Thursday, 10 November 2011

10th November - More Bluetails

Peter Hog was out birding in the coastal park and found the third red-flanked bluetail this year at Whitburn.  It was being chased by robins in the southern end of the coastal park along the eastern edge of Shearwater Estate.  It is remarkable how many bluetails have now turned up in and around Whitburn coastal park.  The total now stands at 5 birds with the first bird being found in Marsden Quarry in 2002.  The second and third birds were trapped in the coastal park in 2009 and 2011.  The forth was found in Whitburn in 2011 and the fifth in the coastal park in 2011. 

Lets hope the bird turns up in one the nets at the weekend!!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

8th November

Easterly winds have been forecast for today for the past week.  John and I arrived at the coastal park and it was still blowing easterly with fog.  It looked good for a mega or good numbers of migrants, however the day started slow with a few blackbirds and a blackcap being trapped. Throughout the day the birds trickled into the nets and a total of 50 birds were trapped.  Frustratingly a woodcock got out of a net just as I got to it.  Today was likely to be one of the last sessions in the coastal park as migrant numbers drop off.  Depending on the weather a session may be done at the weekend.

Ringing totals included 26 blackbird, 10 robin, 5 redwing, 4 song thrush and blackcap plus a single siskin.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

5th November

Another morning at Whitburn with John, Jason and Phil.  It was a fairly good start to the day with a few song thrush and blackbirds being trapped.  A total of three woodcock were caught, with two in one round!!  The afternoon was very quiet though with very few birds about.  A firecrest was present in the big mound and made a few flights over the top of one of the nets but it was net shy and was not trapped.  Another sparrowhawk was trapped which brings the total to 5 ringed this year at the coastal park.  The sparrowhawk was trapped with its dinner which happened to be one of the redwings that had been ringed a few hours beforehand.

Ringing totals included 10 blackbird, 4 song thrush, 3 chaffinch and woodcock, 2 redwing and lesser redpoll, and singles of blackcap and sparrowhawk.

Retraps included 5 blackbird and blue tit, 2 goldcrest, and singles of great tit, robin and wren.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

29th October

Again it was quite breezy at Whitburn but the two mounds gave some shelter from the wind.  We were joined today by Paul House, a ringer from the Chew Valley ringing group.  Ringing started fairly slow with the odd robin and chaffinch being pulled in by the tapes.  During a net round a flock of long-tailed tits flew into the big mound followed by a distictly smaller bird.  I was hoping for a pallas's warbler, I had my fingers crossed.  A few net rounds later we caught the long-tailed tit flock and in with them was a stonking juvenile male firecrest. This is only the second firecrest to be ringed at the obs. It certainly was a long tailed tit day with a total of 31 new birds trapped plus a control bird which was ringed elsewhere (EAR502 do you recognise it?).  A male bullfinch was observed getting out of the net which was gutting but a female was sat in the next net.  This was the first bullfinch ringed at the obs.

Ringing totals included 31 long-tailed tit, 4 chaffinch, 2 robin and singles of coal tit, dunnock, firecrest, song thrush. Retraps included 2 robin and singles of blackcap, blackbird, chiffchaff and the control long-tailed tit.

 Firecrest © Adrian George

28th October

Early in the week the forecast looked great for ringing on Friday.  I got clearance from week to cram in a weeks work into 4 days.  Unfortunately by thursday the forecast had changed, as usual, and looked quite breezy.  Ringing went well tho with a few robin and blackcap being trapped. The afternoon was particularly quiet although the roost catch proved fruitful with 3 new robins and 3 blackbirds.

Ringing totals included 7 robin, blackbird and blackcap, 6 blue tit, 5 chaffinch and singles of song thrush, wren, chiffchaff and goldcrest. Retraps consisted of 6 blackbird and a wren.

26th October

Ringing totals included 10 blackbird and singles of song thrush, redwing, blackcap and great tit.

25th October

Ringing totals included two blue tits and a chiffchaff.

22nd October

Ringing totals consisted of a single blue tit.

21st October

Ringing totals included a blue tit and a lesser redpoll

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Ageing & Sexing Bluetails

After reading the blogs of other ringers who were fortunate enough to also trap and ring red-flanked bluetails last week, I noticed that most of them had sexed their birds.  Svensson (1992) says that juvenile birds can not clearly be sexed unless there is blue in the lesser and medium coverts, thus indicating a male.  However Mark Newsome kindly forwarded me a copy of British Birds 102, September 2009 which featured an article on ageing and sexing of Asian chats and included red-flanked bluetail.  Males clearly have a much brighter blue rump and tail feathers over females.  The females also show a greyish cast on the tail which is lacking on males.  On review of photos of the Whitburn 2011 bird, I have come to the conclusion that this was a juvenile male.  The photos below show how bright the rump is on this bird.

© Chris Bell

© Adrian George

After reviewing Paul Hindess video on youtube of the 2009 Whitburn bluetail,  I believe that this was also a male.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

16th October

The red-flanked bluetail showed on and off during the morning and it was undecided on whether the bird was ringed or not.   News soon came through that Flambrough had caught a second red-flanked bluetail so I really wanted to see if ours could well be a second bird too, however the birders finally got a good enough view of it and confirmed it was ringed.  As it had spent the day beside three nets and managed not to get trapped I presumed it was the bird that was trapped a few days ago.  A yellow-browed warbler was heard calling in the big mound throughout the day.  Not many other birds about and the catch consisted of mainly tits and finches.  Ringing highlights included the second ringed great spotted woodpecker (juvenile female) and treecreeper for the coastal park.  A total of 46 birds were trapped and ringed today.

Ringing totals included 19 long-tailed tits, 7 blue tits, 4 blackbirds, 3 coal tits and blackcaps, 2 great tit, chaffinch and goldfinch, plus singles of treecreeper, great spotted woodpecker, wren and greenfinch.

Below is a picture of the red-flanked bluetail taken yesterday by Steve Howard.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

15th October - back to normality

Once again all the nets were erected before it got light.  Catching was steady all day with the main species trapped being blackbirds and various tits.  Clear skies and a brisk wind meant that many birds probably avoided the nets.  Two yellow browed warblers were observed near to one of the nets however one bounced out and the other flew over the net, very frustrating!

Ringing totals included 13 blackbirds, 12 long tailed tits, 10 blue tits, 7 great tits, 5 chaffinch, 3 lesser redpolls, 2 siskins and blackcaps, plus singles of goldcrest, coal tit, redwing and dunnock.  Retrap totals included 5 blackbirds and singles of chiffchaff, goldcrest, great tit and wren.

Given that there was no sign of the red-flanked bluetail or any other scarcities by mid-afternoon, I decided to leave the site early.  This turned out to be the worst decision I could have made.  I got a call from Steve Howard telling me that there was an un-ringed red-flanked bluetail in the big mound!!! Im not sure how I will sleep tonight as I have got everything crossed in the hope it stays and is trapped early tomorrow morning.

Friday, 14 October 2011

14th October - It just gets better!!

Andy and I got to Whitburn Coastal Park early again this morning and got the nets up whilst it was still dark.   The first net round produced several blackbirds and looked good for catching quite a few thrushes. It was soon apparent that unlike yesterday there were no other thrushes present.  The red-flanked bluetail was re-trapped four times and I made the decision to move the bird to where it was found yesterday for the bird's welfare.  It showed well on and off for most of the afternoon.  I wonder if it will be around tomorrow.  Over the day a total of three yellow-browed warblers were trapped which was brilliant.  It seemed like there were many yellow-browed warblers in the big mound all morning.  I would easily say that there were at least twice that number moving through the mound today.  In the afternoon, a surprise was a woodcock that was trapped in the Arc.  Two adult male bramblings were trapped in the afternoon.  On the roost an adult male sparrowhawk was trapped, it was a retrap and was ringed in the coastal park in 2008.  Blackbirds made up the bulk of the birds trapped with a total of 66 trapped.  A total of 88 birds were ringed today.

Ringed species include 66 blackbirds, 6 chaffinch, 3 yellow browed warblers and goldcrest, 2 song thrush, brambling and blackcap, plus singles of coal tit, great tit, blue tit and chiffchaff.

Retraps included 3 blackbirds, 2 great tits, and singles red-flanked bluetail, robin, blue tit, chiffchaff, wren and sparrowhawk.

Red-flanked bluetail © Adrian George

Sparrowhawk © Adrian George