Thursday, 20 December 2012

Waxies winging it!

Waxwing number 100! 
(always worth checking that you have a scenic background when composing a photo!)

On Tuesday I paid another quick visit to Newtown College where I managed to catch 3 more Waxwings taking the total we've ringed in Mid Wales this year to exactly 100! As previously posted, most of these have also been colour-ringed and we are really beginning to reap the rewards of making the extra effort to get them colour-ringed. So far we have had 5 good movements of birds ringed at Newtown as shown in the map below.

Ringing location in Red resighting locations in Blue

It is very early days yet, with several months before the Waxwings are due to turn round and head back to whence they came, so hopefully the next map to be posted will be near obliterated with place markers!

The map below is what I have in mind and shows the results of the Grampian Ringing Group's colour-ringing of Waxwings during the last major influx. Many thanks to Raymond Duncan of GRG for the map and also for providing us with colour combinations and passing on emails of re-sightings.

Hello Shorty!

On a recent ringing trip I caught this short billed woodcock. Sorry about the poor standard of photography, it was scrambled onto my mobile with the light of my head torch.
Nobody knows why we get short bills, as far as we can tell these are not the result of injuries as they look normal, just short, this one measured 49.6mm (tip to feather). Despite being a 'shorty' this bird weighed in at a respectable 330gms. Nigel Jones of the New Forest Woodcock Group has also caught a shorty this winter.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Beunas dias Ceri!

Just visited the Argos website, no not shopping for Christmas presents but checking out the whereabouts of our satellite-tagged Golden Plover 'Ceri'. Just over a week ago I stumbled into her whilst lamping, in the same field that Paul and I caught her in. I was a little bit surprised therefore to be taken straight to a map of Madrid!! I wasn't expecting that but obviously in the recent cold spell Ceri rather than nipping down the coast to Ynyslas or Ynyshir as we may have predicted has headed off to sunny Spain instead turning up there on 11th December. By an amazing stroke of co-incidence I'm off to Madrid myself in a months time. If she's still there I won't be able to resist going to see if I can find her.

Bit of a Purple patch

Last night I had to go to Aberystwyth to drop off a vehicle so as my trip coincided with high tide I thought I'd have a quick go at catching Purple Sandpipers on the sea wall. This is something I've tried many, many times before with only one success and a near miss to show for it.  The street lights immediately above the wall make lamping ineffective as the birds usually see you as you lean over and jump straight off. Nothing ventured nothing gained though. Don't know if this one was blind or asleep but it didn't jump quick enough! This is only the 3rd Purple Sandpiper we've ever ringed.

As Purple Sandpipers hop around on barnacle covered rocks all day they wear their rings away quite quickly so ringers are now required to put the ring on the tibia (above the knee) where they can't be seen so don't worry, we won't be spoiling anyones photographs!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Where next?

On Saturday 9th December Phil Owen photographed a Waxwing in Newtown College with colour-rings Blue/Black on the left leg. He showed me the photo thinking it was one we had ringed. 

Sometime later I realised that we had been colour-ringing on the right leg!! Surely we hadn't made a mistake? Luckily this bird was one of 18 that Damian and I caught later that same day so thankfully we could confirm it wasn't one of ours.

I have just received the following by email from Raymond Duncan of the Grampian Ringing Group.

"Well actually no, NW62620 isn’t one of ours, it was ringed on Fair Isle as a 3 male on 4/11/12 but then we retrapped it in Aberdeen on 15/11/12 (when 3 summer Fair Isle ringers were present!) and added blue over black colours on left leg. You haven’t gone and caught it have you?!"

We also heard from him that one of the Newtown ringed birds has turned up in Chepstow already. Great to be getting some returns for all our efforts. Please keep your eyes peeled and cameras ready for any other colour-ringed Waxwings.

Dab hands

A very mixed and enjoyable bit of ringing with Damian Clarke and Adrienne Stratford over the past 24 hours! The evening started with three Shags (all caught at roost!).


This was followed by a successful foray into a North Wales quarry in order to colour-ring one of a previously un-ringed breeding pair of Choughs.

Another one to look for

We then headed on to Anglesey in search of Little Grebes and managed a very respectable catch of 6  (5 new and one retrap from Jan 2012).

The crack Little Grebe squad 

Look, no hands!!

 A very smart adult

Then, earlier today, we headed out to Nefyn in search of more Choughs but only managed to locate a small group of 5 which were far too mobile to attempt catching,(although 3 of them were identified by their colour-rings). Whilst searching we came a cross a Buzzard on the beach eating a large fish-head. A couple of minutes later Damian's giant spring trap was set and baited with what remained of the fish-head and after a short wait the Buzzard returned to finish its meal. It didn't!

Damian's mega spring-trap scores a first hit!

Monday, 10 December 2012

What a Whooper!

Got Irish ringer, Damian Clarke, staying with me for a few days. We've been trying to do a bit of lamping and Waxwing netting but success has been pretty limited. Numbers of Woodcock (at least where we've been looking) have been lower than normal at this time of the year. Have managed a few though and that has hopefully spurred him on to try for a few back in Ireland. Waxwings too were not playing ball, until last night anyway, when we had a late catch of 16 just before they headed off to roost. By far the best bird of the visit so far though was a result with a half-hearted attempt to catch one of six Whooper Swans on a small lake near Ponterwyd. I even had a Darvic ring handy so that will hopefully increase the chances of some feedback.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A luring Waxwings!

On Tuesday the Waxwings at Newtown were having none of it. Spent all day waiting for them to turn up and feast on the ornamental rowan berries that had been hung alluringly in a convenient catching spot, nothing! A quick look at the Montgomery Bird Blog last night however showed that the following day (when I couldn't make it) they promptly polished off the lot!!

This morning the weather wasn't forecast as good but it was showing a small window of opportunity early on so I arrived pre dawn and reloaded the bushes with more berries obtained from a handy tree on the way! The first Waxwing was caught just as it was still getting light and over the next few hours another 13 were caught including 1 retrap. So far this winter we have ringed 75 of which 60 have also been individually colour-ringed. In one way I can't wait for them to move on but kind of hoping they might just hang around and fall for the same trick on Saturday morning - although I need to find another source of berries. Anyone seen 4 Swedes in a blue estate car?

A cautionary tale - whilst posting this on here I looked at the combination and thought I'd dropped a clanger. I'd ringed Red/Blue earlier in the week? This is actually Orange/Blue and a fairly orangey orange at that! Who said the camera can't lie?

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Redwing roost.

This evening myself, dad and Tony headed down to a recent Redwing roost that I'd found, to see how catchable they were! As it was our first visit there it was going to be a bit hit and miss as to whether we'd catch anthing at all, but we set the nets up and waited! As it turned out the nets were in a perfect place, but by the time the Redwings started to arrive, the nets were already alive with several Starlings! When we had finally extracted them all, the majority of the Redwings had already passed over the nets (the delightful screaming Starlings didn't do us any favours there!!). But as there were several thousand birds using this roost we still managed a reasonable catch. We finished the night with a total of 30 Redwings, 25 Starling and 2 Goldcrests. Not bad for our first attempt, and several more birds to have a go at!

Viking Invaders, welcome and not so welcome!

The weekend saw increased activity and numbers of Waxwings in and around Newtown College. On Saturday Jane, Dave and I, briefly joined by Andre, caught and colour-ringed a further 25 out of the 200 or so present. Never seen anything like it - at one point several small puddles in the car park were literally heaving with Waxwings drinking and bathing. Luckily they were coming down to berries in several parts of the grounds so we were able to net some parts whilst the gathering of local bird photographers got ample photo opportunities nearby.

In a slightly surreal episode, at one point four other Swedish visitors arrived, covered a large part of the car park in sacking and proceeded to thrash hell out of the hedges with long sticks collecting the very hawthorn berries the Waxwings were feasting on. A slightly heated exchange saw them moving on to collect their berries elsewhere!

Sunday morning started brilliantly with Paul, Jane and I catching and colour-ringing another 16 new birds and 1 retrap before 10 am but then two unwelcome appearances by a sparrowhawk wazzed them all off and they only returned shortly after we gave up at 2pm. Sod's Law. Ah well mustn't be greedy. Hopefully they might hang around a bit longer as the next couple of days are forecast as not too good!

Two of Saturdays colour-ringed Waxwings. Have great expectations for future sightings and some interesting onward journeys once the berries have gone. Many thanks to Phil Owen for the photos.