After looking at the Parrot Crossbills this morning I drove across to Poolsbrook CP to see if there were any interesting gulls. Unfortunately, there weren't any other than the usual Great Black-backed (6), Lesser Black-backed (4), Herring (10) and Black-headed (c.100).
One bird, an adult Black-headed Gull, however, caught my eye, when I spotted a colour ring, J6HO (white on green).
BH Gull J6HO
A quick check on the internet (www.cr-birding.org ) showed that it was a Norwegian bird. Details of the bird were entered into the Norwegian Bird Ringing Scheme's website, and details came back that the bird had been ringed in Oslo, Norway, in April 2017 as an adult bird (3rd calendar year plus). See here for details. This was the first sighting of the bird since it was ringed.
I was up at the top end of the Upper Derwent Valley in Derbyshire this morning to catch up with some Parrot Crossbills that had been reported on Birdguides.
The birds (c.12) were located just above Howden Reservoir a couple of weeks ago, and I managed to catch up with them feeding in trees. The beaks were much larger than the accompanying Common Crossbills. I managed some reasonable views through the scope and got a photo of one of the males.
Year List update:
198: Common Crossbill
199: Parrot Crossbill
This month's WeBS walk should have been last weekend, but I couldn't get down, so instead, I went down yesterday morning. It was just 1 degree when I arrived and I spent one and a half hours on site recording the following waterbirds: Mallard (81, the 2nd highest count of the year), Mandarin Duck (25), Tufted Duck (20), Teal (1 flew up the top reservoir), Black-headed Gull (24), Moorhen (17), Coot (2), Great-crested Grebe (1), Grey Wagtail (1) and Pied Wagtail (1 - my first Linacre record since April 2015!!)
The woods were quite quiet, but the resident tits (Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed) were all seen, along with Jay, Crow, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Dunnock, Buzzard, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Redwing, Siskin, Wren and Robin.
The year is coming to a close, but I'm still managing to add a few more species to the Year List. As you'll see below, I'm up to 197 species, so hopefully, I should manage to top the 200 mark this year, especially as I'll be visiting Norfolk before the end of the year.
The new additions are: Marsh Tit, Hawfinch, Bewick Swan and European White-fronted Goose.
Last Saturday saw 5 members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group down at Linacre for a ringing session. The weather was a bit blustery, with a few rain/sleet showers and a temperature of just 4 degrees, so, as you can guess, the ringing was slow. After 3 hours we'd caught just 9 birds of 5 species, namely (new/retrap): Blue Tit (3/1), Great Tit (1/0), Coal Tit (1/0), Goldcrest (2/0) and Dunnock (0/1).
Other birds recorded on the ringing site were: Redwing (20+ over), Fieldfare (12, the first of the winter), Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch (heard), Chaffinch, Jay (2 seen), Magpie (1), Blackbird, Song Thrush (1 seen) and Kestrel ( 1 hunting over the site).
Whilst there, my nephew, Luke had a quick walk around the bottom and middle reservoirs were he recorded: c.20 Black-headed Gulls, 12 Mandarin Ducks, Mallard, 1 Great-crested Grebe and 2 Cormorants.
It's been a while since I was last at Linacre, but today I was down on site for a couple of hours with my nephew, Luke.
We arrived at 7.40am, and walked around all 3 reservoirs. Waterbirds seen were: Mallard (69), Tufted Duck (12), Mandarin Duck (2), Little Grebe (2), Great-crested Grebe (1), Coot (5 adults), Moorhen (16; 11 adults and 5 well grown juveniles), Black-headed Gull (26)and Grey Wagtail (3).
The woods were quite quiet, but we did manage to record Great-spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Blackbird, Robin (singing), Wren (singing), Siskin, Kestrel (1 male), Starling (flock of c.30 flew over), Redwing (17 over), Jay, Magpie (2), Carrion Crow, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit.
Jayne and I have been away for a few days, visiting Pitlochry in Scotland, Musselburgh Lagoons near Edinburgh, Stag Rocks at Bamburgh, East Chevington Nature Reserve and St Mary's Island in Northumberland.
Our first stop this week was Pitlochry in Scotland, where we enjoyed 3 days. Whilst there we managed to catch up with some beautiful Red Squirrels on the Blair Atholl estate. We also visited the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Loch of Lowes reserve, where we saw many Goldeneye, Mallard, a couple of Mute Swans and many different woodland birds (Great, Blue and Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Chaffinch). European Beavers are now resident here. We didn't see them on this visit, but there was evidence of their activity, with many half-felled trees.
After Pitlochry, we drove down to Northumberland via The Kelpies in Grangemouth and Musselburgh Lagoons near Edinburgh, where we found a Spotted Redshank (year tick).
Our first site in Northumberland was Budle Bay where we saw Shelduck, Redshank, Curlew, Mallard, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Wigeon, Teal, Black-headed, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.
Next stop was Stag Rocks at Bamburgh, where we had great views of Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Redshank, , Oystercatchers, Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers.
Yesterday's visits started with East Chevington NR. We visited this site to see a Shorelark (year tick) that had been reported on the beach at Chibburn Mouth. We got lucky, and found the bird after just 10 minutes (my first since 2003!!). Also present were c. 100 Twite.
Our last stop was St Mary's Island in Whitley Bay. The tide was out, as were the day trippers, so the birds were far and few between, but we did see 4 Ringed Plover, Lapwing (100+), Golden Plover (c.100), Turnstone, Redshank, Curlew, Black-headed and Herring Gull.
Year List update:
192: Spotted Redshank
It wasn't a great morning weather wise today, but we (Sorby Breck Ringing Group) managed to get out to Linacre for a few hours ringing.
It was quiet from the outset, but we still managed to ring 35 birds of 8 species, as follows: Dunnock 2/0, Robin 1/0, Goldcrest 15/1, Long-tailed Tit 1/2, Coal Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 5/1, Great Tit 4/1, Nuthatch 0/1.
Other birds seen/heard during the morning included Tawny Owl (heard on arrival), Jay, Redwing (c.30 over), Grey Heron (1 heard) and Mistle Thrush (1 over). A flyby Red Admiral butterfly was also seen briefly.
I was out ringing this am, so this month's WeBS count took place in the afternoon (1pm to 3pm). Like last week's walk, it was quite quiet, but I did see my first Black-headed Gulls on the winter, with 17 present on the bottom reservoir. Another good record was an adult Little Grebe (my first Linacre record since 18th February 2017), that was fishing on the middle reservoir. Other birds recorded this month were: Mallard (52), Tufted Duck (27), Moorhen (12; 6 juveniles and 6 adults), Coot ( 2 adults) and Mandarin Duck (18).
Birds heard in the woodlands were: Jay, Robin, Long-tailed Tit and Great-spotted Woodpecker.
The sun was out when I arrived, and it was 15 degrees, so I checked the ivy bushes where I found a tatty looking Red Admiral butterfly feeding along with dozens of Common Wasps. 2 Fly Agaric fungi were also seen.
I haven't update my 2017 "Year List" since August. There haven't been too many additions since then, but I have added Short-eared Owl (1 spotted in the Peak District in August, at a potential breeding site), Ring-necked Parakeet (dozens seen in Vondel Park, Amsterdam in August) and Grey Phalarope ( at Worsborough Reservoir near Barnsley on 7th October, my first since 2008).
Today, Jayne and I had a few hours at RSPB Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire and managed to spot a few new species, namely Little Stint (4+), Curlew Sandpiper (2), Pintail (5) and Dark-bellied Brent Goose (200+). Other birds present were: Black-tailed Godwit (100+), Ruff (1 seen), Dunlin (20+), Redshank (10+), Golden Plover (20+), Little Egret (10+), Grey Heron (1), Teal (100s), Wigeon (100), Shelduck (5), Shoveler (4), Black-headed and Herring Gull, Mute Swan (5), Whooper Swan (1), Canada Goose (100+), House Martin (1), Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon (1 large female eating something on the ground from East Hide), Tree and House Sparrow, Starling (30+), Magpie, Linnet and Goldfinch.
I'm afraid to say that I haven't been for a walk around Linacre since 1st September, so, with a few spare hours and some nice weather yesterday afternoon, Jayne and I had a quick walk around all three reservoirs.
The woods themselves were quite quiet, with just a few tits, a singing Robin, a few Blackbirds and a couple of Grey Squirrels for company. Out on the water there were a few wildfowl about, namely: Mallard (50), Mandarin Duck (47), Great-crested Grebe (3; 1 adult and 2 stripy- headed juveniles), Tufted Duck (23), Moorhen (10; 7 adults and 3 well grown juveniles), Cormorant (2) and 1 Grey Wagtail. Surprisingly, there weren't any Coots at all, very unusual!!
I was out yesterday morning with 3 other members of Sorby Breck Ringing Group at our farm site in Coal Aston. We had 3 hours on site and caught 23 birds of 7 species, including a re trap Blue Tit (details to follow).
Totals were: Blue Tit 10/1, Great Tit 4/0, Coal Tit 3/0, Wren 1/0, Dunnock 1/0 and Robin 2/0.
After the ringing session we put up a Barn Owl box on a tree on the farm. Barn Owls have been seen in the area, so hopefully we might see some interest later in the year. If not, I'm sure the local squirrels will love it!!
I was out ringing at Linacre yesterday with Sorby Breck Ringing Group. This was our first session since the start of August, and we were on site from 06.30 to 10.30, catching a very nice 76 birds, including 2 warbler species and a species that we've only ringed twice at Linacre, once in 2012 and again in 2014. Can you guess what it was??
Totals for the morning were new/retrap: Blue Tit 12/4, Great Tit 10/5, Coal Tit 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 1/0, Dunnock 1/0, Robin 4/0, Blackbird 1/0, Blackcap 1/0, Chiffchaff 9/0, Goldcrest 15/1, Meadow Pipit 1/0, Nuthatch 1/0 and Goldfinch 8/0.
As you can see, the two warbler species were Chiffchaff and Blackcap. All birds were aged as 3s (born this year). The other highlight was the single Meadow Pipit, also a bird born this year. This species is heard most years passing over the site, and we have managed to entice a few birds down in 2012 and 2014, so to catch one this weekend was very nice.
Other species seen between net rounds included a very impressive flock of c.50 House Martins (the biggest count of the year by a very long way), that were feeding over the ringing site, 5 Swallows, 1 Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk.
The sun was out this morning, so I decided to have a few hours down at Linacre. There were 6 species of butterfly on the wing, 3 dragonflies and 1 damselfly species.
The butterflies seen were: Speckled Wood (5), Peacock (5), Red Admiral (2), Large White (1), Comma (1) and Small Copper (3, my first record of 2017).
Dragonflies and damselflies seen were: Common Dater (1, the first Linacre record of 2017), Brown Hawker (3), Southern Hawker (1) and Common Blue Damselfly. 2 species of hoverfly were also seen: Volucella pellucens (Great Pied Hoverfly) and Sericomyia silentis (only my second Linacre record, after 1 on 18th August 2016).
Birds seen around the site today were: Mallard (37), Tufted Duck 19; 18 adults and 1 duckling), Mandarin Duck (25), Great-crested Grebe (2 adults and 1 juvenile), Grey Heron (2), Grey Wagtail (1), Coot (3 adults), Moorhen (12; 6 adults and 6 juveniles), Cormorant (1), Common Buzzard (1), Swallow (c. 15) and Chiffchaff (3, including 1 singing).
Over the summer period I like to get out and about recording dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies. Recently I've added a few new species.
The first new insects were spotted last week on a walk around Cupola Ponds, Stanedge. Emerald Damselflies were very common here, along with several Common Blue Damselflies, several Common and Brown Hawkers and an Emperor dragonfly.
Emerald Damselfly (male)
Afterwards, I drove up to Big Moor, where, again, many Emerald Damselflies were flying about, including several pairs "in cop" i.e. mating. Also seen here were Common Darter (pairs in cop and newly emerged individuals), Common Hawker and a very nice Wall Brown butterfly.
Emerald Damselflies (mating pair)
The last new species were Ruddy Darter and Black Darter. The Ruddy Darter, a male, was seen on Monday at RSPB Old Moor, and the Black Darter, males, females and newly emerged, (tenerals) were seen at Little Barbrook Reservoir on Big Moor.
I haven't updated the "year list" for the last 2 weeks, despite seeing a few new species.
The first one to add to the list is a great species that I don't see every year; Chough. Jayne and I had a walk along the clifftop at the National Trust's Kynance Cove on the last day of our holiday, where we managed to spot a family party of 4 birds. Views were brief , and I didn't manage to get a photo, so instead, here's one that my nephew, Luke, got on a recent trip the RSPB South Stack on Anglesey.
The next bird; Water Rail, was added when I heard one whilst ringing at Poolsbrook Marsh. The next 3 species; Wood and Green Sandpiper and Greenshank, were all seen yesterday at RSPB Old Moor. The final species; Whinchat, was a juvenile bird seen today on Big Moor.
Year List update:
179 – Chough
180 – Water Rail (heard)
181 – Wood Sandpiper
182 – Green Sandpiper
183 – Greenshank 184 – Whinchat
Last year I became aware that one of Sorby Breck Ringing Group's members was the founder of the Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital. I also found out that he rings Mute Swan in and around Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Unfortunately I couldn't get out with him this year, so, when I saw the dates for swan ringing this year, I decided to meet up, and have a very different ringing experience.
I met up on Friday (11th) with 7 other members of the group and spent the whole day travelling around Yorkshire. We visited several sites where there were either pairs with cygnets, or, as in the case of Lakeside, Doncaster, where there was a large herd of mainly non-breeding birds. By the end of the day we'd ringed an amazing total of 58 Mute Swans, and re-sighted approximately 25 other birds that had been previously ringed by the group.
Birds were aged, sexed and a moult score was taken. A BTO metal ring, and a coloured darvic ring were also fitted by the licensed ringers, and the birds were then given a general health check by members of the Swan Rescue Group before being released back onto the water as a family group. Footage of the release of a family in Goole Docks can be seen here on the Group's Facebook page.
BTO ring being fitted
Darvic ring being fitted
Should you re-sight any bird wearing either a BTO ring or a coloured darvic ring please log your sighting with the BTO here.
After a couple of months break, we (Sorby Breck Ringing Group) were back down at Linacre this morning for a ringing session. As the title suggests, we had a very successful morning, with 72 birds of 10 species caught and ringed. All the birds, bar two, were juvenile birds.
The most numerous species caught was Blue Tit, comprising 42 birds (38 new and 4 retraps). All birds were born this year, and the retraps were birds that had been ringed this year in the boxes throughout Linacre, which is always good to see. We also caught 4 juvenile Great Tits (3 new birds and 1 retrap that had also been ringed in a Linacre box this year), 2 Coal Tits (1 adult and 1 juvenile), 2 Long-tailed Tits (both juveniles), 1 Wren (juvenile), 1 Song Thrush (juvenile) and 1 Goldfinch (juvenile).
To supplement the resident birds, we also caught 3 species of summer migrant; Blackcap (3 juveniles), Chiffchaff (6 juveniles) and Willow Warbler (9 juveniles and 1 adult). All in all, an excellent morning's ringing.
Willow Warbler (juvenile)
Other bird species seen during the morning included 12 House Martins, 1 Swallow and 2 Kestrels, which could have been an adult and a juvenile. A Painted Lady butterfly was also seen, the first site record since 2013 (see here), along with 1 Peacock, 1 Red Admiral and dozens of Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.
I've had a couple of sessions down at Linacre this week looking at the insect life.
Butterflies were well represented with Red Admiral (6+ in the ringing area), Peacock (8 in the ringing area), Meadow Brown (2), Gatekeeper (2), Speckled Wood (1), Comma (2), Common Blue (1) and Large and Green-veined White.
Hoverflies were also around with Volucella pellucens (a.k.a. Great Pied Hoverfly), Volucella inanis, Drone Flies (Eristalsis sp), Cheilosia illustrata , Leucozona glaucia, Marmalade Hoverfly and Myathropa florea (a.k.a. Batman Hoverfly due to the distinctive marking on the thorax).
Myathropa florea (male)
Dragon and Damselflies seen were: Common Blue Damselfly (dozens, including many pairs copulating), Blue-tailed Damselfly (2 males), Southern Hawker (1) and Brown Hawker (2).
Bees included: White-tailed, Red-tailed, Common Carder, Honey and Tree.
Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were seen as were 3 Yellow Shell moths.
It's been just over a month since I last blogged about Linacre Reservoirs here, so, after a 3 hour visit on Monday, I thought I'd better post something!
The trip started off in grey, windy, overcast conditions. This time of year can be quiet, but I was able to record the following waterbirds: Mallard (48 birds, all moulting), Tufted Duck (25; 19 adults and a brood of 6 ducklings, the second brood of the year), Mandarin Duck (22 birds, again all moulting), Coot (7 birds; 5 adults and 2 well grown young), Moorhen (14 birds; 7 adults and 7 juveniles), Great-crested Grebe (6 birds; 4 adults and 2 juveniles), Cormorant (1), Grey Wagtail (4 juveniles), Kingfisher (1 heard on the middle reservoir), a Teal (1 female/juvenile bird on the top reservoir, which is my first ever August record for this species) and, perhaps the best bird of the day, a juvenile Common Sandpiper, which was feeding on the overflow on the middle reservoir. Click here to see a short video of it feeding.
Other birds seen around the site included: Swift (1), Swallow (3), House Martin (10), Kestrel (1), Buzzard (1), Chiffchaff (2 singing, and several feeding in and around the willows by the top reservoir), Blackcap (2; 1 male and 1 "browncap" in the ringing area), Robin (juvenile) and Treecreeper (1).
There was also another report of Common Scoter on Birdguides when I got home, but, unfortunately, I didn't see it!!!
Yesterday I was out for my first ringing session in a while at Poolsbrook Marsh, with 5 other members of Sorby Breck Ringing Group.
We arrived on site at 5.00am, got the nets out and started to catch some birds. By the end of the morning's session we had caught 73 birds of 15 species. Totals were (new/retrap): Wren 2/0, Dunnock 2/0, Robin 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Sedge Warbler 1/0, Reed Warbler 33/2, Lesser Whitethroat 2/0, Whitethroat 3/0, Blackcap 6/0, Chiffchaff 2/0, Willow Warbler 5/1, Willow Tit 4/0, Blue Tit 0/1, Bullfinch 4/0 and Reed Bunting 3/0.
As you can see, we had a good range of resident and migrant species, including 7 species of warbler. The vast majority of birds were new (and juveniles), but we did have a few previously ringed birds, including a very special Reed Warbler bearing a "Museum Paris" ring!! As the name implies, this bird, which we aged as an adult, had been ringed in France. It'd be great to think that it is a bird that was born at Poolsbrook, and was then ringed on migration through France, before returning the breed here in Derbyshire. I'll update the blog when we get the details back from the BTO.
Other birds seen today included Kingfisher, Common Buzzard and Water Rail (heard only).
Every time we're down in Cornwall Jayne and I like to pay a visit to the RSPB reserve at Hayle Estuary and nearby Ryan's Field. We popped down on Monday for about an hour to see what was about.
First stop was the enormous, open-fronted hide on Ryan's Field.
The first bird we spotted was a juvenile Moorhen, followed closely by 3 Common Sandpipers that were feeding on the mud. Scanning over the site we soon picked up a few Mediterranean Gulls, including a juvenile bird, a Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, Herring Gulls and 2 Curlews. Just before we left, everything panicked and disappeared, as a female Sparrowhawk flew through and landed about 20m away.
From there, we walked the 300m or so to the Hayle Estuary. On the way we spotted this day-flying moth, most likely a Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnet Moth. It could be the less common 5-spot Burnet Moth, but I can't be sure, so I'll stick with the commoner species..
Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnet Moth
When we got to the estuary we scanned the mud flats and picked up dozens of Herring Gulls, a few more distant Mediterranean Gulls, a single Whimbrel (thanks Jayne) and 5 Black Swans.
We started off by walking along the beach, where we spotted 5 Ringed Plover and a group of approximately 40 Sanderling. The Sanderling, all of which were still in remnants of breeding plumage, were feeding furiously along the tide line. A solitary breeding plumaged Dunlin was also in amongst them.
Also along the strand line was a dead Harbour Porpoise.
Afterwards we headed across the road to the RSPB Marazion Marsh reserve where we found a female Mallard with 3 ducklings, a single Grey Heron and got brief views of Reed Warbler and Whitethroat. We also saw a stunning male Beautiful Demoiselle, several Gatekeeper, 1 Red Admiral and a Southern Hawker that caught and ate a Speckled Wood butterfly.
On Tuesday, Jayne and I spent 4 hours on a wildlife watching boat trip with AK Wildlife Cruises in Falmouth Bay. The trip was aimed mainly at cetaceans, but obviously, birds were also seen, including, as the title suggests, a lifer for me!
The first wildlife seen was Grey Mullet, with dozens of these fish feeding in the shallow water around the marina. As we set out on the water, we saw Herring and Black-headed Gulls. Mediterranean Gulls were also seen, including several juvenile birds. Other birds seen during the trip were: Fulmar (1), Razorbill (2; 1 adult and a juvenile), Peregrine Falcon (1 juvenile), Little Egret (1), Gannet, Whimbrel (1), Manx Shearwater ( 50+) and Storm Petrel (2) - a LIFER1!!
The marine mammals were playing a little harder to get, but we did manage to get great views of several Grey Seals that were hauled out on the rocks. We also saw several Harbour Porpoises (perhaps up to 10 individuals), including adults and juveniles. They were very difficult to photograph, but I did manage a few shots.
Year List update:
176 – Manx Shearwater
177 - Whimbrel
178 –Storm Petrel
Back in 2015, I blogged about a couple of darviced Herring Gulls that I'd seen in St Ives, Cornwall (see here). I was back there on Monday (24th), and saw 1 of the same birds, and a new one.
The first bird I saw was W:195, the bird I'd seen back in 2015. It was in pretty much the same place as in 2015, namely on top of an ice cream shelter on the harbour front in St Ives. It was originally ringed in St Ives in June 2014, and had been reported from there on several occasions when I reported it then. Hopefully, it'll have been reported a few more times in the last 2 years.
The other bird, a new one for me, was W:186. This bird was also present in and around the harbour in St Ives, heling itself to scraps of food!!
The birds were ringed as a part of a scheme, lead by the West Cornwall Ringing Group (see here). I'll email them my sightings and update the blog when I hear back from them.
UPDATE: I heard back the Ringing Group today (many thanks for the quick reply), and both birds were ringed in St Ives in June 2014. They've both been reported many times since ringing, mainly in and around St Ives, and the Hayle Estuary (4km), but W:195 did also go on a day trip to Mousehole (13km away) in January 2017.