Saturday, 12 January 2013

January Ramblings

A combination of a busy social calendar and short days has meant I have had little time for birding and blogging activities, and to be honest there has not been much to report. I did manage a bit of a New Years Day bash around a few local sites, which produced about 70 species, including a red-throated diver in Stoke's Bay, Gosport, very close to the shore, an adult Mediterranean Gull at Walpole Park, and of course the regular ring-billed gull that winters at this site. I cannot remember exactly how many years this bird has been returning to this site, but I think this is its 10th year, which is quite amazing.

Looking Down the Throat of a Ring-billed Gull

The light was fantastic the morning of New Years Day, and so I had the opportunity to get more photos of this very confiding bird. At one point the bird was trying to swallow some food stuck in its gullet, and gave some interesting views of the inside of its bill and throat, unfortunately in my haste to get the shot my focus was slightly off, but you can still get the picture.

Adult Ring-billed Gull

Identifying an adult ring-billed gull is as straight forward as it gets, the pale iris, yellow legs and bill, and broad black band across the upper and lower mandible, are all good features which will clinch the species' ID.

Adult Ring-billed Gull

Bird ringing activity has been limited to four mist netting sessions one nocturnal wander around Manor Farm Country Park in search of woodcocks. There was no joy with the latter, in fact, I did not see a single woodcock, in stark contrast to last year when there was a peak of 12 birds on one visit.

Eurasian Nuthatch - A retrapped bird from early December 2012

Two garden ringing sessions have produced the usual blue and great tits, a retrap nuthatch, coal tit, a large flock of long-tailed tits and a few goldfinches.

Long-tailed Tit - One of 12 Birds Captured Today

Ringing sessions at Manor farm have been relatively quiet numbers wise, but have provided a bit of diversity including blackbirds, song thrushes, redwings, chaffinches and goldcrests. A stunning adult male pied wagtail was caught out by my single shelf nets, the only one of over 12 birds feeding in the fields.

Adult Male Pied Wagtail

With no contrast in the greater coverts, its very dark upperparts and pure white forehead, this bird was easy to age and sex.

All dark rump and back of adult male Pied Wagtail

So far this year I have caught five bullfinches, four females and one male, all of them were first winter birds. One of the birds was infected with the mite Knemidocoptes mutans making the leg very crusty and too large to take and A size ring, so I had to let it go un-ringed.

Bullfinch leg infected with the mite Knemidocoptes mutans 

Of all the birds captured, several were retraps, the most notable being an adult goldcrest that was first ringed as a first year bird in November 2010, 2 years and 58 days previously.

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