Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Wellington - Easter weekend

Happy Easter Banders
At last, we had the first 2016 outing for the Wellington Bird Banders. It has been a long wait but we were rewarded with 2 warm and calm days down at the Prince of Wales Park.  Matu and Anette set up two nets, one along the lower stream bed and one further up the hill across a popular water seep. On the second day a third net was added further along the stream bed.

George with the first fantail
There was a small but contented team of catchers for both days and likewise the birds were few in numbers. This gave us all a chance to brush up on our catching and banding skills without too much pressure.

Grey Warbler © George Hobson

A total of 11 birds captured including 3 recaptures and a fantail with a louse fly!

Silver eye - 2 (2)
Chaffinch - 1
Goldfinch - 1
Fantail - 2
Grey warbler - 1 (1)
House sparrow - 1

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Queenstown - another new species

Haven't managed to catch a lot of birds in the last week or so, but have caught what I would call some quality ones. I have set a net up near the house a few times hoping to catch some of the Silvereyes that make occasional forays though the fruit trees. Only managed to catch a couple plus a number of House Sparrows and then I got a shock to find a juvenile Grey Warbler in a net. It would have had to cover some distance in the open to get to the net and the net site would have to be the most unlikely of all that I have used down here.

I have also set nets up at the neighbours a couple of times, didn't catch a big number, a few Sparrows and the odd Blackbird and Dunnock.
I have an interesting banding station at the neighbours - utilizing one of Mark's toys.
But also 4 Bellbirds on the first afternoon and then this afternoon I caught 2 more, 1 new and a recap. The recap is the first one down here and was the first Bellbird caught. It was caught on 13 Sept 2015 and is now the oldest bird recaptured down here, beating the Chaffinch caught last week by 2 days. I have also had a session down at the stream where Redpoll numbers appear to be dropping.
The banding station at the stream is also a bit unusual - utilizing an old knarly willow tree.
A bit primitive but effective, the net is just on the other side of the tree

Birds caught since the last post are -
Silvereye - 2
Blackbird - 1
Dunnock - 2
House Sparrow - 17 (3)
Goldfinch - 1
Redpoll - 12 (2)
Bellbird - 5 (1)
The Bellbird recap, all those caught have been adult Males with bright red eyes
Grey Warbler - 1
I had expected to catch a G W or two before now as there appears to be several pairs on or near the property.
Grey Warbler showing the cream eye stripes of a juvenile and its new bling

Monday, 14 March 2016

Queenstown - the last week or so

There are not very many birds about the house area at the moment. I have put nets up on a couple of mornings and caught 3 birds the first attempt but a big fat 0 this morning. The main reason for this is that the whole district is laden with bird food, with a huge crop of berries on the Elders, Hawthorn and Rowan bushes, as well as laden fruit trees and other birdie delights.

I have put a net up at the neighbours one afternoon with some success, I think this site has a huge potential for a few months time with a small apple orchard that Mark (the owner) is only going to pick lightly and leave the rest for the birds.
The net set at Mark's, on the right is a hen run with very tall berry laden elder bushes and on the left is the apple orchard.
I have also had a couple of sessions at the stream at the bottom of the property catching, as usual, mostly young Redpolls.

Birds caught during this period were -
Blackbird - 1
Song Thrush - 1 the first for a while.
Chaffinch - 1 (1) the recap was banded on the first banding day down here so is now the oldest bird recaptured.
Goldfinch - 1
Redpoll - 35
I caught another pale coloured Redpoll that was heavy and had long wings.
Starling - 1
House Sparrow - 1 (6) interestingly 3 of the recaps were banded on the first day I caught any down here.
Dunnock - 1

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

DOC host hihi day on Kapiti Island

In late February we were joined on the island by two representatives from Ngati Toa. DOC works in conjunction with Ngati Toa to manage Kapiti Island so it was great to be able to take Raniera and Rakairoa Grace through a few of the tasks we have out here.

They spent the day with us learning about the hihi program and assisting with catching and banding. We had an enjoyable and successful day with the team managing to catch two juvenile hihi, bringing the total banded birds for the season to 30 (21 adults and 9 juveniles).

Rakairoa setting up the catching cages. Photo: Gen Spargo

We will be continuing efforts to catch unbanded birds over the next few weeks while the hihi are still interested in the feeders. A follow up post with a season wrap up will not be far away.

Waiting patiently... Photo: Gen Spargo

Filling the feeders, with a kaka looking very interested in Rani's sugar water. Photo: Gen Spargo

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Queenstown - A new species for the site

I have been back here for a week or so but didn't do any banding for the first few days due to very welcome rain, then some windy days. I have now managed to get some banding in over the last 3 days. On Monday I put a 6m net up at the stream to see if birds were still coming after the rain. I had to furl the net after about half an hour as I couldn't cope with the numbers. Caught 33 birds, almost all Redpolls.
On Tuesday I put a double 12 m rig up at our neighbours next to some elder bushes that are laden with berries. Not a big catch with 17 birds but at least a bit of variety. Yesterday, Wednesday, I went back to the stream and caught another 32 birds with again the majority being Redpolls. However one of the Fantails that have been avoiding the nets over the last few weeks made a mistake and was caught. The first one banded down here and the first South Is. Fantail that I have banded for about 25 years.

Totals for the three days were -
Blackbird - 1 (0)
Dunnock - 4 (0)
House Sparrow - 2 (2)
Chaffinch - 3 (2) one of the recaps was banded in the first week of banding down here and is now the oldest recap.
The old Chaffinch - but still probably only a young bird.
Greenfinch - 2 (0)
Goldfinch - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 3 (0)
Starling - 2 (0)
Starlings have almost finished their moult and have now got their spotted winter garb.
Fantail - 1 (0) Back in the Spring there appeared to be only a pair of Fantail on the property but they have bred well and there is now a large number of young birds about.
Redpoll - 54 (5) one of new birds was a very pale coloured juvenile with well above average wing and weight. There is a theory that a few Mealy/Arctic Redpolls were introduced with the original Lesser perhaps this bird caries some of their genes?
The pale Redpoll - a poor photo, (I was a bit rushed at the time)