Tuesday 10 August 2021

Blanket Bog Ringing in the Sperrins

As a bit of a change of scene and birds, I've set up up a new site in an area of cut over blanket bog with succeeding willow scrub. I regularly record quite a few warblers on site plus the likes of Cuckoo, Whinchat, Red Grouse and Kestrel but it is very exposed high up in the Sperrin Mountains. I had been eyeing up the site in 2020 but by the time I got permissions organised, the opportunity had passed.

The first visit was on the 25th April with John Clarke in fine conditions. We were welcomed to the site with five very animated Cuckoos, with what appeared to be one pair and 3 single males all trying to outdo each other.

We set up two net sets specifically to catch the Cuckoos... and although we caught 2, they were caught in fine mesh nets deeper in the scrub set for the smaller passerines. We also caught a Grasshopper Warbler, 6 Willow Warblers, 4 Redpolls inc. British control (from South Yorkshire), a Reed Bunting and a surprise Jay given the habitat. The morning was almost topped off with a Red Grouse which stuck in the bottom shelf, but on approach it flipped out leaving a big hole in the North Ron superfine net. The first Whinchat of the year made an appearance also.

On the 1st May I returned to Portstewart Strand on the hunt for migrants.  The catch included the first Sedge Warbler & Blackcap of the year, another Grasshoper Warbler & Wheatear (Greenland), 4 Willow Warblers and 12 resident birds. 

The following day we tested out another bog for Cuckoo's but the resident male had other ideas & got out of the net 3 times! There was a small catch of 9 birds but it did include a Dutch ringed Lesser Redpoll.

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