Tuesday 20 October 2015

Mid October Update

Over the past week or so we have managed to get a few visits to Portstewart Stand and the university river site, boosted by John having some time off.  Ken has also kicked off the winter ringing in his garden.  The weather has been fantastic yet again and it is hard to believe that it has lasted so long!


As we progress through the autumn, you notice the subtle changes in migration, day to day.  Earlier in the week, Skylarks were on the move in big numbers but by the weekend, the main wave had passed and the Thrushes took over.  On Saturday alone, seven Song Thrush and four Blackbird were caught, plus five Redwing over the weekend, with many more present.  Goldfinch and Chaffinch numbers are also building and Twite have made a first appearance for the autumn/winter.  A new species for the dune system came in the form of two stunning male Yellowhammers.  Duck numbers on the estuary are also on the rise, with plenty of Mallard, Teal and Wigeon


The sessions at Portstewart Strand have been productive and we have caught some nice birds.  The best of these would be three Skylark, five Redwing and three Reed Bunting.  The totals include a short visit from the 1st of the month, which I had missed on the last update.  It included probably the last Chiffchaff of the year and the only Blackcap so far this month, although I expect a few more in the remainder of the season. 

                                                       Skylark                                                (JC)

PSS Ringing Totals

                                        New        Retrap           
Blackbird                         5                 2  
Blackcap                          1                 1
Blue Tit                            2
Bullfinch                          1                 1
Chaffinch                         5
Chiffchaff                        1
Coal Tit                           2                                      
Dunnock                          1                 6              
Goldcrest                         1
Goldfinch                       32
Great Tit                         3                  
Linnet                             5
Meadow Pipit                8                  
Redwing                         5
Reed Bunting                 3 
Robin                              3                   1                                                                               
Skylark                           3
Song Thrush                  8                                                                      
Wren                              1                    2             

Total                              90                 13                
 The river site remains quiet, although there has been noticeable migration overhead and in the nets with Blackbird, Chaffinch and Robins moving.  The best bird caught was a Treecreeper, accompanied by a couple of Goldcrest.  We wouldn't ring in many woodland sites, so only handle one or two Treeceepers a year.  It may potentially have been a bird in search of pastures new, as the habitat contains only a few trees with a trunk girth greater than 7/8 inches. 
                                                       Treecreeper                                              (JC)
University River Site Ringing Totals
                                       New        Retrap           
Blackbird                          2                 
Blue Tit                             1                1
Bullfinch                           1        
Chaffinch                         8                            
Goldcrest                          2                                 
Great Tit                           4
Robin                                4                                                                              
Treecreeper                      1     

Total                                 23               1                
On Friday morning Ken had a session in his garden for Siobhan to continue her training.  The sunflower hearts are really starting to pull in the birds, including very large numbers of Coal Tits.  Of the 70 birds processed, 29 of those were Coal Tits, which is much higher than the norm.  At this time of year they can become a bit of a pest at the feeders, as they only eat a fraction of the food and continually return and stash food around the garden.  They make good training for extracting small birds from mist nets though!
Ken's Garden Ringing Totals 16/10/2015
Blackbird                          1                 
Blue Tit                             4
Chaffinch                         15
Coal Tit                            29
Dunnock                            1             
Goldfinch                         10
Great Tit                           9              
Greenfinch                        1

Total                                 70                       
All in all in it has been a very productive month thanks to the very settled weather and hopefully we can squeeze in another couple of sessions.  So far we have processed 268 birds of 25 species.  The obvious highlight being the Yellow-browed Warbler and I doubt that will be topped this year.  If the weather allows it, we should be back in action next weekend. 

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