Saturday 2 May 2015

Portstewart Strand 30/04/2015

Looking at the forecast prior to my visit, I was really questioning why I was getting out of bed before 6am.  The winds were set to be over 20mph from the north and very sunny.  The scrub net rides tend to be fairly sheltered in all directions, except from the exposed south, so I gave it a go.  I was by myself this morning, so I just set up 'West Ride' and a single sheltered gorse net at 06.15 and I was away by midday. 

Inevitably the weather wasn't in my favour, with a few billowing, bright nets, resulting in a smaller catch.  There did appear to be a few new birds about, with the first couple of Sedge Warbler, 3 reeling Grasshopper Warbler, c20 Sand Martin, 3 White Wagtail, 3 Wheatear (a pair + 1 Greenland), 18 Whimbrel and a new arrival of c250 Black-tailed Godwit (only 8 the day before), with a new colour ringed bird. 
There was an equal number of new birds and retraps today, with 8 of each.  Nothing really stands out but another 2 new Blackbirds is pleasing, taking us to 16 for the site this spring. 

Ringing Totals 30/04/2015

                                        New         Retrap
Blackbird                           2                1
Blue Tit                                                1
Bullfinch                                              2                
Chaffinch                           1
Lesser Redpoll                                     1
Linnet                                 1                 
Meadow Pipit                                       1
Reed Bunting                     1
Robin                                  1                1                                                      
Willow Warbler                  2                
Wren                                                     1             

Total                                 8                8
                  Blackcap from CBO            © RD
The weather was less than favourable for our trip to Copeland Bird Observatory (CBO), with strong northerlies throughout the weekend.  We did manage to get a few migrants with Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler ringed.  Steve also ringed a couple of new species, including Sparrowhawk and Hooded Crow.  Despite the weather it was still a good trip and I'm looking forward to my next weekend visit in mid May.
             Sunrise on CBO looking over Mew Island        © RD
This year I have adopted the Bann Estuary as my patch and I am doing some proper birding, rather than my usual wanderings all over the country.  My species list for the site, pre 2015, stood at a meagre 99 species with quite a few very 'easy' species missing - I still need Coal Tit, Collard Dove and Moorhen to name a few.  Trawling through historical records I have managed to notch up 223 species recorded in the estuary with a number of notable rarities and there are probably a few common species I have missed out, as no one thought them worthy of recording.   
This year to date I have seen 90 species, including a new species for me yesterday, in the form of an immature Marsh Harrier.  New species for the site this year include, Gadwall, Iceland Gull, Jack Snipe, Knot and Snow Bunting, taking my site total up to 111.  The only species I have dipped so far this year are Grey Plover and Ruff and possibly a White-tailed Sea Eagle spotted 1 mile to the west coming from the direction of the estuary. 
I'm not sure on a fair target for the year but 120 species at the moment doesn't seem far off with a number of sea birds, terns and waders still to pick up.    
The Patch - The Bann Estuary

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