Saturday, 29 January 2011

A net full of tits!

Throughout the whole of January I haven't been able to get out with Steve, as he has been very busy with work and as I have been busy at university with various reports and exams.. This morning, along with Rachel, Ian and Zac, we had a session over at Caernarfon netting Arthur's large feeders in his garden. The purpose of this visit was to do some valuable training with myself and Ian; as well as to let Zac have his first ringing 'lesson' with Steve as he has started to train to ring birds with us..

To see Zac's account of his first bird ringing 'lesson', visit:-

We set 3 other nets in other different habitats behind the farmhouse, just to add a bit of variety to the session as it would be mostly dominated by tits.. Once we were all organised and our ringing station set up, it was time for our first net-round of the morning. At least 40 birds present, mostly Blue and Great tits, so it was good to brush up on ageing tits..

Throughout the morning we caught just under 150 birds, mainly tits but with the odd Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Coal tit. I suppose the best birds have to be 10+ Bullfinch and a Great-Spotted Woodpecker..

If that wasn't enough to tire me out, a game of badminton shortly after once getting back into Bangor sure did...

There won't be any ringing news until next weekend when it is our last SCAN weekend this winter, although there is a chance of cannon-netting Wigeon and Shelduck in Bangor Harbour at the start of this week so I will keep you updated on this..

Other news that brightened up my day was a most welcome chat with Steve.. Once the spring is upon us and and I have found some open-nest pulli, I shall be applying for my pullus endorsement with Steve, ready for the 2012 season.. Stage 1 complete.. I can't wait!

Many thanks to Steve and Rachel for a great session this morning and to Arthur and his wife for supplying us with coffee, tea and biscuits throughout the morning, even though it was -8..

Friday, 28 January 2011

Little Egret heads South!

Little Egret photo from BTO Website

Just a quick post tonight.. After checking my usual blog list to see what other ringers have been upto over the last few weeks and to see what they have been catching.. I came across this little article on the BTO's website..

I thought seeing as though this was a bird ringed in North wales, it was only right to give it a mention..

This Little Egret was ringed in Bangor, Gwynedd on Saturday 19th June 2010. A few months later the bird was amazingly seen alive in Tenerife on the 3rd and 25th of November.. What a fantastic movement!

For more information on this bird and it's travels visit:-

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Mealy steals the show!

After having my worst train journey imaginable, I finally reached Newton-Le-Willows after 3 and half hours worth of travelling. This route normally takes me 1 and a half hours but with a 30 minute delay at Bangor, one of the carriages out of order for some stupid reason, 100+ people crammed into 1 carriage, people and luggage packed tightly, a delay at Llandudno Junction and an argument with the the guard on the train as I was astonished at the ridiculously poor service they had provided - it was a relief to get off the train, albeit a few hours late!

On Saturday morning {22nd} myself and Kane met up with Steve Christmas in the Worsley garden, to see if we could catch some more Lesser Redpolls. The 30ft net was erected and we retired inside to let the birds descend to te feeders. Michael and Mary have recently had a maximum of 20 Bramblings in their garden, as well as many Redpoll, so we were hopeful for a good session.

Throughout the morning, Bramblings were calling all around us, perching in the nearby scrub at the back of the garden, but only 2 brave individuals ventured onto the ground, which managed to evade capture.

The usual culprits were caught throughout the morning and an increase in Goldfinch was obvious in the garden, resulting in 10 birds being caught; a few more than last time. Throughout the morning we were greeted with 2 surprises. First was a Mealy Redpoll that flew in with a flock of Lesser Redpoll and ended up in our mist net. This species was only the 5th record for Kane's ringing group! A much larger bird in the hand than seen in the field, with alot more white, bulkier appearance and an overall clean look to the bird. Also a new species to see in the hand.. The second surprise was a control Lesser Redpoll, which was ringed by Kane last winter at his Shakerley feeding station. For more informaton, see

Our first session here resulted in a Great-spotted Woodpecker just missing our net, but this time he flew straight in and livened up the morning even more. This bird was a juvenile male {euring age code 5}.


  • Lesser Redpoll - 29 new - 16 recap + 1 Control
  • Mealy Redpoll - 1 new
  • Goldfinch - 10 new
  • Great tit - 1 new
  • Blue tit - 6 new
  • Blackbird - 2 new
  • Great-spotted Woodpecker - 1 new

A total of 67 birds caught, including 50 new, 16 re-caps and 1 control.

Many thanks to Michael and Mary for having us along again, in conjunction with the toast and cups of coffee and tea that were provided.

After finishing here, myself and Kane headed upto the Lake district to catch a few Black-Headed Gulls, resulting in 3 birds being caught. Finding a nearby pub, we settled down for a pint, which soon turned into one, then two and so on.. Realising that Kane wasn't going to be able to drive home that night, we found ourselves a b&b for the night and the following morning, met up with Ciaran at Preston Docks for a natter and a bit of ring-reading..

Yet another train jounrey back to Bangor on the Sunday, thankfully alot less stressfull than the first and ready for my first lecture of this semester on the Monday morning!

Join me soon for some ringing with Steve this coming weekend..

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Moore Nature Reserve

So far this year, I have not managed to get out birding, which is due to other, more important commitments. Finishing my last exam last Thursday was a relief and so with all projects, reports and exams completed - my weekend soon became rather busy.

Both myself and Alex Jones were in need of a break, so we organised a trip to Moore Nature Reserve for Friday 21st January. Moore Nature Reserve is one of the best places in the north-west to see Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, amongst a few other sites. If your planning a visit to Moore Nature Reserve, it can be reached via the Runcorn Bridge and Daresbury turn-off; or Junction 11 of the M56. Take the Daresbury turn-off, shortly followed by the the Moore turn-off. For more information on the reserve, visit:- and search for Moore Nature Reserve.

Waking up at 6am and catching a train to Rhyl, certainly woke me up for what we were hoping to be a great day's birding. Alex picked me up at the station and we were on our way. First stop was Richmond Bank, a hotspot for scarce gulls on low tide, however we had timed it wrong and with the tide on it's way in, there were fewer than 200 gulls present, with nothing out of the ordinary in view.

Moving onto Moore itself, we walked the intire stretch of the reserve, covered every footpath, every lake and all compartments of woodland but not a sniff of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. I suppose we will have to make a visit in the spring when the males are drumming and hopefully we will have a chance of seeing them then?!

At the feeding station, a male Great-Spotted Woodpecker showed well on the feeders, giving me time to do a bit of digiscoping.

Birchwood Pool was virtually deprived of gulls, however when nearing Pumphouse Pool, the lake was completely covered with roosting gulls. Surely we would pick something scarce out here? Dissapointingly, all we could find were the 5 common species of gulls and not a single Yellow-Legged or Caspian Gull.. Several metal-ringed Black-Headed and Herring gulls were in evidence but impossible to read at that distance.

A quick stop at Shotwick Fields to check on the large swan flock that was in residence here, revealed at least 50 Bewick's and 30 Whooper swans. A larger flock resided at the far end of the field, but these were too distant to confirm their I.D.

Thanks to Mark Feltham for giving us the best sites to see the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. To visit Mark's blog on Moore Nature Reserve, visit:- Thanks to Alex for doing all the driving aswell. To see Alex's account of our trip to Moore, visit:-

Back to Bangor via the train, rapidly un-packed and re-packed and headed off to Newton-Le-Willows where I met up with Kane to do some ringing with him over the weekend.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Recent Recoveries and Controls

I recieved another email off Steve the other day concerning all of our recoveries and controls of 2010 that we had recieved so far.. There are certainly some interesting movements and a couple of foreign controls as well.

Sedge Warbler - L301656
Ringed:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey on 29/7/10
Controlled :- Sint Amands Antwerpen - Belgium on 13/8/10

Sedge warbler - 5337430
Ringed:- Tour aux Moutons Donges Loire - France on 12/8/06
Controlled:- Tre-Dryw - Anglesey on 22/7/07

Sedge warbler - L066461
Ringed:- Seaside Dyke/Errol - Perth on 8/8/10
Controlled:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey on 31/8/10

Sedge warbler - V747089
Ringed:- Llangorse Lake - Powys on 14/8/07
Controlled:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey on 1/5/10
Time spent in field before re-capture:- 2 years 261 days

Reed warbler - L301934
Ringed:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey on 19/8/10
Controlled:- Frampton - Gloucester on 28/8/10

Reed warbler - L290011
Ringed:- Llyn Ystumllyn/Criccieth - Gwynedd on 13/7/10
Controlled:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey on 8/8/10

Goldfinch - N832043
Ringed:- Calf of Man - Isle of Man on 12/4/03
Controlled:- Tre-Dryw - Anglesey on 5/5/07
Time spent in field before re-capture:- 4 years 24 days

Swallow - L607077
Ringed:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey on 11/9/10
Controlled:- Llyn Nantle - Gwynedd on 15/9/10

Swallow - L443298
Ringed:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey on 18/8/10
Controlled:- Llyn Nantle - Gwynedd on 9/9/10

Swallow - L443565
Ringed:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey on 22/8/10
Controlled:- Llyn Nantle - Gwnynedd on 9/9/10

Swallow - x983124
Ringed:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey on 18/9/10
Controlled:- Dunira Comrie - Tayside on 14/6/10
353km - caught in building

Swallow - X065340
Ringed:- Pandy Glyn Ceiriog - Clwyd on 12/7/09
Controlled:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey on 7/9/10

Swallow - X311524
Ringed:- Eary Farm Cronk-y-Voddy - Isle of Man on 14/7/09
Controlled:- Cors Ddyga/Llangefni - Anglesey 7/9/09

Swallow - V820926
Ringed:- Dwyran - Anglesey on 18/9/07
Controlled:- Dyfi-Aber Leri NR Borth Dyfed on 18/9/09

Swallow - T263126
Ringed:- Ystadmeurig/Aberystwyth - Dyfed on 4/7/07
Controlled:- Dwyran - Anglesey on 13/9/07

Ringing totals for 2010

There has been a lack of posting for a few weeks on the blog, as my time here at Bangor university is getting somewhat ridiculously busy. Landing back at Manchester airport those few weeks ago, after a rather memorable ringing trip to Ireland, seems all too long ago. The days between then and today - my schedule has been non-stop. Tonnes of revision to work through for 3 different modules, my Geographical Information Systems project to complete since I was unable to complete this before Christmas due to illness and several other on-going reports and the thought of deciding on my choices for my 3rd year dissertation, just makes me feel the need to get away from it all and have a short break.

Since ringing with Steve has come to a halt for a few weeks, he kindly sent me our North Wales ringing totals for 2010, which cheered me up a little, knowing how many birds we had caught and ringed. These totals exclude all the waders we have mist-netted and cannon-netted, as well as all the seabirds that we ringed during the summer on Puffin Island.

A grand total of 3724 new birds including 100 pulli. A satisfying total of 415 re-traps and recoveries. The overall total stands at 4139 birds caught during 2010. Hopefully we will try and beat this total this year - wait and see..

A massive thanks to Steve and Rachel for training me throughout the whole of 2010 and here's to a hugely successful years worth of ringing. Not forgetting our wader and seabird totals - which probably brings our overall total for 2010 to around the 6,000 birds mark!! If I receive any more ringing totals from Steve, I shall post them as soon as I can. Absolutely fantastic!!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Away with gulls in Galway Bay

In January 2009, myself and Kane took a trip over to County Galway on the west-coast of Ireland for a few days. The purpose of the trip was to explore Nimmo's Pier and the surrounding area. Taking a look along the pier, it was clear that the numerous black-headed and common gulls present, looked more than catchable. The 4 of us arrived back from Galway yesterday evening after a highly productive trip. Spending just under a week in Galway, gave us enough time to catch quite a few gulls.
In total, 49 birds were caught consisting of 35 Common gull and 14 Black-headed gulls.

Birds were caught by hand and ringed on the left leg, so we could distinguish our birds, from other birds that already had rings on their right leg. Throughout the trip, we found that a few birds were already ringed and we soon had 5 different ringed birds. British ringed birds and the rest from Finland and Iceland; with just 1 ringed in Ireland. For more information on the movements of these birds, see kane's blog @

When we were ringing in Ireland, we needed to obtain an Irish ringing permit, as well as obtaining permission from the local police -'garda', just incase there were any reports of 4 guys catching gulls down in the harbour; as well as the harbour master.

Giving the birds a rest most days, enabled us to explore the rest of the surrounding area. This resulted in 2 Great Northern divers, 10 Hooded Crows and 2 Ring-billed gulls being seen.

A great trip was had by all, including the gulls. The Irish music, warming atmosphere and many a pint of Guiness made the trip all worthwhile. Except our flight home, which is what we can only say as being 'eventful'.

Many thanks to Kane Brides, Craig Brookes and Ciaran Hatsell for making the trip a huge success!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Raining Redpolls

Catching and Ringing Tufted Duck and Coot on Thursday was great stuff, but to catch as many birds as we did on Friday was truely magical! Early on Friday morning, myself and Kane met up with Steve Christmas where we were to net a new ringing site. Kane and Steve had been contacted by another ringer in the area to inform them about the large numbers of Lesser Redpoll that had been regularly frequenting Michael and Mary's garden.. This morning turned out to be a great success. With only a short drive to the site, we set up a 30ft net in the garden and waited in the comfort of a warm lounge, drinking mugs of coffee and tea whilst watching Redpolls descend to the feeders.. I couldn't have thought of a better way to end 2010's ringing - Superb stuff.
Throughout the morning we managed to catch a total of 84 birds including 37 Lesser Redpoll.
  • Lesser Redpoll - 37
  • Goldfinch - 2
  • Greenfinch - 1
  • Blue tit - 18
  • Coal tit - 4
  • Great tit - 3
  • Long-tailed tit - 7
  • Blackcap - 1
  • Robin - 2
  • Starling - 2
  • House Sparrow - 4
  • Blackbird - 2
  • Collard Dove - 1
The Collard Dove that was caught during the morning was more than welcome. I always feel that getting the opportunity to ring and process a new species is good preparation for when I recieve my C Permit.

Many thanks to Michael and Mary for letting us ring in their garden and for their cups of tea and coffee and to Steve and Kane for letting me help out during the morning.

Well, that is 2010 summed up I think..


Redesmere Ringing

Having not been out ringing since 11th December, when I was lucky enough to handle my first Collard Dove; it was time to get out and catch some birds.. An invite from Kane was enough to get me out of the house and on Thursday afternoon we set off to Redesmere Lake in Cheshire where we went onto catch 6 Coot, which were fitted with brand new colour rings. Also caught were 2 Tufted Ducks like this stunning adult male.. A quick check for Black-headed gull rings resulted in all being ring-less.. After noting down the colour ringed Coot combinations, the daylight was slowly fading so we called it a day and headed for home..

The next day was going to be somewhat rather busy and something that I would never have expected to see..

My 2010 birding year

Over the past few years, I have realised that birding has become one of life's essentials and without birds, my life wouldn't be the same as to what it is now. Yearlisting has also been a favourite challenge in recent years and in 2008 I had a go and set myself a target to see 240 species of birds in the UK. In 2009, the previous years total was broken, only by a few birds.. Never in a million years did I think that I could smash that record but after travelling hundreds of miles by any available transport, walking miles upon miles all across the UK, I am pleased to say that this year has been my best birding year ever! On December 31st 2010, I totalled up my yearlist, resulting in 271 species seen in 2010 without being able to drive. This list doesn't mean anything in real life, it's just a personal interest that I have.. However, now that 2011 has arrived, yearlisting and twitching has been binned and ringing has taken priority..

Recent additions to my 2010 yearlist included Red-Crested Pochard and Mandarin Duck and to see exactly what I saw last year, take a look at...

White-tailed Eagle - {Digiscoped with Nikon Coolpix P5100 Digital Camera on the Isle of Mull

Snowy scene

During the last few weeks, there has been an clear lack of posting on the blog due to a variety of reasons; but now that we have reached the new year, I shall briefly run through my most recent activities so that we can start a fresh and begin with 2011.
After finishing university for the christmas break, I was hopeful to earn myself some cash, working at my local farmshop for a week or so, but unfortunately this wasn't to be the case. The week or so running upto christmas day, I was extremely ill having caught the flu and a severe ear infection, shortly followd by a cough and a cold - I was house-bound for what seemed to be a long period of time. I have never been so ill in my life!

Once better, the snow began to fall with Ormskirk recieving around 8-9 inches of snow, in some places even higher where the snow had drifted.. The garden was rather inaccessible at times, with icicles all around the house - it was lucky these never fell on us...

During the christmas break, there was no way I was going out birding as the thought of getting ill again in this weather was not an option.. Although, glancing out one morning onto our small berry bush, a new species for the garden sat gorging themselves on the berries.. A total of 5 Redwings..

Other birding at the end of 2010 consisted of short trip to RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh in search of the Lapland Bunting which had been in residence for a week with a large mixed flock of finches, but to no avail. Although 40 Bramblings and 2 Ringtail Hen Harriers was well worth venturing out for.. The out marsh looked like a barren landscape, covered in snow and ice.