Archive for the ‘Webs counts’ Tag

23rd October – 7th November 2104: three musical concerts, more bird ringing and WeBS   Leave a comment

This post updates what I have been up to over the last couple of weeks since I returned from the Madagascar / Comoros.

IMG_0246 John Mayall Bluesbreakers

On the 23rd we went to see John Mayall’s Blues Breakers at Salisbury. This legendary blues player has played a pivotal role in the development of modern blues and rock music. Although he is now 80, he still plays harmonica, piano and guitar, although perhaps his keyboard skills aren’t what they used to be. The backing band, mainly from Chicago were excellent. I have enjoyed his music since I was at school. I last saw John Mayall in 1972 during an amazing week when we saw Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and John Mayall at Leeds University during a eight day period. I forgot my camera so this blurry shot was taken on my phone.

The-Bluesbreakers-007

The picture is from the cover of the classic 1965 album: L-R John Mayall, Eric Clapton, John McVie (later of Fleetwood Mac) and Hughie Flint. The album might be nearly 40 years old but its still one I play regularly today. The number of musicians who came to prominence by playing with John Mayall reads like at who-who of modern blues and rock: Eric Clapton (Cream), Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), Jack Bruce (Cream), John McVie (Fleetwood Mac), Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), Mick Taylor (The Rolling Stones), Don “Sugarcane” Harris (played with Frank Zappa), Harvey Mandel (Canned Heat), Larry Taylor (Canned Heat), Aynsley Dunbar, Hughie Flint, Jon Hiseman (Colosseum), Dick Heckstall-Smith (Colosseum), Andy Fraser (Free) and Johnny Almond just to name a few from the period 1965 – 1973

IMG_1065 Anglo-italain evening

Now for something completely different. My friend Giovanni runs the Anglo-Italian Society. On the 28th they hosted a musical event where Patricia Bonelli (piano), Rachael Mathews (centre) and Elizabeth Senior (right) played and sang a history of Italian Opera. They performed many lovely songs and arias but i have to admit I had only heard of one piece and two composers before. Here Rachael and Elizabeth sing a piece by Rossini comprising entirely of the word ‘meow’.

IMG_1055 Anglo-italian evening

What is really remarkable is that Rachael is only 17 and has had no formal training. The Anglo-Italian Society meets in the rather ancient Chiropractic College in Bournemouth. It seems strange listening to such lovely music in such a old fashioned and cluttered lecture theatre.

IMG_1083 Gigspanner

On the 2nd we went to Bournemouth’s Folk Club to hear Gigspanner, the new folk trio led by Peter Knight who has been the fiddle player for Steeleye Span for over 45 years. I first saw him play in Leeds in 1969 when the entrance fee was a mere 2 shillings (10p). Gigspanner have left behind the traditional folk jigs and reels and play some beautiful, thoughtful and highly entertaining music.

IMG_1053 Bruce Pearson exhibition

One morning whilst at Durlston I went down to Durlston Castle to see ‘Life, Light and Landscape’ an wildlife art exhibition by Bruce Pearson and Anne Shingleton. Here Bruce Pearson chats to Tasie Russell and Mo Constantine. Bruce and Anne were brought to our ringing station by one of the wardens earlier that day but unfortunately we had no birds to show them at that moment.

IMG_1973 Trick or treat

Of course 31st October brough ‘trick and treat’ and the local kids hit the street.

IMG_1041 Arne Ringing demo

We are asked to do a number of public ringing demonstrations over the course of the year. This allows us to explain the purpose of our research and hopefully will convince the public to report any ringed bird that they might discover and show that that ringing can be carried out without harming the birds. Here Paul Morton is showing the public a Great Tit at the Arne Forage Festival on 25th October.

IMG_1045 Arne ringing demo

Know how to tell the age of a Blue Tit? Paul will explain.

IMG_1075 DCP dawn

We are still ringing at Durlston whenever the wind and rain allows it. Migration of grounded migrants has tailed off considerably but vis mig continue apace with large numbers of Woodpigeons, Goldfinches and Linnets overhead.

IMG_1048 Reed Bunting

Common enough at Lytchett Bay, Reed Buntings are a bit of rarity at Durlston, at least in the hand.

IMG_1077 ad Linnet

This adult Linnet is much cleaner in appearance with well marked wings and tail and broad tail tips compared to a first-winter bird.

IMG_0245 Redwing

The mild conditions that persisted until recently haven’t been conducive to big thrush movements but we did trap this Redwing on 30th October.

I have been assisting with the training of ringers for many years but I haven’t had any trainees registered in my own name. However in the last few weeks I have taken on two trainees who are currently learning the basics of how to hold, measure, weigh and age birds in the hand.

IMG_1087 Rik

Rik McCoy

DSCF4420

Ginny Carvisiglia

IMG_1068 Firecrest

Rik was lucky on only his third outings to ring a Firecrest ….

IMG_1071 Jay

.. and this Jay, although great care had to given to make sure that the Jay didn’t sink its vicious bill into his fingers.

IMG_1073 Marsh Tit

Whilst Ginny ringed the increasingly rare Marsh Tit at Holton Lee, a bird a lot of experienced ringers seldom see in the hand, at least in Dorset.

IMG_1074 Marsh Tit

The glossy cap, lack of pale wing panel and less muscular neck all help separate Marsh Tit from Willow (which no longer occurs regularly in Dorset). However the best field characters undoubtedly are vocalisations.

IMG_1975 Holes Bay waders

On the 2nd I did the monthly WeBS (wetland birds survey) count in Holes Bay. Numbers of common species have really built up in recent weeks with over 600 Wigeon in the NE sector of the Bay alone.

IMG_1977 Holes Bay Mute Swans

Holes Bay is one of the few places in Poole Harbour where Mute Swans congregate. it is not the most pleasant part of the Harbour to go birding, bounded as it is on two sides by dual carriageways and on one other by a railway line, but it does hold a lot of birds.

IMG_1974 Coastguards

Attempts to make accurate counts were not helped by the Coastguards simulating a rescue of someone trapped in the mud!

15th – 24th October – an evening with Ray Mears and more birdy stuff.   Leave a comment

One of the most interesting events Margaret and I have attended in the last couple of weeks was a talk in Poole by adventurer Ray Mears. Well known in the UK from his television programs on survival in the great outdoors and the skills of native people, he gave a fascinating talk illustrated with stills and videos on his travels in the boreal forests of Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia and of conservation initiatives that he has been involved in in many parts of the world.

IMG_3933-Ray-Mears

Here Ray Mears explains what to do if confronted by an uncomfortably close Black Bear – apparently the answer is lower your head and don’t look it in the eye.

During the last week the weather has changed markedly. With the wind in the south it has remained unseasonably warm but there has been a lot of rain and high winds which had greatly curtailed our ringing efforts.

However before the change in weather we had great success with our ringing program at Durlston Country Park with catches of between 54 and 122 birds in the week leading up to the 15th, most of these predictably were Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps but we consider it most worthwhile to continue to monitor the movements of these common migrants. On the 15th I was on my own at Durlston ringing a nice selection of birds that included a very late Garden Warbler, two Stonechats and a Treecreeper. Although there were plenty of birds I was coping well, but about lunchtime I started catching a lot of Swallows. Everything else was packed away and I concentrated that afternoon on ringing Swallows ending up with over 160 of them. Back in the 80’s I used to ring a lot of Swallows at roost and got a large number of controls i.e the capture of a bird previously ringed by  someone else but I had no such luck today. Final total was 227 and I was pretty knackered after ringing for nine hours without a break.

PA150615-Stonechat

Although Stonechats breed at Durlston they are quite rare within our enclosed ringing area.

PA150619-Treecreeper

The first Treecreeper we have ringed at Durlston. Given the sites coastal locality it was carefully scrutinised to make sure it wasn’t the mega rare Short-toed Treecreeper from the continent.

PA150612-bleeding-hand

We know that a properly trained ringer can extract and handle a bird without hurting it, however the reverse is not necessarily true! A large female Sparrowhawk sunk both its talons into the back of my hand and the only alternative was to release the bird or pull my hand away until the skin tore. I chose the latter.

IMG_3929-Lesser-Redpoll

One day we trapped a Lesser Redpoll, the smallest, darkest and commonest (in the UK) of the various Redpoll taxa.

PA170631-Kingfisher-ad

With the winds increasing after the 15th I made a couple of visits to Fleets Lane site in Poole which is much more sheltered. The blue rather than bluish-green moustachial stripe, paler legs and most importantly the presence of wing moult identifies it as an adult (the first I have seen in the hand) and the all dark bill as a male. The bird was already ringed and was originally trapped as a first year at Lytchett Bay in 2012.

PA240639-Mipit

There was a break in the constant windy conditions on the 24th and I was back at Durlston. There were a good number of birds including a few Meadow Pipits (above) and Swallows passing overhead but the migration of warblers has all but stopped with just a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps trapped.

PA240636-Goldfinch

By far the commonest bird was Goldfinch, hundreds flew overhead and we managed to ring over 60. Up to 80% of the British Goldfinch population winters overseas and autumn is the time of peak abundance.

PA230635-Wagtail-ride

As well as ringing birds I have been involved in fair amount of maintenance work in the last few days with net rides either cut or maintained at Holton Lee, Lytchett Bay and Arne (for a public ringing demonstration on the 26th). The above photo shows the excessively smelly and muddy net ride at Lytchett that we used to trap wagtails on autumn migration.

IMG_3932-Holes-Bay-flats-in

Now that winter approaches the monthly counts of wildfowl and waders across the country restarts. Unfortunately the count on the 13th was marred by poor visibility and rain. You can hardly see the flats at the south end of Holes Bay let alone pick out small waders in the distance.

Over the last few days there have been a number of rare birds in Dorset however either I haven’t managed to go and see them or my attempts have been unsuccessful. On the 21st a report of an American wader Lesser Yellowlegs at Swineham near Wareham drew a blank and on the 22nd whilst doing some net ride clearance at Holton Lee I heard that a Great White Egret had been seen earlier at Arne RSPB,  again I had no luck but there were 28 Spoonbills at Shipstal Point – I wonder if they will ever stay and breed.

IMG_0123-Sika

At Arne the woods echoed with the calls of rutting Sika Deer stags. I didn’t take a camera (after all I just went out to do some brush cutting) so this record shot was taken using my phone.

IMG_0134-Sikas

After taking the last photo I heard a clanking noise behind me and turned to see these two stags with their antlers entwined. Again a poor record shot taken on my phone.

Posted October 24, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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