Sunday, 27 December 2009

Toys for the boys

It's a sort of birding bling; a karibiner with built in LED, fitted onto the neck sling to read the controls on a new walkie-talkie. So on a cold morning Jake was finally allowed into the whoosh net hide with all his paraphernalia and the trigger, while David fed sausages into the George Foreman. Within minutes Jake's voice came through 'There are two REEBUs in the catching area what shall I do'. Well he was hoping for a Fieldfare ringing tick and Reed Bunting is only our target species at the Nursery. 'Fire Jake!' and I rounded the corner to see the net still set.
'Why didn't you fire then?' 'Well I was just about to when the next door neighbours slammed their car door.......' He still hasn't got that ringing tick either.

Train spotting Siskins?

The Dowager Duchess of Dobcross does it again. The disused trackbed of the Delph Donkey runs north south quite close to Margaret's garden bringing a stream of juicy migrants onto her feeders; recent Siskins are a bit special. V605953 ringed in her garden in Aug 2008 was controlled in Baldwins Hill East Grinstead March 2009, passing on its way X281045 ringed at Baldwins Hill in Feb 2009 and controlled in Dobcross (east of Oldham) April 2009. Where did they go from East Grinstead? My feeling is that they travel annually to East Grinstead hoping to greet Bluebell's first steam train into the town since 1957. If you have a better idea let me know!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Interesting, but not a hen.

The Goyt valley between Marple Bridge in Stockport and New Mills in High Peak is regarded by local shooters as 'Woodcock alley', and in the winter months it is not uncommon to flush one or two in bits of woodland anywhere nearby. At that time of year they are regularly seen flying over our ringing site nr Macclesfield. A request from Adele Powell for Woodcock feathers resulted in a modification to my permit, and David and Jake flushed five birds in a local wood.
As a break from ringing finches we slung a net across a woodland ride followed by beating up to it. A bird flushed from its roost stormed over the net at a height of 4 metres. Yesterday working partly on a hint from Jim Hodson about nest finding we moved the net 50 metres down the ride and tried again. It was 1400 hrs and the sun was out, and the first bird flushed, and our ringing group's 2nd went straight in the net. A second bird doubled back well before reaching the net. It was satisfying to post off a few feathers for stable isotope analysis; good luck with the PhD Adele.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Welcome home Kerry!!!

Kerry is back from Thetford, but what did she learn down there?
She was late turning up for ringing last week because her car door fell off, then this week she has cried off because she has been invited by the BTO to survey chickens in Devon. 'Tell that to the Marines' was the WW2 cliche. Don't worry KAS they take 'E' rings.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Juvat impigros Deus

Jake was jubilant as he approached the net, 'It's another BLACA!' The third of the day and we had doubled our total for the year. 'Wait it's got a white throat!!!!' Following the triumph of 2008 when the Dowager Duchess of Dobcross ringed our first LESWH since 2001 in her back garden, here was another. It also evaded HP's golden caribiner.
The next round we got our third BLACA making 6 for the year which together with the LESWH and two CHIFFs pushed our warbler total to 9 for the year.
David has promised to plant some more Elder, and in the mean time we'll try to find enough scrub for a second 4 metre Ecotone.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Transfer to Sheffield Wednesday

For me one of the big disappointments of our Dipper project was that Stuart Sharp had failed to secure funding to expand his Dipper project on the other side of the 'hill' in the Peak District, but at least he has a PhD student carrying on his pilot in NW Sheffield. However to Stuart's obvious delight the female controlled at nest under a bridge in Hillsborough was RX54621 ringed as a pullus in 2008 at Diggle east of Oldham having travelled at least 37 miles. As far as I know Oldham Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday are the only two football clubs to have an owl on their crests; perhaps they should change them to Dippers.
How interesting it would be to know the birds dispersal route over the hill.

Dippers galore

Why Dippers? Because we have some. It would perhaps be more appropriate to run a project on a red or amber listed species, but to be honest we would struggle to trap/retrap 40 warblers of all species combined, so at least we thought we might achieve a modicum of usefulness with Dippers. It started out in Sept 2005 with the ringing of RV21625 a 3J mist netted on Todd Brook SW of Whaley Bridge, and after bridging the credibility gap finally developed into a Colour Ringing RAS and Nest Record project.We started in 2007 in various tributaries of the Mersey. After a posting on the Manchester Birding Forum requesting sightings of colour ringed Dipper, we received help from several birders starting with BTO RR Steve Suttill who started sending us sightings of birds in hitherto unknown territories. We soon began to realise there were more Dippers in our study area than we had anticipated. Although some nests proved extremely difficult to find, Nev Powell could not resist the opportunity to add to the NRC total and got into the habit of inspecting every bridge as we drove around ringing almost endless nests of pulli. One of the difficult territories was Tesco Whaley Bridge, but birds were seen heading back towards the village. After parking in the White Hart car park, a quick leap over the fence soon established that there was indeed a nest under the main road, but frustratingly the four pulli were just out of reach. A mist net was stretched across the River Goyt just upstream from the bridge and the female quickly bagged. The bird was none other than RV21625. It wasn't a big movement but the bird at 4 years is our oldest so far.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Couchie, couchie

With Michael away banding at Powder Mill, Neville treading in his master’s footsteps at Woolston, and yours truly hors de combat with ‘Wellington Foot’, the weekends ringing was set to be a trip with David and Jake to Nether Alderley for the porch Swallows only. We walked 50 yds down the lane towards Nether Alderley, climbed the gate, walked at right angles to the hedge across the field, vaulted the fence (are you getting the gist of this Michael?), and walked the 50 yds back, past the out houses to the ‘des res’.
There were plenty of ladders about so David collected and ringed the 5 just out of pin pulli. Jake was a bit frustrated by the fact that one of the adults looked to be ringed and we were having to leave a possible control to the mercy of Michael. All was OK, but there was this 09 reg Ferrari parked there, (for the benefit of the non-motoring among us it looked like quarter of a mils worth of toy, with divine body work and it was black). Well.... (you are now ahead of me and writing your own scripts!) the ladder was safely removed, but Swallows don’t mind dropping ‘messages from the sky’ (for George Formby fans everywhere, not just on ‘I tiddley I tie island’), on brand new Ferraris (and front porch doorsteps). David thinks that the little migrants might be persuaded to nest in the servants quarters next year.
You might be forgiven for thinking that David, despite having worked his way through three 5am get ups and gruelling days at the Cheshire and Arley Shows with two more at Arley to come, would have been pleased to be on the home straight towards his ‘nest box restricted C permit, but not a bit of it: While feeding Boris (the badger) and his mates, he had heard the alarm call of a Little Owl coming from round the edge of Wigwam Wood and had set off to investigate. Well apparently this stag horn oak had a hole up the middle, white splashes round the base, several attendant flies and Little Owls within. Friday night I arrived at the nursery. Jake was standing there with the news, and suggestion that we might have a peep and take the E-rings just in case. In spite of pleas of infirmity, I was dragged across a field fluttering with Meadow Browns, towards the oak where basking in the sun were, not one, not two, but three nearly fully grown LITOWs just under the nest hole. What were we going to do? I tried a flanking movement as Jake approached slowly full on. We got quite close before we were rumbled and the chick nearest the hole headed for safety. However the hole was a bit tight even for a little Little Owl, so there was time to yell ‘grab him Jake’ and the third in the queue was duly ringed, Jake’s 64th tick. Of course David who arrived back from Arley 15 mins later was not impressed to hear Jake’s news. Now that was a bit uncharitable. In the excitement of the chase, Jake had lost his presence of mind and grabbed the third of the critters instead of the second, so at least David has further chances, and the other nest.
Couchie couchie Janis.