Copeland Bird Observatory - 4-6th September
The forecast for the weekend was looking very poor, with strong winds coming from the north through Friday and Saturday, meaning our boat was in doubt. Thankfully on Friday evening a calmer weather window opened, allowing Steve, Niall and myself to reach the island safely. The winds picked up through the night and persisted until Sunday morning, when they switched to westerlies at around 10mph. It stayed dry throughout and was sunny for large parts of the weekend; particularly Sunday. Not great conditions for ringing but it's all part of the challenge.
Despite the windy weather we did manage to open a number of mist nets in the more sheltered rides (marked on the map below), mostly on the southern end of the island. On top of those we also set the four Heligoland traps, the crow trap and three potters traps.
The island remained quiet throughout the weekend with very few typical migrants making landfall - with a single Willow Warbler, one Goldcrest, two Wheatear and a few Blackcaps. The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly the juvenile White-tailed Eagle which stopped off on the island on Saturday morning at 10.15. This is only the second record for CBO and the first to actually land on Lighthouse Island. It was also a first for the three of us and very unexpected.
The strong winds produced a strong passage offshore but very little time was spent sea watching (not my cup of tea).
Through the weekend we managed a total of 43 new birds ringed and retrapped 24. There was a total of 7 species, with Swallows making up most of the new birds. We weren't ringing the Manx Shearwaters at night but we did catch two inside the 'Gully' Heligoland trap, pre dawn on Saturday morning.
CBO Weekend Ringing Totals 04-06/09/2015
Blackbird 1 9
Blackcap 3 8
Manx Shearwater 2
Robin 6 4
Wren 5 3
Total 43 24
Steve and Niall at work in the ringing lab
Kens Garden - 09/09/2015
On Wednesday Ken held a session in his garden for one of trainees, Tyrone. They started at 10.30am, targeting the birds coming to the feeders (using four mist nets), finishing up in the late afternoon. The day was very breezy but the sheltered location of the garden often means the nets remain relatively still. They were kept busy with lots of tits and managed to extract a Woodpigeon before it flipped out of the mist net pocket. They managed a total of 60 birds, both new and old, of eight species.
Woodpigeon (An old picture from 2013)
Ringing Totals 09/09/2015
Blue Tit 14
Coal Tit 15
Great Tit 12
Swallow Roost Catch - 09/09/2015
Following the session in his garden, Ken had an attempt at catching roosting Swallows at the University of Ulster River Site. He was joined by Tyrone, Steve, John and myself. We used a line of one eighteen and a twelve metre net with a single tape lure. The nets were set in an open glade amongst the colonising Ash and Willow, which was much more sheltered than the usual net rides. We were set up for 19.30, with the sun setting 35 minutes later.
The numbers of last year still haven't materialised and there was a maximum of 50 birds circling over the nets. A wave of birds dropped in at 20.20 and 22 Swallows were captured. All but one were juveniles. A single Blackcap was also caught soon after the nets were set.
The previous day, John had a morning ringing session at the River Site in calm conditions. It was a bit quiet with very little moving through the net rides.
River Site Ringing Totals - 08/09/2015
Blackcap 1 1
Dunnock 1 1
Great Tit 1
Total 8 2
Portstewart Strand - 13/09/2015
With a decent forecast and nice birds dropping in along the south and west coast of Ireland, John and I went into our session with a bit of optimism. We arrived on site at 05.45 and set all nets plus a new extra net in the patches of gorse. The weather was sunny for the most, with 9-12mph winds from the south.
There was very little new moving through the site with the only noticeable birds being Meadow Pipits, a Wheatear and the return of Teal to the estuary.
The ringing was decent with 49 new birds and 3 retraps. There were 11 different species caught, with Meadow Pipit accounting for almost half the catch. Four new Song Thrushes was a nice catch and the Coal Tits were new species for the site. We packed up after 11 and headed for him.
Ringing Totals 13/09/2015
Coal Tit 2
Dunnock 6 2
Meadow Pipit 23
Robin 2 1
Song Thrush 4
Total 49 3