Sunday 27 March 2016

River ringing, Portstewart Strand and Colour ringed Greylag

This morning we spent a couple of hours ringing on some of the small local rivers, hoping to catch some of the riparian species.  John and I were joined by two new potential ringers  - Dineka and Nicholas, who were keen to see what it is all about.  We had opted for some river ringing because of the blustery forecast, managing to find a few sheltered locations.


We spent around half an hour at three locations, catching a single Dipper at each.  The first spot was in the University campus, with a couple of Dippers present.  The bird trapped was a retrap from last year.  Location two was on the River Rhee and had two Dippers and two Grey Wagtails present.  Both Grey Wagtails went into the net straight away, but one bounced (twice) and the second had been lightly caught and flipped out before extraction.  The Dipper captured was a new bird , while its partner slipped under the net.  The third site was roughly one kilometre down stream and had a single Dipper and Grey Wagtail present, with the former being trapped.    

Site 2 which usually produces Dipper and Kingfisher

On Good Friday I took the day off work and headed down to Portstewart Strand for a short session.  The weather did as forecast and got a little breezy around 9am, meaning I had to take down all but the two most sheltered nets.  There was little change in the birds from the 17th and nothing new for the year but I did have my first sighting of one of the Otters since November.  The down time wasn't so bad as I was able to work on driftwood bird perches close to the network of nets through the Gorse.  Hopefully it will produce a Wheatear in the coming weeks or perhaps a Merlin in the autumn.  Another plus was that the National Trust arrived down mid morning and took away the heap of rubbish I had collected throughout the month.     


I caught a total of 11 birds through the morning, three of which were retraps.  The single net in front of the feeders caught 9 of those with six Goldfinches, two Linnets and a Dunnock.  A pair of Goldcrests were trapped at the other net.


Finally, the first summer migrants have made it to the North Coast of Northern Ireland, when I recorded my first two Sand Martins by the house on Friday the 25th.  The numbers climbed to 4 on Saturday and c15 today.  They will hang about over the river for the next few weeks, then disappear to the breeding sites a few miles away and I probably won't see any here for another year! 
The forecast looks decent for Easter Monday and Tuesday and we hope to get out on both mornings.  With any luck the first Wheatears will appear and perhaps a Chiffchaff or two, which only appear at the site on passage.

I have spotted up a few ringed/colour ringed birds at the Myroe Levels in recent weeks but unfortunately I wasn't able to clinch the details on the two Whooper Swans (although most likely Icelandic).  I did get the full details of a Greylag Goose with a neck collar, which was in the company of 18 Greenland White-fronted Geese and 27 other Greylags.
Dodgy record shot taken on my phone through the telescope - Greylags plus one White-front

The bird had originally been ringed at Lough Eye, in the Moray Basin in Scotland back in November 2005.  The bird is of the Icelandic breeding population has wintered in the north of Ireland and Scotland in most years since ringing - the birds sighting history is listed below.

L.Eye 06/11/2005
Batchen, Miltonduff, Elgin 14/11/2005
Toome, lough Beg 05/03/2006
Toome, lough Beg 09/03/2006
Toome, lough Beg 29/03/2006
Inch Is, Co Donegal 11/11/2007
Inch Is, Co Donegal 19/01/2008
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Donegal 21/11/2010
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Donegal 22/11/2010
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Donegal 23/11/2010
Shiskine, Isle of Arran 30/12/2010
Loch Askog, Isle of Bute 19/12/2011
Loch Quien, Isle of Bute 16/04/2012
Inch Lough 12/01/2013
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Donegal 28/11/2014
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Donegal 21/01/2015
Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Donegal 30/01/2016
Myroe Levels, Co.Derry 12/03/2016

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