Thursday, 18 November 2010

Recent trips


I recently spent a very enjoyable weekend with Kane and Chris at the SCAN Wader ringing groups' organised weekend in North Wales, it was great to meet new people and put faces to names and vice versa. throughout the weekend we made 1 successful Cannon net catch and also had a mist netting session in the dark; a totally new experience for myself and Kane. We caught 103 Waders in our night session, species caught were Dunlin, Redshank,Oystercatcher, Curlew, Lapwing, Knot and Snipe in the order of most caught to least; The latter being a single. We also caught a single Starling which was a ringing tick for a fellow trainee... Up early and Cannon nets set the next morning just after dawn and we'd set for Redshank in Penryn bay. Further up the coast at Abergele Richard and his team had set for ringed plover and Oystercatcher however this catch was abandoned due to a rising tide and no birds in the safe catching area. ( To see rants about Dog walkers see Seumus Eaves' Blog - Link on the right ). Anyway a rush back from Abergele to Penryn and the birds were in the catching area, Net fired and a rush down the hill and into the Water to retrieve the birds as quickly as possible... "No need for Waders in this weekend" remember folks... Chris bridge 2010! What a pillock! After Kane had taken a soaking extracting birds in the dark on the Friday night ("We don't need headlamps either" Chris Bridge 2010.) I'd just taken 2 full wellies full and still we had a day to go!!! We extracted the 67 Redshank and put them into holding cages until we were set and organised. We processed these birds (and checked each individual ring) and then it was down to decisions on the next steps... We later recieved a message from Steve saying Cannon netting tomorrow... Up early the next day and a trudge along a farm to a pool well within thigh wader safety zone... Well out of Welly zone and the intension was Redshank... Around 200 were on the pool and Twinkletoes Christopher Bridge and his radio set about "Twikling" in a field full of cowshite and freezing hands we sat, waiting for twinkle toes to twinkle the birds into the catching area... He did this successfully, NOT!!! All the birds flushed and with twinkle toes disheartened we softened the blow and told him that a Sparrowhawk had flushed the birds! We abandonned the catch and put the field back to its original self and then said out goodbyes... A great weekend spent and hopefully we can do it again soon??? If somebody will please pass Chris Bridge a Radio!!! We then found some Waxwing nr Bangor Harbour and Kelvin Jones supplied a net and entusiasm. One Waxwing was caught and processed and everyone was chuffed to see this lovely bird in the hand!!! Myself and Kane then left twinkle toes to consider zig zags and study the kitlist. Thanks for having us Birdman, as always it was a good crack!

Local Birding

Harsh weather and Gales has hit the fylde pretty hard recently and I was sure it'd have blown in some sea birds to the Mere. I checked the Mere time and time again and nothing was there... Then Last Friday, 12th November I found a Male Common Scoter on there giving cracking views. I've seen common scoter by the thousand on the Coast but to be the only person watching one right infront of me was a bit special... This a Patch tick for me, I was chuffed. I continued walking round and I saw 5 Tree sparrow, Water rail, Cetti's warbler and a Goldcrest. I saw other things as well but they were the highlights. I then stopped in my tracks as I saw thousands of starling diving into the reeds yards from me... I stood and watched these for a good 20 minuts as the flittered and swung through the reedbed. Next thing a Sparrowhawk whipped over my shoulder and landed in a tree less than 10 feet from me, it seemed oblivious and carried on prying into the reeds. It lept from its perch and plucked a starling from the reeds in front of my eyes, if that not good enough another 3 sparrowhawks did the same as did a Kestrel, a Peregrine and more suprisingly a Buzzard. It was growing dark now and I had to get back to my car before the path disappeared in the gloom, on my way round I watch a Sparrowhawk rip apart a Starling; Again less than 10- 15 feet away... Awesome.

Another trip out on the 17/11 produced a nice inland sea bird and another 2 nice sea ducks on the patch.Also saw a mammal patch tick. The nice sea bird was a Grey Phalarope that had been found 5 days ago or so but I had no intension of going on "Dickhead day" and so I didn't think of going at all... I decided I'd go and look where the whooper flock had moved to, to see if rings would be readable yet and in doing so I saw the Phal spinning by the side of the road. I stopped and watched it for a bit and recorded some stuff for bird atlas, then I went to the Patch, On arriving at the patch it was cold and not a person in sight I decided I'd sit in the hide and be lazy instead of drag my sorry sekf around and get piss wet through... So there I sat in Fylde bird club hide and counted and Listened for anything I could, I counted the Coot again and had 87 birds and little else to be honest. Then I picked up 2 Juvenile Scaup swimming together, a few yards behind the small group of tufted duck! These drifted in and out of view until something strange happened... I noticed all the ducks from the right took flight including birds that prefer to just swim off; Coot and Tufted duck. I figured that this is what the birds did last year before the Bittern was due to fly... However no Bittern... And the Starlings were still wooshing round so I thought that it couldn't be an aerial predator like a Peregrine... I had mink in my mind but i'd seen these before and the birds don't really flush from them... So staring at the waves I noticed a break in the water, a strange shape moving along the north reeds, then in a playful manner an OTTER jumped almost clean out of the water and continued to do this in order to dive, I watched it scout around in the "North reeds" for about 15 minutes before losing it to view near the container hide. However I did notice that the Otter was very playful when I first saw it, and the one lost to view looked very differnt. Diving cleanly, swimming straight on the surface and the Otter I had first seen was messing in the waves this could therefore have been a Mother and Cub. I did not see both at once and I couldn't be sure of size difference in the choppy conditions, but I am sure that I was damn chuffed to have seen this! Then I was watching the Starlings' and I saw 2 sparrowhawk whip amongst them and on bird pursue a single starling over the water before slamming it into the water and killing it. Such a quick event but very happy at seeing it in full view!