Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Ring readers update - The Severn Estuary Gull Group

In days of old, before email, there was snail mail and getting information on ringing recoveries from the BTO was a somewhat lengthy progress. Today however things are thankfully different. On the weekend I got round to reporting the two colour ringed herring gull recorded at Bryn Bach Parc earlier this month via a link on the BTO website. I was more than impressed therefore to receive, within a couple of days, all relevant ringing/sighting information from Peter Stewart of The Severn Estuary Gull Group. Here's a summary:

1) Colour Ring: Blue MDB. Metal Ring: GR06391. Born: 2010. Ringed: Gloucester Landfill Site (SO8318). Date: 12/02/11.

Multiple encounter history at Gloucester Landfill Site until 11/08/11. Relocated at Grundons Landfill Site, Gloucester (SO9328) on 26/11/05. Then Bryn Bach Parc, Gwent on 12/02/2012.

2) Colour Ring: Blue 099: Metal Ring: GN84195. Born: 2004. Ringed: Gloucester Landfill Site (SO8318):  Date: 26/11/05.

Two subsequent sightings at Gloucester Landfill Site in 2006 no further records until Bryn Bach Parc, Gwent on 05/02/2012.

Peter was kind enough to provide me with the most recent (2010) bulletin of The Severn Estuary Gull Group  which is a very interesting read, if, like me, you've developed a liking for gulls. Amazingly Peter deals with around 15,000 colour ringed gull reports per year just for the Severn Estuary Gull Group alone.  

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Ten minutes or so

The last time I visited Tredegar House Lake I left flat and underwhelmed. But just as the appearance of a yankee warbler proves, things turn up anyplace, anytime. So motivated by a report of a drake smew I persuaded my wife that 'calling in'  for 10 minutes en route shopping was hardly a sacrifice.

First up was a small raft of black headed gull containing, eh, blacked headed gulls. A subsequent count of wildfowl was mildly pleasing with 20+ coot, 10 moorhen, three little grebe, two mute swan, two tufted duck and three statuesque cormorant. By now I was over my allotted time and very wet so back to the car it was but not before another quick check of the gull raft that had markedly increased. This time an adult winter Mediterranean gull popped in to my field of vision. Ten minutes or so of satisfying birding - I left overwhelmed.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Another tale of birding woe

On a day that produced a common yellowthroat, female smew, further news of the Slavonian grebe and the just out of county Dowlais Top Caspian gull the best I could do was a distant ringed Canada goose at Green pool LR. In fairness there were some other interesting reservoir snippets such as a couple of flyover skylark, a rather loud water rail,  male and female goldeneye and good numbers of reed bunting. At times like this I tend to re-emphasise the value of the commonplace - but that's only because I don't see much of the rare these days.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Whatever happened to Swoop?

On a bit of a round trip to various watering holes before finishing off at DSP for the goosander survey I called in to Pen y fan Pond where a makeshift feeding station had been set up in the car park. Smashing views were had of bullies, waggies, reedies and various titties as they fed on seed, fatballs and bread. This also got me reminiscing about bird feeding days long gone. In a time before seed was available on an agricultural scale there was Swoop. Swoop was wildbird food in a small cardboard box similar in size the budgerigar equivalent Trill. I remember Swoop affectionately as I used my pocket money to purchase 25p boxes from the local pet shop, and the RSPB's Birds magazine always set aside its back cover for a full page Swoop advertisement featuring Bill Oddie with long hair and a bobble hat.

On to Cwmtillery Lake and pulling into the car park along side two closely parked Corsas and Ford something or other I was greeted by the heady smell of burning cannabis  Pleasingly over 50% of the water surface was unfrozen restricting wildfowl to the open area where three little grebe were the pick of the bunch.

By the time I got to Bryn Bach Park It was mid afternoon but despite far too many people for my liking several hundred gulls were loafing on the ice. Rings were difficult to pick out but at least four were marked as follows:

1 x Black headed gull c/w metal ring on left leg
1 x adult Herring gull c/w metal ring on left leg
1x immature Herring gull c/w metal ring on right leg
1 x immature Herring gull c/w metal ring on right leg and black colour ring on left leg marked MBD in yellow.

The goosander count at DSP produced a nil return but 'stumpy' the amputee coot was still hopping around.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Ice is nice

A prolonged period of below zero temperatures is just the ticket for picking out those colour ringed gulls on icy water bodies. Yesterday Bryn Bach Park was completely frozen with a group of around 200 mainly herring and black headed gulls along with a handful of lesser black-backed all standing on the nice  glistening surface. Having earlier checked the gulls on ice at Dunlop Semtex Pond and on the roof of a nearby factory without even a sniff of a colour ring I was prepared for a similar outcome at the park. Much to my satisfaction there were a number on show. The herring gull tally was as follows:

2 x adult c/w colour ring on left leg, metal ring on right.
1 x immature c/w metal ring on right leg.
1x  adult c/w metal ring on left leg.

Needless to say I was unable to read any of the inscriptions save the above.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Some contrasting head gear

It's at this time of year that black headed gull's start to display the tell tale signs of summer plumage. Within the Cwmbran Boating Lake gull flock were examples of both winter and summer plumage with some half way between thrown in for good measure. For any student of gull spotting there's few better places at the moment to get to grips with the myriad of ages and plumages that typify gull identification.

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