Saturday, 23 June 2012

Linacre WeBS Walk- June 2012

I didn't manage to do the WeBS walk this morning, because of the Swallow ringing, but thankfully, 3 other members of the Chesterfield RSPB Group got out and recorded the following: Mallard (24 adults and 13 young), Coot (12 adults and 5 young), Tufted Duck (10), Mandarin Duck (11 adults and 10 young),  Moorhen (2 adults), Great-crested Grebe (1 adult) and Little Grebe (1 adult).

A brood of Treecreepers were also seen, which is our first proof of breeding at this site- brilliant result!

Ringing pliers christened with a ringing tick

Last week for Father's Day, my daughter/wife bought me a new pair of ringing pliers. Unfortunately, the three boxes I checked at Linacre contained only dead eggs and empty nests, so I didn't get chance to use them!

This morning I went out with my trainer to a farm in Sheffield and, despite a week of wind and rain, we managed to find a brood of Tree Sparrows and Swallows that were ready to ring. Both birds were great to ring, but especially the Swallows which were a ringing tick. How this little bird will make it to Africa in a few months time is anyone's guess!

Swallow pullus

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Nightjars and Woodcocks

Friday evening saw me and 5 others spending  a few hours in Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire on the Chesterfield RSPB's annual visit to see Nightjars and Woodcocks.

We'd had alot of rain this week, so we weren't expecting too much, but as we arrived, the rain stopped and the sun came out! The first part of the walk took place around the main lake, We saw a good number of waterbirds including Gadwall, Mallard, Mute Swan, Great-crested Grebe and a single male Mandarin Duck.

After an hour or so we headed over to the grassland area where we found a singing Yellowhammer, two Stock Doves and a single Tree Pipit.

Tree Pipit

The final part of the evening started at about 9.30pm, when we moved over to the Nightjar area. Within minutes of our arrival we'd seen a"roding" Woodcock and over the next hour we saw several more. A Cuckoo was heard calling and at about 9.45pm the Nightjars began to "churr" and we managed to see two birds flying around.

The Year List has moved on 4 species:

139 -Tree Pipit
140 - Woodcock
141 - Nightjar
142 - Cuckoo

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Weather takes its toll

After the euphoria of Tuesday, I'm afraid today saw a very sad sight indeed when all three of the Starling chicks were found dead in the nest box. On examination all the birds were very wet, as was the nest itself. We can only assume that the heavy rain of recent days has got into the box somehow and the birds had become chilled and died.

I removed the dead birds and the outcome of my first ringed Starlings will be reported to the BTO. This is the second attempt the Stralings have made to raise a brood this year. Perhaps they'll try again if the weather improves. I'll let you know.

To cheer things upand end on a happier note, here's a picture of one of the adult Starlings that have been using the garden this year and which will, hopefully, raise its chicks successfully.


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Bathroom ringing

My trainer popped round tonight to ring the three Starling chicks in the nestbox on the side of my house. A quick check beforehand showed that all 3 were doing well.

Starling chicks

After a little manoeuvring we managed to get all the chicks in a bag and ringed them in the bathroom. This was the first one out.


This was a ringing tick for me, taking my total number of species ringed to 28. A nest record card was filled in for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Linacre ringing - 9th June 2012

The high winds and threat of rain meant that any idea of mist netting was abandoned. Luckily, we still had 11 nestboxes to check at Linacre, so 4 members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group set off for another few hours in the woods.

The first box contained 4 young Blue Tits which we able to ring.

Blue Tit

Unfortunately the next few boxes were disappointing, as we found 1 with 2 dead young and the next with 6 cold eggs.  Obviously the bad weather we've been experiencing this week meant that the adults had been unable to find enough food for themselves and their young. Luckily things improved as we carried on around the site and by the end of the morning we'd managed to ring 27 chicks, bringing our total so far this year to 146.

Great Tit from box 34

Two boxes still contained very young birds, so a final trip next week should finish off this year's nestboxes.

Birdwise, the reservoirs were pretty quiet with just 1 brood of Mallards seen (4 young), but we did manage to see 5 Swifts and 3 House Martins feeding over the top reservoir.

I spoke with my trainer about the young Starlings and he said we should be able to ring them this week. I'll post a report as soon as that's done.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Tyneside Kittiwakes

I spent a few days up in Newcastle over the bank holiday and took the opportunity to visit the Kittiwakes that nest on the Tyne Bridge. There must be around 50/60 pairs nesting on and around the bridge. Some, such as these on the photos nest just over the fence and are very easy to see. As you can see there are a few chicks. I wonder who rings them?


A view from underneath the bridge

Gorgeous birds!

We had a drive up to St Mary's Island whilst up there, but the tide was out and so we didn't see much at all, just a few House Sparows, 2 Sand Martins, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 1 Herring Gull and a few Starlings (including juveniles).

The Year List moved on 1 species with a Red Kite spotted on the journey up.

138 - Red Kite

Starling success!

The three Starling eggs that were in the nestbox on the side of my house have now hatched and these three "beautiful" chicks have appeared!

Starling chicks

I've let my ringing trainer know bout them, so hopefully we'll be able to ring them in a few days time. The adult birds are busy feeding them, and have taken advantage of the meal worms I put out in the garden.
Adult Starling

Sunday, 3 June 2012

First Linacre Mist Netting Session

Yesterday saw the first mist netting visit to Linacre for members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group. 3 nets were set up and a total of 15 birds, all new, were caught and ringed.

This being the first trip since we set up this new site we didn't really know what to expect and the first bird ringed from the mist nets was a Coal Tit, followed closely by another 3!

Coal Tit

The next few rounds continued to produce some good birds: Dunnock, Blackbird, Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tit, but by far the most exciting were two male Garden Warblers. These were not only a ringing tick for me, but were the first site record for the year and also were the first time that I've recorded more than 1. Not the most exciting bird to look at, but an excellent record and I'm really looking forward to ringing the chicks later in the year.

Garden Warbler

As summer migrants, the two warblers were weighed and fat and muscle scores were taken.

Garden Warbler being weighed

Another new development for me today was my first experience of "primary moult" in some of the resident birds. This Great Tit is a good example with two of the primary feathers having been dropped, and new ones just coming through.

Great Tit

This happens in all birds at different times of the year when the old feathers have become worn and need replacing. Learning when it happens and how many times is all part of the fun of ringing!

Other birds seen on site today included 4 over flying Oystercatchers, which is a new record for the site, a singing Chiffchaff (hope to see you in the nets soon!) and this unfortunate male Chaffinch, which was caught in the nets, but wasn't ringed, due to the growths on its legs. See here for details about this condition.


The Year List moved on 1 today:

137 - Garden Warbler

Friday, 1 June 2012

95 pulli ringed

Last night I spent 3 hours at Linacre with my ringing trainer checking the nestboxes and ringing the chicks. In total we managed to ring 95 young, all either Blue or Great Tits. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera, so no photos. Of the 95 I managed to ring 51; 40 Blue Tits and 11 Great Tits. Box 11, the box on my header, had a brood of 5 Great Tits which were big enough to ring. Well done Box 11!

There were still about half a dozen boxes with either young too small to ring or eggs so we'll be back again next week.