Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Beer Head Ringing

Looking at the weather forecast for this week, I had to take my mist nets to Beer Head this morning because it looks as though I won't have another chance any time soon!   With a gentle NW wind and plenty of high cloud the conditions couldn't really have been any better, but I was a bit concerned about a huge low that moved slowly east through Spain/France last night - right on the migration route. Thankfully though this didn't appear to be a problem...

Only set one 60 foot net, and in 4 hours caught 19 birds of 9 species. Two were retraps (a Dunnock and a Wren) with the other 17 being; 

1 Robin
1 Wren
1 Blackcap
3 Chiffchaff
8 Willow Warbler
1 Redstart
1 Linnet
1 Goldfinch

It was shaping up to be a really excellent session, but the phylloscs quickly dried up. I caught eight within the first half hour, but from then on only had the odd one drop in (I'm sure not helped by the net moving in the breeze).  The Redstart certainly brightened things up though :-)

First saw it in the field, but within 30 seconds it was in my very well placed net!

Just love the head pattern on a spring male Redstart

Classic spring Willow Warbler - so great to handle a few of these again

I saw an unringed male Redstart about an hour and a half after ringing the first one (think there were three on site), but other than that there were just a few more Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs in the bushes.  Overhead passage was non-existent, the only notable bird I saw flying past remains unidentified! It was either a Goosander or a Red-breasted Merganser but I only saw it for a few seconds before it flew into the glare of the sun and then below the cliff.

Yesterday I saw my first House Martins of the year, with five over Lower Bruckland Ponds with Sand Martins and Swallows. There were plenty of gulls on the Estuary for most of the day, and among the 26 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were four intermedius-types. Also saw the Marsh Harrier numerous times during the day, including from the house last thing at night...

It's definitely a 2cy bird, but unsure of which sex. I keep thinking I can see a grey wedge on its underwing but the upperparts look female.

It was was nice to see several of the regulars (and Alan) up Beer Head this morning, spring is well and truly in the air!


  1. Cracking Redstart Steve. Can't you trap a few down in the valley? I'm not up to cycling to Beer Head yet!

  2. Haha! What is the status on your car Tim, a write off? Borrow Pit is the best spot for spring Redstarts in the river valley, see one here pretty much every year and always on fence posts just anti clockwise of the entrance gate.