Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Another Waxwing Update

Nearly all the Waxwings have gone now from Aberdeen, and we've been rewarded with a multitude of sightings from across the country in the past couple of weeks. Recently we've had birds resighted in Dundee, Edinburgh, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Bedfordshire and Kent. The map below shows our movements from this invasion so far.
At the moment our resighting rate is about one in thirteen birds, fantastic for a passerine. This is just for birds outwith Aberdeen, not including the numerous sightings of birds within the city itself. With regards to ringed Wawings coming to Aberdeen, six birds have been resighted/recaptured from Orkney, one control from Fair Isle and one from Sweden. The bird in Norfolk was ringed in Orkney and seen in Norwich. Note BLR, seen at Folkestone, Kent amongst a flock of four hundred. There's a good chance they'll be heading across the channel soon and we'll get some sightings on the continent.

The majority of our sightings have come with fantastic photographs attached. A big thank you to all the photographers who have sent us some cracking images. Credit for the photos shown goes to Paul Welsh (WRY, Stockton on Tees, Cleveland), Steve Blain (GNG, Woburn, Bedforshire), Danny Arnold (RGB, Eardiston, Worchestershire) Peter George (WNR, Bingham, Nottinghamshire) and Anthony Griffiths (BWR, Oswestry, Shropshire).

Please continue to keep checking all flocks for colour ringed birds.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

New species for the group - ICELAND GULL!

The cold temperatures have continued in Aberdeen so our efforts to catch gulls have also continued. Yesterday lunchtime we'd just put the sausages on for sausage softies when Ewan noticed gulls on the neighbour's roof. A quick scan established the usual common gulls queueing up but also an Iceland gull sat above our catching area!
We quickly put out some cooked liver and bread and waited. Other gulls starting to come in but the Iceland didn't move! After what seemed like an age the bird swooped in and landed straight in the catching area. A quick check that the catch was safe and we pulled. The bird stayed perfectly caught along with 12 other gulls.
The gull was a 1st year bird and was a new species for the group. Previously there has been one Glaucous gull rung. It was a lot smaller in the hand than we'd expected, as can be seen below with a 1st year herring gull for comparison.
We think this was only the 10th Iceland Gull to be ringed in the UK so we're a little bit excited! Not bad for our little garden in an Aberdeen suburb! We're now up to 74 gulls this winter in the garden including British and Norwegian controls and now an Iceland gull. If the snow stays we'll be getting through the E's and G's this winter.
After ringing, weighing, photographing and measuring the bird we released it again and reset the net to see what else would turn up!
We've also just heard from Dave Anderson in Central Scotland that the Black-headed gull was ringed as a chick on Carron Reservoir near Stirling in late June this year, a total distance of 167km.
Ewan and Jenny
(Photos copyright of Ewan Weston and Jenny Lennon)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Great gulls!

The snow in Aberdeen has halted some of the waxwing chasing in the last week or two. Out in Westhill we've returned to our favourite garden ringing of gulls. A couple of miss-fires with a whoosh net has meant a change in tactics so we are now using a classic clap net as that seems to work better in the 20in of snow we have in our garden.
In the last few days we have caught over 60 gulls with another 10 by the young lads in Peterculter. We've been weighing all of the birds and they seem to be stable with about 10% of birds being significantly below weight.

Star birds have been a juv Black headed Gull British control and a Stavanger Common Gull - taking our tally to four for our garden in the two years we have lived here!

The most interesting bird was a common gull we rang yesterday morning in Westhill and was caught less than 2 hours later in Peterculter by Euan and Calum - a distance of 4.2km as the gull flies. This was the lightest bird we have caught in the garden so it was maybe that which made it travel further for food.

Gulls number have decreased in Westhill as birds have probably headed into town looking for food where there's less snow. But we will try again tomorrow with our reduced bread from Tesco!

Ewan and Jenny