Sunday 25 March 2018

Winter Scrub Ringing & Patch Birding

We have made two more visits to Castlerock Golf Club in the Bann Estuary since the last visit on the 7th of January. The Fieldfare numbers increased massively during the cold weather with 800+ birds there, joined by 150+ Redwing and a number of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes.


The conditions were a little restrictive on the first visit and produced just six new birds and two retraps and no Fieldfare caught.
On the second visit the numbers had dropped significantly to perhaps 150 Fieldfares with the Sea Buckthorn berries having been depleted to only a few hundred from what were once millions.
Yet again the Fieldfares eluded us and we had to make do with 12 new birds including a Redwing and winter Blackcap.


 Castlerock Ringing Totals - 04/02 & 04/03/2018
                      New    Retrap
Blackbird               4              1
Blackcap               1
Bullfinch                2              1      
Dunnock                2
Goldcrest               1              2
Greenfinch             1           
Redwing                 1
Robin                      1
Song Thrush          5             1

Totals                    18            5      

On my last update about my Patch Birding in the Bann Estuary on the 11th of January I was sitting on 58 species for the year. As of this morning I have flipped that number and hit 85 before the arrival of the summer migrants.
I've added two new species to my full patch list with a nice drake Goosander and a few sightings of Glaucous Gull.


Glaucous Gull

Iceland Gulls have been regular with at least four different individuals including a nice 3rd winter/adult bird and two present on a number of visits. Other nice records locally have included Purple Sandpiper, a winter Blackcap and a pair of Shoveler  A Greenshank yesterday followed up with a Great Crested Grebe today and a Collared Dove which can be hard to get on the patch, took me to 7 ahead of this stage last year.

A bit of birding in the hills this afternoon produced my first Red Grouse of the year plus a pair of Hen Harrier which are always fantastic to see, taking my Northern Irish year total to 114 species (+ Barnacle Goose in the south).

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