Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Great fire of London...

Despite living in south London, my sister still seems to attract lots of wildlife to her garden, includidng several species of bird. Whenever we visit I try to take my ringing gear, mainly beacuse my 3 little nephews love to see the birds close up but also because some of the common garden birds here aren't so common in mid Wales - Magpie, Greenfinch, Wood Pigeon etc.

This visit has certainly lived up to it's expectations, as well catching some of the 'common' species mentioned above, we also managed to catch a Firecrest. This is the first record of one in the garden, and made me wonder what else might have passed through un-noticed? Roll on the next visit!!

Another new species for the group!

1 of the 6 Goldcrests caught for comparison.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Life's a beach...

The last 3 nights a combination of myself, Silvia, Tony, Andre and Sarah have all been trying to catch waders once again at Ynyslas. Despite there seeming to be far fewer waders around during the night time high tides, catches were very good. Totals can be seen below, but the stand out highlights were 2 more Curlew Sandpipers, a Guillemot and amazingly TWO more Norwegian-ringed Dunlin.


It's been an incredible year for Dunlin, hopefully 500 can be reached before the year is out!

A very unusual (but welcome) find during a wader dazzling session!

 2010 Curlew Sandpiper total equalled, now to beat it!

Another good passage of Knot at Ynyslas this year.

Friday, 12 September 2014


Glad I did go back down to Ynyslas last night because we caught another 35 Dunlin including 2 retraps and a Norwegian control!! Will post details when they arrive.

Also managed to catch the other (or another?) Curlew Sandpiper

 and another Knot too, not a particularly common bird on the Dyfi.

Juvenile Knot showing the dark subterminal bars on the coverts

In the morning Sarah and I had a successful go at tape-luring Meadow Pipits in Borth. 70 pipits and 20 Reed Buntings were ringed along with 5 Reed Warblers which was a bit of a surprise - I thought they had largely gone already.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Living in a box...

we're living in a cardboard box.... 

A small proportion of the 58 waders dazzled last night at Ynyslas

but only temporarily!  Last night was one of those rare occasions when we managed to dazzle enough waders at Ynyslas that it necessitated taking them off to ring and process in an easier and more comfortable location than the car-park, complete with copious supplies of tea and good lighting (both increasingly important with advancing age!). The birds once ringed and processed are placed temporarily in large cardboard boxes (with ample breathing holes!)  before being returned to the beach as soon as they are all done.

It also allows for a closer  examination and appreciation of the more exciting members of the catch such as this juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, one of the two seen during the evening.

Always nice to see a white rump amongst all the Dunlin!

On the last set of high tides a fortnight ago we ringed just short of 200 Dunlin in four nights - exceptional by Ynyslas standards but not totally unexpected for new moon high tides at this time of the year. Last night with a glaring full moon and no cloud cover whatsoever we 'dazzled' 55 Dunlin, 1 Knot, 1 Redshank and 1 Curlew Sandpiper. I have rarely seen so many small waders on the strand line at Ynyslas and have never caught so well under those conditions so I will definitely be heading back for another go this evening before all the birds push through to winter quarters as far south as Mauritania and beyond?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A successful day starts with BO!

It is apparent from hearing what other ringers and nest-recorders have been finding that Barn Owls are having an absolutely amazing year this year. About time too as the past few years have seen a big decline in numbers following a succession of hard winters and wet summers. Chris Griffiths has been out and about ringing a few second broods in Montgomeryshire so, not to be left out of the action, I decided to check a few sites in west Wales too that I either hadn't checked previously or where an early first brood had already fledged.  Not really expecting that much it was very nice indeed to ring 10 more pull and 1 new adult yesterday morning from two sites out of the four I checked. Spurred on by this unexpected success I think a few more boxes might get checked in the next week or so!

A nice late brood of 6 Barn Owls in a site that was vacant 
for the first time in a long time last year

After doing the Barn Owls I met Andre at Borth fto have a go at netting the Swallow roost. Soon after we arrived large numbers of Swallows were quickly circling the tape lure, over 1000+, but this wasn't surprising given the millions upon millions of nasty, bitey midges that were particularly vicious in the perfectly calm and muggy conditions and absolutely ate us alive. 107 Swallows and 2 Sand Martins were ringed along with Andre's first ever Greenshank, caught in broad daylight in a net over the river. This is also the first Greenshank I've ever caught in broad daylight, usually their eyesight is faultless! Hopefully it was one of the two that narrowly evaded capture a few days before!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Way down on the swany river!

Well actually it was the not-so-swany canal!! Yesterday Paul Ashworth and I covered most of the 25 mile length of the Montgomery Canal between Newtown and Llanymynech on the English/Welsh border. I have been ringing the Mute Swans on this stretch of canal for about 20 years now and it usually holds about a dozen breeding pairs. Due to the lack of fluctuation in water level, they usually do pretty well (unlike many on the nearby River Severn) raising about 50 cygnets a year between them.  This year there were 13 occupied territories. Two of them appeared to have just one bird resident. Of the other 11 pairs, 6 had no cygnets at all, 2 pairs had just a single cygnet, 1 pair had 2 cygnets, 1 pair had 4 cygnets and the remaining pair had 8 cygnets. Sixteen cygnets in total!! At that rate I'll be able to afford to take Caroline and the kids away somewhere nice on holiday this year!

The success to swan ringing on the canal is to have a swan hook that will reach the far side!! All swans encountered were either ringed or their rings were read. You don't  achieve a 100% record for many ringing projects!