Thursday 31 December 2009

2009 - What a year!

On New Years Eve 2008 I decided that I would set a target of trying to ring over 1000 birds during 2009 - I'm pleased to say that, after grabbing every opportunity to get out ringing this year, on the 5th May I achieved it!! My 2009 total now stands at 1909 newly ringed birds. It's been a fantastic year not only for me, but also our ringing group (Loghan Hurst - Steve Christmas, Tim Christmas, Wes Halton, & Charles Findlay) as we've had our best year, totals wise, for over 10 years - ringing over 3000 birds.

I must say a few thank-yous, the first being to Steve Christmas for in the first place learning me how to bird ring but also for his encouragement and keeping me supplied with rings throughout the year. Also to Craig Brookes, Ciaran Hatsell and Chris Bridge for keeping me company when out ringing and for the good laughs!!

Must also thank the many landowners who have given us permission in accessing their land this year. And to Tony Wilkinson and Neville Powell from South Manchester Ringing Group and to Dave Fletcher and South West Lancashire Ringing Group for allowing me to carry out ringing in their ringing areas this year.
KB totals 2009.

Happy New Year!

Last day of 2009!

Thought I'd do a little more ringing before the year is out. Started off by netting the feeding stations catching - Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Robin and Yellowhammer.

Then onto catching a few more Coot, Canada Goose & Mute Swan.

Thanks to Chris Bridge for his help today.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Gulls Galore.

Nice cold day up at Lake Windermere with Craig, Chris and Ciaran today- not many wildfowl around but the gulls were certainly playing ball....

13 new Black Headed Gulls caught, with 1 recap + 3 controls.

2 Coot, 2 Canada Geese and 1 Mallard also ringed.

Bird of the day has to go to a Lesser Black Backed Gull - which took some doing at catching however we eventually pulled it off......

As always, after the 'hardwork' we treated ourselves to a well earned drink.....

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Local Coot movements.

Craig has been out today playing with his new Zeiss binoculars and did his spot of 'lunchtime ring-reading' in Stanley Park, Blackpool. Whilst birding he's always on the look out for ringed birds and today he managed to read another one of our Coot rings - GC82204.

Over the last few months, Craig has managed to read 5 Coot metal rings around the Fylde area. Four of these birds where ringed at Southport Marine Lake in 2008 - 3 to Marton Mere <17km>, 1 to Stanley Park <19km>, Blackpool. The other was ringed at Sands Lake, Ainsdale (near Southport) in 2003 and sighted by Craig, in July 09 at Marton Mere <22km>.

Over the last two years we've ringed 366 Coot - so where the other 361 are now is anyone's guess! So any lunchtime ring-reading of our Coot would be most welcome ;-)

Monday 28 December 2009

At long last!!

I've always wanted to catch and ring a Great Spotted Woodpecker and this morning I got to! Managed to catch the bird along with Bullfinch Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit at Shakerley this morning.

Interestingly I caught a 9 year old Great Tit that Wes Halton had ringed near the site in 2001!

Thursday 24 December 2009

Christmas Eve with Craig & Ciaran.

For months we had planned to visit Lake Windermere on Christmas Eve, however at the last minute we had to cancel. It was probably for the best we didn't go as thick snow fell throughout the night. However Craig & Ciaran decided to come down to Manchester to deliver Christmas cards - and so we decided we'd nip up to Crompton Lodges again.

Armed with 8 loafs of bread (for the birds), hot chocolate, whiskey and mince pies (for us!) we arrived to find we had most of the Lake to ourselves and with only us feeding the birds - which were hungry again - we managed to catch 25 birds.

Coot - 9 new / 3 recaps with metal rings which had colour rings added.
Mute Swan - 3 new
Canada Goose - 10 new

Great to see Ciaran back up north for Christmas - he's been working with the RSPB in Norfolk for 4 months.
We also took time to try and read as many Coot colour ring combinations, resulting in 31 rings being read.

However after all the ''hardwork'' we could not resist a sledge on the hills at Crompton Lodges before we left!

On the way home we nipped into the Shakerley feeding station for an hour, catching 19 birds. 15 new + 4 recaps (in brackets).

Blackbird - 6
Bullfinch - 3
Goldfinch - 2 (1)
Blue Tit - 4 (1)
Great Tit - (1)
Robin - (1)
Merry Christmas from us all....

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Have you seen Z3G?

There's no stopping him......yes our Whooper Swan yellow Z3G is now on his travels again, after leaving Bowness on Windermere in October he took up residence at Watermead Country Park in Leics - where he made him self quite at home (see the below photos).

He was last seen at Watermead on 17/12/2009 - so where is he now!? If you see a Whooper Swan on your local pond begging for bread - please get in touch!!
Thanks as always to Julie at Watermead for this information and for the photos.

Cool day for Coots.

The snow fell again during the night, here in Manchester and it's been very cold today, so I thought I would take a trip up to Crompton Lodges in Bolton. Most of the lake had frozen over and the Coot numbers had increased from my last visit. Around 30 Coot have been colour ringed at Crompton this year - however not many of them where around today (only read two ring combinations).

The birds were very hungry, when it's cold the birds are much tamer - so I thought i'd try and catch a few to ring. With it being quite cold - I kept handling to a minimum - so therefore didn't take any biometrics, just ringed the birds / aged and released.

30 birds in total caught - 22 new + 8 recap metal ringed birds which had colour rings added.

108 Coots have been colour ringed since October 2009
Any sightings of these birds can be sent to or to kanebrides''@''

Monday 21 December 2009

New species for the garden!

I don't keep a garden list - but it's always nice to catch a new species in the garden!

Sunday 20 December 2009

Where's the Wood Pigeon?

I was only saying to Steve today, that I had not caught or seen a Wood Pigeon in the garden for quite a while and as soon as one comes in - look what happened!!

Yes...foxed! He managed to catch it underneath the bird feeders this afternoon! Never seen a fox out in daylight....must be the cold! Video of him below....

Another week gone by.....

14/12/2009 - 20/12/2009

79 birds caught - 66 new & 13 recaps in brackets.

Blackbird - 9 (2)
Robin - 2 (1)
Dunnock - 5 (3)
Goldfinch - 16 (1)
Long Tailed Tit - 4
Blue Tit - 3 (4)
Great Tit - 8 (1)
Willow Tit (1)
Wren - 1
Starling - 2
Chaffinch - 3
Bullfinch - 5
Black Headed Gull - 1
Coot - 6 colour ringed.

Sunday 13 December 2009

End of the week!

A nice steady week which didn't go totally to plan - mainly because of Christmas shopping and minding kids! But I did manage to get out for a few days and ended the week with 73 new birds, 7 recaps and 3 controls.

Coot - 11 new + 3 retraps
Mute Swan - 24 new + 1 control
Tufted Duck - 3 new + 1 control
Mallard - 3 new + 1 recap
Black Headed Gull - 4 new + 1 control
Dunnock - 3 new + 2 recaps
Goldfinch - 17 new + 1 recap
Greenfinch - 2 new
Coal Tit - 1 new
Blue Tit - 1 new
Blackbird - 4 new
All the new + recap Coot have been colour ringed (example below) any sightings of these birds can be sent to
Many thanks to Stephen Menzie for the above photos & for his help this week.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Bowness Whooper.

Many thanks to swan ringer Julie for catching our Whooper Swan (ZY0349) at Watermead County Park and adding a darvic ring to it. It will now be much eaiser to read his ring ''in the field'' and enable us to keep track of him much more.

Many thanks to all who have been in touch about this bird and provided sightings of it.
Where will he go next?

Thanks to Julie for these photos.

Southport Marine Lake

On 08/12/2008 I spent my lunch hour at Southport Marine Lake, probably my best ever lunch hour, as in that hour I managed to catch, single handedly 45 Coot (40 new, 1 control, 4 recaps). So my mind was wondering whether it would be another good catch there today - however it was not to be! There were not many Coot on the lake today and non were brave enough to be caught. :(

So I met Stephen Menzie there this morning and we caught 13 birds - 8 Mute Swan, 3 Black Headed Gull and 2 Canada geese.

We also met up with John Gramauskas and Chris Tynan at Ainsdale Lake, where John expertly showed us how to catch Tufted Duck!!

Monday 7 December 2009


I've just spent a few days in Spain and got back yesterday, before driving up to Dumfries & Galloway for the night last night, then driving to Cockermouth to visit relations this morning (I'm trying to use up holiday time before the year is out!). I've got this week of work and depending on the weather, I'm trying to get out to do some kind of ringing each day of this week.

Whilst in Cockermouth today, I thought I would visit nearby Whitehaven Harbour to catch Mute Swans. 17 newly ringed birds caught, 3 controls (two from SW Scotland, 1 from Northumberland).

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get to Southport Marine Lake, mainly to try and catch/colour ring Coot......update tomorrow evening.

Tuesday 1 December 2009


I thought I would give the feeding station at Shakerley a go this morning. The weather forecast for this morning gave frost, cold and dry and they were bang on! At 06:30 it was -3.

My feeding station there now sits in a small pond, due to the large amount of rain we've had. And whilst I was stood in the middle of it setting the net up, it was then I realised I had a hole in both wellies! Great - wet feet at 7am and it's freezing!!

But I soon forgot all about that when a Sparrowhawk decided to hurtle itself, very kindly into the net! What a corker...

Other birds caught - Blackbird, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Willow Tit.

Back home - the net is now up in the garden, one new Dunnock caught and a Sparrowhawk has just got out of the net! (Argh!!)

The Coot will be tame at Southport today.....ummm....No there's work to be done!

Sunday 29 November 2009

Garden ringing & a few Coot.

Mostly garden ringing this week, in between dodging rain showers!

23/11/2009 - 3 Starling & 1 Blackbird

26/11/2009 - 8 Goldfinch.

27/11/2009 - recaps in brackets (below)

Goldfinch - 17 (6)
Greenfinch - 2
Robin - 1
Great Tit - 2
Starling - 2
Blue Tit - 4 (3)
House Sparrow - 1
Dunnock - (1)

Meanwhile Steve went over to his feeding station and had a nice catch of 50 birds.

28/11/2009 - 9 Coot colour ringed at Redesmere Lake.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Whooper to Watermead!

Many thanks to Julie at Watermead County park in Leicestershire for getting in touch with Steve, regarding one of our ringed Whooper Swans.

Whooper Swan - ZY0349 - was ringed at Bowness on Windermere on 25/05/2009 and was seen pretty much throughout the summer there. However on the 11/11/2009 it turned up at Watermead Countrypark in Leics at total of 222kms away from Bowness.

Not surprisingly the bird was in a flock of Mute Swans - just as he was when ringed at Bowness on Windermere!

Even though ZY0349 was ringed in the UK in spring - when it should have really been back in Iceland - it just goes to show these birds are not loafing around on the same pond all the time - waiting for the next handful of bread!!

Thanks to Julie for the above photo.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

WWT Martin Mere catch.

Miserable start at Martin Mere this morning with the catch being on & off at first. However with the terrible weather we didn't want to catch lots of birds. Unfortunately or fortunately (!) the door to the pipe was blown down during the night which put quite a few of the birds off entering the trap this morning. We wanted to catch more ducks than swans and we manged that as the swans were very weary.

In the end the door was released and we caught 4 swans (3 Whoopers & 1 Mute), 1 Greylag Goose and 106 ducks. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to ring any of the duck as I had to leave for a meeting - but check out Sean's blog for more info.

Thanks as always to all the ringers who come to help at the catch. Their help is very much appreciated.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Caerlaverock Swan Catch.

Today we had our first swan catch of the winter and instead of heading home from Scotland on Sunday - I decided to stay up until Tuesday. So a team of WWT staff, volunteers & local ringers all met at WWT Caerlaverock on the Solway Firth.

When talking to members of the public at WWT reserves - I'm often asked how do we catch the birds and so I thought I would take a series of photos and display them here... During the winter the birds get fed four times daily and this allows members of the public to see the birds up close - it also allows us to entice them into our decoys aka swan pipes.

Once the head warden & catch organiser feels we have enough birds to cope with - a line is pulled (which travels underground) and this releases the ''door'' a net suspended from the roof of the pipe - capturing the birds. It is at this point the adrenaline rushes through you - and everyone runs out and into the pipe to get behind the birds to get everything under control. Once we've formed a line in the water - we slowly walk the birds to the top of the pipe - where birds are separated.

Swans & geese get penned up and the ducks get placed into crates until ringing can begin. Ducks are then taken out - ringed, aged, weighed and swabbed before being relased. Whooper & Mute Swans are ringed with both BTO metal rings & darvic rings, aged, weighed, have their skull & tarsus measured, (Whoopers) have their bills photographed, swabbed and then released.

Birds caught - Whooper Swan, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, Shoveler, Wigeon and Gadwall.

Tonight we're heading down the M6 and staying at Martin Mere - hopefully tomorrow we'll be catching there....update tomorrow.

Thursday 12 November 2009

This week....

All garden ringing this week (40 caught) except an early morning, before work trip to the Shakerley feeding station (5 caught). Depressing total from Shakerley I know, despite the previous day looking really good - but that's 5 more birds with rings on - that's how I'm gunna look at it :0)

Anyhow bags/car packed - I'm off up to Scotland for a long weekend....


Goldfinch - 22 new + 1 recap
Chaffinch - 2
Robin - 1
Blue Tit - 2 new + 1 recap
Great Tit - 1 + 1 recap
Dunnock - 1 recap
Starling - 11
Blackbird - 2
= 41 new + 4 recap = 45 birds caught.....

Over and out....

Monday 9 November 2009

Garden ringing.

I woke at 06:45am and peered out of the window and saw that there was the first real frost on the ground. As I was working from home today - I got up and stuck a net up in the garden. Not long after, the first Goldfinches were coming down to feed at the feeding station - resulting in 21 being caught. Throughout the remainder of the day a total of 30 birds caught 26 new & 4 recaps.

Goldfinch - 20 new + 1 recap.
Great Tit - 1 recap
Chaffinch - 1 male
Robin - 1
Dunnock - 1 retrap
Blue Tit - 3 - 2 new & 1 recap (from another site further down the road - ringed as a pullus in May this year)
Starling - 2

After the mad rush of Starling in spring - they've only just starting to come into the garden again. Yesterday a flock came into the garden and we managed to count 138 from a photo we took!! Hopefully we can catch a few more.....

Lithuanian Black Headed Gull

Ring read in field at WWT Martin Mere on 06/11/2009.

356216 - Black headed Gull

Age : in the nest (1)

Date : 04-06-1989

Place : Kietaviskes (54.45'N 24.38'E), Kaisiadorys district, Lithuania

Sunday 8 November 2009

Just a few..

Not had time to do much ringing this week as I've been busy with work. However I put the net up in the garden yesterday morning and managed a nice little catch of 14 birds - 11 Goldfinch (10 new & 1 recap), 1 Greenfinch, 1 Dunnock and 1 Blue Tit.

Meanwhile Steve has been out catching Coot, Canada geese & Tufted Duck...

Today I've been out with Sean again - he came over from Halifax to give us a hand with catching and colour ringing some more Coot.... Today we caught - 10 Coot, 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Mallard, 4 Canada Geese and 9 Mute Swan.

So that's that for this week!

In the pipeline for the next coming weeks - both my garden & the Shakerley feeding stations are getting quite busy and Steve has set up another feeding station at one of our sites - so hopefully we'll be netting these over the next few weeks. We're also about to dust off the Teal trap and float it - ready for action. And as winter sets in - that will give us more opportunity in catching more Coot & Gulls. And finally, with the Whooper Swans now back at the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust centres - I'm going to be travelling around the country quite a bit attending various wildfowl catches at Martin Mere, Caerlaverock, Slimbridge and Welney.....

Sunday 1 November 2009

End of week totals.

A good week with 89 birds handled - 76 new, 12 recap and 1 control.

Wren - 1
Goldfinch - 7 new + 1 recap
Chaffinch - 4
Greenfinch - 1
Bullfinch - 2
Willow Tit - 1 new + 2 recap
Blue Tit - 5 new
Great Tit - 3 new + 2 recap
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird - 1
Jay - 1
Tufted Duck - 2
Coot - 35 new + 2 recap
Canada Goose - 10 new + 5 recap
Mute Swan - 2
Black Headed Gull - 1 Norwegian control.

37 Coot colour ringed this week.

Friday 30 October 2009

''How do you catch your Coot?'' a question that I've been asked many times this week. Since my last blog post on colour ringing Coot - I've had quite a number of e-mails from ringers all over the UK and even one from Norway asking how I catch my Coot. So I thought I would put something on the blog for all to see.

Really - it is quite simple. You'll need a couple loafs of bread and a bit of patience and basically just go feeding the ducks! (Of course with the permission of the landowner first) as soon as a Coot comes near enough to catch it - Go for it! You may however get ''funny'' looks from members of the public - most seem to ignore it - but it can be good PR work!

Whilst Me and Craig where out catching birds - he videoed me catching a bird (see below)

Most of the birds I catch are in the water - so am on my hands/knees when catching - however some birds do wander out of the water and will feed at your feet. They seem to be more confident when the weather gets cold and natural food dries up - I've found November and December to be my most productive months. Also they seem to be more confident when larger wildfowl such as Mute Swan / Canada Goose are surrounding them.

Now that's in parks/lakes where the local wildfowl regularly get fed by the public - however not all Coot are tame and certainly at locations were feeding does not occur they can be ''wild''. However Coot can by caught in duck traps and decoys baited with grain/corn - once they have become accustomed to entering them.

It must be said that once you've got hold of a bird, they can be quite vicious! - they scratch, bite and poop everywhere!!

Ageing Coot.

Birds are aged on their tarsus colour - with adults having bright yellow, orange or even red on the side of the tarsus. Juvenile birds have dull legs - side of tarsus grey gradually becoming yellow/orange. Adults also have a black breast were as juvs have white streaks on the breast. Adults have reddish iris and Juvs have brownish. Size of frontal shield is also useful - smaller in juveniles.



So now you know how we catch our Coot - grab some G's and give it a go.....

Thursday 29 October 2009

Feeding station and Coot.

Out again with Craig netting at the Shakerley feeding station.

Jay (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Willow Tit (2), Bullfinch (2), Goldfinch (2), Chaffinch (2), Blackbird (1) and Dunnock (1).

Then onto catching more Coot for the colour ringing project - 7 more marked. Also caught and ringed 5 Canada Geese & 1 Mute Swan.