Monday, 28 May 2012


Yesterday I had a little trip down to Teesside, the first time I've been down that way for ages!!! A gorgeous White Winged Black Tern had turned up at Saltholme, and as I was doing nothing in particular I decided to pop down and see it. The bird was picked up immediately on arrival, mind you it helped that Stevie Howard was watching it in his scope when I pulled up! We were then joined by Paul Anderson and we watched the Tern put on a fabulous display up and down Back Saltholme. Its only the second time I've seen this species in the UK, the other one also being at Saltholme. While there we also saw seven Little Gulls, the first ones I've seen in a couple of years.
On the way back home I called into Crimdon Dene to see the Little Tern colony for the first time this year. The numbers looked really good, and hopefully they'll have a much better breeding season this year. As long as those pesky Kestrels stay away!


Saturday morning saw our final Ringing session on the Big Mound at the Coastal Park for this spring. Its been quite a disappointing season this year compared to last year. We had 20 different species in the nets which is quite a few down on last year, but we still had some highlights including the Cuckoo from the other week and the stunning male Redstart last month. I had another two Ringing ticks in the last fortnight with a Sedge Warbler very quickly followed by a Lesser Whitethroat. These two species put the Warbler count on seven species which is a really good number. The summer weeks will now be focused on a few different projects in various locations but we wont be disappearing from the coast altogether as we'll be starting the Storm Petrel sessions in the coming weeks. Hopefully it'll be a good season.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


Things had been going pretty slowly this morning with only a handful of commoner Warblers caught and Ringed on the big mound for our efforts. But thats the thing about this hobby, you genuinely have no idea whats going to happen next! And so, as the time approached 8.00am I went up for another check of the nets. Graham (Sless) decided to join me, and as we were walking round I mentioned to him how I hate it when there's nothing in the nets. Unfortunately it appeared thats exactly what was happening on this net check, that is until we got to the very last net! As we turned the corner I saw straight away that something was in the net. It was a decent size, mainly grey with a barred chest. ''Wow another Sparrowhawk!'' I said as I ran towards it. But then when I got to the bird and grasped hold of it I saw that it wasnt a Sparrowhawk at all, it was a Cuckoo!!! Never in a million years did I expect to see one of those in the nets, but here was one right in front of me. I quickly and safely got it out of the net and excitedly took it back to the Ringing Hut. As John had never Ringed a Cuckoo before (and had superiority!) he pulled rank and did the honours. Unsurprisingly it was the first Cuckoo ever Ringed in the Coastal Park. It also delighted the clutch of birders that had gathered for an extremely rare close view of a scarce species for these parts.

Monday, 7 May 2012


With a good morning under our belt, we met up with our friend Jimmy Wagner and headed inland for an even better afternoon! For quite a while now Jimmy has been putting up hundreds of nest boxes, scattered all over the region. A large number of these nest boxes are for Owls, and these were the species we would be targeting today. For obvious reasons the location of the boxes are kept under wraps, so I will deliberately keep things as vague as possible. The first species we were going for was Long Eared Owl, and he had two boxes reasonably close to each other. Unfortunately the first box we visited was empty. I say unfortunately because Jimmy had visited the box six days beforehand and there were three chicks in, so it appears these had been taken by a predator of some kind. This is the unfortunate side of nature. Thankfully the next box had better results. There were three lovely, healthy chicks in and after Adrian fully went through what I had to do I had the pleasure of Ringing all three chicks. This was a totally new experience for me and it was a great thrill to do.
The second species we went for was the Tawny Owl, one of my favourite British birds. We had 4 boxes to visit and these were scattered all over the southwest of the county. Unfortunately a few of the chicks were a touch too young to Ring, but I did manage to Ring four individual chicks and we even managed to get an adult female as an extra bonus! The chicks were all incredibly cute, a lot cuter than the Longies bless them. All of the chicks Ringed were extremely easy to handle and behaved impeccably. Except one. The very last one of the day in fact. Who decided it would be a great idea to crap all over the groin area of my trousers! It was absolutely vile!!!! It was hot, wet and runny and it absolutely stunk! Again, the unfortunate side of nature.

While we were out we came across this little beauty, a Slow Worm. Its the first one I've ever seen, and I was surprised at how small it was. It topped off a fantastic day.


Yesterday I had easily the best Ringing day I've had since starting just over a year ago. With a nice early start at 5.30am, myself, John and Andy were joined by Adrian for the first time this year. Unfortunately he's been extremely busy this year, so it was great to have him back with us. As I progress as a Ringer, this years plans include trying to get me to Ring a lot more different species, and with that in mind Adrian had a full day planned in the hope of getting me a handful of new species. It began on the morning, as the two of us split up from John and Andy and went to Ring in the Nature Reserve of the Coastal Park. Its the first time I'd Ringed in this part of the Park, but hopefully it wont be the last. I absolutely loved it! It was nice to be doing something different, and it didnt take long at all to get my first new species, a lovely male Linnet in the first net check of the morning. Then the next one came along, a female Reed Bunting. A good start. As the morning went by, the birds came and went and by the end of it I'd bagged five new Ringing species, Linnet, Reed Bunting, House Sparrow, Woodpigeon and Starling. That put me upto 42 species. The afternoon would hopefully get me a couple more!


On saturday afternoon myself and John decided to have a try putting the nets out even though the wind was probably going to spoil things. This proved to be the case unfortunately, but while we were having a lovely cup of tea in the Ringing Hut we got news of a Wryneck being seen just down the road in Cornthwaite Park. I had only ever seen one of these birds before so was raring to see this bird. So myself and Dougie jumped into Keiths van and the three of us zoomed off. When we arrived a handful of birders were already onto the bird, as it was happily feeding out in the open. Alas it was just a touch too distant for the lads to get any photos, and even worse after a while it went into the foliage and out of sight. We'd been joined by Steve by that point, and the four of us went round the other side of the hedge to see if we could relocate it, and thankfully after a little wait the bird came out and posed for us beautifully. It was a delight to see it so close, and see how attractive its cryptic plumage is. As more birders arrived we decided to head back to the Hut and finish our tea.

Before coming to the Hut, Keith had been over to the Academy Pools and managed to see 3 Wheatears and a female Whinchat. So after putting the nets away myself and Walter popped in on the way home. The Wheatears we found straight away, but the Whinchat was proving more elusive. Thankfully though it came out and posed just in front of us.
Thanks to Keith Mac for both photos.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012