Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Linacre WeBS Count - December 2018

Luke and I were down at Linacre on Monday morning to carry out this month's (belated) WeBS walk.
We arrived on site just as it was getting light (8am), and counted the following birds: Mallard (84), Tufted Duck (23), Mandarin (9), Coot (2), Moorhen (14), Grey Wagtail (2), Black-headed Gull (c.40).

Whilst there, we decided to see if there were any ringed gulls, and, as luck would have it, we managed to see and photograph 1 metal-ringed Black-headed Gull.

Finnish-ringed Black-headed Gull?

I fed the birds, whilst Luke got some photos, and, he managed to see the entire number. It looks very likely that the bird was ringed in Finland, so, as soon as we hear back, I'll update the blog.

Walking back to the car park, Luke spotted a Chiffchaff flitting about in trees by the middle reservoir. It isn't our first December record, but it's always good to see one at this time of the year. I wonder where it's from????????

UPDATE: The Finnish Black-headed Gull was ringed on 5th July 2006, as a chick, 1848km away in Lohtaja, Finland, 12 years, 5 months and 19 days since ringing. Fantastic result!!!

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Linacre Ringing - an update

I've been out ringing with Sorby Breck Ringing Group a couple of times recently. Both sessions were quite quiet with the following birds ringed:

18th November 2018 13 birds: Wren 1/0, Robin 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 3/1, Coal Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 1/1, Great Tit 4/0.

16th December 2018 25 birds: Dunnock 1/0, Robin 0/1, Blue Tit 1/8, Great Tit 8/5, Jay 1/0.

The highlight was, obviously, today's Jay, a first year bird, and the first ringed at Linacre this year.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Even Longer Distance Greenfinch

I recently wrote a post about a Blue Tit that had travelled 19km. Well, yesterday I got an email from the Data Manager of Sorby Breck Ringing Group, to let me know that a Greenfinch I had ringed in my garden on 9th June 2018 had recently been retrapped by ringers from North Lancashire Ringing Group at Heysham Harbour, Lancashire, 127km away!

Not only is this the first control of a Greenfinch ringed by me, but the distance is also pretty impressive. It'd be great to see this bird back in the garden again next June. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Danish Black-headed Gull

Yesterday, Luke and I were at Poolsbrook CP for a few hours. Whilst there, we managed to spot a metal ringed Black-headed Gull from Denmark (3rd of the winter!).

Danish BH Gull

I heard back today, and the bird had been ringed on the small island of Sprogø, 830km away, as a chick on 2nd June 2017. Nice!!

Whilst there, we also had 2 ringed Greylag Geese. The 2 ring numbers were sequential, and the birds looked like an adult and a juvenile birds, so they were most likely ringed together. I'll update the blog as soon as we hear back from the BTO. A very tame Pink-footed Goose was also present, and associating with the Greylags.

Greylags and Pink-footed Goose

UPDATE: Both Greylag Geese were ringed at Poolsbrook on 5th September 2016, so they haven't gone very far. 98 was born in 2018 and 99 was ringed as "at least 1 year old".

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Long Distance Blue Tit

This year I ringed 69 Blue Tit pulli (birds still in the nest) at Linacre Reservoirs and another private site in Coal Aston. In an average  year I'd expect to get a few retraps, usually within a few kilometres of the nestboxes the birds were ringed in. Imagine, then, my joy when I received an email from our data manager, with details about one of this year's birds that had been caught 19km away from its nestbox in Coal Aston.

The bird in question was the last bird ringed from a brood of 10 on 26th May. As you can see in the picture below, the nest is made up of approximately 90% horse hair, and was very warm indeed!

Blue Tits

The bird was re caught by another ringer of our group (Sorby Breck Ringing Group) on 17th November (175 days after ringing) on Bradfield Moor, which is 19km NW of the ringing site. Great record.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Norwegian and Swedish Black-headed Gulls

I was back in Alvaston Park, Derby again today, looking at..... yes, you've guessed it.. Black-headed Gulls. There were still about 100 birds present on the small lake (along with at least 3 Common Gulls), but I didn't manage to see any of the 4 ringed birds I'd had at the start of November. Instead, I found 2 new ringed gulls!!

The first one I saw was another Swedish bird. Annoyingly, I only saw it for a few seconds, and only managed to get the first 4 digits of its ring number, 6439.

Swedish gull

The second bird, a Norwegian bird, with a lovely Darvic ring J3KY, was a little more confiding.

Norwegian gull, J3KY

I'm registered with the Norwegian Colour Ringing Scheme, because I reported another bird here back in December 2017 (see here), so I entered the details of this bird, and found out straight away that it had been ringed, as a pullus (chick), 1071kn away, on an island near Oslo on 15th June 2012! It has been re sighted 9  times in the intervening years, but always in Norway, and always in the summer months. Today's sighting was the first foreign sighting, and the first winter sighting.

This bird is the 12th ringed Black-headed Gull I've seen in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire since August 2018. Nationalities so far are British ringed (3), Swedish ringed (3), Danish ringed (2), Norwegian ringed (1), Finnish ringed (1), Lithuanian ringed (1) and Polish ringed (1).

Friday, 30 November 2018

Derby Black-headed Gulls

Back on 11th November, Jayne and I drove down to Alvaston Park in Derby to look for some Ring-necked Parakeets that had been reported there. We found 2 feeding high in the trees on the island in the middle of the lake.

Whilst there we were also very lucky to catch up with 4 ringed Black-headed Gulls. 3 of the gulls were metal ringed and had been ringed in Denmark, Sweden and Finland! The fourth bird had both a metal ring, and a darvic ring, and had originally been ringed in Poland.

Danish bird

The Danish bird was ringed, as a chick, on the island of Hirsholm in northern Denmark, on 26th May 2018, 917km away. 

Swedish bird 022

Unfortunately, I could only get 3 digits from the Swedish ring, so I won't be able to get any more details of this bird.

Finnish bird ST3164 _

I managed to get most of the digits from the Finnish bird's ring, just missing the last one! I've sent off the details that I could see, so hopefully, I'll be able to get some details later.

Polish bird T6TP

The Polish bird had a darvic ring, T6TP. It was ringed as "at least 2 years old" in a wetland area near the Vistula River, Plock on 21st May 2018, 1395km away.

Year List update:
201 - Ring-necked Parakeet

Monday, 12 November 2018

Linacre Ringing - 11th November 2018

Yesterday morning we (Sorby Breck Ringing Group) were down at Linacre to carry out a ringing session. Unfortunately, just one hour after we arrived, if started to rain, and we had to pack up. As a result we ringed just 11 birds, as follows (new/retrap): Robin 1/0, Goldcrest 2/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Great Tit 4/1 and Chaffinch 1/0.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Linacre WeBS - 10th November 2018

During last month's WeBS walk, Luke and I found 2 "female type" Teal. This morning we were down at Linacre again, to carry out this month's count, and one of the first birds we saw was a male Teal. We managed to get quite close and got a decent photo. Later in the morning we found this same bird, and a female, together on the other side of the middle reservoir. We can't be sure, but it would be nice to think that this morning's birds were the same two as last month, and that the male bird has come out of eclipse plumage. This species is less than annual at Linacre, so hopefully, they'll stay around for the rest of the winter, and perhaps into 2019.

Teal (male)

Mandarin Duck numbers were still pretty good, with 88 seen (113 last month). Other birds seen were: Tufted Duck (34), Mallard (70), Coot (4), Moorhen (21, the highest count of the year), Grey Wagtail (2), Pied Wagtail (1, the first record of 2018), Black-headed Gull (47) and Cormorant (2).

Away from the water, there were at least 6 Redwings, 1 Mistle Thrush and several Blackbirds feeding on a Hawthorn bush by the top reservoir, where we also had a Raven fly over, and a confiding Robin.


Friday, 2 November 2018

Year List update- 200 species reached!

It's been two months since I last blogged about my "year list". The obvious reason is that it hasn't increased too much, with just 2 new species added; Grey Phalarope and Purple Sandpiper.

The Grey Phalarope was a bird seen at Loscoe Dam on 23rd September. It showed well, but distantly, so no photos unfortunately. It was present for a couple of days, before being eaten by a Pike!!

The Purple Sandpiper was seen this week (thanks Jayne!) on the harbour wall in Brixham.

The other species, which wasn't a year tick, but was good to see, was Great White Egret. Two birds, my highest count in Derbyshire, were present today at Pebley Pond yesterday and again today. Again, they kept a distance away, but I managed to get a record shot!

Great White Egret

Year list update:
199: Grey Phalarope
200: Purple Sandpiper

Monday, 22 October 2018

Linacre WeBS - 21st October 2018

Yesterday morning Luke and I were down at Linacre to carry out this month's WeBS count. We had a very successful few hours recording our first Teal (2 female types) and Wigeon (1 female type) of 2018.



In addition, we also had the highest count of Mandarin (113) since October 2016, when 117 were counted, 20 Black-headed Gulls, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Cormorants, 4 Great-crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes, 76 Mallards, 35 Tufted Ducks, 11 Moorhens, 6 Coots and a Kingfisher.

Other birds seen on site included a single Goldcrest, Siskin (heard), Robin, Chaffinch, Wren, Blackbird, Redwing (4 over) and 2 Ravens.

There were lots of fungi all around the site, including this lovely collection of Fly Agaric.

Fly Agaric

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Linacre Ringing - 20th October 2018

This month's ringing session at Linacre started at 6:45am, just before it got light, so that we could set the nets up and ready to try and catch the first Redwings of the autumn/winter period. We were lucky and managed to catch 2 new birds (both adults).


We also managed to catch a Brambling (the first to be ringed at Linacre). The bird was a very smart male bird, born this year.


The other, slightly different bird was a Coal Tit that was noticeable greyer than our usual birds. We identified this a "continental type" bird, i.e. most likely from mainland Europe! Here's a picture showing the "continental type" (right hand bird) along side a regular bird.

Coal Tits

Finally, we also caught and ringed 2 Greenfinch, another new species for Linacre.

Birds ringed (new/retrap): Wren 3/0, Dunnock 1/0, Redwing 2/0, Goldcrest 4/0, Coal Tit 7/0, Blue Tit 14/6, Great Tit 12/0, Nuthatch 1/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Brambling 1/0, Greenfinch 2/0 and Goldfinch 1/0.

Whilst on site we also noted 3 flocks of Fieldfare (10, 20 and 20) flying over, a lovely skein of approximately 100 Pink-footed Geese flying east and some very vocal (possibly 4) Tawny Owls.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Linacre Ringing - 22nd September 2018

This morning I was down at Linacre with 4 other members of Sorby Breck Ringing Group. We had 4 hours on site and caught 38 birds (new/retrap): Robin 2/0, Chiffchaff 7/0, Goldcrest 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 8/0, Blue Tit 11/1, Great Tit 6/0 and Treecreeper 1/0.


Whilst there, we set a net for Meadow Pipits, and, although they came down, none found their way into the nets.

Also seen during the ringing session were: House Martin (c.30 overhead), Green Woodpecker (1 heard), Kestrel (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Bullfinch (1) and Great-spotted Woodpecker (1).

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Linacre Blue Tit Y844127

When I went to pick Luke up for a walk around Linacre yesterday, he showed me a dead Blue Tit that his cat had caught that morning (8th September). I checked with David, the data manager and ringer with Sorby Breck Ringing Group, to see if it was one of the birds we'd ringed at Linacre, and amazingly it was!

The bird had been ringed by Alan, another ringer from the Group, on 8th June 2013 as a pullus in one of the nestboxes by the top reservoir. This was the first time it had been re trapped in the 5 years since it was ringed, and had flown about 2 miles from its nest site.

Blue Tit Y844127

According to BTO's Bird Facts website the average age for British Blue Tits is 3 years, with the oldest recorded bird being just over 10 years, so this bird had done pretty well.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Linacre WeBS - 8th September 2018

This morning, Luke and I had a quick walk around all three reservoirs at Linacre, recording the following water birds: Mallard (58), Tufted Duck (22), Mandarin Duck (30), Moorhen (18; 13 juveniles and 5 adults), Coot (5 adults), Great-crested Grebe (9; 4 adults and 2 broods of juveniles of 4 and 1), Grey Wagtail (5), Grey Heron (1), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1 flew over) and Cormorant (1).

The woods were quite quiet, but we did record Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Robin, Wren and Chiffchaff (1 singing briefly).

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Darvic'ed Black-headed Gull in Bakewell

Following the Swedish ringed Black-headed Gull in Bakewell (see here) I decided to go back again on Thursday (30th) to see if I could see it again. I managed to find it, in exactly the same spot, and took a picture of the whole bird this time, not just its feet!!

Swedish BHG 6198688

Whilst there I was also very lucky to find another ringed bird. This time it was a juvenile/1st winter Black-headed Gull that had been ringed at Rutland Water Nature Reserve on 1st June 2018, as a nestling. As well as its metal ring, it had also been fitted with a blue Darvic ring 2AHN.

Blue 2AHN

Luke popped across on Saturday (1st), and found it in the same area on the river. 

Blue 2AHN (courtesy of Luke)

He also had another ringed Black-headed Gull! This one just had a metal ring, and the words British Museum could be seen on it, meaning it was ringed somewhere in the UK. He managed to get the full number and sent it off to the BTO. I'll update when we hear back.

UPDATE: Luke heard back today (3rd Sept) that his Black-headed Gull had been ringed in Boston, Lincolnshire on 09/01/10 (114kn away). It was aged as at least 2 years old when ringed.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Norfolk Birding - August 2018

Last weekend Jayne and I spent 3 days in Norfolk. We travelled down on Sunday and popped into RSPB Frampton Marsh to catch up with a Stilt Sandpiper - a lifer. We got good 'scope views as it fed in amongst hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits out on the Reedbed Marsh. Here's a distant, heavily cropped photo.

Stilt Sandpiper

Whilst in Norfolk we had a walk around Blakeney Marshes where we got great views of a Whinchat


We also visited RSPB Titchwell, where we managed to find, amongst others,  10 "year ticks" (numbers 189 - 198) and a Garganey.

Year List update:
188 – Stilt Sandpiper
189 – Bearded Tit
190 – Spoonbill
191 – Spotted Redshank
192 – Bar-tailed Godwit
193 – Grey Plover
194 – Common Scoter
195 – Red-crested Pochard
196 – Pintail
197 – Tree Sparrow
198 – Golden Plover

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Swedish Black-headed Gull in Bakewell

Back on 13th August I was in Bakewell when I spotted a Black-headed Gull with a metal ring. After a good half an hour I managed to get some photos of the number (6198688) and also noticed that the ring had the word Stockholm on it, indicating that the bird had been ringed in Sweden.

I sent the number off, and heard back today, that the bird had indeed been ringed in Sweden, as a nestling, on a large lake called Hornborgasjon on 20th June 2001, 1106km away from Bakewell. This means the bird is now 17 years old, and, my report is the first record since it was ringed!!

At the time I only took photos of its legs, so here are a couple showing the ring number.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Linacre Ringing - 25th August 2018

Saturday was dry, so I was down at Linacre with 4 other members of Sorby Breck Ringing Group for our first mist netting session since the start of July (see here). Despite the sunshine, we had a good session catching 49 birds of 13 species, including another 2 fledgling Blue Tits that were ringed in the nestboxes this year, and our first juvenile Willow Warblers of the year.

Birds ringed were (new/retrap): Dunnock 2/0, Robin 2/0, Blackbird 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Blackcap 6/0, Chiffchaff 2/0, Willow Warbler 6/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Coal Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 14/5, Great Tit 5/1, Chaffinch 2/0 and Goldfinch 1/0. As last time, the majority of the birds were juveniles.

Other birds seen or heard during the session were: Tawny Owl (heard), House Martin (c.6 overhead) and the hybrid Canada Goose (flew over).

Thursday, 23 August 2018

RSPB Old Moor - 22nd August 2018

Luke and I spent yesterday morning at RSPB Old Moor. We had a few waders, including 1 "year tick" for me, and some very nice insects.

When we arrived we walked around the dragonfly pools where we soon spotted a couple of male Migrant Hawkers, including one that posed nicely for a photograph.

Migrant Hawker (male)

Later in the day we also had Common Blue Damselfly, Common Darter and a couple of male Ruddy Darters, along with Common Blue Butterfly and Speckled Wood.

Ruddy Darter

As well as the insects we also saw Green Sandpiper (year tick), Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Lapwing, Snipe and Black-tailed Godwit, along with the usual waterbirds and Little Egret.

Green Sandpiper


Year List update:
187 - Green Sandpiper

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Linacre Butterflies- 21st August 2018

The sun came out today, so I popped down to Linacre to see if there were any butterflies about.

The first butterfly I saw was a Painted Lady, my first Linacre record of 2018.

Painted Lady

Other species seen were: Purple Hairstreak (a female) Red Admiral (1), Small Tortoiseshell (6), Common Blue (1 female), Holly Blue (1), Speckled Wood (1), Meadow Brown (1), Peacock (1), Small White (2) and Small Copper (2).

Red Admiral

Small Copper

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Dolphins and Shearwaters

Whilst in Mallorca Jayne and I went on a early morning "Sunrise and Dolphin" cruise. We started out from the harbour at Puerta Pollenca at 5:45am, and spent about three and a half hours travelling about 9 miles out to sea. We saw the sun come up and got excellent views of a small pod of about 6 Bottlenose Dolphins, and a new bird; Cory's Shearwater!


Bottlenose Dolphins

Cory's Shearwater

Year List update:
186: Cory's Shearwater

Mallorcan Insects 2018

Whilst in Mallorca Jayne and I looked at, and recorded some of the insect life to be found there. We didn't see many species, but we did get a few new species.

The first new species was the dragonfly Keeled Skimmer. Several were seen on the River Sant Jordi just outside Puerta Pollenca, as well as in Albufera and at the Lluc Monastery. Another new species, the Small Red Damselfly, was also seen at the Lluc Monastery, in the Botanical garden. Other species seen included Blue-tailed Damselfly, Black-tailed Skimmer, Emperor and a large Hawker species that may have been Southern Migrant Hawker though that was not confirmed.

Keeled Skimmer (male)

Small Red Damselfly

Two species seen at Son Real were also new. Both were butterflies. The first, Two-tailed Pasha, was enormous, and the most impressively beautiful butterfly I have ever seen. I managed to get this shot of the underwing.

Two-tailed Pasha

The second species seen at Son Real was Geranium Bronze. This attractive species was seen, unsurprisingly, on a geranium! Apparently it's an introduced species from South Africa.

Geranium Bronze

The last three "lifers" were a Striped Grayling and Cleopatra (butterflies) seen at Cuber Reservoir and Passenger ( a moth found in the hotel).

Striped Grayling


Other species seen were: Common Blue Butterfly, Small Copper, Clouded Yellow, Hummingbird Hawk-moth and Small Heath.

Cuber Reservoir

My last post about the birds of Mallorca concerns the Cuber Reservoir.

Cuber Reservoir

Jayne and I visited it to see Griffon and Black Vulture, both of which were seen flying over the reservoir. In total we saw 4 Griffon and 2 Black Vultures. Whilst walking around the site, we also heard Nightingale singing, and saw 1 Tawny Pipit, a group of 11 Ravens flying over and a hunting Osprey that landed on the water's edge. Another Black Vulture was, surprisingly, seen later in the holiday flying about 30m above the main motorway whilst travelling towards Palma!

Black Vulture

Griffon Vulture

Year List update:
182 – Black Vulture
183 – Griffon Vulture
184 – Tawny Pipit
185 - Nightingale

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Son Real

Whilst in Mallorca, Jayne and I spent a few hours at the Son Real Nature Reserve.

Son Real

We went hoping to find the Balearic Warbler (details here). Obviously July isn't the best time of year to see this species, and, although we had a brief glimpse of a small warbler disappearing into the bushes, we couldn't be 100% sure it was this bird, so this tick will have to wait for another visit! We did, however, get great views of Red-legged Partridge, Kestrel, Thekla Lark, Nightjar (1 flew up from the ground about 1m away!), Turtle Dove (1 flew over), Serin and Woodchat Shrike (ssp badius).

Woodchat Shrike (juvenile)

Year List update:
180 – Woodchat Shrike
181 – Serin