Sunday 7 August 2016

Last Sunday morning I headed down to Portstewart Strand, to prep the site for the coming autumn season.  We had done a bit of 'whacking' a month ago or so, but there had been plenty more growth in this period, so the net rides were in need of a little TLC.  I brought a strimmer plus a blade head, so I was able to blitz the net rides into good condition and hopefully they won't need any further work until next summer.  I didn't finish the western net rides but hope to do those soon.

Lesser Redpoll

I also took the opportunity to set up a feeding station around the 'East Ride' net run.  We first used feeders at the site this spring from April-May and they worked well to attract Goldfinch and Linnets but they should be more prolific through the autumn.... if we can keep them topped up.  I have scrapped feeding in the garden and will focus solely on Portstewart Strand - the cost of running two feeding stations, the chance of oddities at PSS, plus the hundreds of tits in the garden make the decision an easy one.  I had a couple of nets open while on site catching only a handful of birds - included in the totals below.   

'East Ride'

Yesterday morning (Saturday) presented the first opportunity to ring at the site with John, Dineka and myself present.  We arrived on site at 06.30 in calm, sunny conditions and set up the Gorse Nets, East Ride, the first 24m of WR plus a new 12m net by the feeders.  It was clear to see that the feeding station is having the desired effect with near empty feeders and plenty of droppings.

The new feeding station

The catch was decent but we were very dependant on the feeders which caught the majority of the 15 Goldfinches and 6 Lesser Redpolls plus the 2 ChaffinchReed Bunting and Great Tit.  All but one of the Goldfinches and Lesser Redpolls were juveniles.  There were still a couple of singing Willow Warblers about but only one juvenile was caught plus a complete absence of Blackcaps.  The feeding station should only get better over the next few months and hopefully attract a few more species.   
The clouds started to gather around 10am, so we packed up and it was a wise choice as the heavens opened just as we were finishing off. 

Portstewart Strand 06/08/2016 (+ 3(3) from 31/07/2016)                                      
                                       New     Retraps

Blue Tit                                            1     
Bullfinch                          4
Chaffinch                         2
Dunnock                          1
Goldcrest                         1
Goldfinch                        14             1
Great Tit                           1
Lesser Redpoll                 5              1
Linnet                               1
Meadow Pipit                   1
Reed Bunting                   1
Robin                                3             2            
Willow Warbler                  1
Wren                                 2

Total                                37             5        


News has come in about one of the colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits sighted in the Bann Estuary back at the start of May.  As suspected the bird was indeed Portuguese having been ringed at Alhos Vedros (South Tank), Tagus Estuary, Setúbal, Portugal on the 12th of November 2008 as an adult female.  The bird was subsequently recorded 18 times over the next five winters between October and mid-March in and around the Tagus estuary.  She was also recorded on the way north last Spring on the 17th of April at Bovenkerkerpolder, Amstelveen, Noord Holland, Netherlands.
The other CR Black-tailed Godwit has been confirmed as a French bird but exact details have not been received as yet.

Black-tailed Godwit recovery

John, Jeff and Dineka were out again on Monday night catching Storm Petrels at Rinnagree Point.  The conditions were ideal but it was quite yet again with 9 new birds and a single British controlled bird.  The birds disappeared before 1am with the net taken down half an hour later.  Overall numbers caught are down but the first few weeks of August can still produce catches of over 50 birds, so we plan to get 3/4 more attempts in before the month is out. 

Storm Petrel

Steve was out ringing in his garden last Sunday and caught a nice mixed bag of species.  As of this week he is now a married man so the shackles are on!

Steve's Garden 31/07/2016                                      
                                       New     Retraps
Coal Tit                                           1
Chaffinch                          1
Dunnock                           1
Great Tit                            2
Greenfinch                        1   
House Sparrow                 5    
Robin                                1
Willow Warbler                 1    
Wren                                 1     

Total                                13            1          


Dodgy phone scoped Common Sandpiper
Some of the 115+ Sandwich Terns roosting in the estuary with at least 7 bearing rings

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