Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Queenstown - not a lot of birds

We came down several days ago and I have had a few banding attemps with vey rmixed results. The daily totals have ranged from 2 to 15.  Birds caught were - (recaps in brackets)

Blackbird - 3 (1) all the new birds were juviniles, probably from the same clutch.
Song Thrush - 1 (0)
Chaffinch - 2 (1)
Dunnock - 1 (1) The recap  was banded 1065 days ago and is now the oldest Dunnock recaptured here.
House Sparrow - 15 (2)
Starling - 1 (0)
Yellowhammer - 0 (1)  At 787 days from banding it is the oldest Yellowhammer recaptured.

The Yellowhammer not realy old  but 2+ years older than when it was banded.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

NZ Bird Banding Newsletter.

The 8th edition of the NZ Banding Office newsletter is out. It is well worth a look, if you click on the link below you should be able to accesses it.

In the 8th edition of BirDBanD, banding banter includes:

·      There must be an app for that

·      “bobos blancos” as liaison officers

·      Testing their mettle: Rates of wear in metal bands

·      That’s a wrap: The art (or science) of band making

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Halswell Quarry - plenty of birds but few caught.

We had another quiet morning at the Quarry today (Sat 1 Jan) catching only 10 birds. The total was augmented by the banding of 3 Welcome Swallow nestlings.

Greenfinch made up the bulk of the catch with 6 new and 2 recaps. The only others caught were 1 each of Silvereye and House Sparrow. There are plenty of birds about but with the wet spring there is heaps of food about and birds don't have to risk getting near the nets.

The Welcome Swallow were in the same nest as those banded back in September and when extracting them from the nest it was found that one from the previous brood hadn't survived and was now incorporated into the base of the nest.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Halswell Quarry, Thu 15 Nov - very quiet.

We had a very quiet session at the Quarry this morning. Fewer people than usual but still far from busy. Caught a mere 10 birds of 5 species with 7 new and 3 recaps. House Sparrow 5 new and 1 recap, Song Thrush 1 new, Blackbird 1 new and recaps of Greenfinch and Welcome Swallow.

The Welcome Swallow was probably the most interesting, it was caught by putting a short net across the entrance  to the toilet where there is a nest. It was originally caught using the same method at the same place just over a year ago. So we now know it has returned for at least 2 springs.
The Greenfinch recap about to get its freedom.

The Blackbird was aged as a 2nd year bird by its retained juvenile primaries. 
I suspect it might have been a banker in another life as its left a good deposit on Elenore's top

Monday, 12 November 2018

Queenstown - A few days and a few birds.

Arrived back in Christchurch last night after a few days down south. Went down primarily to mow lawns and generally tidy up the place and of course hoped to catch a few birds. We had arranged for a contractor to have mown the lawns a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately due to wet weather he had not been able to and it was like a paddock of hay. On the first night it started to rain and it rained and it rained. When it finally cleared a bit I was able to get a net up for a while but caught very little. One Chaffinch and a 9 new House Sparrows and 6 recaps. One of the recaps was banded Dec 2015 and is now the oldest H Sparrow recaptured.

In the afternoon a went down to the Moorhill Rd site for a couple of hours, caught 40 birds but with only 3 species there was not much variety. Amazingly caught 31 new Yellowhammers and 1 recap, this is the most I have ever caught in a session. There is a huge number there at the moment, they must be eating more chook food than the chooks. Other birds were 2 new Blackbirds and 4 new H Sparrows and 3 recaps. All 3 recaps came from the Littles Rd site ( about 2km) one recently but the other 2 were older, 1 Dec 15 and the other Jan 16.

Yesterday morning I managed to get a couple of nets up for a while before we left, not a big catch but at least a bit of variety. Dunnock 1 new, House Sparrow 7 new and 3 recaps, Blackbird 1 new, 1 recap.  The recap was banded in Nov 2015 just over 3 years ago and is now the oldest bird of any species recaptured down there. Also recaptured 1 Bellbird and 1 Tui.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Botanical Gardens - a couple of Bellbirds

I received a message from Luke who is the Curator of the New Zealand section of the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. They had a couple of fledgling Bellbirds that were feeding in a Tree Fuchsia that they would like banded. Bellbirds have only colonized the gardens in the last few years and it was decided it would be a good idea to get some banded and find out a bit about what they are up too.

The tree they were feeding in was pretty big and high but we managed to get a net in a reasonable position. Managed to catch 2 fledglings and an adult male, (probably Dad). There was also at least another young bird and probably an adult female, (presumably Mum). The only bycatch was a Chaffinch.
The first juvenile getting banded.

The last one banded, notice the blue pollen on its chin. Fuchsia is I think the only tree that has blue pollen.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Motukarara - A new Site

Phil, one of the City Council Park Rangers who has been training with us at the Quarry qualified as a Level 2 bander a month or so ago. This permits him to band on his own with limited supervision. He has for the last few weeks been banding at his property at Motukarara in his extensive garden and small farm. So far he has banded 103 birds of 8 species, this includes a number of Starling nestlings from the numerous nest boxes he has on the property.

He has banded -
Welcome Swallow - 3 in my decades of mist netting I have only ever caught 1 in a normally set net and Phil manages to catch 3 in his first week!
Dunnock - 4
Silvereye - 5
Chaffinch - 3
Greenfinch -
House Sparrow - 56 - he must be feeding them well?
Blackbird - 2
Starling - 29 this includes 15 nestlings and 1 newly fledged.
One of the young Starlings about to get its bling.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Halswell Quarry Sat 27 Oct. - fairly quiet

We had a another quiet session at the Quarry this morning. Due to a number of regulars heading to Otira in search of the elusive Rock Wren there was fewer banders as well as birds. One of the probable reasons for the small catch was that this is the first time we have had a weekend session in this particular area and the number of people about was astonishing. Most of them seemed to have at least one dog of some description and most of them were running loose even though in this area dogs are meant to be on a leash and under control. Hence a considerable time was spent on traffic control.

We caught a total of only 15 birds but with 7 species at least there was a bit of variety. All birds except one were new. Blackbird 1, Chaffinch 1, Greenfinch 5, Yellowhammer 1, House Sparrow 3, Silvereye 1 and 2 new Starlings and 1 recap. The 2 new Starlings were the first birds caught and the recap was the last which we were fortunate to be able to process as Andre had to make a 20m dash to prevent a woman from attempting to free the bird from the net.
The Starling recap which was banded just under a year ago

Greenfinch are currently in their handsome best attire.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Two Recoveries, a Recapture and a Resighting.

In the last few days we have two recoveries of birds killed in car accidents. A Tui that was banded at the Prince of Wales Park site in Wellington was seen to fly into a moving car and was killed. It was banded 30 Nov 2014 it was a male and aged as a 3+ so was at least 7 years old. It met its demise only a short distance from its banding site. The second recovery was a House Sparrow I found dead on the road near the entrance to the Halswell Quarry. It hadn't lived long after banding nor moved very far but it is the first recovery of a bird banded at the Quarry.

The recapture relates to a House Sparrow that the group in Wellington recaptured at the Zoo last Saturday. It was banded on 13 April 2013 and although this is not old for many species it seems to be for House Sparrows as we have only recaptured about 8 older than this bird.

The resighting was reported by Rachel who bands with me down near Queenstown. She was doing a braided river survey in the Makarora River which is at the head of Lake Wanaka and amongst the six pair of Wrybill was one with a band. With the aid of a remarkable photo taken by Nick, one of the volunteers, they were able to work out most of the band numbers. When this was reported to the Banding  Office it was found that there was only one Wrybill with this part number sequence. The bird had been banded as a juvenile at Miranda and now as a 6year old is found breeding at the opposite end of the country. The direct line distance is just over 900km, but it is most likely to have migrated down the east coast and have stopped off for refueling at somewhere like Lake Ellesmere for a while so the actual distance flown on each trip would be in excess of 1000km. It has probably made this return journey at least 5 times.
From Miranda to Makarora

Photo Nick Beckwith

Photo Nick Beckwith

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Halswell Quarry Thu 18 Oct - another quiet morning.

We had a session at the Quarry this morning. It started off very quiet and although it did improve a little we still ended up with only 19 birds of 5 species with all except 1 being new.

Blackbird - 4 (1)
House Sparrow - 7
Greenfinch - 5
Goldfinch - 1- this bird was a female, its mate also hit the net but bounced and then perched on the top of the net.
Welcome Swallow - 1- this bird is probably the mate of the one we caught a couple of weeks ago. So we presume we now have the pair banded.
The W Swallow with its new bling

The tail of the bird from 2 weeks ago, judged to be female by the amount of white on the outer tail feather.

Today's bird with more white on the outer tail feather and judged to be male.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Halswell Quarry Thu. 4 Oct - Fairly quiet

We had a session at the Halswell Quarry yesterday morning and although it was fairly quiet there was a continuous trickle of birds. We ended up catching 31 of 7 species with 22 new and 9 recaps. Phil and I also banded 4 Welcome Swallow nestlings on Wednesday.
Birds caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 1 (1)
Starling - 1 (0)
The Starling, an adult female sporting its new bling.
Dunnock - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 6 (2)
Greenfinch - 9 (2) one of the recaps was the first Greenfinch banded at the Quarry, 1 day short of a year ago and at 364 days is the oldest recaptured bird of any species.
Silvereye - 3 (4) a surprisingly small number.
Welcome Swallow - 5 (0) this includes the nestlings. The new adult was caught at the Visitors Centre where a pair are nesting and we put a net up across the entrance.
Phil putting bling on one of the young Welcome Swallows.

Elenore banding the adult Welcome Swallow 

Monday, 24 September 2018

Queenstown - recent banding

We have had two sessions here since the last post. On Thursday 20th I had nets up at a new site and caught 38 birds of 5 species with 23 new and 15 recaps. The highlight of the day was a couple of old recaptures. Yesterday, 23rd Rachel came over from Hawea for the day, we caught 58 birds of 6 species with 42 new and 16 recaps. A record number of Yellowhammers being the highlight as well as capturing 2 female Bellbirds.

The combined totals of the two days was - (recaptures in brackets)
Silvereye - 23 (16)
House Sparrow - 11 (2)
Chaffinch - 11 (1) the recap had been banded on the first day of banding here, 12 Sept 2015 so is now the oldest bird recaptured of any species.
Yellowhammer - 10 (1) all caught on the 23rd and is the highest total for a single days banding here.

Photo Rachel Hufton

The Yellowhammers come in a multitude of facial patterns. Photo Rachel Hufton
Tui - 6 (2) most of the new birds were first year females.
Bellbird - 3 (7) including 1 new and a recap female. One of the new males had all 3 front claws missing and had obviosly recieved some trauma to its right leg.
The new female Bellbird

The munted foot and leg of the male Bellbird. Photo Rachel Hufton
Song Thrush - 1 (1) the recap was banded Dec 2015 and is the oldest recaptured Song Thrush This is the first time it has been caught since being banded.
Dunnock - 0 (1)

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Queenstown - Another good morning.

I put nets up in the same configeration as yesterday with the intention of moving them after an hour or so. But as I kept catching interesting birds they stayed put. I finished up with 1 more bird than yesterday, 53 of 8 species with 30 new and 23 recaps.Species caught were -
Chaffinch - 3 (0)
Rdpoll - 0 (1) the same bird that was banded yesterday.
Dunnock - 0 (3)
Yellowhammer 1 (0) this bird was missing the left foot and lower leg but despite this it appeared to be in good condition.

House Sparrow - 9 (2)
Silvereye - 16 (15) several of the recaps had been banded yesterday but there were a number from previous years including one banded 20 Sept 2015, and if I catch it tomorrow it will be 3 years.  At 1095 days it is the oldest Silvereye recaptured here and only beaten by a Chaffinch at 3099 days.
Bellbird - 1 (1)
Tui - 0 (2) one was the second male Tui banded here and was a newly fledged juvenile when banded in Feb 2016 and it is now the oldest Tui recaptured.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Queenstown - Update of the last few days.

On Sunday morning Bex came over and we banded in mild sunny temperatures until the wind strengthened late morning and we had to take the nets down. It was a fairly quiet morning. We caught 23 birds of 5 species with 18 new and 5 recaps. By far the majority were Silvereyes.
Bex at the banding table - Sunday

The same table on Monday - because someone didn't put it away.

I woke on Monday morning to heavy snow. The ground was already covered and it continued to snow until midday. After scattering food on the lawn the nearest thing to banding that I did was look for banded birds out of the window.

This morning dawned calm and sunny although the ground was still covered with the white stuff. I set up nets late morning after the temperature had risen and with birds having had time to get some food. Caught 52 birds of 6 species with 38 new and 14 recaptures.

The combined totals for both sessions was - (Recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 0 (1)
Chaffinch - 2 (0)
Redpoll - 1 (0) the first for a while.
House Sparrow - 14 (1) all except 1 were male.
Silvereye - 31 (12)
Bellbird - 1 (2) included in the recaps was the oldest Bellbird caught here, it was banded April 2016.
The new Bellbird aged as an adult due to its bright eye
Tui - 4 (4)
One of the Tui about to be released.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Queenstown Saturday 15 Sept

We had a couple of sessions down here today. This morning I had a net up for a short time, didn;t catch many birds but there was a couple of interesting ones. The miserable tally was 5, 1 new and 4 recaps. The new bird was a Silvereye and the recaps 1 each of Blackbird, Chaffinch, Dunnock and Bellbird. The Chaffinch was banded on the first day of banding here, 12 Sept 2015 so at 1099 days from banding is the oldest recap and the first over 3 years. The dunnock was banded a couple of weeks later but doesn't quite make the 3 year mark.

This afternoon Bex joined me and we went to the site in Moorhill Rd. We caught 26 birds of 5 species with all but 4 being new. Chaffinch 7, House Sparrow 7, Yellowhammer 4, Blackbird 2 and Dunnock 2 new and 4 recaps. All the recaps were banded back in June. One of the Yellowhammers was blind in its right eye, despite this it was still within the normal weight range.
The Yellowhammers blind side

And its good side

Bex busy at our banding table.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Halswell Quarry Sunday 9 Sept.- Last session here for a while

We had a session at the Quarry this morning. As it was in the same area we used a couple of days ago I wasn't expecting a big catch but was still pleased to get 27 birds of 6 species. There were 22 new and 4 recaps, only one of the recaps was from Thursday.

Species caught were -
Blackbird - 1 (1) the recap was from last October just a couple of weeks after we started banding at this site and is now the oldest bird recaptured of any species.
House Sparrow - 9 (0)
Silvereye - 9 (4) one of the recaps was banded not long after the Blackbird.
Greenfinch, Yellowhammer & Starling 1 of each.
Today's team during one of the quieter moments.
L to R Sandra (scribe), Jan, Eleanor, Andrew, Kenny, And seated Ron with our "Bird Dog" (retired) Jess 
I am off down south later in the week so the next report is likely to be from down there.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Halswell Quarry Thursday 6 Sept - a reasonable catch.

We had a session at the Halswell Quarry on Thursday morning. The session was held at the opposite end of the Park from the recent ones in an area replanted in native trees.With some of the regular banders away we were a smaller group than usual so only had two nets up instead of the usual four. Despite this we still had a steady flow of birds catching 39 of 6 species. There were 35 new and 4 recaptures. Species caught were -
Blackbird - 1 (0)
Starling - 1 (0) This is the first Starling we have caught this year.

Eleanor banding her first Starling.
House Sparrow - 8 (3) Included in the recaps was one banded in one of the first sessions and is now at 273 days the oldest bird recaptured at this site.
Greenfinch - 8
We had a group of Tai Tapu School children, who were on a nature tour drop by. Although they were limited by their tight schedule they enthusiastically watch a Silvereye being processed.
The children watching a Silvereye about to be released

Thursday, 6 September 2018

New Banding Office Newsletter

The link doesn't seem to work so try this one.


The above link should take you to the latest NZ Banding Office Newsletter. It is well worth a read with a lot of interesting stuff. A number of the authors I have had the pleaser of knowing over the years. Sandy is a friend and ex colleague, Jack is a great guy and I have had the pleasure of banding on his farm a number of times, Chris I spent a week on an Island banding Penguins, Murray I have known since I was a teenager and he was with the Wildlife Service. Lance I have never met but the group I was with in Wellington was responsible for banding the House Sparrow that  started him on his banding related journey.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Halswell Quarry 30 Aug - A quiet morning.

We had a relatively quiet morning's banding at the Quarry today. The nets were erected amongst the flowering gums and wattles in the Australian section where there had been a lot of birds last weekend when the area had been checked. Unfortunately numbers (esp. Bellbird) had dropped during the week. I suspect birds had moved to Kowhai trees that are now in full bloom. We were joined today by George who is down from Wellington where he was part of the group I banded with there. Also we had Andre come along. He is a South African trained bander who wants some experience with New Zealand birds.
Today's Team. Back L to R - Eleanor, Ron, George, Andrew (CCC Park Ranger), Andre. Front - Christine ( CCC ecologist), Sandra (scribe) & Jan

We caught a total of 24 birds of only 4 species with all but one being new. Silvereye 16, Chaffinch 4, House Sparrow 2, Yellowhammer 1 and a Bellbird recap.
Andre with the first Yellowhammer he has handled and banded

The Bellbird recap. The first Andre has handled (but he didn't get to band it).

Friday, 3 August 2018

Queenstown Fri 3 August - heaps of birds

I had a session here this morning, same site as a couple of days ago. Again the start was delayed by damp weather but once it cleared it was all go. Caught a record number of birds for down here. A total of 115 birds caught of 6 species with 90 new and 25 recaps.

By far the majority were Silvereyes with 60 new and 22 recaptures . This is a record number of Silvereye, the previous record was set 5 Aug last year. . Two of the recaps were banded on 20 Sept 2015 they were consecutive numbers AP-16326 & 27 they are now the oldest recaptures here at 1048 days from banding. Except for one being caught the day after banding neither had been recaptured before. The previous record holder AP-16331 which had been caught two days ago was also banded on the same day. Another recap had been banded at The Thurlby Domain, not a huge distance just a few ks but still good to get and the furtherest  we have made.

Other species caught were -
Chaffinch - 3 (1)
Greenfinch - 4 (0)
House Sparrow - 16 (2)
Bellbird - 1 (0)
Tui - 6 (0)

The first Tui caught, a young male.

Of back to Chrstchurch in the morning, then up to Auckland for a for a couple of weeks, so no banding for a while.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Queenstown - 1 August

After heavy rain started about 7.30 this morning I thought my banding plans were history. But about 9 it cleared as quick as it started and I ended up having a pretty successful day. This morning I had a double rigged net up here at a site I have been feeding for the last couple of days. Caught 55 birds of 7 species with 43 new and 12 recaps.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Chaffinch - 6 (0)
All except one of the Chaffinch were male
Dunnock - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 5 (2)
Starling - 1 (0) The first for a while.
The Starling was a stroppy male already getting its breeding plumage 
Silvereye - 27 (12) one of the recaps was banded 20 Sept 2015 a week or so after banding started here. At 1046 days from banding is the oldest recap here.
Bellbird - 1 (0) A female, the first new one for several months.
The Bellbird was an adult female.
Tui - 2 (0)

This afternoon I had a session at Moorhill Rd, catching birds stealing chook food. Unfortunately I put up an extra net from the setup I had last time and this turned out to be a big mistake. There was a very poor catch rate until I took the extra net down and then it improved until I had to call it a day as darkness approached. Ended up with 19 birds of 3 species, all new except Dunnock 2, Chaffinch 8 and 8 Yellowhammer and a recap.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Halswell Quarry Thu 26 July - a good, if cold morning.

We had a successful session at the Quarry this morning catching 42 birds of 7 species with 36 new and 6 recaps. The forecast was for a calm mild morning after a light frost but they were wrong. It clouded over and a bitterly cold southerly breeze came up. The nets were put up at the other end of the Park from the last few sessions which is more exposed to a southerly.
Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Chaffinch - 3 (0)
Greenfinch - 8 (4) the most we have recaptured in a session.
Blackbird - 0 (1) the first Blackbird we have recaptured here.
Dunnock - 2 (0)
House Sparrow - 17 (0)
Silvereye - 5 (1)
Bellbird - 1 (0)
Todays team L to R. Kenny, Andrew, Ron, Phil, Eleanor, Jan (feeling the cold) and seated our scribe Sandra. 
In front is our mascot, Tess.
During slow periods and during a welcome coffee break we were entertained by Ron who as well as supplying the hot drinks has a wealth of knowledge and information from his years in the Old Wildlife Service and the Dept. of Conservation. He has been involved with many of the conservation efforts with NZs rare and unique birds from Bush Wren to Black Stilts as well as more recently the hunt for the elusive S I Kokako. He should write a book.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Halswell Quarry, Thu 19 July.

We had a session at the Quarry on Thursday morning. A significant drop in numbers and variety from recent sessions. A total of 35 birds caught with 32 new and only 3 recaps. Only 3 species were caught with 27 new Silvereye and 2 recaps, 4 new and 1 recap Bellbird and a solitary Grey Warbler , the first for a while.
This was the highest number of Bellbird we have caught in a session and the first recap. We have now banded 15 Bellbirds, all Male except one. Amazing that we only caught 2 of the 100+ Silvereye that we have banded in this area over the last few weeks, I suspect there is a large turn over of birds.
Eleanor extracting one of the Bellbird
Andrew being closely observed by his two delightful children while processing the Grey Warbler