Saturday, 18 February 2017

A cunning plan!

When does a cunning plan succeed ?  Well it didn't for the Group today at its monthly winter catch of Wigeon at the Otter Estuary. Careful planning nearly caught 250 Wigeon on two occasions during the morning. Yes, twice the flock were in 20 metres of being caught. The ducks just wandered in the wrong direction grazing as they waddled. Not to be entirely beaten and to ensure something for those who gave up their Saturday morning, we tried to catch two Teal that had been on the edge of the catching area all morning. Well one was caught! See photograph of an attractive adult male.

Adult male Teal given detailed attention (Photo Mike Tyler)

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Another winter catch

The group have fewer mist netting sessions in the winter, but last Monday's catch was worth erecting a few nets. Thirty-five birds were caught including Blackbird 3, Robin 4, Blue Tit 3, Reed Bunting 2, Song Thrush 1, Great Tit 4, Dunnock 5, Wren 3, Goldcrest 2, Bullfinch 1, Long-tailed Tit 1, Goldfinch 2, Chaffinch 1, Mallard 1 and Cetti's Warbler 2. The two Cetti's Warblers being the highlight of the morning.

Cetti's Warblers (Photo Doug Rudge)
Doug Rudge cautiously entering the Abberton Trap to extract the Mallard watched by Derek Baggott (Photo Sue Murphy)

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Water Rail leads the way in 2017

The first catch for the Group this year resulted in 33 birds including a rather nice Water Rail. Of the total included two overwintering Chiffchaff, the same number of Goldcrest, seven Robins and three Song Thrushes. Below are a few nice photographs taken by Doug Rudge during last Sunday's session.

Male Goldcrest (Orange just showing in eye stripe)

Adult Water Rail

Adult Water Rail

Monday, 19 December 2016

Last catch of the year

Today the Group had its last session of the year combined with some festivities. There were no unusual highlights, but 10 Coldcrest and five wintering Chiffchaffs were in the total of 55 birds of 16 species.

A happy Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year to our members and supporters.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

First catch for Project Wigeon

      Last Sunday morning the Group attended the grasslands and pools close to the Otter Estuary, where many species of duck congregate to feed during the winter months. The Project which is being sponsored by Devon Birds is to ascertain the numbers and movements of Wigeon over a period of four winters prior to any works that may take place by the Environment Agency as part of its flood relief scheme.
     Apart from fitting a British Trust for Ornithology metal ring a lime green Darvic ring was fitted at the same time. Each colour ring is engraved with two letters. This will give an observer an opportunity to relay back to the Group where and on which date the bird was seen.
     The catch was smaller than hoped, but with several pools it cannot be easy to judge where the birds may be at a particular time. Many hours of observing the movement of the birds by ringer Peter Bennett from his advantage point of his home showed that the birds are constantly on the move whilst feeding from pool to pool. As one needs to set the cannon net the evening before to be precisely accurate can be difficult. Nevertheless, we were able to catch 27 duck of which 19 where Wigeon, seven Mallard and one Shoveler.
     Photographs of one of two Wigeon we caught show a green glossy feathering behind the eye apparently indicating geographical location in this case from North West Europe and East Asia where about 10% of the birds show this variation. The Shoveler permitted a very close view of the lamellae in its upper mandible, something useful to record whilst the bird is in the hand.

First Wigeon to be colour ringed

Male Wigeon showing the glossy green behind the eye

The Lamellae from the upper mandible of the Shoveler

Group and Team Leader debriefing the Team

(All photographs copyright Mike Tyler)

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

First winter catch

Following severe storms and heavy rain the chance to catch and ring birds has been almost impossible. There was a small break today, coinciding with our programme and the session proceeded. Not bad a morning taking into account the bad weather of the last few days. Sixty four birds of 15 species were caught, including a Dusky Warbler at least according to the plumage. Other species included, Blackcap, nine Chiffchaffs, a Cetti's Warbler, Kingfisher and eleven Goldfinches.

Cetti's Warbler

Probable Dusky Warbler

Chiffchaff being released

All photographs copyright Doug Rudge

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Last of the autumn wader catches

November can be a bit late to catch waders on migration, together with only a few on site last evening proved to be so. Nevertheless, we were not entirely disappointed with the only wader, that of a Jack Snipe. A very attractive adult as the photographs show.

Photo Allan Reese

Photo Allan Reese

Photo Mike Tyler