Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Ringing and Year List Totals

Following on from this morning's Linacre roundup I thought I should spend some time looking at my ringing and "year listing" attempts.

First the ringing. As mentioned in my previous posting I spent as much time as possible going out with the Sorby Breck Ringing Group this year. In total I managed 45 trips out, handling a total of 447 birds of 38 different species. It's very difficult to pick put any highlights as far as species are concerned, as I'm still very excited to handle any bird, but I must say the Swallow roost at the Avenue back in August was very exciting as were the first pulli (5 Robins) at Linacre.

Robin pullus

As is to be expected in a land-locked county such as Derbyshire all the species I handled this year were passerines, with no sign of any waders or seabirds. In 2013 I need to continue with the "bread and butter" species such as Blue, Great Tit and the common finches and then gain some experience with some new species such as ducks, waders, seabirds etc... Keep reading to see what happens.

The other area I wanted to write about tonight was my attempt at "year listing", where I record all the species seen in a calendar year. At the start of the year I said I wouldn't go twitching for birds and so my total of 162 birds is quite respectable. The first bird of the year was Feral Pigeon, seen at 00.01 on 1st January in Trafalgar Square. My final bird, Waxwing, was seen back in November in Sheffield.


Next year, we're heading off to Menorca for a holiday, so there should be a few different birds in next year's list. Again, keep reading to find out what they will be.

My final words of 2012 are words of thanks. First and foremost to my gorgeous wife and daughter, who have not only accompanied me of several trips around the country, but, perhaps more importantly, have waited patiently for me whilst I've been out ringing and ticking. Thanks go also the Ray, my ringing trainer, and the other members of the group (you know who you are!) who have explained the intricacies of different birds' plumages to me over and over again and who have waited patiently for me to remember them. Thanks alot and here's to a happy, successful and enjoyable 2013 to everyone!

Linacre Roundup 2012

Wind and rain put pay to any ideas of ringing again this weekend, so I popped down to Linacre yesterday for a last walk around. As I was walking around I began thinking about the year's records and so here goes with a short write up.

Over the course of the year I've managed just 25 visits to Linacre, compared to 43 in 2011. This was inevitable, due to my interest and desire to go out ringing. Having said this, between me, several members of the Chesterfield RSPB Group, and records from the Sheffield Bird Study Group and Sorby Breck Ringing Group, we've still recorded a total of 79 species, including 5 new ones (Little Owl, Gadwall, Red Kite, Red-legged Partridge and Meadow Pipit).

The breeding season got off to a good start with the first nests found in boxes on 16th April. Only two species used the boxes this year, Blue and Great Tit, and they successfully fledged a total of 101 and 46 young respectively. Unfortunately there weren't any records of Pied Flycatcher at all this year. The "owl and Kestrel boxes" weren't used by owls or Kestrels this year. Next year perhaps? Other interesting breeding records included my first ever Song Thrush nest, which unfortunately was predated, my first confirmed breeding of Mistle Thrush, 3 large young being fed on 22nd April and confirmed breeding for Carrion Crow and Treecreeper. I also managed to find my first ever Robin nest, which went on to fledge 5 chicks.

Out on the water the breeding season was a somewhat mixed affair. Confirmed breeding came from Mallard (first brood on 1/5), Mandarin Duck (2 broods), Canada Goose (2 goslings), Great-crested Grebe (1 brood of 3 juveniles), Little Grebe (1 brood of 2 juveniles), Grey Wagtail (2 juveniles), Coot (2 juveniles) and Moorhen (3 juveniles), but numbers were quite low and few of the young were seen often, suggesting low levels of overall productivity. There were several records of Kingfisher this year, which included a bird seen flying down the bottom reservoir carrying a fish in August, which seemed to hint at breeding further down the valley.

The monthly WeBSs walks continued every month, and again, were carried out by me or, more often, by members of the Chesterfield RSPB Group. Over the year, numbers of wildfowl were average, however, we did record our highest ever count of Cormorant, 5 in December, and a good count of 17 Goosander in January.

Ringing began at Linacre this year.The first birds ringed were the 5 Robin pulli on 13th May and the Blue and Great Tit pulli from the boxes. A feeding station was set up by the Rangers' hut in May and between June and December, we managed 7 visits to mist net birds, which resulted in a total of 20 species being ringed (Blue, Great, Coal, Willow and Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Robin, Meadow PipitDunnock, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Jay, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Bullfinch).

All of the above activities will continue in 2013, so many thanks to everyone who has either taken part or read about them on these pages. Have a great New Year and see you all next year.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Quiet Linacre

No ringing this weekend due to a combination of heavy, persistent rain (Saturday) and wind (Sunday). Instead I had a couple of hours walking around the reservoirs, which, to put it nicely, was a very quiet experience.

Out on the water were just 59 Mallards, 5 Moorhens, 4 Coots, 4 Cormorants, 11 Tufted Duck, 1 Kingfisher (best record by far), 4 Black-headed Gulls and 1 Grey Heron. As you can see there were no records of Mandarin Duck, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail and Grebes! A count of 10 Goosander, including 7 males,  was posted on the Sheffield Bird Study Group later on Sunday. Also posted recently was a record of Woodcock, which is the first record this year. I really will have to work harder next year to find this species at Linacre.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Sunday morning at The Avenue

I spent four hours on Sunday morning at The Avenue Washlands in Chesterfield with my nephew and other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group. A total of 35 birds were caught which include a "ringing tick" for me in the shape of a male Lesser Redpoll - very nice!

Male Lesser Redpoll

Other birds ringed by me were (new/retrap): Yellowhammer - a gorgeous male 1/0, Robin 0/1, Bullfinch 1/0 and Great Tit 1/1.

My nephew and his first Robin

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Linacre WeBS Walk - December 2012

The last WeBS walk of the year was a pretty low key, but enjoyable event, with just 2 members of the usual team able to get out this weekend. Despite this we enjoyed a lovely walk around all three reservoirs, recording a total of 28 species, both on the water and in the surrounding woodland.

First birds recorded this morning were, as ever, several species of tit, namely Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tit. Woodpigeons were numerous in the surrounding woodlands as were Robins, Wrens, Blackbirds, Dunnocks and Chaffinches. A single Jay was noted along with a Great-spotted Woodpecker. More unusual sightings were a hunting Kestrel by the top reservoir and a small group of Redwing which were feeding in the holly bushes.


There was a bit of a breeze on the water today and as a result, many of the waterbirds were a little trickier to find. Between us though, we did manage to find and record the following birds: Mallard (71), Tufted Duck (16), Mandarin Duck (28), Coot (8), Moorhen (5), Cormorant (3), Grey Heron (2), Little Grebe (1), Grey Wagtail (2), Pied Wagtail (1) Black-headed Gull (24) and Kingfisher (1).

I was particularly pleased with the Kingfisher record as this is the 6th sighting this year, by far the most since recording started back in 2006. I don't know if this is down to increased experience in locating this species, or whether there has been an actual increase in the number of birds using the reservoirs. Whatever the reason, its very nice to see and long may it continue! Hopefully next year  we can prove breeding and get a photograph.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Sewage Farm Ringing

Saturday morning saw 4 members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group out at Baslow Sewage Farm with the hope of catching some wagtails. Unfortunately, on arrival there were few birds about and after 4 hours we were limited to just 11 birds, including just 1 Grey Wagtail.

Grey Wagtail

Other birds trapped were: Long-tailed and Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Blackbird and Robin.

My totals were: (new/retraps) Grey Wagtail 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Robin 1/0 and Blackbird 1/0.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Swallow recovery

Yesterday I heard about my first recovery from the Swallow roost I took part in at the Avenue Washlands nature reserve in Chesterfield back in August (see here).

I was out with the Sorby Breck Ringing Group and over the course of the night we ringed 143 Swallows. One of the juvenile birds I ringed was caught by another ringer in Worsley, Great Manchester, 36 days later. This means it had moved 74km in a WNW direction. Hopefully it turned itself around and headed off south to Sputh Africa before the cold weather set in.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Rain stops play..... nearly!

When we arrived at Linacre this morning the skies were pretty dark and the rain was coming down. We decided to stay put for half an hour and thank goodness we did, because very soon the rain stopped and the birds began to arrive in the nets. Over the next 4 hours we caught 40 birds of 10 different species (Blue, Great, Coal and Willow Tit, Nuthatch, Dunnock, Robin, Chaffinch, Jay, Blackbird and  including my favourite birds of the day; 2 new Jays.

My personal totals were (new/retraps): Nuthatch 0/1, Coal Tit 0/1, Blue Tit 1/1, Great Tit 2/2, Robin 1/1, Chaffinch 2/0.

Other birds noted around the site today included: Long-tailed Tit, Common Buzzard 1 being mobbed by a Crow, Redwing (overhead).

Sorry for the lack of photos recently, but I'm struggling to uplaod at the moment without having to pay for extra storage. Hopefully, I'll get it sorted soon and bring you some more of my lovely photos!