Wednesday 28 November 2018

Castlerock Golf Club 24/11/2018 & Scottish Chaffinch

On Saturday morning John and I shifted out attentions to the west shore of the Bann Estuary and made our first visit to Castlerock Golf Club of the winter. As you regular readers will know, this is somewhat similar habitat to that of Portstewart Strand but much smaller in area and all the Sea Buckthorn plants are female meaning they produce millions of berries and attract some large numbers of thrushes and finches, but generally in late winter.

As we hadn't been to the site since the 7th of January at the start of the year the net rides needed to be cleared of the brambles, nettles and quite a bit of cutting back of fallen bushes and branches. We tackled the easy ride first and had the first 18 metres net up and catching within 20 minutes and had the second 12m ride up and running in another 20 minutes. The nets started to catch a few birds so our progress in the other rides was slowed and we didn't quite get finished but did get another 24m cleared with another 18m to go. The session was cut short because of a very unfortunate discovery  on the receding tide.

The location of our nets generally follow the bottom of the hollow of the main stand of Sea Buckthorn but this tends not to be the best place to intercept the thrushes which stick to the higher bushes on the slopes - we had up to 600 Fieldfare feeding amongst the scrub last winter and we only caught one! At the same time we probably had a mixed flock of up to 175 Redwing, Blackbirds & Song Thrush and again only caught three, six and seven respectively. We are eyeing up new potential net rides which might rectify this a bit but working with the steep slopes and avoiding flying golf balls isn't easy!

A net full of Chaffinches & a couple of Blue Tits

From the two nets in a couple of hours we caught 18 new birds and controlled a female Chaffinch with a BTO ring. There were only 6 Fieldfare present and again they avoided the nets.

Castlerock Golf Club 24th November 2018

                          New          Control
Blue Tit               2
Bullfinch             4
Chaffinch            8                   1
Dunnock             1
Robin                  1
Song Thrush       2

Total                 18                   1         

The new BTO system means that you receive details of controls within a few days, subject to them being uploaded by the other ringer.
This controlled Chaffinch was ringed at Drummond, Inverness on the 17th of September 2018 and controlled by us 68 days later at a minimum distance of 298km. This is our second control Chaffinch for the Bann Estuary with the last bird also coming from the Highlands of Scotland near Shielfoot (marked below) in a very similar movement. She was quite a large winged lady so possibly a Scandinavian moving through Scotland.

Chaffinch from Inverness to Castlerock

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