Colour Banded Tui

Colour Banded Tui
C Banded Tui © Peter Reese

Friday, 12 July 2019

Back at Jan's place - Thursday 11 July

We had a session at Jan's on Thursday morning and although we only caught half the number of a fortnight ago it was still a good morning. In contrast to last session it was mild and birds were not very interested in feeding. We caught 31 birds of 5 species with all but 3 being new. New birds were - 20 Silvereye, 5 House Sparrows, 2 Greenfinch and a Bellbird. The recaps were 1 each of Silvereye, House Sparrow and Dunnock. All were banded at this site 2 weeks ago.  We hope to get some movement between Jan's and the Quarry but we might have to wait a while.
Some of the team at work, Phil, Andrew, Jan & Sandra.

Eleanor making friends.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Halswell Quarry Sunday 7 July - a good morning

We had a session today back in the Quarry near the pond. After an extremely cold start we had a good morning, catching 36 birds of 6 species. There were 32 new and 4 recaps. The majority were caught in the first hour or so while the frost was still on the ground.

Species caught were - (Recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 1 (0)
Chaffinch - 2 (0)
Greenfinch - 2 (1)
House Sparrow - 6 (2)
Silvereye - 20 (1)
This morning's team. Andre, Ted (a mate of mine who came down for a look), Andrew, Eleanor and our scribe Sandra.


Andrew banding the Fantail, he was recently presented with the eminent 'Falla Award' by Birds New Zealand for important contributions over numerous years. 
It was well deserved. He also has a big birthday this week so we all wish him a great day.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Halswell but not at the Quarry - Thu 27 June

We had a session this morning in Jan's Garden on Kennedys Bush Rd. Although not actually in the Halswell Quarry which is our usual site it borders on the upper rim of the Quarry. We had a very busy morning catching 77 birds which is a record number for a  morning in Christchurch.

All were new and with only 4 species there wasn't much variety. The bulk of the catch was made up with 61 Silvereyes, which is also a record catch. The others were 12 House Sparrows, 3 Blackbirds and a Dunnock. There was actually a good range of other species but with Silvereyes being constantly extracted they stayed away from the nets. I had also hoped to get some recaps from the Quarry as Jan has seen a number of banded birds at her feeders but it wasn't to be.
Today's team, Eleanor, Andrew ( in the assistant Directors chair) Jan in the directors chair, Kenny and our scribe Sandra.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Halswell Quarry 20 June - a better catch.

We had a session at the Halswell Quarry this morning our first banding for a while with last weeks planned session cancelled for a variety of reasons. We had a much better catch than recent sessions with a total of 38 birds of 7 species caught. There were 36 new and a couple of recaps. I had hoped for a few more recaps, especially as the first bird caught was one, but it wasn't to be.

We were joined today by Colin who is a L3 bander and Steve one of his trainees. Colin is starting to do some banding and training at his place a few Ks away and hopefully we will get to swap birds.
The team for the day. Phil, Steve, Colin, Kenny, Andrew and seated Jan who admirably performed the duties of scribe in the absence of Sandra our usual one.
Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 1
Dunnock - 3
One of the Dunnocks had what appeared to be an old break in its right leg that had healed leaving a large swelling.
House Sparrow - 16 (1)
Greenfinch - 9 (1)
Silvereye - 4
Bellbird - 2
Andrew with the first Bellbird

Steve extracted and banded the second Bellbird, which was also the last bird of the day.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Christchurch - a couple of sessions.

On Thursday we had a session at the Halswell Quarry. We used the same site as last week which proved to be a mistake as we had a very poor catch. A total of 6 birds for the morning, 2 new House Sparrows, 1 new Dunnock, 2 Blackbird recaps (both from last week) and a recap Greenfinch. The Greenfinch was at least a bit interesting being the oldest recap for the species and the 2nd oldest of  any species.

On Friday Phil had a session at his place in Motukarara. He at least was reasonably successful, catching 21 birds of 9 species with 18 new and 3 recaptures.
Blackbird - 1 (0)
Song Thrush - 1 (0)
Dunnock - 2 (1)
House Sparrow - 6 (1)
Yellowhammer - 3 (0)
Goldfinch - 2 (0)
Chaffinch - 1 (1)
Fantail - 1 (0)
Grey Warbler - 1 (0)

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Halswell Quarry May 16 - Blackbirds and others.

We had a session at the Quarry this morning. We set up 3 nets around a fruiting Strawberry/Arbutus tree. This was with the hope of catching some Blackbirds that were feeding there. One of the reasons for this was to give some of the Trainees experience with larger birds. We were joined by two banders from Newcastle in Australia who were in town and wanted to experience handling NZ birds. With almost all the birds caught being introduced species their NZ bird experience was limited but what they banded were new species to them.

We caught 23 birds of 5 species. All were new and most were in their1st year. With 9 Blackbirds our main object was achieved, this being our highest daily total at the Quarry. Other birds banded were 10 House Sparrow, 2 Silvereye and 1 each of Chaffinch and Grey Warbler. The Grey Warbler was the first for the year.
Eleanor with Greg & Judith.

Judith with one of the first House Sparrows she has banded.

Me takin a photo of Greg taking a photo of Judith with "her" Sparrow. Kenny in the background doing nothing!

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The latest NZ Bird Banding Office Newsletter


Just received the link to the latest NZ Bird Banding Newsletter, It's well worth a look, hopefully you can get to it via the link below.
From the Banding Office:

·         Vacancies in DOC Terrestrial Science Unit

·         Reminder to order bands and equipment (and submit outstanding band returns!) before June

·         Life cycle of a bird band

·         African Ringing Expeditions

For these and other banding banter, download the 9th edition of BirDBanD.

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



Kind regards,

Michelle and Sandy

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Queenstown - very, very quiet

We came back last night after a quick trip to our son's property near Queenstown. I tried to get a bit of banding in but was not very successful. On Monday Haley come over from Dunedin and in a couple of hours we caught 1 lone Blackbird. After she had left on her journey home I left the nets up and caught a further 3 birds.

Haley with her first and only Blackbird
On Tuesday I had nets up for most of the day while I did chores around the property and caught another 3 birds. In all 4 new birds were caught and 3 recaptured but with 5 species at least there was a little bit of variety. The total included 2 new Blackbirds, 1 new and 1 recap Bellbird,  1 recap House Sparrow, a recap Chaffinch and a new Fantail, the first banded in over a year. The recap Bellbird was a female and the oldest female I have recaptured. The Chaffinch was originally banded on the first day of banding at this site, 12 Sept 2015 and is now the oldest bird recaptured of any species.
The Fantail was a first year bird.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Halswell Quarry Sunday 14 April

After having to call off Thursday's planned session due to rain we had a go this morning with rather better conditions. It was a quiet morning with just 11 birds of 4 species caught, all except 2 House sparrows were new. There were 4 Silvereyes, 2 Blackbirds, 1 Greenfinch and 2 House Sparrows plus the recaps. The 2 recaps were both originally caught at the same net site nearly a year ago.

I didn't take any photos today but here is one I have received from Rachel who trains with me down near Queenstown. It is of a Rock Wren with a band like object around its leg. Apparently it is sloughed skin but I think it looks like a toilet roll put on the bird's leg by one of the little Elves who inhabit the rocky outcrops and who use the birds as transport!!

Female Rock Wren - Photo by Rachel Hufton.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Halswell Quarry Thursday 4 April - Sparrows & Greenfinch

We had a session at the Quarry on Thursday morning catching 25 birds but with the catch dominated by two species there wasn't much variety. The day started out very promising with calm conditions and a good number of birds however the eastly kicked in and it became blustery and cold. With the wind increasing bird numbers dropped.

All birds were new except a Chaffinch recap, this was the first bird caught and at 483 days from banding is the oldest caught of any species, exceeding the next oldest by over 100 days.The rest of the catch consisted of 12 House Sparrows and 11 Greenfinch plus a lone Silvereye which was the last bird caught.
The Silvereye was interesting as its moult was not following the usual sequence and the two wings doing their own thing. Here is a couple of not very clear photos.
Right wing with P9 half grown, P8 & 7 full grown and P6 still growing.

Left wing with  P9,8,7 all half grown with the rest finished.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Halswell Quarry, Christchurch - the year's totals

For the year 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 we had 23 sessions, banded 641 birds and made 74 recaptures at the Halswell Quarry.  Most sessions were held on a Thursday morning. A few weekend sessions were held but these proved difficult due to many very unruly dogs and even more unruly owners.

Birds caught in order with recaps in brackets are -

# 1 Silvereye - 219 (38)

#2 House Sparrow - 219 (14)

# 3 Greenfinch - 84 (10)

# 4 Blackbird - 26 (4) Includes 2 Puli

# 5 Chaffinch - 26 (5)

# 6 Bellbird - 16 (2)

#7 Dunnock - 11 (1)

#8 Yellowhammer - 9 (1) including several juveniles that with a bit of imagination could be Cirl Buntings?

#9 Welcome Swallow - 9 (1) includes 7 Puli

# 10 Fantail - 9 (0)

# 11Starling - 6 (1)

# 12 Grey Warbler - 4 (0)

# 13 Song Thrush - 2 (0)

# 14 Goldfinch 1 (0) another 5 were banded as Puli outside the Quarry.

During the year two of our trainees progressed to Level 2 and most of the others are at, or close to that, level.

Queenstown - the year just past

I have just finished the returns for the Banding Office and have crunched the numbers for the Queenstown banding. Actually it is not really Queenstown the banding site is in Dalefield which is a rural area between Queenstown and Arrowtown. The total includes birds caught at the main site at my son's property on Littles Rd and at two sites nearby, Moorhill Rd and Thurlby Domain which are about 2km to the east and west respectively.

We caught 943 new birds and made 300 recaptures of 16 species. This is slightly down on the last couple of years. The lower total is probably due to a number of reasons mostly weather related but also due to fewer banding days.

Species caught for the year 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 were ranked from highest to lowest. (recaps in brackets)

# 1 Silvereye - 409 (158)  was also No 1 last year. New birds higher due to birds caught at Thurlby Domain but recaps down.

# 2 House Sparrows - 245 (67) also No 2 last year. Both new birds and recaps slightly down.

# 3 Yellowhammer - 81 (4) the big mover for the year up from No 11 due to a large number of birds caught at the Moorhill Rd site.

# 4 Chaffinch - 74 (12) pushed down from 3 by Yellowhammers. A big drop in numbers of both new and especially recaps from last year.

# 5 Dunnock - 34 (18) was 6th last year but numbers slightly down.

# 6 Bellbird - 19 (18) numbers down from last year. There were 16 males caught but only 3 females.

# 7 Tui - 19 (13) same ranking as last year but numbers down.

# 8 Goldfinch - 17 (0) very similar to last year.

# 9 Blackbird - 11 (5) a big drop in numbers from last year when there were 33 (28) caught.
 Blackbirds seem to be fewer on the property, possibly due to there being fewer sheep and a lot of rain meaning the grass was longer and usually wet. No proof, just a theory.

#10 Redpoll - 8 (1) a huge drop from the last few years mainly due to birds not coming to the stream with ample water available elsewhere.

#11 Californian Quail - 8 (0) all caught in a net at the same time. Most have been seen at least a month after banding.

# 12 Greenfinch - 7 (0) the lowest yearly total mainly due to smaller catches at the stream.

# 13 Song Thrush - 6 (2) a low total probably due to the same reasons as Blackbird.

# 14 Brown Creeper - 2 (1) the first caught.

# 15 Starling - 2 (0) a lot about but with wet ground most feeding on nearby paddocks.

# 16 Grey Warbler - 1 (0)

# 17 Kingfisher - 0 (1) there have been a few calling but the one caught was about the only one seen.

There were no Fantail caught for the first time in 3 years.



Sunday, 24 March 2019

Queenstown - a quiet week

We have been down at our son's place near Queenstown for nearly a week, back north Monday. Have endeavoured to do some banding while here but have been mainly unsuccesful due to a lack of birds. Rachel come over from Wanaka for a session on Thursday and Rebecca came from Te Anau today, Sunday. We managed to catch a few birds both days although they were mostly House Sparrows. I also had a couple of sessions down at the stream at the bottom of the property with limited success but at least had some variety.
Rachel giving one of her Sparrows its bling.

The combined totals for the week were 37 new birds and 7 recaps. Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
House Sparrow - 21 (5) included in the recaps was the oldest bird of any species recapturd here.
Most of the Sparrows have nearly completed their moult. This young male is starting to show his true colours.
Chaffinch - 2 (0)
Goldfinch - 4 (0)
Most of the Goldfinch were young birds
Redpoll - 6 (0)
Silvereye - 2 (0)
Song Thrush - 0 (1)
Bellbird - 2 (1) All were caught at the stream and included a female which was good.

I called in at the Moorhill Rd site for a look and found it deserted of birds. A Falcon has been visiting at least daily for several weeks for either a meal of small birds or a free range chicken. When I arrived the Falcon had just been chased away by the owner wielding a broom. There wasn't a bird of any description in sight.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Motukarara - an update from Phil's place

Phil continues banding at his place in Motukarara where he started banding last October after receiving his Level 2 permit. On Saturday he put a net up in his orchard and although he only caught 11 birds, there were some interesting ones. Silvereye, 3 new and a recap which had been banded on the first day of banding. Chaffinch 1 new and a recap which had been banded a week or so after banding started. House Sparrows 2 and the highlight was 3 new Welcome Swallows.
Welcome Swallow in the net

And in the hand. Photos by Phil Crutchley

He has now banded about 160 birds of 10 species.
House Sparrows - 78
Starling - 26 a lot of these were nestlings from the many nest boxes he has on the property.
Silvereye - 11
Dunnock - 10 Phil believes he now has most of the resident birds banded.
Welcome Swallow - 6
Chaffinch, Goldfinch & Blackbird - 5 of each.
Song Thrush - 3
Greenfinch - 1


Thursday, 7 March 2019

Halswell Quarry Thu 7 March - Sparrows, lots of Sparrows.

We had a session at the Halswell Quarry this morning at a different site from the last couple of poor sessions. With some food put out during the week we were expecting a bigger catch, especially of House Sparrows. And that was what we got and not much else. The catch consisted of 56 birds, all except for a lone Greenfinch they were House Sparrows with 53 new and 2 recaps. Both the recaps were originally caught at other sites within the Quarry. Despite the lack of variety it was still a good morning especially for training, with the majority of birds being in moult the three trainees had a chance to extend their abilities.
Kenney giving a birds moult score to our scribe Sandra.

Jan was given the job of chief bag holder. She had a hip replacement last week and is making remarkable progress. We all wish her well and hope the good progress continues.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Halswell Quarry Thur 28 Feb - a very quiet morning.

We had a very quiet morning at the Quarry catching only 8 birds but with 6 species at least we had a bit of variety. There were 2 Greenfinch, and 1 each of Dunnock, House Sparrow, Fantail, Grey Warbler and 1 new Silvereye and a recap which was banded 308 days ago and is the oldest Silvereye recapture we have made.
The Fantail was caught when it flew into a net as Phil was putting it up and is the first of the species that he has fully processed.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Queenstown - the last few days of the trip

We are now back in Christchurch after our quick trip down South. Except for House Sparrows didn't catch a lot of bird. In order to avoid Sparrows I put nets up where I thought there weren't any one day. Didn't catch any Sparrows and not much else either. Also had a go at catching Californian Quail again but without success.

Combined totals for the 3 days are -
House Sparrows - 29 (9) I also let a number of recently fledged go unbanded. One of the recaps was banded 20 Sept 15, 3 days before the old bird caught a few days ago. So banded 3 days earlier and caught 3 days later it is at 1244 days from banding now the oldest recap of any species.
The old bird giving me a farewell peck.
Chaffinch - 4 (0)
Dunnock - 4 (0)
Silvereye - 3 (0) all nestlings from a late nest in the garden.
Song Thrush - 1 (0)
Tui - 2 (0) Both were newly fledged juveniles, 1 male and the other a female, probably from the same brood.

The young male
His head showing yellow gape

The female

Neither of them had any sign of a tuft


Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Queenstown - several days banding.

We have been down here at Littles Road Dalefield for several days and I have attempted to do banding with very mixed sucess. Rebbeca (Bex) came up from Te Anau at the weekend and we had a session at the stream Sat afternoon which was pretty slow only catching 9 birds. She came here on Sun morning with even less sucess we didn't catch a bird untill after she left when I caught a few. On Monday I had another session at the stream but it was curtailed when it started to rain. This morning (Tuesday) Hayley came to try her skills and with the same setup as we had on Sunday. We caught heaps although of  very little variety with almost all being juvenile House Sparrows.
This evening I set a net up near the house with the hope of catching something differant. Initially it was again Sparrows althugh there was a very old one which was good. Then my Grandson Tom flushed a covey of Californian Quail into the net with me having failed miserably earlier. Of the 12 or so in the covey we caught and banded 8 including an adult Male and Female the rest being juveniles.

The combined totals for the period is (recaps in brackets)
Goldfinch - 6 (0) all caught at the stream.
Bex banding one of the Goldfinch.
Greenfinch - 2 (0)
Redpoll - 1 (0) the first for a while.
Silvereye - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 39 (6) mostly juveniles but included a bird banded a couple of weeks after we started banding here. It is now at 1238 days from banding our oldest recap of any species recaptured here.
Several of the juvenile Sparrows had very pronounced growth bands
Dunnock - 2 (2)
Californian Quail - 8 (0) by far the biggest catch far exceding the 3 caught in the past.
The Male Quail on left, female on right

One of the juvenile Quail.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Houghton Valley Stream

First off please forgive me for not posting for a while.  The Wellington group is active but the blog poster (me) keeps forgetting to put the results up on this wonderful forum. 

This is the first time that we've visited the Houghton Valley Stream site in about a year.  This site is very seasonal as it requires a good period of dry weather to be productive.  Luckily Wellington has had quite a bit of the old dry over the last couple of weeks so the stream is getting lots of use as it's the only open water course in the valley.

Ros, Kate (now a level 2), Barbara and myself pulled out 62 birds representing 9 species in the space of 2 and half hours.  It was ring and fling in Peter's grand tradition for a while there.

Species totals are - recaps in brackets:
chaffinches - 6
House sparrow - 6
Green finch - 12(1)
Goldfinch - 4
Dunnock - 1
Silvereye - 29
Starling - 1
Fantail - 3
Grey Warbler - 1

Unfortunately for us we had run out of AX bands so we had to release the Fantail and Warbler without any bling.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Halswell Quarry Thu 31 Jan - pretty quiet

We had a session at the Quarry this morning with limited success of a total of 19 birds, all new. The bulk of the catch was House Sparrows with 11 the next was Fantail with 4, all juveniles. Andrew claims the credit for 3 of these with calling them into a net the other went in on its own. This is the highest daily total of Fantail. Two juvenile Yellowhammers and 1 each of Silvereye and Chaffinch made up the rest.
The tally was probably affected by the warm temperatures as after a steady start numbers dropped off rapidly as it warmed up.

One of the Yellowhammers getting its bling.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Halswell Quarry 10 Jan - a good morning

We had a session at the Halswell Quarry this morning and it was a successful time. We caught 41 birds of 8 species with 37 new and 4 recaps. I think 8 species in a day is a record for the Quarry. There was a good turnout of banders and now that they are getting more experienced I can sit back and take it a bit easier. We were also joined by Andre's family including his two children. I love having enthusiastic younger folk about.
The Team all busy.
Andre showing off his prowess to an adoring audience. 

Birds caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 2 (0)
Starling - 1 (0) a newly fledged juvenile.
Dunnock - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 24 (2) our biggest catch of Sparrows at this site.
Mieke about to release a Sparrow.

Dax showing his mother the finer points of a Sparrow.
Greenfinch - 3 (0)
Yellowhammer - 3 (1) we don't catch a lot here and this is our biggest catch and our first recap which was the first one caught at the Quarry, just under a year ago. One bird was a young juvenile and with a bit of imagination could have been a Cirl Bunting of which there is a population about the Quarry.
An adult Yellowhammer left with the juvenile on the right.
Silvereye - 0 (1) a far cry from the 30+ we catch during the winter but still a good one being the oldest Silvereye recap we have caught.
Fantail - 3 (0) also the most we have caught in a day and included a Black phase bird.
Phil was the proud bander of the Black Fantail.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Canada Goose Banding

Several of our banding group were involved in banding Canada Geese on a small lake here in Christchurch this week. The study is to try and follow their movement about the city especially in the vicinity of the airport where they pose a potential hazard.

At this time of the year Geese and most other waterfowl go through a complete wing moult and have limited flying ability. The birds were gently herded into catching pens from where they were caught for processing.

A total of 66 were banded. All had numbered metal leg bands placed with 38 having additional colour bands in unique combinations added. Several also had coloured neck collars placed on and 4 had GPS trackers as well. The trackers are already providing great information.

In theory these birds could travel anywhere in the South Island so keep an eye out for them and please report any sightings to the Banding Office.
Some of the Geese in a holding pen - Photo Kenny Rose
A bird getting its bling

One getting its necklace. Photo Kenny Rose

A hive of activity - Photo R Chambers

And off they go for a swim. - Photo Kenny Rose