Wednesday, 30 May 2018

North Wales Weekend

The title of this post isn't quite correct, as I didn't spend the weekend in Wales, but I did have a couple of days over the Bank Holiday there with Jayne. We were based in Llandudno and had a visit to RSPB South Stack to try and catch up with a few "year ticks".

South Stack lighthouse

The "year ticks" in question were Puffin (2 seen on the water), Chough (2 seen flying around the cliffs) and Black Guillemot (1 seen in the Old Harbour in Holyhead). Other species seen included Raven, Guillemot, Razorbill, Herring Gull, Jackdaw and Linnet.

Along with the birds we were also lucky enough to see several insects, including a "lifer". The first insect we saw was Wall Brown (a minimum of 4 individuals) feeding along the cliff tops. We also spotted a Painted Lady, a Drinker moth caterpillar, a Green Tiger Beetle and, best of all, a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (a new species!!).

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Year List update:
149 - Puffin
150 - Chough
151 - Black Guillemot

Linacre Nestboxes - an update

Saturday morning (26th) saw the second of this year's nestbox ringing outings at Linacre with Sorby Breck Ringing Group. This time Sarah and I were able to ring the first tit chicks of the year, with a total of 12 broods of Blue Tit and 4 broods of Great Tits ringed.

The Pied Flycatcher and Nuthatch nests were still active (chicks recently hatched), as was the female Mandarin Duck, who was still incubating eggs. The Tawny Owl nestbox was empty, so hopefully the oldest chick has fledged successfully. All records will be forwarded to the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.

Nuthatch chicks

Monday, 21 May 2018

Nestbox Update - 19th May 2018

I was busy at the weekend catching up with the nestboxes for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.

On Saturday I was down at Linacre first thing with Luke and Sarah from Sorby Breck Ringing Group. We went around the site and checked all the boxes, with first chicks of 2018 starting to appear.

Tit chicks

It was great to see the Blue and Great Tits, but even more exciting, was our first record of Nuthatch hatching chicks in a box. The Pied Flycatcher nest was also still active, with a female bird sitting tight on the eggs. We checked the Tawny Owl box, and found just one chick remaining, the other having presumably been eaten by its bigger sibling!!

Tawny Owl

After Linacre we all popped across to the church site in Chesterfield where we were lucky enough to ring a brood of Nuthatches and a brood of Great Tits. There was also another Great Tit with young too small to ring, and, unfortunately, 2 broods of dead chicks.

Nuthatch chicks

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Year List Update

As always the "year list" has continued to grow over the last week. Number 141, the Garden Warbler was added on Sunday 6th when I was lucky enough to find a singing male in the ringing site at Linacre. A very productive trip to the National Trust's Padley Gorge and nearby Barbrook Valley last Monday added numbers 142 - 146, whilst my first confirmed sighting of Swift came later in the week. The final bird, a stunning Short-eared Owl, was seen today.

Year List update:
141 – Garden Warbler
142 – Pied Flycatcher
143 – Redstart
144 – Cuckoo
145 – Whinchat
146 - Stonechat
147 - Swift
148 - Short-eared Owl

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Linacre Ringing - 7th May 2018

Last weekend I had a quick trip to Linacre to check on the progress of the "owl" boxes, following our successful trip there on 21st April (see here for details). The results were mixed, with a new species ringed and one deserted nest.

First the good news. The Tawny Owl that had been found in one of the boxes in April, had been successful and 2 downy chicks were found and ringed by me and other members of Sorby Breck Ringing Group. This constitutes the first breeding of this species in one of the "owl" boxes.

Tawny Owl chicks

Another female Mandarin Duck was also found in a second box, incubating eggs. She too was ringed.

Mandarin Duck

Unfortunately, the Stock Dove nest that was found in April had failed, with 2 broken eggs in the bottom of the box. We don't know what happened to the adult birds, but they may have been disturbed or killed by a predator, such as a Grey Squirrel.

Results from these nests will be forwarded to the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Starling Nest - an update

I first blogged about the Starling nest on the side of my house back in April (see post here). At the time there were just 3 eggs in the nest. Another 2 eggs were laid over the next few days, and incubation began on April 18th.

5 eggs

I left the nest alone for the next couple of weeks, until I started to see and hear more activity, indicating that the eggs had hatched. This year, this happened on 1st May, exactly 2 weeks after incubation began. 5 young birds hatched. Unfortunately 1 appeared to die quite quickly afterwards, leaving the parents with 4 hungry chicks to feed. 

The parents did a brilliant job, and just a week later 4 birds had grown enough to be ringed.

8th May 2018

I had a quick check again tonight to find some well feathered chicks getting ready to fledge over the next few days.

11th May 2018

The results of this nest will be reported to the BTO's Nestbox Challenge.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

RSPB Frampton Marsh - 16 Year Ticks!!

Today, Jayne, Luke and I went across to RSPB Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire. We had a superb day in sunshine and 23 degree heat, and managed to see an amazing range of birds including 16 "year ticks" (and an additional one, Hobby, on the drive across). We saw several Linnets here as well, but my first of the year, was seen in Apperknowle on Thursday.

The birds seen are listed below, but the best bird of the day was, by far, the Corn Bunting. It was found by Jayne (thank you, thank you, thank you!!!), and was first in the UK since, well, I can't even remember, that's how long ago it was. The bird in question, was found sitting on a barbed wire fence by 360 Hide, and very kindly sat long enough to get a half decent picture.

Corn Bunting

Other highlights were a stunning male Garganey, 300+ Brent Geese, a day-flying Barn Owl, 2 Whimbrel, Greenshank, breeding plumaged Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, lots of singing Whitethroats and last, but by no means least a "plastic fantastic" drake Wood Duck!!

Wood Duck

A few butterflies were also flying about, including  2 Peacocks and (new for the year) Speckled Wood and Large White.

Speckled Wood (courtesy of Luke)

Year List update:
123 – Linnet
124 – Reed Warbler
125 – Whitethroat
126 – Ruff
127 – Greenshank
128 – Black-tailed Godwit
129 – Brent Goose
130 – Avocet
131 – Dunlin
132 – Curlew Sandpiper
133 – Barn Owl
134 – Ringed Plover
135 – Little Ringed Plover
136 – Hobby
137 – Whimbrel
138 – Sedge Warbler
139 – Garganey
140 - Corn Bunting