Saturday 14th February
This weekend has been fairly hectic for me. It started with a low tide wader count on a part of Portsmouth Harbour Saturday morning, which was fairly uninspiring. There were small numbers of Redshank, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and a few duck and geese species, the most numerous being Dark-bellied Brent Goose. It was nice to see a few Goldeneye and Red-brested Mergansers, as I don't often see them around Hill Head or on my patch. Three adult Mediterranean Gulls, two in winter plumage one in full summer, were the highlight for me though.
After the wader count I headed to Manor Farm Country Park to set nets for the planned mornings ringing session. I was joined by Rob and Megan and we put up six nets and then furled them in readiness for the morning session. We did catch four birds in the process, one new House Sparrow, two Dunnocks, one of which was a retrap and one Robin. Whilst putting up the nets a large flock of mainly Black-headed Gulls flew over, I picked out one adult winter Mediterranean Gull, but nothing else. We had hoped to catch some Fieldfares or Redwings as they went in to roost, but there were very few birds around. A flock of 40 Fieldfare was the most I had seen in a while, but there was less than 10 Redwing around.
As the sun began to set the resident Little Owls started to get active, and were putting on a very vocal display. We eventually tracked down two birds; they were sat together preening each other whilst making and variety of squeaks and squeals to acknowledge their appreciation. Other birds were flying around the main car park and we estimated at least four birds being present.
Sunday 15th February
Sunday morning began with a pre-dawn start for me Chris, Rob and Megan and as we arrived we were serenaded by the resident Tawny Owls. The Tawny activity seemed to inspire the Little Owls again as they started calling again, but only for a while. The ringing session was fairly mundane as there were very few birds but the total did include six new House Sparrows so some new additions to my RAS project. We also caught 11 retraps which included one bird that was ringed over five years ago and one that was ringed 4 years ago.
A total of 34 birds were caught which included one Wood Pigeon, six Dunnocks, three of which were retraps, four Robins, two Blackbirds, one retrap, a Song Thrush, Chaffinch and a few Blue Tits.
In the afternoon I opened a net at home and added another 21 birds. The highlights were another male Chaffinch and a Greenfinch, but the total included two Long-tailed Tits, a Dunnock and a selection of new and retrap Blue and Great Tits. Of the Blue Tits one was originally ringed 3 years 256 days previously and another 5 years 189 days previously. One of the retrap Great Tits had been ringed 3 years 115 days previously.
Over the course of the weekend we caught 63 birds of 12 species, with 38 new birds and 26 retraps. It was disappointing not to catch any Redwing or Fieldfares, but they should be around for a few weeks yet.