Thursday, 7 March 2013

Waxwings, Siskins Return and Gambia Part 2

A pretty good start to the year with the first two months producing just over 300 new birds.

Leith Hill has been rather quiet on my heathland site, with very few Redpolls and Siskins have only just started to return, both of which are by far mainly adult birds.  The new woodland site has been very productive although the main numbers are Blue and Great Tit highlights have come in the form of seven Marsh Tit, eight Nuthatch and five Great Spotted Woodpecker.  The only major species that seem to be missing from this site is Wren, for which not a single one has been caught or heard which seems weird for a woodland!  Today's visit produced the first Sparrowhawk to be ringed at this site, but was suffering with some sort of callouses at the edge of the mouth (see below)

2nd year male Sparrowhawk with callouses in gape

2nd year male Sparrowhawk with callouses in gape

A group of up to ten Waxwing that were frequenting two straggly rowan bushes in front of Cranleigh Baptist Church on the village high street.  They had been there for a couple of weeks, so took the opportunity to attempt a catch and after a few near misses managed to catch this wonderful first-year female (below).  A week later I tried again and also only caught a single bird which amazingly was the same female from the week prior.

1st year female Waxwing

1st year female Waxwing
I was lucky enough to be able to go back on expedition to Gambia at the end of February, to assist in the ongoing project here to learn more about our summer birds on their wintering grounds and to learn more about West African birds.  This was an amazing ten days and I joined a brilliant team of like-minded and hard working people which made for a great experience.  Although we started slowly with relatively small numbers of birds this picked up and by the end caught 1222 new birds of 110 species.  Ringing highlights below:

Wattled Plover

White-faced Whistling Duck

Senegal Coucal

Yellow-billed Kite
1st year African Goshawk

White-crested Helmet-shrike
American Golden Plover - 1st to be ringed in Africa

Cuckoo Finch - one of three caught, representing the 2nd, 3rd and 4th record for The Gambia!
Hamerkop - one of only about 10 ringed in the world of which this is the third here in two years!

1st year Black-winged Stilt

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