Tuesday 6 September 2016

Portstewart Strand 04/09/2016

John, Rick and I and I were out at Portstewart Steamd on Sunday morning in the hopes that the change in wind direction and rain overnight would have delivered some birds.  We were on site from 06.30 in dull, warm conditions with light winds from the north west.  We went for the usual net set and were up and running for around 07.15.

Grasshopper Warbler

The initial impression was of a quiet morning but things got going after 8am as things warmed up and the first few birds began to move.  There were 4/5 Chiffchaff calling in the bushes, flocks of Meadow Pipits, Goldfinch and Linnets flying around the saltmarsh with a few Reed Buntings, Stonechats and a Wheatear mixed in for good measure.  We did get at a little excited when we noticed a small brown warbler flit between a couple of gorse bushes.  Initial impressions were of a fan tail and a quick glimpse in the bush showed a longer orange bill.  The bird disappeared for 10/15 minutes but then gave itself up in a mist net as a Grasshopper Warbler - the latest record I've had in this neck of the woods.  A Whitethroat showed up late morning and is the second this autumn. 
It was pretty much high tide for the duration of our visit so the estuary was quiet but a Black Tern, juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and Little Stint were picked up others in the afternoon.


There was a marked improvement in the ringing after a quiet few sessions and we produced some decent catches.  The first Grasshopper Warbler, second Chiffchaff and third Whitethroat of the year for the site were ringed, plus the capture of three of five unringed Stonechats.  The lack of Blackcaps continues with only one sighted this autumn!   

Portstewart Strand Ringing Totals 04/09/2016
                                        New    Retrap              
Chiffchaff                           1       
Dunnock                                        2
Goldfinch                           5
Grasshopper Warbler        1
Linnet                                 3
Meadow Pipit                    15
Reed Bunting                     1
Robin                                 5
Stonechat                           3
Whitethroat                        1
Wren                                  1
Total                                  36          2        


The Storm Petrel season has now ended with the last attempt back on the 18th of August.  It is the poorest year we have had since we started in 2011 with 67 new birds and no large catches.  The largest catch was of 23 birds and 2 retraps on the 19th of July.  Effort was down this year with only six attempts made.  We only managed a single control, which we are still awaiting details, retrapped 4 birds and we received news of two of our birds being recovered elsewhere.
We continued the trend of ringing at least one wader species per year while catching Storm Petrels.  This years species was a new one in the form of a Redshank.  The total number of Storm Petrels ringed by the group at Rinnagree Point, Portstewart now tops 750. 

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