Sunday, 16 November 2008

Rock-a-bye baby!

Below: Me cradling an Oystercatcher after I put a ring on its leg.

Wash Wader Ringing Group November weekend

My 3rd trip to the wash (all this year) brought my first experience of a no catch session on Saturday morning. Undeterred, we went mist netting for waders.

Above: A view of the outgoing tide on Snettisham Beach

Above (right wing) & below (left wing): Both wings of an Oystercatcher with an abnormal moult pattern. Both wings began moult as normal but at some stage must have stopped and started again out of sequence. The brown feather is old, black feathers are new. In addition, the moult is at different stages on each wing (normally birds do the same on each wing). This bird was clearly not in a good condition & was only therefore replacing feathers when it had the energy to do so. There were odd feathers on other parts of the bird that had not moulted either. This oystercatcher also only had 2 toes (instead of 3) on each foot - could this mean that it has had trouble feeding and this is why it is in a bad condition?

Above: This Knot has travelled all the way from Norway to the wash. How do I know? It had a Norwegian ring on its leg!


A couple of jigsaws I completed recently.

Above: Game birds such as Capercaillie, Snipe, Woodcock & pheasants.

Above: Owls by James Hamilton (you may see more jigsaws in future by this artist - I am intrigued by them as puzzles.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Buckton - Flamborough Head

Buckton is on the cost and most birds found there in spring/autumn are migratory. All photographs thanks to Mark Thomas (

Apart from 1 new species ringed - Linnet (my 61st species), ringing conditions (weather) were poor most of the time. Slow trickles of newly arrived birds but no major fall. So we treated ourselves to a lot of bird watching - i.e. checking goldcrest after goldcrest for the odd pallas's warbler + firecrest - goldcrests seriously outnumber these birds! Perserverance paid off and I saw a number of species I have never seen before.

Above: Firecrest

Above: Pallas's Warbler

Above: Snow Bunting

Above: Subalpine Warbler

Above: Waxwing - simply stunning.

Also seen were Ring Ouzel & Rock Pipit (not seen before). On the seen already list - Woodcock, Jack Snipe, Snipe, Long Eared Owl & many more of lesser note.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

A weekend visit to the Wash Wader Ringing Group was productive. This was only my second ever visit.

Saturday morning brought a catch of c.150 Oystercather and c.15 Bar-Tailed Godwits. For my first time, I ringed 15 Oystercatcher and 2 Bar-Tailed Godwit.

Above: Bar-Tailed Godwit

Above: An Oystercatcher in the 'ringing position.'

Above: An oystercatcher in a plastic tube (this is safe and does not hurt the bird), it is now ready for weighing.

A night time Mist netting session brought 190 + birds. Night time mist netting and catching waders this way was a new experience for me. I sucessfully extracted a couple of Dunlin, a Bar-Tailed Godwit and a few Redshank. I part extracted 4 more including a Turnstone).

Above: My first time ringing a Black - Tailed Godwit.

More photographs to follow as I ringed a Grey Plover for the first time. Knot, Dunlin and Redshank were the other species I ringed. Dunlin was the only species caught on Sunday morning tide - I didn't ring any this time as I was getting some experience of processing wading birds (taking measurements of bill & head and bill length + weighing).

An early night tonight as I am very tired!


A full day at Priory Country Park brought a lot of birds. Greenfinch (as below) were the most numerous.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

My 1st Ringing Pliers

Above: My own ringing pliers.

Above & below: The 1st ever species (Chaffinch) I ringed with my new set of pliers.

Below: 2nd ever species (Redwing) with my new ringing pliers.

Below: 3rd ever species (blackbird) with my new ringing pliers. A possible, migratory, continental blackbird.

Below: Head up, breathe in, chest out and say cheese! Mr Robin adds "This is the proudest moment of my life. To be able donate my biometrics to science is the stuff of robinhood dreams! Thanks go to my parents, Lord & Lady Loxley. For the future, I hope to give this silver ring and the precious information contained therein to the poor ringers in Nottingham!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Wentworth Jigsaws

Another Wentworth Jigsaw, more birds but not by Thorburn this time. Martin Ridley is responsible for this design - a family of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

As usual, whimsies were included (see below).

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Saturday 27th and Sunday 28/09/08

After two whole days in East Riding and getting back very late friday evening, I got up early on Saturday morning to ring at Priory Country Park. A foggy morning that eventually dissapeared. Several goldfinch were around. Not the most productive day, but a lesser whitethroat donated its biometrics in the name of science!

Sunday's trip to Chalton was even less productive numbers wise, but may have proved constructive for Nicky (a fellow trainee). A couple of meadow pipits and a Goldfinch not ringed on this site (a control) were the best of the day.
Above: A meadow pipit - I have posted a photograph of another m'ipit recently. They are on passage (out of the country) at the moment. Mid-late September is when they usually move.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Work hard, play hard!

This follows my last post re: Mega new species.

Since Wednesday am (24/09/08) I have had non-stop action. Well, strictly speaking, I've had an intense last few weeks (mainly through work!). I haven't had a holiday for several months either so it all started with a last minute call from Mark ( about a ringing trip to Buckton nr. Flamborough (East Riding - I am from North Riding by birth & upbringing until I was 11 yrs old. Familiar accents from my childhood were found amongst the birders/locals!).

Thursday morning we joined 200+ other birders searching for their brown shrike 'tick.' See photographs below for the madness that results when somebody spots an extremely rare species that lands on our shores - the brown shrike should be in China! I only got a good view twice for a total of around 10 seconds through Steve's scope. The bird was showing well, but not where we had permission to be so most views were distant. Around £1000 was raised for a local charity after a whip round. A peregrine flew over at one point and there was also a red backed shrike in the vacinity.

The red breasted flycatcher was my first new species. Some of the photographs I took make it look quite ordinary but it is anything but! I did manage to get a few great pictures of this bird. Pied and spotted flycatchers were seen near the ringing site.

We ringed a few meadow pipits and several juvenile reed buntings amongst a variety of other birds. A Long Eared Owl was twice near the nets but still remains high up on my 'to ring' list (see side bar)! A marsh harrier was seen hunting within 100 yards of us. Several Wheatears on the golf course at Flamborough.

An early start on Friday morning and I picked up my second new species. A juvenile male yellowhammer - a striking bird that has been fairly high on my 'to ring' list but I have never had the opportunity before.

Then came the yellow browed warbler - possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I had never even seen one before going to Flamborough! I could say the same about the Red Breasted Flycatcher.

A lot of the migrant birds from the day before would have disappeared during the night (clear skies are good for migration) but an influx of new birds made their way in. We noticed more song thrushes and goldcrests than there were the day before.

In the afternoon we went bird watching. The second last bird we saw was a Radde's warbler - a first for me too. Again there were other birders around (some of them had come for the brown shrike and were either still milling around or had missed that opportunity!) but in far smaller numbers!

The very last bird we saw was a barn owl sat on a fence post in the dark.

Above and below: 10's of thousands of pounds of equipment following the brown shrike (above) and risking annihilation on the road (below).

Above: 2 juvenile reed buntings

Above and below: A meadow pipit

MEGA New Species

An away trip to Buckton, nr. Flamborough was a great experience - a costal site full of migrant species. 3 new species in total.

Above & below: Red Breasted Flycatcher

Above: A juvenile male Yellowhammer.

Above: A Yellow Browed Warbler!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Puzzles are Great!

I've been quite busy with jigsaw puzzles recently as you can see ...

Above: Birds of the Druid Tradition (Owl, Crane, Swan & Wren). It says this on the box: The Druids of ancient Europe saw the islands of Britain as a ver magical place ... they saw themselves as co-existing with their fellow creatures in a relationship of respect. Owls were said to be keepers of wisdom, Cranes were augeries (believing they made letters as they flew). The Swan represented the goddess and the soul and the Wren was most sacred of all. Dryw is the old welsh name for Wren and signifies both Druid and Wren.

Above: National Trust locations and wildlife found at them (including gannets, puffins, little & common terns etc.).

Above: Wildlife of the different seasons.

Above: More wildlife.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A NEW SPECIES 10/09/08

A nice day at Priory Country Park - unusual because we've not been getting good weather recently. A slow start that picked up dramatically and ended up really busy.

Above: A treecreeper. Best of the day. Seen one in the hand before (but not my hand!).

Above: The tail is stiff and pointed to help it balance against the tree - much the same as woodpeckers do.

Above: Treecreeper from the front.

Above: One of two parties of three Long Tailed Tits caught.

Above: Not featured before so I thought I would show you this young Robin.

The One Show

I've been watching The One Show but so far nothing. They bumped us last Friday - that is if they haven't already shown it during August. I'll watch it and carry on taping it for another week or so ... after that I'll give up.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The One Show

Check out The One Show (BBC1), 7pm on Friday 5th September. You may see me in the background when they do a feature on bird ringing + the cannon netting of wading birds. Of course, you may not get to see me - depends how they edit it!

If I'd have known beforehand that they were filming I would have worn clothes with BTCV emblazoned on them but I guess that would have been one way to make sure I would have been edited out! I was wearing my BTCV Badge but I guess it will have been too small to register on the camera.

Anyway, happy viewing!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Visit to Priory Country Park 03/09/08

An early start today and I was rewarded with a Willow Warbler for my efforts.

Above & Below: A Willow Warbler

Monday, 25 August 2008

Birds By Thorburn Jigsaws

These Wentworth 250 piece jigsaws take 4 or 5 hours from beginning to end. The edge pieces are a challenge as straight edges can also be found in the middle of the jigsaw. Potentially, there are no corner pieces - this is the case most of the time. There can be corner pieces - but again, it can throw you because 'corner pieces' can be found anywhere in the puzzle (including in the middle of the edge). The whimsies also make it interesting. These puzzles are certainly not the type of puzzles you would do if you wanted to methodically work it all out!

Above: Goldcrest, Wren, Dipper, Nuthatch etc.
Below: As above but with whimsies taken out

There are only limited numbers of Jigsaws with birds by Thorburn, and I think I have them all - with one left to complete (cuckoos, hoopoe & bee-eater).

Above: Waxwing, Golden Oriole + Flycatchers
Below: As above but with whimsies taken out