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The first week of June, 3rd & 7th, saw Paul and myself out and about in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire checking our owl boxes on behalf of Bisham Barn Owl Group

Barn owl pulli

Barn owl pulli

A week on the Isle of May 13th – 20th

Having missed out previously, it’s a very popular location for photographers, artists and ringers alike, and with limited space, a team of us, Carl, Paul, Marie, Tonia, Stuart and myself managed to secure a week on the ‘May’ in June.

The Isle of May boasts Scotland’s oldest Bird Observatory, which was founded in 1934, and is home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds, including Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Shags, Cormorants and terns, it is also a stop-off point for many migrating species.

Transfer out to the island was courtesy of Roy, aboard the RIB “Osprey”, an interesting and rather exciting 25 minute journey due to the wind and a choppy swell which had us all thankful for the supplied waterproofs!
Osprey

 

The island has two accommodation area’s; the main block which is home throughout the season to the reserve staff and volunteers who monitor the vast and varied wildlife and the Lowlight Lighthouse which is where visiting ringers, birdwatchers and artists stay, duration is limited to one week.

 

Lowlight - IoM

Lowlight – IoM

The accommodation is well-appointed considering it’s an old lighthouse stuck on a rock, a recently added block consisting of 3 bedrooms, toilet and a solar-powered shower have really added ‘stars’ and a level of comfort previously missing, it’s not quite living off-grid but pretty close!

The six of us quickly settled in to island life and found a routine that suited all.

As always with ringing the weather plays a major factor in activities and that was certainly the case on the ‘May’, and as you’d expect the wind played its part and at times hampered our mist net deployment, however, there was plenty of other ringing to be had which the wind didn’t affect.

Throughout the week we were involved in various ringing activities; we helped catch and ring Puffins, part of one of the schemes being carried out on the island

Puffin

Puffin

we were able to ring Shags, Razorbills and Guillemots

 

 

Shag

Shag

 

Razorbill

Razorbill

 

Guillemots

Guillemots

along with some pulli ringing which included, Oystercatchers, Herring & Lesser black-backed gulls.

Gull egg hatching

Gull egg hatching

 

Oystercatcher pulli

Oystercatcher pulli

 

Gull pulli

Gull pulli

 

Gull pulli

Gull pulli

We visited the 4 heligoland traps a couple of times a day throughout the week

Heligoland trap

IoM scenic

Heligoland trap

and deployed mist nets when we could, these turned up a few species between them including; Rock pipits, Nightingale, Starling, Chiffchaff, Robin, Willow warbler, Pied wagtail, Dunnock, Songthrush, Blackcap, Lesser whitethroat, Garden warbler and Wren.

A fantastic week came to an end far to quickly and after a big clean up of the accommodation we packed and headed off to the boat, the trip back to the mainland was rather less wet and we were able to take in final views off the island as we departed, before we knew it we were back on the mainland and packing the car ready for the journey home.

I will return…

Photo gallery –

IoM scenic

IoM scenic

 

Guano cliff

Guano cliff

 

Fulmar

Fulmar

 

Lighthouse by Robert Stevenson

Lighthouse by Robert Stevenson

 

Razorbill

Razorbill

 

IoM scenic

IoM scenic

 

Puffin on the wing

Puffin on the wing

 

DSC00600

Midnight on the ‘May’

 

IoM scenic

IoM scenic

 

Monday 22nd June

Back to one of our Kestrel boxes to ring a couple of pulli.

Kestrel pulli

Kestrel pulli

 

Friday 26th June

A very enjoyable chat by Mark Avery at the Surrey bird club.

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Thankfully activity levels in May picked up after an extremely slow April.

After a short break in Poole (8th – 11th) visiting family and with the windy weather abating a little, I finally got to ring some birds, 3 Blue tit pulli from one of my garden boxes, I had checked the box on the 7th and found a brood of 8, unfortunately the weather had been rather cold, wet and windy over the weekend and by the 12th there was only 3 pulli left.

On the 14th I was over at Woolley Firs (WF) to give support to Carl who was giving a presentation on bird ringing and our involvement at WF to the members of the Wildlife Trust, this proved to be very popular and provoked plenty of interest and questions.

Woolley Firs Presentation

Carl, Woolley Firs Presentation

On the 16th I was back at WF again checking boxes with Carl, Paul & Roger, initial findings suggest this season’s productivity is below last year.

On the 17th this female barn owl was found to be incubating a clutch of 5 eggs in a box at another one of our Berkshire locations.

Barn owl

Barn owl

The following day (18th) I was on my own patch checking boxes in the woods on Langley Bottom Farm (LBF).

I was happy to see the 3 ringed garden box birds fledge on the 19th, a relief really knowing how difficult it had been for the hardworking parents during the horrible weather.

The pulli ringing ramped up on the 23rd on LBF with 29 birds ringed from 3 boxes, one box with 12 pulli turned out to be the largest brood of the year in the wood.

In the woods on LBF

In the woods on LBF

Wraysbury CES 3 was held on the 28th, again there was a worry the wind would cause issue and we would have a weather affected session, however the predicted gusts didn’t reach the suggested speeds and we did manage to complete the session. 42 birds processed with a 21 new/21 retrap split.

Wraysbury team

Wraysbury team

The final birding activity on the 28th saw me once again in the woods on LBF with a further 28 pulli ringed from 4 boxes. There is just one brood left to ring.

So all-in-all an excellent month. Next up, more owl boxes to check and a trip to the Isle of May.

 

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April came and went in a flash with the wind keeping my ringing pliers firmly tucked away and no birds in the hand! The only birding activities of any note; building a bird box for Paul, Spotted Flycatcher design, a twitching day along the river Wey with Carl (which was very enjoyable) and first check of my boxes over in the wood.

River Wey day

River Wey day

River Wey day

River Wey day

River Wey day

River Wey day

 

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It’s still hard to believe that half the farm I do my ringing and birding on is now the location for England’s First World War Centenary Wood . Today was the first planting day, the first 10,000 trees of the target 400,000.

The weather couldn’t have been better with sunny blue sky’s throughout the day, this probably helped with the turn- out.

My friend Dave a I ventured over at 1030 hrs armed with our spades and enthusiasm,  we then spent the next 2.5 hours digging small holes, planting saplings, staking and fixing protective sheaths, we managed to plant over 100 trees between us before backache finally took hold and forced us to stop.

It was amazing to see the transformation of the field in such a short period of time. We left at 1445 hrs happy with our contribution. There were still people arriving as we left and it will be interesting to see just how many trees were planted on the day.

A leisurely walk back enabled me to do a little spotting, there were plenty of thrushes about including Redwing, Fieldfare, Blackbirds and Song thrush, I also spotted a Kestrel and Rook engaged in a dogfight and pushed a few Skylark up whilst crossing Tadworth Meadow.

LBF Tree planting 01

LBF Tree planting

LBF Tree planting 02

LBF Tree planting

LBF Tree planting 03

LBF Tree planting

 

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/first-world-war/locations/england/


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… the proposed seven visits this season.

The earliest start of the year so far with an 0600hrs meet saw 7 souls gather on a rather chilly morning, there was a slight frost on the ground and a low-lying mist. The mist lifted around 0800 and we had glorious clear sunny skies well into the morning when a few clouds did appear.

We set up a few nets in the wooded area and a few in the reed beds.

We also did some ride management and created an extra ride on the end of an existing 60/60. We have the potential for over 800ft of net but this is always dependent on the number of people on the day.

We only caught 9 birds, 5 new and 4 re-traps. I processed a Blabi (Blackbird).

We set down at 1100hrs and left the site at 1145hrs.

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…photographs from yesterday.

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