Saturday, 26 February 2011

A welsh birder in Wales (briefly)

Had to go back to Wales for the day yesterday for some family related stuff and on arriving Thursday evening I found out that the Long-billed Dowitcher has now returned to Radipole. The first day it was found in Weymouth it spent a few hours at Radipole but I was in Exeter. This meant that I didn’t see it at Radipole. So on the way back from not hearing booming bitterns at Lodmoor I stopped off at Radipole where it was fast asleep on the island outside the visitor centre. The sun wasn’t up yet so it undoubtedly roosted on there. I arrived back at the VC at 9am to start work and was greeted to this sight!

Its currently standing outside the visitor centre getting soaking wet which is why I am in the office writing this as there ain’t a lot else to do.
Before heading to Wales Thursday I got a few pics of this superb Med Gull which is pretty much in breeding plumage, something we’ll see a lot more of over the next few weeks.

We’ve also been getting a few of these passing through

The always pass through this time of year so for me they are a real sign of spring.

Monday, 21 February 2011


I was hoping to blog about loads of Mallards that we were going to catch on a farm near Dorchester. Instead all I’ve got is a brief sighting of a Firecrest in some willows on the island of the pond the target Mallards were settled on. Sadly something spooked the Mallards whilst we were waiting for them to enter a baited trap which meant nothing happened. I didn’t manage a picture of the Firecrest so here’s one of three I caught and ringed last autumn.

As it happens It was quite fortuitous that the ducks weren’t happy as this meant Fred and Myself could spend a few hours over at RSPB Arne. I don’t get over there as often as I should so its always a pleasure to visit. Around the visitor centre there were birds everywhere including several Marsh tit. Up on the heath we saw several Dartford Warblers plus a nice selection of waders and waterfowl all flushed by a female Marsh harrier. Most exciting of all however were two Yellow legged Gulls roosting with the shelduck on some saltmarsh.
I am currently eagerly awaiting the first Sand Martin of the year quickly followed by Wheatears. I am finally sick of winter. Bring on the migrants!!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Tails for Wales never fails

This weekend certainly been a weekend of two halves, today torrential rain whereas yesterday was glorious sunshine. Thankfully all the weekends birdie action was due to take place yesterday which meant lots of exciting stuff to write about. Probably most exciting was a canon netting session with Mike Tyler over on the river Axe. Things didn’t look good to start with but a few birds decided to take advantage of all the free food on the bank in front of the net. A reasonable amount of Shelduck were in the catch zone which meant a big bang and off we went.  If I remember rightly 27 Shelduck were caught but also one other quite interesting species. It’s a species ringers don’t come across very often and most ringers have only ever ringed one or two. There was a lot of quiet discussion amongst the ringers in charge to decide who should ring this bird. It all came down to a show of hands. None of the ‘A’ ringers volunteered which was great news as next it was onto the ‘C’ ringers. Unfortunately up went two hands, one of which was myself. This mean a coin would decide, I let the other ringer decide and she went for heads (I think! Otherwise the title to this blog makes no sense...). As you might have guessed it ended on tails which meant I got to ring this stunning creature!

Indeed it is a crow but like I said earlier, these don’t allow themselves to get caught very often. I soon realised why none of the A ringers decided to ring it as it soon started trying to take chunks out of my hand but it was soon got under control with minimal blood loss (mine not the bird!). As with other visits Mike always takes a group picture.

Got back lunchtime after having a superb cooked breakfast in Seaton which left the afternoon completely free. I haven’t mist netted since Christmas so thought it would be a good idea to have a go at the feeders at Abbotsbury Swannery. This resulted in a reasonable number of Blue tit and Great tit and also a few Greenfinch which was a nice surprise as they’ve been few and far between around the Weymouth area this winter. Also got a Greater Spotted Woodpecker but I didn’t have a camera so you are going to have to imagine one.
Got back to Weymouth just in time for kick off for the Wales v Scotland match which Wales duly won. Two minutes after full time I was back in a car off to Thornford in north Dorset to see the Budapest Cafe Orchestra which were great. Some really top class music was played and it only cost nine quid for a ticket! Amazing value.
Today was spend in work making a few nest boxes with loads of kids so no birding done, so thank goodness I wasn’t off today. I wouldn’t have much to write about at all!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Rain stopped play

The plan for this morning was to catch a load more coot but sadly rain came in overnight (as forecast) and put a stop to that. This resulted in my day off being pretty boring. Most excitement came from a  brief stop off at Abottsbury Swannery to swap over a key and see some Scaup. Second most exciting moment was purchasing some potatoes from Morrison's and being held up at the checkout by the old lady wanting to use us all her change that she's been collecting all her life!

To brighten up everyone's day I thought I'd stick this picture up of the tame Water Rail that lives outside the visitor centre at Radipole. Now that Cathy the Tufted Duck (surely you remember Cathy?!) has disappeared back with her wild friends we need a new character to name. I've been trying to suggest Abigail the Rail but now ones buying into that, so suggestions please!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Tatty Tufties

This mornings ringing at Radipole was almost called off due to the high winds we’ve been experiencing over the last few days but we decided not to abandon and ventured on. It turned out to be a good morning with 8 birds caught. 4 Coot (1 re-trap) and 4 Tufted Duck (2 re-traps). The two new tufties were 1st winter birds (so 5s in ringing terms) and were both going through some sort of moult. This male shows a lot of juvenile feathers particularly on the chest. These should be mostly gone by now.

This 1st winter female was also going through quit a lot of body moult, as you can see her heads pretty tatty though she has moulted most of here back feathers (as shown in the second picture).

The other two were superb looking adult drakes, this bird in the below photo was first ringed in 2003!

This afternoon was spend chatting to visitors at Radipole and attempting to show them the adult Ring-billed Gull which was around late afternoon until it went off to Weymouth bay to roost at 5pm. Was pretty difficult at times to pick out especially when all the gulls do this!

Did managed another pretty rubbish shot.

Whilst waiting watching the gull from the patio of the Radipole visitor centre this water rail went by at about 50mph as shown by this very ‘arty’ picture.

Almost forgot to mention a coot recovery forward to Terry from Kane Brides (who has a rather good blog - . Terry sent this:

GR26625 W.CP ringed by Luke on 9/01/2011 was seen at Torcross near Kingsbridge Devon on 30/01/2011 this is the first sighting since ringing.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Just a Quicky

Only got time for a quick blog update this evening as there is a certain rugby match going to start in less than a hour. I'm sitting here with a bottle of Brains SA (a fine welsh beer brewed in Cardiff) which is going down very nicely. Anyway, today started with a quick trip around the top of radipole to check out some of the new ditches in one of the meadows, loads of snipe in there and a Water Pipit which was until about 10:40 the bird of the day. Checked the pager and noticed that the words Ring-billed Gull and Radipole were in the same message. 5 minutes later it found myself watching a fine adult Ring-billed Gull sitting on the water with a load of Common gulls. Views were a bit distant but did managed a photo.

Thanks all folks, need to find my welsh rugby shirt and get me backside down the pub!