Friday, 30 April 2010

Ringing recoveries and controls

All recoveries and controls from Souter Bird Observatory since 2008

2495551 - adult storm petrel ringed at Isle of May on 15.08.2004 - retrapped at Souter Bird Observatory on 18.08.2008 - duration 1433, distance 157km

2559172 - adult storm petrel ringed at Filey Brigg Country Park on 15.07.2008 - retrapped at Souter Bird Observatory on 19.07.2008 - duration 4 days, distance 107km

2630643 - adult storm petrel ringed at Souter Bird Observatory on 18.07.2008 - retrapped at Craig Stirling on 15.08.2008 - duration 28 days, distance 235km
retrapped at Isle of May on 23.08.2009 - duration 370 days, distance 157km

2630655 - adult storm petrel ringed at Souter Bird Observatory on 25.08.2008 - retrapped at Craig Stirling on 15.08.2009 - duration 355 days, distance 235km
retrapped at Isle May on 26.08.2009 - duration 366 days, distance 157km

X406660 - adult lesser redpoll ringed at Souter Bird Observatory on 19.10.2008 - retrapped at Williamthorpe, Derbyshire on 18.03.2009 - duration 150 days, distance 197km

X406674 - immature coal tit ringed at Souter Bird Observatory on 22.10.2008 - retrapped at Swarland, Alnwick on 16.03.2009 - duration 145 days, distance 48km

X993053 - adult male chaffinch ringed at Souter Bird Observatory on 04.11.2009 - retrapped at Washington Wetland Centre on 19.12.2009 - duration 45 days, distance 10km

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sunday, 25th April

A venture over to Cumbria was made to ring a few broods of ravens today. The day did not go quite to plan as apparently another ringer was planning to ring the proposed second brood. Unfortunately the weather closed in and the other pairs were a good hike into the hills; however a single brood of four ravens were ringed near Kirkby Lonsdale. A good day after all!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Saturday, 24th April

Yet another calm and overcast morning. Highlight of the day was a common crane that flew north over the coastal park early morning. A total of 33 new birds and five retraps made up the day's catch. The local birds are beginning to twig to the locations of the nets so we put up an additional three full sized nets by the boundary wall of the reserve and two two shelf nets near the pond. The additional full sized nets only caught two meadow pipits early in the morning, however the two shelf nets caught well; catching birds coming to drink from the pond edge. Warblers are making their way to or through the coastal park with blackcap, whitethroat and willow warbler being trapped and a sedge warbler heard singing near the seawatching hide. At least five yellow wagtails were recorded flying over the reserve and half a dozen wheatears were on Jacque's beach (shame they didn't make their way into a net). An immature male sparrowhawk was retrapped today and was originally ringed at the Big Mound on the 10th October 2009.

Ringed - linnet 6, willow warbler 5, meadow pipit 5, starling 4, blackbird 3, goldfinch 3, house sparrow 2, reed bunting 2, singles of robin, blackcap, whitethroat. Retraps - great tit 2, sparrowhawk, dunnock and yellowhammer

Meadow pipit (c) Adrian George
Whitethroat (c) Adrian George

Sparrowhawk (c) Adrian George

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sunday 18th April

After the success of last week at Whitburn Point Nature Reserve; John, Walter and I set nets and hoped that the wind was not going to pick up. Thankfully it stayed overcast for most of the morning and the nets were not too visible. Four new willow warblers were ringed and were possibly new in this morning given the cloud cover that rolled in at dawn. A total of 25 birds were trapped and ringed.

Species and numbers ringed - linnet 5, willow warbler 4, goldfinch 3, dunnock 3, house sparrow 2, blackbird 2 and singles of meadow pipit, blue tit, wren, greenfinch, reed bunting and woodpigeon

Linnets - male (left) and female (right) (c) John Brown

10th April

John and I got to the coastal park before light and set several nets around the Whitburn Point Nature Reserve. The hope was to trap and ring some of the local breeding linnets. The morning went well with a total of 15 birds trapped and ringed, which for Souter is not bad. Unfortunately we can not compete with the likes of Spurn and Portland Bird Observatory for numbers of birds trapped. Two grey partridge were accidently flushed from nearby grassland and the first bird just skimmed over the top shelf of the net but the second bird went into the top shelf. This was a new species for me and one that I had not handled before. I had to check the ringers manual to check it could be ringed and sure enough there are no restrictions on them so it was ringed and released. John also got a few new species which included linnet and yellowhammer, so a good day all round.

Species and numbers ringed; grey partridge 1, dunnock 2, greenfinch 1, reed bunting 4, linnet 1 and a pair of blackbird, goldfinch and yellowhammer.

Grey Partridge (c) John Brown Yellowhammer (c) John Brown

4th April

A firecrest had been seen in the gardens of the Shearwater estate during the week so John, Walter and I went down to set some nets in the hope that we catch it. We didnt trap the firecrest; however we did trap two male chiffchaffs, two male chaffinches and a pair of retrap great tits. We had a walk around the Whitburn Point nature Reserve and felt that it had good potential for trapping birds and made it our plan for the next session.

The new Obs building

John had managed to aquire a security container as a ringing station for the obs so we were not working out the back of cars. It was not in the most favourable conditions when in arrived and was in need of a lick of paint. Paul Lynus kindly donated a few pots of green Hammerite paint to help it blend into the surroundings. With the help from local birders (Steve, Nick, Peter and Walter), the obs was transformed.

Nick painting the obs (c) Adrian George

The obs looking brand new (c) Adrian George

The obs was then fitted with a signage board to inform members of the public what the container was for and of our works on the coastal park.
The Souter Bird Observatory sign board (c) Adrian George

The 2010 season

The 2010 season starting with whoosh netting skylarks that were coming to grain that John had been putting out at Whitburn Steel. A total of 23 skylark and a single reed bunting were trapped and ringed. I was surprised at the variation of sizes between individual skylarks. Unfortunately the nine snow buntings were not playing ball and were feeding out on the beach.

Skylark (c) Adrian George

2009 Review - What a year!

2009 was a very different year compared to the previous. We had some a little more understanding of how birds genearlly use the site and created a number of new net rides in order to increase our catch rate and this certainly paid off! We did not start the autumn ringing season until the 28th August due to work and other commitments.

The September catch was 106 birds compared to 161 in 2008 as there was no big fall of birds. However there were a few scarcities around. The morning of the 12th September was a bright and sunny day and very few birds being trapped. A group of local birders had joined John and myself at the north car park and were discussing the usual bird related subjects, betting on which rares turn up this year etc, when a large warbler flew over our heads from the 'Big Mound' to a strip of vegetation by the roadside. We were sure it wasn't a blackcap and after a closer inspection no one could get a positive identification on the bird. We attempted to move the bird through the vegetation were a newly placed net ride had been cut a few weeks before. The bird flew over the net so we tried again from the other side and it flew into the net. Once in the hand I identified it as a barred warbler. It came as a shock to us all with many smiling faces and phone calls being made to other local birders in the area.

Similar weather conditions were experienced on the 19th of September. There had been half a dozen yellow-browed warblers reported within Whitburn Coastal Park during the week and we had hoped one might find it's way into a net, however one stayed around the perimeter of the 'Big Mound' during the early part of the morning and call often. As usual the regular birders had joined us and the majority of us heard the yellow-browed call as it flew over to the roadside vegetation. Once again with a little persuasion the yellow-browed flew into the net. It was a new species for John and he had a huge grin on his face. September soon rolled into October and with the recent success we were hoping for a rarity.

Ringing during the first half of October was fairly slow with only the usual robins, tits and finches around. I managed to get some time off work during the week and on the 14th I opened the nets on a foggy dark morning. The fog had forced the migrating thrushes to ground and catches of redwing (12), blackbird (12) and song thrush (1) were quite respectable for Souter Bird Observatory. The next morning I headed back down to the Obs in the dark but was confronted by very heavy fog as I drove through South Shields. I drove into the coastal park and deliberated on whether to open a few nets or not due to the fog. I stepped out of the car a immediately heard several thrushes calling in the Big Mound and I need no more incentive to open nets. I decided to put up the regular number of nets and had my fingers crossed the fog might ease off a little. I was catching a few blackbirds and redwings and occasionally shaking the nets to remove the moisture that had built up on them. Walter and Andy Watts joined me for the session and Andy came on the net round at 0815. I walked upto the second net I saw a bird upside down in the net (as usual) as I got closer I could not recognise the species thinking its a robin but not with a red breast and why does it have a white eye ring and orange flanks!! At that moment my mind was racing through what it could be, but it took a fraction of a second to realise that before me was a RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL. I quickly turned the bird over in the hope it had a blue tail and there it was, I turned to Andy who was behind me with my eyes and mouth wide open in sheer shock and amazement. I told him what we had caught and I carefully extracted it. I immediately phoned John who was driving down the A19 and too far away turn back in time for the birds release but he phoned the local birders. Walter didnt believe me when I told him what was in the bag, but he soon did when I showed him. We had also caught a few thrushes so I processed them and in the mean time birders were startin to turn up waiting to see the star bird. I made sure i was in a closed car to take the bird out of the bag as I didn't want this to be the one that got away!! The bird was processed and photographed and taken down to a strip of vegetation were I hoped it would show for the birders, however it had different plans a flew straight back into the Big Mound never to be seen again.

On the 22nd October a few chifchaffs were being trapped and there was obviously a small movement occurring. A much paler chiffchaff was trapped and so we called a local birder Ian Mills (an ex-bird ringer) to help shed light on wether it was just an eastern race or a siberian chiffchaff. We were not too sure what race or species to put this bird to, but on the follwing net round we trapped a second pale chiffchaff which showed more features of siberian. On the 28th a firecrest was trapped and ringed and was one species John had been waiting for as there had been atleast four present in the coastal park during the week. The October total was 288.

November was fairly quiet with 13 birds ringed which were mainly lesser redpolls, chaffinches and blackbirds.

2009 Ringing Totals

Red-flanked Bluetail (c) Adrian George
Yellow-browed Warbler (c) John Brown
Barred Warbler (c) John Brown Firecrest (c) John Brown
Possible Siberian Chiffchaff (c) John Brown
Sparrowhawk -3 + retrap male from last year
Woodcock - 1
Woodpigeon - 2
Great-spotted Woodpecker - 1
Swallow - 9
Wren - 11
Dunnock - 15
Robin - 22
Redstart - 2
Blackbird - 116
Fieldfare - 1
Song Thrush - 15
Redwing - 27
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Garden Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 7
Chiffchaff - 19
Siberian Chiffchaff (possibles) - 2
Willow Warbler - 11
Goldcrest - 6
Firecrest - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 12
Coal Tit - 3
Blue Tit - 22
Great Tit - 19
Magpie - 1
Starling - 4
Tree Sparrow - 1
Chaffinch - 33
Greenfinch - 10

2008 Ringing Totals

2008 was the first year of serious ringing effort at Whitburn Coastal Park, County Durham for a number of years. Ringing took place between July and November at weekends and when I could swing a day off work when the weather looked good for migrating birds. No scarcities were ringed during the autumn, however the highlight was certainly the big fall of redstarts and flycatchers during the week of the 6th and 7th September. 2008 seems to be a bumper year for Coal Tits as good numbers were ringed. Below are the totals ringed during the autumn 2008 period.

Sparrowhawk - 3
Swallow - 2
Meadow Pipit - 5
Wren - 8
Dunnock - 2
Robin - 36
Redstart - 17
Wheatear - 3
Blackbird - 24
Song Thrush - 7
Redwing - 5
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 3
Whitethroat - 6
Garden Warbler - 27
Blackcap - 14
Chiffchaff - 4
Willow Warbler - 31
Goldcrest - 36
Spotted Flycatcher - 5
Pied Flycatcher - 9
Long-tailed Tit - 36
Coal Tit - 65
Blue Tit - 13
Great Tit - 25
Treecreeper - 1
Magpie - 1
Starling - 1
Chaffinch - 21
Goldfinch - 5
Linnet - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 3
Bullfinch - 1