Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Queenstown - An update

It has been relatively quiet down here banding wise in the last week or so. I have put nets up on several days with very mixed results. One morning 3 nets managed to only catch 2 bird.  Fortunately other attempts were a bit more successful. The total for the week or so was 34 birds of 9 species with 23 new and 11 recaps.

Blackbird - 1 (2)
Song Thrush - 0 (1)
Chaffinch - 2 (1)
Greenfinch 1 (0)
The Greenfinch was more of a "Yellow" Finch than a Green one.
Goldfinch - 0 (1)
Dunnock - 3 (1)
House Sparrow 12 (4)
Tui - 1 (0)
The Tui was a male aged as a 2
Kingfisher - 1 (0)
The Kingfisher was duller than the other recent bird and was probably a female aged as a 2
I wish you all the best for the festive season and as I am unlikely to be doing much banding for the rest of the year it will most likely be 2016 before the next post from me.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Back in Queenstown - the first few days.

We have packed up and made the move to Queenstown where we will be living for the next 5 months or so. The move went well except I managed to stuff up my back and will be on light duties for the next 6 weeks or so. Over the last few days I have managed to fit in a bit of banding despite the back problem. Bird numbers appear to be down a bit since our November trip, especially Song Thrush, Redpoll and Silvereye.

Have managed to catch 65 birds of 11 species with 41 new and 24 recaps. Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 2 (2)
Song Thrush - 1 (0)
Starling - 2 (0)
One of the Starlings had an overgrown top bill
Dunnock - 1 (7)
House Sparrow - 26 (10) most were caught in a net set over the fence from the neighbour's hen run.
Chaffinch - 1 (3) the new bird was banded after it flew into a window and stunned itself, appeared to make a complete recovery.
Greenfinch - 1 (0)
Goldfinch - 5 (1) all 5 new birds were nestlings from a nest in an apple tree. The recap was one of these birds just after it had fledged.

Silvereye - A nestling Goldfinch with its new bling
Redpoll - 1 (0)

The Redpoll was another bird with an orange poll
Tui - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 0 (1)

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Some Recoveries and some Changes

We have recently had three recoveries reported from the Banding Office.

  1. A Starling that was banded at the Zoo in July 2010 was controlled (shot) when it kept attempting to build a nest in a supermarket in Kilbirnie.
  2. A Silvereye that was banded at our Island Bay site in July 2013 was killed by a cat a short distance away. 
  3. A Tui banded at the Zoo in August 2014 was brought into a house in Brooklyn by a  cat (the cat owner doesn't think it would have killed it?) 
None of these birds had been recaptured after they were banded.

Some Changes to the Group

After 25 years in Wellington Ruth and I are moving back to the South Island. This means there will be changes to the Group's structure. Matu has agreed to become the Head Honcho and will be assisted by Annette, Ros, Ross and others. I am sure under their guidance the Group will continue being very active with banding in the Wellington area.

I will be continuing with banding in the Queenstown area  and will be putting summaries of my activities on this blog, hopefully there will be something of interest.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Kapiti Island hihi

Peter has asked me to post a few entries on the blog about hihi on Kapiti Island throughout the current breeding season. So here is the first one!

The hihi, or stitchbird (Notiomystis cincta), is an endemic passerine historically found in the North Island and on other surrounding offshore islands. The species declined rapidly since the late 1800s mainly due to habitat loss and the spread of introduced predators, and now Hauturu/Little Barrier Island is home to the only naturally occurring population of hihi. Hihi have since been transferred to several locations around the North Island and populations are now managed at Tiritiri Matangi Island, Maungatautari Ecological Island, Bushy Park, Kapiti Island and Zealandia.

Male hihi, Kapiti Island. Photo: Nick Fisentzidis

Female hihi, Kapiti Island. Photo: Nick Fisentzidis

Hihi are cavity nesters that feed on nectar, insects and some fruit. Managed populations rely on supplementary food (usually sugar water) and artificial nest boxes to help improve breeding success at sites where old growth forest is lacking.

Hihi were first translocated to Kapiti Island in 1983 and their fortunes have fluctuated since then. Subsequent transfers, the removal of possums, kiore and Norway rats, and the implementation of a supplementary feeding system have allowed hihi on Kapiti to slowly increase in numbers. The current hihi population on Kapiti is 108 known birds. 94 of these were identified in the most recent pre-breeding census in October 2015, and 14 unbanded birds have been caught and banded since September 2015 to bring the total known population to 108 individuals. There are still an estimated 5-10 unbanded birds yet to be caught.

Birds are caught by modifying the feeding cages and patiently waiting for unbanded birds to take the leap of faith into the cage. A trap door is then pulled by a waiting person and the bird is removed from the feeding cage. Once safely in the hand some key measurements are taken, the hihi is banded and then released.

Feeding cages converted to catch unbanded birds. Photo: Dallas Bishop 

The birds have currently all but abandoned the feeders, indicating that they are nesting and incubating eggs, or perhaps feeding fledglings. Hihi chicks are fed by their parents for around 30 days before they fledge, which is a long time compared to other passerine species (bellbirds take about 14 days to fledge after hatching). We are expecting to see juvenile hihi in mid-January, who we will attempt to catch and band as well.  

Female hihi being banded. Photo: Dallas Bishop

Hihi being weighed. Males are around 35g-40g, females 28g-32g.
Photo: Dallas Bishop
For more information about hihi check out www.hihiconservation.com/ and nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/stitchbird

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Queenstown - Final tally

We start our journey back to Wellington first thing in the morning so have tallied up the birds caught during this trip. Recaptures of birds banded during the first trip in September continue to be a big part in the catch which is pleasing.
The totals caught during this trip are (recaps in brackets)

Silvereye - 1 (5) in contrast to September, very few about.
Blackbird - 20 (28)
Song Thrush - 10 (7) number of new birds boosted by the first juveniles.
The first Juv Song Thrush

The second Juv Song Thrush with his mum?(caught together)
House Sparrow - 40 (10)
Dunnock - 7 (14)
Chaffinch - 5 (18)
Goldfinch - 1 (1) the same bird caught 2 days after being banded.
Greenfinch - 2 (0)
Redpoll - 18 (1)
Starling - 9 (4) 3 of the recaptures were of the same bird.
Kingfisher - 1 (0)

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Queenstown - An update

I have continued to do some banding down here near Queenstown over the last week. As expected (and hoped for) the ratio of recaps to new birds has increased with some specie recaps now out numbering new birds.The Redpolls that were very vocal and obvious last week have now largely left the area, although there is still the odd one or two being caught.

The birds caught are the totals for the two week period with the recaps in brackets..
Blackbird - 18 (21) includes the first juvenile.
The first juvenile Blackbird

Song Thrush - 4 (7)
Dunnock  - 6 (13)
Chaffinch - 5 (12) 
Greenfinch - 2 (0)
Goldfinch - 1 (0)
Yellowhammer 6 (0)
Redpoll - 17 (1)
Starling - 8 (3) This total includes 2 nestlings that were banded.
One of the young Starlings - the nest was in the tree in the background built on the top of an occupied H Sparrow nest

Silvereye - 1 (5)
Kingfisher - 1 (0)

Also caught another couple of C Quail - released unbanded. The wheels have been set in motion to get a variance to our permit so we can band them but I suspect the wheels will turn rather slowly.
Another unbanded Quail about to be released.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Queenstown - the first few days

I have been at my son's property just out of Queenstown for the last few days and have managed to get some banding done on most days. There has been a change in the local bird population since I was down in September. Silvereye have all but gone and Blackbird and Song Thrush appear to be much reduced in numbers. On the other hand Redpoll are now numerous, buzzing about all over the place with some even managing to buzz into a net. Have caught 81 birds of 11 species with 53 new and 28 recaps.
Species caught are - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 11 (7)
Song Thrush - 3 (4)
Dunnock  - 4 (2)
Chaffinch - 3 (9) at one point I had 5 recaps and no new birds, was wondering if the whole population was banded.
Greenfinch - 1 (0)
Redpoll - 13 (1) the recap was possible the first Redpoll I have ever recaptured even if it was only 1 day.
Most of the male Redpolls are looking very dapper

This female Redpoll could be better described as a Orangepoll?

Yellowhammer - 2 (0)
Starling - 4 (1)
Kingfisher - 1 (0)
The first Kingfisher caught at this site.
I have also caught a couple of Californian Quail but unfortunately I am not permitted to band them. They are classified as Game birds and can only be banded by Fish & Game or with their permission. As the Otago F & G haven't got a current permit they were unable to give me the required authorisation.

One of the Quail - A handsome male.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Houghton Bay Sunday 1 Nov - Mostly Silvereye

Kate, Annette, George and I had a fairly successful session at the Houghton Bay stream on Sunday afternoon. We caught 67 birds of 8 species with 57 new and 10 recaptures.

Blackbird - 2 (0)
Dunnock - 2 (0)
Greenfinch - 6 (1)
Chaffinch - 4 (0)
Goldfinch - 3 (0)
George and Kate with a presumed pair of Goldfinch
House Sparrow - 5 (1) the recap which was the last bird caught was banded Jan 2012 and is now the oldest HS banded and recaptured at this site.
Silvereye - 33 (8) all the recaps were banded in the last 3 years.
Tui - 2 (0)
A Tui having it's head-bill measurement taken to ascertain it's sex - it was a boy.
I am away down south again for the next few weeks and hope to do some banding again in the Queenstown area and if successful I will do a post or two. Hopefully while I am away and if the weather is suitable Ross might do a bit of banding here.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Zoo Stream Sat 31 Oct - A surprisingly good catch

I put some nets up this afternoon at the stream over the fence from the Zoo. After recent rain I hadn't expected to catch much but as I am going to be away for the next 3 weeks or so thought I would give it a go. Was surprised to catch 39 birds of 8 species with 32 new and 7 recaps.

Species caught were - (Recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 3 (1)
Greenfinch - 7 (2) the 2 recaps were recently banded birds but were both foreigners, 1 banded at here Hornsey Rd  and the other at the Houghton Bay stream.
Chaffinch - 7 (0) all except 1 were male.
Goldfinch - 10 (2) the oldest recap was banded as a juvenile in Jan last year.
Starling - 1 (0)
Yellowhammer - 1 (0)
Eastern Rosella - 1 (0)
The Starling, Yellowhammer and Rosella were each only the second of their species to be caught at this particular net site in over 10 years of banding there.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Houghton Bay Saturday 17 Oct - More Silvereyes.

We had a session at the Houghton Bay stream this morning and it was in many ways a similar catch to yesterday except no Tui and a lot more Silvereye. There was a very good turn out of people with a  number of experienced banders along with some with lesser experience. We caught 49 birds of 6 species with 40 new and 9 recaptures.

Most of the team - the 3 guys in the back right are busy watching a Fantail avoid a net. It went over, under and around, in fact just about did everything but go in.

Birds caught were -
Greenfinch 6 (1)
Goldfinch - 1 (0)
Chaffinch - 3 (0)
Blackbird - 5 (2) this continued the trend of catching more BB's at stream sites in the AM than PM.
Two male Blackbirds showing differences in breeding condition.
Silvereye - 23 (2) as is typical of this site, a low recapture rate. Not sure where the over 3500 we have banded in the last 7 years have gone.
Grey Warbler - 3 (4) in contrast to Silvereye a very good recapture rate, 2 were banded last year and 1 in 2012 - which for a Grey Warbler is a pretty good age.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Zoo Stream Friday 16 Oct - a few more birds

George, Otis, Victor and I had a reasonable session at the little stream over the fence from the Zoo this morning. We caught a total of 32 birds of 8 species with 25 new and 7 recaps. All the recaps had been banded over the last couple of years.
George, Victor and Otis with a trio of birds.
Birds caught were -
Blackbird - 7 (2) interesting that 9 BB's were caught as against a 0 total at an afternoon session last weekend. I think this is typical of this species, coming to water in the AM.
Chaffinch - 4 (0)
Goldfinch - 1 (0)
Greenfinch - 6 (2)
Otis and Victor checking on the sex of 2 Greenfinch

Male on left - female on right.
House Sparrow - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 3 (3)
Grey Warbler - 2 (0)
Tui - 3 (0)
We are planning a session at the Houghton Bay stream tomorrow morning and it will be interesting to compare the catches.

It is very unlikely that there will be a regular session in the Zoo grounds for several months. They are making changes to their Health & Safety policy that will have an impact on us and we will need to work through how to induct people etc. As there will probably be a new leader for the group in the near future it is preferable to wait for that decision before implementing the new Health & Safety policy.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Zoo Stream Sunday 11 Oct - A few birds

This afternoon Kate, Ross and I, along with Kate's friend Alex had a session at the little stream over the fence from the Zoo. Although we didn't catch a lot of birds I was reasonable pleased with the numbers for this time of the year. We caught 20 birds of 6 species with 16 new and 4 recaps.
Chaffinch - 5 (0)
Greenfinch -  5 (1)
Goldfinch - 1 (2)
Starling - 1 (0) This year there have been very few Starling caught.  This is the first at or near the Zoo and we have only caught a couple at other sites.
Tui - 4 (0)
Grey Warbler - 0 (1) This bird was the highlight of the afternoon. It was banded 21 April 2012, 1268 days ago. Although this is not old for many species it is for a Grey Warbler and this bird is the third oldest we have caught in nearly 20 years.
Kate and Alex with the old G W. Kate doesn't look half pleased having just read the band No.

The bird had the bright red eye of an adult male.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Island Bay Friday 9 October - a steady morning

Annette, Johannes and I had a reasonably successful mornings banding at Island Bay this morning. We had good banding weather for the first couple of hours then the Northerly wind picked up but it was surprisingly cold, especially early. We caught 57 birds of 5 species with 42 new and 15 recaps.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 7 (3) oldest was banded June 2012
Dunnock - 2 (1)
House Sparrow - 31 (9) oldest was banded April 2012
Male Sparrows are currently looking very handsome as breeding approaches.
Grey Warbler - 1
Tui - 1 (2)
Johannes looking very pleased with the first Tui he has banded
The new Tui was aged as an adult(3+) by the size of the "notch" in the 3rd from the outside primary feather, P3.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

R I P Bridie

My friend and neighbour Bridie past away on Monday after a short illness. Bridie was a keen bird observer and fed the local birds in her garden with all sorts of delicacies. I have been banding at her place for close to 15 years and although this last year numbers have been low and the sessions have been more of a social visit I will miss this contact.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Houghton Bay Wednesday 30 Sept - a few birds

Mary (scribe), Kate and I spent a couple of hours at the Houghton Bay stream this afternoon.Birds were surprisingly hard to catch managing only 12, all new. However there was at least a bit of variety with 7 species. Birds were 1 each of Blackbird, House Sparrow, Greenfinch and Grey Warbler, 2 each of Chaffinch and Tui (including the first juvenile of the spring) and 4 Silvereye.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Queenstown - The final Tally

We start on our journey northward home in the morning so banding here is finished for now. Ended up banding 308 birds of 12 species which is far above my expectations. Also made 55 recaptures, but of course they were all recently banded birds. I don't think there is any other banding going on in this area. We have had brilliant weather in contrast to the poor sods in Wellington. Another advantage of this site is the magnificent scenery, a view of the Remarkables to the south and Coronet Peak in the north.
Coronet Peak with a fresh coating of icing sugar 

The highest peak in the Remarkables.

Final totals were - (recaps in brackets) from top bird to the smallest number.
Silvereye - 127 (37)
House Sparrow - 74 (4)
Chaffinch - 49 (6)
Blackbird - 16 (2)
Dunnock - 13 (4)
Song Thrush - 11 (1) this is more than double the number that I have previously caught in a whole year.
Yellowhammer - 8 (1)
Goldfinch - 4
Starling - 2
Tui - 2 -  actually caught 3 but could only band the 2 females as I hadn't brought any YP bands for the big male.
The first Tui caught
Greenfinch - 1
Bellbird - 1 finally caught one this morning.
And the first Bellbird

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Queentown - an update

With good weather and not too many chores I have managed to get some banding in most days. Catches varied between 8 and 50. The lower days were when I attempted to catch some of the Bellbirds that inhabit scrubby gullies at the side of the property.  Unfortunately, no Bellbirds and very little else. So far I have banded 169 birds of 9 species and made 18 recaptures.

Total birds caught are - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 13 (1)
Song Thrush - 8
Starling - 2
The first Starling caught
Dunnock - 8 (2)
Chaffinch - 30 (2) Males outnumber females 2 to 1 - 20 M 10 F
Goldfinch - 4 -
House Sparrow 50 (2) Also more males than females 32 M 18 F
Yellowhammer - 4 (1)
Silvereye - 50 (10) The Silvereyes down here appear to have longer wings than those in Wellington.
One of the Silvereye was moulting head feathers.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Queenstown - a start

 I have had a couple of part days of banding down here near Queenstown, with more success than I had expected. Yesterday Sat 12th I caught 31 birds of 6 species and today 20 birds of 5 species with a couple of recaps as well, only 1 day after being banded but they still qualify as recaptures.
The combined totals are -
Blackbird - 2
Song Thrush - 3
The first bird caught was this Song Thrush

House Sparrow - 24 (1)
Chaffinch - 13 (1)
Of the 13 Chaffinch caught 9 were males
Goldfinch - 2
Dunnock - 2
Yellowhammer - 2
Both the Yellowhammers were brilliant adult males, no wonder some people mistake them for Yellowheads.
Silvereye - 4

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Houghton Bay Saturday 5 Sept - a pathetic catch

We had a session at the Houghton Bay stream this afternoon. After recent rain I hadn't expected to catch many birds but the catch was below my meagre expectations. We caught  a total of 3 birds, in fact, we had more birds bounce than we got in to the hand. There was 1 new Greenfinch, 1 new Tui and a recap Blackbird.

One of the reasons we had a session when expectations were so low was that I am going to be away for the next 3 weeks or so. I will be spending most of this time near Queenstown where I am hoping to set up a banding site to see if there are any differences between birds in Central Otago and Wellington, especially with some of the introduced  species. If I am successful I will do a post.
The potential banding site today - looks cold.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Zoo Stream Friday 28 Aug - a few birds

I went to the little stream over the fence from the Zoo this afternoon for an hour or so. The main purpose was to check the area and put up some guys for use over the summer. Managed to get a couple of nets up for a while and caught 9 birds of 4 species with 7 new and a couple of recaps.
Blackbird - 0 (1) a bird recently banded in the Zoo.
Chaffinch - 4 (1) the recap was banded at the Prince of Wales Park in March 2013.
Goldfinch - 2 (0)
Tui - 1 (0)

Hornsey Rd

Yesterday I set traps, here in the morning and down the road at Bridie's in the afternoon. Didn't catch much with a recap Blackbird banded in 2010 the only significant bird. 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Houghton Bay Sunday 23 August

Andrea, George, Brian, Dave and I had a very quiet afternoon at the Houghton Bay stream this afternoon. Only caught 15 birds, all new, but with 6  species we at least had a bit of variety. Birds caught were - 4 Chaffinch, 4 Silvereye, 3 House Sparrows, 2 Tui and 1 each of Greenfinch and Grey Warbler.

Last year on 17 August we caught 81 birds, so a big drop this year.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Zoo Saturday 15 August - a successful day

We had a surprisingly successful day at the Zoo on Saturday exceeding my expectations of 50-60 birds. We caught 96 of 7 species with 58 new and 38 recaptures. We had near perfect weather conditions with light winds and cloudy. There was a relatively small group of banders but with the majority being very experienced and a steady flow of birds the day went well.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 4 (1) the recap was banded July 2011
Song Thrush - 1 (0) the first caught at the Zoo this year
The first Song Thrush at the Zoo this year
Dunnock - 1 (1)
Chaffinch - 4 (1) the recap banded Nov 2011
Greenfinch - 10 (10) a good proportion of recaps with 4 banded here at Hornsey Rd.
House Sparrow - 13 (13) again a surprisingly high recapture rate. The oldest was banded in March 2010 and is the oldest House Sparrow we have caught for a year.
Silvereye - 26 (12) more than I had expected as most SE's appear to have left my place.
This Silvereye had a poor eye ring around its right eye, the other side was normal
Not sure if it was delayed moult or perhaps a parasite problem.

Several birds including Dunnock, Blackbird and this Silvereye showed signs of  developing brood patches.

Mallard - not a bandable bird but we caught a number. I had pre-fed a funnel trap with the hope of catching some net shy birds but when we arrived a Mallard duck with a dozen small ducklings were inside the unset trap. Managed to usher them out and set the trap. However although the duck couldn't get back in the ducklings did.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Island Bay Wed 12 August - Mostly Sparrows

Ros, George and I had a relatively quiet time this morning at our Island Bay site. We caught 37 birds of 4 species  with 29 new and 8 recaps. As is usual at this site the catch was dominated by House Sparrows with 21 new and 4 recaps, we also caught 3 Chaffinch + 1 recap, 4 Blackbird + 1 recap and 1 new Dunnock and 2 recaps. Although the conditions were good, with cloud cover and only a light breeze, we had a large number of birds bounce off the nets. I suspect that one of the possible reasons was that the breeze was from the south causing the net pockets to develop on the northern side of the nets which was the direction  most birds were coming from.

Two birds, a Blackbird and a Dunnock appeared to be developing a brood patch which hopefully means that spring is just around the corner.
Blackbird developing brood patch

Dunnock with developing brood patch

As is usual at this site we were treated to a scrummy morning tea which was most appreciated.