As I was alone, I limited myself to the gorse nets, the feeder V, the alder net and the first 24 metres of west ride. Ken joined me a little later, after this first couple of net rounds.
The only real interest on shore was a Merlin that passed low over the saltmarsh, stirring up the Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails. The Fieldfares outnumbered the Redwing, with c30 birds and they did their best to avoid the nets. The estuary was packed with wildfowl and waders today, with the usual suspects, plus 29 Whooper Swans & an unidentified flock of geese that took off before first light.
The first three rounds were the most productive and I picked up another seven new thrushes with 3 Redwing, 2 Blackbird and 2 Song Thrush, which is pleasing. Two new Goldcrests were also nice. We seem to have missed the huge influx of Goldcrests into the UK here on the north coast of NI. In fact the numbers are down on last year and that's with us ringing over an extra 5/6 months and using a lot more nets. Things dropped midmorning so we started to pack up around 10 and I headed to work.
Ringing Totals 04/11/2015
Chaffinch 2 1
Coal Tit 2
Goldfinch 3 1
Great Tit 3 2
Song Thrush 2 1
Wren 1 1
Total 18 9
On Saturday the 31st of October, Ken played host to John and a possible new ringing trainee - Thom. The conditions were very blustery with winds 12-14mph from the south, although this had little impact on the ringing, in Kens sheltered garden. It was a mild day with plenty of sunshine. The catch was steady through the morning with the highlight of a male Sparrowhawk.
A new net, set away from the feeders in some scrub, produced the Long-tailed Tit flock with the two Goldcrest.
Ken's Garden Ringing Totals 16/10/2015
Blue Tit 5
Coal Tit 11
Great Tit 6
Long-tailed tit 11
Simultaneously, I had headed down to Portstewart Strand for a net restricted session. The site, being on the coast, is very exposed and the winds were very strong. Southerlies can often prove to be more of a hindrance with the wind running straight along the river, into the estuary and directly at the best nets. Northerlies tend to be some of the best, with the dune system acting as a barrier to the wind and the birds congregating on the sheltered south side, near the nets.
For much of the morning I was wondering why I bothered getting out of my bed at 06.30 when I knew the forecasted winds? I only set one gorse net, 30 metres in east ride and the feeder V. West ride was inaccessible due to the massive tide in the estuary, covering the access with 1.5 feet of water. It was incredibly mild for the last day of October with the thermometer hitting 14 degrees Celsius at 7am!
I had only managed 1 new bird and two retraps by 10.30 but the wind final dropped (later than forecast) and I caught a few birds. Up until this point, the feeder V was much too windy with, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and a few tits gathering behind but not daring to make the leap of faith to the feeders. This net set-up then caught 20 new Goldfinches and 5 retraps in the remaining hour, during which time I had taken down the other nets.
I also grabbed the opportunity, in the quite spells, to do a little tree work and bring down some of the taller trees/bushes alongside some of the net rides. I will continue this through the reminder of the season and hope to create lower, more luscious net rides.
Ringing Totals 31/10/2015
Blue Tit 1
Goldfinch 20 4
Robin 1 1
Total 21 7
The ringing site is visible on the far shore