Sunday, 27 November 2011

Linacre -27th November 2011- Record breaking Wagtails!

No ringing this weekend due to the high winds, so I popped down to Linacre for a proper walk around all three reservoirs. It's two weeks since I was last here and the first thing that struck me was the very low water levels on the bottom reservoir, at least half what they were on my last visit.

Lower reservoir

Despite the lack of water I did spot a Grey Heron down here and, to my complete surprise, an enormous count of 14, yes 14 Pied Wagtails!! Before this year Pied Wagtail has been quite a rare bird here, but since the water levels dropped, we've had an increasing number, with today's count being the highest ever. Long may it continue.

Other waterbirds present this afternoon were Mandarin Duck (22), Tufted Duck (19), Great-crested Grebe (1 adult), Little Grebe (1), Grey Wagtail (1), Mallard (100), Coot (12), Moorhen (13) and Black-headed Gull (13).

Woodland birds were in short supply today, presumably due to the high winds, but I did record the usual tits (Blue, Great and Long tailed), along with a screeching Jay, singing Wren and calling Nuthatch.

The building works appear to be making good progress as can be seen in the pictures below. Hopefully we should be able to get around the site properly in the new year.

The new bridge and overflow on the middle reservoir.

New path to the bottom reservoir.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Linacre WeBS Walk - 19th November 2011

A quick post to let you know about this month's WeBS walk, carried out by four volunteers. Thanks you to you all.

This month's sightings were: Mallard (75), Great-crested Grebe (1), Little Grebe (2), Coot (12), Moorhen (5), Tufted Duck (19), Grey Heron, Pied WagtailGrey Wagtail, Black-headed Gull (58) and Mandarin (1).

Apart from the Mandarin, numbers were pretty much "normal" for this time of the year. I'd love to know where they go. Any ideas?

Although the WeBS walk looks primarily at the water birds we also record any other wildlife seen including 2 very late Red Admiral butterflies, the usual woodland birds and Willow Tit, Goldcrest and Bullfinch.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

New ringing ticks!

Another weekend and another morning's ringing with yet more ringing ticks in the shape of Coal Tit, Dunnock, Robin and House and Tree Sparrow.

This morning's ringing took place at a farm near Belper and, after a quiet start, we ended up with 61 birds ringed. My personal totals were: Coal Tit (1), Chaffinch (1 female), Blue Tit (3), Dunnock (1), House Sparrow (2; 1 male and 1 female), Tree Sparrow (2 new and 1 retrap), Robin (1) and Wren (1 retrap).
Here are afew pictures of the sparrows ringed this morning.

Tree Sparrow

Female House Sparrow

Male House Sparrow

Monday, 14 November 2011

Ringing at the Avenue - 13th November 2011

Wow, what a morning - 88 birds ringed including a Jay, a Redwing and a Great-spotted Woodpecker! To add to this I also got the chance to ring my first birds which was a great feeling!


My first ringing tick was this Great Tit, which was aged as an adult, male bird. Sorry about the picture quality, but it was still quite dark and dreary when I took the photo and the camera double flashed.

Great Tit

Other birds that I managed to ring today, and which therefore, are ringing ticks were; Greenfinch (4), Blue Tit (1 + 1 retrap), Goldfinch (3), Chaffinch (1), Bullfinch (1), Lotti (1 retrap), Yellowhammer (1), Robin (1) and  Blackbird (1).

My first Blackbird ready for ringing!

The Blackbird was really good, because it was the largest bird I've handled yet and when compared to the Blue Tits and finches I've been used to it felt enormous! As well as this the individual that I had was an absolutely gorgeous adult male - lovely bird!

Other birds ringed by the group today were; Redwing (1), Willow Tit (1), Reed Bunting (3) and Dunnock (2).

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Linacre - 12th November 2011

Another hour long visit this morning was, on the whole, pretty quiet. There were however, 4 Teal on the middle reservoir, which could have been some of those seen earlier in the autumn, or possibly new birds. Whichever way, they seemed quite settled and will hopefully remain for some time yet. 2 Linnets were also spotted feeding on vegetation on the wall of the top reservoir, but didn't want to be photographed! Common Buzzard was heard, but not seen.

Other water birds seen today were; Mallard (81), Moorhen (5), Coot (8), Tufted Duck (17), Pied Wagtail (1), Grey Wagtail (1 heard), Black-headed Gull (5), Great-crested Grebe (1 adult), Little Grebe (1) and Mandarin (11).

Away from the birds, I managed to find a patch of Fly Agaric fungi and some other small fungi which I believe are Waxcaps.

Fly Agaric

Waxcap species

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Estonian Common Gull!!

No, not at Linacre, unfortunately!! The gull in the title is a coloured ringed bird that I spotted in Southend in Essex in August 2010, whilst looking for a Ring-billed Gull (which I didn't see!).

Common Gull

 For some reason I never got round to sending the details of the bird off until this week. I emailed the BTO the details of the colour ring (left leg, white with black writing P2R7) and was very surprised to get a reply the following day. The email I received was from someone in Estonia telling me that the bird I'd seen was an adult female Common Gull, that had been rung on 29th May 2010 as a breeding adult in a reserve called Matsalu National Park in Estonia- result!

As well as my sighting, the bird has been reported another three times; twice last year in Essex (August and December) and once again this year, back at it's breeding site (May 2011). This is great news, as it shows that it survived last winter's awful weather and made the return journey to breed again.

Getting this information really makes me want to go back to Essex to see if she's back again!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Lesvos - 22nd April 2011

Welcome back to Lesvos! The 22nd April was our second day in Lesvos and my 40th birthday as well. As a result the birding was amazing with another 7 lifers!

First stop today was a walk along the Christou (West) River, a short walk from the hotel. The first bird seen was a Great White Egret fishing in the sea, followed closely by Whiskered, Common and  Gull-billed Tern (3). A Mediterranean Gull (a young bird), was along the shore and several Black-headed Gulls were feeding in the river mouth. Along the saltmarsh and road were Whinchat, 2 Sedge Warbler, a male COLLARED FLYCATCHER, singing Corn Bunting, a pair of Kentish Plover, Great Tit and a Great Reed Warbler. 

Corn Bunting

On the river itself were 3 Squacco Herons, 3 Black Storks along with dozens of  Wood Sandpipers, 2 Greenshank, 1 Little-ringed Plover and a hunting Marsh Harrier.

After a spot of breakfast Jayne and I went for a walk around the hotel grounds where we found and photographed this amazing Spanish Sparrow.

Spanish Sparrow

Next stop on the birding tour was the Kalloni Saltpans. Driving down the west side we had a LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD hovering over the fields. A Black Stork  flew in and landed in the fields as did our first Purple Heron of the holiday. Waders on “the moat” were Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Ruff, Kentish Plover and Black-tailed Godwit. Black-headed Yellow Wagtail and Whinchat were seen on the bushes as was the ubiquitous Corn Bunting.

 New additions were RUDDY SHELDUCK (20+), 2 Little Tern, a Hobby and a distant kestrel species which could have been either Common or Lesser! A flock of 20+ Glossy Ibis were feeding in the flooded fields, and Little Egret,Great White Egret and Greater Flamingo were also present. On the drive back up a TAWNY PIPIT was spotted on the road with the Crested Larks.

A short drive from the saltpans and we arrived at Achlederi Forest, the
KRUPER’S NUTHATCH site, found “the tree” where they breed and got a view straight away.
We watched the bird return to this same site repeatedly over the next half anhour and even managed to see some display behaviour as the bird sat on the wire with wings quivering!

Krupers Nuthatch

Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Blackbird and Pied Wagtail were also spotted here as was a beautiful male Black-eared Wheatear (black throated form), an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and another male Collared Flycatcher.

Collared Flycatcher

What a birthday!

Linacre - 6th November 2011

Just managed an hour at Linacre this weekend and only looked at the bottom and middle reservoirs, but I still got some decent counts of the following waterbirds: Mallard (76), Cormorant (4; 2 adults and 2 juveniles), Mandarin Duck (28. including some very vocal male birds), Great-crested Grebe (2 adults and 1 juvenile), Moorhen (7), Coot (9), Tufted Duck (30), Grey Wagtail (1) and Black-headed Gull (4).

Great-crested Grebe

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Thrybergh Country Park - 5th November 2011

This morning's ringing session took me to Thrybergh Country Park in Rotherham. We arrived at 7am, got 3 nets up around the hide and caught 26 birds.

First bird in today was a Dunnock, which turned out to be a retrap, which meant I could read it's number and get my initials in the book. It also gave me an opportunity to learn the difference between a retrap and a control. Basically, a retrap is when a bird originally rung by the group is recaught, whereas a control is where a bird rung by other ringers is recaught. It turned out that this particular bird had been caught at Thrybergh last November when it was aged as a 3, or juvenile and was therefore just over a year old.

The next few rounds saw a few more Dunnocks, which allowed me to age them as juveniles using the obvious black tips on the primary covets as seen in the picture below.

Juvenile Dunnock

As well as the Dunnocks we also had the first of 6 Blackbirds, which included a mixture of adult, juvenile , male and female birds. Other birds caught today were: Greenfinch (2 super males), Chaffinch (1 female), Tree Sparrow (3), Wren (1), Great Tit (3) and Blue Tit (3, includinga retrap from last year).

Other birds seen or heard on site were: Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Canada Goose (c200), Black-headed Gull and Pied Wagtail.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Linacre - 30th October 2011

Two hours spent around the reservoirs this morning produced a great total of 5 Cormorants (2 adults and 3 juveniles), which is my highest ever count here.
Cormorant in trees on the bottom reservoir

In addition, a group of approximately 100 Lapwings flew over the top reservoir, and despite my best efforts to will them to land, they carried on and disappeared! 1 Skylark was heard flying over and 4 Linnets were disturbed feeding on the banks of the top reervoir.This is my first record of Linnet at Linacre. The Wigeon had unfortunately also moved on and for the first time in a few weeks there weren't any Canada Geese present either.

Mandarin numbers were quite low with just 16 spotted today, Tufted Ducks were also present (22), as were Mallard (109), Moorhen (6), Coot (8), Great-crested Grebe (3; 2 adults and 1 juvenile), Pied Wagtail (4) and Black-headed Gull (32).

Black-headed Gulls on the wall of the middle reservoir

Whilst counting the ducks on the bottom reservoir I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye and spotted a small stoat moving along the bottom of the wall. It disappeared down a hole in the wall and then reappeared about 2 minutes later, looked up at me and then ran off into the undergrowth - super!