Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Pictures from the past few days

 pallas's warbler © Andrew Walker 

 dusky warbler © Andrew Walker

Red-breasted flycatcher © Andrew Walker

 ring ouzel © Andrew Walker

fieldfare © Andrew Walker

More photos are available on Andrews website.

23rd October

Over night the wind was NE and after yesterday I had high hopes.  Arriving on site it was misty but unlike yesterday there was hardly a bird to be seen or heard.  A woodcock was trapped on the first net round which was nice after missing two yesterday.  Andrew Walker joined me again today which was a massive help.  After saying that we couldnt beat yesterdays pallas's warbler and red-breasted flycatcher we checked Walters net (The 40' net that has trapped the PG Tips and 2 barred warblers).  The first bird I came across looked like a chiffchaff but was darker and had a distinct supercilium with pale legs.  I noticed the slender bill and realised it was a dusky warbler.  I had to get Andy to take several paces back and look at the bird through his bins as birds in the hand can be very confusing close up.  A few of the local birders were in the vacinity and were lucky enough to see it in the hand.  The bird was relocated in the afternoon by Keith so at least John got to see it as he was working in the morning.  Over the morning it was clear that blackbirds have been replaced by redwings. Robins were also more numerous than yesterday.  The afternoon was similar to the morning with a continuous flow of redwings, goldcrests and robins.  A ring ouzel was trapped and ringed in the afternoon and was another new species ringed in the coastal park.  A great grey shrike dropped onto the Big Mound by the ringing hut however swiftly flew over the the quarry and out of site.  Overall another fantastic day, just a shame I have to work tomorrow.

Ringing totals were 134 birds including 47 redwing 28 robin, 25 blackbird, 22 goldcrest, 8 song thrush and singles of fieldfare, ring ouzel, dusky warbler and woodcock.

Monday, 22 October 2012

22nd October

The wind finally went east after a week or more of southwesterlies yesterday evening.  I got to Whitburn early whilst it still dark.  The place was lifting with thrushes.  The first net round was fairly quiet but it soon picked up with the majority of trapped birds being blackbirds.  A immature male fieldfare was trapped and a few goldcrests.  Two woodcock were flushed in the Big Mound but both missed the nets.  In the afternoon more goldcrests arrived and a pallas's warbler was trapped and ringed.  What a beautiful bird!!  On the next net round an Acrocephelus warbler was trapped, thinking it was possibly a blyths reed warbler, but surely it couldnt be.  I was right and it turned to be a bog standard reed warbler.  A few robins also started to arrive in the late afternoon.  A red-breasted flycatcher was located in the afternoon and was soon trapped and ringed.  In total 147 birds were trapped and ringed.  This was the highest ever day total at Whitburn.  It wont ever beat portland or spurn but it was a terrific day!

Ringing totals included 64 blackbird, 32 goldcrest, 21 robin, 13 redwing, 5 blackcap, 3 song thrush, 3 wren, 2 chiffchaff and singles of fieldfare, reed warbler, pallas's warbler, red-breasted flycatcher.

 pallas's warbler (c) Andrew Walker

reed warbler (c) Andrew Walker

Sunday, 21 October 2012

21st October

With westerly winds and clear skies over night, there was no expectations on today.  The first net round produced NO birds.  However this didnt continue as we trapped the first fieldfare ringed for the autumn at Whitburn.  By mid afternoon the tits and finches started to arrive and we started catching ok.  In the end it was the highest ringing total for this season with 77 birds of 15 species.  A further 2 great spotted woodpeckers were trapped and ringed bringing our total to 11 this year.  A jay was observed in the Whitburn coastal park however it did not make it into one of the mist nets.  The barred warbler remained in the bushes over the road from the lighthouse entrance, though was elusive for most of the day.  A snow bunting was observed mid-morning around the coastal park.

Ringing totals were 77 birds including 14 lesser redpoll, 11 coal tit, 10 greenfinch, 9 blue tit, 7 long-tailed tit, 6 great tit, 5 chaffinch, 4 goldfinch, 3 goldcrest, 2 great-spotted woodpecker, 2 blackbird and singles of robin, dunnock, tree sparrow and brambling.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Finally a Barred!

A number of barred warblers have been found along the south shields coast recently however none have made it into the Big Mound.  A barred warbler was located on the otherside of the road from Souter Lighthouse where there are a number of net height sycamore and alder bushes.  We put a net up and it wasnt long before the barred warbler along with a robin, a retrap blackbird and dunnock was found in the net.  This barred warbler was the third ringed for the site following birds in 2009 and 2010.  It is a bird that John has long been waiting for as I ringed the first and john's trainer - Graham ringed the second.  There was a variety of other species trapped including more tits, finches, goldcrests and the third bullfinch for the site.

Ringing totals for the day was 47 and included, 12 long-tailed tits, 6 greenfinch, 5 lesser redpoll, 4 blue tit, 3 goldcrests, 3 chaffinch, 3 goldfinch, 2 blackbird, 2 great tit, 2 coal tit and singles of robin, dunnock, barred warbler, chiffchaff and bullfinch.

barred warbler (c) Dougie Holdon 

Monday, 15 October 2012

October 12/13 & 14th

The weekend started off well as I got a call at Friday lunchtime from Paul Cook telling me he had found another pallass grasshopper warbler at Marsden Quarry.  I took the afternoon off and popped down to see it.  I dipped it so Andy and I headed down to the coastal park to find several thrushes in the Big Mound.  There had been a large fall of birds during the morning but I decided not to go ringing due to the strong winds.  We found a couple of sheltered net rides and put a few nets up.

Ringing totals for Friday totalled 14 including 6 blackbird, 3 song thrush, 2 goldcrest and singles of redwing, chiffchaff and robin.

The sky went clear on Friday night so I was expecting most of the days migrants had moved on by Saturday morning.  The morning was slow however the by the afternoon we were catching a trickle of migrants, mostly tits though.  Paul Cook was on a roll finding little bunting on the Leas and several yellow-browed warblers, while Dave Foster found richard's pipit at the coastal park.  I got a call from Paul in the afternoon letting me know that he had found a locustella warbler in the nature reserve section of the coastal park.  I went down with jeff and a net to trap it as Paul was certain it was  a common grasshopper warbler but we wanted to be sure.  We set the net and walked down the wall moving the bird towards the net however just as the bird got to the net it flew over the wall then into the reedbed.  Thankfully during the process both Paul and Dave got good views and confirmed that it was a common grasshopper warbler.  

Ringing totals for Saturday totalled 64 including 13 blue tits, 12 blackbirds, 7 coal tits, 7 long-tailed tits, 6 song thrush, 6 great tit, 3 brambling, 2 goldcrest, 2 chaffinch and singles of redwing, robin, wren, pied flycatcher, blackcap and siskin.

Saturday night was similar to Friday night so again no big fall of migrants were expected.  Paul Cook continued his run of yellow-browed warbler.  Andy and I tried trapping one of them on the other side of the coastal park however it had other ideas and flew over the net 3 times.  A pod of ~5 white-beaked dolphins were also seen close inshore feeding.

Ringing totals for Sunday totalled 53 including 11 blackbird, 11 goldcrest, 10 great tit, 6 coal tit, 4 redwing, 3 blue tit, 2 wren and singles of blackcap, song thrush, redstart, robin, greenfinch and goldfinch.

Redstart © Adrian George

Monday, 8 October 2012

New ringing species for Whitburn

It has been a rather quiet long weekend at Whitburn.  A high pressure system lingered over Whitburn and it meant that there was never going to be a fall of migrants.  On Saturday approximately 50 birds were trapped and ringed and Sunday saw only 35 birds ringed.  Today we trapped just over 40 birds.  The majority of birds belonged to the tit family.  We have now surpassed our previous record of coal tit (68 in 2008).  Highlights were our 9th great spotted woodpecker of the autumn.  It is highly likely that these are continental birds as they have been seen flying in off the sea at a number of locations.  Considering that in 4 years of ringing we have only trapped 2 great spotted woodpecker, 9 this year is incredible.

We had a new ringing species for Whitburn today, no it wasn't as rare as our recent pallas's grasshopper warbler - it was a Kestrel!!!  They regularly sit on the net poles but never end up in a net until today.  Andy had the pleasure of extracting it and ringing it (a new species for him).  On the same net round I had trapped our 10th sparrowhawk of the year (an immature male).

Overall a fairly good few days.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

2nd October

Today was much more of a quiet affair at Whitburn.  Rain in the morning delayed opening the nets and also forced the nets to be closed in the afternoon.  A total of 17 birds were trapped and ringed.  These included 5 blue tit, 4 great tit, 3 coal tit, 2 goldcrest, and singles of song thrush, chiffchaff and lesser redpoll

Monday, 1 October 2012

1st October

John has been joined by his trainer Graham for a weeks ringing at Whitburn (a tradition).  Andy has also taken two weeks holiday.  Today the winds were not as strong as over the weekend and the team managed to get most of the nets open.  It seems to be a good tit year at Whitburn, whether this is because tits have had a good breeding season (unlikely) or the lack of food up north in Scotland, we just dont know.  Falsterbo bird observatory in Sweden are recording huge numbers of blue tits at the moment due to presumably a poor beech mast crop.  1692 blue tits were ringed there yesterday, thats more birds than we ring at Whitburn in an entire year!  A flock of 20+ coal tits were trapped in one 60' mist net.  A final tally of 28 coal tit is the highest daily total of this species ringed at Whitburn since we started in 2008.

Today a total of 68 birds were ringed at Whitburn and included 28 coal tit, 12 goldfinch, 10 long tailed tit, 6 great tit, 4 dunnock, 2 song thrush, 2 blue tit and singles of robin, redstart, chaffinch and greenfinch.

coal tit © Adrian George