Over the Christmas period we managed to get out on a few dry mornings and set up a new ringing site at Castlerock Golf Club. It is the same scrub habitat as our Portstewart Strand (PSS) ringing site but on a much smaller scale. The lure of the site is that the Sea Buckthorn differs (apparently all the bushes are female??) from PSS in that they are laden in berries, whereas the bushes are now bare at PSS. Whatever the difference is, the area is full of birds feeding on the hundreds of thousands of berries. The new site is on the other side of the estuary from PSS and only a distance of 450 metres as the Bullfinch flies but by road/foot some 17.8 kilometres.
We have now cut 39 metres of net rides and hope to use the site until the berries are gone. The scrub has its own population of breeding warblers and the potential for migrants, so it may be used through the main season alongside PSS. While cutting the net rides we stuck up a couple of nets and managed to catch a few birds. Three of those were retrap Bullfinches ringed at PSS, one from 2014 and two from 2015. One of the Blackbirds was a monster continental bird with a wing of 138mm and a decent weight of 120.5 grams. The target species was the flock of c40 Fieldfare but unfortunately we didn't connect with them. Maybe next time.
Ringing Totals 27+29/12/2015
Blue Tit 1
Bullfinch 5 3
Song Thrush 1
Total 12 3
Apologies for the shadow but the picture sets the scene with the open Atlantic Ocean to the North
On the 3rd of January I managed my first session of 2016 and started the winter ringing in the garden. I had been pretty slack in topping up the feeders, leaving them empty for a day or two, but I was a bit more consistent over Christmas and the numbers have been building. The conditions on the morning were quite windy but the single 12m net was mostly sheltered. The rain started around 10am and cut short the ringing.
The catch was distinctly average but it was very pleasing to get the first (hopefully of many) Siskin of the winter, following the 36 caught in the garden late Feb to mid March last year. I also caught my regular male Sparrowhawk and it is now the fourth time he has been caught since Jan 2014. It has bounced from the nets a few times also and would have again this time had I not been standing below it extracting a Blue Tit. I'll have to wait until February before the finches start to arrive in any numbers. I was very surprised to re-catch only one Tit considering there have been over 500 ringed here in the past few years and they are usually much more prevalent in catches.
Ringing Totals 03/01/2016
Blue Tit 11
Coal Tit 5 1
Great Tit 6
Total 27 2
I will hopefully post the groups ringing totals for the year in the next few weeks but I am just waiting for the guys to submit their data on IPMR. I have also started the next post on the Irish Bird Ringing data which will cover the Owls. I have now received all the data from Cape Clear BO and a portion from Copeland BO, so I've been a little distracted compiling it all.