Friday 15 January 2016

Nordic Sanderlings and Ringing Update

Last weekend John and myself managed to fit in a quick session at Castlerock Golf Club to target the flock of Fieldfare that have been feeding on the Sea buckthorn berries.  The conditions were decent but the rain started early, so we headed for home at 10am.  The nets were open before first light and it was in the first couple of rounds that we caught a few birds. 
The catch was small with another four Bullfinch, one Blackbird, one Wren, One Dunnock and a single Fieldfare. 


Whilst down at the estuary we checked out a very approachable (within 5m) flock of c40 Sanderling feeding on a small pool behind the west mole of the Barmouth.  We noticed a couple of colour ringed birds in amongst the flock and spent a bit of time trying to clinch the correct ring combinations (2 colour rings on each tarsus and flag on tibia).  It wasn't the easiest thing to do as they really don't sit still and the rings on the tarsus were submerged for the majority of the time. 
The first bird (green) was ringed in Iceland near Sandgerði, on the Southern Peninsula in May 2010.  This bird was subsequently sighted wintering in Britany, France in 2010 & 2012. 
The second bird (red) was ringed in eastern Greenland close to the Hochstetter Foreland, near Shannon Island in July 2012.  It too was recorded wintering in France in upper Normandy in 2012 and Brittany in 2014.

 Colour ringed Sanderling movements

I had entered the details in to Animal Track - and both birds were registered but a question mark was raised for both by the project manager.  Sanderling are known to be very site faithful in winter and these two birds were expected to be along the English Channel once again, rather than some 7° further north on the north coast of NI.  Up until a few days ago it had been the mildest winter on record in Northern Ireland so it may have encouraged a few birds to winter further north.  The current cold weather across Northern Europe seems to be getting a few things moving with divers, ducks, geese, swans etc. arriving into the British Isles in recent days, so the Sanderling may yet move on.           

Part of the Sanderling flock 

  I kicked off my Patchwork Challenge at the Bann Estuary for 2016 during the weekend and notched up 48 species including the sometimes difficult to tick Greenfinch and Rock Pipit.  The weather this weekend is set to be dry and calm with temperatures forecast to drop to -8°C in some parts of the country, so we hope to get out and make the most of the conditions with the Copeland Bird Observatory Crew on Sunday.

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