Sunday, 30 October 2011


The National Trust had their annual End Of Season Guided Walk today. The only problem was, due to unforeseen circumstances they had nobody available to actually take the walk! So rather than cancel the walk and disappoint the members of the public taking part, the Trust asked if the Coastal Conservation Group could possibly step in and take on the guiding duties. Of course we were only too happy to do so. And so myself, John, Steve, Dougie, Andy and Dave greeted the public at 10am and took them on a hugely enjoyable 7mile ramble. The route taken started at Souter Lighthouse, south along the coast to Whitburn Steel, through Whitburn village, inland through Wellands Farm, up to Cleadon Hill, over the golf course to Marsden Old Quarry and back along the coast ending once more at the Lighthouse. The walk took around 3.5 hours to complete and we were treated to some glorious weather along the way. Although it wasnt strictly speaking a wildlife walk, we couldnt help but show the walkers all that was around us, the highlights being a couple of Grey Seals bobbing on the sea and a gorgeous Little Owl sunning itself in Marsden Quarry. The Owl in particular proved very popular, with everyone clamouring for close looks. At the end of the walk we were delighted to hear that everybody had thoroughly enjoyed the walk. The Group members also had a great time, we always find great pleasure in sharing the fantastic wildlife our area has to offer. Its one of the main remits of our Group, bringing the public and nature closer together and days like this are of huge importance. Today was a good day. The people went home happy, the Group went home happy, everybody is happy! And I didnt Ring a single bird!

Saturday, 29 October 2011


John had a much needed lie in this morning, so it was just myself and Adrian at the nets first thing. The weather was cold and breezy and we both had a feeling we'd be in for a quiet morning. This definitely proved to be the case early on, as the birds were barely trickling in. A couple of new Robins and Chaffinches were our scant reward, along with a few retraps including a nice Blackcap. Having crawled out of bed John eventually joined us, and on the next check of the nets I got my first Ringing tick of the day, a female Bullfinch. Apparently a male had just eluded the net while they were getting checked but the female wasnt so lucky. I was delighted to Ring a new species, especially as the day hadnt looked too promising. And even more amazing, it was the first Bullfinch Ringed at the Coastal Park! Shortly afterwards myself and Adrian were coming back from checking the far nets when a big flock of Long Tailed Tits flew over us and into our main mound. Adrian immediately noticed a much smaller bird tagging along with the flock, and said hopefully 'thats got to be a goody!'. So the three of us went up and split up to check the nets. I didnt get anything, so I went to see how John was doing. When I got there I was greeted by the site we were hoping for, the flock of Long Tailed Tits. Myself and John proceeded to get the birds out the net, and then Adrian arrived to get the last couple out. As we were taking all the birds to the hut, John said to Adrian that he had the little bird and he was keeping it till last. So, after doing all of the others, I was told I could Ring the mystery bird. I put my hand in the bag, got the bird in the right grip, and pulled out an absolutely stunning FIRECREST!!! I was ecstatic, these are one of my favourite birds ever, and I had one right in my hand. Once again I owe John and Adrian a big thank you for giving me the bird to Ring, its really good of them. Understandably the rest of the day couldnt top the Firecrest. We did have another couple of Long Tailed Tit flocks but nothing exciting was in amongst them.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Wow, I didnt realise it had been so long since I updated the blog! There's not even any excuses, I've just been bloody lazy! So what have I been up to lately? Ringing, Ringing and more Ringing. The only thing that stops us is the crappy weather, and then it has to be REALLY crap to stop us even giving it a go! In the last couple of weeks we've had excellent numbers in the nets, giving me the chance to boost my numbers up significantly, and last weekend I got over the 200 mark with a Long Tailed Tit being the 200th individual. I've had 4 new species Ringed, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Treecreeper and a fabulous Great Spotted Woodpecker. I was incredibly careful to keep my hands out of the way of the Woodpeckers bill, but there was no way I could avoid its claws as well. I ended up getting clawed to death but it was a brilliant experience. As for other wildlife news, the Moth trap at the Coastal Park has now been switched off for the winter. I might keep my own going for a little while longer but I dont anticipate getting very much now.

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Absolutely typical!!!! We take the whole of last week off to do some serious Ringing and we got nowt. Back at work this week and what happens??? Adrian and Andy were both off today so decided to do a bit of Ringing. Things started off quietly, but then Adrian got a call from Dave Forster who had seen a superb bird next to one of the nets in the area known as the Arc. It was a stunning RED FLANKED BLUETAIL. Adrian literally ran as fast as he could just in time to see the bird go into the net. He quickly got the bird out, bagged it and returned to the Hut. He then handed it over to Andy who had the pleasure of Ringing it. It was almost two years to the day that Adrian trapped and Ringed the Parks only other Bluetail. Andy gave me a call so I raced over and Adrian put the word out to the local birders and also birdguides. Before long an expectant crowd had gathered to get a good look of this very scarce bird. So Adrian brought it out showed off the little beauty to the excited audience. Hundreds of photos were taken and smiles were wide. After 20minutes or so Adrian took the bird back to the area it was caught and let the bird go. Everybody went their merry way with a spring in their step. I stayed for another half hour, Ringed a couple of birds then went back to work.

Thanks to Dougie for the photos.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


I've had a few new species of Moth in the last couple of weeks. Most of them were trapped at Whitburn Coastal Park but one of them (the Sallow) was in my own backgarden trap. I think my favourite new species is the Feathered Thorn ( above). Its a great looking Moth.






When we arrived early this morning we all pretty much agreed that we'd be very lucky to get any birds in the nets today. The weather was a lot better than the gales of the last few days but it still was pretty cack. So imagine our surprise when we had nearly forty birds in total! Mind you, a really large flock of Long Tailed Tits (below) almost made up half of our mornings total. These little beauties are one of my absolute favourite birds in the world, and I never ever tire of seeing them. Another little bird that I simply adore is the Goldcrest (above), and we were blessed with another good tally of these stunning creatures with ten birds ringed in all. The Thrushes are still coming in, we had three Redwings and a single Song Thrush in the nets but a lot more were seen and heard. A lone Blackcap was the only Warbler of the day. The rest of the birds were regular common stuff. But today was a perfect example of an age old saying - you never know whats going to happen!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

100 UP!

We enjoyed an extremely good weekend of Ringing this weekend, probably the best in the time I've been involved. Over 70 birds were caught in the nets in the two days, although admittedly saturday had the majority of the spoils with 50+. On a personal level, the weekend produced two particular highlights for me. Firstly, I Ringed my 100th bird on the saturday. A young Chaffinch had the privilege of being the milestone bird, although I'm not too sure it was aware of the occasion! The other highlight was also on saturday, when I had the privilege of Ringing a quite magnificent Yellow Browed Warbler!! This little bird (above) is simply beautiful, not to mention very scarce, so to get the chance to Ring one was a rare treat. The Yellow Browed was one of four new Ringing species for me, the others being Song Thrush, Redwing & Goldcrest. I've now Ringed 23 different species.