Tuesday 15 August 2017

Mid Summer Update

Storm Petrel season is continuing on the trend of last season and we are failing to get any large catches, although we haven't stayed out later than 1am.  We have been out two times since the previous post and have been able to introduce three more people to Storm Petrel ringing.  The two catches were of 15 and 14 new birds plus one new British control and a retrap.  On the first visit we also continued our luck with waders whilst out stormie ringing with another two Redshank.  If we are lucky we might get one or two more chances before the end of August and may get rewarded for our efforts.


On the weekend of 29-30th of July I hosted/organised a large BioBlitz across the Magilligan SAC with the help from partners from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Ulster Wildlife, Butterfly Conservation NI, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, NI Bat Group, NIEA and other partners.  The event was a great success with over 200 recorders and members of the public taking part and hundreds of biological records collected. 
As part of the event we had some members of the group and a few guys up from Copeland Bird Observatory to do a ringing demonstration.  I had prepared a bit of ringing site along an ideally maintained footpath with scrub on either side allowing for 90 metres of net. 


The catch was a small one but it did include species that we don't ring all to often with limited garden ringing these days including Long-tailed Tit and Magpie.  It was a touch breezy and rain was forecast for after 10am so the nets were taken down in advance and the guys enjoyed a free breakfast at the Boardwalk CafĂ©!  The area is loaded with Blackberries and Sloes which when ripe would have attracted thrushes and Sylvia warblers in large numbers. 

Blue Tit                1
Bullfinch              1
Chiffchaff            1
Dunnock              1
Goldcrest             2
Long-tailed Tit    2
Magpie                 1
Whitethroat         1
Willow Warbler   3
Wren                     1

Disappointingly we have only had two visits to the Bann Estuary since the last post - one each to Grangemore and Portstewart Strand.  The trip to Grangemore included the third and final visit for the season to the Sand Martin colony.  Other than the Sand Martins, Sedge Warbler and Linnet were the two most common species caught across the two sessions and we caught the first and probably only Grasshopper Warbler of the year.

 Portstewart Strand/Grangemore                            
                                       New       Retrap    

Blue Tit                                            1 
Bullfinch                                          1           
Dunnock                         3          

Grasshopper Warbler    1
Lesser Redpoll               1                                      
Linnet                             10           

Meadow Pipit                  4    
Reed Bunting                  4    
Robin                               2

Sand Martin                   25            34
Sedge Warbler               11              3
Willow Warbler               8               1                         
Wren                                1               1

Totals                              70            41       

 Distinctive tail of the Grasshopper Warbler
 Garden Tiger Moth

Juvenile Lesser Redpoll

Ken's project studying Sandwich Terns in County Donegal continued into it's 32nd year with a couple of visits to the islet at Inch Wildfowl Reserve.  Ken and the National Parks and Wildlife Service had visited the site in early spring to improve the habitat of the islet because of the rank vegetation that has taken root and repair some of the stone gabions.  It had looked as though this hard work was worth the effort and we were in for a good year.  Unfortunately the often cold and wet weather in mid summer resulted in only around a third of the eggs laid producing chicks which fledged.  This was reflected in the ringing totals with 139 chicks ringed, down from 357 in 2016 and the lowest total since 1997 with the exception of 2011.  No Common Terns were ringed this year and no effort was made on the breeding Black-headed Gulls.    

Coming ashore on the islet
Freshly hatched Sandwich Tern
Ringing a Sandwich Tern chick
Black-headed Gull chicks

We had another fantastic catch at Lough Neagh and Sunday which I will update on it soon and will include the results of our Stormie session tonight!

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