Sunday, 27 May 2012

Farm Walk number 2 and a sunbathing Mr White!

Got up early again today and went off to a farm near Worksop to carry out the second of this year's survey walks for the RSPB's Voluteer and Farmer Alliance scheme. The sun was shining and, after a coolish start, it warmed up to produce a lovely walk with 32 species counted, including 5 species.

Skylarks and Yellowhammers were well represented, but the best bird of the day for me was the Tree Sparrows that were present around the farm buildings and in the hedgerows. I took this picture of a wonderful Ash tree and hedgerow just to give you an idea of what the farm looks like.

Ash tree and Hawthorn hedge

I didn't see any Grey Partridge on the farm today, but I did spot this confused looking bird feeding by the road side on the drive across. Very unusual sighting!

Grey Partridge

When I got home I spent the day in the garden and managed to get this shot of "Mr White" subathing on the lawn. Good to see he's still going strong. Also spotted a Tree Bumblebee in the garden today, a first!

Mr White

Saturday, 26 May 2012

2 Year ticks, 3 pulli ringed and 3 new eggs.

I woke up early this morning, so I decided to pop up to Linacre to refill the feeders in the new ringing site. They were all completely empty, so we know that they're being used by something at least. On the way back home I stopped by the main entrance to see if I could find the Little Owl that's been reported a couple of time recently. As I walked along the drive I spotted one fly into one of the Oak trees. I walked along a bit further, but I couldn't spot it again. Anyway, it was good to see it and add it to the Year List.

After Linacre I popped out with Sorby Breck ringers again to our site in Sheffield, where we ringed a brood of Great Tits. We also popped into a new site for me, Burrs Woods near Barlow in Derbyshire, where we ringed another brood of Great Tits. One of the boxes contained a Nuthatch nest, but the bird was still on eggs so no "ringing tick" today. Whilst walking around the woods we did however, spot a Spotted Flycatcher, which was my second year tick of the day. Very nice.

Last, but definitely by no means least, I'm really happy to say that the Starlings in the box on the side of my house now have 3 new eggs, so I'm keeping everything crossed that they continue to thrive. I've added the new arrivals to the Nestbox Challenge website.

Starling eggs

Year List moves on by 2 new species:
135 - Little Owl
136 - Spotted Flycatcher

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Starlings return.

Following a false start in early April and the subsequent failure of the nest I've been really pleased to see the return of the Starling pair to the nestbox on the side of the house this week. The male bird has been singing, wing flapping on the roof and bringing in lots more nesting material to the box. I had a quick peep in today and grabbed this photo.


Sorry about the quality of the picture, but I didn't want to disturb her. Hopefully with the weather set to improve this week she may continue to brood and raise a healthy brood. Good luck! The news has been entered into the BTO's Nestbox Challenge.

Linacre WeBS Walk May 2012

This month's WeBS walk took place yesterday morning and was a combined effort, starting at 05.30 and finishing at 12.30pm! The reason it lasted so long was that it was the combination of an early morning Dawn Chorus Walk (hence the 05.30 start), the normal WeBS walk  and then some ringing.

The morning's walk produced some good sightings with the highlights being singing Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler and a calling Tawny Owl.

Willow Warbler

Out on the water we managed to locate our first evidence of successful breeding for several species when a female Mandarin Duck was found with 8 young, a pair of Canada Geese had 2 goslings and a Coot was sitting on a nest on the middle reservoir. Also over the water were about a dozen Swallows, 2 House Martins and 4 Sand Martins. A pair of Mallards were seen with 2 young and a Great crested Grebe was seen in the vicinity of its nesting site. Just 2 Moorhens were seen and, as yet, I've not recorded any evidence of breeding this year.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Pulli ringing continues

After last week's Robin pulli, I returned to Linacre again today with my ringer and other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group, to ring the first of the year's Blue and Great Tit from the nestboxes. Out of the 39 active nests, not 38 as I blogged last week, we were able to ring 24 young. There are still many more to ring, as there were still adults incubatinhg eggs and some newly born chicks not yet big enough for ringing. Here are a couple of pictures; first up a young Blue Tit, followed by a Great Tit.

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Linacre ringing begins!

I knew today's outing was going to be good, but I couldn't have dreamed that it would be as good as it really turned out to be!

First up this morning was a meeting with my ringing trainer, another 2 members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group and one of the DCC rangers at Linacre. Our aim was to investigate a new ringing site and set up a feeding station to encourage birds into the area, so that we can "mist net" here later in the year. The site we chose was next to the Rangers' Base in an area of open grassland and willow scrub. Two feeders were put up and two new net lanes were identified. Lots of birds were heard singing in the area, including Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaffs and a Song Thrush, so we should get some good birds in the nets. We'll continue feeding the area for a few weeks and hopefully begin ringing later in the summer.

The new feeding station

After setting up the feeding station we set out to check the nestboxes, with the hope of ringing a few chicks. At the moment we have 91 nestboxes on site and out of these, 38 contained active nests i.e. with eggs or chicks, including box 11, the one on my header, which contained 5 eggs! Just 2 of these nests had chicks in them and both broods were just a few days old and so too young to ring yet. A return visit in a week or so should be very productive though!

First chicks of the year!

To compenstae for the lack of pulli in the nestboxes we decided to check the Robin nest that I found earlier in the season (see here). To my great surprise the nest was still intact and 5 young were ready for ringing! These are the first birds to be rung at Linacre and the two that I rang were my first ever pulli! Here's one - gorgeous!

Robin pullus - my first!!

Other notable sights today were the year's first Peacock and Orange Tip butterflies and a very low flying Common Buzzard. Now, where is his nest? That should be worth investigating!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Dendrocopus major

This morning's ringing session in Sheffield lasted just 2 and a half hours, before the wind got up and put a stop to the fun! Luckily, in that time we managed to ring approximately a dozen birds, including a new species for me, Dendrocopus major, or Great-spotted Woodpecker.The bird, a male, was a retrap, most likely one of the three that were rung here earlier in the year by other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group

Great-spotted Woodpecker

I think this must be one of the best birds I've rung so far. Not only did it look great, but it also had a great feel to it, with the stiff tail feathers, a powerful beak, which it used to peck me, and amazingly strong claws. A real honour! Other birds that I was lucky enough to handle today were: Nuthatch (1 retrap), Chaffinch (1 retrap), Great Tit (1 retrap) and Goldfinch (1 new bird).

Also seen today were: 2 Whitethroats which were singing in the trees and bushes (1 of which we caught and ringed), a Mistle Thrush, a Swift overhead and 4 Swallows. A check of the nestboxes on site also revealed Blue and Great Tits on eggs and one nest of day old sparrow chicks, most likely Tree Sparrows.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Ringing at the Avenue

This morning's ringing session at The Avenue produced a toatl of 11 birds, which included 3 "ringing ticks"; Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, along with several "year ticks"; Swift, Little Ringed Plover, Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge and Grasshopper Warbler!


Other birds ringed were: Blackbird, Dunnock, Yellowhammer, Blackcap (a male and a female) and a male Bullfinch.

Male and female Blackcaps

After the ringing I popped down to the reedbed to see the LRP, a male Wheatear, several Sedge Warblers and the Grasshopper Warbler that was "reeling away". Listen here to hear what one sounds like.

This afternoon I went for a walk around Padley Gorge were Jayne found me another 2 year ticks; a Dipper and a Stonechat.

The Year list moved on:
127 – Swift
128 – Whitethroat
129 – Lesser Whitethroat
130 - Little Ringed Plover
131 – Grasshopper Warbler
132 – Sedge Warbler
133 - Stonechat
134 - Dipper

Saturday, 5 May 2012

3 more nests and a snow shower!

Rain stopped play on Wednesday whilst checking the nestboxes at Linacre, so when I went down this morning I checked he remaining boxes and found another 3 with eggs in; one a brood of 6, one of 7 and one of 1. As before, none of the eggs were being incubated and all appeared to be Blue or Great Tits.

Colourful nest!

As I walked around the site I also saw 2 of the 3 Mallard ducklings from Wednesday, 5 Swallows, including one with quite a lot of white in the feathers, 14 Tufted Ducks, 11 Coots, 3 Moorhens, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Great-crested Grebe and 4 Linnets which were feeding on dandelions by the top reservoir. A gorgeous male Siskin was singing around the Larch trees as well. I've recorded them singing here before, but haven't yet managed to record any other evidence of breeding.


Mallard ducklings

When I arrived on site this morning the temperature gauge was showing 2 degrees. It had risen to 5 degrees by 8am, but that still didn't stop the snow shower that blew in as I was standing on the top reservoir!

Snow flurries in May - nice!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

22 active nests and ducklings

I managed to get down to Linacre yesterday to check the nestboxes and was very pleased to see that 21 had eggs in them. In addition, the unknown nest I found a few weeks ago (see here), was still active and had 5 eggs instead of 3! Looking in my nest book I'm quite happy to say that it is a Robin's nest, so fingers crossed it continues to do well.

Robin nest?

The 21 nests in the nestboxes all appeared to be Blue or Great Tits as expected, but, with the exception of one box, none of the clutches were being actively incubated. The only bird found in a box was a Blue Tit. She was sitting tight, so I left her to it.

Blue Tit incubating

The bird will incubate for about 2 weeks, so all being well, by mid May we'll have some young in the nests.

As well as all the nests I was also lucky to see 50+ Swallows over the top reservoirs, 20+ House Martins (Year tick), the hybrid Canada Goose, 1 male Mandarin and 3 "redhead" Goosanders. The Goosanders were particularly interesting as they were my first ever May record. 3 Mallard ducklings were seen on the top reservoir and were the first of the year.

Year List moves on:

126 - House Martin