Monday 21 March 2016

Mid March 2016 Ringing

Over the past week or so we managed to utilise the calm, settled weather and got the first two full ringing sessions of the season in at Portstewart Strand.
The first session was on Saturday the 13th, attended by myself and John, in decent conditions.  I managed to leave my full net kit at home, so we made so with Johns gear.
It is still a little early for the summer migrants but a few winter migrants were still in attendance.  Whooper Swans were a feature of the morning with a constant trickle of birds heading out over the Atlantic Ocean, with a single flock of Greylag Geese.  A couple of Redwings passed over early on and the Reed Buntings are still gathered in a small flock of c8 birds. 

Whooper Swans migrating north
The catch was augmented by the feeders, which have been attracting small flocks of Goldfinch, Linnet and a few other species.  Two new Redwings have added to a healthy winter total plus the bonus of a new Stonechat, after 9 new birds last year.  The unringed male Stonechat avoided capture but it may well hang around.  The two Redwing were actually obviously different in size in flight and the biometrics backed this up.  The figures don't quite go as far to definitely differentiate the birds to race but appearance would be supportive.

The larger, darker bird on the left would certainly appear to be of the Icelandic race 'Turdus iliacus coburni', which, for us on the north coast of Northern Ireland, is probably the nominate race.  The bird on the right may well be of the Northern European race ' Turdus iliacus iliacus'. 

The undertail coverts on the Redwing were also very different, again with the 'coburni' on the left and suspected 'iliacus' bird on the right. 

Ringing Totals                                     
                                      New       Retraps          
Blackbird                        1                1
Chaffinch                        1                  
Dunnock                         1                2             
Goldfinch                        3               1
Great Tit                          1                                 
Linnet                              1                                             
Redwing                          2                    
Stonechat                        1                              
Total                               11               4      

I went solo on Thursday morning hoping Saint Patrick might bring me a little bit of luck.  The conditions and birds were very similar to the previous session, minus the Greylag Goose flock and the Stonechats.  The conditions were very sunny mid morning and it was very pleasant to be out along the estuary.  During the quiet spells I was able to do a little more tidying along the shore but there is still a lot of work to do! 

Image looking across the areas of the Gorse Rides, East ride behind and West Ride in the distance

The ringing was slightly busier than the previous attempt with the feeders catching 3 Linnet, 4 Goldfinch and a Lesser Redpoll.  The first Bullfinch and Meadow Pipits of the year take us up to 14 different species; hopefully on the way to improve on last years total of 29 species. 
If last year is anything to go by we should expect the number of Bullfinch and Lesser Redpoll to increase over the coming weeks, as the birds return to breed and the first Willow Warblers should arrive around a week into April. 

Ringing Totals                                     
                                      New       Retraps          
Bullfinch                         1               
Dunnock                                           2           
Goldfinch                        3                1
Lesser Redpoll               1                                     
Linnet                             3
Meadow Pipit                 2                1          
Redwing                         1                                           
Robin                             1                1                                                                                 
Wren                                                1                    
Total                             12                6      

John and I helped out at the final Copeland Bird Observatory Training session of the winter on Sunday morning.  There was a good turn out at the site near Antrim, with 11 people, but warm sunshine and blue skies resulted in a quite morning.  The catch was a mixed bag of Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Great Tit and Goldfinch with around 25 birds in total. 

The observatory is now operational every weekend right through to October, so the trainees have ample opportunity to get out and improve their skills. 
The Observatory is open to everybody and is cheap and easy to visit.  For more information, check out -
The 2016 ringing at the Observatory has kicked off nicely with catches of c20 Goldcrest, 6 Redwing, 1 Twite, c10 Robin, c5 Blackbird, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Skylark, 1 Meadow Pipit, 5 Chaffinch and a few other odds and ends over the first two weekends. 

Easter is coming up next week, so hopefully the weather (and birds) will be kind to use and we can fit a few sessions in. 

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