Monday, 25 February 2013


Every year several so called "white-winged" gulls appear in the UK to spend the winter. Neither of the two species are particularly common, so when I got the opportunity to look for both I jumped at the chance. Both species, Iceland and Glaucous Gull, have been reported on Birdguides at the Fish Quay at North Shields in Newcastle, so whilst visiting my son and his girlfriend, I popped across to have a look.

I spent a couple of hours on site yesterday morning and managed to see both species, a 2nd winter Iceland Gull and a juvenile/1st winter Glaucous Gull.

Iceland Gull
Glaucous Gull
These species can be quite tricky to tell apart, but luckily the BTO have put together this short video to help.

Also seen on site were over a dozen Cormorants, several Shags, Eider Ducks (make and female), Black-headed, Great Black-backed, Herring and Common Gulls, a winter-plumaged Kittiwake (my first ever) and a Turnstone.

Kittiwake (note the dark smudge on the head)

Year List:
88 – Shag
89 – Eider Duck
90 – Turnstone
91 – Iceland Gull
92 – Glaucous Gull
93 – Kittiwake

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Bittern and Dipper

Yesterday morning I decided to visit the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Wyver Lane reserve near Belper to see if I could catch up with one of the two Bitterns that have been over-wintering there. A three hour wait began, which ended eventually in success. One bird was seen for a grand total of 2 minutes but I didn't manage any decent photos, so here's one from a few years ago at Potteric Carr, near Barnsley.

Whilst waiting for the Bittern to show I spent some time looking around the reserve and managed a few other "year ticks" including a pair of Oystercatchers. A Little Owl was also seen. Driving back I stopped off in Cromford and spotted 2 Dippers on the river.
This morning whilst having breakfast and watching the birds on the feeders I recorded another "year tick" with 1 Lesser Redpoll feeding on the sunflower hearts along with seven Siskin and about 20 Goldfinch.
Year List:
84 – Bittern
85 – Oystercatcher
86 – Lesser Redpoll
87 - Dipper

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Avenue Ringing and Year List update

I managed to get out for a few hours this morning with the ringing group to The Avenue, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's reserve on the outskirts of Chesterfield. We spent 4 hours and managed a very respectable 35 birds of 10 different species (Blackbird, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Willow, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tit).

My personal totals were (new.retrap): Long-tailed Tit 1/1, Blue Tit 1/0, Great Tit 1/1, Robin 0/1, Blackbird 1/0, Reed Bunting 1/0, Yellowhammer 1/0, and Dunnock 1/1.

In between net rounds we recorded other birds including three ,"year ticks"; Skylark, Yellowhammer and Green Woodpecker.

After the session I went out for a spot of lunch with my family and then dropped into Wraggs Quarry on Beeley Moor to have a look for the over-wintering Great Grey Shrike. Luckily it was sat up on the fence posts when we arrived and we managed to get brilliant views at it flew around hunting. Another Year tick!

Year List:
80 - Skylark
81 - Yellowhammer
82 - Green Woodpecker
83 - Great Grey Shrike

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Colour ringed Herring Gull

I've just returned from a week in France with school. On the return journey we stopped off at the Nausicaa sealife centre in Boulogne where, feeding on scraps in the car park, I came across this colour-ringed Herring Gull. I've sent the record off to the BTO and will update this blog as soon as I hear back.
Herring Gull 5W
Close up of the rings.
Also feeding in the area were dozens of Black-headed Gulls and a couple of beautiful  Mediterranean Gulls (year tick).

Year List:

79 - Mediterranean Gull

Update: News from the BTO that this Herring Gull was ringed as a pullus in Holland in July 2007. The first sighting was in the harbour in Boulogne in October 2007 and it has been recorded there every year since. There has only been 1 record of this bird back in Holland, in March 2008, but it was back in France the following week.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Linacre WeBS Walk - 9th February 2013

This month's WeBS walk was very quiet with  no sign of any wagtails or grebes for the second month in the row. The other water birds were present in average numbers.

Birds seen: Mallard (49), Grey Heron (1), Goosander (3; 1 female and 2 squabbling males), Moorhen (7), Coot (8), Cormorant (2), Black-headed Gull (28), Tufted Duck (6) and Mandrain Duck (10).

The woodland was quite quiet today as well, but I did record a couple of species singing; Song Thrush and Dunnock. A Kestrel was perched up by the top reservoir and a small flock of Redwings (c.10) were seen in trees by the main entrance.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Nestbox recoveries

Yesterday's ringing at Linacre produced several retraps including a Great Tit that had a B ring meaning it had been ringed as a nestling. I hoped it would be one of "ours" from the nest box scheme we run in the woods and news came through today that it was - hurrah! This is our first recovery so far from the 146 juvenile birds we ringed this year.

Another bird caught yesterday, this time a Blue Tit, also turned out to be from the nest boxes at Linacre, thus doubling our recovery rate. Hopefully we'll catch more over the next few months and perhaps even find them uisng the nest boxes themselves this year.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Crossbills at Linacre!

After two weeks of enforced abstinence from ringing (weather related), I was really pleased to get out this morning to visit Linacre Reservoirs and get the nets up again. The morning started quietly, before a familiar "chipping "sound made me look up into a small tree to see 4 Crossbills, 2 brick-red males and 2 females! They then flew to a small ash tree before flying down for a drink and then disappearing into the distance.

I was just getting over the excitement and cursing for not taking any photos when the other 4 members of the group appeared from a net round with a very large smile on their faces. "Ringing tick for David!! - a Crossbill. This male bird ( a 5, born last year), was duly ringed and photographs were taken. An amazing new bird for David and a brilliant record for Linacre.

What a stunner!
Apart from this bird, the morning was pretty quiet with just another 16 birds ringed. This did, however, include a Great Tit wearing a B ring, which means it was ringed as a nestling. Hopefully this bird will turn out to be one of "ours" from the next boxes. If it is it'll be our first re trap from the 146 we ringed last year! I'll update when I find out. Also recorded this morning were Dunnocks, Robins, a Blackbird, a Nuthatch and Blue, Great and Coal Tits.

Away from the nets we recorded a hunting Kestrel, an over-flying Cormorant, several Woodpigeons and another "year tick;"a Little Owl that was seen in the oaks by the main entrance again.

Year List:
77 - Little Owl
78 - Crossbill