Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Coot GC22050

Coots are really underrated birds. They move far more than people think because these movements are almost exclusively at night. I ringed GC22050 as a pullus (chick) within a few yards of my front door in Orrell on 10/06/10. It was subsequently caught and colour rings were added by Kane Brides in Southport. After that it was sighted at Martin Mere twice and then I photographed it at Pennington Flash, Leigh on 10/06/12. This latter sighting was two years to the day from ringing.

As their main food supply of aquatic vegetation varies in abundance between season and between sites it makes sense for them to know or be able to find potential feeding sites over quite a large area. Artificial food supplies will also influence movements. We think we know a lot but we have hardly scratched the surface even with quite common species like Coot. That is why I love ringing birds.

View Coot GC22050 in a larger map

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Racers, Chasers and Skimmers

I had to work at Pennington Flash today as we were hosting a Cancer Research Race for Life event. The weather was really pleasant and actually felt like summer after the rain and gloom of yesterday. The lake was like a millpond as there was hardly a breath of wind. It was perfect weather for mist-netting but work had to come first.

A flat calm Pennington Flash
Whilst checking the run route I came across a Four-spotted Chaser resting in the grass near the track. I had a compact super-zoom camera in my pocket so I tried to grab a shot. It flushed at my initial approach but then settled again nearby. Second time around it gave me the chance to approach quite close and get the shot below which I am very pleased with.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

There were quite a few Black-tailed Skimmers around but these were far more active and just wouldn't settle. I resorted to trying to grab some shots of an egg laying female that kept flying past me. I could hardly see anything on the camera screen so it was a case of switch to sport scene mode, point in the general direction, press and hope. I only got it in the frame twice out of numerous attempts but one shot didn't turn out too bad as long as you don't look too close.

female Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)

Around 1600 entrants turned up for the 5k fun run with most wearing pink in some form. It makes quite a spectacle as the runners, joggers and walkers get strung out along the route. The event went really well and a lot of people went home happy knowing they have helped a worthy cause.

A procession of pink.

The finish area.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Lousy weather = lousey Swifts

After the worst of the heavy rain Jack and I went to Pennington Flash to try and flick-net a few Swifts. As we were setting up some birds were passing us knee high which is perfect for catching them.
Jack at the ready, flick net in hand.
We found a sheltered spot near the play area so we had a bit of an audience and the session turned into a ringing demonstration with families coming to see what we were up to.

Swift (Apus apus)
Swifts are awesome birds. They have fascinating lives but sadly their numbers are on the decline in the UK. More information can be found here and here.

Swift (Apus apus)
We caught 23 Swifts over the next couple of hours. The catching rate was very good at first but then slowed as the sky brightened and the birds began to feed more at higher levels. The ringing was also slowed by time spent showing the birds to interested onlookers.

Swifts always carry a few passengers in summer. These blood sucking parasites often scuttle about between the feathers when the birds are being handled. Occasionally they jump ship so I prefer to wear short sleeves, this makes it easier to catch them if they make a run for it up your arm.

Swift Louse-fly (Crataerina pallida)

Swift Louse-fly (Crataerina pallida)
The closer you look at them the creepier they get. They can't live on people but it is no fun finding one in your hair or feeling one crawling around your neck after a Swift ringing session.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

2nd is 1st and today is 3rd

My internet has been playing up for a little while now so I may not get to post this post. The the morning of 2nd of June saw my first reasonable catch in the garden moth trap for months. Numbers are still very low for the time of year. The catch is from the night of the 1st in moth recording terms and they were recorded on the 2nd and this posting is on the 3rd just if you were wondering about the post title.

There were 14 species of macro moths and a few micros in the trap but less than 30 moths in total. Highlight was a Silver Y which is the first migrant moth of the year for me and hopefully a sign of better things to come.

Silver Y (Autographa gamma)
Common Marbled Carpets should be just that, common, but only one was caught. Hawk moths are always nice to catch and these two Poplar Hawks were only the 3rd an 4th of the season.

Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata)

male Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi), note the broad orange leading edge to the antennae.

male Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)

female Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi) with fine white antennae.