Sunday, 29 July 2012

Seed thief identified!

For months I've been wondering which culprit has been stealing my seed from Sandy Smith Nature Reserve. I haven't been catching enough birds at each visit for them to be chomping through all the seed.

From the stripping of the bark on the tree, I thought it was probably a squirrel but I've never seen a squirrel near the feeders. More recently, the plot thickened and the seed was being knocked onto the floor and eaten from there.

In a ringing session today I met the juvenile delinquent responsible going by the first name of Jack, last name Daw! It received a standard ankle tag (ring) before it left. A first for me and the first ringed at SSNR. I think I can live with the extra expense for the seed now :o)

I did take a photo or two with my phone camera but in trying to work out how to get them off the phone, I've managed to lose them. They would have been grainy anyway!

Of note, I caught my first Willow Warbler of the year. A juvenile that has probably come from elsewhere and is on the move. 2 juvenile Coal Tits were a bonus. However, as a site known for its Whitethroats, today's catch did not include a single one. The adults I have caught in the last couple of weeks were moulting and I suspect they're going or have already departed on their journeys. The juveniles are few and far between too.

I compared 2011 and 2012 total catches of juveniles at both SSNR and Priory Country Park up to 22nd July. If you want to see the results visit the Ivel Ringing Group blog here.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Sandy Smith NR - a new species ringed

I've been unable to visit Sandy Smith Nature Reserve much recently, largely due to the weather being miserable. More info about a visit on Tuesday 26th June can be found on the Ivel Ringing Group blog here. This ringing session brought the first juvenile Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats, Blue/Great Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Chaffinches we also caught 2 Starlings (only the 2nd & 3rd ringed here) - a ringing tick for David.

A visit this morning (Sunday 1st) produced more new juveniles including the first juvenile Wren of the year here but was interesting in a different way. The last catch produced:

Above: A Kestrel - the second to be ringed at SSNR.

A single House Martin was the best bird. A first for the site and also a ringing tick for me. A group had been skimming around low down all morning long (including some Swallows) in the area.

Above: An adult House Martin. A female as it had a brood patch that appeared to be reducing (B3 on its way to B4).

These House Martins aren't usually to be found feeding like this on the reserve until later in the year so I am speculating that these have finished breeding (I don't know if there were any juveniles amongst the flock). This was an accidental catch as they are not normally caught in mist netting activities unless targeted. I was lucky one made a mistake - others flew over the top of the nets!