Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Island Bay Saturday 21 Sept - Sparrows & Rain

I woke up to the sound of rain on the roof, then it stopped so headed off for our planned banding session at Island Bay. Unfortunately the rain started again as I arrived so spent an hour in the car before it cleared enough to put nets up at about 9. I had a reasonably busy time until reinforcements arrived in response to my texts and then, according to sods law, the flow of birds dried up.This was probably due to them having fed  to their hearts' content while I sat in the car. The rain recommenced after a couple of hours so we packed up early and headed home. We did manage to catch 33 birds of 4 species with 24 new and 9 recaps.
The "Team" Annette, Kate, Mary (our scribe), Ross, Kat, & Bronwyn

Birds caught were - Recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 1 (3)
Chaffinch - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 21 (6)
Kate banding one of the Sparrows.

Starling - 1 (0)

We have had a couple of Blackbird recoveries reported from the Zoo. One was of a bird eaten by the Meerkats; not an old bird but interesting in a bizarre way. A European bird eaten by an African mammal on the other side of the world in New Zealand. The other bird was perhaps more significant as it was banded 3 August 2003 and at 3696 days is our second oldest Blackbird recovery at any site. Our oldest Blackbird recovery at 4024 days was also reported by Zoo staff which reinforces the fact that we are very fortunate to have them taking an interest in our banding and reporting the recoveries.

I am off to Australia for the next few weeks so there is unlikely to be any new posts for a while.


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Houghton Bay Stream 18 Sept

We had a session at the Houghton Bay Stream today with Ros assisting this morning in an effort to check for Silvereye moult. This afternoon David, who is a school science teacher currently doing a fellowship at the Wellington Zoo came along to get some hands on experience with birds.It was a reasonably successful day with a  total of 68 birds of 7 species caught, 58 new and 10 recaptures.
Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 5 (1)
Chaffinch - 2 (1) the recap was banded at the Zoo stream in Jan 2012 as an unsexed Juv. It is now a very handsome male.
Greenfinch - 2 (1) the recap was banded here at Hornsey Rd a month ago.
Dunnock - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 9 (1)
David banding his first Sparrow

Silvereye - 38 (6) the oldest recap was banded Nov 2010, another was banded at the Zoo July 2013 and 3 were banded at Hornsey Rd. Of the 44 Silvereyes caught 11 (25%) were found to be in moult.
Ros doing a moult card for one of the Silvereyes

Tui - 1 (0)

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Bridie's Saturday 14 Sept. - An old bird

I set the funnel trap down the road at Bridie's this morning. Didn't catch a lot of birds, only 10 of 3 species.
Blackbird - 2 (2)
Greenfinch - 2 (1)
Starling - 2 (1)
All the recaps were recently banded birds except the Blackbird we know as "White Eye". He was caught for I think the 20th time since he was banded in August 2004 and continues at 3324 days from banding to be the oldest living Blackbird we have recaptured at any site. Our oldest recovery is over 4000 days so he still has a bit to go. He weighed in at near his fighting (actually his breeding) weight at 89.9g. His Spring/Summer weight is usually closer to 80g, with his Winter weight up just under 100g. He usually disappears in the Autumn so have not managed to weigh him then or to get a moult score.

Old White Eye - the pattern of white feathers does not appear to change  
I had to go over to Karori this afternoon and took the opportunity for a quick look around the cemetery banding site. Managed to see R/W-B/M also known as "White Tail" due to having a white feather in his tail. This feather makes identifying the bird much easier, especially as he is almost always in the same area. Banded in June 09 not one of our oldest birds but starting to get closer.
The white tail feather makes identification much easier especially with a red band and feeding in a red flowered gum.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Some more banding Here & There

In the last few days I have done a bit banding at Houghton Bay and Hornsey Rd

Hornsey Rd

Did some trapping down the road at Bridie's on Friday afternoon and here this morning (while watching the America's Cup, which is going to be a great time waster for the next week or so). Didn't catch a big number of birds. The combined tally was -
Blackbird - 4 (2) the oldest recap was banded May 2010
House Sparrow - 1 (5) the oldest recap was banded Feb 2009
The band on the oldest Sparrow is staring to show signs of wear

Greenfinch - 3 (2) see below for details of one of the recaps
Starling - 2 (0)

Houghton Bay Stream

Spent a couple of hours at the stream this afternoon catching a total of 21 birds of 6 species.
Blackbird - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 3 (0) all males
Chaffinch - 1 (0)
Greenfinch - 2 (1) the recap was banded here at Hornsey Rd a month ago and was recaptured here this morning. Not a huge movement but perhaps indicates that birds move some distance to the stream for their refreshment.
Silvereye - 9 (1) 2 of the new birds were in primary wing molt.
Two of the Silvereyes were molting outer primaries.

Tui - 3 (0) all males.

For the first time at this site I heard Parakeets, they were probably Red-crowned from either Zealandia or Matiu/Somes Is. where they have been reintroduced. Hopefully the day will come when we catch some.

Friday, 6 September 2013

N I Robin Transfer - Kapiti Is to Wainuiomata

Several of our group were involved with the recent Toutoutwai/North Island Robin transfer from Kapiti Island to the Wainuiomata Mainland Island. After being postponed 3 times it finally took place on 24 & 25 August, in perfect weather. Unfortunately having been available for the first 3 attempts I was unable to make the successful one but they did very well without me.
The journey - From Watery Island to Mainland Island
The "Team" catchers, runners and banders
Photo Dave Cornick

The birds were caught with Clap Traps and despite having only five catchers, (plus Nikki for some of the time), 63 robins were caught in one day. Three were rejected: one with a crossed bill, one with avian pox and one being underweight.  The remaining 60 birds were kept overnight and transferred by helicopter the next day.
Geoff (Wellington OSNZ R R) & Nikki (Greater Wellington Regional Council) carrying Robins in "Cat" boxes.
Photo Dave Cornick 

The Robins being farewelled.
Photo Dave Cornick

Into the helicopter they go.
Photo Dave Cornick
They all seemed in great condition when released and Nikki spent the next 2-3 hours in the forest observing them. He identified 22 individuals and was pleased to see them behaving fairly normally & foraging well.
He also witnessed the first recorded interaction between a Morepork and a Robin in the Rimutaka/Orongorongo ranges. In one of those ‘don’t know whether to laugh or cry’ moments, he flushed a Morepork from the track with a small feathery bundle in its claws and when he checked where it had flown from sure enough there was a pile of freshly-plucked robin feathers on the ground.  
This was the second of two transfers. After the first transfer last year very few of the 60 birds were re-sighted; therefore it was decided to try to train the birds, before the transfer, to associate an audio cue (clapping) with food, to try to improve their detectability in their new home.
This has worked very well, and 40 individuals have been seen in the first 10 days, most of them more than once. None of the birds are particularly hungry, indicating that they've adapted well to their new home and are having no problem finding food.

None of them have settled into territories yet and they will continue to disperse, some of them over long distances (last year one was seen near the top of the Rimutaka Incline). So if you or your friends are walking in the bush, do keep your ears and eyes open, and you may be lucky enough to see a Robin. If you want a refresher on what they sound like, check out NZbirdsonline  http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/north-island-robin#bird-sounds. Check out the tomtit too, just to be sure!
  If you see or hear a Robin in the greater Wellington region (not including in or near Zealandia), please let me know, with the date and location, and whether it is banded or not. If you are able to read the band combination great: bird’s left leg- top, bottom; right leg- top, bottom (like reading a book – left to right, top to bottom).

A photograph would be good too. There have been a few reports over the last year or so and there may be quite a few Robins around by now as there have also been several transfers by MIRO to the bush around Eastbourne, and some of the birds will have bred successfully.