Monday, 28 January 2008

Surveys and sun

A bit of a change in the weather allowed me to do some surveys this last week: both tetrads for the bird atlas and roosting gulls on the Exe. The atlas squares were unremarkable in the main, though it was great to hear Woodlark singing so early in the year on the first tetrad. The better weather also allowed me to get some ringing going in the garden, with a control Greenfinch as a very pleasant surprise to kick the year off with! (For those who don't know and want to, a control is a bird ringed by someone else that you've caught. The general rule is that it has to have travelled more than 5km to count as a control, to factor out the local movements that our birds potter through as a matter of course - in this case, none of my neighbouring ringers are admitting to having ringed this bird, so it should be the first proper control for the garden!)

Pre-survey birding on Saturday produced about 10 colour-ringed Brents on the estuary, although one of those had lost one colour ring, so is no longer individually identifiable. Pity... The others were mainly birds I've seen earlier in the winter, although one of them I hadn't seen since 2004, so it's good to know it's been lurking somewhere! The sour note of the day came later, when something went wrong with the steering on the car... Nothing obviously broken, and nothing leaking, but I bet it costs a pretty penny to fix!

The gull survey involved lurking at the confluence of the Clyst and Exe, counting the gulls coming from the northeast to roost overnight on the Exe. Not a great number of birds on our section; only a few hundreds, in fact, but those watching the Exe must have had a busy time of it - a fair stream of birds was passing downriver behind us for about an hour and a half. Will be interesting to see the combined results eventually. The evening was made by one of those sunsets that looks as if it's been photographed through one of those Cadbury's Roses red cellophane chocolate wrappers:

Looking from the end of the Clyst down the Exe towards Dawlish Warren

Sunday was, in it's own minor way, a quite exciting day: a ringing tick in the form of Siskin (yes, I know...) and a very pleasant wander along Exminster Marshes to Turf Locks. A colour-ringed Avocet (not the bird below, that's just an example of an Avocet) was nice, but judging by past results, I'll never hear anything about its origins. Bloody ringers...! The two Cattle Egrets were showing nicely in the sunshine, but not really worthy of photographs. Not much else of note on the river, although a flyby Peacock butterfly was pleasant to see. First butterfly for the year, and all that malarkey...

Male Siskin Carduelis spinus.

(Pied) Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta from Turf Locks Hotel, through the telescope

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