Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Houghton Valley School Thursday 31 July - Very few birds

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon with kids from the Houghton Valley School. The aim is to give the children from the junior class a close look at a wild bird and show them how we band and handle them. The kids were great but we caught very few birds. Fortunately there were enough birds for each group to have a close look at one. A total of 5 birds were caught with 3 Silvereyes, 2 new and 1 recap and 1 new of Blackbird and Grey Warbler.

Silvereye numbers have dropped significantly with very few about. There also appears to have been a big drop in numbers here at my place as well. I will set the trap in the next day or so and see if this is real or just my imagination.
A group admiring a Silvereye that's about to be released

And its gone.

Another group

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Karori Cemetery Saturday 26 July - a few Tui but not much else.

A group of us gathered at the Karori Cemetery on Saturday morning to see if we could catch a few birds esp. Tui. We haven't banded there before at this time of year so it was a bit of an experiment. A few were caught but not many so probably won't try again. The tally was 7, all new with 1 Chaffinch, 1 Song Thrush and 5 Tui, we caught 4 birds very soon after putting the first nets up but then there was nothing for a long period. We then caught a female Tui in one net and before we had that out 2 big males went into another. We also had a Kaka go into a net, fortunately it got out before any damage was done to either the net or fingers.
A Tui waits extraction, look at that claw ready to execute vengeance.

Another waits defiantly.

Felix & Rory hold bagged Tui while another is ready for release.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Hornsey Rd Friday 25 July - Silvereye Roundup.

I set the funnel trap here this morning to check on the Silvereyes that were around and to see if there were any changes from last week. Caught a total of 30 with 10 new birds and 20 recaptures so a bit of a drop in numbers from a week ago when there were 12 new and 33 recaps. Part of the drop might have been caused by the food running out while I spent several days in sunny Nelson while Wellington had it's coldest week of the year. There does appear however to have been a change in the population with a number of older birds recaptured for the first time this year, including 1 banded in Aug 08 and another in July 07.

Yesterday, 24 July I had a session down the road at Bridie's. Caught 6 new Silvereye and 12 recaps. Also 2 new Sparrows and 2 recaps, 1 new Blackbird and a pair of Starlings, 1 new and 1 recap.
The pair of Starlings - blue for a boy and pink for a girl.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Some Banding 17 & 18 July - mostly Silvereyes

In between rain showers we have managed to get in a bit of banding. On Thursday we had a rain shortened session at the Houghton Valley Bush and this morning I was able to set the Funnel trap here at Hornsey Road.

Houghton Valley School 17 July

Kate and I were assisted by her friend Lily, who acted as our bird courier, and Lily's Mother who was persuaded to act as our scribe.  We were later joined by Ross when he was able to escape from work. In between showers we managed to get some nets up. It was a case of nets up, nets furled, then back up again until the drizzle turned to rain and we packed up.
Kate (right) with our courier and scribe. Fortunately we were able to use the area under the children's play "Fort" to stay dry.

Kate banding while the Scribe scribes. Photo from  Ross's cell phone.

Lily with a Silvereye. Photo from Ross's cell phone.
I was keen to get some birds caught to see if there had been an increase in Silvereye numbers over the last few days of southerly storm and heavy rain. Although we didn't catch a lot of birds the ones we did catch indicate that there has been very little change. We only caught 2 unbanded Silvereye and recaptured 14. Most of the recaps had been caught at our recent sessions. Although, one new one was banded in 2011. We started to band here in 2010.

We also caught 2 new Blackbirds and a recap, and a new House Sparrow and a Dunnock.

Hornsey Rd 18 July

There appears to have been a slight increase in Silvereye numbers here since last week. This morning I caught 12 new birds and 33 recaptures. 9 of the recaps had not been caught here this year probably indicating some movement or else the birds are getting a bit hungry. Of the recaps 14 were banded this year (including 9 from Mt Albert) 3 last year, 6 banded in 2012, 5 in 2011, and 2 each in 2009 & 2008.

The only bycatch was a new Blackbird.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Island Bay Tuesday 15 July - Another quieter day.

Annette, Ros and I had a quiet and very cold session at our Island Bay site this morning. There was a stiff, cold southerly blowing but despite this we had an enjoyable morning. Numbers were down considerably on last year but we did catch some interesting birds. A total of 31 birds were caught with only 3 species, 20 new and 11 recaps. Last year in our July session we caught 126 birds with the biggest difference being that we caught 56 Silvereye, today I didn't even see one.
 Ros & Annette processing two of the Blackbirds

Birds caught were - Chaffinch 2 new.
Blackbird - 3 new and 6 recaps. This is the most Blackbird recaps we have ever caught in 1 day at this site and 2 were over the 5 year mark. D-194374 banded Dec 2008, 2048 days ago as a Juv.   And D-194313 banded Sept 2008, 2118 days ago as a 1 year old. This bird is now the oldest bird of any species banded and recaptured at this site. He is also one of the biggest Blackbirds we have ever caught weighing in at 116.6g and with a wing length of 139mm. Last time he was caught, in Aug 2012, he weighed 93.2g and had a wing length of 132mm.
Mr Fatty

House Sparrow - 15 new and 5 recaps. One of the Males had an extraordinarily long lower mandible but despite this was slightly above average in both weight and wing length. How it feeds I don't know, perhaps it eats sideways like a Wrybill.

A feature of the day was that all but one of the recaps were known aged birds due to the fact that we are able to each spring catch a significant number of the juveniles, this especially applies to the Blackbirds with the two older recaps aged as 6 and 7.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Zoo Sunday 13 July - another quiet day

There was a smaller turnout of banders at the Zoo on Sunday, just Rachel, Dave, Ross and I. Conditions were reasonable with low cloud, a moderate northerly and short periods of light drizzle but fortunately never heavy enough to disrupt proceedings. I suspect that the precipitation was heavier on the other side of town causing a number of people deciding to stay home and keep dry.

Bird numbers were way down on the usual July numbers with a total catch of 44 birds of 9 species with 23 new birds and 21 recaps. At our July session last year 121 birds were caught. The highlight of the day was catching 4 Silvereyes that were over 5 years from when they were banded.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 2 (1)
Dunnock - 0(1)
Chaffinch - 2 (1) the recap was banded as a Juv in May 2011.
The Chaffinch recap.
Greenfinch - 0 (1) in July last year we caught 35 Greenfinch.
House Sparrow - 2 (1)
Starling - 1 (0)
Grey Warbler - 1 (0)
Fantail - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 14 (16) July last year we caught 85. Four of the recaps were at least 5 years from when they were banded.
A-174899 banded May 2009 = 1891 days, last caught Nov 2011
A-178147 banded Jan 2008 = 2361 days, last caught June 2014
A-168410 banded June 2007 = 2612 days, last caught Sept 2012
A-153781 banded May 2006 = 2976 days, last caught May 2013. This bird is now I think the 2nd oldest Silvereye we have recaptured at the Zoo.
The old bird still looking in good order

The band is still very readable after 8 years of wear and tear.

It is now 14 years since we started our banding program at the Zoo with our first session held on 8 July 2000. in that time we have banded 8245 birds and made 2799 recaptures. Our oldest bird was a Blackbird banded 1 Dec 2001 and found dead 7 Dec 2012, 4024 days later. Our oldest recap is a Silvereye banded 6 Dec 2003 and recaptured 24 June 2012 3267 days later. Our oldest sighting of a colour banded bird is of a Tui banded 4 Sept 2004, re-sighted last Wednesday 9 July 3595 days after banding.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Hornsey Rd Friday 11 July - a few Silvereyes

I set the funnel trap this morning to check on Silvereye numbers. After catching 59 last Friday today's total was just over half at 37 with only 5 new birds and 32 recaptures. There was 1 bird which had been banded at the Zoo last year, and the oldest for the day was banded in 2008. The continuing mild weather is most likely the reason for the low numbers and if there is not a cold snap with an increase in birds the numbers at this site for this year will be among the lowest for the last 20 years.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Houghton Valley School Sat 6 July - Fewer Silvereyes but more H Sparrows

A group of us went back to the regenerating bush patch next to the Houghton Valley School on Saturday afternoon. There was a significant drop in Silvereye numbers from last week with only 4 new birds and 12 recaps. All the recaps had been caught last week. We did however catch 15 House Sparrows with 14 new birds and 1 recapture. The recap had been banded back in January at the Houghton Bay stream. This is by far the most Sparrows we have caught at this site and was primarily due to moving a net to the back of the hen run. The only other bird caught was a solitary new Blackbird.

A feature of the afternoon was again the large number of local people, both young and older, that joined us. The older folk were enthusiastic about the activities and the younger ones loved the chance to see birds close up.

I had not taken a camera with me but here are a selection of photos taken on other peoples cell phones.

Three of the younger girls with Silvereyes ready to release. Photos by James

An older girl (Jill a teacher at the school) with a House Sparrow. Photo by Dave M (Caretaker at the School)

Ross bringing a Sparrow up from the "Chook" net while Kate extracts another.
The regenerating bush is in the background. Photo by James

Friday, 4 July 2014

Hornsey Rd 4 July - Silvereye round up

I set the funnel trap here this morning to check on the Silvereyes that were about. Caught a total of 59 with only 10 new birds and 49 recaps. The oldest recap was banded in 2009. With the fine mild weather last weekend Silvereye numbers at the feeder appeared to drop significantly from last week but with the arrival of a cold southerly on Wednesday numbers increased rapidly.

On 4 July last year 101 Silvereye were caught with 40 of these being new birds. This year there appears to be very few birds moving into the area hence the high recap to new ratio. Last year following two major southerly storms a big influx of birds arrived with 1 being caught that was banded in the South Is at Kaikoura. Unless the weather takes a turn for the worse I don't expect that to happen this year.