Sunday 12 May 2019

More Warblers

Last July I tested out a new site that I had been eyeing up for quite a while. The reedbed at Kilcranny is the largest in the estuary and it backs onto a fantastic Ash wood with marginal wet grassland habitats and Willow scrub. Access had previously been the main hold up with a walk of a few kilometres down farm lanes, barbed wire fences to hurdle, an overgrown understory of brambles to traverse and then crossing of the fenced railway line plus the risk of high tides. With a bit of investigatory work, I found a much simpler access route on the nearside of the railway with some fantastic habitat. 

On the tester on the 29th of July utilising some temporary net rides for three nets in existing gaps I caught 12 Sedge Warblers and a single Willow Warbler. The site contains six species of breeding warbler and on my visits in recent weeks I have heard five back on site including 3 reeling Grasshopper Warbler - still waiting for the Whitethroats in the estuary but they aren't particularly common here. 

Grasshopper Warbler
I visited the site on Bank holiday Monday (6th May) & put up a 3 nets once again although I avoided the main reedbed as the water was a little high and rain was forecast to appear mid-morning. The site has loads of breeding birds and warblers although distributed over a wide area, many away from the nets. I managed a nice diverse catch including the five warbler species present with a Grasshopper Warbler the best of the bunch.

                                          New     Retrap
Blackcap                             3
Bullfinch                             2
Chiffchaff                           1
Grasshopper Warbler         1
Sedge Warbler                   5
Willow Warbler                 3

Total                                  15                         

Sedge Warbler
I'm looking forward to trying the site properly in late summer/early autumn once the breeding birds begin to disperse and move around the site. 

John has made a few visits to his ringing site along the river at the Ulster University Coleraine Campus. The range of sites we use in the wider Bann Estuary are actually quite well connected now that we have opened up Kilcranny to plug the formerly large gap up to the university. We have had birds move between Portstewart and the Uni River site and Portstewart to Castlerock but it will be interesting to record any other further movements between all the sites.

The river site has chipped in with a number of warblers and had a particularly good movement of Blackcaps passing through the scrubby woodland with 10 trapped on the 23rd of April.
                                          New     Retrap
Blackbird                             4             2
Blackcap                             15            2
Blue Tit                                1             1                  
Chiffchaff                            1
Coal Tit                                1
Dunnock                              3             1
Goldcrest                                            1
Great Tit                              2             2
Long-tailed Tit                    2
Robin                                   2             1
Sedge Warbler                     1
Song Thrush                        2
Willow Warbler                   8             2   
Wren                                    3             3
Total                                   45           15             

A male Whinchat on territory in Antrim Hills on Sunday. A bird I'd love to see in the Bann Estuary

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