Monday, 29 June 2015

7 Birds!

I was back down at Linacre at 5.00 am on Saturday morning, for my first mist net ringing session there since the start of May. As you can seen from the blog title, the session was a very quiet one, with just 7 birds ringed, consisting of 3 Blackcaps (2 new and a re trap), 1 Chiffchaff ( a new bird that had been born this year), 2 Great Tits (1 retrap and 1 new juvenile bird), and 1 Blue Tit (another of this year's juveniles).

After the ringing session I stayed on for a couple of hours to look at the insects, and spotted a male Common Blue Butterfly, several Common Blue Damselflies,  a Meadow Brown, Red-tailed, White-tailed and Common Carder Bees, Drone Flies, Myathropea florea, (a species of hoverfly), a Bloodvein moth, a sheildbug and a species of Long-horned moth called Nemophora degeerella!


Nemophora degeerella

Myathropea florea

Year List Update

I was out at Clumber Park on Friday evening with the Chesterfield RSPB Group for the annual Nightjar Walk.

We met at 7pm and had a short walk around the lake where we saw hundreds (!) of Canada and Greylag Geese, which included adults and this year's young. Also present were Mallard, Gadwall, Coots, a Moorhen, Mute Swan and Great-crested Grebes. 

3 members of the walk had arrived earlier and had managed to find a pair of Spotted Flycatchers on site, so we made a short detour and watched the birds "fly catching" from the top of a tree. Other small birds seen included Swifts, House Martins and singing Yellowhammers, Willow Warblers and a stunning male Linnet.

At about 9.30pm we moved to another part of the park to see if we could catch up with the Nightjars and Woodcocks. We didn't have to wait too long before the first Woodcock flew over our heads and the first "churring" was heard from the Nightjars at about 9.45pm. By 10.30pm we'd seen and heard 2 birds.

Year List update:
142 - Spotted Flycatcher
143 - Woodcock
144 - Nightjar

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Wren pulli at Linacre

Back at the start of June I blogged about a Wren's nest in one of the nest boxes at Linacre. It had 5 eggs in it, and soon after, 3 pulli hatched.

Wren's nest

On 18th June, I checked the box again, and found that the 3 pulli were now big enough to ring.

Wren pullus (1 of 3 ringed)

I'm very pleased with this record, because, not only are they the first Wren pulli I've ever ringed, but they also constitute the first successful use of a nest box by this species at Linacre. The record has been sent off to the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Sparrowhawk Ringed

I haven't been out ringing with the mist nets since early May, so I was very pleased to get out yesterday to the private site in Wingerworth, Chesterfield. I was out with 4 other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group from 5am 'til increasing wind meant we had to take the nets down at 8.30am, after ringing 37 birds of 8 species (Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk, Blackbird, Robin and Dunnock).

The first birds in the nets were the expected Blue and Great Tits, quickly followed by a couple of Great -spotted Woodpeckers (1 adult and 1 juvenile), several adult and juvenile Robins, a single adult Goldfinch, 2 Blackbirds (1 adult and 1 juvenile) and a juvenile Dunnock. The highlight of the morning, however, came in the form of a beautiful male Sparrowhawk that flew straight over mine and Brian's heads into the nets. I managed to extract the bird from the nets (my first time) and Stewart got to ring it as he'd not ringed one before, and I'd already ringed one back in 2013 (see here). We aged the bird as a 5, a bird born last year.

Sparrowhawk close up

In between net rounds we decided to check the owl box, where we'd ringed 2 Tawny Owl pulli earlier in the year (see here). An adult bird and at least 1 youngster has been seen in the garden recently, and it was nice to find an empty box. Hopefully both birds are out there growing and getting stronger.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

RSPB Strumpshaw Fen

I've been keen to see Swallowtail butterflies and Norfolk Hawker dragonflies for several years now, but both species have a very restricted range in Britain, being restricted to just a few sites in East Anglia. So, with a free day, and a reasonable weather forecast, I drove down to one of these sites, RSPB Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk, to try and catch up with these 2 species.  Although it was slightly overcast when we (Jayne and I) arrived we still managed to see both species and get a few photos.

The Norfolk Hawkers were quite easy to see, patrolling the numerous dykes that crisscross the reserve. We managed to find one that was close to the path, and kept returning to a favourite perch time and time again. I got a few photos, which I've cropped down. Note the green eyes- gorgeous!

Norfolk Hawker

The Swallowtails were much more difficult to see, and we very nearly came away empty handed! As I said, the weather wasn't great, a bit too overcast for this species, but thankfully, the staff at the reserve spotted this individual fly into the reeds, just before we left! The butterfly was about 10 metres away from the reception hide, but I managed to get a few shots, one of which I've cropped. Quite pleased with the outcome.

Whilst looking for the insects we came across 4 Common Lizards that were sat on the boardwalk. They were very easy to approach and we managed to get shots of this pristine individual and a less than pristine one! I think the second picture shows an individual that has lost its tail after being attacked by a predator.

Common Lizard

Common Lizard

As well as the insects we also managed to see several Marsh Harriers hunting over the reedbeds, hear Cetti's Warblers and see this stunning Bee Orchid (1 of at least 6 present near the reception).

Bee Orchid

Afterwards we went for a short drive to Thorpe St Andrew for some lunch, and saw a pair of Banded Demoiselle damselflies and a family party of Egyptian Goose (year tick) on the river.

Banded Demoiselle (female)

On the drive home we saw a Hobby (year tick) flying by the A17. Not a bad day!

Year List update:-
140 - Egyptian Goose
141 - Hobby

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Garden Youngsters

The nice thing about watching the garden birds at this time of the year, is the fact that young birds start to fledge from nearby nests and appear in the garden. So far this year I've seen young Blackbirds, Starling, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch,  Woodpigeon, Dunnock and House Sparrow. All records have been entered into the BTO's Garden Birdwatch Scheme.

Here are a few photos.







Sunday, 14 June 2015

Linacre May WeBS Count

Today was the allocated date for this month's WeBS walk, so I set off this morning for a walk around all three of the reservoirs at Linacre.

The sun was shining when I set out, and, during the next 2 hours I recorded the following birds; Mallard (49; 41 adults and 8 ducklings), Tufted Duck (12 adults), Coot (6 adults and 1 chick), Moorhen (3 adults and 1 group of 3 very young chicks- my first record of 2015), Mandarin Duck (25 birds made up of 3 non breeding adults, 3 females with broods of 8, 5 and 6 ducklings), and Grey Wagtail (2 flying around the top reservoir). Unfortunately no Great-crested Grebes at all today. It looks as though both pairs have failed this year.

Female Mandarin and 8 young

Around the reservoirs, the woods were also full with young birds, with recently fledged Nuthatches, Great Tit and Blackcap seen and heard. I even managed to grab this quick photo of a young Blackcap, which was being fed, along with at least another 3 chicks, by a female bird.

Juvenile Blackcap

In addition, the male Whitethroat was still singing in the ringing area, a Skylark was also singing above the top reservoir, 6 Swifts were feeding over the dam bank and a Brown Hare was seen.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Last nestboxes checked

I was down at Linacre early on Sunday morning to ring the last two tit boxes of the 2015 season. Both boxes held Great Tits, with one containing 5 pulli and the other containing 6 pulli. This brings the total pulli ringed this year to 195, which is down on last year. Unfortunately the weather in May wasn't great this year which meant we lost several clutches of eggs and a few young as well. There's one box with an active  nest in it, a Wren's nest, which was still being incubated on Thursday, so I'll go back and check it next week.

At the same time as ringing the chicks I also walked around the reservoirs. It was pretty quiet, but I did spot 2 female Mandarins with broods of 8 and 5 ducklings, 2 broods of Coot (2 and 4 respectively), my first Linacre record of 2015, along with 2 active nests, and 2 juvenile Grey Wagtails (also the first of 2015). There were 25 Mallards, but worryingly, no ducklings. A Willow Warbler was heard singing, along with several Chiffchaffs and 4 Swifts.

The field by the top reservoir is left to grow throughout the summer, and on Sunday I noticed several orchids, which I believe are Early Purple Orchids.

Early Purple Orchid

Boardwalk by the top reservoir with Hawthorn

After walking around the reservoirs I went down to the ringing area where I saw and heard a singing Whitethroat. I spotted it as flew up from the ground near the net rides, calling and displaying towards me. This behaviour made me think that the bird had just flown up from a nest. I had a quick check, but unfortunately, I couldn't find it. I walked away and within  a few minutes the bird flew straight back to the same spot, so I think it's pretty likely there's a nest there. I've recorded Whitethroats here before, but never nesting, so that's a first for the site- hurrah!! Hopefully, we'll be able to catch the young later in the season when they've fledged. 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Derbyshire Butterflies and Dragons

The sun was shining today and the temperature got up to 16 degrees, so I was out and about with Jayne enjoying the weather and the insects that are starting to appear here in Derbyshire.

First stop was a small pond called Cupola Pond near Stanedge, Chesterfield. This small pond is found on the edge of the moors, and is a very good spot for a range of Damsel- and Dragonflies. On today's visit we spotted 2 species: Large Red Damselfly and Four-spotted Chaser, both of which are common species here in Derbyshire. See the Derbyshire Dragonflies website here for more details of these and other species present in the county. The website of the British Dragonfly Society (here), is also worth a look for details about all the British species.

Here are a couple of pictures taken today of both species.

Large Red Damselfly

Four-spotted Chaser

After this we drove across to Cromford Canal, where we spotted this female Orange Tip butterfly. Not quite as showy as the male, but still a very nice butterfly to see. See the excellent Butterfly Conservation webite here for more details about this species.

Female Orange Tip

Friday, 5 June 2015

More Linacre chicks ringed.

Last night Jayne and I went around Linacre to check on the nestboxes. We were there for 3 hours and found 60 young birds in the nestboxes that were big enough to ring: 38 Blue Tits and 22 Great Tits. This brings the year's total to 184: 128 Blue Tits and 56 Great Tits so far.Given the cold, unsettled weather in May I'm pretty pleased with this number. All records of course, go to the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.  There were another 2 active nests in the boxes, which I'll pop back to ring in a few days time

As well as these birds we also checked the Wren's nest. It contained 5 warm eggs again, so it appears to still  be going strong. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the Blackbird's nest that was empty, with broken egg shell on the ground. It appears to have been predated, but I'm not too surprised as predation is very high for most bird species, and this nest was on the woodland floor!

Away from the nestboxes everything was quite quiet. A Coot was sitting on a nest on the top reservoir, which is the first and only nest I've seen here this year. There weren't any other young birds seen and so far I've only seen 1 brood of Mallard ducklings and 1 brood of Mandarin Duck ducklings as well.  There were 4 Swallows feeding over the water and  a couple of Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler and a Grey Wagtail singing.