Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Queenstown 30 May - last day at the orchard

Rachel and I had a good morning's banding in Mark's apple orchard today. It will most likely be the last session there this year as we will both be attending the Birds NZ AGM in Te Anau this weekend and then I head back to Christchurch. As the apples are disappearing fast there probably wouldn't have been much more banding at any rate.
Coffee on a rather cold morning?
We managed to catch 46 birds of 7 species with 37 new and 9 recaps. Silvereye had increased in number and made up the bulk of the catch.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Song Thrush - 2 (0)
Chaffinch - 5 (0)
Dunnock - 2 (1) the recap was banded in Jan 2016 and is now at 502 days the oldest bird recatured for the species.
The old Dunnock
House Sparrow - 1 (0) as the hens that used to be kept next to the orchard have gone Sparrow numbers have dropped significantly.
Starling - 3 (0)
The Starlings were aged by the shape of the rump feathers, rounded for 1st year, pointed for older.
This one is a young bird.
Silvereye - 21 (7) 3 of the recaps had been banded last year.
One of the older recaps.
The bird on the right is a 1st year bird, the one on the left is older.
Bellbird - 3 (1) all were males

All photos by Rachel Hufton, my camera packed a sad.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Queenstown - a couple of sessions

I have had two banding sessions since the last post. On Thursday I put nets up on the western side of the property and caught 24 birds of 6 species with 17 new and 7 recaptures. This morning, 28 May nets were up on the eastern side with 34 birds of 6 species caught, 23 new , 11 recaps.

The combined total of the two sessions was 40 new and 18 recaps -
Blackbird - 0 (2)
Dunnock 3 (2)
Chaffinch - 4 (0)40
House Sparrow - 15 (2)
Silvereye - 15 (8) There appears to have been an increase in Silvereye numbers in the last few days.
Silvereye recap AP-17045. Also caught AP-17046, perhaps they are just good friends
Bellbird - 1 (2)
Tui - 2 (2)
One of the Tui recaps, a male the other was female.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Queenstown 23 May - back to the orchard

Rachel managed to get over the Crown Range so we had another session in the neighbours apple orchard. Catching was steady but not spectacular with a reasonable range of birds. However bird numbers appeared to have declined over the last couple of weeks especially Silvereye numbers. I had expected for numbers to have increased after the snowfall of a few days ago but looks like I was wrong. The days total was 25 birds of 8 species with 20 new and 5 recaps.
One of the nets between apple trees and shrubs.
Yours truly off  for a wander amongst the apples

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 1 (0)
Starling - 1 (0)
Chaffinch - 2 (1)
House Sparrow - 2 (2) one of the recaps was banded the same day as the Chaffinch that took the record for the oldest bird yesterday. So now this Sparrow s the new record holder at 615 days from banding. This is the first time it has been recaptured.
Silvereye - 9 (1) Numbers per session has dropped from 31 to 15 and now down to 10.
Tui - 2 (1)  one of the new birds appeared to be a late fledged juvenie.
Rachel's first Tui
The younger Tui
Bellbird - 2 (0)
The first Bellbird aged as a1 by its pale eye

Theb second Bellbird was aged as an adult (2+) by P9 shape and bright red eye.

All photos except top Tui by Rachel Hufton.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Queenstown 22 May - not many birds but some interesting ones.

Set up a couple of nets here this morning. With only 19 caught of 8 species it wasn't very busy. But with the total including 9 recaps there were some interesting ones.

Species caught were -
Blackbird - 0 (1)
House Sparrow - 4 (2)
Chaffinch - 1 (1) the recap was banded on the fourth day of banding hereand at 614 days since banding is now the oldest recap of any species.
Goldfinch - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 3 (1)
Tui - 0 (3) including both the oldest male and female recaptured.
The oldest female Tui caught here so far
Bellbird - 0 (1) surprisingly a female
Grey Warbler - 1 (0) only the third caught down here. There had been at least 3 hooning around
for a while before one ended up in a net, the last bird of the day.
The Grey Warbler aged as a 1 by its pale eye

Wellington Zoo 14 May

Better late than never for getting this blog entry in, but at least the birds are starting to return to the zoo environs.
At times the banding station actually got busy.

Species caught were (recaps in brackets)
Chaffinch - 2(0)
Silvereye - 2(0)
Greenfinch - 8(1)
House Sparrow - 18(3)
Many thanks to Roz & Annette our level 3 banders who ran the herd.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Queenstown 21 May - more birds in appple trees

I had another session in the neighbour's apple orchard this morning. It was planned that Rachel would again join me but unfortunatly she found the road over the Crown Range to be impassable and she had to return. We will however hopefully try again later in the week.

I had a much shorter session than last week and the strong sun affected 2 of the nets badly. I still managed to catch 27 birds of 8 species with 22 new and 5 recaps. Several of the species were represented by a single bird.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 1 (0)
Starling - 3 (2) I don't catch a lot of Starlings and make very few recaptures; only recaptured 2 last year. This is a daily record for all catagories. One of the recaps 563 days ago and is now the oldest of the species beating the old record by over 300 days.

The old Starling still showing some summer breeding features.
Chaffinch -1 (0)
Dunnock - 1 (0)
House Sparrow 0 (1)
Silvereye - 14 (1) surprisingly there appeared to be fewer around than a week ago
Tui - 1 (1)
The new Tui, a female showed a medium sized notch in P8 and I was unsure of age, probably a 2 but I called it a 1+
Bellbird - 1 (0)

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Queenstown - Banding over the last few days.

Have had nets up around the property over the last few days with mixed results. Caught 5 birds at the first attempt but this was not at a very successful site. A bit better yesterday with 20 caught and today the total was 30. Had very favourable conditions with high cloud and almost no wind.
I thought I was going to have visitors drop in yesterday morning but there wasn't enough wind and they landed before they got here

The combined totals was - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 5 (1) the recap is now the oldest for the species.
Most of the new Blackbirds were young Males
Song Thrush - 1 (1) the recap was banded about a week after I started banding here and at 606 days is now the oldest of any species, beating the House Sparrow caught on Sunday by 4 days.
Chaffinch - 7 (1)
Yellowhammer - 2 (0) caught together and probably a pair.
The two Yellowhammer.
House Sparrow - 26 (4)
Dunnock - 2 (0)
Silvereye - 7 (1)
Tui - 0 (1)
The Tui recap was a very handsome dude.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Queenstown - Birds amidst the Apples

Had a banding session yesterday (Sunday 14th) at the neighbour's apple orchard. Mark the owner leaves the orchard with minimal pruning and no spraying. He then picks enough apples for his use and leaves the rest for "the birds". And the birds love him for it.

I was joined by Rachel who drove over from Lake Hawea for the day in order to get experience to assist her in upgrading her banding permit.

The day started later than planned as the ice and grit on the Crown Range, which Rachel has to traverse to get here, slowed her drive. Far better to have a slow and safe trip than not arrive. The next little hiccup was half a dozen sheep trying to go through rather than around a net. A net full of leaves and sticks but no major damage and the Bellbird that was in the net survived remarkable well. It was the first bird of the day.
Rachel with the first bird of the day - a recap Bellbird that survived the rampage of the Ewes.
The apple orchard is in the background.

We ended the day with a respectable tally of 58 birds of 8 species with 47 new and 11 recaptures.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Dunnock - 1 (10) the recap was banded Feb last year, caught in the same net.
Chaffinch - 6 (0)
Rachel banding one of the Chaffinch.
Goldfinch - 2 (0)
One of the Goldfinch - Photo Rachel Hufton
Yellowhammer - 1 (0) the first caught at this particular site.
A photo of a Pototographer photographing her first Yellowhammer
Photo Rachel Hufton
Starling - 1 (1)
Silvereye - 29 (2) A surprisingly low recapture rate.
House Sparrow - 4 (6) One of the recaps was banded 601 days ago and for a few minutes was the oldest of any species caught here and then the next bird had been banded the day before so at 602 days is now the record holder.
Bellbird - 3 (1) The recap at 422 days is the oldest for the species. All birds were Male following the usual trend
A Bellbird having his picture taken.

Monday, 8 May 2017

New Banding Office Newsletter

If you follow this link hopefully you will get to the latest NZ Banding Office newsletter. It has a lot of interesting stuff on it and I think well worth a look.

May 2017


Monday, 1 May 2017

Chatham Is Petrel - Chick banding on Rangatira.

This post is from Annette who has spent the last few weeks on Rangatira in the Chatham Islands. Hopefully she will do a report on the Black Robins when she gets a spare hour or three.

Report from Annette

I have just spent a month on Rangatira, a Nature Reserve in the Chatham Islands.

Our main task was to do a complete census of the Black Robins, and band this year’s juveniles. However equally important, though less time-consuming, was to band the Chatham Petrel chicks. 

The Chatham petrel (Pterodroma axillaris) is one of New Zealand’s most endangered seabirds. They are an oceanic, burrow-nesting species that come ashore only to breed, and arrive at and depart from the colony during the night.

Chatham petrel. Adult. Rangatira Island, Chatham Islands, January 1984. Image © Colin Miskelly

Once one of the more abundant burrowing seabirds on the Chatham Islands, the loss of forest habitat on Chatham and Pitt islands, along with the introduction of mammalian predators such as cats, rats and pigs, lead to them being confined to predator-free Rangatira Island by around 1900. Here their burrows are scattered thinly amongst millions of other seabird burrows in fragile mature forest habitat.

By the 1980s only 30 breeding pairs were known and it was discovered that competition for burrows from broad-billed prions was causing most Chatham petrel breeding efforts to fail. Hundreds of thousands of broad-billed prions breed on Rangatira and they are prospecting for burrows at the time that Chatham petrels are raising their chicks.

Adult Broad-billed Prion

Intensive management by the Department of Conservation has improved breeding success from 30% of known breeding attempts producing fledglings, to 70–80% from 2000 onwards.
Artificial burrows have been installed for all known breeding pairs and neoprene flaps are fitted over the burrow entrances. The site-faithful petrels have the incentive to push through the flaps during the breeding season, but they deter most prions from entering. The burrows are completely blocked off over winter when the petrels are away to ensure that broad-billed prions do not take over the burrow in their absence.

Artificial nest box showing blue neoprene burrow flap and metal ‘blockade’.

Successful breeding Chatham petrels stay together in long-term partnerships and pairs use the same burrow each season. Adults return in late spring to prepare nests. Established pairings often synchronise their arrival to within a few days. A single white egg is laid in December and chicks fledge in May–June.
After mating, the pair spends about 1 month at sea while the large egg forms and the male conditions himself for the first incubation shift. The male then waits in the burrow for his mate to return and lay. They alternate incubation duty until the egg hatches 46 days later. Commonly, there are four shifts, with the female present at hatching. Parents brood the chick for 1−2 days, then leave it unattended, returning every few nights to deliver food. They feed mainly on squid and fish collected from within a few metres of the sea surface.
Chicks are fed by regurgitation, and receive large volumes of semi-digested food and energy-rich ‘stomach’ oil which is stored in their crop and slowly digested over many days.
During the breeding season Chatham petrels feed up to 3,000 km south-east of the Chatham Islands. They over-winter off the coasts of Peru and Chile.

Chatham Petrel chick, about 6 weeks old, in nest box.

Chicks emerge from burrows for around 10 nights from mid-April, to exercise and find suitable take-off trees. Parents commence  migration while chicks are fledging from late April to June.
The population is now estimated to be about 1,000 birds with 100-130 breeding pairs being actively managed. In the hope of establishing small breeding colonies on Pitt and Chatham Islands, chicks collected late in the breeding season have been translocated to predator-fenced sites on Pitt and Chatham Islands where they have been fed until their departure to sea. Birds do not breed until they are about 4 years old, and do not breed every year.
On Rangatira this season 217 burrows were monitored. 145 were occupied by breeding pairs and about 115 chicks were banded and are likely to fledge.

Tertia holding Chatham Petrel chick for Tansy to band