Monday, 16 April 2018

Starling Nest 2018 - the first eggs

The weather this Spring has been very stop and go, with temperatures below average and lots of rain. As a result, the Starlings that nest in a box on the side of my house have also been slow to start breeding.

Last year the nest was started on 26th March, but this year, the first signs of a nest didn't come until 6th April.

6th April 2018

The first eggs (3) were then found on 16th April. Working backwards, the first egg must have been laid on 14th April (10 days later than last year). 

16th April 2018

Hopefully, a full clutch of 5 eggs will be laid again this year, and then incubated for around 12 days, hatching around the 30th April.

As always, the details of this nest will be forwarded to the BTO's Nest Record Scheme

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Rutland Water - 5th April 2018

Luke and I went to Rutland Water Nature Reserve on Thursday to catch up with the Ospreys that had returned to breed on the reserve. We spent the day there, and got great views of the Manton Bay pair, along with another 4 "year ticks", including a Wheatear, that was quite unexpected. We also a breeding plumaged Mediterranean Gull that had originally been ringed in Poland.

The weather was great, 12 degrees, bright blue skies and sunshine, so we also managed to get our first butterflies of the year; 1 Comma, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 3 male Brimstones.

The other "year ticks" (numbers 103 - 107) on the list below, were seen at Scarborough on Tuesday (3rd), where I also had a stunning breeding plumaged Mediterranean Gull. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a photo as I'd left my camera at home!!!!!

The Chiffchaff, 4 in total, were seen at Linacre on Wednesday 4th.

Year List update:
103 – Red Kite
104 – Kittiwake
105 – Turnstone
106 - Fulmar
107 – Rock Pipit
108 – Chiffchaff
109 – Willow Warbler
110 – Black-necked Grebe
111 – Sand Martin
112 – Wheatear
113 - Osprey

Friday, 6 April 2018

Iceland - 2 lifers

In my last post I mentioned  that I had 2 new birds whilst in Iceland last week. The first bird was Ptarmigan.  Two winter plumaged birds were seen as we drove across the island.

The second species was Harlequin Duck. 5 birds, 4 males and a female, were seen on the River Olfusa, while we were staying in Selfoss. Great birds!

Harlequin Ducks
Year List update:
95 – Pink-footed Goose
96 - Brambling
97 – Dipper
98 – Shag
99 – Eider Duck
100 – Glaucous Gull
101 -  Ptarmigan
102 – Harlequin Duck

Monday, 2 April 2018

Iceland - Day 1

Jayne and I were in Iceland for 4 days last week. It wasn't a "birding break", but we did get some nice views of the local birdlife, including 2 "lifers" and a darvic, colour ringed Redwing.

The first thing to say about Iceland's birds, is that there aren't that many... at least not in March! The first species we saw was Raven. Up to 6 birds were seen flying around together, and it was the only species of corvid seen during our trip. Having said that, they were very easy to see, and included several birds present in and around the streets of Reykjavik.


We spent our first day in Reykjavik, and it was here that we found a very noisy and confiding group of Redwing, feeding with a couple of Blackbirds and Starlings.


In amongst the Redwing was a darvic, colour-ringed individual, 075. A quick search of the internet, found a project, The Turdus Project (see here), being run by the University of Iceland, and I was able to find out that this bird had been ringed in Reykjavik on 23rd May 2017, as a nestling. It had been reported  10 times in and around the city since then, and had not migrated. This is one of the aims of the project, to see the link between migratory strategy and breeding success, so it'll be interesting to see how the birds that stay in Iceland for the winter, do, compared to those that migrate. Here's the only photo I got of 075.

Redwing 075

A walk along the sea front produced several pairs of Eider Duck, whilst in the harbour we spotted HerringLesser and Great Black-backed Gulls, and then, a couple of distant adult Glaucous Gulls. I tried luring them in with some bread (about £5.00 a loaf!!!), but they weren't interested. 

That's it for the first day. More in a second post.

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