Saturday, 31 March 2012

Reedbed Ringing

Today's ringing trip was a visit to a new site for me, Poolsbrook Marsh, an area of open water and reedbed  near Stavely in North East Derbyshire. It was the first visit of the year for the ringing group as well, the main aim of which was to open up the ringing lanes in time for the Reed, Grasshopper and Sedge Warblers' arrival in a few weeks time.

Poolsbrook Marsh

The first job of the day was to relocate the net lanes from last year and clear the reeds which had grown up there. After that we put up the nets before moving on to the scrubby areas of the site.

Net lane through the reeds

The ringing was quite slow with just 6 birds of 3 species caught (3 Bullfinches including a retrap, 2 Long-tailed Tits and 1 Blue Tit).

Other birds recorded today included three Year ticks; the first is a Schedule 1 breeding bird which I won't mention just in case anyone dodgy i.e. egg collectors, is reading! (2 singing), calling Water Rail and a fly-over Sand Martin, as well as several singing Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Blackbird and Song Thrush. A Common Buzzard flew over and a pair of Gadwall were present on the water with "trilling" Little Grebe and a Mute Swan.

Year List:

106 : Schedule 1 breeding bird
107: Water Rail
108: Sand Martin

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Collared Dove and Starling nests update- 25th March 2012

Here's a photo of last week's Collared Dove nest that I took yesterday. It shows the nest complete with 2 lovely eggs.

Collared Dove nest

The Starlings have continued to bring materials in to the nestbox and the base of the nest is beginning to take form.

Starling nest

Remember, if you find a nest you can record it for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme or, if you have a nestbox in your garden, you can record any breeding activity for the BTO's Nestbox Challenge.

Linacre - 25th March 2012

A quick hour and a half visit this morning in what turned out to be glorious weather of bright sunshine and 12 degrees heat- very nice.

Calm conditions on the top reservoir

First up were 4 singing Chiffchaffs along with drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker, a pair of Bullfinch (my first sighting this year) and a pair of Carrion Crows carrying nesting material into a tree ( a first record of nesting behaviour).

Out on the water it was quite quiet, but there were 2 Canada Geese ( 1 plus the hybrid), 3 Grey Wagtails that were chasing each other about and the pair of Great-crested Grebes with their nest on the middle reservoir. A Little Grebe was heard trilling again but not seen.

A few Bluebells had come through in the woods below the bottom car park.


New site and 2 new ringing ticks.

I went out with my ringing trainer and two other ringers from the Sorby Breck Ringing Group this morning and visited a new site for me, Baslow Water Treatment Works (yes, that is  a posh name for a sewage works!)

The weather was very grey and misty and, despite a good 3 hour stint, we only managed to catch and ring 4 birds of 2 species! Luckily for me, the two species caught (Grey and Pied Wagtail) were "ringing ticks" and the others in the group very kindly let me ring 2 of the 4 birds caught. Thank you very much!!

Pied Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Friday, 23 March 2012

Starlings' nest.

Throughout the winter we've had two Starlings roosting in the "Starling box" that I put up on the side of the house a few years ago.

Starling box complete with Great Tit in 2010

I've been keeping everything crossed and this evening my patience seems to have paid off as I spotted an adult bird with a beak full of nesting material sitting on the rooftop. I didn't see the bird go in, but I'll definately be keeping my eye on him (it would have been the male as they build the nest and the female lines it) over the next week or two.

Here are two pictures of the Great Tits that were raised in this box 2 years ago. The first was taken on 18th May 2010 and the second was taken just 18 days later. Amazing.

Great Tit chicks

The same brood, 18 days later!

Hopefully I'll be able to bring you some similar photos of the Starling chicks this year and also complete a card for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

First summer migrants and 2 nests!

Wow, what a morning. I've just returned from Linacre where, in a couple of hours, I've recorded my first Chiffchaff of the year, a pair of nest building and mating Mistle Thrush, my second ever Linacre Curlew, a Great-crested Grebe, also sat on a nest, and a queen Red-tailed Bumblebee. phew!

The Mistle Thrush record is particularly good because this is my first actual record of breeding behaviour at Linacre except for singing and being in the correct habitat at the right time of year. As well as this it's also the first time I've found their nest. The nest itself is about 15m up in the fork of a sycamore tree, so I won't be able to see in which is a pity because I'd really like to record its outcome for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme. I should, however, be able to watch it with my 'scope and so I may be able to record some of the comings and goings. Here's a picture of the nest, well hidden behind the ivy.

Mistle Thrush nest

Curlew is a very uncommon species for Linacre and one that has never been recorded on the ground. My first record was in August 2011, when one was calling and flying over. Today's record was very similar with the bird being heard but not seen. I presume both records will have been local birds flying over "on passage" to their breeding grounds in the surrounding moorlands.

The Chiffchaff record was my first of the year and came 5 days later than in 2011 (12th March, which is my earliest ever record and could have referred to an over wintering individual as it wasn't singing.)

Great-crested Grebes have been present every year since the group's recording began in 2006 and has nested on the reservoirs in 2009 and 2010. This year's nest is the earliest ever and my first in March. The eggs are normally incubated by both adults for about 29 days, so it should mid April before the chicks are seen. Let's see how it develops. Here's one of the adult birds sitting tight.

Great-crested Grebe

Other birds spotted today were: Mallard (32), Moorhen (7), Coot (15), Tufted Duck (6), Mandarin (2), Common Buzzard (calling), Great-spotted Woodpecker (drumming), Tawny Owl ( a pair "twitt twooing"), Pied Wagtail (singing male) and Cormorant (1).

The Year List moved on 2 more species this week:

103: Stock Dove
104: Chiffchaff

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Great Grey Shrike!!

After a couple of failed attempts earlier in the year I managed to catch up with the Great Grey Shrike at Wragg's Quarry on Beeley Moor this afternoon.

At first it was quite distant, but then it flew to within 10m and perched nicely on the top of a Birch tree.

Great Grey Shrike

As well as the Shrike I was also very lucky to see some evidence of its hunting technique. This lizard had been caught, killed and impaled on a Hawthorn bush by the "butcher bird". Amazing!

Common Lizard

The Year List moved on 1 more species:

105: Great Grey Shrike

Collared Dove nest - 17th March 2012

After this morning's visit to Linacre I was lucky enough to find my third nest of the day! This time I found a Collared Dove, which had set up home on the bracket of a satellite dish at my mum's home. Birds have tried to breed here before without success, so it will be interesting to see how it gets on.

Collared Dove nest

The adult bird, most likely the female who carries out the incubation of the eggs in this species, was incubating. She flew off briefly when I went to see if I could get  a look in the nest, but returned very quickly as soon as I moved away. I think there was 1 egg, so fingers crossed it survives.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Red Kite at Linacre!!!

I've just been on the Sheffield Bird Study Website and guess what? Yes, that's right a Red Kite has been reported "flying low north" over Linacre today.

I've never seen one in Derbyshire, never mind at Linacre - Aaaaaargh!!!!!

Linacre WeBS Walk 10th and 11th March 2012

2 visits to Linacre this weekend; the first by members of the Chesterfield RSPB Group (thank you everyone) and then by me this morning, to carry out the monthly WeBS walk.

As is usual at this time of the year numbers of wildfowl begin to fall as birds disperse to other areas to breed. This is especially the case with the Mandarin Ducks and today's count of just 4 birds was down from a much more impressive 38 just a week ago! Where these birds go to breed we just don't know, but at least one pair used one of the nestboxes on site last year (see here for details). 6 Canada Geese were present today, including the hybrid bird. They were split into 3 pairs over all three reservoirs. 60 Black-headed Gulls were still present as were 33 Mallards, 5 Moorhens, 15 Coots, a singing Grey Wagtail, 9 Tufted Duck, 3 Great-crested Grebes (a pair on the middle reservoir and another summer plumaged adult on the top reservoir), a trilling Little Grebe, the immature Goldeneye and 7 Goosander. Last record from the water was 3 Lapwings that were seen flying over - our first record this year.

Signs of the forthcoming breeding season were everywhere with lots of the woodland birds singing and a piar of Jackdaws prospecting around the chimney pot of the house again.
The Year List moved on by 1 species today when a Red-legged Partridge was found running up the main drive at Linacre. As wella s being a Year Tick, it's also a first ever record for Linacre!

102 - Red-legged Partridge

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Thrybergh Country Park - 10th March 2012

To say that today's ringing session was slow would be an understatement. We arrived at 7am and by the time we packed up at 10.45am we'd had just 11 birds! Apparently this time of the year can become quite quiet as the birds concentrate on other things!

I managed to process 3 birds: 1 new Blackbird ( 5F, a female born last year), a new male Greenfinch (5M, also born last year) and a retrap Dunnock, which turned out to be a 3 year old bird that had been rung by the group at Thrybergh in 2009. This bird had been recaptured once before last year, so appears to be a resident of the area.

Other birds processed today by the David, Alan and Brian were: 1 new Tree Sparrow, 1 female Reed Bunting, another Blackbird, another Dunnock, 1 Robin and 3 Chaffinches. 1 of the Chaffinches was a lovely male bird which was very bright and was showing black "lips" which they develop when in breeding plumage! You learn something new everyday!

Chaffinch with "black lips"

Out on the water things were also pretty quiet with the number of Black-headed Gulls dropping off. The male Scaup was still present, along with Tufted Duck, Mallard, Mute Swan, Canada and Greylag Geese, Cormorants, Coot and Moorhen. Skylark were singing over the nearby fields as was a Song Thrush and a pair of Lapwing were calling and displaying.

On the way back to the cars we noticed a pair of Long tailed Tits nest building in a hedgerow. Can you spot the half built nest in this picture?

Long-tailed Tit nest

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Rainy Linacre - 4th March 2012

Rain had been forecast for this morning so any idea of ringing was out of the question. Instead I got up and had a very wet walk around Linacre.

Because of the rain there wasn't a great deal of action from the small woodland birds, although Great Tits, Dunnocks, Chaffinch, Wren and a couple of Song Thrushes were singing. A Common Buzzard was feeding on the ground by the main entrance and I was very lucky to see a Jay flying overhead. A Skylark was singing over the top fields. Finally, on the small bird front was a lovely flock of approximately 30 Siskin, which were in the Larch trees by the top reservoir.

Out on the water there were a few signs of spring with my first record of Canada Goose for the year! This species usually appears around this time and has been known to stay and breed. I'd be surprised if this happens this year now that the water levels are back to normal and the raft has been removed (health and safety reasons!). Along with the Canada Goose was the hybrid Canada Goose x Domestic Goose that has been present every year from at least 2006.

Hybrid and Canada Goose

As well as the geese there was a pair of Great-crested Grebes on the middle reservoir. Both birds were in full summer plumage and although no dancing was seen, I'm sure they'll stay to breed this year as they looked very "friendly" and were in the correct area where successful breeding has taken place in previous years.

Other water birds present were: Mallard (36), Coot (14), Moorhen (7), Black-headed Gull (17),  Mandarin (8), Grey Wagtail (1), Tufted Duck (16) and Little Grebe (1 heard on the bottom reservoir).

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Polish Dunlin in Northumberland

A couple of weeks ago I had a trip up to St Mary's Island, Northumberland. Whilst here I spotted a colour ringed Dunlin. I sent the details off to the BTO and recently received an email from Poland saying that the bird had been ringed there on 8th August 2010, presumably passing through on migration from its breeding grounds in the Arctic. Here's a picture of the bird in question.

Colour ringed Dunlin with Purple Sandpipers

When ringed it was aged as a 2 year old bird. There have been two sightings since it was ringed, both at St Mary's during the winter time. The first was on 1st January 2011 and then my sighting on 19th February 2012, which seems to show that this bird remains faithful to this wintering site. Now we just need to get a sighting during the summer months to see exactly where it breeds.

The fact that it has been colour ringed means that a lot of information can be gathered about this bird even without it being recaptured. For more information about a range of colour ringing projects in Europe see here.