Friday, 29 March 2013

Chiffchaffs Are Back

It is the start of the Easter holidays (for me), most people would be in bed but not me, no. I was up at four O'clock this morning and it was definitely worth it. It was another day out with Scouse Ringer and Moxey. We put a single net up by a small pine tree collection where we have heard probably the first Chiffchaff of the year; we were rather keen to catch it so we decided to keep the net up for a while, and we got success, my first Chiffchaff. It was great to be able to see it up close.

That Chiffchaff was also caught with a Chaffinch, put them together to make the ChiffChaff finch, quite a different, but nice combination. You can really see the blue and black on the crown of the Chaffinch, I think it looks stunning.

Another brand new bird for me (up close) were the three Meadow Pipit we caught. It was really interesting to find out how to tell if it was a adult or a juvenile bird. I don't know why, but these birds always make a spark inside me when I see them, far away or up close.

These birds take an A sized ring, and speaking of rings, I got to ring all three of them due to there being no re-traps. I would say they are rather difficult to age, but I got the hang of it in the end.

There were quite a few Blackbirds on the ringing menu this morning, a few new, a few re-traps, but either way they are are always lovely to catch. I am getting much more use to putting the bigger birds in pots for weighing, for instance- Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbirds and most of the big thrushes.

A brand new but terrible singing Great Spotted Woodpecker gave me a bit of pain today by digging into me. I am amazed about how strong their tail feathers are, they are much more firm than most birds because they need a strong tail to support itself when creeping up trees.

One of the brightest Goldfinches I have ever seen, the only thing not perfect on this bird is the hooked bill.

One of the first birds we got out of the net was a new (as in newly ringed) adult Jay that I got to ring. The circles in the ringing pliers go up in order (AA, A, B, C, CC, D, E). The Jay takes a D ring. Scouse Ringer is very good at letting me ring the birds, but he does watch very closely to make sure each ring is put on perfectly.  

They are really nice to look at, but very feisty birds. This one quite liked Peter's finger.

These birds will be migrating any time soon, so it was surprising, but excellent to catch a female Fieldfare. There seems to be a flock knocking about where I live but they are gradually getting higher in the sky every time they fly over.

The other really nice birds we caught to day were 2 Willow Tits.......

Willow Tit 1                                                                   Willow Tit 2
First ringed by me on 3rd January                           Caught for the first time today.

It was really good day again today, so a big thank you to Peter and my dad.

Happy Easter!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Good Question 8

It's Tuesday Night Quiz Night

It's Easter this weekend and I plan to eat loads of chocolate eggs. But can you tell me, which bird do these eggs belong to:

Answer will be posted tomorrow night, good luck. Hope I get some egg-cellent answers.

And the answer is:

Chiff Chaff eggs.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Weekend Round Up

A Jay in the garden, what a fantastic way to kick the weekend off, this one probably visited due to the snowy weather. I have not seen one in the garden for about a week, so it was quite a treat. 

After the Jay visited it was time for my football final against Sandbach United, they are quite a tough team so we did well to draw (1-1) all the way up to full time.

Unfortunately we lost this final 3-1 (we still got a medal) but our coach was pleased and felt that we all gave it 100%. This isn't the end anyway because we will be back for them at the league final at the end of April.

A third exciting event was visiting my feeding station. I did go on Saturday to put up my remote camera to try and capture a Badger but failed due to it loosing it's battery because of the snow and movement of the trees; however on the good side, bird numbers were high and great. My first singing Chiff Chaff of the year was hiding in the dense bushes so we could not get a picture.

We went for an explore through the rest of the woodland and I think I might of found my pair of woodpeckers nest; it doesn't end there, as about 500mm above this hole there was another hole about the size of a 50p coin, so I might be in with a chance of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

There was plenty of big fungus, this one was about at least twice the size of my hand.

As I said there was plenty.

And last,but no where near least, my brother Harley had a guitar exam to try and achieve his grade one. You had to at least get 65 marks to pass and my brother got 85, so I am so proud of him (Dominos for tea).

I did miss being out with Scouse Ringer (and the table) though.

Tune in tomorrow for Quiz Night Tuesday.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Good Question 7

It's Tuesday Night Quiz Night
And tonight's challenge is:
Put these things in order of how much they weigh - heaviest to lightest:
2 pence coin
Single bag of McCoy Cheese & Onion Crisps (from a multi pack) - uneaten!
One Jaffa cake
I will post the answer later, good luck!

And the answer is...........

Bag of McCoys - 32g
One jaffa cake - 12g
2 pence coin - 7.12g
Goldcrest - 4 to 6g on average

Well done to everyone who got it right and thanks for having a go.

Monday, 18 March 2013

My First (two) Tree Sparrows!

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! yesterday I had a really early start (4:15am to be exact). As the mornings get lighter Ringing gets earlier and earlier, which means I have to have some really early bedtimes.

 As soon as all my gear was ready, I was off in the car all the way to one of our ringing sites (but dad does make me breakfast for on the way to keep me going).  We arrived just before Scouse Ringer Peter did and were looking for the Barn Owl that we see sometimes. 

When we had put the nets up, we were eager to go and check them to see whether or not the big flock/mixture of birds had stuck around from the week before.  As we started the net round things were looking good with 12 birds from station 1, and 12 from station 2. 

We arrived back at where we had set up the equipment, we caught several Brambling, as well as the Snowling that we caught last week. 

I asked if there had been any Tree Sparrows ringed at this site, however Peter said that there hadn't and if there were any there, they would have discovered them by now; but guess what, yesterday two turned up.

 And I got to ring the first Tree Sparrow ever rung at this site. (Peter got too ring the second one). Just look at that lovely milk chocolatey head.

There were no Blackcap yet, but it is a little early, so I am looking forward to seeing them maybe next time! However the Tree Sparrows more than made my day.

Some other great birds ringed today were this lovely Song Thrush.

A stunning male Yellow Hammer.

Just look how bright the head feathers are.

A regular favourite now, the tiny Goldcrest.

And a very handsome Dunnock.

We ringed an amazing 19 Brambling in this session.

Thanks again Peter and of course Pete I have had a wonderful day.

Our World Tuesday

Wild Bird Wednesday

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Pheasant and the Fox!

Today whilst my brother went BMX-ing with Dad, me and my mum went to the feeding station in Secret Wood. As soon as we got there, we spotted a Pheasant and a fox, it's just a shame that the Pheasant was in the foxes mouth!

Fantastic Mr Fox stayed with us for about half an hour without noticing us and it came right up to us. It was quite a big fox, but very scruffy looking.

Even though some people class them as vermin, I think they are beautiful creatures. 

As we watched it, we saw it go off into it's den. At least we know where he lives now.

Apart from the fox, there were a few other great birds about: a few Coal Tits, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long Tailed Tits, my pair of Great Spotted Woodies and best of all I am 81% sure I have found a Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers nest. The hole was about the size of a 50p and there was some fresh poo down the tree.

The two Buzzards near me are starting to nest. This one below is called chunky due to it having a big chunk out of it's wing. We heard it calling to it's mate all afternoon.

I found this herony (probably the first for this part of the river) on my birthday walk, so It was great to see how well it is progressing. The picture is just a record shot as the heronry was a long, long way below us and across the river.

On the way home through the farm, we had another smile at the sheep that is trying to get rid of it's fleece on it's own. What a mess!

I also had a peep in the barn, and the new owl box has been put up (bet that got Richard Pegler's attention).

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Good Question 6

It's Quiz Night Tuesday!

And tonight's question is, can you ID this bird?

I will post the answer tomorrow night, good luck.

And the answer is:

A leucistic Brambling that we caught and ringed on Sunday.

The BTO's description of leucism is:

In leucistic birds, affected plumage lacks melanin pigment due to the cells responsible for melanin production being absent. This results in a white feathers, unless the normal plumage colour also comprises carotenoids (e.g. yellows), which remain unaffected by the condition. Although leucism is inherited, the extent and positioning of the white colouration can vary between adults and their young, and can also skip generations if leucistic genes are recessive.

The notes on Scouse Ringers blog say "One of the last Brambling out of the nets was this leucistic bird. Capturing birds with leucistic features is not uncommon, in most cases it is single feathers but in this bird it was more extensive and, interestingly, it was symetrical across the body."

I really like Scouse Ringer's new name for it, a Snowling!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Triple Figures

Sundays for me are great as I get to go ringing. I am ringing nearly every weekend and learning so much. It was a very early start to the day yesterday when some of you were still fast asleep.

The first net round brought us some Lesser Redpoll, Brambling, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Long Tailed Tit.  I was really pleased with the second net round as we got a female Great Spotted Woodpecker.

I was lucky enough to ring this bird... 

 This bird was just as loud as the one at the bird fair at Martin Mere.

 Phew, I did double check that all my fingers were still there after I let it go

Next bird up, a Geenfinch, probably one of my favourites because they don't wriggle about and peck you as much as all the other birds.

Here we are comparing two Greenfinches, adult on the left juvenile on the right.

They are really easy birds to handle.

 These Brambling are starting to get there beautiful black heads back, a cracking male below.

My first ever female Bullfinch in my hand yesterday, brilliant birds, just look at the powerful seed cracking beak.

Almost as beautiful as the male Brambling, Lesser Redpolls were coming out of the net every few seconds.

 One of the first ever species of bird I ringed, this wonderful Willow Tit was caught at feeding station Two. 

A great bird to end the day..

In the end we caught 15 species of bird, 51 ringed, 63 re-traps a hundred plus birds all together.

Thank you once again Peter, I have had a brilliant ringing day.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Good Question 5

Good evening and welcome to Quiz Night Tuesday. Tonight's question is:

What do sea birds drink?

I will post all your answers and my answer at 8:30pm even though there is a big match on tonight!

And the answer (which loads of you got right) is sea water.

Sea birds have developed special salt secreting glands which are located above the eye. They get rid of the salt into nasal passages and the salty liquid drips from the beak. The gland removes salt really, really well. For example a gull given a tenth of it's body weight in sea water can secrete about 90% of the salt in 3 hours and thus allows seabirds to drink the water they live in.
Fact taken from Manual of Ornithology - Avian Structure & Function

Monday, 4 March 2013

Jedi Training With Obi Wan Kenobi

 Yesterday I went to a whole new ringing place I have never been before in Lancashire with Scouse Ringer, Moxey and James. Here's Peter below explaining important bird facts.

The bird that was one of the first out of the net was a bird I have been waiting to ring and have in my hand for ages, the beautiful Nuthatch. 

This Nuthatch is a female, and I will explain why in a minute.

Right then, if you look closely you can see the flanks of this male Nuthatch below are a real dark chestnutty colour, however the female above would not have such a deep colour.

I think it was the second to last net-round we ended up catching two Treecreeper one adult one juvenile (Treecreepers are one of my dads favorite).

Peter said I could only ring the Tree Creeper if I could remember how to tell if it was a juvenile or an adult. Oh yes, I got to ring it.

 For some reason sometimes I feel under pressure when I ring a bird. It has to be perfect.

As the day started to come to an end, we caught a beautiful male Goldcrest.

A few Goldfinches had discovered the feeders Peter had put up.

This Coal Tit obviously liked me, since as I released it from the weighing pot it sat in my hand.

And to end the day a beautiful ringed Kestrel appeared out of no where.

 Another great day of training with Obi Wan Kenobi.

Wild Bird Wednesday