Friday, 25 November 2011

Departure time!

Just a quick post tonight as I shall be leaving the UK and heading out to the Spanish Pyrenees tomorrow morning at dawn, for 5 days of high mountain birding with Ralph Jones, Eugene McCann and his son, Tom McCann.

Several species such as Lammergier and Wallcreeper are the main targets but there are also several other species that we are hoping to seem along the way..

A full update will be available on Tuesday night, so check back then to see how we get on!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Photographed by Gillian Dinsmore

There is nothing better than catching birds by hand and so when Kane mentioned that he would be out catching Canada Geese, Coot and Mute Swan, along with mist-netting Goldfinch in the garden at the weekend, it was time to pack up my gear and head to Atherton once more. The weekend was, as always, interesting and a good time was had by all.

Gillian, Kane and I spent the weekend catching a few Coot around several of our sites in Manchester, as well as helping Steve Christmas catch a brood of 3 Mute Swans at Dunham Massey, with a small addition of a few Canada Geese.

Photographed by Gillian Dinsmore

During the weekend we also set the mist net up in the garden which produced a few Goldfinch, Long-tailed tit and Blue tit.

Photographed by Kane Brides

Both nights during the weekend I took the guys out dazzling to see if I could catch anything for them, but as is my luck at the moment, nothing went right those nights, so I am yet to catch anything when I am out dazzling.

Stay tuned as this may well change by the end of the week.

Huge thanks to Kane and Gillian for an awesome weekend!

Red Darvic V374!

Just a brief post this morning about a Red Darvic ringed Black-headed Gull that I observed on Sunday 23rd January 2011, at Newton Lake, in Newton-Le-Willows, near Manchester.

I had just finished ringing for the weekend with Kane and happened to wander across to the local park as my train wasn't due in for another hour; soon stumbling across this little guy.

I recieved the information back from the ringer and from the help of Kane just yesterday and it turns out the bird was ringed in Denmark.

Ring number - Copenhagen 6H....5239
Colour ring - Red V374
Species - Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Age - Pullus
Ringed on 18/6/2009
Ringing location - Hirsholm, Frederikshavn, DK02 57.29N-010.37E

Once originally ringed in Copenhagen in Denmark, this bird has only been seen in the UK once and was last seen at Hirsholm in Denmark on 14/7/2011. I wonder where he is now?

Huge thanks to Kjeld Tommy Pedersen for the ringing information and Kane Brides for helping me distinguish the birds origin.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Scottish Ringers Conference 2011!

Photographed by Gillian Dinsmore

I have always wanted to attend a ringing conference and I have to say, it is a great experience. I would recommend it to any ringer who has never attended one. The weekend that has just passed; Kane and I, along with Gillian, headed up to the Scottish Ringers Conference in Carrbridge for a long weekend; situated in the Cairngorms National Park.

The trip began early morning on Friday and as we left Manchester Piccadilly station, Kane and I were really looking forward to a weekend of talks, lectures and ringing. A few hours later and we arrived at Linlithgow station, soon greeted by Gillian. A short drive and we arrived at Linlithgow Loch and within minutes we had our 1st Scottish Coot, ready to be ringed. The 1st bird of the Scottish Coot Project was hand-caught by Gillian and now wears CAA! Well done Gillian!

Throughout the morning a total of 20 new Coot were caught, including 1 retrap. Several Black-headed gulls were also caught during the morning including a superbly caught Swedish control by Kane!

Photographed by Gillian Dinsmore

A trip to Airthey Loch in search of Coot drew a blank, however this stunning male Goosander wandered into grabbing range and was caught by Kane. What a stunner!

After a hugely successful days ringing it was soon time to travel north to Carrbridge. Arriving in Carrbridge we booked into our rooms and settled in with a few drinks. This year the Scottish Ringers Conference was being held by the Grampian Ringing Group and I have to say it was a huge success as we all thoroughly enjoyed it!

A selection of talks and lectures was given, covering many interesting ringing projects throughout the Grampian Ringing Groups Range. Hand catching gulls in the local harbours drew a particular interest to us as we have never seen this method used. Talks by Raymond Duncan, and Ewan Weston introduced us to their Waxwing and Sandwich Tern projects, all superb stuff! I hope to try this gull catching method in the next week or too so I shall let you know how it goes.

A brief visit to the RSPB Loch Garten reserve proved rather rewarding. Our main aim was to locate Crested Tits for Gillian and Kane as they had never seen them before but we were soon distracted by the abundance of Coal Tits, later to find that they fed from our hands as you can see from the photos above! I think the hour or so we spent hand feeding Coal tits was one of the main highlights of the trip for us.

On Sunday morning we left Carrbridge for Stirling as Kane was giving a talk to some of the students at the university there. This was later followed by a trip around the City of Edinburgh in search for Coot but to no avail, but 13 Black-headed gulls and 1 Tufted Duck sure made up for it at St Margaret's Loch.

A massive thanks are in order to Gillian and Kane for a superb weekend and to Gillian for doing most of the driving throughout the trip! The Grampian Ringing Group also gets a huge thanks for providing an awesome ringers conference and many enjoyable laughs along the way. I am sure we will be back again next year guys to exchange some more catching methods.

For Kane and Gillian's account of the weekend, please see Kane and Gillian's Blog.

Out with the old and in with the new!

Most of you will have noticed that the blog has been dormant for quite some time and this is due to a variety of matters, mainly due to the fact that I have been so busy over the last few months that I haven't had time to sit down and get it upto date.

I am now in my final 7 months of my 3 Year BSc Environmental Conservation Degree here at Bangor University and as you can probably imagine, my workload has now tripled and I have around 35,000 words to write during the few months ahead of me.

A combination of university work, long days, early starts, late nights, ringing conferences, travelling around, ringing and having the time of my life, has lead to a very busy life and I love every minute of it. It has reached the point where I am living my life by the hour as I never know what I will be doing next.

With regards to the title of this post, I have given up twitching for good as I just haven't got time for it these days. Time, money and effort; it just isn't worth it. I now have my C Permit and as you have read, I have been catching good numbers of birds during the past 4 weeks which has been great!

I have said this several times before but from the moment this post publishes I shall be keeping this blog updated regularly instead of a month gap. Apologies to everyone if you have been waiting for an update but you have no need to worry now.

I shall be out ringing this weekend so an update will be available at the beginning of next week.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Testing The Traps!


Recieving my C Permit through the post in October was a very memorable day and so ringing took a back seat for a week or too, as I needed to buy a few extras before the ringing could begin. Then when the time came, the birds just kept on coming. I set myself the challenge to try and catch and ring 100 birds in under a 4 week period and I am very proud to say that it was a huge success. My IPMR (Integrated Population Monitoring Reporter) Database now contains 103 ringing records and I am also happy to say that all these birds have been caught in either Potter or Chardonneret Traps.


This is a mass post of all the ringing I have done on my own, in the past 4 weeks mainly illustrated with a selection of pictures that I thought I would share with you all.

Coal tit

Long-tailed tit

Great tit


At the moment I have 2 seperate trapping sites in North Wales and the picture featured above is basically the setup I use and with the trap below all the feeders it is a good temptation for them to investogate. This method has proved highly successful and I am sure I will catch several 100 using this method.

Ringing Totals from October 21st - November 15th are as follows:-

  • 67 Blue tit (1 Recap)
  • 10 Great tit (1 Recap)
  • 8 Coal tit (1 Recap)
  • 8 Robin
  • 3 Dunnock
  • 2 Long-tailed tit
  • 1 Wren
  • 1 Nuthatch

Darvic Kittiwake!

During the passage of Leach's Petrel in September, whilst scanning I picked up this Kittiwake roosting on the a beach amongst several other gulls and Oystercatchers. Soon realising it was Darvic's, alarm bells started to ring and I knew where was ringed just by the colour!

After half an hour of constant watching and photographing, the bird finally gave up it's indentity. A quick email to Steve and my suspicions were proved correct.

This Kittiwake, (Red Darvic TV) EL48596, was ringed as an adult in 2008 on Puffin Island in North Wales and is the 1st sighting of any ringed Kittiwakes from the Island! Fantastic stuff!

The bird flew off before I could take a video but if you do see any Kittiwakes wearing Red Darvics please do get in touch with me.

A net of Gold!

Photographed by Kane Brides

During the 1st week of October I made a weekend visit to Atherton to help Kane with some garden ringing. The garden had been alive with very large numbers of Goldfinch and thankfully when we attempted to catch them we were not dissapointed.

Photographed by Kane Brides

Throughout out the morning we managed to catch a very sufficient number of birds which included 42 Goldfinch and 2 retraps, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Coal tit, 1 Blue tit, 1 Wren and 1 retrap Dunnock.

Many thanks to Kane for a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, lets hope we get some recoveries from the Goldfinch.

Coot Catching in Cheshire!

Catching our 1,000 Coot for the north-west study on the movements of Coot was a great day, but there was no time to rest as we had to begin the new project. Finishing our combinations of 3 colour rings per bird, we have now switched to using darvics. These are white darvics with black lettering and so far we have managed to catch and ring about 40 birds.

Whilst out catching these Coot we don't often get the chance to have a picture with them but in this cicumstance the bird allowed us to take some very memorable shots. To this day I have never seen a Coot sit so still before!

Huge thanks to Kane for allowing me to take part in the new Coot project. I am sure there will be many more Coot to be ringed in the coming months!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Leasowe Leachy's!

Every year there is one bird in particular that I look forward to seeing and this year I managed a visit, just in time for their departure. In 2010 whilst in Dumfries and Galloway on a week's holiday I missed the 900+ Leach's Petrels that were seen in the north-west; mainly around the Wirral.

Hearing that Leach's Petrels were being seen off the wirral coast I knew it was time for a visit. Turning 21 a few days beforehand; Wednesday 14th September I had a 7 hour seawatch off Leasowe. This rewarded superb views of at least 30 Leach's Petrel, 2 Grey Phalaropes as well as a few other nicities during the morning.

Meeting up with John Tubb at our usual seawatching site mid morning produced a Kittiwake and Mediterranean Gull both wearing darvics. A full update of the bird's history will be available on the blog in the next few weeks.

Early afternoon and it was time to head for home and plan a visit to Atherton to catch some Coot in the next few days..