Saturday, 28 February 2015

New goose at Linacre.

I've been recording the birdlife at Linacre Reservoirs regularly since 2006, and in that time I've only seen Canada and Greylag Geese on the water. I've also had Pink-footed Geese flying over, and ever Spring a strange hybrid goose has appeared for a few weeks and then disappeared again (see here for a picture).

This morning, after a ringing session had been rained off, I went down to Linacre for a few hours, and spotted this bird swimming around the bottom reservoir, honking loudly.

Hybrid goose
At first glance, I thought it was a Canada Goose, and noted it down as such. After a few moments, however, I noticed it looked a little different, and grabbed a few photos. Looking closer, I'm now moving towards a hybrid Canada and Barnacle Goose.  This isn't as far fetched as it seems, because there is a feral flock of Barnacle Geese at Carsington Water, and a mixed Canada and Barnacle Goose pair have bred and raised young at The Avenue Washlands in Chesterfield.
Other birds present today included 4 Great-crested Grebes (2 pairs; one on the middle reservoir, repairing last year's nest, and another pair on the top reservoir), Mallard (37), Tufted Duck (10), Black-headed Gull (31), Cormorant (2), Coot (11), Moorhen (3), Goosander (1 "redhead") and Grey Wagtail (2 together on the middle reservoir, with a little song).
The woods were quite quiet, but there were several Song Thrushes singing along with the Blue and Great Tits, and a Common Buzzard flew low over the trees being mobbed by the local Carrion Crows.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Garden visitors

Whilst sitting having breakfast, and watching the birds for the BTO's Garden Birdwatch Scheme this morning,  I was lucky enough to spot this beauty. He flew in to the garden, hopped onto the feeders, fed for a few minutes and then disappeared.

Other birds seen this morning were: Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Long-tailed Tit (2), Blackbird (8), Goldfinch (7), Chaffinch (9), Greenfinch (4), Lesser Redpoll (1), House Sparrow (2), Wren (1), Starling (4), Dunnock (2), Robin (2), Magpie (2), Sparrowhawk (1 male flew through), Woodpigeon (3), Collared Dove (2).

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Grebes' Return

This weekend's walk around Linacre took place in dry, bright and sunny conditions, with a temperature of just 2 degrees. Waterfowl numbers were beginning to drop as they do as the springtime approaches, but 2 Great-crested Grebes, both in breeding plumage, are a sure sign of the new breeding season just around the corner. This isn't the first record of the year at Linacre, as one was reported on the Sheffield Bird Study Group website, on 18th February, but it was my first record of the year.

Other species of water bird present today were: Mallard (76), Black-headed Gull (67), Goosander (4; 1 male and 3 redheads), Coot (9), Moorhen (9), Grey Heron (1), Tufted Duck (8), Mandarin Duck (8) and Grey Wagtail (1).

Away from the water I had my first singing Chaffinch of the year, along with a Stock Dove that was feeding in the fields by the entrance with a small flock of Woodpigeons. Another highlight of the walk was a small group of thrushes (1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush and 2 Mistle Thrushes) that were feeding in the field by the lower car park.

Year List update:
83 – Stock Dove
84 - Great-crested Grebe

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Sorby Breck Ringing Group Report 2014

Every year the ringing group I ring with, Sorby Breck Ringing Group, produce a report highlighting all the birds ringed and processed by the group. It also contains several reports written by group members detailing the many projects and trips they've been part of. The 2014 Report can be seen and downloaded for free here.

Another ringing tick!

I was out at the private site ringing yesterday morning with The Group. We caught 20 birds, and this number included my second "ringing tick" in two weeks, when a young Redwing turned up in the nets!

As well as the Redwing, we also caught and ringed Blue and Great Tits, a Blackbird, a Treecreeper, a female Great-spotted Woodpecker, a Dunnock (complete with a cloacal protuberance - a sure sign of spring on the way) and a House Sparrow
To accompany the ringing, we also had a singing Song Thrush along with a couple of Mistle Thrushes, and a Kestrel.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

North East trip adds to the Year List

Although the weather wasn't great yesterday, we decided to have a trip to the coast. We decided on Tynemouth near Newcastle, as this meant we could also combine the beach and some shopping with a little birding too.
The day started in Tynemouth itself, where we had a walk along the beach. During the walk we spotted the first "year tick" of the day with a Rock Pipit, feeding along the sea wall. Walking up to castle and Priory we spotted a large, female Peregrine Falcon carrying a Feral Pigeon. She perched up on the cliff side after being harassed by the local Herring Gulls, and then flew off south with her lunch. Also flying around the headland here were a couple of Fulmars. Here's a heavily cropped photo of the Peregrine.

Peregrine Falcon

After a spot of lunch at the café on the beach, we drove up to St Mary's Island, where we spent a hour looking at the waders and managed to add a few more birds (numbers 74 - 82) to the list. As well as these birds there were also about 50 Lapwings, 100+ Starlings and a superb flock of at least 500 Golden Plover flying around the area. Unfortunately, the tide was low, so I wasn't able to find any Purple Sandpipers today.
Here's a photo of one of the Ringed Plovers that was feeding around the causeway.
Ringed Plover
Year List update:
71 – Rock Pipit
72 – Peregrine Falcon
73 - Fulmar
74 – Redshank
75 – Turnstone
76 – Oystercatcher
77 – Curlew
78 – Sanderling
79 – Dunlin
80– Ringed Plover
81 – Eider Duck
82 - Shag

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Linacre WeBS - 7th February 2015

This month's WeBS walk took place on Saturday, and was carried out by Mandy from the Chesterfield RSPB Group (many thanks). Waterfowl numbers were average for the time of year, although there weren't any grebes present at all. See here for last February's count to compare the counts.

Birds counted this month were: Mallard (63), Coot (6), Moorhen (4), Mandarin Duck (6), Tufted Duck (21), Black-headed Gull (c.60) and Goosander (3 females/redheads).

The woodlands contained the usual suspects, but also included a good record of 12 Lesser Redpolls, which was the first Linacre record of 2015.

I managed to get round Linacre this morning to check on the nestboxes in time for the coming breeding season. I'm glad that I did as well, because there were half a dozen that had fallen off the trees during the winter. These were put back up, and several lids were also put back on and secured! The highlights of the walk, however were a Brown Long-eared Bat that was sleeping/hibernating in one of the boxes, a pair of Canada Geese (the first 2015 record), 4 male Goosanders on the bottom reservoir, a Common Buzzard flying over the top reservoir and the ringed Little Owl  in her favourite tree.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Ringing tick

This weekend's ringing session took place at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Avenue Washlands. There were just 3 of us from The Group, but we still managed to ring 63 birds of 11 different species, including a "ringing tick" for me; a Mistle Thrush.

Mistle Thrush
Other species ringed were: Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Blue, Great, Willow and Long-tailed Tit.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Iceland Gull

Hot on the heels of last week's Glaucous Gull, comes the other "white winger" with an adult Iceland Gull at Poolsbrook Country Park. Here's a photo of the preening bird.

Iceland Gull

This bird has been seen on and off for the last few days, and I managed to catch up with it this afternoon. As you can see from the picture, the bird spent most of the time preening or asleep!

The gull, along with Canada and Greylag Goose that were also seen at Poolsbrook. have now been added to the "year list", along with Mute Swan, Gadwall and Grey Heron, that were seen on an afternoon trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Year List update:
65 – Canada Goose
66 – Greylag Goose
67 – Iceland Gull
68 – Mute Swan
69 – Gadwall
70 – Grey Heron