Thursday, 30 June 2011

Something a Little Different!

After leaving Dave yesterday, I got some work out of the way before leaving in the early evening to Anglesey with Kieran Foster, Zac & Chris to attempt some nocturnal netting. We were after Storm Petrels & Manx Shearwater, as we waited for what seemed like an age for it to go completely dark – we were rewarded with two Storm Petrels and 7 Manx Shearwater!


It was obvious it was going to be a Manxie night, as good numbers were off shore calling loudly with their eerie call. Six new Manx Shearwater were bagged, along with a bird already carrying a ring, as the last bird of the evening or early morning (!) It certainly rounded off a first class trip! The controlled bird being ringed on Bardsey Island as a chick in 2005….


Leaving Anglesey at 3am & arriving home at 5am, tired and overwhelmed at handling two very smart birds!, controlling the Bardsey bird, smelling a Storm Petrel (lovely!) and……….. hearing a Coot flying over the sea, calling loudly in the pitch black – which is something I’ve always wanted to witness!!!

Thanks to Kieran for a tip top night!! & Zac for the above photos…

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Lucky Kestrel!

Out with Dave Edwards yesterday morning, checking Barn Owl & Kestrel broods in the Astley Moss area of Greater Manchester. It was obvious that we’d missed the first brood of Kestrels, as a fledged brood were flying around with their parents! However upon entering the barn, it seemed one of the pulli had taken it’s first flight from the box, and landed straight through the skylight of a VW campervan! Luckily the campervan was open and Dave managed to get the bird, which was duly ringed before being released & joining it’s siblings!


We then went onto check a few Barn Owl locations, however it seems they’re not having a particularly good year on the mosslands with just one chick ringed….


Two Stock Dove pulli, 8 Swallow pulli and a brood of 4 small Kestrels were also ringed during the morning…..

Thursday, 23 June 2011

COMTE Colour Ringing

I met Dave Edwards over at Doffcocker Lodge in Bolton after work today, to start our 2011 colour ringing on the Common Terns there. Dave’s study on juvenile dispersal is now into it’s 6th year and today we added a further 15 colour ringed chicks, with one chick being too small to hold colour rings, so was BTO ringed only.


2011’s chicks are given a yellow colour ring above the BTO ring on the right leg, along with a grey colour ring on the left leg. Yellow is the site colour = Doffcocker and the Grey ring is the year colour = 2011.


Any sightings of colour ringed Common Terns can be sent to

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

‘A Look Back’ - Where are they now?

(Photo taken at Southport Marine Lake, Dec 10 by Stephen Menzie)

December 2010 was exceptionally cold across the UK; the coldest December in over 100 years and it was the coldest calendar month since February 1986! This saw most of the countries’ lakes & ponds frozen over which placed huge numbers of wildfowl on the move in search for open water.

At times Southport Marine Lake was 90% frozen and thanks mainly to the Mute Swans, they kept a patch of water open for themselves and other water birds. This provided perfect Coot catching conditions and allowed a sample of birds to be assessed on how well the birds were coping with the adverse weather conditions. Over a three day period 233 Coot were hand captured & colour ringed at Southport, with an amazing 106 in one day, as the birds came to bread.


Now as we move on into Summer and put that memorable Winter behind us, I thought it would be worthwhile bringing an update to the blog on where some of these birds have since been sighted.

Just days after ringing, the first sightings started to trickle in as birds moved around. GR25043 sighted 10km at WWT Martin Mere 2 days after ringing, then reported on territory at nearby Mere Sands Woods in March 2011 and GR25270 reported 4 days later at Seaforth, Merseyside 21km –  may give indication of local birds.

However a rapid movement made by GR25118, 390km SSW in 26 days to Cornwall was impressive and GR25010 sighted 299km SSE in 80 days to Salisbury, gives a good representation of how far some birds dispersed from Southport.

Of the 212 marked birds, 117 have been reported since ringing with 41 of these being away from Southport Marine Lake.

Local sightings.

Local SOU movements

National sightings

Sou Coot Map

It’ll be interesting to see whether any of these birds return back this coming winter, or whether their last visit to Southport was a result of the severe weather pushing them there…..

In the meantime it would be most useful if you could check your local Coots for colour rings and report any sightings to me at kanebrides’@’

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Killington Trip 2.

We always try to have two visits to the Killington BHG colony in Cumbria. On the first visit we aim to ring as many chicks as we can catch & then on the follow up visit we aim to ring an extra 100 chicks. We also take time out to check dead birds for rings (from visit 1) so that we can accurately record these in IPMR, before submitting to the BTO.

I was expecting to find quite a lot of dead chicks, however I was surprised to only retrieve 28 rings (out of 447 chicks ringed) and I’m fairly sure the whole island was checked for dead birds. Unlike last year we couldn’t walk onto the island, so had to wade through water to get onto the island – so I suspect this is also stopping the local foxes getting on there and feasting on the chicks!


80 chicks were darvicd during our first trip & we only retrieved 3 darvics on yesterday’s visit – so we’re rather looking forward to sightings of the other 77 away from the island! A bit optimistic maybe?!


Chris, Zac & Gillian did a sterling job of rounding up & ringing the chicks yesterday. 127 chicks were ringed, along with two adults making the daily total 130 – which now puts us on well over 600 new Black-headed Gulls for 2011……… now we wait for the recoveries!!

Monday, 20 June 2011

A Big Surprise from LISBOA!

OK so I’ve changed the second word in this blog post title slightly from yesterdays post! Why!? Because apparently A310342 is the first Portuguese ringed Sand Martin to be recovered in the UK! 


Thanks to Richard Du Feu for making me aware of this! And to Lee Barber at BTO HQ for confirming!

Well done A310342…………!


To add a further twist to this story – what are the chances that UK ringers ringed this bird in Portugal!? And those ringers being from the NW of England!? It’s true…. Thanks to Tom & Peter Fearon for getting in touch – they ringed this Sand Martin on 21/08/2010 at Reserva Natural das Lagas de Santo AndrĂ© e da Sancha. It weighed 14.8 and was aged as a 3 (juvenile)

Thanks to the Fearons for letting us know!


Today we had a very successful trip to Killington Lake to round up more Black-headed Gull chicks. However we thought A310342 deserves the blog post this evening, so we’ll blog about today’s events tomorrow!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A Small Surprise from LISBOA!

Another non-stop week, very similar to last weeks activities, however without a trip to Killington (we’re hoping to have a repeat visit tomorrow).

The week in photos….


Met Steve to ring another brood of 5 Kestrels on Monday evening in Worsley, with Steve ringing a further 21 pulli on Saturday.

P1010269 - Copy

Started ringing on Atherton Farm again, after a two year gap of not ringing anything. 33 pulli Swallow were ringed on Tuesday, as well as a brood of 5 at WWT Martin Mere.


Another visit to the WWT Martin Mere Tree Sparrow boxes to finish off ringing 2nd broods resulting in 20 pulli being ringed, taking our yearly total to 152 pulli now ringed. Many nest boxes are now containing eggs of third clutches!


Thursday we joined the Reserve Wardens to check the Barn Owl boxes at WWT Martin Mere. Our first nest box was empty & found to have a dead adult inside. The second box held two adults & the young chick above. Seems they’re having a tough year at Martin Mere.


Reed Warbler monitoring continued this week with a further 7 nests found at the reed bed, taking our active nest total up to 47 nests! A further 20 pulli were ringed, bringing our 2011 Reed Warbler pulli total to 80 ringed.


Saturday – the trip to Puffin Island with SCAN Ringing Group (see below for more photos) ringing -

  • Cormorant – 250 pulli + 50 darvicd
  • Shag – 10 pulli + 1 retrap adult
  • Razorbill – 27 pulli + 5 adults
  • Guillemot – 299 pulli + 14 adults.
  • Kittiwake – 5 adults – darvicd & datalogged


Sunday evening spent with Steve, Chris & Gillian Dinsmore at the Shakerley Sand Martin colony. Two nets erected for an hour, capturing 38 birds. The first bird extracted by Gillian was carrying a Cempa Sea, Lisboa ring from Portugual! Ring number A310342. One other control followed this bird, a BTO ringed bird – L451555. 36 new birds captured. A very nice hour to round off a very busy week……


152 new birds this week + 2 controls of 20 species….

Thanks to Steve, Chris, Zac & Gillian for their help this week. Thanks also to Zac for the above Reed Warbler & Kestrel photos and to Gillian for the Kittiwake photo!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Puffin Island, North Wales.

When visiting my Grandparents in Benllech, Anglesey, I often sit in their living room overlooking the sea & gazing out towards Puffin Island, wishing I was over there with all those birds!! So this week when an e-mail arrived in my inbox from Steve Dodd inviting me to join a ringing trip there today, I quickly snapped up the offer and re-arrange my weekend so that I could take part in SCAN Ringing Group’s visit to the island.

We had an absolute awesome day out on the island ringing seabirds such as Cormorant, Shag, Guillemot, Razorbill and Kittiwake. For me the highlights were helping Rachel Taylor darvic 50 Cormorant, being taught by Rachel how to use special auk rings and helping PhD student Louise Soans in catching, darvicing & attaching GPS dataloggers to Kittiwake!!

I’m unsure of the full totals from today’s trip – I know we ringed a lot of birds! However I’ll post a short update on the ringing totals when Steve has added them all up!!

Here’s a few photos from today -


Cormorant chicks. 





Razorbill chick



Razorbill (with the nearest bird ringed with a special auk ring)



Many thanks to Steve for the invite & to everyone involved for such a good day!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Shakerley’s First Overseas Recovery!

A recent batch of recoveries through from the BTO included one of a Sand Martin ringed at Shakerley, Atherton on 15/06/2010 as a 4 male.

Controlled 70 days later on 24/08/2010 at Etang da la Horre, Aube, France – 749km….


Sunday, 12 June 2011

Busy Week!

I’ve had all of this week off work, and at the start of it, it didn’t look too promising weather wise for much ringing. A little worrying as we had lots of ringing planned! However it seemed ‘they’ got it wrong and we managed to squeeze all our ringing activities in without being pestered too much by rain or strong winds!

Monday kicked off with a Kestrel nest box inspection at Shakerley, were I managed to lift the female out of the box. She was feeding 5 chicks and I decided to leave the ringing of the chicks for later in the week, as I knew Zac was coming & this would give him some experience with getting to grips with the talons of birds of prey!


A brood of three Lapwing were found on the walk back from the Kestrel box so these were duly ringed before they up sticks and leave the nest scrape!


Tuesday the weather was looking awful during the morning, however as planned I went to collect Chris & Zac from the train station and we drove to Killington Lake in Cumbria for our annual Black-headed Gull roundup. We arrived mega early and before the rest of the team so decided that a cup of coffee was in order at Killington Services. But on arrival we were greeted by these…..


and it wasn’t long before two of them were in the car and ready to be ringed! Followed by another 3, which were all darvic ringed… (Well done to Zac for hand catching his first gulls!)



One of the advantages of having a glass roof top car, allowed us to get the birds on top of it & do a spot of ring reading through the glass!! With two BTO rings read – EX51401 and EG41030. (Anyone recognise these ring numbers?!)



After our enjoyable half hour of catching, speaking to people about ringing & glugging down our coffee – it was time to meet Steve & Aidan and to get ready for the colony ringing. Unfortunately not many pictures were taken due to being so busy on the island. In total we caught 477 chicks, with 80 of these getting an additional darvic ring.


We awoke early on Thursday to glorious sunshine, just what we needed for a day of nest box checking at WWT Martin Mere. We arrived early in order to spend more time checking boxes & ringing chicks. It’s a hard slog getting around these boxes, but well worth it in the end! 100 Tree Sparrow chicks ringed (colour ringed), 1 Stock Dove, 4 Chaffinch, 4 Swallow, 2 Moorhen and 1 Coot.


(Above & below photos by Zac Hinchcliffe)


And finally Friday morning was spent in the reed-bed checking 43 Reed Warbler nests & ringing 30 Reed Warbler pulli.

IMG_3745 . IMG_3742

before returning to Shakerley to ring the Kestrel brood and for a spot of mist netting…


catching two Grasshopper Warblers & two Whitethroat.


Of the Groppers one was a new bird and the other was a retrap, it being from the nest I ringed the other week! Nice to know they’re still around…


Thanks to Steve, Aidan, Chris & Zac for their help this week.