Monday, 31 December 2012

A fantastic year.

As 2012 comes to a close, I look back on what has been an absolutely mega year for me; birding and bird ringing. I began to keep more detailed field notes and have recorded new behaviours in birds. Seen and ringed new birds including a couple of great "self finds" - Lesser Spotted Eagle in Sweden being the highlight.

A seven month trip to Scandinavia was awesome and along with a few friends we ringed over 11'000 birds of more than 110 Species and processed many more. Whilst back in the UK the weather hasn't been great but still we've managed to get a few birds ringed. The official Fylde Ringing group totals aren't about as yet and I can only take minimal credit for my input to the totals. However the effort by  Ian and Phil in particular has been great and between them they ring on an almost daily basis.

We have started a new project leg flagging Turnstones at a winter feeding station and so far around 30 birds have been marked, though we expect this number to double or maybe treble by the spring migration period. These Turnstones are marked with a green colour ring below the knee on the right leg (Tibia) and a Black flag with White encryption of the left leg; above knee (Tarsus). Any sightings of these birds would be greatly appreciated and a full history of sightings/re-sightings will be sent back in return for any information. If you happen to see any flagged Turnstones please inform us Via nwturnstones"@"

Leg Flagged (Ruddy) Turnstone - Arenaria interpres Photo: Ian Gardener.

We have also joined forces with Kev and Sean on the Isle of man and hope we catch catch and colour ring a few more large Gulls as the winter draws on! These birds will be fitted with Black colour rings with Yellow encryption. Any sightings of these birds would be greatly appreciated too and as before a full history will be supplied on submission of a sighting.

It's been a pretty hectic year really. Some fantastic birds caught, some amazing places visited and spending it all with some amazing friends to make some great memories! 2012 has been a tremendous year and hopefully 2013 will be another great one; though with no continental visits planned and probably another wet summer in the UK our work is most definitely, cut out!

Below are the combined totals of Kvismaren (Sweden) and Gedser (Denmark)
Kvismaren totals represent all the birds ringed where as Denmark is just personal totals.

Kvismaren / Gedser

Greylag Goose    1 / 0
Barnacle Goose   0 / 1
Teal                       2 / 0
Sparrowhawk      1 / 39
Kestrel                  8 / 1
L Ringed Plover  1 / 0
Ringed Plover      4 / 0
Lapwing               8 / 0
Knot                      1 / 0
Curlew Sand        1 / 0
Dunlin                  3 / 0
Ruff                      4 / 0
Snipe                     5 / 0
Wood Sand          20 / 0
Common Sand     6 / 0
Woodcock             0 / 1
Black-head Gull   35 / 0
Herring Gull         1 / 0
Common Tern       13 / 0
Black Tern             10 / 0
Wood Pigeon          1 / 0
Long-eared Owl      3 /2
Tengmalm's Owl     0 / 6
Swift                         1 / 0
Great Spotted Woodpecker  2 / 0
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker   4 / 0
Sand Martin             57 / 0
Swallow                    912 / 0
House Martin             2 / 0
Tree Pipit                  61 / 0
Yellow Wag                 6 / 0
Grey Wag                    1 / 0
White Wag                78 / 0
Waxwing                     0 / 14
Wren                           27 / 113
Dunnock                     14 / 104
Robin                         250 / 318
Thrush Nightingale      56 / 0
Bluethroat                      2 / 0
Black Redstart              0 / 1
Redstart                         5 / 11
Whinchat                      7 / 0
Wheatear                      4 / 0
Ring Ouzel                    0 / 1
Blackbird                     36 / 52
Fieldfare                       23 / 7
Song Thrush                18 / 68
Redwing                         3 / 21
Grasshopper Warbler   4 / 0
River Warbler                2 / 0
Savi's Warbler               1 / 0
Sedge Warbler             259 / 0
Marsh Warbler            19 / 0
Reed Warbler              818 / 1
Great Reed Warbler   149 / 0
Icterine Warbler            7 / 0
Barred Warbler             1 / 0
Lesser Whitethroat      12 / 0
Whitethroat                  36 / 1
Garden Warbler         106 / 0
Blackcap                     104 / 19
Wood Warbler               2 / 0
Chiffchaff                    15 / 206
Willow Warbler         607 / 1
Goldcrest                    322 / 463
Firecrest                          0 / 2
Spot Fly                         29 / 0
Pied Fly                        119 / 0
Bearded Tit                   52 / 0
Long-Tailed Tit             25 / 12
Coal Tit                          95 / 13
Blue Tit                       590 / 1342
Great Tit                    362 / 166
Nuthatch                     30 / 0
Treecreeper                  8 / 0
Penduline Tit              17 / 0
Red-backed Shrike      5 / 0
Great-grey Shrike        0 / 1
Magpie                          4 / 0
Jay                                 0 / 4
Jackdaw                        1 / 0
Starling                     269 / 0
Tree Sparrow            60 / 12
Chaffinch                135 / 83
Brambling                22 /10
Greenfinch               41 / 7
Goldfinch                  4 / 4
Siskin                       20 / 8
Redpoll                      0 / 4
Linnet                        1 / 0
Bullfinch                   0 / 12
Rosefinch                  1 / 0
Yellowhammer        25 / 0
Ortolan Bunting      11 / 0
Reed Bunting        281 / 16

 Totals                  6397 / 3147

The UK totals will shortly be available on Seumus' Blog no doubt. Though as previously stated the guys in the ringing group must take the lion share of the credit, their perseverance through the atrocious weather has most certainly paid off.   

Below are some of the highlights of 2012 for me!

Long-eared Owls adults. (Male left, Female right)

Black Tern, Fledgling

Black Redstart 1cy

Curlew Sandpiper 2cy +

Mug shot and Barnacle Goose

Ortolan Bunting 1cy (photo Zac Hinchcliffe)

Pink-footed Goose 2cy+

Sparrowhawk 1cy Male

Tengmalm's Owl

Thanks to you all for reading throughout 2012 and I hope you all have a fantastic, bird filled 2013. All the best.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Returning home and recent recoveries.

This week I returned home from my 7 Month long Scandinavian adventure! In short, it was awesome. Handling well over 10'000 birds of more than 100 species is pretty special!

The last week at Gedser was hit and miss, not so many birds ringed but we did get some quality ones. The highlight being another dose of Waxwings, a Black Redstart and on the last night 2 Long-eared Owls. We also caught an "Eastern type" Chiffchaff; in my book a pale Abietinus. Not brown enough for fulvescens/tristis.

"Eastern type" Chiffchaff - pale abietinus?   

Black Redstart 1cy - Phoenicurus ochruros

Long-eared Owls (Male and Female) - Asio otus

 Returning home late Monday night it was a lot of seeing the family and catching up to be done. Tuesday however I was out with my bins and managed to locate an old friend, JHZ2. I also managed to grab and ring 2 juvenile Herring Gulls.

Herring Gull 1cy - Larus argentatus argenteus

JHZ2 was originally marked in Breiavatnat, Stavanger in Norway 25th March 2011, he stayed there until the end of March before disappearing. He was next seen on a local saline lake near to me; Fairhaven lake 12th November 2011 (792 Km from original ringing site) where he was seen on and off until 22nd Feb 2012. He returned to his original marking place by 28th March where he presumably stayed to breed nearby and was seen until Late June. I recorded him for the first time back at Fairhaven Lake 20th November 2012.

Black-headed Gull "JHZ2" - Chroicocephalus ridibundus
 The above photo was taken last February, just before he returned to Norway; hence the moulting into breeding plumage.

Map of Black-headed Gull JHZ2's Movements

I  also received a batch of Blue Tit recoveries from Gedser where I had controlled some Swedish ringed birds back in October. It turns out all 7 of them were from Falsterbo and had each travelled 106Km in times ranging between 12 and 24 days; mean being 17.14 days. All were 1st year birds and 6 of the 7 were sexed as females, (might sound obvious, but )the last was sexed as a male; sometimes birds are left unsexed. These birds were sexed based on plumage and measurements combined and if there was any uncertainty I would have left them unsexed.

Blue Tit movements between Falsterbo, Sweden and Gedser bird obs, Denmark.
All of these Blue Tit were recovered on October 19th or before and this correlates nicely with the peak passage of Blue Tits over Falsterbo October 2nd, if the birds were on average to take 17 days. Interestingly not all of these birds moved at the same speed as of the three birds ringed on 25th September at Falsterbo, two birds were the fastest recoveries; 12 and 13 days and the last was the slowest (24 days).

As you can see above, it's really easy to get out and read rings on some birds. If you do happen to notice any birds with rings on whilst out and about please report them to and remember to always check any dead birds for rings. 

Chiffchaff picture - Troels Eske Ortvad

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Standardised ends.

Having been at Gedser for a little over 6 weeks now, the autumn standardised ringing season has just finished! The autumn season ran from 20th until today and over 11,500 birds were ringed in this time. I was only here for the last 6 weeks however. We have managed to ring just under 5000 since October 1st. Some niceties have also been caught, Firecrests, Waxwings and a Woodcock. Long-eared and Tengmalm's Owls and many Sparrowhawks.

Tengmalm's Owl - Aegolius funereus 2cy

Long-eared Owl - Asio otus female

The finer points of a Woodcock 1cy, scolopax rusticola

Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus 1cy male (light rufous type)

The birding has been great at times with very heavy migration; over 50'000 birds moving on some days! This week the birding has been fairly quiet though. Long-tailed Ducks, Common and Velvet Scoters, increasing numbers of Red-throated Divers (Ca80 this week) and an occasional Black-Throated too.

Waxwings and Goldfinches seem to be the dominant passerine migrants at the minute with a few hundred of each moving this week, supported by a few dozen Yellowhammer and Reed Bunts! Another (late) Serin has been hanging around but returned again after a second migration attempt.  

I received news this week of a Sparrowhawk ringed back in October which had flown 270Km in 5 days before slamming into a window in Hannover, Germany. (See map below)

Sparrowhawk Movement, 270km in 5days; hit window.

We are trying to catch some more owls tonight, though the weather isn't on our side it seems. Check back soon to see how it's been.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

A fantastic week

The weather picked up a bit this week and made for some nice days birding and ringing. Migration seemed to pick up mid week and saw decent numbers of Waxwings arriving too. We ringed somewhere near a hundred birds though I won't mention full totals. Highlights included 2 Firecrests and 3 Waxwings.
Waxwing 2cy+ female - Bombycilla garrulus

Firecrest - Regulus ignicapillus - 1cy Male
 We also caught OK numbers of Thrushes, some Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares; few Redwings.

Migrants this week

Whooper Swan - 5
Mute Swan - 3
Rough-legged Buzzard - 3
Red Kite - 2
Buzzard - 10
Sparrowhawk - 9
Merlin - 1
Peregrine - 1
Kestrel - 1
Rook - 49
Long-tailed duck - 46
Velvet Scoter - 6
Common Scoter - 82
Eider - 1800+
Red-throated Diver - 40
Black-Throated Diver - 1
Scaup - 12
Little Gull -5
Waxwing - 1320
Fieldfare - 840
Starling - 55
Redwing - 350
Goldfinch - 00's
Chaffinch/Brambling - 00's
Greenfinch - 00's
Siskin - 00's
Redpoll - 200+
Linnet - 25
Twite - 80
Bullfinch - 40
Yellowhammer - 75
Reed Bunting - 13
Snow Bunting - 6
Woodlark - 5

Again, migrant numbers are minimums as I can't watch all day, everyday!

Recent recoveries

I also received news of some recoveries of recently ringed birds. A Song Thrush I ringed in October was found freshly dead having been killed by a cat; though it did travel 511km in 154days before hand.
Song Thrush movement, 511km in 15 days

Another, 'better' recovery was the finding of a Blue Tit ringed October 3rd which traveled 548km in 19days and was caught and released by a ringer in the Netherlands. This recovery was actually the furthest Southerly recovery of a Danish ringed Blue Tit, ever. (See map below.)

Blue Tit movement, 548km in 19days.

I also have some findings of birds controlled here to report so maybe over the next few weeks we will find out some more interesting data. In fact I caught 5 Long-tailed Tits from Sweden with consecutive ring numbers.

Long-tailed Tits (3 types) - Heather McGinty
The picture above shows 3 types of Long-tailed tit. The left 2 and the far right are the northern Aegithalos C. Caudatus. The 3rd from left and 2 inside right birds are of europeus ssp. The central bird is somewhere inbetween. Apologies for the mixing up, but if you kept up you did well.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Migration ebbs

Apologies for no recent posts. I now plan on posting at least weekly with updates.

Weather here in Gedser has been quite poor recently. I've only managed to ring around 25 birds in a week due to high winds or rain and so I have tried to watch visible migration when I have had time. It's getting to the time of season when the finch migration is drying out, most finches have passed South earlier in the season where they will stay for the winter in warmer climes. Still though, late birds trickle through daily. Raptors are also fizzling down to zero apart from a few Rough-legged Buzzards which I expect to keep passing for a week or two. Ducks are arriving in the Baltic for the winter and I plan on talking a little more about this later.

A brief summary of this weeks migration highlights. Combined totals of birds migrating this week, in no particular order are.

Eider 400
Fieldfare 1200
Purple Sandpiper 1
Parrot Crossbill 18
Crossbill 4
Serin 1
Red-throated diver 26
Black-throated Diver 5
Common Scoter 184
Velvet Scoter 3
Waxwing 22
Scaup 3
Little Gull 8
Peregrine 1
Red kite 14
Sparrowhawk 8
Buzzard 8
Snow Bunting 2 (Resting)
Chaffinch/Brambling 450
Greenfinch 600
Siskin 800
Redpoll 450
Tundra Bean Geese 5
Grey Wagtail 2
Twite 70 (Wintering flock)
Raven 4 (Roaming)
Long-tailed Duck 26
Golden Plover 95 (Resting)
Lapwing 3
Reed Bunting 7
Yellowhammer 25
Bullfinch 30

Below is a quick, unedited video of 2 Resting Snow Buntings on the beach; by me.

I didn't count migration, all day everyday so these counts are in no way accurate, but we can say that these are bare minimums of each species.

I have really enjoyed my Sea-watching time here, stonking views of Long-tailed Ducks, Scaup and the Scoters aren't common on the West coast of the Britain. Preben the migration counter here at Gedser has been very disappointed with the duck migration so far this winter, he says usually you would see some thousands of each species passing the point daily at this time of year as they flock for the winter. Common Scoter, Eider and Long-tailed ducks form the largest flocks here and can be quite a sight.
Mixed sexed flock of Long-tailed Ducks migrating - Photo Arne Ader

An estimated 1.4 Million long-tailed ducks are said to winter in the Baltic (2009) though this number is down by 65% on the previous estimate in 1992/3 when there were approximately 4, 272,000 Individuals in the winter. So these fascinating ducks are in decline.

Common Scoter females in flight - Photo Joe Pender
 Common Scoters also use the Baltic as an important wintering area, the European population is said to be 130'000 birds of which the majority winter in the Baltic.

Common Eiders resting - Photo Scott Leslie

Finally Eiders, declined from C. 800,000 to C. 370,000 birds in Danish waters between 1990 and 2000 according to a paper by the WWT. Another source suggests that the population has increased since 2000 to approximately "500,000 bird by the winter of 2009" Christensen & Bregnballe (2011)

It is unfortunate then, that all of these charismatic species are in decline. It is, however a pleasure to be able watch these fascinating birds on a day to day basis as they pose no real identification problems in the field and are a joy to watch. 

Hopefully the weather this week will pick up a bit and there will be some more ringing. Maybe some more Owls at the end of next week, I'll wait and see.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

October end

This month has been pretty mental for numbers of birds ringed almost all over Scandinavia, Gedser has been no exception. We've ringed over 4500 birds as follows.

Barnacle Goose 1,
Sparrowhawk 58,
Kestrel 1,
Woodcock 1,
Long-eared Owl 4,
Tengmalm's Owl 11,
Waxwing 1,
Wren 132,
Dunnock 126,
Robin 377,
Redstart 16,
Ring Ouzel 1,
Blackbird 78,
Fieldfare 8,
Song Thrush 86,
Redwing 25,
Reed Warbler 1,
Whitethroat 1,
Blackcap 23,
Chiffchaff 266,
Willow Warbler 3,
Goldcrest 569,
Firecrest 1,
Long-tailed tit 29,
Coal Tit 17,
Blue tit 2179,
Great Tit 247,
Treecreeper 1,
Great Grey Shrike 1,
Jay 6,
House Sparrow 4,
Tree Sparrow 35,
Chaffinch 91,
Brambling 15,
Greenfinch 46,
Goldfinch 15,
Siskin 20,
Redpoll 8,
Bullfinch 15,
Reed Bunting 18

Total 4538.

Great Grey Shrike - Lanius excubitor

Tengmalm's Owl - Aegolius funereus
 As well as all the new birds we have also been busy catching previously ringed birds. Bird from Sweden, Norway and Russia were caught this month. Blue, Great and Long-tailed tits, Chiffchaff and a Tengmalm's Owl from Sweden (see attached map), a Blue Tit from Norway and a Great Tit from Russia!
Tengmalm's Owl movement
Above is a picture of the Tengmalm's owl movement. Just over 100km from where is was ringed Falsterbo 11th October, to Gedser in 16 days!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Mad months

Apologies for not posting since July end. To be honest the last 2 and a half months have been mental. Here I'll summarize Kvismaren (with totals and a few pics) and try to bring you up to date with mine and the girlfriends new adventures in Denmark at Gedser Bird observatory.

So, we left Kvismaren and closed down the station on October 1st after I had spent 5 and a half months living there this year and the same the year before. We finished our ringing efforts on the 30th September after around 90 days of ringing (subtracting the raining offs). Totals below.

Greylag Goose 1
Teal 2
Sparrowhawk 1
Kestrel 8
Little Ringed Plover 1
Ringed Plover 4
Lapwing 8
Knot 1
Curlew Sandpiper 1
Dunlin 3
Ruff 4
Snipe 5
Wood Sandpiper 20
Common Sandpiper 6
Black-headed Gull 35
Herring Gull 1
Common Tern 13
Black Tern 10
Wood Pigeon 1
Long-Eared Owl 3
Swift 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker 4
Sand Martin 57
Swallow 912
House Martin2
Tree Pipit 61
Yellow Wagtail 6
Grey Wagtail 1
White Wagtail 78
Wren 27
Dunnock 14
Robin 250
Thrush Nightingale 56
Blue Throat 2
Redstart 5
Whinchat 7
Wheatear 4
Blackbird 36
Fieldfare 23
Song Thrush 18
Redwing 3
Grasshopper Warbler 4
River Warbler 2
Savi's Warbler 1
Sedge Warbler 259
Marsh Warbler 19
Reed Warbler 818
Great Reed Warbler 149
Icterine Warbler 7
Barred Warbler 1
Lesser Whitethroat 12
Whitethroat 36
Garden Warbler 104
Blackcap 101
Wood Warbler 2
Chiffchaff 15
Willow Warbler 607
Goldcrest 322
Spotted Flycatcher 29
Pied Flycatcher 119
Bearded Tit 52
Long-tailed Tit 25
Marsh Tit 33
Willow Tit 1
Coal Tit 95
Blue Tit 590
Great Tit 362
Nuthatch 30
Treecreeper 8
Penduline Tit 17
Red-backed Shrike 5
Magpie 4
Jackdaw 1
Starling 269
Tree Sparrow 60
Chaffinch 135
Brambling 22
Greenfinch 41
Goldfinch 4
Siskin 20
Linnet 1
Rosefinch 1
Yellowhammer 25
Ortolan Bunting 11
Reed Bunting 281

Total Ringed 6397

Below are some pics from Kvismaren.

Brambling 1cy Female

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker 2cy+ female

Little Ringed Plover 1cy

Redstart 1cy female

Spotted Flycatcher 1cy

Wood Warbler (Left), Willow Warbler (Right)

Wood Warbler 1cy, stunner
Now I'm sat in Denmark, watching the rain hit the window. Another post about our lives in Gedser will appear shortly!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Kvismare Totals

It's been a good while since I last blogged, so I'll bring you up to date with totals from the ringing season so far. Ending July we're in about the same place numbers wise as last year but there're some interesting differences. Robins and most warblers are slightly down on last year but Tits, Finches and Buntings have fared well.

Greylag Goose - 1
Sparrowhawk - 1
Kestrel - 8
Ringed Plover - 4
Lapwing - 8
Knot - 1
Curlew Sandpiper - 1
Dunlin - 3
Ruff - 1
Snipe - 5
Wood Sandpiper - 11
Common Sandpiper - 5
Black-headed Gull - 34
Herring Gull - 1
Common Tern - 13
Black Tern - 10
Wood Pigeon - 1
Long-eared Owl - 3
Swift - 1
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Sand Martin - 55
Swallow - 27
House Martin - 1
Tree Pipit - 4
Yellow Wagtail - 4
White Wagtail - 23
Wren - 1
Robin - 23
Thrush Nightingale - 48
Redstart - 1
Whinchat -7
Wheatear - 4
Blackbird - 17
Fieldfare - 21
Song Thrush - 5
Redwing - 1
Grasshopper Warbler - 3
River Warbler - 2
Savi's Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 99
Marsh Warbler - 3
Reed Warbler - 257
Great Reed Warbler - 134
Icterine Warbler - 6
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Whitethroat - 16
Garden Warbler - 51
Blackcap - 50
Chiffchaff - 1
Willow Warbler - 199
Spotted Flycatcher - 12
Pied Flycatcher - 112
Bearded Tit - 37
Marsh Tit - 25
Blue Tit - 265
Great Tit - 224
Nuthatch - 20
Penduline Tit - 17
Red-backed Shrike - 1
Magpie - 4
Jackdaw - 1
Starling - 269
Tree Sparrow - 58
Chaffinch - 43
Greenfinch - 30
Goldfinch - 4
Linnet - 1
Rosefinch - 1
Yellowhammer - 16
Ortolan Bunting - 10
Reed Bunting - 158

Total - 2487

71 Species

Three recent highlights...

Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) 2cy+

"Red" Knot (Calidris canutus) 2cy

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) 1cy female
Controls come in the form of a French Penduline Tit, a Swedish Penduline Tit, a Croatian Sedge Warbler, a Belgium Reed Warbler and a Slovenian Great Reed Warbler.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The ringing season part 1

The ringing season in Kvismare has been standardised since the early 1990's with 2 sites and 20 and 24 nets in each. The largest site (Vallen) has 24 * 9metre nets in a mixture of small scrub land and wet reed bed. The other site (Banvallen) is a line of bushes bordering an old railway line and now running alongside a wet reed area.

The ringing season starts on, or around the Midsummer area in Sweden; this year we began on 24th June. The season runs until the end of September. Nets are to be up by dawn and down 6 hours after unless the catching is good in which case the ringers' can stay on, ringing until the catching slows.

Between 24th June and 8th July we have ringed on all but 2 mornings and this was due to heavy rain/wind. We have caught around 900 birds of many species. Ad-hoc ringing has also taken place and this added a few more nice species to our lists.

The Highlights so far are shown below. 

Red-backed Shrike - Lanius collurio (male)

Bearded Tit - Panurus biarmicus 1cy male (left) and 1cy female (right)

Penduline tit - Remiz pendulinus. Female (2nd from right) and young.

Snipe - Gallinago gallinago 2cy+

Penduline Tit - Remiz pendulinus. Adult male, originally ringed in France.

Black tern - Chlidonias niger. 1st Calendar year

Great Reed warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus. 2cy with data logger

Black tern - Chlidonias niger. 7 of 10 1cy birds caught

Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe. 1st Calendar year

Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus. 1 of 7 chicks ringed.