Friday, 24 February 2017

Beddington Farm - Glaucous Gull still present!

I spent yesterday morning in the hide with Devilbirder as storm Doris tore its way across the country. The juv Glaucous Gull made an appearance on the North Lake along with Caspian Gull. I concentrated on the numerous Black headed Gulls in hope of nailing a Med Gull which are extremely rare at the Farm this year with only one sighting so far.

I was back at a much calmer Farm today with the ringing team who processed a reasonable number of new birds with Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Stonechat being firsts for my very short list of rung birds. I travel light on a ringing day therefore the gulls did not get a great deal of attention. Frankly I was glad to have a break from them!!

The Glaucous Gull did however make an extended appearance on the lake and was visible from the gates as it swam around in the area of the small raft. This bird is different to the darker beast we had on the Farm earlier on in the year. It did appear to have some black in the outer primaries but was this shadow or just some Beddington muck!

Shelduck numbers are still around the 5 – 6 mark and a couple of Egyptian and Greylag Geese made an appearance. 

Friday, 17 February 2017

Beddington Farm - First Record for the Nets!

The nets were set bright and early this morning but I don’t think anyone thought that a Beddington Farm first would occur mid morning. Mike Netherwood who is the A permit holder and has been ringing on the Farm for many years. He leads the group of Dodge and Frank who await their C permit and Devilbirder who is a C permit holder. I am the new kid on the block with a T permit.

The weather forecast indicated that the morning would be overcast but the sun had other ideas and was busy illuminating nets that were set. We had a few re-trapped and only a couple of new birds to process.

Plan B was put into action resulting in the smaller nets being moved down to the edge of the North Lake in a “Z” pattern. We had attempted to catch a Dartford Warbler that had been frequenting the scrub on the mound and lake edge but it had eluded the nets thus far.

This morning changed that with a female bird being caught in the net and Dodge was top of the list to process the bird. It transpired that this was the first of this species to be ringed on The Farm and all of us were excited to receive the great news! The bird was duly processed a few pictures taken and it was released back into a scrubby area.

Homework for this week was ageing Chiffchaff which is not an easy matter!! Roll on the next session!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Beddington Farm - Cold brings in Iceland Gull!

I have been enrolled with the BTO as a bird ringing / banding T permit holder. This allows me to engage in ringing birds at Beddington Farm under the watchful eye of my trainer Mike Netherwood.

This morning was very quiet in the nets but a white winged gull caught our eye as it flew onto the North Lake. The bird conveniently washed up between the islands remaining for some time.

The birds overall size and head provoked discussion as the bird appeared particularly large for an Iceland Gull and the plumage appeared washed out. The Farm has around ten thousand gulls visiting a day and there are some weird looking birds amongst the masses therefore the sight of a white winger does not always mean identification will be a straight forward matter. I had in the back of my mind an interesting gull seen by Dave Harris the previous evening at the Walton roost.

Obtaining pictures was becoming imperative so I ran back to the hide to collect my camera returning slightly breathless but able to get some shots of the bird. A large Iceland Gull was becoming the consensus of opinion but further clarification was sought from our onsite gull expert. The verdict so far on pictures supplied is a male Iceland Gull. 

Monday, 6 February 2017

Surrey VC - Report of Cattle Egret!

I have been wrapped up with the FA Cup success of my home town soccer team Sutton Utd and have been helping out delivering leaflets and the like. This has pushed the birding to one side until late Sunday afternoon when news of a Cattle Egret broke at a site which is literally down the road from my home. This morning I was up at stupid o clock and made the short journey to Green Lane Stables which is on the Worcester / Motspur Park boundary.

I was joined by Shaun Ferguson (who stopped off before work) and Devilbirder and the search for the bird began. Some thirty four species later which included a Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk and the bird was no-where to be seen. I was soon to be the last man standing continuing on leaving at midday.

I decided to return to the site at 1600hrs which was around the time the bird had been found the previous evening. The Egret was present but it was a Little Egret. This was confirmed with the finder as the same bird as the day before. Fair play to him for clarifying the record as I’m sure many would have attempted to bluff it out?! Hands up who has never made an id error? Exactly!

The site itself has plenty of potential with a mix of habitats from a wetland area with boardwalks situated within The Hamptons housing to open fields and pasture where the horses exercise. A small woodland area with scrub between it and a school also looked good for migrants come spring. Motspur park recreational park is beyond these fields.

A day that has given me food for thought for spring and autumn!!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Americas - Decoy Sea Turtle Eggs!

February is a month where birding slips into the doldrums before migration slowly gathers pace in March reaching its peak late April and early May. At this time of year my attentions are diverted elsewhere and I would like to share a very worthwhile project that is gaining pace in the tropics with Paso Pacifico and my good friend Helen Pheasey.

(photo by Paso Pacifico)
Helen is undertaking a project to protect turtles that are threatened with extinction by human activities in the form of poaching. Turtles have to come to shore every year to nest, its eggs and meat are highly sought after by poachers.

Paso Pacifico have developed a decoy turtle egg that is fitted with a GPS transmitter. These eggs will be placed in turtle nests in areas where poaching is rife. The aim is to track the movements of the eggs assisting law enforcement agencies to identify the movements of the poachers and their supply routes. The locations where the decoy eggs are to be placed will remain Top Secret!!

Each eggs costs £35 and 100 eggs are required to provide a complete sample set enabling law enforcement to concentrate their limited resources to combat illegal egg trafficking. I have included a short video which explains the process in detail (This can also be found on the banner at the bottom of my blog):-

The banner at the bottom of my blog (pic above) has a link to the fundraising appeal. Thank you for taking the time to read / watch the video and I am sure Helen would be very grateful for any assistance you can give to her project.

Who knows where this kind of research will lead maybe decoy bird eggs to catch bird egg collectors!!