19 December 2015

Record year at Nanjizal

With the nets now down at Nanjizal for the season, it's a good time to reflect on what was a record year for the site. The final total of 7,898 birds ringed was exceptional, with the top 10 species ringed for the year being:
  1. Blackcap - 1936
  2. Sedge Warbler - 1364
  3. Chiffchaff - 1126
  4. Willow Warbler - 469
  5. Goldcrest - 438
  6. Robin - 284
  7. Swallow - 271
  8. Whitethroat - 248
  9. Reed Warbler - 205
  10. Chaffinch - 181
But totals of several other species were also notable:
  • Hoopoe - 2 (none ringed nationally in 2014)
  • Wryneck - 5
  • Tree Pipit - 7
  • Song Thrush - 81
  • Grasshopper Warbler - 87
  • Yellow-browed Warbler - 22
  • Firecrest - 114 (only 402 ringed nationally in 2014)
  • Little Bunting - 2

Add to that singles of  Nightjar, Blyth's Reed Warbler (the first record for Cornwall), Melodious Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Pallas's Warbler and Common Rosefinch and it really has been a year to be remembered!

Cornwall's first ever Blyth's Reed Warbler

A small amount of preparatory habitat work was done during the winter, but on the whole the site looked ready for the season. Around six years ago, the field margin had been sown with maize, but with the ground becoming too waterlogged, the area was left to fallow. It soon filled in with willowherb and other native species and became excellent habitat for Sedge Warblers, but unfortunately, was cut and sown with rye grass in mid-September. This will obviously have an impact on the breeding birds, but maybe not so on passage birds. It just shows how quickly good, low maintenance breeding habitat can be created in a short space of time.

Spring was a bit hit and miss and there weren't any high numbers of common migrants passing through. I can only remember one notable day when a good number of Grasshopper Warblers appeared. Garden Warblers increased again and reared young for the first time in a few years and Dunnocks had a good, early breeding season. A few unusual birds turned up in spring and two were patch ticks; Squacco Heron and Little Bittern. From photos, the Squacco was different to the bird at Creen Bottom.

The breeding season seemed to be quite reasonable and it was nice to see the Sedge Warblers rear a good number of young, quite different to the national picture. Other species also seemed to have reasonable season, with notable increases in species such as Coal Tit, Redpoll, Siskin and Goldcrest. Once autumn passage commenced, the still and favourable weather, along with increased ringing hours, helped the annual totals considerably, with just under 8,000 birds ringed! The increased coverage was mainly due to the efforts of the ringing group, although two other ringing groups from up-country did visit for an intensive week's ringing.

Record numbers of Sedge Warbler and Blackcap were trapped in the still weather during August and September. A species that seems to have done well everywhere is Firecrest, with 114 ringed on site. Other species that broke any previous annual total by a considerable margin were Cetti's Warbler, Kingfisher, Reed Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler. Presumably this was due to a good breeding season and possibly an expanding range of the latter. The autumn passage of Willow Warbler was far more noteworthy than the spring and Whitethroats didn't seem to be as abundant as last year and totals were down. September through to December saw a good passage of Chiffchaffs in the southwest and this year seemed to be quite a normal year, although local breeding birds didn't seem to be very successful.

This late-autumn Willow Warbler is surely a good candidate for a northern acredula bird
Late-autumn also provided the chance to see Yellow-browed and Pallas's Warblers
together on a couple of mornings
The totals show a good number of unusual birds were also caught, which are always nice to see, although unfortunately they always seemed to appear on busy days when you don't have much time to appreciate them! The most noticeable catch was Cornwall's first Blyth's Reed Warbler, but a Dartford Warbler was a welcome and overdue addition to the site ringing list.

As for controls (birds ringed elsewhere), fewer British Blackcaps than last year were controlled, even though the numbers were higher, and the site saw its first continental Goldcrest in the form of a Dutch-ringed bird. One of the many early dispersing September Robins made its way to Wendover, Bucks, and we also caught our first Sedge Warbler from Shetland. Also of note was a Yellow-browed Warbler recaught just five days after being ringed at Gibraltar Point Bird Observatory in Lincolnshire!

So all in all, 2015 has been an excellent year, with many thanks to all the ringers involved and if you're tempted to visit in 2016 then check out the details on the website.

8 December 2015

Peregrine update

We blogged at the weekend about the unfortunate Cornish Peregrine found in Portugal, so thought a short update was in order. Thanks to the sterling efforts of the Wildlife Rescue Centre at the University of TrĂ¡s-Os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), this bird was operated on and is now doing well. But what did transpire during the surgery was that it had actually been shot originally, as evidenced by the pre-op x-ray.

Here's hoping all their hard work pays off and MV will recover...

6 December 2015

Portuguese Peregrine and a few old friends

We have recently received a report via BTO of one of our Peregrines ringed this year. GR80973 was one of two chicks ringed near Morvah in July and was sadly found with a broken wing in northern Portugal at the end of November. It is currently in care and we'll post an update as soon as we know anything more...

This is an especially notable movement, as can be seen from the map below of Peregrine movements from the BTO's Online Ringing Report. In fact, this is just the second report of a BTO-ringed Peregrine in Portugal (following one from Co Louth found dead there in 1981), with only one other bird further south; a bird from Northumberland found dead on Lanzarote in 1998.

There's not much other ringing news to report, what with the weather being so poor! But we've been out reading a few rings (coloured and otherwise), catching up with a few old friends. From east to west...
  • Black-headed Gull ES72115 remains at Par Beach Pool. Ringed as an adult in November 1995 it's getting to a good old age now, but still has a way to go to beat the UK longevity record of 32 years!
  • The Black-tailed Godwit flock on the Truro River is now at 65 birds, including at least two colour-ringed birds. One was a male bird ringed at Farlington Marshes, Hampshire, in September 2005 and has been seen most autumns since in Hampshire (July to October) and in spring in Kent (March to April), but rarely in the winter months. It was seen twice on the Exe estuary, Devon, in November 2009 but not since, but has now become a regular on the Truro River, having been seen in December 2012, November 2014 and twice this month. The other was also a male, ringed in July 2010 in Iceland, and has been seen at Devoran and the Truro River in four different winters and also back in Iceland every summer since. Interestingly it has also been seen at Frampton Marsh and Welney on migration.
The Hampshire godwit at Boscawen Park in November 2014 (John St Ledger)
The Icelandic godwit at Devoran in December 2012 (John St Ledger)
  • Down at Devoran, the two regular colour-ringed Curlews remain, ringed in August 2015 in Powys (the first from that project to be seen elsewhere) and in June 2013 in The Netherlands.
  • On Gillan Creek, the roosting gulls haven't received the attention they deserve of late, but it's nice to now that the regular Green R16X is still with us, ringed in France in June 2009 and seen on the Helford and down at Coverack every winter since.

31 October 2015

Boardwalk removals

Yesterday we finally managed to get a few people together to start the process of getting some boardwalk into the CES net rides at Gunwalloe. These are sections that were replaced by South West Lake trust at College Reservoir, so we'd offered to 'remove them' for the trust. The down side being that these 4m sections are pretty heavy and cumbersome and required a few strong arms and a trolley for the day.

But finally we managed to get a total of 13 long sections and three short sections out to the road, so part two of the plan will be to borrow a low-loader to get them down to Gunwalloe and then out into the reedbed. Hopefully by next CES season we won't be wading around up to our thighs in thick mud...

24 October 2015

A catch up with some colour-ringed regulars

With the weather once again too windy for mist-netting, it was a good time to get out and catch up with a few old colour-ringed friends. One of the most interesting birds is 23D8, which we've blogged about several times before (here and here)! It had been seen yet again coming through the Camel estuary earlier in the autumn, but we hadn't managed to see it yet at Helston Boating Lake. But all in good time, it reappeared this week (22nd), back on its usual rail.

The gulls at the boating lake are always very obliging,
lining up on the railings to have their legs checked
(23D8 is actually the closest bird)
It was then on to Men-aver beach, where there's always a good selection of Med Gulls to look through. But with neap tides refusing to drop, there were only 40 birds here. Three of these had just metal rings, and only one colour-ringed bird. Red PLP2 is a Polish-ringed bird, ringed as a chick in June 2012, and has been seen in March 2013 and March 2014 at Pett Level, Sussex, and later at Ferrybridge, Dorset, in January 2015. This is the first time it's been reported from Cornwall though, so it'll be interesting to see if it stays.

Last but not least, a brief high-tide stop at Devoran produced one of our regular Curlews, again one we've blogged about before (here). 'SA was ringed in The Netherlands in June 2013 and is a regular wintering bird on the estuary.

So if we get the chance, get out and look for some colour-ringed birds of your won, as their histories can get rather addictive!

16 October 2015

Busy Nanjizal week and more Skylarks

The last five days have seen daily ringing at Nanjizal, with 493 birds ringed, including 171 Blackcap, 74 Chiffchaff, 22 Firecrest (60 ringed so far this autumn), three more Yellow-browed Warblers (15 so far this month!) and a Little Bunting (one of two present). Also of note were late Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler and the six Siskin (unusual for the site).

Away from the Penwith valley, the rest of us headed out to Predannack (National Trust farm near Mullion) this morning to try for our first Skylarks of the winter. The fields were pretty quiet, so it's perhaps a bit early in the season, and pre-dawn drag-netting saw three birds slip under the net. We were slightly more successful mist-netting, though nine nets did still only produce four birds!

A rather grainy dawn photo, but the colour difference in these birds is hopefully still apparent,
with two rather grey birds (left)
While we were there we took the opportunity to turn the 'Skylark H' into a 'mipit triangle', but the presence of various raptors kept the majority of birds away from the nets. Some hedgerow nets did catch a single Linnet, in amongst a plethora of Dunnocks...

This bird was an interesting aside though, as it had hints of pinky-colour coming through on the breast (suggesting a male), but an incredibly dull, grey head. So we might presume that this was a winter-plumage male, but the moulting wing, and in particular the worn state of the unmoulted inner secondaries (and very dull head), suggested this was an adult part-way through moult. So quite why an adult male Linnet would look quite so shabby is a mystery, but we presume this is a second-year bird, having had a dull first-summer plumage and, so far, a delayed moult of its head feathers.

Note the newly-growing outer primary and the wear on the unmoulted inner secondaries

11 October 2015

Lincolnshire-ringed Yellow-browed Warbler

With Yellow-browed Warblers seemingly flooding into the north and east of the country, it was only a matter of time before they made it down to Cornwall in numbers. The last week has seen Yellow-broweds in seemingly every valley and Nanjizal has been no exception. This morning's catch of seven was rather notable though, especially as it included a bird that was already ringed, and not by the group.

One of the seven Yellow-browed Warblers caught at Nanjizal this morning
HPY702 had actually been ringed just seven days previously at Gibraltar Point Bird Observatory in Lincolnshire (over 530km distant). That day there were five ringed at the bird observatory (with an obs record count of 11 in the recording area!). Interestingly, this bird weighed 5.5g when first ringed and a week later it had actually increased in weight to 6.1g.

8 October 2015

More Mipits on the marsh

With the forecast suggesting no wind today, we took the opportunity to get the triangle out and catch some more Meadow Pipits at Gunwalloe. Unfortunately it wasn't quite as calm as predicted, but we still managed a respectable 61 pipits, along with a scattering of other species.

Highlight for some was a rather fine adult Moorhen, sexed as a female on biometrics.

26 September 2015

Meadow Pipit legs and a Poldark encounter

With the wind dropping for a couple of days we took the opportunity to get the Meadow Pipit triangle up for the first time this autumn. We decided on Gunwalloe, as we could ring in the reedbed at the same time, hoping for some late warbler interest.

Over yesterday and today, we handled 134 birds (123 new and 11 retrap) of which 81 were Meadow Pipits. Not too shabby for so early in the autumn, but there were lots of birds passing, but most chose to settle just outside and around the triangle! But it was a good chance for new recruits to get to grips with a nice species with a useful moult pattern.

If you're lucky, you can see the difference in shape of the primary coverts between this adult bird (top)
and a first-year bird (bottom), with the latter being more pointed at the tip.
We also saw a bewildering aray of colours in these birds, with most typically quite bright olive green, but we also saw some rather brown birds, a very grey bird and also one with very distinct orangey flanks and upper breast (but still just Mipits!). It was unusual that these paler birds also had very pink legs and feet, compared to yellow on the greener birds. More on these later in the autumn...

The reedbed nets also produced a few late warblers (two Sedge, four Reed and five Cettis's, including one ringed as an adult in 2011), Stonechat and a smart Kingfisher. A single extra net also did us proud with a Garden Warbler (first ever caught at Gunwalloe) and two Firecrest (also the first caught here!).

We're not used to sharing the overflow car park at Gunwalloe with anyone, especially not at 6 in the morning, so it was a surprise to find it full of vans, lorries and 30+ cars. A quick chat with the security guards later and we found out this was in fact a day of filming for Poldark. We did invite the main man to grab his scythe and clear a new ride, but he declined...

13 September 2015

Online ringing report released

The BTO has recently released the 2014 online ringing report which, for the first time, includes information on nest recording totals and also timing of breeding for many species. The report is freely available on the BTO website and is well worth a look.

Looking just at the figures for Cornwall, the contribution the five-year-old ringing group has made, to nest recording in particular, is clear from the annual totals. Obviously the totals are due to the efforts of many different recorders, but I think group members can take some worthy credit.

The online report also details some of the more interesting movements of ringed birds reported in 2014, and some of the highlights involving Cornwall include:
  • Brent Goose from Iceland that stages on Strangford Lough every autumn before wintering at Torpoint
  • Storm Petrel ringed in Portugal in June 2013 and recaught at The Lizard in June 2014
  • German-ringed Spoonbill seen on Amble Marshes
  • Red Kite ringed in the nest in Shropshire in 2013 and seen at Towednack in June 2014
  • From Norway, a Kestrel was found dead in Perranporth in November and a colour-ringed Curlew Sandpiper was seen on the Camel estuary in September, just two weeks after ringing
  • Woodcock ringed near Coverack in February 2013 was shot in Russia in April 2014
  • Black-tailed Godwit colour-ringed in Iceland in July 2010 and seen at Devoran in December 2010, then on the Ouse Washes (Norfolk) in February 2011 and back at Devoran in December 2011, December 2012 and November 2014
  • Curlews from Germany (x2) and The Netherlands seen in the county
  • Swedish-ringed Turnstone seen in Penzance harbour 
  • Colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls seen originating from Poland (4), Denmark (2), The Netherlands and Belgium
  • Colour-ringed Mediterranean Gulls seen originating from France (18), Hungary (9), Poland (8), The Netherlands (2), Denmark, Germany and Belgium
  • Guillemot ringed on Skomer Island in 1989 and found dead near Bude 25 years later (the national longevity record is 36 years old!)
  • Britain's first ever foreign movement of a Chough involved a French-ringed bird seen in Devon in January 2014, Cornwall in February and on the Isles of Scilly in March
  • Firecrest ringed in Norfolk in December 2013 and recaught a year later in Penryn and a bird ringed at Stithians in December 2012 recaught in Southampton in October 2014 (recaptures of Firecrest more than a year after ringing are unusual) 

  • Sand Martin ringed at Nanjizal in July 2014 was recaught in France a month later (the first movement abroad of a Cornish-ringed bird)
  • Unusual autumn movement of a Blackcap ringed at Nanjzal in September 2014 and recaught the next day on Lundy Island, 144km distant
  • Danish-ringed Reed Warbler recaught at Nanjizal a month after ringing (only the sixth to be found in the UK) and a Danish-ringed Dunnock died hitting a window in Truro (the first foreign movement ever involving Cornwall and the first Danish-ringed Dunnock found in the UK)
  • Chaffinch ringed at the Stithians feeding station in December 2011 and recaught in Norway over two years later in March 2014

12 September 2015

Up-country warblers and a lesson in coverts

We recently received details from the BTO of two warblers caught on our penultimate CES ringing session at Gunwalloe on 16th August, both originating from up-country. Reed Warbler D992026 was ringed at Squire's Down, Dorset, on 11th August so had made the take just five days to make the 230km trip down to Cornwall. It almost certainly did it in one go though, and had also had time to put on some pre-migration weight, fattening from 11.2g to 12.4g in those five days.

An altogether different bird was Sedge Warbler Y941821, ringed at Icklesham, Sussex, on 6th August 2013. You then wonder if this bird chose different autumn migration routes as a juvenile and adult, now coming further west, or was this just coincidence.

The only other ringing of late has been a bit of garden ringing for new trainees, but it's always good to catch some instructive birds. The Blue Tit below very nicely shows the contrast between retained juvenile coverts (dull greeny-blue) and moulted adult-type coverts (blue). This bird had moulted all bar one of its greater coverts, the carpal covert and just the smallest alula feather, so see if you can identify them all in the pic!

Think we'll be able to identify this Dunnock without recatching it!
As an aside, I also dropped into Devoran before high-tide in the evening to check the roosting Curlews, to find two colour-ringed birds. We think the below might be a Scottish bird (the single yellow ring was coded BI) and the other bird looked German, but refused to stand on more than one leg in all the time I was sat watching!

8 September 2015

Tent-roosting Swallows

Instead of using our large wooden roosting box, last night we used a pop-up tent to roost some Swallows caught in the reedbed at Gunwalloe. The video below shows them being released at dawn, with all birds successfully dry and safe in the roomy tent.

Although the birds came in to roost very late, of the 350 birds present we caught 76, including a recapture of a bird we ringed in the Gunwalloe roost in July 2014 and also a bird ringed on the Isles of Scilly on 20th August, so heading completely the wrong way in autumn! What was equally surprising was that 24 out of the 76 birds caught were adults (32%), compared to 27 out of 284 (10%) ringed at roost earlier this year.

2 September 2015

Blyth's Reed Warbler at Nanjizal - a first for Cornwall

In what didn't look like overly-promising weather, the regular autumn mist-netting at Nanjizal continued this morning, producing 93 birds, including five Reed Warblers, four Grasshopper Warblers, three Garden Warblers and what must surely be one of the birds of the autumn in the county! Blyth's Reed Warbler is a long-overdue bird for Cornwall (with a single record from Devon eclipsed by five in Dorset and no fewer than five on the Isles of Scilly), but this didn't detract from the excitement of finding one in a mist-net!

So here are just a few photos and details of the bird, with no doubt more to follow...

Blyth's Reed Warbler will always be a difficult bird to identify in the field, but the rounded wing,
with very short primary projection, can be seen in this bird. Also note the indistinct supercilium,
broad-based bill and the forehead peaking behind the eye.
The identification clincher can be seen in the open wing, with both P3 and P4 (primaries) emarginated:
the narrowing of the outer web of the feather towards the tip of the wing.
On other 'reed' warblers this emargination is only seen on P3.

As if we need to plug the site even more, but any visiting ringers wanting to join the ringing group at Nanjizal can find out more details elsewhere on the blog.

1 September 2015

Final CES of the year

This morning finally saw the end of the CES season at Gunwalloe. With the rides getting wetter and wetter, we're not overly sad to see this last session done! The total of 30 birds seems low but was the highest visit 12 total yet and did include a Kingfisher: only the second ever caught at Gunwalloe.

Whilst we missed three visits mid-season due to poor weather, it was still a very productive year, with more birds caught on visits 10, 11 and 12 than any year since we started in 2011. In fact the year total of 366 birds (315 individuals) was the highest since the outstanding 676 in the first year we ran the site.

Catch totals by visit in the five years of CES at Gunwalloe, with 2015 in red

The change in the annual total is primarily driven by catches of Sedge and Reed Warbler, but the table below also shows interesting changes in some species, in particular the crash in Reed Bunting numbers.

  2011    2012    2013    2014    2015 
Sedge Warbler 30/85 33/36 13/64 19/41 35/79
Reed Warbler 88/96 60/48 52/63 43/65 42/61
Blue Tit 23/22 14/8 2/16 4/17 13/30
Wren 5/14 0/9 6/4 5/5 7/14
Cetti's Warbler 3/12 3/0 0/1 1/2 2/1
Reed Bunting 8/13 8/3 2/15 3/3 1/1

The fact that just two Reed Buntings were caught on CES this year seems incredible given the double-figure numbers in every other year.

The most notable recaptures this year included two Blackbirds and a Cetti's Warbler ringed in 2011, and two Wrens and a Dunnock ringed in 2013. For the migrants, we retrapped two Sedge Warblers originally ringed in 2013, but the recapture (and presumably survival) rate of Reed Warblers seems higher, with captures of two Reed Warblers ringed in 2011, one ringed in 2012 and nine ringed in 2013.

25 August 2015

St Ives Herring Gulls back on the TV

For anyone that missed the original airing of the programme, some of our gull-tracking work that featured on the BBC is available again on iPlayer for the next couple of weeks. The programme 'Nature's Boldest Thieves' looked at the food-snatching behaviour of birds in St Ives and included some work on birds that we colour-ringed and also tracked using GPS data-loggers.

The programme can be viewed on iPlayer here, or just click on the image below.


The bits to look out for on our work are at 14:30, 32:15 and 41:50. The work is still ongoing, so if anyone comes across any of our blue-ringed gulls then do let us know (details on the contacts page).

24 August 2015

Why so many adult Sedge Warblers?

We've noticed this month that we seem to have been catching more adult Sedge Warbles than normal, so we thought we'd have a look back through our data from previous years and see if this is correct... So we compared the percentage of adults in our reedbed catches at Marazion/Gunwalloe and also at the migration site at Nanjizal.

We couldn't find a photo of adult/juvenile Sedge Warblers side by side,
so this wing shot of will have to suffice,
but the difference in wear on the flight feathers is obvious,
hence these birds are easy to age
 So the August percentages look like this (with total number of birds caught in brackets)...

Gunwalloe/Marazion Nanjizal
2011 10% (375)
2012 16% (125)
2013 8% (198) 7% (215)
2014 12% (87) 8% (657)
2015 24% (128) 15% (907)

From this cursory glance at the data it looks like we were in fact correct, with a much higher percentage of adults in our catch this autumn. Why this might be is a bit of a mystery and it'll be interesting to see how this compares to other sites in the southwest and beyond.

19 August 2015

Alderney Stormies and our first foreign Cormorant sighting

In the past we've only shared a single Storm Petrel with the Channel Islands; a bird ringed on Burhou, Alderney in June 2008 that we recaught at The Lizard in August 2013. So it was a pleasant surprise to receive news from the BTO two of our birds from The Lizard had been recaught on Burhou in July. One of these had been ringed in July 2012 and the other was ringed on 16th July this year, recaught there just two nights later.

This got me thinking about the differences between the birds we caught at Porthgwarra in 2011 and the birds we now catch at Lizard (2012-15). The pattern of movements always struck me as being a bit different between the two sites, but is there really anything in it? In 2011 we ringed 190 birds at Porthgwarra (with 6 controls) and since then we've ringed 565 birds at Lizard (with 20 controls). The movements these sessions have generated re shown below:

From Lizard To Lizard From Porthgwarra To Porthgwarra
France 9 5 4 1
Wales 13 1
Channel Islands 2 1
Ireland 2 1
Isles of Scilly 3 2
Scotland 1 1
Dorset 1
Isle of Man 1
Portugal 1

Some of the differences are interesting, with numerous movements between Porthgwarra and Ireland (Counties Wexford, Sligo and Mayo), but none to/from Lizard. But our ringing at Lizard has shared many birds with Welsh sites, whereas we never traded a Porthgwarra bird with Wales. The obvious explanation for the Welsh movements is the increased ringing activity on the Welsh Islands in recent years, in particular on Skokholm. The table below shows the national ringing totals from the BTO's online ringing report and the big increase in effort in Wales is pretty obvious! But there's no real change in effort in Ireland (the figures here are for the Republic of Ireland), so the fact that none of our Lizard birds have been found there is unusual.

Wales Ireland Scotland England (non-Cornwall)
2010 87 2144 3997 114
2011 78 1896 5090 170
2012 140 1255 5602 146
2013 553 2682 4312 73

Whilst I was looking at all these recoveries, I thought I'd also look at the length of time between ringing and finding. It is generally thought that birds attracted to 'tapes' are non-breeding, prospecting birds in the first few years of life. This fits with our captures, with most birds being recaught in the next summer or sooner. Obviously there are some very quick movements between sites (we've had one day movement to/from both south Wales and France), but recaptures after more than two years are unusual. In fact, the longest time elapsed was the Burhou-ringed bird mentioned right at the start, recaught five years after ringing.

1 week 5
1 month 10
Same year 9
1 year 16
2 years 5
3 years 2
4 years 1
5 years 1

So whilst a quick look at the data doesn't really answer many questions, it certainly poses a few more questions and we'll just have to keep ringing birds to find the answers!

In other news, we have also just received a sighting of one of our Cormorants in France: our first foreign movement! TBD was ringed on Mullion Island in May (see blog post here) and was seen yesterday on Banneg in the Molene archipelago.

Thanks to Helen Maheo for the photo of TBD on Banneg
Interestingly, this isn't the first Mullion Island Cormorant to be found in France, as there appears to be an old record of a chick ringed on the island in 1969 that was found dead in Loire-Atlantique in 1971. We're not sure who would have ringed this bird, but watch this space for further details...

14 August 2015

Early autumn at Nanjizal

August is always an interesting and busy time at Nanjizal, with the first big push of migrant warblers coming through. Where other Cornish sites are catching <100 birds in a session, the valley at Nanjizal regularly produces catches three times this number. Just over the last week, morning catches of 341 and 281 have been dominated by Sedge Warblers (201 on one morning alone), but in amongst them have been a few more interesting species.

Wednesday morning produced an early Melodious Warbler (above) and also Nightingale (below),
actually a much rarer species in the county!

Anyone still stuck for an autumn ringing trip away might want to consider a trip down to Cornwall, so check out some extra info here.

10 August 2015

Reedbed roost and ruins

With a small break in the weather we finally managed to fit in a CES session at Guwalloe Marsh on Saturday, so while we were there we did a Swallow roost in the reedbed the night before. With well over a thousand Swallows gathering, the birds looked good, the weather looked good and we had our first big Swallow catch of the autumn.

After a long night processing, we ended up with 174 Swallows (inc 14 adults), four Sand Martins and some odds and sods, so a good (if late) start to the hirundine season.

Swallows ready to be processed and put to bed in our roost box
Poor night-time pic, but nice comparison of adult and juvenile Sand Martin
And an even worse photo of them going in the morning!

We followed the roost up by sleeping over by the marsh and then getting up for CES in the morning. The weather was kind for a change and with an extra net the final total of 89 birds was pretty acceptable, including 32 Sedge Warblers and 14 Reed Warblers. Only 69 of these were from standard nets, but this total is our highest ever for Visit 10.

What was apparent was that birds were already fattening up for migration, with several Sedge Warblers carrying lots of fuel: compare the Fat 0 bird weighing 9.1g to the Fat 7 bird weighing 16.7g and you'll get the idea. It was also interesting that it was the adult birds that were the fattest, with the average juvenile weight being 10.8g compared to 13.1g for adults.

Yet another dire photo, this time of a Fat 7 Sedge Warbler

Just to add a bit of culture to the day, we also stopped off to have a nose round the ongoing archaeological dig on the clifftop. The site is a mediaeval settlement and would have been the largest in the Kerrier area, so a bit of a change from the single farm and holiday shop here now! But with some fascinating archaeology on show it was a rather interesting aside...

Apparently these are two walls of an old iron age building