Tuesday 10 October 2017

Portstewart Strand 30/09/2017

Well after all the debate over the weather and getting the greenlight I arrived at Donaghadee Harbour on Friday evening only to find out the boat to Copeland Bird Observatory was out of action and it would be at least Saturday morning before it would be fixed. It was a little too far for me to travel back to the north coast and return again the next morning so I gave it a miss but five of the group of eight did make it out. It is a real shame as the conditions would have been great on Saturday morning for ringing, with Sunday much windier and wet. We have had great problems this September getting to the Observatory with the preceding two weekends also not possible and this is peak time for many of our common migrants and also our peak time for rarities.


Saturday (30th) morning wasn't completely lost to me as I headed down to Portstewart Strand with John in what felt like a proper autumnal day and the first day where the mist net poles get too cold to touch! There was a little breeze first thing but this was to ease gradually. It did ease at times and completely disappeared only to return stronger within 10 minutes - strange!

The Long-eared Owls are still hanging about amongst the scrub and we are now up to three birds. One narrowly missed the 6m net at west ride as it was coming in to roost.
The number of new birds trapped was down on recent visits but we are retrapping more of the birds ringed in the past few weeks.

Portstewart Strand 30/09/2017                            
                              New         Retrap
Blackbird               2
Blackcap                5                  1
Bullfinch                2                  2
Chaffinch               1          
Dunnock                2                  3
Goldcrest               1                  1

Goldfinch               1
Great Tit                 1                 1            
Meadow Pipit         2
Robin                      1                 2
Song Thrush          5 

Stonechat                                   1
Wren                      1  

Totals                    24                 11    

I've had a sit down this week and updated all the ringing data and bird logs and had a look at our return so far. We were really slacking early season with only 92 new birds ringed between April and the 12th of July but this was generally down to effort. We are roughly 180 new birds short on our total for the site in 2016 and around 320 short on 2015. We have also handled seven less species this year but we still have around two months to improve the situation.
On the positive side, it is already our best year ever for Blackcap and Goldcrest and I would imagine we will catch a few more before the season is out.

We are planning a visit on Friday and possibly Sunday morning, and after a few days of strong westerlies we don't really know what to expect. We are shielded by Donegal so it is unlikely that any American passerines will make it our way but at least one has before! 

Great Crested Grebe

The PatchWork Challenge total is now up to 118 species with the addition of a Great Northern Diver. The first Whooper Swans, Greylag Geese and Great Crested Grebe of autumn have been sighted in the past week with the Brent Geese arriving the week before.   

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