Female Bellbird

Female Bellbird
Female Bellbird

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Halswell Quarry - the last few birds for 2019

We haven't had any regular sessions for a while due absences and other activity. But there have been a few birds banded of interested. We banded 5 Kingfisher pulli, they were from a nest in a bank where Jan thought kingfisher had nested last year. After checking the area a number of times activity was noted with fresh whitewash below a hole and a raucous racket coming from inside. A few of us met on Sunday morning to see if we could get the chicks out. My hands were far to big but fortunately Jan has far smaller and delicate ones and was able to extract them. I was very surprised to find that there were 5, expecting 2 possibly 3. There was a surprising difference in the size of the chicks but as this is the first ones we have banded I didn't really know what to expect.
Eleanor banding the smallest of the chicks.

In order to get them back they needed a little poke in the backside to get them to shuffle back to the nest chamber.
 We have also recently banded a brood of 4 Goldfinch, the nest was at Ruud's place which is next to Jan's on the rim of the Quarry. Ruud is known throughout New Zealand as "Ruud the Bug Man" we are hoping to turn him into "Ruud the Bird Man"

On Sunday we also put a 4m net up across the entrance to a toilet block where Welcome Swallow nest each year. Managed to recapture the female which was originally banded in Nov 2017 at the same site.  It was also caught in 2018 so great to know that it is site faithful and is still surviving. It is also now our oldest recap of any species at the Quarry being banded only a week or so after we started banding there.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

The latest NZ Banding Office Newsletter.No 11


Below is a link to the latest (11th) New Zealand Banding Office Newsletter. Well worth a read especially with news on the latest Data entry system. Click on download and then on the link. Hope it works.



From the Banding Office:




·         Bird Banding Database: “FALCON” has hatched!

·         Bander’s Data BOX version 10 available for download

·         Did you know – bird banding can solve problems!

·         What is the difference between certification and permission?

For these and other banding banter, download the 11th edition of BirDBanD.

Previous newsletters can be downloaded from the bird banding webpages of Department of Conservation and BirdsNZ.



Wishing everyone a wonderful festive season and looking forward to an awesome 2020!

Michelle, Sandy and Imogen

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Halswell Quarry - A bit of banding here and there.

We have done a bit of banding at the Quarry in the last week or so. Some was banding nestlings and some was attempting to catch Blackbirds feeding on fruit of ornamental cherries in the Japanese Garden area.
On Thursday I banded 4 Chaffinch in a nest in the corner of a car park. I then had a bit of a walk around and found a lot of Blackbirds & Song Thrushes feeding on the cherry fruit. On Friday I put up a couple of nets for an hour or so to see what I could catch. With a catch of 8 birds including a couple of interesting recaps I thought it worth another go. Monday was the only day that a session could be fitted in so a group of us gathered and had a good couple of hours.

Species caught over this period were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 6 (0)
Song Thrush - 3 (0)
House Sparrow - 0 (2) both were old birds with one at 750 days from banding, was for about 30 min  the oldest recap of any species caught at the Quarry. It now has to share this honour with a Bellbird caught later that had been  banded on the same day.
Dunnock - 0 (1) the oldest Dunnock recap at the Quarry.
Chaffinch - 6 (0) 4 were nestlings
Goldfinch - 2 (0)
Greenfinch - 4 (0)
Fantail - 9 (0)
Kenny concentrating on banding "His" Fantail

The Fantail was aged as a 2 due to several retained juvenile covert feathers.
Welcome Swallow - 2 (0) both nestlings.
Bellbird - 0 (1) This was the bird of the week. It was the first Bellbird we banded at the Quarry. When it was banded on 16 Nov 2017 it was noted that it was blind in the right eye. It is still blind in that eye and it is amazing that it has survived this long. It is now joint holder of the oldest bird record.
The blind eye, looks sad but he's a survivor.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Queenstown - the final roundup for a while.

We are now back in Christchurch having driven back on Saturday arriving last night. On Saturday morning I was able to erect a net and monitor while completing my chores and packing the car. I wasn't expecting much in the way of a catch, perhaps half a dozen or so. I was surprised to end up with 12 of 5 species, 7 new and 5 recaps. The majority of the new birds were juveniles with most of the recaps banded in the last year or so.
However there was one notable exception, a handsome male Chaffinch which had been banded 16 Sept 2015, 4 days after the first banding down there. At 1529 days from banding it is now the oldest recap of any species. Although it had been caught several times since banding it was 3 years since the last time.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Queenstown - only limited banding

We drove down here on Monday but it wasn't a very good trip. By the time I got here I was crook as a dog, possibly due to a dodgy chicken pie I ate on the way down. Finally got a couple of nets up Thursday morning. Caught 19 birds of 5 species, 13 new and 6 recaps.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 2 (2)
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Starling - 3 (0) also 2 nestlings in one of the boxes I erected several months ago. Unfortunatly they had fledged from the other 3 boxes. There are a huge number of newly fledged birds about.
A couple of the Starlings caught together, probably a mother and daughter
House Sparrow - 3 (0)
Tui - 3 (3) including a juvenile and the oldest female recap.
The new juvenile, a little girl.
One of the older recaps, a stroppy old male.
This morning Rachel came over from Wanaka, primarily for a chin wag and a catch up on her various projects. We also put some nets up and managed to catch 12 birds of 7 species.

Blackbird - 1 (0)
Song Thrush - 1 (0) a recently fledged juvenile that had obviosly had a difficulty time.
The Thrush's tail showing several growth/fault bars.
Dunnock - 3 (1)
Chaffinch - 1 (1)
Redpoll - 3 (0) the first caught since March.
All the Redpoll were female.
House Sparrow - 0 (1)
Californian Quail - 1 (0) this was encourged into a net by Rachel after I had failed miserably with a pair earlier.
The Quail was a chubby female.

Rachel with her prize.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Botanical Gardens Tuesday 12 Nov - a few birds

On Tuesday morning Luke and I put up a couple of nets in the NZ section of the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. This was in the hope of catching some of the newly fledged Bellbirds that were feeding in a Tree Fuchsia. Luke who is the curator of this section has been keeping an eye on them since they fledged a week or so ago.

We were only partly successful in our mission catching 1 of the youngsters. We also recaptured the bird presumed to be their father who was caught and banded a year ago in exactly the same spot. We also caught 3 birds as bycatch 1 each of Blackbird, Greenfinch and Dunnock.
Luke with the old boy,

He had the bright red eye of an adult.

The youngster, a female.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Halswell Quarry Thu 7 Nov. - only a few birds.

We had a session at the Quarry this morning and although conditions were good birds were scarce. We caught a total of 17  all new except for 1 House Sparrow recap.
Species caught were - 1 Silvereye, 2 Greenfinch, 1 Song Thrush, 3 Blackbirds and 9 House Sparrow + the recap.
Two of the Blackbirds were caught together, they were possibly Mother on the right with son on left.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Halswell Quarry Thu 24 Oct - a frustrating morning.

We had a session at the Quarry this morning or, rather we tried to. The forecast was bad but the day dawned with reasonable conditions. I was expecting a small turn out of banders with Phil and Andrew plus Jan assisting but unfortunately Phil was involved in an accident when a guy went through a compulsory stop and "T Boned" him. Fortunately no one was hurt and Phil's vehicle was not badly damaged but he had a lot of paper work to do. He finally got to the Quarry about 10.

We put a smaller number of nets up than usual and were catching some birds. Then the wind got up and conditions became marginal. When it started to rain the decision was made to take the nets down By the time we had achieved this it was hosing down.

We ended up with a meagre total of 14 birds of 6 species with 12 new and 2 recaps. Blackbird 2 + 1 recap, Silvereye 1 + 1 recap 3 greenfinch, 4 House Sparrows and 1 each of Bellbird and Song Thrush.
The Bellbird with a firm grasp of Andrew's finger.
Andrew reading the Blackbird recap's band.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Moorhill Rd - Mostly Yellow birds

I spent a couple of hours down at Bridget's this afternoon. Not a lot of birds and almost all Yellowhammers which is pretty normal for this site. Caught 13 new and made 2 recaptures. Other birds were 3 Dunnock, 1 Chaffinch and 1 Song Thrush. One of the recaps was banded here 4 days ago only a distance of a couple of km's but good to get some movement. The other was banded 19 June 2018 the first banding day at this site.
The older Yellowhammer recap.

The Song Thrush enjoying a bit of finger.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Queenstown - a couple of more sessions.

Since the last post I have had a couple more banding sessions. Not a lot of birds caught but some interesting ones, especially some of the recaps.

On Tuesday I put nets up along a newly cut track that our son, the owner of the property, had made along the gully/stream on the western side amongst old Willow and Hawthorn trees. I had scattered grass seed on the track when we arrived down and birds were feeding on the seed. This was the first time I had banded there. I caught 24 birds of 9 species with 15 new and 9 recaps.
Species caught were -
Blackbird - 1 (1)
Song Thrush - 1 (0) The bird had a twisted leg which appeared to have been dislocated at some time.
The crooked leg.
House Sparrow - 2 (3)
Yellowhammer - 5 (0) the chief seed thieves.
Goldfinch - 4 (0)
Chaffinch - 0 (1)
Greenfinch - 1 (0)
Dunnock - 0 (3) inclding the oldest Dunnock recap.
Tui - 1 (1) The recap was the oldest recap for a day and still is the oldest female.
The oldest Tui for a day.


This morning I had a couple of nets up at the same site as Sunday's session. Using the same site so soon usually results in a reduced catch which was the case. Caught 12 birds with 8 new and 4 recaptures.
Blackbird - 0 (2)
Dunnock - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 3 (0)
Chaffinch - 2 (0)
Greenfinch - 3 (0)
Magpie (Aust) - 0 (1) the bird banded a couple of months ago and the first recapture. Also caught her mate but as I have run out of H bands had to let him go unbanded.
Tui - 0 (1) banded May 2016, and is now the oldest Tui recap. This was its first recapture. Has it been away or just net wary?
The "Old Bird"




Monday, 14 October 2019

Queenstown - a couple of sessions.

We arrived down here on Friday evening and since then I have managed to get a couple of banding sessions in. On Saturday I went down and checked out Bridget's hen house on Moorhill Rd. Didn't catch a lot, only 10 birds. 8 new Yellowhammers and 1 recap and a solitary House Sparrow.
The first bird caught on this trip.

Yesterday (Sunday) I had a couple of nets up here. It was a slow start due to light rain which persisted to around 9am and then started a couple of times meaning the nets had to be furled. Otherwise the weather was near ideal, calm and cloudy, meaning I could leave the nets up till late in the day. Caught a total of 53 birds of 8 species, with 40 new and 13 recaptures.

Species were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 0 (2)
Song Thrush - 1 (0)
Chaffinch - 8 (4) one of the recaps was banded 13 Sept 2015 which was the second day of banding here (started on the 12th). So it is the oldest recap of any species.
Goldfinch - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 22 (5) there was in interesting pattern to the new birds caught. The first 6 were all female, the next 11 were all male. Then it alternated.
The male Sparrows are getting reday for spring and are looking quite dandy.
Silvereye - 5 (3)
Yellowhammer 2 (0) caught together and probably a pair.

Californian Quail - 1 (0) the last bird caught for the day - and it got banded as I have a permit for down here.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Halswell Quarry Thu 10 Oct. - A varied morning.

We had a session at the Quarry this morning and although not a big total it had some variety. A total of 31 birds of 10 species caught but only 28 processed. The missing 3 birds were Californian Quail which unfortunately we do not have a permit to band here in Canterbury so they had to be let go without any bling.
Laura with the first of the Quail - a handsome male.


Of the 28 birds processed there were 22 new and 6 recaps. This included a new species for the site, a Magpie.
The first Magpie we have caught at the Quarry
Species caught and processed for the day were - (recaptures in brackets)
Song Thrush - 2 (0)
Starling - 2 (0)
Chaffinch - 1 (1)
Greenfinch - 5 (0)
House Sparrow - 7 (4)
Silvereye - 2 (1) a very small catch compared to recent months.
Dunnock - 1 (0)
Magpie - 1 (0)
After we had taken the nets down and  packed up a few of us checked out a couple of Welcome Swallow nesting sites. At the first we drew a blank but at the second we struck it lucky and caught a bird, the first Welcome Swallow for the year.
The First Welcome Swallow for the year.

Today's team. Kenny (on his knees), Phil on back left, Jan seated with our scribe Sandra and standing on the right Eleanor & Laura.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Jan's Place 3 Oct - a much quieter day.

A very small but dedicated team gathered at Jan's this morning.
Today's team consisted of our Chief Scribe Sandra, Chief Bander Phil assisted by myself and Chief Assistant Jan who besides suppling morning coffee was of great assistance generally.

Although we had a very busy first half hour or so it soon quietened down. We caught 26 birds which is a far cry from the 119 caught a month ago. There was 24 new birds and only 2 recaps. The new birds were 19 Silvereye, 2 Blackbirds, 2 House Sparrow and a single Bellbird. Jan had reported  that there were 2 male Bellbirds visiting her sugar water feeder; 1 banded and 1 unbanded. After we banded the unbanded the first Bellbird seen was unbanded so I suspect there is a considerable number visiting. The 2 recaps were a Silvereye and a Blackbird, both recently banded at this site.
Phil giving the Bellbird its new bling.

One of the new Blackbirds had an interesting necklace of white feathers.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Queenstown - the last couple of days

Yesterday I had nets up for most of the day. There was a steady flow of birds but not overly busy. Caught 40 birds of 9 species with 29 new and 11 recaps. I have also done some banding today, mainly to check out possible new net sites. Had only limited success but as the saying goes heaps of potential. Also raided the neighbours chook house again catching 4 birds; 1 House Sparrow and 3 Chaffinch. All were banded and incuded the 2 Chaffinch from a few days ago.

Combined totals for the couple of days were -
Blackbird - 3 (2) incuded in the recaps was the oldest Blackbird recaptured here.
Dunnock - 7 (1)
House Sparrow - 6 (2)
Chaffinch - 4 (4) the old bird caught in the hen house was again caught so is still the oldest bird recaptured of any species.
One of the Chaffinch from the Hen House has a badly damaged bill. Have caught it several time and it is of average weight.
Goldfinch - 1 (0)
Yellowhammer - 1 (0)
The Yellowhammer was a colourful male.
Silvereye - 15 (7) most of the recaps were banded recently but there was an older one from 2016
Bellbird - 1 (0)
Tui - 1 (1) the new bird was a young female as were the two the other day. But the recap was an older male.
The wing of the female Tui showing a vey small wing notch

The wing of the older male shows a much larger notch

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Queenstown Sunday 22 Sept - A Yellow day

Bex called in this afternoon on her way back to Te Anau after attending a banding meeting in Wellington. We had time to go to the Moorhill Rd site for a couple of hours. It proved a successful session with 30 birds caught, 20 new and 8 recaptures. But with only 4 species there wasn't much variety and almost all were yellow ones Yellowhammers dominated with 19 new and 6 recaptures. Other birds were a Goldfinch, a House Sparrow and 2 Dunnock recaps.The two Dunnock recaps were banded last week but all the Yellowhammers were banded last year, with the oldest 2 banded on 9 June the first day of banding at this site.

Bex with one of the Yellow Fellows.
 We did have a couple of other species in a net. A Mallard duck, one of a pair that were hanging around, and one of the resident Roosters made a near fatal mistake. After it had been released I discovered that it was destined for a different future.
Bex giving the Rooster his freedom.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Queenstown - first banding here for a while

We drove down here on Tuesday for 12 days or so, and have managed to do some banding but there are not a lot of birds about. On Tuesday after our arrival I caught a couple of Chaffinchs that were stuck in the neighbours hen house. Both were already banded the oldest was banded 15 Sept 15 just 3 days after starting banding here. It is now the oldest bird of any species recaptured here.

On Wednesday I went down to Moorhill Rd where there were good numbers of birds feeding with the owners chooks. There had been problems at this site for the first half of this year of a Falcon paying regular visits to collect its daily food supply of either a chicken or a passerine. As a result the chooks were shut up and small birds became very scarce and scared. The Falcon has now stopped its visit and banding can recommence. I managed to catch 13 birds, 6 new Dunnocks and 2 recaps, both banded at this site about a year ago, also caught were 4 new Yellowhammers and 1 recap. The recap was banded here at Littles Rd almost a year ago, not a big movement just a couple of km's but still a good catch.

This morning (Friday 20th) I had a net up here and caught 23 birds of 7 species with 18 new and 5 recaptures.

Species caught were -
Blackbird - 1
Dunnock - 1 (1) the recap was banded in Nov 2015 and is now the oldest for the species.
House Sparrow - 3 (1)
Goldfinch - 1
Silvereye - 9 (3) All the recaps were banded a month or so ago. There continues to be only small numbers of Silvereye about with very few older returns. 
Bellbird - 1
Tui - 2
Both Tui were year old birds

The Bellbird was also a year old

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Halswell Quarry Thu 12 Sept - a cracking morning

We had a session at the Quarry this morning with near perfect conditions and plenty of birds. Seventy three birds of 10 species were caught with 60 new and 13 recaptures. Ten species in a session is a record number for the Quarry even if several were only represented by one individual.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 3 (0)
Song Thrush - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 0 (1) there are heaps about the Quarry but only the one found the net but at least it was a good one, banded 1 Feb last year it is the oldest Sparrow recap and was for a while the oldest of any species.
Greenfinch - 10 (0) a high number for this site.
Chaffinch - 2 (0)
Goldfinch - 2 (0) the first for 2019.
Starling - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 40 (11) several of the recaps were older birds with the oldest also banded on 1 Feb 2018 the same day as the Sparrow. At 588 days from banding it is the oldest Silvereye and joint oldest with the Sparrow of any species.
Bellbird - 1 (0)
Fantail - 0 (1) the first Fantail we have recaptured. It was banded back in Jan as a juvenile so good to see it has made it through the winter. It was enticed into a net by Andrew who is our resident Fantail whisperer and uses a variety of ruses to catch this hard to catch species.



Andrew with "his" Fantail

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Jan's Garden Sunday 8 Sept - a busy morning

A small group gathered at Jan's this morning and although conditions were good with no wind and low cloud it was also a bit marginal with rain threatening. Fortunately except for some light showers it didn't get bad enough to lower the nets.
Today's team, Kenny, Eleanor, our scribe Sandra and our Host Jan. Although the rain didn't get to heavy we took the precaution of moving into a convenient glass house.

We were busy from the start and ended the morning with a record catch of 119 birds. There were 111 new birds and 8 recaps, although there were 6 species represented the majority were Silvereye.

Species caught were (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 3 (0)
House Sparrow - 11 (1) the recap had been banded under the old pines in the corner of Findlay's Picnic area on the other side of the Quarry.
Dunnock - 1 (0)
Chaffinch - 2 (1)
Greenfinch - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 93 (6) Two of the recaps had been banded in the Quarry. One in the Australian section in June last year the other originally banded near the main pond and then recaptured in the session a couple of weeks ago near the Stone House. Now it has moved up the road to Jan's garden.
A Google view of the Quarry with the major net sites shown.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

A couple of Old Birds

We were going to have a session at Jan's place this morning but the weather is rubbish. So I am doing a Blog Post instead.

I have recently received some photos of banded birds from the Banding Office. These were taken by a woman near several of the banding sites that have been used for up to 20 years in Wellington.



The photo above is of of a male Starling which looks to be in full song. Unfortunately this is the only photo and only part of the band number can be read. It can only be identified as being one of about 10 possibilities all banded in 2009. This would make it one of the oldest Starlings we have recorded.

The other photos are of a banded Silvereye taken at the same property. The photos clearly shows most of the band number except for the third digit A-17?384. If this bird is one of ours which seems most likely it would have been banded in 2008 making it one of the oldest Silvereyes recorded in New Zealand. If it is not one of ours it has most likely crossed Cook Strait making it one of the longest travelers.