Sunday, 30 November 2014

Avenue Ringing - Finches galore!

The weather for the last few weekends has been grey, overcast and wet, so when we saw a half decent forecast for this morning we (Sorby Breck Ringing Group) decided to get out and do some ringing - hurrah!

3 of us managed to get out to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Avenue Washlands in Chesterfield, where we ringed 49 birds of 11 species (Blackbird, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Yellowhammer, Dunnock, Robin, Blue, Great and Willow Tit) in three and a half hours.

As the title suggests, many of the birds were finches, and I was lucky enough to ring 3 new Bullfinches (and process 1 retrap), a retrap Greenfinch, 2 new Goldfinches, and 1 retrapped Chaffinch. Along with these birds I also had the following birds new/retrap: Blue Tit 2/3, Great Tit 4/6, Robin 2/0 and Willow Tit 0/1.

In between net rounds, as always, we kept our eyes open for other wildlife. Today we managed to record several Fieldfare, lots of Blackbirds, Skylark, a Kestrel, and, best of all, an over-flying flock of approx. 45 Pink-footed Geese.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Linacre - 22nd November 2014

No ringing this weekend, so I went down to Linacre for a couple of hours in between the rain showers.

Waterbird numbers were pretty good with 67 Mandarin Ducks spread over the 3 reservoirs, although the best place to see them is the middle reservoir, 71 Mallards, 21 Tufted Ducks, 2 Cormorants, 2 Grey Wagtails, 5 Moorhens, 4 Coots and 42 Black-headed Gulls.

The surrounding woodlands were quiet, with no sight nor sound of any winter visitors, but there were 2 Common Buzzards low over the top reservoir, along with the common resident birds; Robins, Dunnocks, tits, Chaffinch and Blackbirds.

On the way in and out of the site I spotted the ringed Little Owl in the usual tree, and got another photo! Hopefully, I'll get a shot with a nice blue sky, and without a branch in front of the bird one day.

Little Owl

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Derbyshire Bird Report 2013

Yesterday I received my copy of the new 2013 Derbyshire Bird Report that is published every year by the  Derbyshire Ornithological Society.

I always have a quick flick through to see some of the records I've sent in, to read the ringing section at the back, and to see if there are any extra records for Linacre that I missed last year. The best record in this year's edition is the Polish colour-ringed Black-headed Gull that I saw at Linacre in November 2013 (see blog post here).
As always, you can get hold of a copy in several local bookshops, or, if you join the DOS, you get a free copy as part of your subscription.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Linacre Lifer!

I set off for a walk around Linacre yesterday morning, not really expecting to see much. It was grey, drizzly, mild (8 degrees), and pretty foggy. The middle reservoir was quiet, with just a few Tufted Ducks and Mallards floating about. When I got to the top reservoir, however, I noticed a small group of gulls in the middle of the water. I expected them to be the usual  Black-headed Gulls that over-winter on site, but when I looked at them through my binoculars I noticed that there were 10 Herring Gulls (5 adults and 5 juveniles/1st winters), and one adult Common Gull.

This my second record of Herring Gull at Linacre, the first was an adult that was present for just 1 minute on the ice in December 2010, and was the subject of one of my first ever blog posts (see here).

The Common Gull was my first ever record at Linacre. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me today, so I didn't get a photograph. It sat with the Herring Gulls for about five minutes, before flying off high to the south. Lovely record!

Here's a photograph of another one I saw a few years back, with a Black-headed Gull, for comparison.

Common and Black-headed Gull

Common Gulls breed in the UK, but many of the  birds we see at this time of the year, come here for the winter. Here's a link to an Estonian Common Gull that I saw and photographed  in Essex.

Apart from the gulls, the only other bird of note was the ringed Little Owl, that was sat in the usual tree again.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Linacre WeBS - November 2014

Last weekend Mandy from the Chesterfield RSPB Group carried out November's WeBS walk at Linacre Reservoirs.

Details are: Mallard (77), Mandarin (a minimum of 50 were flushed by dog walkers), Tufted Duck 26, Grey Heron (1), Coot (3), Moorhen (6), Black-headed Gull (17) and Cormorant (1).

As you can see, nothing outstanding, but it's always really nice to see the Mandarins at this time of year, and Mallard numbers are beginning to pick up. Another count of 67 Mandarins was recorded later in the week on the Sheffield Bird Study Group website.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Colour-ringed Turnstones

Back in February I wrote a post about some colour-ringed Turnstones that I'd seen in the harbour at Scarborough (see here).

Back in August I got a reply from the co-ordinator of the colour-ringing scheme with details of where and when the birds had been ringed. Both birds I reported had been ringed in the harbour at Scarborough that morning! They were last seen in the area on the 16th and 18th March respectively, and haven't been reported again ...yet.


Ringing recoveries from the BTO show that many of the Turnstones that winter in Britain are recovered in many different countries (see here for details). As those I saw were presumably over-wintering here, they could have come from much further north, possibly Iceland, Greenland or even Canada. They could possibly have wintered further south and have been on return migration. Hopefully, I'll get across this winter and find them again.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Linacre Little Owl

No ringing this morning due to wet weather, so I popped down to Linacre to fill up the feeders. On the way out I checked the "Little Owl tree" and spotted this beauty sitting there.

Little Owl
I drove home to get my camera, and Jayne, and we rushed back to find the bird still there. While Jayne drove, I managed to get a few more photos, but it was only when I get home again, and put the photos on the computer, that I noticed the bird was ringed!!

Little Owl (with ring)
The only Little Owls to have been ringed at Linacre were two that were ringed back in 2013 by me and other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group.  The first bird we ringed was an adult female (see here). Unfortunately I couldn't read the ring number today, so I can't be 100% sure that it is the same bird, but I think it's highly likely, as she was sitting in the same tree as before, and, according to the books, breeding birds stay on site throughout the year.
The second bird we ringed in 2013 was a juvenile bird (here). Juvenile birds are normally driven off by the parent birds once they've fledged, so I think it unlikely that this is the juvenile bird.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

November Chiffchaff and Lesser Redpoll

Saturday's ringing session took place at Linacre, and, in the space of 4 hours, we caught and ringed a very impressive 94 birds; 75 new birds and 19 retraps. As the title suggests, amongst the 94 birds we had our first ever November Chiffchaff record, and the first Lesser Redpoll of the winter. The Chiffchaff was full of fat, so was probably migrating through the site.

As well as these two birds, we also recorded the following (new/retrap); Long-tailed Tit 22/0, Blue Tit 10/10, Great Tit 13/1, Coal Tit 1/3, Dunnock 0/3, Bullfinch 1/0, Chaffinch 5/0, Goldcrest 10/0, Wren 2/0, Lesser Redpoll 1/0, Robin 4/1, Goldfinch 3/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Blackbird 1/0 and Nuthatch 0/1.

As you can see from the totals, we were very busy, especially with the Long-tailed Tits, quite possibly my most favourite bird in the hand.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Garden Brambling

Whilst watching the birds in the garden this morning for the BTO's Garden Birdwatch Scheme, I noticed my first Brambling of the winter.


This is my 17th record of Brambling in the garden, my first since last winter. Hopefully, it'll hang around.

I also managed to get a decent shot of a male House Sparrow today that I thought I'd share.

House Sparrow

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Norfolk Highlights

It's been half term this week, so I spent a couple of days in Norfolk with Jayne. We were based in Wells-next-the Sea, and whilst there, we spotted a few nice birds, including a couple of "year ticks".

On arrival in Wells we walked down the estuary to the beach. Black-headed, Common and Herring Gulls were present all along the river. There were dozens of Dark-bellied Brent Geese  present on the river, including this family party of 2 adults and 4 juveniles.

Brent Goose
When we arrived on the beach there were dozens of Redwings and a few Fieldfares flying "in-off" the sea.

Next morning we drove down to Holkham Hall, and parked up on St Ann's Drive where we saw Pink-footed Geese grazing in the surrounding fields. We then walked down through the woods, and out on to the beach to scan the sea. We spotted 4 Red-throated Divers, half a dozen Common Scoters, and the two "year ticks"; Velvet Scoter and a winter-plumaged Razorbill. A couple of Oystercatchers and 5 Sanderlings were also seen feeding along the edge of the water. On our way back to the car we spotted a couple of Redwings and this Blackbird feeding on berries in the dunes. I think the white scalloping on the back of this bird points to it being a "continental" bird.


Our last stop in Norfolk was RSPB Titchwell. We only had an hour or so here, but we did get some great views of this winter-plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, along with hundreds of  Golden Plover, a few Dunlin, Teal, Shoveler, a Little Egret and a calling Cetti's Warbler.

Black-tailed Godwit

Year List update:
175 -Velvet Scoter
176 - Razorbill