Sunday, 18 March 2018

Ringing Recoveries

I don't tend to get much news of the birds that I ring, so it was very nice, earlier this week, to get 2 emails from our Group's data manager of 2 recent recoveries.

The first email had details of the first ever Mistle Thrush that I ringed, at The Avenue Nature Reserve in Chesterfield on 8th February 2015 (see here for details). The bird was found, freshly dead, just 2km away in New Tupton, on 8th March 2018, 1124 days after ringing. When it was ringed, it was aged as a 5, i.e. it had been born in 2014, making it nearly 4 years old.

The second recovery was of a female Siskin that I caught (controlled) in my garden last week. It was my first control Siskin, and had originally been ringed on 14th May 2017 in Fort Augustus, Highland, 475km away from Dronfield. Presumably, it was a bird that had flown south for the winter, and was moving back north to breed. In total I've ringed 13 Siskins in my garden since August 2017, so a recovery of one of the others would be very nice too!!

At the time of writing, we're experiencing another weekend of heavy snow, and there are still at least 7 Siskins visiting the garden feeders. It is possible (likely?) that they will hang around for a while yet before heading back to Scotland.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Linacre - 4th March 2018

Last Sunday, when the worst of the snowy weather from the "Beast from The East" was over I popped down to Linacre for a couple of hours. It was still only 1 degree and there was snow on the ground and ice covering about a quarter of the bottom reservoir.

Snow on the top reservoir


It was quite quiet on the water, but the following birds were seen: Mallard (36), Tufted Duck (23), Moorhen (9), Coot (10), Cormorant (1), Great-crested Grebe (1), Black-headed Gull (1), Grey Wagtail (1) and Mandarin Duck (25). 1 Fieldfare (my first Linacre record of 2018), 1 Buzzard and several Siskin were also heard.


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

East Midlands Roundup

This time last year, Luke and I had a day travelling around the North East birdwatching (see here for details). This year we decided to stay a little closer to home, visiting several sites in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

First stop for the day was the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Willington Gravel Pits near Derby. We stopped here hoping to see a Great White Egret, and were lucky to spot it several times flying around the site.

Great White Egret

Whilst here we also recorded several species for the "year list" namely numbers 77 to 86. Next stop was a short drive to Newton Solney to see if we could spot 2 Cattle Egrets that were feeding in sheep fields by the road. We spotted one straight away, and managed a decentish photo.

Cattle Egret

Next up was Albert Village Lake in Leicester. We visited this site to see a juvenile Black-throated Diver. The bird was distant for photos, but we managed to see it well through the 'scope.

The final site for the day was Holme Pierrepont Watersports Centre in Nottingham. The main species we were hoping to see were Spotted Sandpiper and Long-tailed Duck. The first species was quite tricky, and it took about 2 and half hours before we spotted it!! Luckily, when we found it, it came down to within 5m, and Luke managed to get this lovely photo.

Spotted Sandpiper

The Long-tailed Duck (a 1st winter male) was easier to see, once we'd worked out which end of the rowing course was which(!). 

Long-tailed Duck

Other birds seen here included several Goldeneye, 2 Grey Wagtails and numbers 89 to 94.

Year List update:
77 – Water Rail
78 – Great White Egret
79 - Shelduck
80 – Skylark
81 - Curlew
82 - Mediterranean Gull
83 - Great Black-backed Gull
84 - Redshank
85 - Oystercatcher
86 - Cetti’s Warbler
87 - Cattle Egret
88 - Black-throated Diver
89 - Meadow Pipit
90 - Egyptian Goose
91 - Stock Dove
92 - Long-tailed Duck
93 - Spotted Sandpiper
94 - Little Egret

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Linacre WeBS and Nestboxes - 20th February 2018

I was down at Linacre this morning, with 2 jobs to do. The first job was to replace a few of the nestboxes that had been damaged by Grey Squirrels last year, just in time for the BTO's National Nestbox Week. In total 6 boxes were replaced, and a few others were picked up off the floor!! Thanks to Chesterfield RSPB Group for providing the boxes. It'll be another couple of months before the first nests will be built, and I can begin to new Nest Record Cards for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme, so I'll report back then.

New nestbox

The second job was this months WeBS count. Numbers were average for the time of year: Mallard 51, Tufted Duck 27, Coot 5, Moorhen 6, Great-crested Grebe 4; 2 pairs, 1 on the top reservoir and 1 on the middle reservoir, Little Grebe 1 breeding plumaged bird, Mandarin Duck 2, Black-headed Gull 18 and Cormorant 6.


The temperature today was 10 degrees and it was quite sunny, so several of the woodland birds were singing, including 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Song Thrush, Nuthatch, Coal and Great Tit, Robin and Dunnock. A drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker was heard, as was a "yaffling" Green Woodpecker.

The Snowdrops were looking very nice in the woods by the top car park too.


Sunday, 18 February 2018

Canada Goose AAAH

At the start of February (10th to be exact) I spotted a colour ringed Canada Goose swimming on the River Wye in Bakewell. The colour ring was AAAH (white writing on a red ring), and, after a quick internet search, I found out that it had been ringed in NW England. I sent off an email and heard back today that the bird in question had been ringed, as an adult female, in Bowness-on-Windermere on 2nd July 2013 (see link here).  The next sighting of this bird was in Bakewell on 29th September 2014, and it was then reported in Rowsley on 26th December 2015 and in Bakewell on 8th August 2017, 14th January 2018, 10th February (my sighting), and again by me, yesterday (17th February). The bird seemed settled in a small group of approximately 10 birds, so it might well hang around.

AAAH on 10th Feb 2018

AAAH on 17th Feb 2018

Kestrel - new species at Linacre

I was down at Linacre this morning for the second ringing session of the year. We started off well with a great catch of 14 Long-tailed Tits ( 8 new and 6 retraps), but then things got quite quiet, until the last net round when we found a new species in the net - a Kestrel!! We often see a Kestrel flying and hunting around the site whilst we are ringing, so today's catch was a very nice surprise.


Other birds ringed today were (new/retrap): Robin 3/0, Blue Tit 6/3, Great Tit 1/3, Nuthatch 2/0, Chaffinch 1/0 and Bullfinch 1/0.

Other birds seen around the ringing site were: Sparrowhawk (1 female), Common Buzzard (1), Great-spotted Woodpecker (4), Green Woodpecker (1 seen and heard), Mistle Thrush (4; 2 pairs, including 1 singing bird), Siskin (1 over), Cormorant (1 over) and Tawny Owl (1 heard calling at 6:45am).

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Blue Tit Longevity Records... nearly.

Last week I received details of 2 interesting  Blue Tits that we (Sorby Breck Ringing Group) had ringed at the Derbyshire Wildlife's Trust Avenue Washlands Reserve.

The first bird was first caught in March 2010 as a 5, i.e. it had been born in 2009. It was then re trapped in February 2011 and then "disappeared" for the next 6 years, before being re caught on 5th February 2017. If it's still alive, it will be in its 9th year by now.

The second bird was first caught in October 2012 and aged as a 3, i.e. born that year. It was caught again once in 2012, 4 times in 2013, once in 2015 and then, most recently, on 4th February 2018. This last retrap means that this bird has now entered its 6th year.

According to BTO website (see here), the longevity record for Blue Tit is currently 10 years 3 months and 10 days from ringing, so hopefully these 2 birds might become  contenders for "record breakers" in the next few years.