Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Record Cormorant numbers and first Pied Wagtail of 2014

No ringing on Sunday, so instead, I went for a quick walk around Linacre. Nothing stunning to report, but numbers of water birds had started to pick up and included a new record number of Cormorants and my first Pied Wagtail of 2014.

I started my walk at the bottom reservoir, where I spotted a solitary Grey Heron fishing on the south side of the water. There were also a few Tufted Ducks, and a couple of Mallards. The first of 2 Grey Wagtails also flew over.

Arriving at the middle reservoir the bird numbers started to increase, and included a flock of 20+ Mallards. By the end of the morning I had counted a total of 76 Mallards, which is pretty good going for this time of the year.  Coots and Moorhens were in good numbers too, with 12 and 9 respectively.

16 Mandarin Ducks made an appearance on the top reservoir, along with 8 Cormorants, which included 7 juvenile birds. This is the highest ever count since my recording began in 2006. Also here, was the first Pied Wagtail of the year, and a few more "Tufties", taking the day's total to 14.

Gulls don't normally arrive at Linacre until October, so 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flying over to the North was noteworthy.

The woodland was quiet, except for several singing Robins and Wrens, and a lovely mixed tit flock made up of Long-tailed, Blue, Great and Coal Tits.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

House Sparrow ringing- new for the year

House Sparrow is a species  that I don't ring very often (my last was in August 2013), so I was very pleased when one turned up in the nets whilst out ringing with The Group this morning at our private garden site in Sheffield.

House Sparrow
The bird in question was a bird born this year, which was going through it's "post juvenile moult". In the picture below, you can see that it has dropped all its greater coverts. These will regrow over the next week or so, and will become indistinguishable from an adult bird.

House Sparrow in moult
In addition to the House Sparrow, we also ringed a couple of Blackbirds, a Treecreeper, Great and Blue Tits, 2 Goldcrests, along with several Dunnocks and Robins.
There were a few other species around the site, including a singing Chiffchaff, 4 Mistle Thrushes, 4 Swallows and several Jays.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Blue Tit recovery

This year, was a bumper year in the nest boxes at Linacre, with 232 birds ringed. Yesterday, I received an email from David from the ringing group, with details of one of "our" birds that had been found by a member of the public.

The bird in question  was a Blue Tit that had been ringed in a box on May 25th 2014 (see here). Unfortunately, it had only survived 27 days and had been found just 2km away in Old Brampton, after flying into a window.

Although its sad to hear of fatalities, it is interesting to know that at least some of the juvenile birds from Linacre disperse away from the site when they fledge. Hopefully, we'll get some more recoveries later in the year- this time of live birds!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Black Redstart

Black Redstarts are very uncommon birds in Derbyshire, so when news of a summering bird at a site just 30 minutes from home, came out in July (see Darley Dale Wildlife blog here), I decided to have a drive over for a look. Unfortunately I didn't catch up with it then, but another record this week on Birdguides, made me decide to have another drive across today. This time I dropped lucky, with the bird showing within 10 minutes of me arriving.

The weather wasn't great (bit drizzly and misty), so, although I managed to get a quick photo, it isn't the best. You can just about make out the red tail.

Black Redstart
I also managed a short piece of video (see here).
Year List update:
174 - Black Redstart

Saturday, 13 September 2014

More Mipits and a (near) record Goose Count

After last week's success ringing my first Meadow Pipit of 2014  I was very pleased to hear that we were heading back up to a moorland site at Ringinglow, Sheffield, for our annual Meadow Pipit ringing session (see here for details of last year's visit).

As in previous years, we arrived on site nice and early (5.30am), and got the nets up as quickly as possible. The MP3 players were set to Meadow Pipit, and after a bit of low cloud had cleared, we started to catch birds. Four hours later we'd managed a very respectable 107 new birds, all Meadow Pipits. The vast majority were juvenile birds, with just 4 adult birds ringed.

Other birds seen during today's session included Raven, Red Grouse (Year Tick), Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, and a Sparrowhawk, that kept buzzing the nets, thankfully, without success!

Thanks to Sean and Kevin for another brilliant session!

In the afternoon, I went for a walk around Linacre with Jayne. There wasn't too much going on, except a couple of "wheeting" Chiffchaff and an amazing 58 Canada Geese on the top reservoir. The group appeared to be one made up of adults and juvenile birds, and is the second highest count I've had there after 80 in October 2011 (see here). We'll see if they hang around, or move on. Here's a poor camera phone photo of some of today's geese.

Canada Geese

Year List update:
173 - Red Grouse

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Linacre WeBS and Ringing

This weekend saw two visits to Linacre Reservoirs. The first visit, on Saturday morning, to carry out the September WeBS walk, followed by a second visit on Sunday with The Sorby Breck Ringing Group, to ring birds.

I arrived for the WeBS walk at 8.30am, and the first quarter of an hour went okay with a Grey Heron fishing on the bottom reservoir, and my first Little Grebe here since 6th April!! Unfortunately, the rain started at about 8.45am, and really hammered down for the rest of the walk. Despite this I still managed to record a few birds: Mallard (47), Coot (5), Moorhen (2; 1 adult and 1 juvenile), Grey Wagtail (1),  Great-crested Grebe (1), Tufted Duck (16) and Mandarin Duck (18). The only other bird of note was a Chiffchaff, that for some inexplicable reason, was singing in the heavy rain.

Sunday's visit was a little earlier, starting at 6.30am, and this time the weather was much better, being dry, sunny and warmish. We set the usual two nets around the feeders, and then, thanks to David's foresight, we decided to set a third net away from the usual area with a Meadow Pipit tape playing. We got lucky on the first net round, and caught a total of 5 "Mipits", all juveniles, our first at Linacre since 2012 (see here) and a ringing tick for Stewart.

Meadow Pipit
We carried on ringing until about 10.30am, by which time we'd caught and ringed a total of  47 birds of 12 species (Chiffchaff (3), Blackcap (1), Meadow Pipit, Blackbird, Bullfinch, Wren, Nuthatch, Robin, Dunnock, Blue, Great and Coal Tit).

In between net rounds, we spotted a few birds around the ringing site including 4 Swallows, 6 House Martins, a fly-by Cormorant, a couple of Sparrowhawks and a Speckled Wood butterfly.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Avenue Ringing x 2

As the title of today's post suggests, I've had two ringing sessions at The Avenue this week. The first, on Sunday, was an early morning session, whilst the second, on Tuesday, was an evening visit for a last attempt at the Swallow roost.

Sunday's session was a slow, but steady, with a total of 46 birds of 10 different species ringed (Willow, Great and Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Blackcap and Chiffchaff). My personal total were (new/retrap): Willow Tit 0/1, Blue Tit 0/1, Great Tit 2/4, Chaffinch 1/0, Bullfinch 1/2 and Dunnock 1/1.

Tuesday's session was out second attempt of the year to catch Swallows that roost at The Avenue before migrating to Africa for the winter months (see here for details of our first outing). . There were only about 50/60 birds roosting, so we were very lucky to catch 23, as well as a single juvenile Sand Martin. Again, my personal total was 8 Swallows, all new birds. A change from the first visit was the fact that we caught 4 adult birds this time.

Unfortunately, this will most likely be our last attempt to catch the Swallows this year. We can now begin to look forward to the Meadow Pipit migration up on the moors, and the first winter visitors... a Redwing or Fieldfare would be nice!!!