Monday, 15 July 2019

Black-headed Gulls - Winter begins!!

I went to Bakewell on Saturday to see if there were any Black-headed Gulls back from their breeding grounds. There were about 20 birds present including 3 juvenile birds (born this year) in amongst the returning adults.

Black-headed Gull (juvenile)

One of the adult birds present was wearing a metal BTO ring, and I managed to get a few photos. Unfortunately, I only got 5 of the 7 letters and digits, EW97 _ _ 5 but, on checking my records, I noticed that on 1st September 2018, an adult gull with ring number EW97345 was seen by my nephew, Luke. This bird had been ringed in Boston, Lincolnshire on 9th January 2010. When I checked the photos of this bird I noticed that the ring was on "upside down", as was the bird I saw on Saturday, so I'd say, in all probability, it's the same bird. Of course, the only way to prove this is to get across and see it again. This time with the full number!

EW79 _ _ 5

Whilst there, I also spotted a Canada Goose wearing the darvic ring AAAH. This is also a known bird, having been first seen here on 10th February 2018 (see here). She had been ringed in Bowness on Windermere 2nd July 2013 and has been in Derbyshire since at least  September 2014. When I saw her on Saturday, she was with a partner and several goslings.

Canada Goose AAAH

Linacre WeBS - July 2019

Luke and I were down at Linacre this weekend to carry out July's WeBS count. As usual for this time of the year there were lots of young birds about, including our first Tufted Duck ducklings of 2019 (one brood of 3 birds).

Tufted Duck

Totals for the day were: Grey Wagtail (8; 2 adults and 6 juveniles), Moorhen (24; 8 adults and 16 juveniles), Coot (11; 4 adults and 7 juveniles), Mandarin Duck (32; 15 adults and 17 ducklings), Tufted Duck (17;14 adults and 3 ducklings), Great-crested Grebe (4; 3 adults and 1 juvenile), Mallard (48; all adults or well grown juveniles) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (4 adults). 6 House Martins were also seen, but there no records of Swift or Swallow.

As well as the birds, we also saw several insects, including 2 new moths and a new caddisfly species. The new moths were, Celypha lacunana and Chrysoteuchia culmella and the caddisfly was Mystacides longicornis. Other insects seen were, Yellow Shell (1), Volucella pellucens hoverfly (3), Meadow Brown (1), 1 Black and Yellow Longhorn Beetle, male Common Blue Damselfly and a female Blue-tailed Damselfly.

Blue-tailed Damselfly (form rufescens)

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Fermyn Wood - 7th July 2019

Jayne and I had our first visit to this woodland site in Northamptonshire today to take part in a guided walk lead by the East Midland's Branch of Butterfly Conservation . The main species we were hoping to see was Purple Emperor, and we managed to see 1 flying past. Unfortunately, we didn't get one on the ground, so no photo this time. Still a very good butterfly to see, and a new one for us both.

The other species that we wanted to see was Silver-washed Fritillary, and this time we got great views and some super photos of both males and females.

Silver-washed Fritillary (male)

Silver-washed Fritillary (female)

Other species seen were: Ringlet (everywhere), Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Comma (2), Painted Lady (4), Meadow Brown, Red Admiral (1), Large White and Small White.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Linacre Ringing and Insects - 30th June 2019

I haven't done any mist netting at Linacre since the end of March, so yesterday morning I was down there with 3 other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group. We had just 3 hours before the wind picked up, but we managed a respectable 38 birds, including our first juvenile birds of the year, and a very nice retrap.

Juvenile birds made up the majority of today's birds (29 out of the 38 birds caught), and consisted of Blue and Great Tits, Blackcaps (2, and the first of 2019), Whitethroat (1, the first of 2019), Dunnock (1) Robin (4, also the first of 2019) and Goldfinch (1).

Goldfinch (juvenile)

Robin (juvenile)

The retrap was an adult male Whitethroat. It had been ringed at Linacre on 1st July 2017 (1 year 364 days ago), as a 5M (i.e. born in 2016). This was the first it had been retrapped since then, and showed signs of breeding. I saw a ringed Whitethroat at Linacre back in May (see here), which was singing in the ringing site, so was presumably this bird. 

Adult Whitethroat

Totals for today were (new/retrap): Dunnock 2/0, Robin 4/0, Blackbird 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Whitethroat 1/1, Blackcap 3/0, Blue Tit 13/1, Great Tit 8/0, Nuthatch 1/0, Goldfinch 1/0 and Bullfinch 1/0.

We also heard our first Garden Warbler of 2019.

After the ringing session I stayed on for a short while, and saw my first Volucella bombylans hoverfly of the year, and a pair of Large Skippers.

Volucella bombylans

Large Skipper (female)

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Summer Butterflies - 29th June 2019

We haven't yet had a great deal of decent sunny weather this summer, so, with the sun out, and a very decent temperature of 25 degrees today, I thought it was time to head over to Lindrick Dale near Worksop, to have a look at  the butterflies there.

I arrived at about 10am and straight away saw good numbers of Marbled White (15+), Dark Green Fritillary (c.20) and Silver-studded Blue (10+ males, no females).

Marbled White

Dark Green Fritillary

Dark Green Fritillary (underwing)

Silver-studded Blue (male upperwing)

Silver-studded Blue (male underwing)

Other butterflies seen were: Small Heath (2), Ringlet (10+), Meadow Brown (c.10), Large Skipper (1 male), Painted Lady (1 - my first record here) and a day flying moth, the Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moth.

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Moth

Flowers seen were: Bladder Campion and 3 types of orchid: Bee (3), Common Spotted and Pyramidal.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Year List Update

On Friday I was out with the Chesterfield RSPB Group at Clumber Park for the annual Nightjar Walk.

We started off at the Chapel, where we saw a variety of waterbirds, including a fly-over Little Egret, and dozens of juvenile Canada and Greylag Geese. Passerines were few and far between, but we did drop very lucky when 3 Woodlarks flew over from South Lawn and landed on the grass, approximately 30m away from us! Luke managed to get a decent shot of one of the birds.


Later, we drove across to our traditional site for the Nightjars and Woodcock, where we saw both species.

Year List update:
181 – Woodlark
182 – Woodcock
183 – Nightjar

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Garden Ringing - 15th June 2019

I haven't done any ringing in my garden since March, so this morning I decided to get the net out for a few hours (05:45 - 09.00). My main target was to try and catch some of the 20ish juvenile Starlings that have been feeding daily in the garden, along with several ringed adult birds. By the end of the session I'd caught 17 birds, including 8 Starlings (6 new birds and 2 ringed birds), 2 juvenile Dunnocks, 4 Greenfinches (2 adults and 2 juveniles), 1 adult Blackbird and 2 adult House Sparrows.

I was able to sex the juvenile Starlings using their eye colour. The male birds have an all dark eye, whereas the females have a pale ring around the eye.

Male Starling

Female Starling

The two ringed Starlings that I managed to catch were very interesting. The first bird was an adult female with a very well developed brood patch (indicating breeding), and, when I read the ring, turned out to be a bird I'd caught in the garden in 20th May 2018. It had a brood patch then too.

The second ringed bird was a juvenile, and turned out to be one of the four pulli I'd ringed in May in the nestbox on the side of my house (see here). This bird was the only one of the 6 juveniles caught this morning to have started its post juvenile moult, as seen in this picture below.

Starling with a few adult feathers

It could also be sexed as a female, using the eye colour.

Female Starling

Other birds seen. but not ringed, were Chaffinch (2;1 male and 1 female), Goldfinch (4; 2 adults and 2 juveniles), Blue Tit (1 adult) and Coal Tit (1  juvenile).