21 September 2016

Big day at Nanjizal

It's not often the ringing group has a really busy day netting, but this morning was a bit of an exception. A small group of us headed to Nanjizal, with weather conditions looking good and lots of birds around locally. We weren't disappointed, and the first net round alone must have produced 150 birds! OK, so 50 of these were Meadow Pipits from a V of nets we'd set up, but many of the rest were Blackcaps.

Just one net, full of Blackcaps

We ended the busy morning on 248 new birds, including impressive totals of 96 Blackcap, 71 Meadow Pipit, 32 Chiffchaff and five Grasshopper Warbler. Add to that a scattering of common species and singles of Spotted Flycatcher, Firecrest, Grey Wagtail, Garden Warbler and Wryneck. Rather bizarrely, the Wryneck was in the Meadow Pipit nets, sat right out in the middle of a field!

Whilst we were all out an about, we took the chance to visit a few Barn Owl sites to check for  second broods. We didn't find any, but did have one box occupied by a ready-to-fledge Stock Dove. Interestingly, this is actually a much less frequently ringed bird in Cornwall than Wryneck; the last five years have seen seven Wrynecks ringed, but only four Stock Doves!

12 September 2016

A day of colour-ring reads

Since we've started colour-ringing Cormorants and Great Black-backed Gulls on Mullion Island we've also aimed to read rings on these birds locally and yesterday a few ardent colour-ring readers did a sweep of a few local sites.

Cormorant TBT (ringed on Mullion in April 2016) was at Drift Reservoir, whilst Hayle estuary only produced a single St Ives-ringed Herring Gull. Stithians Reservoir fared slightly better, with three of our Herring Gulls seen; one from St Ives and two from Falmouth, including W:001 which was one of the first birds ringed by the project.

W:001 as a chick on the roof of Falmouth Marine School in 2013
Elsewhere, one of our Herring Gulls was seen at Helston Loe Pool, but was flushed before the combination could be read - by the visiting Dalmatian Pelican!

Further along the coast, closer to Mullion Island, a walk along the cliffs at Halzephron (north of Gunwalloe) is sometimes productive, though another of our Cormorants sat offshore was too distant to confirm. We did manage to get close enough to a group of loafing Great Black-backs to find one colour-ringed bird, but it wasn't from Mullion Island.

Yellow 0JJ6 is a bird ringed as a chick off Herm in the Channel Islands in June 2010 and was seen around the islands until spring 2011. This isn't its first trip to Cornwall though, as it was seen on Hayle Estuary October 2011, with only two sightings since; back on Guernsey in September 2012 and then in France in May 2013. So where it's been for the last three years is unknown.

The small roost at Halzephron Cliffs, with Mullion Island in the background

7 September 2016

Perfect timing for a Paddyfield

There are always benefits to being social and this morning I thought I'd just briefly nip down to Nanjizal to say hello to the visiting ringing group who are down for the week and drop off some rings. When they returned from a net round with just half a dozen birds I realised they were having a quiet morning! OK, so they'd just recaught a Dutch-ringed Reed Warbler (the first from there to be found in the county!) and earlier in the week they had ringed Common, Green and Wood Sandpiper, but it was still a bit quiet.

A trio of sandpipers!
 My timing was perfect though as the sixth bird out of the bag was a bit more interesting!

Juvenile Paddyfield Warblers get very worn very quickly, but the smart tertials give away its age

This young Paddyfield Warbler popped up just over two years after we'd caught a much darker one at Nanjizal (see the blog post here), so two at the same site is rather incredible! The first for Cornwall was as recent as 1996, with these two ringed birds being just the fifth and sixth county records.

The 2014 Paddyfield for comparison
If the thought of using more B+ rings then B rings in a week's ringing might tempt other groups to come down for an autumn week, then check out some info on our Nanjizal page.

2 September 2016

Not a bad first morning's netting!

We were joined netting yesterday by a new trainee, working on her PhD with the Cornish Jackdaw Project. Having ringed a heck of a lot of Jackdaws, this was Vic's first session out mist-netting and although we only caught 26 birds we certainly had quality over quantity. So you can't complain when the first non-crow you get to ring is a Stonechat (a scruffy moulting juvenile), closely followed by Tree Pipit, Reed and Sedge Warblers and lastly a Kingfisher!

The rest of the day was spent touring round a few regular haunts for colour-ringed birds, with mixed success. Men-aver beach held our first juvenile Med Gull sighting of the year, ringed in France in July and whilst watching it a Curlew casually walked behind it showing off a combination of red and green rings. It seemed vaguely familiar and was in fact a German-ringed bird first seen in Cornwall on the Roseland peninsula in August 2013 and then at Men-aver beach in August 2014 but not since.

Next stop was Gillan creek, where the only colour-ring on show was one of our own. W:085 was ringed as a chick on the roof of the Marine School in 2015 and not seen since.

Last up was a brief stop-off at Stithians Reservoir, where TBY, ringed on Mullion Island over the summer, was still sat on the island. All before making a brief appearance on BBC Five Live Drive (from 01:56:00) to talk about gull 'attacks' in Scarborough!