No ringing today, due to snow, wind and family commitments, so when I heard about a juvenile Glaucous Gull at Poolsbrook Country Park, I thought I'd have a drive across to try and see it. I was in luck, with the bird present on the main lake and "showing well". I managed some decent photos, and a little bit of video footage (see here).
As well as the Glaucous Gull, there were also Black-headed, Common, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, so I managed a couple of "year ticks".
I managed a couple of visits to Linacre this weekend, one for birding and one for ringing.
Saturday's visit was just a quick walk around the reservoirs with the following waterbirds counted: Mallard (121, the highest count of 2015 so far), Moorhen (7), Coot (6), Mandarin Duck (13, also the highest count of 2015), Tufted Duck (24, the highest count of the year), Black-headed Gull (42), Cormorant (1) and Goosander (1 male). The weather was quite sunny too, and Great and Blue Tits were singing. Here's a picture of the field above the top reservoir with just a little bit of this week's snow remaining.
The second visit of the weekend, on Sunday, was the first ringing session of 2015. There were just 3 of us there, but we still managed to ring 57 birds of 7 species: Dunnock, Nuthatch; 2 new birds, a male and a female, Robin, Goldcrest (2 males), and Blue, Great and Coal Tits.
My personal totals were new/retrap: Blue Tit 8/7, Great Tit 5/5, Coal Tit 0/1, Robin 2/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Nuthatch 1/0.
As always, we managed a bit of bird watching in between net rounds. Today the Mistle Thrushes were very vocal around the ringing site, with 4 different birds seen, including at least one bird singing (first record of the year). A small flock of 5 Redwings flew over, a Kestrel was also seen hunting over the ringing site too and David heard the first "drumming" of the year from a Great-spotted Woodpecker. On the way in at 7.30am I saw a Little Owl in its favourite tree, a nice "year tick"
The following birds were counted: Blackbird (9), Blue Tit (2), Coal Tit (1), Great Tit (1), Dunnock (2), Starling (9), Collared Dove (1), Woodpigeon (2), Robin (1), Goldfinch (8), Greenfinch (3), Chaffinch (9), Magpie (1), Carrion Crow (1) and Lesser Redpoll (3).
All but one of these species are present every week. The exception being the Lesser Redpolls which were my first record in the garden this year and therefore also a "year tick". Here's a photo of one feeding with a couple of Goldfinches, just a few feet from the back window. I think this is a female bird, nicely showing its "redpoll".
Last night we had a bit of a surprise when it started to snow. Luckily, it didn't snow for too long, but there was still a covering on the roads and fields when we set off this morning to do some garden ringing at one of our sites in Wingerworth, Chesterfield. As always, we had a very busy few hours ringing a total of 111 birds of 10 different species; Blackbird, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Dunnock, Robin, Blue, Great and Coal Tit.
My personal totals were new/retrap: Great Tit 7/2, Blue Tit 8/4, Coal Tit 1/0, Blackbird 2/1, Robin 1/1, Bullfinch 1/0, Dunnock 3/0.
As well as the ringing, we also spotted a few other species, including a "year tick" in the form of a calling Tawny Owl that lives in the surrounding area, and sometimes breeds in the nestbox.
Year List update:
60 - Tawny Owl
According to my blog account, this post is the 500th I've written since I started back in December 2010. Many thanks if you've stayed with me this long, and if you've just joined me, hopefully you like what you see, and will stay a while longer!
The first WeBS count of 2015 took place this weekend. Mandy from the Chesterfield RSPB Group carried out the count on Saturday. and Jayne and I added a few sightings on the Sunday. The weather on both days was near perfect conditions of cols (2 degrees), dry, bright, sunny weather, with a covering of snow on the Sunday.
This month's count (a combination of both visits) was as follows: Mallard (105), Coot (5), Moorhen (12), Little Grebe (1), Mandarin Duck (11), Black-headed Gull (42), Tufted Duck (20), Goosander (1m), Grey Heron (2) and Cormorant (2, including one in breeding plumage).
The Little Grebe is particularly good, as this is the first record at Linacre in 2015 (thanks Mandy). This species didn't breed at Linacre last year, so hopefully, this returning bird is a sign of good things to come.
The woodland was quite quiet, but all the usual suspects were recorded with the exception of Siskin. Siskins are normally present at Linacre throughout the winter period, but so far this year, there haven't been any records. I haven't had any in the garden this winter either, which again is unusual.
One bird that was reported at Linacre via the DOS Website last week was Brambling. Again, this isn't a common bird here, and this was our first record of 2015.
Great Grey Shrikes appear in Derbyshire most winters, and one has been reported on the Birdguides website since December, so I decided to go up to Beeley Moor this afternoon with Jayne to see if we could catch up with it.
As you can most likely tell from the blog title, we dropped lucky and managed to watch the bird hunting around fields by Sitches Plantation. It was a little too distant for any great photos, but I did manage to get a half decent record shot.
Great Grey Shrike
Whilst in the area I also managed to add another 2 species to the "year list"; Lapwing and Golden Plover, both of which were present in the area in good numbers (approx.200+).
The weather this weekend was pretty useless for ringing, so I had a couple of hours down at Linacre this afternoon to see what was about. It was quiet, except for three Grey Herons that were down on the bottom reservoir, my highest count since December 2013. This species is a former breeder at Linacre, 2010 being the last successful year that breeding was confirmed, so hopefully, they might hang around and breed again this year.
Apart from the herons, I also spotted 115 Mallards, 130+ Black-headed Gulls, 2 male Goosanders, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (flying over), 8 Moorhen, 6 Coot, 7 Mandarin Ducks, 13 Tufted Ducks, 2 Grey Wagtails (Year Tick), 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Fieldfare, Redwings (heard flying over) and a Common Buzzard that was perched up in the woodlands by the bottom reservoir.
On the drive out I spotted a Brown Hare in the field, my first record of 2015.
After a blank month in December, when I didn't manage to get out ringing at all, I was very pleased to get out this morning. There was a hard frost, when we arrived at The Avenue Washlands, but we still managed an excellent start to the year with 122 birds of 14 species ringed (Blue, Great, Willow and Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Goldcrest, Jay and Wren).
My personal totals were (new/retrap): Long-tailed Tit 3/1, Blue Tit 3/2, Great Tit 1/2, Willow Tit 0/1, Chaffinch 1/0,Greenfinch 1/0, Bullfinch 1/2, Reed Bunting 1/0, Yellowhammer 1/0, Jay 1/0, Goldfinch 3/0, Goldcrest 0/1, Robin 0/1 and Wren 0/1.
We could have carried on ringing all day, as the birds were still coming thick and fast when we decided to pack up. Instead, we thought it best to give the birds some uninterrupted time to feed up on the feeders.
One of the Blue Tits we caught today was a "control", i.e. a bird that is caught away from the site it was originally ringed. Today's bird was one that had been originally ringed by our group 24km away at Blackburn Meadows in Sheffield in November 2014.
As well as the ringing, I also got a few "year ticks", bringing the total to 53 species so far:
46 - Greenfinch (garden)
47 – Sparrowhawk (over bypass)
48 – House Sparrow (garden)
49 – Reed Bunting
50 – Yellowhammer
51 – Willow Tit
52 – Green Woodpecker 53 - Jay
It was mild (5 degrees), grey, overcast and very windy first thing this morning, but I decided to get up and get down to Linacre for my first visit of 2015. I'm very glad I did, as I added 16 species to my "Year List", and, more importantly, got some nice records to start off another year of recording at Linacre Reservoirs.
There were a good number of birds out on the water this morning, with the first counts of the year as follows: Mallard (106), Tufted Duck (21), Mandarin Duck (2; 1 male and 1 female), Goosander (7; 6 males and 1 redhead), Moorhen (14), Coot (6), Black-headed Gull (68), Grey Heron (1 on the bottom reservoir) and Cormorant (3, including 1 in full breeding plumage).
Walking back to the car I spotted a couple of Mistle Thrushes feeding in the field along with 6 Redwings and two Fieldfares, while a female Kestrel also flew over the field. All good records to start the year with.
I spent most of yesterday driving home from Hampshire, so the first records of 2015 are made up of those birds I saw in Lymington (numbers 1- 18), on the journey home (19 - 25) and in the garden (26 - 29). The highlight of the day's recording was the Red Kite, which is still a tricky species to catch up with in Derbyshire. We were very lucky and saw 6 different birds today, mainly around the M40!!
At the end of the year I like to do a quick review of the birding and ringing that has taken place at Linacre in the previous 12 months.
First up, the bird watching. Overall, 2014 was a very average year with a total of 75 bird species reported. The only new species in 2014 were Common Gull and Greenfinch. Breeding birds included the usual waterbirds (Mallard, Mandarin Ducks, Tufted Duck; 2 broods, Coot, Moorhen and Great-crested Grebe, but no Little Grebes). The nestboxes were used by Blue and Great Tits as usual, but 2014 also saw a Wren's nest in one of the boxes for the first time. A Tawny Owl was roosting in one of the "owl boxes" again, but didn't nest in it this year. Unfortunately, no Pied or Spotted Flycatchers were reported at all. Other species which seem to be in trouble included Lesser-spotted Woodpecker and Willow Tit, both of which were only reported once!
Chesterfield RSPB Group continued to carry out the monthly WeBS walks. Again, numbers were average in 2014, with no major surprises. Cormorants were recorded in every month, the first time this has happened since my recording began in 2006, and included a highest ever count of 8 individuals.
Ringing by me and 5 other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group took place at Linacre on 13 occasions in 2014 and a total of 727 birds ( 352 fully grown, 235 pulli and 140 retraps) were ringed, our highest number so far. Just one new species was added this year; Lesser Redpoll (3 individuals in March and 1 in November). Blue Tit and Great Tit pulli numbers were the highest since we started, and we received our first record of a ringed Blue Tit away from Linacre, when a young bird was found dead in Old Brampton 27 days after ringing. Finally, summer visitor numbers were good in 2014 with our highest ever catch of Blackcap (31; 30 new and 1 retrap), and our first November record of Chiffchaff (a juvenile caught and ringed on 1st November).
So, that's that for 2014. Hope you've enjoyed reading this short summary, and will keep looking in again on 2015.
I've been away to Hampshire for a few days, so this post is a little late for the end of 2014. However, better late than never. Whilst down in Hampshire I managed to get along to see a Ring-billed Gull that has spent the last 12 winters on a small pond in a park in the middle of Gosport. Here are a few pictures showing the "ringed bill" and, most importantly, the pale iris, which helps differentiate this species from the similar Common Gull. It's my first RB Gull since 2010 (see here), and this time I got some better photos, as it came to within 20ft.
Here's a photo of an adult Common Gull that was also present. It's slightly smaller than the Ring-billed Gull, and has a dark iris.
The Ring-billed Gull is my last new bird for 2014, and takes me to 177 species seen in Britain since January 1st 2014.