Thursday, 21 May 2015

Late May 2015

May 31st. Rainy and windy morning.
 A Spoonbill was on Jackson's Marsh. Around were 2 Cuckoo. South offshore went 13 Manx Shearwater, of which 2 then went back north.

May 30th. A Caspian Tern was found by Richard Doan and Kevin Wilson late evening, out on the mudflats, from The Wash Viewpoint. On Tennyson's Sands were 2 Spoonbill, 3 Little Stint and a Greenshank. Other birds around included a first-summer Little Gull, 2 Kittiwake, 3000 Sanderling, 4 Turtle Dove, 3 Common Buzzard, 4 Cuckoo and 7 Jay.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes produced 3 new birds: a Robin, a Blackcap and a Dunnock; and 4 retraps: 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Dunnock.

Sanderling, 30 May 2015.
Photo - Philip Millns
May 29th. Rain on and off.
3 Spoonbill, 2 Little Stint, 4 Greenshank, 3 Mediterranean Gull and a Little Ringed Plover were on Tennyson's Sands. Around were a Marsh Harrier, 4 Cuckoo and 2 Turtle Dove. Flying south were 44 Swift and 6 House Martin.

May 28th. On Tennyson's Sands were 3 Spoonbill and a Little Ringed Plover. Birds around included a Marsh Harrier, 2 Cuckoo and a Turtle Dove. Heading south were a Buzzard Sp, a Swift, 3 Swallow and 5 House Martin.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes resulted in a new Linnet and a retrap Whitethroat.
 A check of the nest boxes and nest holes, with James Siddle, yielded 36 new birds: 1 adult and 2 pulli Stock Dove, 23 pulli Great Tit, 6 pulli Blue Tit and 4 pulli Jackdaw; and 2 retrap adult Great Tit. Of 32 boxes and holes checked 15 were occupied. Only 3 dead pulli were found, which is a low number compared to some years of poor weather and lack of food.

May 27th. On Tennyson Sands were 4 Spoonbill and a Little Ringed Plover. Around were 5 Jay, a Turtle Dove and 5 Cuckoo. A Honey Buzzard and a Swift flew south.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes provided a new very juvenile Chaffinch, and a retrap adult male Chaffinch.
3 of the 4 Spoonbill on Tennyson's Sands, 27th May 2015
Photo - Nige Lound
May 26th. On Tennyson's Sands were a pair of Garganey, 2 Spoonbill and a Little Ringed Plover. Other birds around were 3 Jay, 2 Cuckoo and a Turtle Dove.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes produced 2 new Blackcap; and 3 retraps: 2 Lesser Whitethroat and a Meadow Pipit.
This Muntjac showed well in the Plantation on 26th May 2015.
Photo - Phillip Millns
Drake Garganey on Tennyson's Sands, 26th May 2015.
Photo - Nige Lound
May 25th. Around were 66 Brent Goose, 400 Dunlin, 550 Ringed Plover, a Turtle Dove and a Cuckoo. Flying south were 3 Mute Swan.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes yielded a new Lesser Whitethroat; and 6 retraps: 2 Lesser Whitethroat, a Chaffinch, a Dunnock and 2 Whitethroat.
 Meanwhile over at Aylmer Avenue, Mick Briggs completed the third C.E.S. session of the year and did quite nicely for the time of year. Along with some other nets in the area there were 16 new birds and 41 retraps. The new birds were 4 Robin, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap. 2 Chiffchaff and singles of Dunnock, Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Long-tailed Tit and Linnet. The retraps were 13 Long-tailed Tit, 6 Sedge Warbler, 4 Whitethroat, 3 Dunnock, 3 Blackbird, 3 Great Tit, 2 Wren, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler and singles of Robin, Blackcap and Linnet.

May 24th. A Spoonbill remained on Tennyson's Sands, and the male Wigeon on Jackson's Marsh. Birds around included 2 Jay, 6 Teal, 3 Siskin, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 40 Sandwich Tern, 14 Lapwing, a Curlew Sandpiper and 4 Cuckoo.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes provided 2 new birds: a Lesser Whitethroat and a Woodpigeon; and 2 retraps: a Blue Tit and a Dunnock.

May 23rd. The 3 Spoonbill were still on Tennyson's Sands, and a male Wigeon was on Jackson's Marsh. Around were 2 Jay, 3 Whimbrel, 10 Blackcap, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Marsh Harrier, 2 Turtle Dove and a Cuckoo.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes, with James Siddle, produced no new birds; and 3 retraps: 2 Dunnock and a Whitethroat.

May 22nd. The 3 Spoonbill remained on Tennyson Sands. Other birds around were 6 Turtle Dove and a Cuckoo. Going south were 50 Swallow and 10 House Martin.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes resulted in 2 new birds: singles of Great Tit and Linnet; and no retraps.

The old Coastguard building after the more recent Field Station buildings have been demolished, 22 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory
The old Coastguard building after the more recent Field Station buildings have been demolished, 22 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory
May 21st. On Jackson's Marsh was a Temminck's Stint, and on Tennyson Sands were 3 Spoonbill. Around were 17 Jay, a Turtle Dove and 2 Cuckoo. Offshore were 2 Eider, 7 Kittiwake and 2 Red-throated Diver in summer plumage. Also, just north of the NNR boundary, an Icterine Warbler was heard singing from thick scrub and sycamores at Seacroft Marsh SSSI between 1pm and 4pm at least. It showed briefly on a few occasions.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes, with Mike Polling, provided no new birds; and 3 retraps: singles of Sedge Warbler, Dunnock and Whitethroat.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Mid May 2015

May 20th. Birds around included 18 Jay, 4 Siskin, a Wheatear, a Turtle Dove and 2 Cuckoo. Heading south were 6 House Martin and 106 Swallow. In off the sea came 14 House Martin.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes produced a new Meadow Pipit, and 2 retrap Dunnock.

May 19th. Moderately strong, but decreasing, south-westerly wind.
 An Osprey came in off the sea. Around were 2 Little Ringed Plover, 7000 Sanderling, a Wheatear, 2 Turtle Dove and a Cuckoo. Flying south were 24 Kittiwake and 2 Swallow, and north 5 Manx Shearwater and 20 Auk Sp.
The total of 7000 Sanderling is quite remarkable for a spring count and there are even few autumn counts of this magnitude. According to the annual WeBS report 2009/10, the largest all time spring count of Sanderling in the UK was of 8737 on the Ribble Estuary in May 1992.

May 18th. Rain most of day.
 On Tennyson's Sands were 2 Spoonbill. A Cuckoo was heard.

May 17th. A Golden Oriole was heard north of the reserve in Seacroft. Birds around were 22 Jay, 4 Turtle Dove and 2 Cuckoo. On Tennyson's Sands/Jackson's Marsh were 2 Spoonbill, a Mediterranean Gull, 5 Black-tailed Godwit and a Little Ringed Plover.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes yielded 7 new birds: a Wren, a Chiffchaff, a Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, a Chaffinch and a Lesser Whitethroat; and no retraps.
 A morning ringing session at Aylmer Avenue by David and Liv Vincent, which included the second C.E.S session of the year, resulted in a total of 14 new birds and 19 retraps. The new birds were 10 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Robin, a Wren and a Lesser Whitethroat. The retraps were 5 Long-tailed Tit, 3 Dunnock, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Willow Warbler and singles of Robin, Blackbird, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Sedge Warbler.
One of two juvenile Robins, ringed 17th May 2015.
Photo - David Vincent.
May 16th. A Golden Oriole was near Mill Hill, and another was at North End. Also around were 2 Spoonbill, 10 Jay, a Tree Pipit, a Hobby, a Bullfinch and 2 Cuckoo. Flying south were 14 Swift, 100 Swallow and 10 House Martin.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes provided 5 new birds: a Whitethroat, a Robin, a Chaffinch, a Meadow Pipit and a Jay; and 3 retraps: a Linnet and 2 Reed Bunting.

May 15th. 2 Spoonbill were discovered on Tennyson's Sands, and a Little Stint by the Spit. A single Golden Oriole was in the Plantation early morning, then an adult male and a presumed female were near Mill Hill. Other birds around were 4 Jay, a Water Rail, 3 Little Ringed Plover, a Common Sandpiper, a Turtle Dove and 3 Cuckoo.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes produced 6 new birds: 3 Meadow Pipit, a Chaffinch, a Blackbird and a Woodpigeon; and 4 retraps: singles of Blackbird, Meadow Pipit, Wren and Dunnock.

Golden Orioles, 15 May 2015.
Photo - David Johnstone
Golden Oriole, 15 May 2015.
Photo - David Johnstone
Golden Oriole, 15 May 2015.
Photo - David Johnstone
May 14th. The morning started with a Golden Oriole singing near the golf course (where yesterday's first-summer male ended up). Then an adult male was singing from the East Dunes, south of Mill Hill, and this was accompanied by a green bird (presumed female). Both showed very well until at least 9 a.m. A Broad-billed Sandpiper was discovered near the Spit. Also around were 2 Whimbrel and a Turtle Dove.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes resulted in no new birds; and 7 retraps: 4 Whitethroat, a Dunnock, a Blackbird and a Linnet.

May 13th. Birds around included a first-summer male Golden Oriole, 29 Jay, 150 Brent Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 5 Wheatear, 4 Turtle Dove and 4 Cuckoo. Going west were 2 Swift and south 67 Swallow. A Spoonbill was on Tennyson Sands.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes provided 3 new birds: a Chiffchaff, a Whitethroat and a Lesser Whitethroat; and 2 retraps: a Blackbird and a Wren.
First-summer male Golden Oriole in East Dunes, 13th May 2015.
Photo - Nige Lound
May 12th. Rain mid morning.
 Around were 35 Jay, 3+ Wheatear, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 8 Turtle Dove and 150 Brent Goose. Offshore were 30 Sandwich Tern. Flying south were a Turtle Dove, a Marsh Harrier, 2 Buzzard, a Mediterranean Gull, 40 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 158 Sandwich Tern, 6 Arctic Tern, a Turtle Dove, 21 Swift, 250 House Martin, 3 Sand Martin and 750 Swallow.
 A rain-shortened morning ringing session in East Dunes produced 3 new birds: singles of Chiffchaff, Blackbird and Jay; and 2 retraps: singles of Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat.

The 18th Jay ringed here this year, 12 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory
May 11th. Birds around, including those trapped, were 2 Spotted Flycatcher, a Grey Wagtail and 14 Jay. On Jackson's Marsh was a Little Ringed Plover. Heading south were 250 Swallow and a Wood Sandpiper.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes yielded 6 new birds: singles of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Linnet, Chaffinch, Spotted Flycatcher and Jay; and 2 retrap Lesser Whitethroat.

Spotted Flycatcher, ringed 11 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory

Friday, 1 May 2015

Early May 2015

May 10th. Flying from the Wash to Tennyson's Sands were 2 Spoonbill. Around, including birds trapped, were a Firecrest, a Wheatear, a singing Grasshopper Warbler, a Turtle Dove and 17+ Jay. Flying south were a Common Buzzard and 300 Swallow.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes, with James Siddle, produced 6 new birds: a Firecrest, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, a Great Tit and a Jay; and 2 retrap Whitethroat.
 Meanwhile at Aylmer Avenue, Mick Briggs carried out the first C.E.S. session of the year with good results. Along with some other nets in the area the total of 20 new birds for the day was a respectable result. They were 7 Whitethroat, 3 Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Linnet and singles of Wren, Dunnock, Blue Tit and Greenfinch. There was also 39 retraps which were 8 Whitethroat, 4 Wren, 4 Robin, 4 Willow Warbler, 3 Dunnock, 3 Great Tit, 3 Chaffinch, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 2 Goldfinch and singles of Lesser Whitethroat and Greenfinch.
 Interestingly after the old Whitethroat last week (02/05/2015), which was trapped again today, today there was a Lesser Whitethroat which was originally ringed on 8th August 2009 as a juvenile bird. This means that this bird has been all the way back to just south of the Saharan region of Africa six times. That is an impressive feat: crossing the Sahara 12 times. I would imagine that this is the oldest Lesser Whitethroat ever handled on the reserve but could not guarantee it. Even more impressive is that the bird is a female and so by now must have laid somewhere in the region of 24 eggs (or more). She has certainly done more than her fair share of ensuring the species' continued presence amongst our summer breeding songsters. She has been retrapped by the Observatory team in May of 2011, 2012 (x2), 2013 (x2), 2014 and then again today and always on the same site, and never in a different month. So whether she is a locally breeding bird would seem unlikely; more likely is that she is just passing through on her way north to who knows where?

Firecrest, ringed 10 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory
May 9th. Increasing south-westerly wind.
 The Spoonbill remained on Tennyson's Sands, along with a Mediterranean Gull and a Little Ringed Plover. Birds around included 180 Brent Goose, a Hobby, 4 Turtle Dove, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Corn Bunting and a Cuckoo. South over land went 530 Swallow, 70 House Martin, 300 Swift, a ringtail harrier sp, a Hobby and 5 Yellow Wagtail, and north a Red Kite. South over sea went a Little Gull, 39 Common Tern, 118 Commic Tern, 73 Sandwich Tern, a probable Red-necked Grebe and a Fulmar, and north a Great Northern Diver. A newly arrived party of 12 Mute Swan eventually moved off south-west.
 A wind-restricted morning ringing session in East Dunes, with James Siddle, resulted in 3 new birds: a Chiffchaff, a Goldfinch and a Whitethroat; an a retrap Whitethroat.

May 8th. On Tennyson's Sands was a Spoonbill. Around were a Short-eared Owl, 17+ Jay, 3 Wheatear, a Tree Sparrow, 2 Turtle Dove, 2 Cuckoo, a Pink-footed Goose, 2 Greenshank and a Whimbrel.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes provided 19 new birds: 6 Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, a Blackcap, 7 Lesser Whitethroat, a Robin, 2 Whitethroat and a Linnet; and 6 retraps: 2 Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Dunnock.

Lesser Whitethroat with large pollen 'horn', ringed 8 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory
May 7th. Flying south were a Serin, a Turtle Dove and 2 Swift. Birds around, including those trapped, were 27+ Jay, a Tree Pipit and 2 Whimbrel.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes, with Mike Polling, produced 11 new birds: a Wren, a Willow Warbler, a Blackcap, a Whitethroat, a Tree Pipit, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, a Dunnock and 3 Jay; and 5 retraps: 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Whitethroat. So far this year 15 Jay have been ringed here.
 The demolition of the Field Station continues.

Jay, ringed 7 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory
Gibraltar Point Field Station being demolished, 7 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory
May 6th. Strong south-westerly wind.
 Around were a Wheatear and 2 Whimbrel. South at sea went a Velvet Scoter.

May 5th. Increasing south-westerly wind.
 On Tennyson's Sands in the late afternoon were 2 Spoonbill. Birds around, including those trapped, were 20+ Jay, a Wheatear, a Tree Pipit, a Yellow Wagtail and 6 Whimbrel. Flying south were 5 Swift.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes yielded three new birds: a Willow Warbler, a Tree Pipit and a Blackbird; and 3 retraps: a Lesser Whitethroat, a Linnet and a Wren.

Tree Pipit, ringed 5 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory
Tree Pipit, ringed 5 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory
May 4th. Around, including birds trapped, were 14 Jay and 5 Whimbrel. A Spoonbill was on Tennyson's in the morning. At Mill Pond a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling at first light whilst at Aylmer Avenue a total of 5 more Jay flew south during the morning. A Barn Owl was hunting the freshwater marsh for much of the day whilst two Cuckoo called from the same area and a Tawny Owl was heard calling mid afternoon.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes provided 8 new birds: a Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, a Linnet and 4 Jay; and 3 retraps: 2 Whitethroat and a Lesser Whitethroat.
 At Aylmer Avenue, Mick Briggs was ringing on this Bank Holiday Monday and finished off with just 10 new birds: 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Greenfinch and 2 Goldfinch. There were also 8 retraps: 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldfinch and singles of Blackbird, Great Tit, Chaffinch and Greenfinch.
 The most remarkable bird of the day, though, was the retrap Blackbird at Aylmer Avenue. The bird was clearly an adult male with a bright yellow eye ring, bright yellow bill, uniform jet black plumage all over and even a pronounced cloacal protrubence (male genitals). Upon checking the database, you can imagine the shock when it appeared the bird was ringed in 2008 by George Gregory as a juvenile female. It was then retrapped 3 times during 2010 as a breeding female by Mick, retrapped again in 2012 by George as a breeding female and again by Mick in 2013 as a breeding female. And yet here it was: clearly a breeding male.
  Now, according to the worldwide web, female birds have two ovaries but only the left ovary produces eggs. If this ovary is damaged for some reason, the right ovary can occasionally then develop into a testis, and the bird will start producing male hormones and will eventually become a male bird capable of fertilising a female's egg. I didn't know this and can't really believe that I have seen such a bird in the hand. I just wish that the bird had been photographed before release. The sex change wasn't realised until after the bird's release but the ring number was checked thoroughly due to the obvious age of the ring number. This is not an April Fool's joke and the Observatory Ringer in Charge, Mick Briggs, is in complete amazement about this bird.

Lesser Whitethroat, ringed 4th May 2015.
Photo - Mick Briggs
Sedge Warbler, ringed 4th May 2015.
Photo - Mick Briggs 
May 3rd. Strong but decreasing south-easterly wind, with rainy spells.
 On Jackson's Marsh were a Spoonbill, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and a Ruff. Around were a Turtle Dove, 5 Reed Warbler, 4 Sedge Warbler, 2 Grey Partridge and a singing Corn Bunting. The first Swift of the year flew south.

May 2nd. Birds around included 3 Turtle Dove, a Cuckoo, 5 Jay and 6 Whimbrel. North at sea went a Red-throated Diver, an Arctic Tern, 48 Little Tern, 15 Sandwich Tern, 9 Gannet and 11 Auk Sp, and south 2 Great Crested Grebe. At Aylmer Avenue there were 2 Cuckoo and 2 Turtle Dove singing, whilst 2 Jay flew south early morning. Mid morning just before the rain arrived, 20+ Swallow were feeding around North Car Park.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes produced 3 new birds: a Lesser Whitethroat, a Whitethroat and a Jay; and 5 retraps: 2 Lesser Whitethroat, a Whitethroat, a Wren and a Linnet.
 Meanwhile, over at Aylmer Avenue, Mick Briggs was ringing, closing the nets just before the un-forecast rain arrived. This resulted in 28 new birds, which were 8 Chaffinch, 6 Linnet, 5 Goldfinch, 3 Greenfinch, 2 Woodpigeon, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Whitethroat. There were also 17 retraps: 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Goldfinch, 2 Dunnock, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Linnet and singles of Blue Tit, Chaffinch and Greenfinch.
 It is interesting to note that the Observatory has now ringed nearly twice as many Linnet as any other species this year showing that they have had an incredible 2014 breeding season and a very kind winter. Linnet numbers ringed at Gibraltar Point are usually quite low but have really started to increase in the last year or two.
 On the other hand though, Greenfinch numbers have dropped through the floor, with the lowest totals ringed for more than ten years. Has the east coast population finally succumbed to the deadly disease that has decimated numbers further inland?
 One of the most travelled birds I have ever handled was in a net today, a Whitethroat that was originally ringed all way the back on 21st Aug 2011 as a juvenile. This means that it has been all the way to sub-Saharan Africa (this species is common in Botswana during the winter months) in the winter of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and back again, a distance of at least 72,000km! It has never been caught in between being originally ringed and today. The chances are that it doesn't breed at Gibraltar Point and is in fact just passing through on its way north. What an amazing bird! Please see photos below.

Woodpigeon, ringed 2nd May 2015.
Photo - Mick Briggs
Linnet, retrapped 2nd May 2015.
This male Linnet was originally ringed on 31st May 2014 as an adult so is now starting its third breeding season. It has not been retrapped in between so who knows where this bird has been spending its time during the winters.
Photo - Mick Briggs
Whitethroat, retrapped 2nd May 2015.
This bird was originally ringed all the way back on 21st Aug 2011 as a juvenile. This means that it has been all the way to sub-Saharan Africa (this species is common in Botswana during the winter months) in the winter of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and back again, a distance of at least 72,000km! It has never been caught in between being originally ringed and today. The chances are that it doesn't breed at Gibraltar Point and is in fact just passing through on its way north. What an amazing bird!
Photo - Mick Briggs
Jay, ringed 2 May 2015.
Photo - George Gregory

May 1st. Around were 11+ Jay, a Merlin, 6 Whimbrel, a Greenshank and a Cuckoo. Flying south were a Wood Sandpiper and a Tree Sparrow.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes, with Mike Polling, resulted in 2 new birds: a Willow Warbler and a Linnet; and a retrap Wren.