Friday, 26 March 2010

New Recruits!

When I received an email from The Mothership, informing me that some avid followers of my blog had managed to catch and ring a Robin, I was slightly worried that I would have to explain the legalities of catching wild birds. However, I was relieved and mightily impressed when I opened the attachments!

Joseph (7) and a Robin

Lily (5) and the Robin

Lily and Joseph Kane from South Wales are avid followers of the blog it seems and were inspired to obtain a Robin for a cheeky photo! It seems like they'll also be popping Up Norf to the homestead, so hopefully we'll be able to show them some ringing up close!

I had my first Swallow today, I was in a meeting at school with one of the Deputy Head's - I jumped up and yelped 'Swallow!' took a lot of explaining!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

More from Crosby Hall

Moxey was able to take some time to get into Crosby Hall today to capitalise on the good numbers of finches that have started to frequent the feeders. Apparently, as on Sunday, the breeze hampered efforts slightly and only the two feeder nets were put up, but the catch rate would have been higher without it.

G.S.Woodpecker - 1 (1)
Coal Tit - 1 (1)
Great Tit - 1 (4)
Greenfinch - 6
Goldfinch - 12
Chaffinch - 3
Blue Tit - 6 (16)
Dunnock - 1

TOTAL: 31 (22)

As we hurtle towards the spring, I found my mind wandering back to the springs of 2006 and 2007 when I was running the Ausable Bird Observatory in Ontario, Canada. Round about now, the Kinglets will be starting to filter their way up from the south, hitting the Lake Huron shore and congregating in the cedars. Soon after comes the influx of White-throated Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows and Yellow-shafted Flickers, before the warblers arrive in May.

I've got some great memories of my time over there, it was a shame that it had to end, but I've got great memories of ringing with the Legend, Moxey, Kev and some of the Brits that came over to help out. Over 15,000 birds of 123 species ringed in two years, a feat that I will find it hard to match in the future no doubt.

Male Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Male Golden-crowned Kinglet

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Busy Weekend!

On Saturday morning, Dave Fletcher, Brian Hopkins, Moxey and myself, held a ringing demonstration at Mere Sands Wood for students from Edge Hill University. It was a relatively chilly morning, but the breeze held off long enough for us to catch some birds to show the students. The students form part of an ornithology course, led by Graham Clarkson (RSPB) and Alan Bedford (Edge Hill), studying different aspects of birding and taking field trips to places such as MSW and RSPB Marshside.

From a selfish point of view, it was a good opportunity for me to see (and ring) a few birds that I don't normally get my hands on at our sites, such as Bullfinch, Tree Sparrow and Reed Bunting.

Tree Sparrow

Reed Bunting

2 C.Y. Male Bullfinch

Today I spent the morning at Crosby Hall, with Tineke and Sarah (Tini's sister who was up visiting for the weekend). The weather wasn't brilliant, but once again the Met Office got it completely wrong. The breeze was a bit strong and as a result, we didn't catch as many birds as last week. I packed up early, Mothers Day commitments, but as I was leaving, I heard my first Chiffchaff of the spring. Bring on some warblers!

Goldfinch - 11 (3)
Blue Tit - 12 (11)
Great Tit - 3 (5)
Greenfinch - 6 (1 control)
Wren - 1
Dunnock - 1 (1)
Robin - 1
Nuthatch - (1)
Chaffinch - 2
G.S.Woodpecker - (1)
Blackbird - (1)
Coal Tit - (1)
L.T.Tit - (2)

TOTAL: 37 (26) 1 control

Friday, 12 March 2010

The one that didn't get away!

After visiting Seaforth and baiting up for a prospective whoosh net attempt next weekend, I headed the homestead, while Moxey went to fill the feeders at Crosby Hall. The furled 9m in the back garden was too hard to resist opening as the light faded away...territorial Blackbirds and Robins on the agenda....

So there I was, chatting to the The Mothership and wham......dreadlocks flying, I was out the kitchen door faster than *insert comical comment here*. I managed to get my hands round the damn thing and get it out of the net, just as Moxey comes through the door.

Here she is, the one that didn't get away!

I am happier than I look!

What a beauty!!!

Now, still grinning from ear to ear, we're off to the Ringing Group Meeting!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Session at The Woodhams

Moxey popped out for a ringing session at The Woodhams today, putting up four nets at the two feeding stations. Unfortunately a Sparrowhawk managed to get in and out of one net, then get in and out of the next net. All you ringers will know that for every sprawk we ring, nine get out before we can get there! Still no sign of any Siskins down our neck of the woods despite the fact that they have been appearing on the Fylde over the last few weeks.

Here are the totals:

Goldfinch - 9 (1) [retrap X639793 was ringed at Crosby Hall on Sunday]
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 1 (13)
Great Tit - (3)
Blackbird - 3 (2)
Dunnock - 1 (1)
Chaffinch - 2
Robin - 3
Nuthatch - 1
G.S.Woodpecker - (1)

TOTAL: 21 (21)

On Saturday there will be a ringing demonstration for students of Edge Hill University at Mere Sands Wood. I'll take some photo's and post them on the SWLRG blog. We should also have some details of the latest batch of recoveries to post over the next few days.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Finally Some Finches!

Having spend most of the week infront of my laptop, nose in educational journals and a 6000 word research article finally finished, it was the trips in to Seaforth that made things a little easier to bear. One day of trapping yielded only one female Teal, however the traps have remained baited but unset to get the Coot familiar enough to be caught easily.

Sunday brought an early start to a very cold Crosby Hall and there was a lot of activity at the feeders, this time dominated by finches instead of the usual titmice. Whilst some of our other woodland sites have slowed down considerably of late, Crosby Hall has increased in activity, with more Goldfinches and Greenfinches starting to move on to the feeders.

Goldfinch - 18
Greenfinch - 11
Chaffinch - 8
Blue Tit - 10 (25)
Great Tit - 1 (7)
L.T.Tit - (2)
Coal Tit - (2)
G.S.Woodpecker - 1
Nuthatch - (1)
Blackbird - (1)
Robin - 2 (2)
Dunnock - (2)

TOTAL: 51 (42)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

BBC miss an opportunity with Animal 24:7

Having spent the morning at Edge Hill in preparation for my final teacher training placement, I popped in to Seaforth to have a look at the Coot situation - incidentally, the Godwits seem to be quite keen on the grain. I gave Moxey a call to update him on the situation, after a quick chat he told me about a programme he had just seen on BBC1 that included a piece on illegal trapping of finches for the caged bird trade and I should watch it when I got home. As soon as I got home, up came iPlayer and my optimism on a constructive article soon turned to disappointment.


Whilst the programme provided an insight into the work of a Wildlife Crime Officer, it also missed an opportunity to inform the public that there are over 2000 individuals in the UK who are licensed to capture wild birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, most of whom do so with mist nets.

Animal 24:7 routinely reports on acts of cruelty towards animals, regularly using anthropomorphic descriptions in such a way that any bunny-bothering do-gooder watching todays programme will have a very slurred view of anyone using a mist net. The programme describes mistnetting as 'cruel' and goes on to state that birds become stressed and infers that birds often die as a result of being caught.

There was no mention of the Ringing Scheme or the work of licensed ringers, all of whom are highly trained to minimise stress and impact on the birds. The whole issue could have been handled a lot more sensitively and the BBC have really missed an opportunity to provide a balanced article.

I will be writing to the BBC on this matter and I urge other readers of this blog to do the same, maybe in a future episode, the programme can feature an article on the Ringing Scheme and highlight that the majority of people using mist nets are doing so legitimately. I would also remind anyone ringing in public places to be even more vigilant than they already are, for fear of vandalism following such an emotive piece of journalism.