Friday, 31 August 2012

Old Moor - 31st August 2012

News of a Red-necked Phalarope at RSPB Old Moor yesterday got my "twitching instinct" going and so I drove over for a few hours this morning. Unfortunately the bird had departed overnight, so no new tick this time!

Instead of looking at the phalarope I spent time scanning the hundreds of Lapwings to see what I could see. 4 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding from Wath Ings hide along with 2 Ruff, 12 Golden Plover (many still in summer plumage), 7 Green Sandpipers and 1 Greenshank. A few more waders were present over on Wader Scrape Hide, namely Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover.

Away from the birds I managed to see and photo a few nice insects: Common Darter, Ruddy Darter and Meadow Brown.

Meadow Brown
Common Darter pair
Ruddy Darter (note the black legs and waisted abdomen)

Monday, 27 August 2012

Linacre WeBS Walks - July and August 2012

I was just looking at the blog when I suddenly realised I hadn't put on the results of the July and August WeBS walks. I was away for the walk itself, but other members of the Chesterfield RSPB group carried it out with the following results: Mallard (40), Coot (13), Moorhen (4), Little Grebe (1 adult and 2 juveniles), Great crested Grebe (2 adults and 3 juveniles), Grey Wagtail (1 adult and 1 juvenile), Tufted Duck (12) and Mandarin Duck (7).

The juvenile Grey Wagtail and Little and Great-crested Grebes was the best records for July. As the weather was really good on the day of the count a good number of butterflies were also recorded: Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and Small Skipper.

Small Skipper

I was back for the August walk so here are the results: Mallard (30), Coot (7 adults and 2 juveniles), Moorhen (2 juveniles), Little Grebe (1 adult), Great crested Grebe ( 2 adults and 3 juveniles), Grey Wagtail (1 adult and 2 juveniles), Mandarin Duck (5), Tufted Duck (28), Grey Heron (1 flying up the valley), Cormorant (4 juveniles), Kingfisher (1 carrying a fish) and Little Owl (1).

The Cormorant, Little Owl and Kingfisher sightings were the highlights of the morning. There have been a lot of Kingfisher sightings this year and the fact that one was seen with a fish could well mean it has a nest nearby! Similarly, the Little Owl has been seen in the same spot three times now, so the chances of this being the nest site seem pretty high. Hopefully I'll be able to give you some good news on both these sightings in the future. 4 Cormorants is the highest count we've ever had at Linacre, so it'll be interesting to see if they all hang around for the winter.

Away from the water things were quite quiet with the only summer migrant seen being a Willow Warbler in the trees around the top reservoir.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Linacre Ringing - 18th August 2012

Saturday morning's ringing session took place at Linacre Reservoirs in a mixture of sunshine and showers. After four hours we managed 35 birds of 9 species, new birds first and retraps in brackets; Blue Tit - 9, Great Tit - 9 (1), Coal Tit- 3, Dunnock - (1), Robin- 4, Bullfinch - 1, Jay- 1, Blackcap - 4 including 3 juveniles and Wren - 2.

As well as the ringing we heard Tawny Owls "hooting",  saw a Kestrel hunting, a late Swift and a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by about 20 House Martins.

Butterflies on site include Green veined White, Meadow Brown and Holly Blue.

Holly Blue

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Swallow roost and Year Tick

Following on from last week's successful ringing session at the swallow roost at The Avenue Washlands in Chesterfield, we returned again on Thursday night for another go.

From the outset it was obvious that there were much fewer birds around. but by the end of the night we had ringed another 33 Swallows. Added to this we also caught 4 Pied Wagtails, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Reed Warbler and 1 Blackbird.

Friday saw me head down the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water with my nephew. We spent a few hours looking around the stalls and then went off to the Lyndon Reserve to see the nesting Ospreys. A pair have nested in Manton Bay again this year raising 2 chicks. All 4 birds, the adults and their chicks, were seen around the nest site. Lovely!

Year List:

152: Osprey

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

RSPB Old Moor- 13th August 2012

I had a trip over to RSPB Old Moor on Monday with my nephew and niece. We managed to see a good range of birds and insects and I added 2 new species to my Year List; Greenshank and Green Sandpiper.


The first hide we went into was Wath Ings at the far end of the reserve. At this time of year the water levels are dropped and there is a large area of mud, perfect for the many passage waders that are passing through. It was here that we spotted a total of 9 Green Sandpipers and a couple of Greenshanks as well as dozens of Lapwings,  up to 8 Grey Herons, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Canada Geese and the first Teal and Wigeon of the winter!

Next stop was the Wader Scrape hide, where a large flock of Goldfinch and Linnet were feeding, and 5 Common Terns, including a juvenile bird, were flying about.


Walking back to the centre we spotted a few dragonflies including Common and Ruddy Darter.

Common Darter

Before going home we decided to have a go at pond dipping and look at the birds on the feeding station. We spotted a juvenile Great- spotted Woodpecker on the peanuts and managed to catch a Diving Beetle and some type of dragonfly larvae, posssibly a hawker species.

Great-spotted Woodpecker

Diving Beetle

Dragonfly larvae

Year List:

150 – Greenshank
151 – Green Sandpiper

Monday, 13 August 2012

Super Saturday!

If the Olympics can have a Super Saturday so can I! Saturday's ringing session in Sheffield was great with 65 bird ringed (16 by me), a ringing tick and a new bird for the site, in the form of a Linnet, and I also extracted birds from the nets for my first time - 2 House Sparrows.


Other birds ringed today by me were: Blackcap (adult female), Nuthatch (1 juvenile), Dunnock (2 juveniles; 1 new and 1 retrap), Long-tailed Tit ( 1 juvenile), House Sparrow (3 juveniles), Blackbird ( 1 juvenile), Great Tit (1 retrap), Blue Tit (2 juveniles), Goldfinch (2 juveniles) and a Greenfinch (1 juvemile male).

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Swallow roost success

On Tuesday night I went out with the Sorby Breck Ringing Group  for the first of the year's Swallow roost ringing sessions at The Avenue Washlands site in Chesterfield.

The Avenue at nightfall

We set up at about 6.30pm and managed to get a small catch as the first few birds began to arrive at the reedbed. This first catch contained 2 Sand Martins (a ringing tick for me), a Reed Bunting and 1 Swallow. However, this was just the start as, by the end of the night, we'd caught an amazing total of 150 birds!! Of these, 143 were Swallows with the others being those mentioned above along with 3 Reed Warblers. What a night!

The Sand Martins that we caught were my first encounter with this species, but, as seen in the photos below, were very easy to age as their plumage was very different.

Juvenile bird

Adult bird

One of the real joys of ringing birds is when you recapture a bird that has been ringed before. In amongst tonight's Swallows was one adult that was wearing a ring. On checking the group's records it turned out that this bird had been ringed at the same site by a member of our group on 31st August 2011 as a juvenile bird. This bird, therefore, has flown all the way to South Africa, spent the winter there and then flown back to Britain to breed again this year. Pretty amazing!! Hopefully we'll see him again next year and perhaps also some of this year's birds. Fingers crossed.

Other birds seen on site tonight were: Swift (approx.10 and my latest ever record in Derbyshire), House Martin, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Grey Heron, Canada Goose and Barnacle Goose ( 1 feral bird with the Canadas),

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Return to the reeds- ringing tick.

Way back in March I blogged about a ringing trip to Poolsbrook Marsh near Chesterfield (see here).  Unfortunately, until Sunday we've been unable to get back to this site to do any ringing, due to the terrible weather we've been having.

Sunday's trip was a very early start of 5.30am and, once we'd reloacted the ringing rides, cut back the reeds and put the nets up, we waited to see how the reedbed breeders had fared. The first net round seemed okay when 2 Reed Warblers (1 adult and 1 juvenile) found their way into the nets. Unfortunately, the following rounds were very disappointing with just 1 more Reed Warbler ( a retrap, possibly from last year) being caught and absolutely no Sedge or Grasshopper Warblers at all!

Reed Warbler (my first!)

Luckily, we had also put up a couple of nets in the scrub around the reedbeds and we did get a good catch of mixed tits and warblers (Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff) in them bringing the day's total to 21 birds.

Other birds seen on site were: Swift (2), Swallow, Mute Swan, Grey Heron and Kingfisher.

The Reed Warbler was a year tick:

149 - Reed Warbler

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Cornwall news

Hi there. Just got back from a lovely two weeks in sunny Cornwall, so here's a short post about some of the things I've seen.

First news is that whilst away I managed to add a few more species to the "Year List".

143 – Little Egret
144 – Common Sandpiper
145 – Whimbrel
146 – Mediterranean Gull
147 – Manx Shearwater
148 – Sandwich Tern

Most of the new additions were from the RSPB's  Hayle Estuary reserve. Little Egret were seen on all visits, usually around about 5 birds, 2 Common Sandpipers were seen on most visits and around 4 Whimbrel were feeding with 70+ Curlew.


There were at least 3 Mediterranean Gulls (2 moulting adults and 1 juvenile bird), usually seen in the high tide roost.

Mediterranean Gull

Away from the reserve the Manx Shearwaters were seen daily flying past "The Island" in St Ives  with hundreds of Gannets and the Sandwich Terns were seen fishing around the causeway at St Michael's Mount in Penzance.

In addition to the birds I also managed a couple of new butterflies and moths; Garden Tiger Moth and Dark Green Fritillary.