Tuesday 26 May 2015

Portstewart Strand 23/05/2015

I was optimistic for the session ahead with near perfect conditions.  The winds were 2-3 mph south-westerlies, full cloud cover and a mild start of 10°C at 05.15.  The conditions remained decent through the morning, although the clouds broke and the wind notched up 4/5 mph.  I departed the site before 11am with the temperature up to the middle teens.  

The scrub has now leafed up nicely and the net rides are looking much better, although some of Sea Buckthorn may need a few months to regenerate some new growth after cutting.  The local breeding birds are now remaining very quiet and there wasn't much of interest.  The best bird of the day was a female Cuckoo that zipped by mid morning, pursued by an army of Meadow Pipits.  The local Otter was fishing close to the shore for much of the morning and later joined by a Grey Seal.  The first Small Heath butterfly of the year, was on the wing, along with multiple Green-veined White and Speckled Wood.

Meadow Pipit

The catching was again slow and you would be excused for thinking that it was late autumn/winter, with a complete lack of warblers.  My optimism soon dissolved but the prospect of something nice always keeps you going.  The best catch was the first Skylark of the year, caught in the 3 shelved gorse net.  Another 2 new Blackbirds takes the total to 38 in 7 months.  The Meadow Pipits in the close vicinity of the gorse scrub seemed very active, with 5 birds ending up in nets.    


Skylark brood patch

Ringing Totals 23/05/2015
                                        New         Retrap
Blackbird                          2                 1         
Bullfinch                           1                 2   
Chaffinch                                             1
Dunnock                           2                 2              
Lesser Redpoll                 1        
Meadow Pipit                   3                 2
Skylark                             1
Song Thrush                     1
Wren                                                    1                                    

Total                                11                9                

I had noted a pair of Grey Wagtails feeding along the river by the house so I thought I'd take a look for the nest on the near by stream.  They tend to nest on the same large rock face every year, although I was unable to locate the nest this time, but, going by the adults, I was close.  I had erected a net just downstream and managed to catch the female.  The Dipper nest is now empty and presumably they have fledged but I didn't see any of the family group about.

Grey Wagtail
I also visited the 30 (now 29, one missing) nest boxes in Castleroe Wood, late Saturday afternoon. The occupancy was very disappointing with only 7 boxes (plus one failed nest of 4 GT chicks) being used, compared to 21/22 last year.  Those that were occupied were dominated by Great Tits, with 6 nests and Blue Tits taking up residence in the other.  As well as low numbers, the birds are also late, with only two broods of ringable size and three nests still with eggs.  I ringed the two clutches of Great Tits of suitable size, one of 7 and the other of 3.

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