Sunday 15 November 2015

Portstewart Strand & Storm Petrel Recoveries

The weather has been dismal for much of the week, with 50mph+ winds at times, with heavy persistent rain.  In fact, as a write this, the window is getting battered and has done for much of the day.  I did manage to find two short weather windows through the week.  I managed a quick, calm session on Wednesday morning and a longer breezy attempt this morning.  I got caught out badly with the rain on Wednesday when it arrived an hour early and drenched me as I was taking down the nets.  The weather this morning was windier than I would have liked but I didn't want to miss the possibility of something special having been blown in by Abigail, as she passed just to the north.


The Thrush migration has tailed off, with only one Redwing seen on Wednesday and five this morning.  There have been no Fieldfare and much fewer Blackbird and Song Thrush.
Finches are still moving, with more Goldfinches passing through, more Linnets (including a flock of 40+), new Chaffinches and 8 Siskin, which are the first on the site this year.
Whooper Swans were ever present this morning going back and forth and it was difficult to put a number on them but certainly at least 40 but possibly 60+.  Other notable species over the week were Merlin, Snipe, Water Rail (3 calling), Greylag Geese, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe.


This morning I witnessed a 5 minute game of cat and mouse between a Sparrowhawk and a Skylark.  I was initially drawn to the strange song/call mix of the Skylark high in the sky and noticed it dodging a Sparrowhawk repeatedly.  They were dropping at high speed and rising time and time again and the Skylark continued to call throughout.  I didn't get to see the outcome as they dropped out of view but I'd like to think the wily Skylark slipped away.


The catching has been pretty slow but better on Wednesday morning with 20 new birds.  The numbers and species mix really highlight that the season is nearly at an end.  I will persevere up until the end of the month if the weather permits it.  Three more Song Thrush is pleasing and takes the total up to an impressive 29 new birds.  Ten new Linnet is also nice and with the right conditions, the catch would be much better.

Ringing Totals 11/11/ & 14/11/2015                                     
                                       New        Retrap           
Blackbird                                         2 
Blue Tit                           2
Bullfinch                         1               1
Chaffinch                        3              
Coal Tit                                             3                             
Dunnock                                           1
Goldcrest                         2               1
Goldfinch                         8               4
Great Tit                                           1           
Linnet                             10
Redwing                          1
Reed Bunting                  1
Robin                               1               2                                                          
Song Thrush                   3                                                                     
Wren                                                 3

Total                               32             18                

A rather large Song Thrush with a wing of 126 and weighing just shy of 90 grams.

The golf club have been doing quite a bit of work removing a large area of scrub over the past week or so.  I of course understand the importance of the work but unfortunately 'East Ride' has been reduced from 66 metres to 22 metres and I don't believe they are finished just yet.  The top image was taken on Friday the 6th and the later this morning.  I may need to bring the chainsaw out and do a little work later in the winter, once I know where we stand.

Storm Petrel Recoveries

It looks as though the Treshnish Isles Auk Ringing Group were busy between the 29th of June and 3rd of July on the isles of Lunga and Fladda.  In this period they managed to control five of our Storm Petrels; two from 2013 and three from 2014.  The distance covered to Lunga by four birds was 146km and 148km to Fladda by the fifth bird.  Declan Clarke who rings Stormies down in County Down also had four of his birds controlled in the same period.  Going by the numbers from us alone I can only presume they caught very large numbers of birds and a lot of controls!  The islands are designated as a Special Protection Area and hold 5,040 pairs of Storm Petrels, representing at least 5.9% of the breeding population in Great Britain - most of these on Lunga.

A movement of five of our Storm Petrels to the Treshnish Isles
Point A marks out the Isle Fladda and Point B - Lunga

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