With the wind whipping up overnight my plan to mist net some owls at my farmland bird winter ringing site yesterday morning (25th October) went out the window so I decided to take a spin around the turf lawns along Lough Foyle instead to try for some waders.
On arrival @ 05.45 there was very little about and the sky was starting to break in the east. I switched on the ‘Killer Redshank’ call and a few birds started to appear. I dazzled a couple of Dunlin and a Jack Snipe before a Little Stint dropped in. It gave me the run around for five minutes and it was getting very bright but I tried standing still beside the tape and it walked right up to me!
This was the first Little Stint ringed in Northern Ireland since at least 1977, possibly the second ever following one at Copeland Bird Observatory in 1963. Jack Snipe are also irregularly ringed with this one being just the 26th ringed since 1977 in Northern Ireland.
The previous visit with mist nets & dazzling on the 21st September produced 25 Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover & 1 Redshank.
After the waders I nipped over to our Myroe farmland bird site to open up the net rides for the winter. There were lots of thrushes buzzing through the hedgerows which were loaded with berries but it was too windy for nets along there. The lure of the site are the heaps of dumped seed from local farmers which attracts a nice range of species later in the winter & a disgusting number of 🐀 rats🐀 but I’m hoping these might attract birds of prey.
With good numbers around I got a little distracted and put up 2 sheltered nets, once the rides were cleared and caught 49 new & 1 retrap.
Blackbird - 1
Blue Tit - 7
Chaffinch - 4
Dunnock - 1
Great Tit - 2 (1)
Grey Wagtail - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 2
Linnet - 1
Pied Wagtail - 1
Robin - 4
Tree Sparrow - 24
Wren - 1
The two wagtail species were a bit of a surprise but there is a sheugh just beside one of the nets and may add another dimension to ringing at the site. The 24 Tree Sparrows was our largest catch yet and I would estimate there were around 100 present. One of three Buzzards present managed to fly through a net and leave a big hole.
I then received a text from Theo Campbell to say that a Cattle Egret was back on my home turf of the Bann Estuary, so a rapid take down was executed & I was watching the bird within 30 mins. This was the 233rd bird species ever recorded in the Bann Estuary & a lifer for me.
All in all a very productive morning and a promising start to the winter ringing.
I will back track with some updates from the years ringing... but it may take a while!