Saturday, 23 January 2010

Nice Jay at the Lodge

A pretty good roost session at Charnwood Lodge with 35 new birds including 2 Brambling, 1 Redwing and 25 Chaffinch. We don't catch Jays very often but they really are quite stunning. One of the ageing features is to compare the lovely black on blue 'barcodes', adults basically look 'regular' (like this one) first year birds look as if they've been shuffled.
It was also encouraging to catch some Goldcrests and find that despite the recent extreme weather their weights were 'normal'.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The worst may be over?

Further to the Fieldfare catches, it's good to know that the average weights of Chris's birds was close to 100 grams (although the sample size was small). Compare that with Portland where birds evidently forced out by cold weather averaged 96.3g on the 7th January and 92.4g on the 8th. BWP indicates that exhausted, moribund and birds killed by cold weather weigh in the 50's to low 60's so if the worst is over, birds that have managed to hold their own should now survive.
I was pleasantly surprised earlier today to hear and then see two Goldcrest in a small ivy clad clump who were there before the snow and I feared had succumbed but must have been able to feed and get some protection from excessive heat loss.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Ringing totals 2009

Chris has been doing a great job with our data and has just produced our totals for 2009. CLICK FOR TOTALS
Although we have largely suspended ringing activities until the extreme weather passes Chris has made some selective catches of the well fed birds in her garden including a few Fieldfare.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Cold weather movement Shawell to Spain.

Just had confirmation that a colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull which was at Shawell last week when the weather closed in is now on a beach at Coruna in northern Spain! (there's a lesson there somewhere).
The day after I saw that bird another LBBG, a third winter, which had previously wintered in Spain was also at Shawell no doubt regretting the decision to spend this one in the UK.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Too cold to ring .... what to do? .....

.... go and find some colour ringed birds that's what.
A couple of days this week I've combined Gull watching at Shawell with reading colour rings. Until the freeze ends I've decided not to ring so birds can concentrate fully on feeding. In the meantime frozen water is a great attraction for gulls and when they stand in full view colour rings are easier to read. I've already had a German ringed Mediterranean Gull (see pic), 3 Lesser Black-backs and 2 Herring Gulls. One of the LBBG's ringed in Gloucestershire has previously wintered in Spain, I bet he/she is regretting staying in the UK this winter! Another LBBG ringed in 2004 was seen all over the place but then disappeared for 2 years until yesterday. Here's just one life history. I think it likes junk food:-
Lesser Black-backed Gull
FH21367 N 10 Ringed 22/11/08 SGD Stoke Orchard landfill site, Gloucestershire. 51.56N 02.06W
S 12 Sighted 07/02/09 RC Stubbers Green, Aldridge, West Midlands (77 km, N, 77 days)
O 12 Sighted 12/11/09 JDS Grundons landfill site, Gloucestershire (2 km, N, 355 days)
O 12 Sighted 17/11/09 JDS Grundons landfill site, Gloucestershire (2 km, N, 360 days)
O 12 Sighted 05/12/09 JDS Grundons landfill site, Gloucestershire (2 km, N, 1 yr 13days)
O 12 Sighted 10/12/09 JDS Grundons landfill site, Gloucestershire (2 km, N, 1 yr 18days)
O 12 Sighted 03/01/10 PFS Throckmorton landfill site, Worcestershire (22 km, N, 1 yr 42days)
S 12 Sighted 07/01/10 SH Shawell landfill site, Leicestershire (82 km, NE, 1 yr 46days)

Saturday, 2 January 2010

First birds of 2010 (2)

Andy beat me to it but I also managed to get out today. First visit to the sewage works but there were contractors on site trying to sort out frozen valves etc and I was getting in the way so only a few Pied Wagtails to show for it. Some years ago when I first started with Pied Wags, Chris Mead was kind enough to give me some pointers. I remember to this day that he said, 'make the most of January as the early spring moult messes up what you thought you knew'. What he meant by that is that in just a few weeks time birds start pre-breeding moult and it's all change. For now it's easy to spot 1st year birds (age code 5) as in the lower image where the two outer brownish original juvenile greater coverts (the ones the bird fledged with back in summer 2009) clearly contrast with the blacker, white edged coverts it replaced the inner ones with in the early autumn. This is what ringers refer to as a 'moult limit' and is frequently used to age birds. There are other things to see such as one 'new' tertial etc but that's enough ringer speak for now.

First ringing for 2010

A 2 hour session on the rough produced 22 birds of 8 species. 4 Blabi, 8 Housp, 2 Goldf, 1 Chaff and 1 Grefi were the highlights. Must organise a whoosh net so that I can bag me some garden gulls. I have had a reply from John Wells for the colour ringed B.H. Gull that I found at Thornton. It was rung in 2009 at Cotswold water park and was last recorded in Wiltshire.