Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Goss Goldies and more from the Garden

A day spent at home with my loved ones proved beneficial on Sunday as it meant that I could sneak the nets up in the garden again. I was once again rewarded with a new species, this time in the form of a Firecrest! Quite bizarre really as it isn't your typical Firecrest habitat, being suburban with only small amounts of cover.

1st Year Female Firecrest
1st Year Female Firecrest Tail Pattern
Whilst the tail tips do look broad I believe this was due to wear as you can see the remains of the Rachis. Notice T3 which did not seem as worn in the hand appears much more pointed.
Central Alula Pattern
I have also read that the central Alula feather can sometimes help with ageing. I did find this feature difficult and it did not help me much whilst the bird was in the hand. I guess it would be easier if you had a varied selection of ages at one time for comparison.

I also had a few more Goldfinch and Chaffinch which are always a pleasure in the hand and am forever hopeful one will bare another ringers mark, A couple more Starlings made for noisy dealings and got the curtains twitching on the neighbours houses! The last bird to be processed for the day was a cracking Male House Sparrow. I think these are one of the most beautiful birds that grace our shores and always take a minute to admire them.

Should such a stunning creature be allowed to make such horrible noises? 

A truly handsome chap!

Yesterday morning was also most enjoyable. I headed to my local site Goss Moor to try my luck and see what was about. I had all nets up just before dawn and the Redwing Latvian love song on for first light. This proved successful and were my first for the Autumn (late on parade as usual)! I enjoyed re-acquainting myself with this species and am hopeful for a few more before the new year.

My first for the Autumn

Lovely wedge shapes on this juveniles tertials 

Example of pointier juvenile tail shape
Example of more rounded tail tips as found on an adult 

I also netted some Bullfinch and again try and take sometime to admire them prior to release.

Always a pleasure picking Old greater coverts on this species.

Two male Reed Buntings made their way into a net, both showing signs of a white collar and some feather wear so that the black beneath was prominent. 

I always feel that they are very regal whilst in the hand

Reed Bunting wing pattern

Reed Bunting tail pattern

A male Blackbird added to the Thrush variety and as with Bullfinch I enjoyed having a break trying to find old greater coverts as in some of the more challenging species!

Lots of wing contrast making ageing oh so easy!

A small number of Chiffchaff were processed including the individual below with a wing length of 64 mm. I am not hugely knowledgeable with Chiffchaff family groups so would be interested in peoples opinion of race. 


Another Treecreeper also made an appearance and I have caught more than I could ever imagine on this site. Long may this continue as I think they are superb little fellows.

As much as all the above was lovely the stars of the show were the Goldcrest! I managed a good number during my morning and enjoyed studying them for variety. I noticed that several seem to show greyer heads that is a sign that they have potentially come from eastern countries. lets hope one or two of them get controlled on their way home next year. 

A grey headed (eastern?) Female Goldcrest
Hopefully some of this puzzle will be answered in the near future as I did manage to capture one with a British ring! Fingers crossed it is from further afield than Devon. I will update you when I have the details returned to me. 

Fingers crossed it is from somewhere good!
So my final totals for the morning were:

Goldcrest x 13 (1 x control and 1 x retrap)
Wren x 2
Chiffchaff x 3
Treecreeper x 1
Long-tailed Tit x 2 (5 retraps)
Great Tit x 4
Blue Tit x 3
Chaffinch x 1
Bullfinch x 5
Reed bunting x 2
Blackbird x 1
Redwing x 8

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Birds on my doorstep & amazing Walmsley Sanctuary

With less than a week to go until my trip to the Hula Valley in Israel I spent some time this morning getting ready for my adventure whilst keeping an eye on the birds visiting my garden. I always take for granted how many birds live right on my doorstep and I had great fun photographing these stunning Nuthatches as they sped around running up and down the tree's finding and storing food , they almost look like they should belong in a rainforest rather than my garden!

Adding to the colour was this smart Great Spotted Woodpecker ( one of two birds, both unringed which is interesting seeing that Pete has ringed 3 here this year, I wonder how many Woodpeckers live in my garden!)

      After my garden fix I had a quick walk down the road and along the river to the local sewage works ( yes this sounds weird but they are very good for birds! You don't actually go into the sewage works but the birds are attracted by the insects..) A Peregrine Falcon circled above whilst a Dipper was a nice local record, 117 Redwings , 1 Stock Dove, 1 Firecrest, 15 Goldcrest and 2 Chiffchaffs were noted but no Yellow-browed Warbler or Siberian Chiff-chaffs yet...


Great Tit

Amongst the 15 or so Goldcrests today was this rather grey looking individual ( record shot below- compare with typical Goldcrest above). I keep reading on the internet about ' Eastern Goldcrests' and this is the first one I have seen which looked obviously different, I'm still unsure whether it's just wishful thinking that these grey birds are from the eastern Europe or maybe they are just abherrant individuals, I guess ringing data may prove this eventually ( come and ring this bird Pete!).                                          
Eastern type Goldcrest???

Treecreeper at Walmsley

Later on in the afternoon I drove over to Walmsley Sanctuary to see what birds would get pushed into the reserve by the high spring tide and I was rewarded with a really excellent visit! Nothing that rare but a wide variety of thousands of birds. Even my walk to the hide gave me 2 Treecreepers which amazingly are the first I have ever seen here in 12 years! Things got better as I settled into birding from the hide and watched as hundreds of waders from the estuary joined the masses of wildfowl already on show. The highlight for me however was EIGHT (!) Water Pipits settled in front of the hide happily feeding on the waters edge, this is by far the biggest count of this species I have had in the county and I wonder whether it could be a record....
Look at all these waders!

Even more waders!
Record shot of the Curlew Sandpiper

Other birds counted this evening included 1 Barnacle Goose, 26 Wigeon, 3 Shoveler, 7 Pintail, 207 Teal, 3 Water Rail, 2 Coot, 1200 Golden Plover, 266 lapwing, 24 Curlew, 41 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ruff, 1 late Curlew Sandpiper ( found by local birders Stan and Jim ) , 303 Dunlin, 24 Common Snipe,1 Green Sandpiper, 218 Common Redshank, 1 Ad Med Gull and 1 Grey Wagtail.

Black-tailed Godwits

A great day off and a reminder that I shouldn't take my local patches for granted!

Not quite a Murmuration of starlings... more like a Murm :p

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Update on the Aythya Duck at Dozmary Pool

After an enjoyable morning with the CBWPS bird report team I went back to Dozmary Pool to try and sort out the female Tufty type duck I saw last weekend. I'm still confused by it , there are definitely pro Lesser Scaup features ( such as the paler brown overall colour , narrow white blaze around the bill and small nail on the bill, but at times I'm not sure if the head shape is 100% right. I waited patiently for 2 hours in horrible weather for it to lift it's wings but did it hell! It's probably not the real thing but I'm still going to try and sort it out just to learn from it if it stays around , something just bugs me with it! It just seems different enough to the Tufted Ducks on the pool ( which it rarely associates with , seems to be alone on the opposite bank or with Pochards ) to warrant some more time sorting it out. Here are 2 links to some shoddy video I phone scoped earlier , showing at least the structure of the bird:



Also present were 1 female Goldeneye , 7 Tufted Duck, 5 Pochard, 1 Teal, 2 Wigeon and 1 Pintail. Whilst on the reservoir 2 Adult Yellow Legged Gull's were as good as it got.

Garden Glory

I managed to free up a couple of hours before work yesterday morning and opted to stay at home and get some chores done with the garden nets open. I didn't get many chores done as I seemed to get a constant steady trickle of birds from the get go!

I had a nice little variety and was pleased as I have not lived at the house very long and it is still a little unknown what lurks in the area.

It was pleasing to get a few more Gold Finch having caught a small number last week, and the feeders seem to be attracting a few Chaffinch too so am hopeful of picking some of these up over the winter months.

Adult Male Goldfinch
Male Chaffinch

Female Chaffinch

Adult Goldfinch Tail Pattern - Notice the gentle rounded tips to the tail
Juvenile Goldfinch Tail Pattern - Showing nice points and much more angular in appearance
The cuticles on my fingers had the pleasure of Blue and Great Tits to contend with! Despite this I still find Great Tits beautiful and enjoy the privilege of seeing them up close and personal. A Robin and Dunnock also graced the nets and were firsts for the garden (the joys of starting a fresh in a new location).

Adult Male Great Tit
Finger biting Blue Tit 


I was quite excited to also catch some Starlings and am forever hopeful that one will turn up in a far flung eastern country such as Russia, but a control from anywhere would be nice! They have lots of identification and sexing criteria which keeps fresh faced ringers such as me on our toes. I also had another Blackbird which seem to be surprisingly numerous in my suburban location.

Common Starling - Hopefully Russia bound!

Adult Male Blackbird - The dark beak is sometimes regarded as being a sign that it is Scandinavian in origin. I am not sure that there is any truth in this personally!

The most exciting visitor for the morning came in the form of an adult Collard Dove. This is only the second that I have had the pleasure of ringing. I know they are common and in some peoples eyes deemed as vermin. However I love them and they truly are stunning at close quarters. Hopefully this chap will be back to grace the garden throughout the winter and bring along some of his friends.

A real pleasure to handle and surprisingly placid

I just love that bright red eye!
There is nothing more I love (except my other half in case she is reading this) than getting out on my local ringing site and seeing whats about and knowing that I am contributing to the conservation and data collection of each species that I process. But I am also aware that some of the species that are in dire need of such contribution visit my garden and the feeders and they in turn should not be neglected. It is in my opinion as useful as Constant Effort Site data if done in the right way.

I wonder what the garden will throw up tomorrow morning?