Monday, 30 January 2012

Ringing tick at the Avenue - 29th January 2012

A good session at the Avenue this morning saw me ring or retrap another 14 birds, including a new ringing tick when a Jay was found in the second net round. This bird was by far the biggest bird I've ringed so far and also one of the nicest looking! Here's an awful picture.


Other birds ringed or controlled (in brackets) by me this morning were: Blue Tit 1(2), Dunnock 1, Reed Bunting (1 male), Chaffinch (1), Great Tit 1(2), Robin (1), Bullfinch (1), Greenfinch 1 and a Yellowhammer (1 male).


My Year List has increased by another species:
80 - Jay

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Linacre and Leash Fen - 28th January 2012

Had a couple of hours at Linacre this morning, mostly to have a check of the nestboxes for the forthcoming breeding season, but also to catch up with the birds.

Most of the boxes were still in place and complete with their lids. There were, however, a few exceptions such as this one below, which will need replacing soon!

I want to make sure we have the best season yet for the birds, but also because I will be ringing the youngsters (pulli) with my trainer, so the more birds the better. I'll blog about that when it happens.

Lots of birds were singing this morning as it was a lovely bright, sunny day, the most notable being Song Thrush (my first this year), Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Robin and Wren. Waterbirds seen this morning were: Mallard (106), Mandarin (7), Coot (7), Tufted Duck (14), Great-crested Grebe (1), Goosander (2; 1 male and 1 female), Black-headed Gull (46), Grey Heron (1), Moorhen (6) and Grey Wagtail (1).

An afternoon visit to Leash Fen provided two year ticks:

78 – Short-eared Owl
79 – Meadow Pipit

Friday, 27 January 2012

Lesvos -23rd April 2011

Hi there. I was thinking about last year's trip to the Greek island of Lesvos today and realised that I'd only blogged about the first 2 days of my week long trip. So here goes for the 3rd day.

An early morning return visit to the Kalloni Saltpans started with a look over the small pool opposite the main entrance. 20+Ruff were feeding along with Black-winged Stilt, 1 Little Ringed Plover, Black-headed Yellow Wagtail and an absolutely stunning male CITRINE WAGTAIL (14th lifer).

Citrine Wagtail

Moving over to the main driveway the female Red-footed Falcon was still present on the overhead wires and a Little Owl was sat perched on a metal post.

Red-footed Falcon (female)

The usual waders were seen on “the moat” (Black-winged Stilt, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and Avocet) and new additions were a Common Sandpiper, 6 Black-tailed Godwit and a White Wagtail. 2 Black Storks flew over and Little and Great White Egret were fishing.
After breakfast we drove up to the Scops Owl site at the Kalloni Mini Soccer Pitch . One bird was spotted straight away and we managed excellent views as it sat tight up against the trunk of one of the Eucalyptus trees.

Scops Owl

Next stop of the day was the Ruppell's Warbler (15th lifer) site on the coastal road near Petra. We parked up in the layby and within 5 minutes had our first sightings of a male bird, singing and flitting about on the vegetation. Over the course of the next half an hour we had another 4 excellent views and managed to get a lovely photograph as the bird perched up against the blue seas below.

Ruppell's Warbler

Also present from the layby were a male Eastern Orphean Warbler (16thlifer), a male Subalpine Warbler (17th lifer), male and female Black-eared Wheatear (white throated form), a Crag Martin, a Shag on the sea, a fly-by Hoopoe, Linnet and Goldfinch.

After a short drive from the Rüppell’s site we arrived in the coastal town of Molivos. Walking down to the harbour area we saw Swallow, House Martin, Swift and about a dozen Alpine Swifts. Jackdaws were present around the Castle, including several pairs entering potential nest sites in the castle walls. More Alpine Swifts were also seen here, as were Red-rumped Swallows and a pair of Black-eared Wheatear (dark throated form). Butterflies seen here were Red Admiral, Painted Lady and Scarce Swallowtail. Lizards called Anagama were also seen basking in the sunshine on the walls of the castle.


On the drive back to 2 Ravens and a male Cirl Bunting were seen near “the bandstand” area near Kalloni.

Another amazing day!!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Blacktoft Sands - 22nd January 2012

I spent today at the RSPB's Blacktoft Sands reserve  near Goole with my wife and 10 members of the Chesterfield RSPB Group. We went especially to see the Harrier Roost and were very lucky to see both Marsh and Hen Harrier, as well as 29 other species of birds.

We arrived at 12.00pm  and spent the first three hours looking around the hides, where, despite the very strong winds, we saw several duck species (Teal, Wigeon, Goldeneye, Mallard, Shelduck and Gadwall), along with 5 wader species (Lapwing, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Snipe and Curlew) and our first bird of prey, a Kestrel.


From 3 o'clock onwards we sat in the Singleton Hide, the best place to see the harriers. Shortly after our arrival we saw a Marsh Harrier, the first of at least half a dozen, followed a little while later by a "ringtail" Hen Harrier. A male Hen Harrier also put on a show, before, we left at 4pm.

The Year List moved on well today with these new additions:

63 – Pheasant
64 – Tree Sparrow
65 – Teal
66 – Wigeon
67 – Shelduck
68 – Golden Plover
69– Lapwing
70 – Great Black-backed Gull
71 – Marsh Harrier
72 – Hen Harrier
73 – Cormorant
74 – Gadwall
75 – Curlew
76 – Snipe
77 - Dunlin

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Linacre WeBS Walk - 14th/15th January 2012

The first of this year's WeBS walks took place over the weekend. I wasn't around on the Saturday, but 7 members of the Chesterfield RSPB Group went down and carried out the count (thanks a lot everyone). Luckily I was free on Sunday, so I managed to get down for a few hours, which was great because the freezing temperatures (minus 3 at 9am today), made everything look really nice. I couldn't resist taking a few "arty" shots of frozen leaves and shots of the boardwalk in the frost, so here they are:

Oak leaf

Top reservoir

The following waterbirds were seen over the weekend:

10 Goosander (our higest ever count!), 3 Teal, 10 Coot, 6 Moorhen, 75 Mallard, 24 Tufted Duck, 82 Black-headed Gulls, 41 Mandarins, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Cormorant, 1 Goldeneye (the young male first seen in 2011), 2 Grey Herons, 1 Great-crested Grebe and 1 Little Grebe.

As well as all these waterbirds I was lucky enough to see a small flock of Siskin, which were "buzzed" by a small, male Sparrowhawk as well as 3 Mistle Thrush and 2 Fieldfares which were feeding in the fields by the main entrance.

New additions to the Year List were:
60 – Treecreeper
61 – Grey Wagtail
62 - Siskin

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Sub-zero ringing - 14th January 2012

The second ringing trip of the was a return visit to the private site in Sheffield in what turned out to be the coldest conditions of the year so far - minus 2! A total of 3 nets were set up at 7.45am and, by the end of the morning at 11.45am we'd ringed a total of 59 birds of 9 species (Blue and Great Tit, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Robin, Tree and House Sparrow)

Birds ringed by me this morning were Blackbird 4(1), Blue Tit 4(1), Greenfinch 1 and Great Tit (3).

Other birds seen or heard in the area were Redwing, Fieldfare, Pink-footed Goose (approximately 60 flew over), Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Dunnock (my first singing birds of the year) and Kestrel (1 seen on the way home).

Year list has increased by 2 today:
58 – Kestrel
59 – Pink-footed Goose

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Ringing at the Avenue - 8th January 2012

Hurrah, after nearly 2 months of forced abstinance (too much wind, mainly) I managed to get out ringing this morning with a visit to the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Avenue Washlands reserve. Although quiet at the start we ended up with a total of 33 birds, including a ringing tick for me, a male Reed Bunting.
Reed Bunting

Other birds ringed this morning were: Great, Blue and Willow Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Chaffinch, Bullfinch,Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Blackbird.

As well as the ringed birds we also recorded Green Woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Black-headed Gull, Mistle Thrush, Collared Dove and Yellowhammer.

The Year List moves on with these new additions:

53 – Willow Tit
54 – Reed Bunting
55 – Bullfinch
56 – Yellowhammer
57 – Green Woodpecker

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Linacre - 7th January 2012

I didn't manage to get down to Linacre this morning as I was helping a friend out with a survey of a local churchyard. so I popped down this afternnon for a short, hour long walk. Despite the short visit I still managed some good sightings including 5 Linnet feeding on the wall of the top reservoir, a female Sparrowhawk which spooked the 36 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Goosander (3 males and 1 female), my first since March 2010.

Goosander (male on left)

Other birds present today were: Mallard (127), Goldeneye (1 immature male), Coot (5), Moorhen (4), Tufted Duck (20), Great-crested Grebe (1), Mandarin Duck (1 male) and Grey Heron (2).

4 additions to the Year List were:

49 – Linnet
50 –Goosander
51 - Jackdaw
52 - Goldcrest

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Year List update - 3rd January 2012

I know I said I wouldn't get obsessed with "year listing" this year, but having had a couple of hours out at Wragg's Quarry, Beeley Moor yesterday trying to find a Great Grey Shrike (without sucess!), I thought I'd add some new species that I saw whilst up there and a few seen in my own garden. Here goes:

37 – Starling
38 – Rook
39 – Redwing
40 – Fieldfare
41 – Brambling
42 – Common Buzzard
43 – Collared Dove
44 – Greenfinch
45 – Chaffinch
46 – House Sparrow
47 – Mistle Thrush
48 - Sparrowhawk

Monday, 2 January 2012

Linacre -2nd January 2012

Wow, the first visit of the year to Linacre produced one of my most favourite birds and one that I haven't seen for a very long time - LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER!!!

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

This bird is one that has undergone massive declines in the UK and one that, although resident at Liancre, is seen very infrequently. The group has only recorded it 5 times in the last 3 years and my last sighting was back in March 2009! As you can imagine, therefore, I was very pleased to see him (it is a male because of the red cap) and even happier to get some photos and video. Now all I've got to do is find him again, and hopefully a female too!

This first visit also produced a super Raven flying over "croaking", (which I managed to see today), an immature female Goldeneye ( no sign of the male today, although he was reported yesterday),  as well as the usual woodland species. Waterbirds seen were: Mallard (127), Grey Heron (2), Mandarin Duck (27), Black-headed Gull (35), Moorhen ( just 2!), Coot (6), Pied Wagtail (1), Great-crested Grebe (1 ad) and Little Grebe (1).

The year list increased today with the following additions:

21 - Nuthatch
22 - Great Tit
23 - Coal Tit
24 - Wren
25 - Robin
26 - Dunnock
27 - Great Spotted Woodpecker
29 - Goldfinch
30 - Little Grebe
31 - Great-crested Grebe
32 - Pied Wagtail
33 - Tufted Duck
34 - Mandarin Duck
35 - Goldeneye
36 - RAVEN

Sunday, 1 January 2012

London -January 1st 2012

Hello and welcome to 2012. This year's first blog comes from London, where I have just seen the new year in with my wife and daughter.

This year's first bird was seen at 00.01hours when several Feral Pigeons were disturbed by the firework display and flew overhead in Trafalgar Square. The next birds had to wait until first light when a Carrion Crow was spotted flying outside the hotel window. Other birds that quickly followed were Magpie and Woodpigeon.

After checking out of the hotel we took the underground to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park where we had a short walk down to the Sepentine. The first bird we heard was a Ring-necked Parakeet, a common resident in south east England whose numbers have increased greatly to several thousand over the last few years.

Ring-necked Parakeet

A Blackbird was heard singing in the same area and Blue and Long-tailed Tits were also seen. Walking down to the water we soon spotted a pair of Great-crested Grebes, Mallards, Coots, Moorhens, Mute Swans, Canada, Greylag, Egyptian Goose and this strange looking hybrid; most likely a Canada/Greylag Goose mixture.

Greylag Goose (front bird) and hybrid

Egyptian Goose

There were several gull species around as well. The majority were Black-headed Gulls, with a couple of Common Gulls and Herring Gulls as well as a single Lesser Black-backed Gull.

The last bird of the day was a Grey Heron that was sat quietly by a small lake.

Grey Heron

A few years ago I started "year listing" which involves listing all birds seen within the space of a calendar year. I haven't done it for a while now as it can become quite frustrating, but I thought it would be interesting to note down all the new birds I see this year just in the course of my normal birding and ringing. Here goes:

1 - Feral Pigeon
2 - Carrion Crow
3 - Magpie
4 - Ring-necked Parakeet
5 - Blackbird
6 - Blue Tit
7 - Long-tailed Tit
8 - Great-crested Grebe
9 - Mallard
10 - Coot
11 - Moorhen
12 - Mute Swan
13 - Canada Goose
14 - Greylag Goose
15 - Egyptian Goose
16 - Black-headed Gull
17 - Common Gull
18 - Herring Gull
19 - Lesser Black-backed Gull
20 - Grey Heron

Not a bad start for just a few hours in the centre of a major city.