Monday 31 January 2011

It's a start

With no work and fine weather Mike arrived at 9am armed with an assortment of nets for a session in the back garden. A slow but productive first effort followed with an obvious trial and error feel to the net placements. A (5)Robin took the accolade as first for the garden nets, closely followed by 2 (4m) House Sparrows.

2 (6) Blue Tits and another (4m) House Sparrow were next to be extracted and a (6m) Blackbird was the first of 2. A pair of Long-tailed Tits appeared on the suet balls and it wasn't long before they were caught up in the nets.

Another welcome (4f)House Sparrow and a rather nice (5m) Goldcrest that i had not seen for a few days thankfully came into the garden.

Out of 4 Wood Pigeons in the garden 2 bounced out of the net but 1 a 5 managed to find it self caught in the shelf. The 2nd (6m) Blackbird was the only bird to be caught in the lawn net, i think a different position next time. A (6) Dunnock was welcome and thankfully the one bird i had hoped for a (5m) Great Spotted Woodpecker was caught, i was happy as was the wife and even the neighbour.

That was a fitting conclusion to our first mist net session in the garden. 15 birds processed with a decent species spread. Birds missed were Jay, Magpie, Collared Dove, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Great Tit, all feeding but managing to elude the nets, next time.

Sunday 30 January 2011

A touch of Thrush !

Back down at Woolston yesterday with more coppicing work being done, at least all the back breaking work we are doing will be worth it come the spring. No surprises in the nets with but still some decent numbers with 23 processed and 9 extractions, by me that is not in total. Today was an opportunity to visit a private site in Great Warford run by Hugh Pulsford, a cracking little shelter belt dissecting some back gardens and a sports field. First catch was a success with 8 Fieldfares accepting the lure of apple halves on the ground. 7 female and a lone male was the tally. It was a good opportunity to compare the differences close up of the 2 sexes. The male bird with its darker crown feathers as compared to the more uniform grey of the female also the contrast in colouration of the breast and flanks, things that you rarely notice in the field.

5m Fieldfare.

5f Fieldfare.

A (5)Lesser Redpoll and (5f)Siskin were new birds for me to process and we ended with a decent haul of 13 processed and 8 extractions. With tomorrow looking like a free day (no work) Mike and I have decided to put up some nets in the garden, fingers crossed.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Waxing lyrical !

Not been to much to report hence the non posting. Back ringing again at Woolston after a couple of weeks away due to the weather. Lots of coppicing again with a smattering of birds pulled from the obs nets, highlight this week was a (5) female Great Spotted Woodpecker that took a fondness to my hand? Whilst i was extracting her she decided to hammer my hand with the obvious result of broken skin and blood, at least it didn't hurt like the bite i got from a Blue Tit earlier that drew blood.
On the way home called in at Sainsbury's in Altrincham, not for food but for c.130 Waxwings that were giving rather splendid views, light was awful for photos but still managed a few keepers.

Monday 3 January 2011

A Welcome Return

Well that's 2010 over with, here's to 2011. A jam packed Christmas with lots of entertaining and not a lot of anything else. The Marshalls' came for Christmas diner which was very nice and friends from Whalsay (James & Zoe) visited yesterday with their new daughter Esme in tow! Also yesterday was a welcome return to the ringing at Woolston, although the numbers were low we managed to get on with some much needed coppicing in preparation for the spring nets. 6 Brambling including a stunning adult male (6m) and 2 Coal Tit were the highlight of the morning session. 2 Potter traps were set also in the hope of a Water Rail but no joy, hopefully more luck over the upcoming weeks.

 Open wing of a (5) Coal Tit showing 3 old greater coverts.

Saturday 1 January 2011

2010 Review

A very slow start to 2010 with the first couple of weeks spent in Cheshire. Once home a very early Hawfinch was unexpected on patch and an overdue pair of Greenland Whitefronted Geese in front of the house. Off isle a Black-bellied dipper put in a good show around Scalloway, oh and there was a small matter of a patch yearlist with entries from Messrs Minton, Fray, Bell, Haywood and Harvey.

As tradition should dictate a very slow month. A male Snow Bunting on the 3rd was a welcome patch tick and an Iceland Gull at Hamister proved to be the only one of 2010. Roll on March. 

An Egyptian Goose of unknown origin was a  slight distraction from the weekly Tesco shop on the 2nd. A Little Gull on the 21st was a cracking patch lifer which eventually relocated to Hamister, thankfully for decent photos.
A fruitless trip to Yell for a Bearded Seal on the 23rd and Spring arrived on the 25th with the first migrants trickling through. The month ended with a cracking day out in the company of Brydon photographing Otters.

No April fool here with a patch tick male Black Redstart on the 1st and i eventually caught up with the Bearded Seal on the 9th on my 3rd attempt.

Caught the Northern Lights show on the 11th and the migrants filtered through slowly adding to the patch yearlist.

Hmm, May shouldn't be like this? Very slow going on isle so a seawatch at Wats-Ness at least provided some distraction 3 Pomarine Skua and a Manx Shearwater. A Long-eared Owl Showed well on patch on the 13th and a Wood Sandpiper was a good find down at the Houb on the 15th.

A trip down south with Dougie was put in place for the Oriental Pratincole down at Frampton Marsh. Also south was the Iberian Chiffchaff, Great Reed Warbler a Purple heron and the Ythan King Eider.

Finally a month of quality? The first Icterine Warbler of the year was up at skaw on the 2nd. A Black Stork on Unst was to good a bird to miss on the 3rd and probably my bird of the year, an adult Long-tailed Skua seemingly on territory on the 4th around Burra.

A male Red-backed Shrike at Skaw on the 6th and a patch lifer Osprey over the Houb on the 11th.

Another trip south with Dougie was crap with just upgraded views of the Ythan King Eider to show.

My personal photo of the year was this pair of Red-throated Divers on isle on the 25th.

A singing Marsh Warbler also on the 25th and a pair of very showy Crossbill on the 29th up at Skaw.

The summer lull. Distant Orcas from Toft on the 7th ended a very enjoyable day on Unst. Lots of Otters dominated and a trip back to Cheshire was just about it.

Storm Petrel ringing on the 6th brilliant with 10 birds processed.

A Basking Shark just offshore on the 8th was a lifer and a local highlight. Good news on the 15th as i found out my Little Stint from last summer was actually an adult Semipalmated Sandpiper! Also a lifer. A visit to the Birdfair was very enjoyable in some brilliant company and a trip out on one of the local Pelagic boats was truly breathtaking on the 29th.

The first 3 weeks were spent frustratingly in Cheshire, although i did manage to witness the annual Leach's Storm Petrel wreck on the Merseyside coast on the 15th.

Autumn migrants were very evident on my return home and a Red-flanked Bluetail caught up at Skaw on the 30th proved to be the pick of the lot.

A patch lifer Richard's Pipit on the 2nd was brilliant but the Red-throated Pipit found whilst trying to relocate the former was better, my patch lifer for 2010.

A Red-breasted Flycatcher showed well on the 3rd hanging around for a few days. A trip off isle with Dougie was a good decision with Radde's Warbler at Sumburgh, Buff-bellied Pipit at Tangwick and a pair of  tame Buff-breasted Sandpipers at Eshaness.

Another Radde's Warbler, this time on isle was at Skaw and a Corncrake was at Sandwick on the 8th.

A trip to Out Skerries on the 9th produced a Citrine Wagtail and a Little Gull at Laxo on the way home.

Personal highlight of 2010 was my photo of the Staine's Moor Brown Shrike being chosen for the front cover of the Rare birds in GB edition of British Birds.

Caught up with the American Bittern on the 3rd down in Cornwall. A sad day on the 10th as we said farewell to Shetland moving back down to Cheshire. Though the Pied-billed Grebe at Hollinworth Lake numbed the pain on the 12th.

I also opened up a new chapter in my hobby as i applied to become a trainee ringer.

Other than  my near obsessiveness with ringing down at Woolston Eyes NR not a great deal of birding has happened oh and the fact i have been working! My patch yearlist ended on a quite respectable 113, not bad for a couple of square miles.
Well that's 2010, here's to a bird filled 2011.