Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing clever

I changed, slightly, where I put the net today in an attempt to make the net less visible. The problem being, my Dad's house (in the Cotswolds) is the only house in the village that is brick (all the others are cotswold stone). When it was built they must have sneaked it past the planners (or at least got in before they tightened the rules!). It is also painted white (sorry, I've been corrected, magnolia). It is easy for the birds to see a net against a magnolia background!

I don't have much room for feeders and a net so, to catch the birds, I have to box clever!

Boxing day brought 27 birds of 7 species into the net. 14 Blue Tits, 2 Goldfinch, 3 Dunnocks (one being a retrap from Christmas eve - it didn't take long!), 1 Starling, 1 Robin, 3 Coal Tits and 3 Blackbirds (a second net caught these and nearly caught a 4th).

Above: With my brother behind the camera, he had me posing with this Blue Tit. 11 of the Blue Tits were born this year, with 3 adults. On Christmas eve, 2 of 3 Blue Tits caught were adults.

I noticed a complete absence of Great Tits at the feeders today. My Dad says they visit occasionally, but are outnumbered by the blues. Perhaps the nesting sites nearby are dominated by the blues?

Above & Below: Coal Tits are my favourite of the tit family. They sneak in, grab some food, and sneak back out to eat. Again, I've been corrected again, apparently here, they stick around on the feeders for quite a while. They must feel safer.

Below: A blackbird. I put a net up elsewhere in the garden especially to catch these. They feed near the other net, but fly in and out low. I'm after a blackbird with somebody else's ring on it (I'm informed there is one in the area. Perhaps just a matter of time and perserverance).

One blackbird was a possible continental. All were born this year.

Below: The patio is where birds feed on my dad's scraps. I had to move the feeders from being all against the fence (most birds would have come in over the fence, into the bushes, fed, and popped back over the fence had I not moved them!

All in all, I am pleased with the total. A starling was a bonus. The Goldfinch are a target species (my dad is particulary interested in these and he did give me some money to buy the rings!). After the two I caught early on, the rest seemed to see the net at the last second & avoid it.

The Dunnocks all seem to fly into the net at the same place from the same direction. I think it must be the way they follow the bushes around and circle the house! My first and only retrap so far was with a Dunnock caught on Christmas eve.

A house sparrow made a brief visit. I'm still waiting for a pied wagtail & jackdaw to come feeding (they do on my dad's patio). Then we'll see whether they make it into the net!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A festive first

My first ringing session on my own.

In order of appearance, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Robin. I had a bet (no money passed hands) with my dad as to how long it would take to catch a bird (I had already predicted a blue tit would be the first bird!). I had less than 5 mins and my dad had more than 5 minutes. As it turned out it was around 5 minutes. I didn't count the seconds.

Above: The better photo of the two is the Dunnock (no birds were harmed - the hob under the cooking pot was not on!!).

Below: The camera is a bit tempremental, therefore I released the bird before getting a better shot of it (well, it is only a blue tit!).

A collared dove and several blue tits flirted with the nets! Also seen nearby 2 coal tits, several more blue tits, goldfinch, greenfinch, blackbirds, more dunnocks and robins. This time I only put one 30ft net up for an hour. Next time I shall have a longer session (I'm going to try for a all day one on boxing day (I'll let them feed on christmas day!). I'm also going to put a net up elsewhere to catch the blackbirds. My dad says he's seen a blackbird with a ring on it recently so there's a possible control (that's what's call a bird that we catch, but somebody else e.g. not me - has put a ring on) lurking about somewhere!!

Merry Xmas everybody!