Caister beach
Welcome to the ENRG blogspot. We hope you enjoy reading about the bird ringing activities and experiences of the group.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Yellow Buntings this time.

We have been feeding an area next to the cover crop at Ludham for a few weeks now with the intention of catching some Yellowhammers.
 22nd December was our third attempt at catching any, the first was a non event when for some reason or another we decided not to fire the net when there were birds in! The second time, the net was set, birds began to arrive and then it sleeted down!

Some of the team with their Yellow Bunt's 

The third time proved much better. Numbers had been building up nicely with estimated counts of 40+ on first trip, 70+ on second trip and a staggering 100 in the area on the third trip, by far the largest number of Yellowhammers any of us had seen in recent times.

Adult male, 1st. Winter Female Yellowhammer's

However, they were proving to be very wary, sitting in nearby hedges most of the time and only coming down briefly to feed in small numbers. Finally after about 3 hours our patience paid off and we managed to catch 14 Yellowhammer and 1 Reed Bunting, all new birds to ring. Since the formation of the group in 2006 we have only ringed 10 Yellowhammer up to this year, so we were well happy with the catch.

Adult (left) and 1st. Winter Yellowhammer tail feathers.

Hopefully we can get another session in soon.
Also in the area were several flocks of Pinkfeet, Fieldfare and Golden Plover going over, 31 Skylark in the adjoining field and a Common Buzzard was hunting over the fields.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Bunting bonanza and another Teal session

Snow Bunting numbers at Caister have been fluctuating quite a bit recently.
The mild weather up to a few days ago has seen plenty of people walking on the beach, recent high tides have also played there part in washing the food out on a number of occasions, this all adding up to sporadic appearances by the birds.
Also there seems to be 3 or 4 different groups of birds turning up to feed, but only rarely being there all at the same time. This is why sometimes 10/15 get counted and then later 60 + etc. 
However with the weather turning a lot colder and Gary counting 80 birds we decided to have a go on Saturday (17th December).

'Processing the catch'

The net was set before first light and 3 releases later  we managed to catch 88 Snow Bunting. 
85 new birds, 2 retraps from 12/11/11 and  one from the previous winter 22/01/2011. While we had the birds another 30 turned up, making a grand total of at least 118 birds in the area.
Of the birds raced 57 % were Nivalis, which is quite high as most of the birds that winter here are normally of the Insulae race. Only 4 were aged as adults the rest being 1st winters.
A superb adult female nivalis bird was quite an unusual occurrence for this site. 

Adult female nivalis Snow Bunting.

We have also just received news of a Caister bird  with the aid of Colin's colour rings being reported at Cuxhaven, Germany on 02/12/2011. It was originally ringed at Caister, Norfolk on 12/12/2009 then retrapped at Kessingland, Suffolk on 17/01/2010 (colour ringed ), 30/01/2010 and 13/02/2011.

18th December saw the final duck session of 2011. It was 3 degrees C when we arrived at Hickling, no rain was forecast but as soon as the nets were set it started sleeting! Thankfully it was only short lived. Bird numbers had dwindled slightly with about 40 Teal and 10 Mallard coming over the pond.
 We still managed to catch a respectable total of 5 Teal and 2 Mallard all new birds. The Mallard were the first of the year.

One of the Teal ringed at Hickling on 15/11/2009  was shot just over 2 years later on 19/11/2011 at East Putford, Devon, a movement of 734 days and 453 km. 

Mr and Mrs Mallard.

Also on a nearby pond there was recent evidence that an Otter had been feeding,a small tench was found on the bank with its head eaten away. We have also been informed today that he has been back and had a 2lb Perch from the same pond!

Otter prey.

Friday, 2 December 2011

More Ducking

Sunday 27th November saw 4 group members arriving at Hickling for another duck session.
The normal nets were erected on the same pond as before. Sharon was home in time from a Wash Wader weekend to see and take part in the mad antics of mist netting ducks !

From the left two 1st. Winter male and an adult male Teal, being held by Dave,Sharon and Gary.

About 50/60 Teal were flying around and about a dozen Mallard, again the Mallard came and went early.
Fortunately some of the Teal came down and  we managed a record catch for the site with 23 new birds ringed with only one 'bouncing'. With 10 being females and 13 males.
The first winter males showed quite a variety of plumages, some were almost adult looking while others were just gaining their head pattern, another had no head patterning but had some vermiculated feathers on the back (see below).

Adult Male Teal

Adult male wing

1st Winter male Teal with head pattern just coming through.

Another 1st Winter male Teal showing a few vermiculated feathers.

A Woodcock was seen at dusk over the pond and several Pinkfeet went noisily over in the dark.