Saturday, 28 January 2012

Hammer Time

This mornings session was held at Kings Moss as we had planned for last week but were put off by persistent bad weather. Today was a completely different story. Arriving at Kings Moss at 7am, the air was crisp, there was a reasonable frost and the sky was clear with absolutely no wind. These conditions are rare in this neck of the woods to say the least! 

We decided to put a couple of extra nets up today, an additional 32m of nets alongside a hedge where, last session, we saw a lot of Yellowhammer activity. It was clear from the start that there weren't as many birds around, most likely as a result of the mowing of one of the stubble fields that had held a considerable number of finches last time out. With the four of us, we managed to get the nets up sharpish and get some music on the go by the time the Sun awoke.

First bird of the day happened to be the very bird we were targetting, a juvenile male Yellowhammer, joined later by an adult female and, on the penultimate net round, a stonking adult male. Sadly a battery failure on my phone (it's been playing up recently) meant that there are no  photos of said stonker. The Yellowhammer were Charlies first of the species, unfortunately he did not get to ring a Willow Tit, but he did get to process two retraps. Right from the off Goldfinches and Chaffinches were caught and made up the majority of the catch, present in every net round. 

As the Sun rose, the frost started to thaw exposing the quagmire caused by the week of heavy rain and leaving me, as the only one who opted for walking boots over wellies, rather muddy. Schoolboy error.

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

As the session progressed, and we all warmed up, the titmice started to become more active, spread between the two main feeding sites. Unusually, no Bullfinches were caught, although a pair was seen briefly, as was a Buzzard digging for worms in the field adjacent to the cattle. A male and a female Kestrel were the only other raptors of any note.

Steve got off early, part-timer, to go watch the second team of Liverpool play the first team of Manchester, leaving myself to ring a bird in the form of the final Yellowhammer. Not a bad first bird to ring on my new trainer endorsed A permit!! Thanks to Seamus Eaves for taking a look at me for my upgrade.

The Kings Moss Massive


                                                                           Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)


Wren -   1
L.T.Tit -   (5)
Blue Tit -   6   (8)
Great Tit -   4   (7)
Willow Tit -    (2)
Robin -   (1)
Dunnock -   1   (2)
Chaffinch -    11
Goldfinch -   13
Reed Bunting -   2
Yellowhammer -    3
Greenfinch -   3
Blackbird -   2

TOTAL:   46   (25)

The forecast for the morning looks promising and Moxey has been keeping an eye on Crosby Hall, according to him it is due a good session.....time will tell!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Rimrose Ringers Launched

Following the re-emergence of plans to build a dual carriageway down the middle of Rimrose Valley Country Park, home of Brook Vale LNR and Fulwood Marsh, I have been putting a lot of work into building a website to showcase the wildlife of Rimrose Valley. The website can be found here.

The website is still under development, but at this stage I am looking for individuals, either local or from further afield, who have any knowledge of, or records from, the site to contribute to the work we are trying to do. At this stage, we are looking to complete a number of surveys to try and build up a more accurate picture of the flora and fauna of the park.

On Sunday I headed down for an afternoon on Rimrose, it was too windy to go ringing, to scope out sites for a new nest box project that I will be setting up over the next few weeks with help from Savio High School. The school has developed a social enterprise around a unique product that was conceived by one of the teachers, Steve Burrows, of a multi-use next box - for bats or birds - BOB. The BOB box is excellent and I will be making a specific post about this later in the week. I've identified three different sites for the boxes to be located and we will get them up over the few weeks ready for the breeding season.

Here's a selection of pictures from my walk:

Scrapes in full flood

View towards the Piggeries


The handywork of the Rangers - ongoing willow carr management

The reed bed at Fulwood

Sunday, 22 January 2012

As Reservas do Mondego

As I have detailed here extensively in the past, I spend a lot of time ringing in Portugal, largely as part of the PADA Group of Ringers of which I am a contributor. In April, members of the group were filmed to be part of a short documentary on the natural reserves of the Mondego Valley.....until Miguel fell in the mud, took his pants off and promptly broke the camera!
This morning, Paulo emailed me a link to download the video, so I've uploaded it to YouTube to share with the wider community...you can even make out my ugly mug in there somewhere...


Note from Director:
Dado que só eu, o PJF, JFC e PFJ aparecemos nas imagens, a ausencia do PMA concede uma classificação de "Para todos". Sabemos que a presença dele conferia uma classificação de XXX - pornografia extrema". Agradece-se ao João Silva (Realizador) esta decisão.

Translated as:
Given that only Paulo Tenreiro, Scouse Ringer, Joana Cruz and Paulo Ferreira appear in the film and, in the absence of Miguel Araújo, the film has been granted a 'U' certificate. We all know that the presence of Miguel would give the film an 'XXX' certificate, for 'pornographic content'. Thanks to Joao Silva, the director, for this decision.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Third Day Running...

On Sunday, I headed out to Crosby Hall on my own for the first session at the site of the year and an unprecedented third consecutive day of ringing for the gang. I've moaned extensively about the weather for the past two months, but this weekend, I can't really complain.

Accompanied by blue skies and subzero temperatures, I used the usual nets at the feeding station and another four elsewhere in the main body of the wood. As expected, the feeding station saw the majority of the action however, there was a considerable amount of Goldcrest activity in the wood. There isn't really much else to report except the lack of thrushes that has been evident over the past few weeks continues. Given that the air temperature reached as low as -2 degrees, I processed the birds quickly and opted against taking any photo's. As a result, I've included a few random shots from a trip I made to Oman a few years ago.

Blue Tit -   13   (3)
Great Tit -   3   (8)
Coal Tit -   (1)
L.T.Tit -    1   (5)
Goldcrest -   5   (3)
Robin -   1   (2)
Dunnock -   1   (2)
Chaffinch -   4   (1)
Greenfinch -   3

TOTAL:   31   (25)


Common Sandpiper (Actitis hyperleucos)


Garganey (Anas querquedula)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Patience.....


Yesterday I headed out to Kings Moss with Charlie and Moxey to take advantage of a rare high pressure system that has given us a couple of days of settled weather, much needed given the disasterous situation we encountered during December. We usually seperate our Kings Moss sessions by a fortnight, but given the observations at our more local sites, we decided to give it another go this week. 

This was Charlies first session at Kings Moss and given that there are a few species that we catch at Kings Moss that we don't catch elsewhere (Willow Tit, Yellowhammer) so I was hopeful that he would at least get a chance to process a few new species. Despite the high pressure, clear skies and the frost, things started off slowly, with a few Chaffinch turning up early amongst the titmice. Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting were about in numbers from the outset, but despite our encouragement, we were unable to catch any all morning. Steve has subsequently made a few changes to the feeding arrangements to see if we can capitalise in the next week or two.

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Female Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

The catch rate throughout the morning was reasonably steady, with Chaffinch catching well and whilst the lack of Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting in our bird bags was slightly disappointing, it was good to be catching decent numbers of Fringilla. Steve turned up late morning with his permit renewal forms for Moxey to sign, giving Natasha an opportunity to handle a few birds, whilst me and Steve did a walk around to check out future opportunities.

Male Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
By midday, the human traffic had begun to increase, so we gradually took the nets down, packing up after a successful session, Charlies first session at the site was a success, hopefully next time he will get some new species. 

Blue Tit -   22   (7)
Great Tit -   5   (5)
Coal Tit -   1
L.T.Tit -   (1)
Dunnock -   1   (2)
Robin -   6   (5)
Chaffinch -   19
Goldfinch -   4   (1)
Bullfinch -   1
Greenfinch -   2

TOTAL:   62   (21)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

A Different Slant

Yesterday Moxey headed to a garden in the vicinity of our Ince Blundell site, courtesy of Dennis McNamara, with significant success. The first bird of the day was a male Sparrowhawk that went into the net as Moxey was putting it up, Dennis had to hold one end if the net so Moxey could get it out and then finish putting the net up!!! Not a bad start.

Moxey reports that the catch rate was steady and as expected, dominated by titmice. Dennis previously had good numbers of Goldfinch coming to the nijer in his garden but in recent weeks, these have become more elusive. Two Great-spotted Woodpeckers gave Moxey something to cry about...when holding them for photos, the 'peckers vented the full force of their fury on Moxeys fingers...nothing compared to a Pileated Woodpecker though!

Nuthatch (Sitta europeia)

Moxey (Homo moxensis)

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Great-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocops major)

By the end of the session, Moxey had caught well over 100 birds, and Dennis got an opportunity to further his intrigue into ringing, having previously attended a number of sessions over the road at Ince Blundell. Many thanks to Dennis for allowing the use of his garden!

Coal Tit - 4 (1)
Blue Tit - 51 (15)
Great Tit - 13 (4)
Goldfinch - 4
Chaffinch - 1
Nuthatch - 1
Starling - 1
G.S.Woodpecker - 2
Blackbird - 1
Dunnock - 4
Robin - 8
Sparrowhawk - 1

TOTAL: 91 (20)

I will leave the last word to Moxey: "Not bad for starters" - that's the spirit!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Finally!

After weeks of weather-induced frustration, we finally managed to get out to Kings Moss for a session with Steve and Natasha. We'd hoped to have gone out on Saturday, but when we woke, the winds were far too strong to even consider attempting to go out, so we switched the sessions and headed out on Sunday morning.

Arriving on site, the wind was stronger than we would have preferred, however it was forecast to die down so we put up a reduced number of nets so that we weren't caught short should the weather change.....which it did! Steve has put in a lot of hard work over the last few months, making sure that the net rides have kept clear and last weekend, Steve used his judgement, based on his patient observations, to clear a new net ride at 'feeding station 1'. Within a minute of having the net up for the first time, it had caught a bird, a Goldfinch and it continued to catch well throughout the day, contributing a significant number of Chaffinch and Goldfinch - well done Steve!

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Early in the session, the catch was dominated by finches with a 100+ flock of Goldfinch circulating throughout the site during the morning. By 10am, the Chaffinch had died off and the tit activity started to increase at the feeding station. By 10:30 however, the light rain that had been forecast started to kick in, and we had to shut down operations.

Willow Tit (Parus montanus)

By the time we were all packed up, we were all rather moist, however with 77 new birds in the ringing file, we were quite happy despite the lack of Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer that we had all been hoping for.

Wren - 1
Great Tit - 4 (2)
Blue Tit - 19 (4)
Willow Tit - (3)
Goldfinch - 32 (2)
Chaffinch - 16
Bullfinch - 2 (1)
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 2

TOTAL: 77 (12)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Summary of 2011

With no ringing today due to the string winds here in Liverpool, I've been able to total up mine and Moxey's totals for 2011 and here they are:

Species

Ringed

Retraps/Recoveries

Total Processed

Sparrowhawk

2

1

3

Buzzard

2


2

Kestrel

27

1

28

Stock Dove

5


5

Woodpigeon

11

1

12

Barn Owl

42

1

43

Little Owl

2


2

Swift

308

66

374

G.S.Woodpecker

9

3

12

Swallow

90

1

91

House Martin

202

20

222

Meadow Pipit

12


12

Wren

72

14

86

Dunnock

108

39

147

Robin

145

60

205

Wheatear

1


1

Blackbird

205

55

260

Fieldfare

4


4

Song Thrush

30

3

33

Mistle Thrush

4


4

Redwing

36


36

Grasshopper Warbler

4


4

Sedge Warbler

26

2

28

Reed Warbler

79

24

103

Whitethroat

89

10

99

Garden Warbler

10


10

Blackcap

425

39

464

Chiffchaff

83

17

100

Willow Warbler

18

1

19

Goldcrest

122

25

147

Spotted Flycatcher

1


1

L.T.Tit

149

69

218

Willow Tit

4

6

10

Coal Tit

52

45

97

Blue Tit

482

288

770

Great Tit

272

284

556

Nuthatch

6

16

22

Treecreeper

10

10

20

Jay

8


8

Magpie

8

1

9

Jackdaw

11


11

Starling

4


4

House Sparrow

13

1

14

Tree Sparrow

1


1

Chaffinch

189

34

223

Brambling

9


9

Greenfinch

130

14

144

Goldfinch

85

12

97

Siskin

11


11

Linnet

22


22

Redpoll

10


10

Bullfinch

24

2

26

Yellowhammer

1


1

Reed Bunting

43

4

47





TOTAL:

3719

1174

4893


New Species for 2011:
  • Buzzard - One nest
  • Spotted Flycatcher - Brook Vale
  • Meadow Pipit - Brook Vale
  • Redpoll - Woodhams, Brook Vale & Fulwood
  • Willow Tit - Kings Moss
  • Yellowhammer - Kings Moss
  • Grasshopper Warbler - Fulwood
  • Tree Sparrow - Crosby
  • Wheatear - Hightown Fields

When comparing the 2010 and 2011 totals, it is significant to notice the decline in our ringing totals of finch species. Whilst we have increased our totals of Linnet, Redpoll, Brambling, Bullfinch, Siskin and Reed Bunting we have seen a decline in the numbers of Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Chaffinch despite a similar effort made. The lack of ringing that was completed in late November and all of December will have had a significant impact on the totals of these species in particular.

BIRD OF 2011

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

Bold

Runners-up:

Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)


INTERNATIONAL BIRD OF THE YEAR 2011

Orphean Warbler (Sylvia Hortensis)

Once again, I wish all ringers, birdwatchers and naturalists everywhere a successful 2012.