Thursday 28 April 2016

Copeland Bird Observatory 22-24 April

Steve and I headed out to Copeland Bird Observatory for our first visit of the season along with three others.  The forecast had put the trip in doubt with the strong northerly winds potentially making the crossing dangerous but thankfully it went ahead, with just a bit rock and bounce on the way over.  The cold strong arctic winds suggested that there would be very little on the move, so we weren't expecting much bird wise.  The forecast did prove true and we had strong winds throughout with just two quieter spells early on Saturday and Sunday mornings but at least it stayed sunny!

Sunrise over Mew Island

We were pleasantly surprised with the birds on offer with one of the first birds spotted being a Long-eared Owl, which scared the life out of Steve as it flushed from the bracken as he walked past.  The LEO resurfaced the next morning around 30 seconds after a ringtail Hen Harrier floated past.  A total of 52 species were recorded with corvids being the main movers with c80 Hooded Crows, 5 Carrion Crow, c18 Jackdaw, 1 Rook and the resident pair of Ravens and Magpies.  Passerine migrants were slim on the ground with a couple of Willow Warblers, a quick sighting of a Wheatear, a Song Thrush, a few Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins plus a few Meadow Pipits and some mixed finches in Lesser Redpoll, Linnet and GoldfinchSandwich Tern, mixed auks and Whimbrel were the only obvious migrants at sea.  


With the winds coming from the north/north west, we focused the nets on the more sheltered east and south of the island and used the four Heligoland traps and the Crow Trap.  We got up at 05.30 on both Saturday and Sunday mornings and opened up the nets and traps with the first birds hitting the nets after 7am. 

Rock Pipit

Catching was pretty slow and died off around 10am.  The best bit of action was the capture of 6 Linnets together in the Gully Trap, although another 6 managed to fly out the front on approach.  The second British Goldfinch control in as many weeks at the Obs was nice and will probably be birds ringed in the last year because they were both Z sequences. 

CBO ringing totals 23-24/04/2016

                                  New       Retraps          
Blackbird                                    4                                                  
Goldfinch                    7              1 (control)                                                                     
Jackdaw                      1
Lesser Redpoll           3             
Linnet                          8                               
Reed Bunting             2               2                          
Robin                                           1
Rock Pipit                   2               1
Song Thrush              1
Willow Warbler          2                
Wren                                            1
Total                          26              10          

The breeding season on the island has begun with the first Greylag goslings out, the Herring/Lesser black-backed Gulls on eggs, Jackdaws nesting in the buildings, a hatched Woodpigeon egg and a Swallow seen collecting mud.  The other birds have paired up, such as the Black Guillemots, Eiders and Reed Buntings plus the first couple of Puffins have been sitting on the water below the new colony.   

One of 35 odd pairs of Black Guillemots on the Observatory Island

Our next trip is planned for the weekend of the 13th to 15th of May, so hopefully the weather is a little kinder.  There are still places left over the coming months if anyone would like to stay at the observatory, plus a number of day trips coming up - check out or for more information.   

On Friday morning Ken and Tyrone held a ringing session in Kens garden and caught a very nice mix of 14 different species, including the first Blackcaps of the year.  The weather was sunny, calm and pleasantly warm.  The nets were focused around the feeders with an extra net set on the woodland edge.

Willow Warbler

The feeders are still attracting a number of finches including Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Lesser Redpoll and boosted the number of birds caught.  The exterior net also helped catch species not often caught around the feeders including the Goldcrest and Willow Warbler.  A total of 38 birds were processed and show a mix of general winter and summer birds. 

Kens Garden  22/04/2016                                  
Blackcap                          3
Blue Tit                            2
Chaffinch                         8
Coal Tit                            1
Dunnock                           2                                                                  
Goldcrest                          1
Goldfinch                         5                                                                      
Great Tit                           2
House Sparrow                1
Lesser Redpoll                 5            
Long-tailed Tit                 4                           
Robin                               1                      
Willow Warbler                1          
Wren                                2  
Total                               38                 

John had a quieter session at the River Site on Saturday morning with a handful of birds but he also caught his first Blackcap of the year and caught a returning Willow Warbler that had been ringed at the site in the previous year. 

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