Monday, 7 March 2011

Manor Farm Country Park and Curbridge - 5th and 6th March 2011

Another weekend and another ringing session at Manor Farm. The weather was good on Saturday, albeit cold, so I decided to get up early and give it a go. It was also the first weekend of the new RAS season...and therefore was the ideal time to catch some house sparrows.

This male House Sparrow was obviously aware that I was watching him; this image
was digiscoped  using my Swarovski scope and Sony compact

The session itself started slowly, with only a wren and a redwing on the first two rounds. I was beginning to wonder whether it would have been better to have stayed in bed, snuggled under the duvet, but by the next round things had picked up; three blackbirds, four house sparrows, a song thrush and a pair of Bullfinch's were soon added. By the end of the session we had amassed a total of 28 birds, of which 13 were re-traps; 9 house sparrows were captured, seven of which were re-traps, with the oldest being a female that was originally captured in January 2007, 4 years and 37 days before.

Highlights were the pair of bullfinch, which I didn't photograph, and this cracking female green woodpecker.......

Green Woodpecker, Manor Farm Country Park 2011

.......there is a fair amount of variation in this species within its range, but the nominate sub species, which is the one occurring in the British Isles, can be sexed by the colouration of the moustache. This bird had no red and therefore was a female. This is only the fourth individual captured at the park, the last one was six years ago.

Green Woodpecker, Manor Farm Country Park March 2011

I usually run a moth trap and intend to post my captures when I do, but the moth below was disturbed from vegetation in my garden as I was cutting back some shrubs. In 11 years of moth trapping I have recorded 569 species in my garden but this is the first time I have recorded this one. Ypsolopha mucronella is a local species of woodlands, but fairly widely distributed across Hampshire. Adult moths hibernate, but can be recorded flying on mild nights during the winter; the larvae feed on spindle.

Ypsolopha mucronella March 2011

A late afternoon stroll around Curbridge on the evening of 6th March, was timed to coincide with the falling tide. I positioned myself at the mouth of one of the narrow creeks in order to count wading birds. During spring the number of greenshank present can reach double figures, and previously the odd bird bearing colour rings has been present. However, this time only two un-ringed birds were present. 

Greenshank Curbridge March 2011

Two common sandpipers were also feeding on the intertidal mud; two birds have been present all winter, perhaps foolishly I assumed these two birds were those, but it is perfectly feasible that they were in fact returning spring migrants. The supporting cast included 17 redshank, two little grebe  and a little egret.

Little Egret, Curbridge, March 2011

The little egret was once a very rare bird in Hampshire, in fact I remember climbing a tree that overlooked Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve to get a view of my first. Now the species is well and truly established in the British Isles and breeds all along the south coast.

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