Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Prince of Wales Park - Saturday 30 March

Matu held a banding session this morning at the Prince of Wales Park and had reasonable success. Not a big number of birds but a steady flow which was good as we used it to also train and refresh Ruby, Bernard and Ben who work at Zealandia, in banding and handling birds. In all we caught 50 birds of 9 species, only 1 was a recapture but this is the first recap at this new site.

Species caught were -
Blackbird - 1
Chaffinch - 1 (1) the recap was banded about 5 weeks ago at our last session there.
Greenfinch - 2
Goldfinch - 14
Ruby, Ben and Bernard with 3 Goldfinch, all 1st year birds but at different stages of moult

House Sparrow - 2
Dunnock - 2
Grey Warbler - 3
Ruby with her first Grey Warbler just out of the net
And now it's banded

Fantail - 2
Silvereye - 10
Kingfisher - 1 This is the first Kingfisher we have caught in this banding year which finishes tomorrow so only just makes it into the stats for the year.

The first and only Kingfisher for the year.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Houghton Bay 26 March - Escape from the Jury

I am doing Jury service this week but this morning's court case was cancelled so I was given the afternoon off. So instead of sitting in a court room I spent a couple of hours at the Houghton Bay stream. There was a steady flow of birds into the nets and I ended up with a tally of 40 of 8 species with 36 new and 4 recaptures.

Species caught were -
Chaffinch - 1 (0)
Goldfinch - 3 (0)
Greenfinch - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 23 (3) the oldest recap was banded in March 2011
One of the Silvereyes had a very prominent growth bar across its tail

House Sparrow - 2 (0)
Grey Warbler - 3 (1)
Fantail - 1 (0)
Tui - 2 (0)

Bridie's 25 March

I was also released from Jury service early yesterday so set the trap down the road at Bridie's for an hour or so in the afternoon. Caught 12 birds, all House Sparrows with 7 new and 5 recaps, the oldest recap was also banded in March 2011.
One bird had a very long top mandible but must be managing all right as it has almost finished its moult and had an above average weight of 32.5g.
The long billed Sparrow

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Island Bay 23 March - Lots of Sparrows & a new species

Ros and I had a busy morning at Island Bay catching 95 birds of 8 species with 88 new and 7 recaptures. The highlight of the morning was a single bird of a new species for the site, a juvenile Redpoll. We have been banding there since Feb 2007 and as far as I know this is the first Redpoll seen there let alone caught.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 1 (3) the new bird had a wing length of 140 mm which is the longest we have recorded with the previous being 137 mm. The bird has finished its primary moult so was aged as a 2+.
The wing of the long winged Blackbird
One of the recaps banded as a spotty youngster a couple of months ago and now nearly finished its body moult
Dunnock - 3 (0)
Chaffinch - 3 (0)
Redpoll - 1 (0) Redpolls are regular Winter visitors to Wellington City, feeding on annual, winter seeding grasses on playing fields but are rarely seen over Summer and Autumn  We haven't caught one at the Zoo in the 12 years we have been banding there.
The Redpoll about to go on its way.
House Sparrow - 77 (4) still a huge number of Sparrows at this site with some recently fledged. Two of the recaps were banded recently and the other two last year.
Male Sparrows show a wide range of moulting

Grey Warbler - 1 (0)
Fantail - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 1 (0)

As usual we were treated to great hospitality including a delicious morning tea (actually coffee)
The morning tea spread.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Mt Albert 21 & 22 March - All Silvereyes

The last couple of mornings I have attempted to catch some of the Silvereyes that feed first thing in the morning at the fennel patch on Mt Albert.
The sun about to appear over the Rimutaka Ranges

 On Thursday morning I caught 20 new and 1 recapture, this morning 11 new and 2 recaps. All the recaps were recently banded. All birds were Silvereye with no bycatch.
One bird was moulting atypically, still growing P3,8 & 9  with the others  full length.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Zoo totals for 2012

A wet day has given me a chance to finally crunch the numbers for the Zoo banding for last calendar year so here is a bit of a summary. The totals include, as well as the regular sessions, a number of sessions at the little stream over the fence and also some nestlings.

In all we banded 649 birds of 12 species and recaptured 266 of 11 species. This is slightly up on the average catch of 586 new birds over the 13 years we have been banding at the Zoo. A highlight of the year was a very successful workshop held on aging and sexing when Mike Bell come over from Blenheim and gave us the benefit of his knowledge.
Mike passing on his knowledge 

Totals for last 3 years and ranking with 13 year average
2010 2011 2012            13y Av
Silvereye 330 1 139 1 239 1 206
Greenfinch 250 2 128 2 99 2 115
House Sparrow 121 3 80 3 94 3 105
Chaffinch 49 4 46 4 69 4 38
Goldfinch 11 9 2 11 37 5 12
Blackbird 20 6 19 6 33 6 30
Tui 9 10 10 7 25 7 9
Fantail 19 8 20 5 18 8 15
Dunnock 19 7 8 8 17 9 11
Starling 39 5 7 9 11 10 31
Song Thrush 2 12 1 13 4 11 3
Grey Warbler 1 13 2 12 3 12 3
Yellowhammer 3 11 3 10 0 13 7
Kingfisher 1 13 0 14 0 14 1
874   465   649   586
Species caught were, in order of numbers of new birds.(Recaps in brackets)

1 Silvereye – 239 (173) Has been No 1 in all but 1 year and  slightly up on the average.
Silvereye reluctant to go free

2 Greenfinch – 99 (33) Has been No 2 for the last 3 years before that was usually No 3 and numbers fluctuate a lot between years.
3 House Sparrow – 94 (25) Slightly below average numbers
4 Chaffinch – 69 (9) Well above average for new birds with numbers boosted by a large catch of juveniles at the stream site back in January.
5 Goldfinch – 37 (1) Moved up from 11th last year and well above the 13 year average. Another species boosted by juveniles being caught at the stream in January and also December.
6 Blackbird – 33 (10) about an average year
7 Tui – 25 (2) numbers boosted with a number of birds banded while in rehab at the Nest but the numbers generally follow the trend of increasing Tui over the last few years.
Tui having its wing cord taken

8 Fantail – 18 (2) About average numbers and another species caught regularly at the stream.
9 Dunnock 17 (8) After a fall in numbers last year has rebounded to be above average in 2012.
10 Starling – 11 (2) About an average number for the last 5 years but well below the 13 year average. We caught a lot more Starling in the first few years of banding and the drop is probably due to changes around the Zoo and net sites.
11 Song Thrush 4 (1) The most for several years
12 Grey Warbler – 3 (0) a very average year
Yellowhammer – none were caught. This species fluctuates a lot between years and numbers have dropped since the Zebras went and the hay containing grass seed stopped being fed.
Kingfisher – also a zero tally, we haven’t caught one at the Zoo now for 2 years.

An old Starling

Received a recovery report yesterday from the DOC Banding Office of a dead bird that had been reported to the DOC Information Center, unfortunately the person who took the call only took the band number and no other information. So we know it was a Starling banded at the Zoo back in Sept 2004 and at an estimated 3107 days is our oldest recaptured or recovered Starling. Pity we don't know a bit more about it.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Houghton Bay Friday 15 March - A Grey Day

A grey day, not because of the cloud cover as it was actually quite sunny, but for the number of Grey Warblers about. This species seems to do very well in the Houghton Bay/Valley area, perhaps because of the lack of Shinning Cuckoos.  In 5 years of banding there I have not seen or heard a S Cuckoo even though they are in the adjacent valleys.

This morning I caught 26 birds of 7 species which although a reasonable catch it is not as many as there would have been a couple of years ago. I suspect that some have become wary of mist nets but this morning I saw another possible cause with a Stoat spotted near one of the nets.

Species caught were -
Blackbird - 1 (0)
Chaffinch - 3 (0)
House Sparrow - 1 (0)
Starling - 1 (0) another young bird moulting into adult winter plumage
Moulting juvenile Starling

Silvereye - 8 (0) a small tally for this site and almost all caught in 1 net on the same net round.
Fantail - 2 (3) all the recaps were banded in the last few months and have moulted into adult plumage.
Grey Warbler - 6 (1) one of the highest catches of this little bird.
The juvenile Grey Warblers had a variety of red in their eyes. Gradually changing into the adult bright red.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Zoo Stream 5 & 12 March

I have had a couple of sessions at the stream near the Zoo with only limited success. Last Tuesday 5 March a 2 hour session late afternoon produced 9 birds of 4 species; all new birds. This morning I spent another couple of hours at the same stream and caught 12 birds also of 4 species and once again all were new birds.
The combined totals were -
Blackbird - 1 this was one of the largest Blackbirds we have caught - a male which weighed 114 g and had a wing length of 135 mm. It had finished its primary wing moult so could only be aged as a 2+.
Chaffinch - 9
Goldfinch - 3
Some of the juvenile Goldfinch are starting to show colour on their heads while others still look like newly fledged  little brown jobs.

Dunnock - 2
Fantail - 5
Tui - 1

Bridie's - 12 March

This afternoon I went down the road to Bridie's and operated the trap in her garden for a couple of hours targeting the House Sparrows she is feeding. Caught 20 new and recaptured 4.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Mt Albert 7 March - Silvereyes

I went up to the fennel patch patch on Mt Albert this morning in an attempt to catch Silvereyes that feed there just after dawn. Managed to catch 14 of them with 12 new and 2 recaptures. 1 of the recaps was from the session 10 days ago and the other was banded at the Houghton Bay stream 3 days ago which adds a bit more evidence to the idea that the Silvereyes using the Houghton Bay stream come from a large area.
Several of the juveniles had dark bands across the end of their tails.  Not sure if its a growth bar or perhaps a change of diet while the tail was growing.

The only by-catch were 2 juvenile Dunnock.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Houghton Bay 4 March - a quick session

I had a couple of hours free this morning so set up a couple of nets at the Houghton Bay stream. It proved to be quite successful catch 47 birds of 8 species with 43 new and 4 recaps.
Species caught were -
Blackbird - 1 (0)
Chaffinch - 2 (1)
Greenfinch - 3 (0)
House Sparrow - 4 (0)
Starling - 1 (0) This is our first Staling at this site for a couple of years. In 2008 our first year banding there we caught 19.  At that time there was a stretch of open stream but since then it has become overgrown and very few Starlings now use it.
The Starling, a juvenile female was in heavy moult

Grey Warbler - 1 (1) the recap was banded in Feb 2010 so another reasonably old bird. Although not aged when banded it was noted that it had a brown eye, now it is bright red.
Fantail - 3 (0) 2 juveniles and an adult all doing body moult but not moulting their primaries yet.
One of the juv Fantail moulting into adult plumage
The adult Fantail also in body moult

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Zoo Saturday 2 March - More Sparrows

We had a reasonably good banding session on Saturday morning but not so good in the afternoon. In the morning it was near perfect conditions little wind and mostly cloudy overhead. The cloud disappeared early afternoon and it became very hot and the birds also disappeared so we knocked off earlier than usual. A smaller turn out of banders turned up but just a nice number for the flow of birds.
Mary our chief scribe entering data for Ros and Annette.

In all we caught 50 birds of only five species with, as expected, juvenile Sparrows making up the majority.

Species caught were - (recaptures in brackets)
Greenfinch - 3 (1) the recap was banded in Nov 2011
Dunnock - 4 (0)
Silvereye - 2 (4) All the recaps were banded in the previous 2 years. Unusual to get more recaps than new birds at this time of year; perhaps Silvereye have had a poor breeding year although it was a very small sample.
Grey Warbler - 0 (1) a bird banded back in Feb 11 so a reasonable age for this apparently short lived bird.
House Sparrow - 32 (3) the oldest recap was banded at Bridie's on Hornsey Rd in Dec 2010 as a newly fledged unsexed juvenile so we now know it has grown into a handsome male, or he will be again when he finishes his moult.
The underwing feathering of a juvenile Sparrow on the left compared with an older bird
The wings of two juvenile Sparrows of similar age, female on left, male on right.