Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Mt Albert Wednesday 27 March - Silvereyes

Finally managed a session at the Mt Albert fennel patch this morning. I had tried unsuccessfully twice in the last week, on Sunday morning with perfect conditions I found that someone had nicked most of the guys and as I hadn't taken any spares had to abort. Then on Monday got there to find it was too windy. This morning was successful with good conditions of cloud and a light southerly. Caught 29 new Silvereyes and 5 recaps, the oldest recap was banded May 2012 all the rest were banded over the last month or so. The only bycatch was a single Dunnock.

Like the Sparrows at Island Bay last Saturday a lot of the Silvereyes are nearing the end of their moult with several scoring in the forties.
Silvereye with a moult score of 44 out of a possible 45

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Island Bay Saturday 22 March - Heaps of Sparrows

Ros, Otis and I had a fairly busy morning at our Island Bay site this morning.
Ros enjoying a joke at Otis's expense
We were joined later by Sarah J and Kyle who claimed they had trouble finding us but we later found that  Sarah had been talking to her father in Canada, so we won't hold that against them. They unfortunately arrived too late for our morning tea which is a feature of banding at this site.
The full team (minus the slacker behind the camera) at work
We had near perfect conditions for most of the morning until the southerly wind got a bit strong. We caught 90 birds of 5 species with 77 new and 11 recaps. As is usual at this site during the Autumn the catch was dominated by House Sparrows, with the other noticeable thing being the almost total absence of Tui with only an occasional bird heard in the distance.

Species caught were -
Blackbird - 2 (0)
One of the Blackbirds, a juvenile had almost all of its head in pin feathers
Chaffinch - 2 (1)
Dunnock - 3 (1)
Starling - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 69 (11) the oldest recap was banded Feb 2012.
All the Sparrows were in active wing moult with a number scoring 44 but none made the perfect 45.
One of the near perfect wings.

Interestingly the bird with the lowest score of only 5 also had the shortest wing length of 71mm but it was at 33.7g the heaviest sparrow weighed on the day.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Houghton Bay 19 March - a few birds and lots of kids

I put up some nets at the stream in Houghton Bay this morning. The main purpose was to catch a few birds to give children from the Houghton Valley Play Centre a closer look. The catch of 20 birds wasn't big but it was better than I had anticipated and I had thought I might not be able to catch any to show them, especially after recent rain.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 1 (0)
The kids (and Parents) examining the Blackbird - an adult male
Chaffinch - 1 (0
Greenfinch - 0 (1) this bird was a J F and had been banded on Saturday at the Zoo, so had moved a considerable distance in 4 days.
Silvereye - 14 (0)
Some of the Silvereye have almost complete primary moult while others are just starting
Grey Warbler - 1 (2) the oldest recap was banded in April last year.
The new Grey Warbler was well into moulting its tail feathers

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Wellington Zoo Sat 15 March - an enjoyable day

We had a good day's banding at the Zoo today which was the first for the year at the main Zoo site. Not a huge catch but there was a steady flow of birds for most of the day. The weather was surprisingly good despite the dire warning about the effects of cyclone Lusi and it was almost ideal for banding with an overcast sky and little wind and no precipitation.

We caught 35 birds of 9 species, with most being juveniles and only 4 recaptures. Interestingly all the recaps were reasonably old birds with 3 now aged as 6 or 6+. Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 1 (0)
Chaffinch - 3 (0)
Greenfinch - 9 (1) the recap was banded in Dec 2009
Silvereye - 3 (0)
Kyle and Sarah with one of the Silvereye - astute observers might have guessed that they are expecting a nestling later in the year.

House Sparrow - 9 (2) the oldest recap was banded in Feb 2009, just making the 5 year mark. The other was banded in Nov 2012
Starling - 0 (1) the first bird caught and banded in May 2009, not quite making 5 years.
 The Starling - she might be an old bird but she's a stroppy old bird.
Grey Warbler - 2 (0)
Fantail - 3 (0)
Gen with the first Fantail she has banded.

Kate with her fantail.
Tui - 2 (0).

Friday, 7 March 2014

Mt Albert Friday 7 March - more Silvereyes

Anneke and I had a banding session early this morning at the Mt Albert fennel patch.
Dawn breaking over the ranges with Wellington Airport in the middle
Unfortunately the birds were a bit later than usual in arriving and Anneke had to leave for work just as numbers were starting to build up.
Anneke removing a Silvereye from mist net.
Forty eight birds were caught with all but 2 being Silvereye The other 2 were the usual Dunnock and a Song Thrush which was the first bird of this species ever caught at this site.
The Song Thrush had a deformed lower bill, possibly due to injury

It was aged as a juvenile by the "thorn" pattern on the coverts among other indicators.
Of the Silvereye 8 were recaptures, all of which had been banded during the last few weeks.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Mt Albert Sun. 2 March - some more Silvereyes

Kate, Mary, Ross and I were up on Mt Albert at daylight, well actually I was, the rest arrived slightly later due to a glitch with a text message. We had nets up in the fennel patch hoping to catch some more of the Silvereyes that feed there first thing and we caught 16 with a bycatch of 1 Dunnock and 1 Grey Warbler. All birds were unbanded and it is surprising that none of the 60 banded last week weren't recaptured. Perhaps they are quick learners or do they not feed on the fennel every day?
Ross, Mary (our scribe) and Kate busy in a patch of early morning sun.

The fennel patch, photo taken a few weeks ago before I cut the net lanes.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Prince of Wales Park Sat 1 March - nearly nothing

We had a nearly zero catch this afternoon at the Prince of Wales Park with a total catch of 1 Chaffinch. This bird was the only one to come near the nets and somehow Matu managed to get it to go in. With the rain last night I had expected a reduced catch but not this low. Besides the rain reducing the birds thirst a lot of species are now feeding on the abundant, juicy berries, especially coprosma,with finches feeding on soft seeds.
The "Team" waiting for some action

Mary and friend - interesting what people do to keep amused

Houghton Bay 

On Thursday afternoon I spent a couple of hours at the Houghton Bay stream and also had a much reduced catch, although better than today's effort. Caught 11 birds of  5 species and all were new. 1 Greenfinch, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Grey Warbler, 6 Silvereye and 2 Tui.
Both Tui were juveniles, this one, a female has been fledged about a month judging by the sparse neck feathers.