Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Weekend 13th-14th December: Shillingford

More ringing... Mmm. Penance on Saturday though: having to do Christmas shopping (aargh!).

A morning of ringing on Sunday to make up for it. 2 nets in the parents' garden resulted in a small haul of standard birds; the 5th Collared Dove ringed in this garden being the highlight. Beautiful eyes they have, when seen close-up. Ruby-red...

Beyond that, a couple of retraps of minor interest - a Starling ringed almost exactly a year ago and not seen since, and a House Sparrow ringed as a juvenile in the summer. I was also passed a recovery form - an adult Greenfinch ringed back in February was found freshly dead in a nearby garden in August. Oh well...

I've updated the links on the right - including a new blog for the Slapton ringing group. Won't be much on it for the time being, but when the season gets going, it should liven up a bit.

Monday, 8 December 2008

6th-7th December. Hennock and surrounds...

Nice weekend... We started out with a ringing session at Wray on Saturday, catching a fairly decent 20 birds. En route we had fine views of a Tawny Owl perched over the road and a couple of Woodcock beetling over. Best of them were a couple of Nuthatch and a trio of Marsh Tit, but a retrap Goldcrest from the spring was also a real pleasure. The fine and crisp weather meant the morning was simply stunning, with a light frost and almost no wind at all - quite warm enough for a handful of bumblebees to be buzzing around the ivy flowers. We also found a small patch of climbing corydalis (Corydalis claviculata) still in flower - that should have gone over in September! Bird of the day was probably the bank vole living under the stone we used as a ringing table; he/she/it scurried out to feed on a number of occasions whilst we worked.

We then headed on to Stover to meet a hashing friend of Na's, so they could apparently prepare a Christmas run. I took the opportunity to wander slowly round the lake and count the finch roost in - not very exciting, but about 250 birds in, mainly Greenfinch and Chaffinch, but a couple of Redpoll, a Goldfinch and 5 Brambling spiced the mix up.

Black-headed Gull. Not exactly rare, but nice light on it.

Some reflected pine trees in a drainage ditch: not sure whether I like the image or not. Perhaps it's worth it...

Sunday was our first attempt to ring here in Hennock, and we ended up with a catch of 47 new birds over the morning; another couple of Nuthatch and a Song Thrush probably the best of the bunch.

Nuthatch in the paw. This is a male, perhaps an adult (TF passed on some possible ageing criteria, which Svensson lacks). Sexed on a combination of rich chestnut undertail coverts and flanks (not visible in this picture) and the neat border between buff throat and white chin. The hint of a white border around the forehead also suggests male, apparently.

As I still needed some fresh air, we took ourselves off to the reservoirs to do some top-up atlassing, but again, bird of the day was a mammal: this time a Daubenton's bat feeding over Tottiford reservoir. Somewhat incongruous to see a small bat out in the midday sun over a partly-frozen reservoir!


Cold enough for a part-frozen reservoir. Nice patterns!

And finally a friendly Robin which attempted to mug us for crumbs. Poser.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Wray Cleave / Pepperdon 3rd Dec '08

With the luxury of not a great deal of work to do today, I headed out to have a look round Na's patch and see what was lurking there. I stopped off at the sewage works in case the Yellow-browed W. was still lurking, but no sign again. Oh well. Plenty time yet for it to reappear.

I've not visited one side of Na's favoured stamping ground, so took the opportunity of a combination of bright crisp sunshine and frosty weather to skate over the deep mix of cowshit and mud churned up before the stiles. Nice. The time of year and the weather argued against there being many birds there, and that was the case: a few Marsh Tits sneezing at me, the odd Treecreeper and Nuthatch sidling across the branches and a nice bright Yellowhammer were the highlights, with a standard backing cast of Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Redwing, Blackbird, Chaffinch... draw your own conclusions! Flushed a couple of Roe Deer and a scumbag squirrel (sorry, cute Grey Squirrel, if you prefer - why you'd want to, I don't know). The air was a tad hazy for decent landscape photos - and my preferred camera seems to have given up the ghost. Still, below are some offerings from the day:

A bit of frost abstract from the windscreen, before I trashed it.
Proper feather patterns last night, which is nice!

The view towards Morton' from the track leading to Wray Cleave woods

Not as dramatic as the abandoned machinery in Liberia, but an abandoned 'dozer made a nice colour contrast with the trees and the field behind.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


Busy, busy. Having not posted for a while, this is a quick catch-up. A couple of recent ringing trips - one to London, so Na could catch up with her old ringing group. The Saturday morning's ringing was pretty decent, with over a hundred birds caught - predominantly Long-tailed Tit and Goldcrest, it seemed (a nice enough portrait of a Goldcrest from that day above). After that we froze our bums off at Staines reservoirs for the fun of it, though there was little enough to see: a handful of Ruddy Duck and a few Goldeneye were the highlight. An evening visit to a local pub for a celebratory birthday dinner with a friend, then the day was capped off with an overnight snowfall... "It always snows on my birthday..." was Na's comment!

Sunday started lazily - pelting with rain, so we stayed in bed and stuffed a late scrambled-egg breakfast; then headed back via Virginia Water (Mandarins, dogs, walkers, screaming kids...) to Exeter, for a week's house-sit whilst my parents sunned themselves in Spain with youngest sister. Uneventful week. Then last weekend we had the annual ringing session in the orchard across the road from the parents' house, in search of Fieldfare. Whilst that was relatively unsuccessful (only one FF), we did catch a good selection of Blackbird, including a bird ringed during the previous session, last November.

Back in Hennock, and the local birds have taken to the feeders on the veranda in a big way - we now have Blackbird, Song Thrush and Robin coming to crumbs on the ground, with a selection of tits, Nuthatch and House Sparrow on the hanging feeders. Garden list hasn't grown much though! Next task is to get some more atlas squares done - of which, more later...