Wednesday 21 November 2018

2018 Season at Portstewart Strand

As you can see, my slacking in regards to posts has really gone to a new level! I would put this down mostly to the fact that we haven't been as active and for 95% of the time it has just myself and John Clarke. I have also become slightly addicted to Twitter and post most of my stuff on there - you can find me at @causewaybirds -

I'll try and play catch up  on our activities and recoveries through the season so far but I can't promise it won't be another few months before the next post 😛

So another season complete in the dunes of Portstewart Strand along the Bann Estuary on the north coast and the declining picture continues.

It was a disappointing spring with only 74 new birds from 8 visits and just two visits in the summer. As usual, we were more active in the autumn and finished with 401 new birds of 27 species in total. We trapped two new species for the site with a fantastic Cuckoo and Twite.


It was also very quiet on the trainee and visiting ringer front with just one T ringer on one of the 21 visits and no C permit holders. It was myself and John Clarke for 13 visits, Ken present two and eight were solo.


The focus of our activities have been centred on the Sea Buckthorn scrub, but as a none-native species and because of it's negative impact upon the SAC, it is being removed bit by bit each winter (as are the net rides with 190m+ lost already and a continual process of creating new ones), with 5 acres lost last winter. A further 9 acres is to be removed this winter leaving us with just c2 acres and a few other small areas to work with & bird numbers will continue to slide.

Species                           New (retrap/local recovery)
1 Blackbird                      25 (3)
2 Blackcap                       19 (4)
3 Bullfinch                       13 (7)
4 Blue Tit                         10 (3)
5 Chaffinch                      23 (4)
6 Chiffchaff                      3
7 Cuckoo                          1
8 Dunnock                       15 (15)
9 Goldcrest                      10 (7)
10 Goldfinch                    12
11 Great Tit                     10 (1)
12 Lesser Redpoll            10
13 Linnet                          54
14 Meadow Pipit              80
15 Reed Bunting              14 (2)
16 Robin                          22 (8)
17 Sedge Warbler             1
18 Skylark                         6
19 Song Thrush               15 (1)
20 Sparrowhawk               1
21 Starling                        1
22 Stonechat                   11 (2)
23 Twite                           1
24 Whitethroat                  2
25 Willow Warbler           14 (5)
26 Woodpigeon                2
27 Wren                           26 (15)
Total                                 401 (77)

Perhaps not the easiest to read, but see below for the totals from the site since we began ringing at Portstewart Strand in the autumn of 2014. The right-hand box indicates the effort put in each year and as you can see it was our worst yet for a full season

There were no recoveries of any great distance with just a few local movements to/from the Ulster University Campus & Castlerock.

The weather in recent weeks has been very poor so we haven't opened any nets but hoping to shift our attentions over to Castlerock for the remainder of the year.

The next post will cover our return to the Lough Neagh shore and promises lots of acro warblers including three controls/recoveries including two to France and our first Reed Warbler control!


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