Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow

Friday, 14 May 2021

Halswell Quarry Thu. 13 May - a reasonable catch but little variety.

 We had a session at the Quarry yesterday morning with nets set around a fruiting Arbutus (Strawberry) Tree with the aim of catching Blackbirds and perhaps a Bellbird or two. Although we caught a reasonable number of birds in total only 1 Blackbird was caught and Bellbirds just sang from the tops of nearby trees. 

Twenty one birds were caught, all new with 1 each of Blackbird, Song Thrush and Dunnock. The rest, 18 were all House Sparrows, interestingly all but 2 were males. If it hadn't been for Alice extracting a bird as we were taking the nets down there would a ratio of only 1 Female to 16 Males.

Alice with the first bird banded for the day - the Song Thrush.
As you can see the morning started out pretty cold.

Most of the team. Left to Right Alice, Kenny, Ririka our scribe, Phil, Laura and William who was observing the joys of bird banding for the morning.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Halswell Quarry, Thursday 22 April.

 We had a session at the Quarry on Thursday morning with beautiful conditions. Well beautiful to be in but a bit much sunshine for banding, making parts of some nets very visible as the sun came on them.

 A good turn out of banders but unfortunately the bird numbers were below expectations. We caught a total of 15, all new. House Sparrows 6, Greenfinch 3, Silvereye 3, and 1 each of Chaffinch, Dunnock and the highlight of the day a Grey Warbler. The first for the year.

Eleanor banding the Grey Warbler. By its eye colour aged as a 1st year

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Halswell Quarry Thursday 8 April - an enjoyable morning and a couple of old birds

We had a session at The Quarry this morning, not a huge catch but up to expectations. We set the nets under some old pear trees which had ripe fruit. Caught a total of 18 birds with 16 new and 2 recaptures. The new birds were 5 Blackbirds, 5 Silvereyes, 4 House Sparrows and a couple of Dunnocks. Had hoped to catch a couple of the Bellbirds that were in the area but were unsuccessful. The two recaptures were the most interesting. A Blackbird that was banded in June 2018 was, at 1056 days, for a short time the oldest of any species we have caught at the Quarry. Then we caught a Silvereye that had been banded in Jan 2018 and is, at 1169 days from banding, now the oldest recap of any species. It was originally banded in the Conservation Area at the western end of the Quarry. It has been recaptured twice before today. Firstly at the Arbutus tree in May 2020 about 100m from today's site then it was back in the Conservation Area in June 2020.
Most of today's Crew. Back - Ruud, Archie, Chris,
Front Jan, Ririka and Kenny.

Babs (Barbara) who has handled the rare Black Robin with her first Blackbird
We had a couple of new people join us, Chris and Archie, both are Level 3 banders and gave our team a lot of very useful tips and alternative techniques. I especially found the exchange of information and ideas very valuable. 
 Although we haven't done much banding in the last few weeks we haven't been completely idle. The erection of 10 Little Owl nest boxes was an interesting task. We will have to wait at least a few months to see if they are successful.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Halswell Quarry - Thu 11 Feb. - A reasonably successful morning.

 We had our first session at the Quarry for the year on Thursday morning. With 20 birds caught it was very similar to the equivalent summer sessions over the last couple of years when we caught 19.  There was a smaller number of banders this year but still sufficient to handle the bird numbers. 

Most of the Team, L to R Jan our main helper-outer. Sandra our Scribe, and banders Eleanor and Andrew.

There were 6 species caught with 16 new and 4 recaps. As is usual at this time of year House Sparrows dominated and Silvereyes were absent in contrast to the Winter months. There appears to be a big drop in Chaffinch numbers, from being well represented a couple of years ago to being absent or near absent.

Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)

Dunnock - 1 (0)

Greenfinch - 0 (1)

Yellowhammer - 1 (0) The last bird caught as we were taking nets down.

Ririka, our Japanese student photographing the Yellowhammer

House Sparrow - 13 (2) about half were newly fledged juveniles.

Song Thrush - 0 (1) We have only banded 20 S Thrushes at the Quarry and this was only our 2nd recapture and is our oldest.

Fantail - 1 (0) A newly fledged bird enticed into a net by our Fantail whisperer, Andrew but he failed with its sibling.

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

A few more young Swallows and a few others.

 Banded another brood of nestling Welcome Swallows at the Halswell Quarry. There were three in this brood and this is the third lot they have reared this Spring/Summer.

Ruud was visiting a friend who operates a plant nursery near Prebbleton and while talking to his mate found out there was a Swallow nest in one of the sheds. When he asked if we could band them he was given the OK. Next morning we met up and with the aid of a rather long ladder were able to do the deed. Another 4 birds successfully given some bling. Our makeshift banding table was unfortunately empty.

I have also made an attempt to do some banding at the Quaifers Rd Wetland. This is mainly to try to work out how to do this and where to set nets in order to catch something. I think I have worked out what to do but now the majority of the birds, mostly Goldfinches & Redpolls have moved to the paddock next door which is completely covered with seeding thistles. Only managed to catch 5 birds, 2 Song Thrush, and 1 each of Blackbird, Silvereye and Dunnock. The Dunnock was a newly fledged bird with a lump on it's leg.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Some Banding Attemps but not much banding

 We have had a couple of attempts at doing some banding in the last few days but banded very few birds. We had a couple of Kingfisher nests under observation but unfortunately due to other commitments we were unable to get any of the chicks banded. One nest was in a willow tree and the hole entrance was too small to gain access. The other was in a bank, the chicks were there the day before we attempted to band them but they were gone when we went to band them.

This morning (Wednesday) we set nets up at a new site at the Quaifes Rd Wetland where there were a number of small finches feeding. Although conditions were ideal when we arrived by the time we had nets up the sun had come out for the first time in a week and the nets were very visible. We ended up catching only 3 birds - one each of Goldfinch, Silvereye and Blackbird. The Blackbird was in the process of moulting its primary feathers.

On Monday I spent the morning putting up nest boxes in the Halswell Quarry area with the hope of attracting Little Owls. Time will tell if we are successful.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Recent Banding - All Puli

 We haven't had any sessions recently, giving things a bit of a break while birds are breeding. But I have taken the chance to band a few nestlings. First brood was 4 Welcome Swallows, they were in the usual nest in the Men's Toilet in the Findlay Picnic area at the Quarry the same site we have banded most of our Swallows over the last few years.

One of The Welcome Swallows with its new bling.

Most of the others were in nests around the Village where I live. Two Starlings in a nest box at one of our neighbours. The others were 6 Blackbirds in a couple of nests. It's been a bit surprising and disappointing at the number of nests that have failed. I suspect a gang of Magpies, up to 14 of them that have been hassling birds around the village.

The last 2 nestlings banded were 2 Little Owls that Ruud had located at a friends place near the Quarry. Reports were that they were still very small but I decided to check to get an idea when they might be big enough. When I opened the box there were 2 at what I thought was an ideal size for banding so they were banded. These were the first Little Owls that I have ever banded so it was a bit of a red letter day.