Sunday, 29 September 2013

Awesome Saturday & The Herald Turned Up!

On Saturday I was finally back at ringing again after being sick last week. We caught some great birds and saw some great birds too. Quite a few birds were active, as in flying about, and early in the morning I got to watch a fantastic "clattering" of Jackdaws flying from the trees awaking from a roost.

However it wasn't just birds that impressed on the day. As we had finished processing a group of birds we had caught, a biggish moth flew across us and firstly landed on the leg of our ringing table then flew on to a Bracken stalk, and as the moth came into the light I soon realised it was a moth called The Herald; a truly remarkable moth. It was the first time I had ever seen one and was surprised to see it in broad day light. 

When I first identified it and knew what it was, I first thought it was really rare but after some careful research at home I found out that it is actually quite a common moth and it's flight season ends near the end of November.  

Again before I move onto birds, it wasn't just moths and birds that caught our eye, there were a few nice butterflies knocking about including a beautiful Brimstone which was rather twitchy and sadly I could not get a photograph, but Peter got this cracker:

 Other butterflies included Peacock, Red Admiral (Peters first for the year) Tortoiseshell, Large White, Small White, Speckled Wood and this vibrant Comma.

Here is one more photo of The Herald!!! (No not you Trevor)!

Finally, moving onto birds. During the session we were watching a noticeable migration of Skylark and Meadow Pipit; at least a few hundred Skylark flew over and a little less Meadow Pipit. The birds migrating over seemed to be flying quite low over us (especially Meadow Pipits) and by the end of the session we had caught 8 Meadow Pipits one of which had 5 nasty ticks just below the eye; Peter was able to carefully remove the ticks with a lot of careful concentration. The five round black lumps under the eye on the photo below are the ticks (if you click on the picture is goes larger).

In total we ringed 64 birds and had a good variety including Blackcap, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Robin, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock and Chaffinch. 

 The place we were ringing at had a lot of Sparrow Hawks and during the ringing session I saw a phenomenal number of 8. We didn't just see these fantastic birds flying over but we also saw them chasing a Great Spotted Woodpecker and two of them then started mobbing a group of four Buzzards.

Another great migratory bird we saw whilst ringing was Pink Footed Geese high in the sky, the first of the year for me.

The day in one word.......AWESOME!

Our World Tuesday

Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Walking With Snipe, Kingfishers & Goosander

I was off school at the end of last week with a bit of a nasty virus and then I wasn't well enough to go ringing with Peter or play footie at the weekend. So the weekend was a bit rubbish (apart from getting 6 Greenfinches in the garden).  I did catch up on loads of homework though.

Because I had missed out on birding at the weekend , yesterday me and dad decided to take a quick walk down at Winsford Flash. As soon as we got down to where the big flash actually starts I spotted this beautiful Kingfisher sat up perfectly on a stick, however the picture was through the trees.

I have only been to the flash a few times before. During this visit on the scrape there were 3 Snipe; the first time I have properly seen a wader there. And on the scrape and in fields there were at least 400 Canada Geese!!! The biggest flock I had ever seen this close to home. 

Mixed in with these geese were some birds that from a distance looked like divers however as I got them in the binoculars (and confirming an ID at home later I soon knew they were Goosanders) another great bird seen there.

Thank you for visiting. I really do enjoy your comments.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Good Question 14

It's Tuesday Night Quiz Night

That came round again really quickly. It must be all that homework I've had.

As you may know, I recently went to the Rutland Birdfair and met loads of brilliant people. Lucy McRoberts and some of her people at A Focus On Nature (who do great things supporting youngster who want to work in conservation) made an amazing video about the bird fair. Your quiz challenge tonight is to see how many species of bird you can spot in the video. 

Remember, the birds could be alive, or on stand logos or even pictures in the art tent. Good luck. I am going to have another look and do my final count. There is a bonus point if you spot what it said on mine and Harley's chalk boards.

I will post the answer tomorrow night, or at least how many I think there are!

Good luck. (Sorry it's not a Blackbird quiz Douglas).

And the answer is

These are all the birds I identified

1. Osprey
2. Avocet
3. Tawny Owl
4. Spoon Bill Sandpiper
5. Goldfinch
6. Emperor Penguin
7. Spotted Flycatcher
8. Great Crested Grebe
9. Redstart
10. Robin
11. Eagle Owl
12. Albatros
13. Upland Sandpiper
14. Bobolink
15. Blue Tit
16. Kingfisher
17. barn Owl
18. Dipper
19. Yellow Bellied Sapsucker
20. Humming Bird
21. Kestrel
22. Grouse
23. Puffin
24. Black Headed Gull
25. Cormorant
26. Scaup
27. Little Egret
28. Mute Swan
29. Red backed Shrike
30. Bullfinch
31. Pelican

Leave a comment if you think you saw any others. Thanks to everyone for having a go.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Sam's First Kingfisher

Sunday 15th September was truly a great, but wet day. I went for a bird watching trip at Winsford Flash with my best friend Sam, he is also rather interested in nature and loved the trip we took him on. As we walked through a wooded path the Flash soon came into view, and straight away we saw all the usual gulls especially Black Headed Gulls along with this stunning Herring Gull.

 As we continued along the path we soon came to a big viewing point (just after we had come off a board walk), and anyway as we had a quick scan to see what there was, I saw a bird sat on a post. I  knew straight away it was Kingfisher, really exciting for me but mega exciting for Sam due to it being the first ever sighting of one for him. 

 I took a few shots of this splendid bird, but I am only showing these two. The rain was so heavy that all the pictures are a bit grainy.

Monday 16th September; (today). After another long day at school I convinced dad to do another quick visit, sadly there was no Kingfisher; but there were at least 250 Canada Geese. There were also a few Mallards about and still a lot of swifts, however the one below the white duck looked a bit like a Pintail in the picture, but I don't think it is.

As we followed the path round the corner we soon come to a big mud scrape that I reckon will get some rare migratory birds (a few days ago I saw a Snipe there) and common birds of course. 

Last year we had a flock of about 200 Canada Geese in one of the fields behind our house. There was a pure white goose with them. This big flock below had a pure white goose with them and is only a few miles from our house, so I wonder it it is the same flock.

Hopefully might make it there tomorrow. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Blackcaps, Robins and a bonus Spotted Flycatcher!

Saturday was another great ringing session. As we were setting up, we were lucky enough to hear a Tawny Owl in a tree next to us. Blackcaps were the main birds of the day. I always love to study and ring these birds, well I do with all birds, but I think these birds don't tend to wriggle around as much as some other birds. The picture is one we caught earlier this year. It was also nice to ring a large number of Robins. and a couple of Blackbirds. Where do Blackbirds disappear to at this time of year, there have been none in the garden at home for weeks now (and very few out ringing).

At this time of year we'd be catching quite a few juvenile White Throats but today we also caught an adult that had just finished it's moult, so it had all the adult plumage feathers, it was absolutely stunning. (One of the reasons we know it is an adult is because a really bright orangey eye, whereas on a juvenile it would be a rather dark eye).

In comparison to the picture above, the bird in the picture below is a juvenile White Throat, see when  you compare the eye you can tell the one below is a juvenile.

When you are ringing, you can also do a bit of bird watching and as I did yesterday. Early in the morning we had talked about us possibly seeing a Spotted Flycatcher and as I was chatting to Peter a Spotted Flycatcher suddenly flew over us and then across us into a bush as we were taking the nets down. Me, Peter, Dad and Moxey all saw it, so that was a perfect way to end the day.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Winsford Flash

I have been desperate all week to get out and about, but I have had so much homework since I started at High School. But last night we made it, a trip out! We decided to go to Winsford Flash as mum and dad had seen a Black Tern there a few days before and it was a new place for me to visit.

As soon as I got out of the car, a Sparrowhawk soared efficiently over us, startling the Wood Pigeons.

We walked along the River Weaver to get to the flash. On the way we saw 3 Kingfishers, Black Headed Gulls and this elegant Grey Heron.

The flash was filled with Black Headed Gulls and we got nice and close for a few snaps. Winsford Flash is huge, mostly because part of the Salt Mine collapsed and flooded fields next to the river, however it is all not just deep; on the side next to part of the actual river there is basically a mud scrape the size of Haydn's Pool and on it I saw Snipe, Black Headed Gulls, Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Mute Swans, Mallards, a huge flock of Goldfinch and Wood Pigeons.

We also saw a very large Mink. It's first time I have ever seen one. It wasn't just a quick glimpse, it was a proper good view of it running directly across us. It then swam across the flash to a nearby island. Because of it's size, I did think it might have been an otter at first and got quite excited, but now I don't think it was.

What an end to a great day, but tiring day.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Good Question 13

It's Tuesday Night Quiz Night.

Whilst my amazing ringing trainer was away ringing in Portugal, he kept sending me homework back, so I thought I would test you on it as well.

Tonight's question is:

What bird does this tail belong to?

I will post the answer tomorrow night, and I have switched  on the comment approval thing to stop you copying other people's homework!

Good luck

And the answer is;

Cetti's Warbler

If you count the rectrices (tail feathers) there are only 10, whereas most similar birds would have 12.

Well done to those who got it right and thank you to everyone that had a go.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Breakfast With Bullfinches, Lunch With Barn Owls.

I was really excited about this weekend, because it was the first time I could go ringing with Peter for six weeks, due to him being in Portugal. It was a two session weekend out and about in South Lancashire with of course two early starts back to back.

Saturday was reasonable with at least 40 birds, nothing unusual, but we caught quite a lot of Blackcap and a few White Throat which was nice. Other birds we caught yesterday included: Wrens, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Robins, Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers, Blue Tits, Great Tits and a Chiffchaff (caught in a Reed bed). The vegetation had grown up quite a bit over the six weeks and brambles were a big problem for my dad who got tripped up twice and fell head first into the nettles !

Today the morning was all about the Bullfinches with quite an unusually high number caught at our site today. There were also a couple of other spectacular birds, a couple of  stunning Yellowhammers and the bird as shown in the picture below. The bird is a Garden Warbler; I have been lucky enough to have ringed this species earlier in the holidays.

Due to feeding up for migration some birds had yellow on their breast which is it's fat. This bird below individually had a fat score of 5, so whilst migrating it should do well. I know the picture below doesn't really look like a bird but we blow gently on the birds underside to look at its fat score. We occasionally see feather mites also on the birds.

 Other warbler species we caught were juvenile Common White Throats, we know this bird is a juvenile because the two outermost tail feathers were a buffish colour (with an adult these would be white), the eye on the bird was quite dark as well. Peter was hoping to catch more of what we did catch, but I was happy.

Again we caught a Willow Tit in a single mist net. This bird was a re-trap, I think it might have been one I had ringed previously.

We weren't just catching birds in mist nets, we also got to ring these fantastic juvenile Barn Owls. There were four in the nest; the biggest Barn Owl brood of the year which is fantastic, as this year is turning out to be a very bad year for barn owls.

A juvenile barn Owl is quite a handful so Peter helped me to ring this one.

The two barn owls below are of course from the same brood but show the massive difference in size as the female lays her eggs at different times.

A great way to end the weekend and the Summer holidays before I start at high school on Tuesday!!!