Tuesday 11 December 2018

Castlerock Golf Club - Early December

The numbers of Fieldfare are starting to build at Castlerock, from 6 on the last visit, up to c50 on the 1st of December and upwards of 70 the following week. As our main target species at the site, our track record of catching them here isn't the best, with just a few each year when we have had up to 600 spending weeks feeding here. As mentioned in the last Castlerock post, we do plan to cut some new net rides which cover some of the higher bushes away from the hollow but progress has been slow as we have been distracted by open nets and catching a few birds on a couple of visits.

The first of these visits was on the Saturday 1st of December where I just about avoided the showers inland and opened three nets, with John appearing mid-morning. We acquired some new Fieldfare recorded calls from an online forum and put them to work but unfortunately they didn't attract anything... but we did get one Fieldfare from the net with no call playing.


The catch was a pretty small one but we did spend a bit of time cutting these identified new rides with about 10 metres cut through the dense brambles and scrub plus we tidied up another old net ride.
As always, Greenfinches are a pleasure to catch and this site remains really the only site where we see Greenfinch now, let alone catch them. 

Castlerock Golf Club - Saturday 1st December 2018
Blue Tit           1
Bullfinch         2              
Chaffinch        4
Dunnock         1
Fieldfare          1
Greenfinch      5
Robin              1

Total              15           


On Sunday the 9th it was solo session for myself with the aim of continuing the progress on these new net rides. The weather wasn't too bad so I set two 18m and one 12m nets in the old rides which seemed to be sheltered from the NW wind that was whipping into the river.
The birds trickled through at 2 or 3 a net round so kept me distracted and I only managed to cut another six metres of new ride.


We have caught a few wintering Blackcaps at Castlerock over recent winters so I stuck on Blackcap song and managed to attract this lady. They are very inconspicuous amongst the dense scrub and would go unnoticed without the nets. 
The retrappped Bullfinch was a 2015 bird and the Blackbirds were both from the winter of 2016/17. 

Castlerock Golf Club - Sunday 9th December 2018
                      New        Retrap
Blackbird                          2
Blackcap         1
Blue Tit           1
Bullfinch         2                1
Chaffinch        6
Greenfinch      5
Robin               1
Song Thrush   1

Total                17             3       

I've been still working away at the patch birding for the Patch Work Challenge and on Sunday I hit the 130 species mark once again and matched my total for 2017 with a nice Merlin zipping by and landing on a bush before being flushed by the local hoodie mob (Hooded Crows). I've eased my foot off the pedal in the past 5/6 weeks with very little on offer but I'm still waiting on Gadwall, Jack Snipe and Moorhen so there are likely options available to beat last year. I have tried three full spins of the local Snipe spots this autumn finding 70+ Common Snipe but still no Jacks - I missed Jack Snipe last winter entirely when normally I'd expect to see 5/6 some days. 

Dramatic sunrise 

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