of photos, but this one is my favourite as it shows the diagnostic features, separating it from the much commoner Red-eyed Damselfly.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

The key identification features include a smaller size, the blue sections on top of segments nine and ten (last two segments at the end), and on the sides of segments eight (third from the end), one and two, of the abdomen, paler red eyes and a black "X"-shaped marking on the top of segment ten. One other feature, shown nicely in this photo, is the way the abdomen is held slightly up turned (Red-eyed Damselflies hold it straight when at rest).

Whilst on site, I also managed to spot several other species, including Emperor (female ovipositing), Migrant and Southern Hawker, Emerald Damselfly, Common and Ruddy Dater.

Ruddy Darter (obelisquing to keep cool)

The other reason for my visit was to hopefully see Brown Hairstreak butterflies. Despite a couple of "possibles" I didn't confirm a siting (this time!) as the rain started. I did, however, see 3 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Brimstone and 1 Meadow Brown.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Linacre - 12th August 2020

 The temperature was a cracking 27 degrees again today, so I decided to have a couple of hours down at Linacre to see which insects I could see. I started off in the ringing site and saw 4 Gatekeepers, 1 Comma, 2 Peacock, 2 Small Coppers, 1 Red Admiral, 2 Silver Y moths, and 3 Shaded Broad Bars

Silver Y

Small Copper

Walking around the reservoirs, I added Common Blue Damselflies (including pairs ovipositing), 4 Brown Hawkers (my first Linacre record of 2020), a couple of male Blue-tailed Damselflies, and, very nicely, a male Banded Demoiselle flying over the top reservoir (my first Linacre record since 2015, and only my second ever record here). Another hawker, possibly Southern, was seen hunting along one of the paths by the middle reservoir. 

There were plenty of hoverflies around the site, including 1 Volucella pellucens a.k.a. Great Pied Hoverfly, and a single Myathropa florea a.k.a. "Batman hoverfly".

Myathropa florea

Birdwise, it was quite quiet, as is to expected, but I did have 2 Black-headed Gulls on the bottom reservoir (a very unusual August record), 11 Great-crested Grebes (2 family parties with 4 and 3 chicks, and 4 adults) and 2 Kingfishers on the bottom reservoir.