Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Late May 2013

31st May: Foggy start. A Greenish Warbler was discovered singing in the Plantation. A male Golden Oriole appeared in East Dunes, singing occasionally. The female Red-backed Shrike was refound near the Hump. Around were a Montagu's Harrier, a Tree Pipit, a Black Redstart and 6 Jays. A Grey Heron came in off the sea.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes produced just 2 new birds: a Jay (the 40th of the year) and a Reed Bunting. The retraps were 3 Whitethroats, 3 Reed Buntings, a Lesser Whitethroat, and another Jay.

30th May: A female Red-backed Shrike was photographed in the Plantation. Also around were 3 Little Gulls.
 A restricted morning ringing session in East Dunes involved new singles of Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting, while the retraps included a Willow Warbler and a Whitethroat.

29th May: A Greenish Warbler was trapped and ringed in East Dunes. It showed well in a tree next to the Observatory for a while after release. This is the fourth Greenish Warbler for the Observatory ever. The others were in 1958, 1981 and 1984, so that's 29 years since the last one was ringed! They were all September birds, so once again this spring has blown all the record books wide open, producing yet another species which we don't normally get until the autumn. Let's hope the autumn keeps up the incredible pace that the spring passage has set...
  Other birds caught on the morning ringing session in East Dunes were a Meadow Pipit, a Blue Tit, 2 Reed Buntings and 2 Whitethroats.


Greenish Warbler ringed at the Observatory on 29th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory




Greenish Warbler ringed at the Observatory on 29th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory
28th May: Gulls were represented by a first-summer Iceland Gull, 2 Little Gulls and 2 Mediterranean Gulls. Also around were 20 Jays, 2 Marsh Harriers and 10 Corn Buntings. South went 2 Crossbills.
 The best birds on a rain-delayed morning ringing session in East Dunes were 3 Whitethroats and a retrap Long-tailed Tit.

27th May: A Red-breasted Flycatcher was reported near North Building. Around were a Short-eared Owl and 12 Jays.
  A morning ringing session in East Dunes provided few birds, but they included the first juvenile Robin of the year, a new Firecrest, a Reed Warbler, a Whitethroat, and a control female Reed Bunting with a brood patch.
  In the afternoon the nestboxes were checked for the first time this year. The occupancy was quite low compared to recent years, although a lot of the boxes that are up on the reserve are not really in the correct positions from the point of view of birds. The really startling thing is the make up of species in the boxes this year. Over the last five years, Great Tits have increased to similar numbers to Blue Tits, but this year they are nearly not present at all! We have around a dozen boxes occupied by Blue Tits, whilst only two are occupied by Great Tits, both broods of which were ringed. The Blue Tits, though, are about a week behind the Great Tits, which is usual for Gibraltar Point, so none were ready for ringing.
  Other boxes were occupied by Jackdaws, and just one box had a pair of Stock Doves in it. The real surprise though was an owl box occupied by Tawny Owls with one very large chick! This was promptly ringed and returned to its day time slumbers.
Tawny Owl pullus ringed on 27th May 2013
Photo - Mick Briggs
Tawny Owl pullus ringed on 27th May 2013
Photo - Mick Briggs

Juvenile Robin ringed on 27th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory 


Female Firecrest ringed on 27th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory
26th May: A Common Rosefinch remained in East Dunes. An Osprey flew in off the sea early afternoon. Around were 14 Corn Buntings (an unusual record for late spring), 50 Jays, a Tree Pipit, a Crossbill, a Short-eared Owl, a Hobby and a Marsh Harrier.
  A morning ringing session in East Dunes produced a Jay, a Redstart, 2 Garden Warblers, and the usual Whitethroats, Reed Buntings and Dunnocks.
  A simultaneous ringing session at Aylmer Avenue with a pre-4am start resulted in 15 new birds and 24 retraps, including a regular British control Robin and a new British control Chiffchaff - DXH931. As usual, if anybody knows where and when this bird was ringed, please feel free to let us know by either leaving us a comment on the blog or emailing mbriggs@gibobs.fsworld.co.uk. The new birds included a Jay (No. 39 for the year!), a Garden Warbler (making 3 for the day - probably a new spring day record for the Observatory), two Blackcaps, 2 Reed Warblers and the first Woodpigeon of the year. Of these birds 7 new and 14 retraps were caught in the CES nets on the 3rd CES session: a fairly good result.
British control Chiffchaff DXH931 caught at Aylmer Avenue on 26th May 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
Greater coverts of a Jay ringed at Aylmer Avenue on 26th May 2013.
This outer greater covert clearly shows 12 black bars indicating that it is an adult-type greater covert showing that the bird is an adult and not a second-year bird - difficult to see in the field!
Photo - Mick Briggs
The first Woodpigeon caught and ringed in 2013 on the 26th May.
Photo - Mick Briggs
One of three Garden Warblers ringed on the reserve on 26th May 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
Male Redstart ringed at the Observatory on 26th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory

25th May: In the Mill Hill area were two Common Rosefinches, of which one was singing. On Golf Course Ridge was a Red-backed Shrike. A Short-eared Owl, a Spotted Redshank, a Siskin, 10 Corn Buntings and a Garden Warbler were around.
  A total of 10 birds were processed on a morning ringing session in East Dunes, including a Firecrest, a Willow Warbler, 3 Whitethroats and a Chaffinch.
One of two Common Rosefinches near Mill Hill on 25th May 2013.
Photo - Daniel Watson
One of two Common Rosefinches near Mill Hill on 25th May 2013.
Photo - Daniel Watson





 Red-backed Shrike on Golf Course Ridge on 25th May 2013.
Photo -  Gary Wright




Male Firecrest ringed on 25th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory
24th May: Rainy and windy. The best bird on the reserve was a Long-eared Owl. A drake Red-breasted Merganser was on Tennyson Sands. Offshore a Fulmar and a Merlin flew north.
  No ringing was attempted.

23rd May: Increasing northwesterly wind, with intermittent rain in afternoon. Around were a Short-eared Owl and 40 Jays. Heading north at sea were 23 Gannets.
  The weather restricted the morning ringing catch in East Dunes to just 6 birds, including a Blackcap, a Whitethroat and a Reed Bunting.

22nd May: Around were 2 Buzzards, 2 Wheatears, 50 Jays and 9 Turtle Doves. Flying south were a Marsh Harrier during the day and a ringtail Montagu's Harrier over the beach in the evening.
  A morning ringing session in East Dunes was quite productive. The new birds were 10 Jays, a Willow Warbler, 3 Chaffinches, 3 Whitethroats, 2 Linnets, 3 Reed Buntings, a Sedge Warbler and 2 Swallows. The retraps were 4 Whitethroats, 3 Dunnocks, a Reed Bunting, 2 Wrens and a Song Thrush. Additionally a British-ringed Chaffinch was controlled.
  The year total of Jays ringed at Gibraltar Point is now 37. Since the irruption began last October 55 Jays have been ringed here, amazing when you consider that only 25 were ringed in the previous 63 years - from 1949 to 2011!
  A simultaneous ringing session at Aylmer Avenue was less productive, with 7 birds processed, including 2 Sedge Warblers, a Chiffchaff, a Whitethroat and a Swallow.




Female Swallow with one retained old inner secondary on each wing. Ringed on 22nd May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory.
Noisy Jay - the avian equivalent of a Dalek. Ringed 22nd May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory
 
21st May: The Great White Egret was still on Jackson's Marsh. Around was a Tree Pipit. Sea-watching produced 3 Guillemots, 9 Arctic Terns, 17 Common Terns, 8 Commic Terns and 5 Gannets north, 2 Gannets south, and a Red-throated Diver and 2 Great Crested Grebes on the sea. A Temminck's Stint showed well on the Fenland Lagoon this evening.
  A wind-restricted morning ringing session in East Dunes resulted in just 2 Whitethroats being caught.


Great White Egret on Jackson's Marsh on 21st May 2013
Photo - Paul Neale

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Mid May 2013

20th May: An incredible day for the reserve! On Jackson's Marsh there appeared a Great White Egret, and on Tennyson Sands a drake Garganey. Raptors included a Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard. Around were 3 Wheatears.
  A morning ringing session in East Dunes produced few birds, but new ones included a Red-breasted Flycatcher - this has to be the surprise of the year in ringing terms! This is the 12th ringed for the Observatory ever with the last one caught being way back on the 24th October 1993 - 20 years ago! All the previous records of ringed birds at the Observatory came from mid September to mid October, so to get a spring bird caught and ringed was totally off the charts! There were also 2 Tree Pipits, a Whitethroat and a Reed Bunting ringed whilst the retraps included a Whitethroat, a Song Thrush and a Reed Bunting.


Red-breasted Flycatcher ringed on 20th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory


Red-breasted Flycatcher ringed on 20th May 2013.
Just the 12th for the Observatory ever!
Photo - George Gregory


Tree Pipit ringed on 20th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory
 
19th May: A Common Rosefinch was seen singing near Greenshanks Creek. Around were a Spoonbill, a Pied Flycatcher, a Whinchat, a Wheatear, 27 Jays, a Curlew Sandpiper and a Marsh Harrier. Flying south were 3 more Marsh Harriers.
  During a morning ringing session in East Dunes new birds were an acredula-type Willow Warbler, a Whinchat, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Blackcap and a Meadow Pipit, and the retraps 2 Whitethroats.
  The 2nd session of CES was done this morning, with a total of 19 birds processed, which was much better than the 1st session's total of 5 birds. The 9 new birds were 2 Chiffchaffs, a Wren, 3 Whitethroats, a Reed Warbler and 2 Lesser Whitethroats. The retraps were 3 Chaffinches, a Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Dunnocks, a Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler and a Blackbird.
  Other nets at Aylmer Avenue produced 9 other birds trapped, namely a Chiffchaff, a Whitethroat, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Reed Warbler, a Robin and a Lesser Whitethroat.

Acredula-type Willow Warbler ringed on 19th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory

Male Whinchat ringed on 19th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory

18th May: An arrival of migrants featured a Ring Ouzel, a Pied Flycatcher, a Whinchat and 2 Redstarts. On Jackson's Marsh was a Red-breasted Merganser. At nightfall a female Nightjar hunted near the reserve.
  A morning ringing session in East Dunes was reasonably productive. New birds were a Redstart, a Pied Flycatcher, 3 Chiffchaffs and 2 Blackcaps, and retraps 3 Whitethroats, 3 Meadow Pipits and a Blue Tit. The Pied Flycatcher was a real turn up for the observatory with the last spring bird ringed being back on 10th May 2006, indeed there was only one spring bird in the whole of the 1990s and just three in the whole of the 1980s. Hopefully 2013 will turn out to be a great year for this jewel of the bird world!
  An afternoon ringing session at Aylmer Avenue provided higher numbers, the best birds being a new Swallow (1st of the year) and a Foreign Control Sedge Warbler with a Paris Museum ring.
Foreign control Sedge Warbler caught on the 18th May 2013 wearing a Paris Museum ring!
Photo - Mick Briggs
Foreign control Sedge Warbler caught on the 18th May 2013 wearing a Paris Museum ring!
Photo - Mick Briggs
The first Swallow ringed in 2013, an adult male on 18th May.
Photo - Mick Briggs


Male Redstart ringed on 18th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory


Female Pied Flycatcher ringed on 18th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory

17th May: A Bluethroat was seen at the south end of East Dunes in the afternoon.  Flying north offshore were 205 Commic Terns, 51 Common Terns, 64 Arctic Terns, 26 Sandwich Terns, 21 Gannets, a Red-throated Diver, a Black-throated Diver, a Puffin, 4 Great Skuas and a Pomarine Skua. Other notables around were a Greenshank, 14 Little Terns and a Cuckoo.
 A wind-shortened ringing session in East Dunes this morning provided few birds, the new ones being a Willow Warbler, a Chaffinch, a Meadow Pipit and a Whitethroat, and the retraps 2 Whitethroats.

16th May: A Spoonbill appeared on Jackson's Marsh late afternoon. Grounded migrants included a Tree Pipit, 35 Jays, 2 Grasshopper Warblers and 6 Sedge Warblers. A light raptor passage from midday resulted in a Common Buzzard flying north and a ring-tail Hen Harrier south.
  A morning ringing session in East Dunes was moderately productive, new birds including a Jay (the 27th of the year), a Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers, a Song Thrush, a Reed Bunting and 2 Meadow Pipits. New birds on a simultaneous session at Aylmer Avenue included 2 Reed Warblers, a Willow Warbler and 4 Whitethroats, and retraps 3 Whitethroats, 2 Sedge Warblers and 2 Willow Warblers. The Spotted Flycatcher was a reminder of last year's two birds caught in May. Let us hope that 2013 doesn't turn out to be like 2012, when we only caught one through the whole autumn migration period!
  The first Brimstone and Orange-tip butterflies of the year were noted today.
                                                                                                      

Spotted Flycatcher ringed on 16th May 2013.
Photo - Nigel Judson
15th May: Very windy, with occasional rain. There was a steady passage of Swifts throughout the day, with at least 200 birds flying south. Also on the move were a Hobby, 100 Swallows and 50 House Martins.  The spring record of Arctic Terns was smashed today, with an incredible 450 birds flying south offshore in just 90 minutes! A Yellow-legged Gull flew over Tennyson Sands late afternoon.
  No ringing was possible, but the bushes have leafed up noticeably in the last day or so.

14th May: On Tennyson Sands was a Mediterranean Gull. Around were a Wheatear and 2 Yellow Wagtails. Flying south offshore were 60 Little Terns, 10 Sandwich Terns, 11 Common Terns, 128 Arctic Terns, 122 'Commic' Terns, and a single Arctic Skua.
  No ringing was attempted this morning. A lot of rain is forecast for the next 24 hours - not good for birding, but fine for helping the bushes leaf up.

13th May: On the reserve were 3 Marsh Harriers, a Cuckoo, a Jay and a Short-eared Owl. Offshore 79 Arctic Terns flew south.
  Still windy. A restricted morning ringing session in East Dunes produced just 1 new Chiffchaff and 2 retrap Whitethroats.

12th May: On the reserve were 35 Jays, a Peregrine, a Merlin, a Cuckoo and 2 Turtle Doves. Flying south were 130 Swallows, 30 Swifts and 2 Sand Martins. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling near Mill Hill early morning.
  Again few birds were trapped in a morning ringing session in East Dunes, but new birds included a Jay, a Whitethroat and a Chaffinch, and the retraps another Jay.

11th May: Around were a Hobby, a Tree Pipit, a Marsh Harrier, 30 Jays, 4 Cuckoos, 2 Grasshopper Warblers and 6 Whimbrels.
  A morning ringing session in East Dunes provided 3 new Jays, plus a small number of Whitethroats and Blackcaps. The new Jay year total is 25 and counting.
  During this spring up to 100 Jays have been flying around the reserve here, possibly intending to fly (back?) across the North Sea. However, most days they seem to circle around, following the coast north or south, then heading inland for further circuits. Whether any actually attempt the crossing remains unknown.





Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Early May 2013

10th May: A Puffin flew north offshore early morning, and 7 Arctic Terns flew south. Singles of Common Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit were on Tennyson Sands this evening. Raptors included 3 Buzzards and a Red Kite.
There was no ringing again because of the wind. Instead, some time was spent doing maintenance work, ready for tomorrow.
 
9th May: The highlight of the day came in the form of Red-rumped Swallow, which flew south over the shorebird hut at 0900hrs in the company of 2 Swallows.
  It was too windy for ringing. There has been a little more leafing up of trees and bushes due to recent brief rain. More is forecast later today.
 Both Cowslips and Bluebells flowered later this year than last. The weather has been somewhat cold and dry in recent weeks.
 
Wind - blown Cowslips on the 9th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory

Wind - blown Bluebells on the 9th May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory
 
8th May: Despite cloudy conditions, a morning ringing session on East Dunes was not very productive, the only new birds being a Chiffchaff and a Sedge Warbler. The retraps, however, included a female Blackbird and a female Blue Tit with brood patches, indicating local nesting.
 
7th May: Around the reserve were 2 Cuckoos, a Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Turtle Doves, a Spotted Redshank, 2 Wheatears and a 2 Yellow Wagtails. A high tide estuary count produced an incredible 530 Ringed Plovers. Flying south were a Common Buzzard, a Wood Sandpiper and 130 Swallows. 
  The catch on a morning ringing session on East Dunes was again reduced due to sunny conditions. New birds were a Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, a Long-tailed Tit and a Whitethroat, while retraps included another Long-tailed Tit and a Grasshopper Warbler.
  Some recent controls and recoveries received from the BTO:
(1) A Blackbird ringed at Castricum, Netherlands on 12/11/2012 and controlled at GPBO on 16/11/2012, just 4 days later.
(2) A Lesser Redpoll ringed at GPBO on 30/9/2012 and controlled at Culfordheath, Suffolk on 5/3/2013 and 14/3/2013.
(3) A Chiffchaff ringed at GPBO on 14/10/2011 and killed by a cat at The Lizard, Cornwall on 24/3/2013.
(4) A Blackbird ringed at GPBO on 17/11/2008 and died hitting a window at Terschelling, Netherlands on 10/2/2010.
(5) A Lesser Redpoll ringed at GPBO on 17/10/2009 and controlled at Heusden, Netherlands on 24/10/2010.
These provide useful information about bird movements, showing the value of ringing at this observatory.
 
6th May: The highlights of the morning were 2 Ospreys flying in off the sea, heading north, and a Hawfinch over the West Dunes. About the reserve were at least 40 Jays and 5 Grasshopper Warblers.
  A morning ringing session on East Dunes was quite successful, new birds including another Jay, a Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat, whilst retraps included a Grasshopper Warbler and a Whitethroat.
  Meanwhile, at Aylmer Avenue the first C.E.S. session of 2013 was done, with miserable results! Just one new bird was ringed, which was a Willow Warbler, along with five retraps: two Whitethroats, a Dunnock, a Blackbird and a Blue Tit. Hopefully this was just down to the sunny conditions, and not because there are very few birds on the C.E.S. site!
  Also ringed at Aylmer Avenue on other net rides were two Linnets, two Blackcaps and the first Garden Warbler of the year, amongst others. Garden Warblers are not always caught in spring here, with the Observatory having to wait until the autumn some years. So to get one caught so early in the year was a positive note.
  Also today the new bird total for the year passed through the thousand barrier, with it now standing at 1005.
The first Garden Warbler of 2013 ringed on 06.05.13
Photo - Mick Briggs
Male Linnet ringed on 06.05.13
Photo - Mick Briggs
 
Retrap Sedge Warbler on 06.05.13. At the moment there seems to be plenty of these about with males singing considerable distances from open water bodies right up into the West Dunes.
Photo - Mick Briggs
5th May: Sunny conditions again resulted in few birds being caught on East Dunes in the morning, but they included a Blackcap, a Whitethroat, a Reed Bunting and 3 Jays (2 new and a retrap from the Observatory). Similarly, few birds were processed at Aylmer Avenue, the best ones being the first new Reed Warbler of the year. The new Jay total for 2013 is now 21.
 
4th May: A single Crossbill was around North Car Park for much of the morning, whilst before first light a Barn Owl was hunting along the West Dunes.
  A brief, wind-shortened ringing session on East Dunes this morning produced very little, the highlights being 2 retrap Whitethroats. Also, a ringing session at Aylmer Avenue resulted in just five new birds, a Blackcap, a Goldfinch and a further three new Jays, bringing us to a new record year total of 19 so far this year.
  Speckled Woods and Red Admiral Butterflies were much in evidence around sheltered spots at Aylmer Avenue today.
Today's retrap Whitethroat was first ringed at Aylmer Avenue on 16th May 2010 as an adult bird, so it is now in at least its fifth calendar year. It was trapped twice more in 2010 (in June and August), and then again in 2011 (twice in May).
Photo - Mick Briggs
 
Jay number 17 of 2013, ringed on 4th May 2013
Photo - Mick Briggs
3rd May: A Crossbill flew around the Plantation early morning, while offshore 3 Garganeys, 2 drakes and a duck, flew south along the tide line.
  Sunny conditions greatly reduced the catch during a morning ringing session on East Dunes. However, new birds included the first Firecrest ringed this year, a Jay and 3 Whitethroats.
  A morning ringing session at Aylmer Avenue also yielded few birds, but among them were another new Jay, another new Sedge Warbler, and a retrapped Brambling.
 
Adult Female Firecrest ringed on 3rd May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory

Adult Jay ringed on 3rd May 2013.
Photo - George Gregory
  
2nd May: Tennyson Sands held an Iceland Gull, a Caspian Gull and a Mediterranean Gull. Elsewhere on the reserve were 3 Grasshopper Warblers, 78 Jays, 3 Short-eared Owls, a Peregrine and 3 Cuckoos. Flying south were a Red Kite, 3 Marsh Harriers and 6 Common Buzzards.
  A ringing session in East Dunes this morning was moderately successful. New birds included 5 Jays (all on the same net round), a Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff, and retraps a Grasshopper Warbler and a Whitethroat.
  A longer ringing session at Aylmer Avenue provided another new Jay, bringing the total for the year to 14 - the 2nd highest year catch ever after a record 18 just last year. It would seem likely that the record will go again pretty soon? Also caught were a good selection of warblers, including the first Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warblers of the year, and a retrapped Brambling, amongst others.
 
Iceland Gull on Tennyson Sands on 2nd May 2013.
Photo - Paul Neale
1st May: About were 5 Cuckoos, 2 Turtle Doves, and 23 Corn Buntings. Also on the reserve was a respectable total of 11 Grasshopper Warblers, a new site record! In the evening a Short Eared Owl and a Barn Owl were hunting over the Old Saltmarsh, both giving incredibly close views.
  The net rides in the East Dunes are ready for the restart of ringing there tomorrow. Leafing up of the bushes there seems significantly later this year than last.
  Late afternoon three more Grasshopper Warblers were ringed on the reserve, bringing us to five so far for the year.
Grasshopper Warbler No. 3 of 2013 ringed on 01.05.13
Photo - Mick Briggs
Grasshopper Warbler No. 4 of 2013 ringed on 01.05.13
Photo - Mick Briggs
Grasshopper Warbler No. 5 of 2013 ringed on 01.05.13
Note this bird's tail was very abraded and had obviously been into some "rough bush" on its way back from Africa, with three outer tail feathers on one side re-growing, having been presumably lost somewhere during its migration.
Photo - Mick Briggs