Thursday, 29 July 2010

A country on fire...

After arriving in Portugal on Sunday morning to blasts of hot air and the smell of the eucalyptus, I spent a few days in Porto, home to two of my dear friends Rui Brito and Antonio Perreira. It was excellent to spend some time with them, having a BBQ and chilling in Rui´s apartment overlooking the River Douro. We were joined by my long standing friend and frequent appearee on this blog, Paulo Tenriero, his wife Isabel and Miguel Araújo, with whom I am working on the Blackbird Project.

After a few days in Porto, we headed south, siblings in tow, to Coimbra, to meet up with Moxey and The Mothership at Paulo´s in Coimbra. A restful few days despite the intense heat, pushing 40ºC, in preparation for the hard work to come at Sto André.

The heat also brings some problems here in Portugal, namely the ugly forest fire, and we have seen plenty, although small, so far.

Fire in Ribeira - too close for comfort.

Across the River Douro

I am not sure how often I will get to update the blog over the coming weeks, I will try to do at least a weekly update, although pictures might have to wait until later.

Hunting for dragonflies near Cantanhede

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Quick update and Group Report

Last weekend at Brook Vale was a bit of a blustery one, forecasters getting it hopelessly wrong time and time again. So what's the point! Anyhow, despite the breeze, we managed to ring 31 birds, including two juvenile Sedge Warblers. Due to the wind, we had to play around with a few new net locations, which worked out well, picking up a few juvenile Blackcaps. Due to the wind, the reed bed was out of order and hopefully this weekend (which is my last until I leave for warmer climes) I will get an opportunity to net it again. Interestingly, despite a lot of activity at the feeding station during midweek, only the two Blue Tits were caught at the feeding station.

Reed Warbler - 2 (1 control)
Sedge Warbler - 2
Great Tit - 3
Blue Tit - 2
Blackbird - 7
Greenfinch - 1
Blackcap - 6
Chiffchaff - 4
Wren - 1
Dunnock - 2
Robin - 1

TOTAL: 31 (1 control)

Last week I put the finishing touches to the SW Lancs Ringing Group Annual Report 2009, a bit late I know, but it is the first report in ten years, so there was a lot to get in there! The report is full colour and 34 pages and features articles about the groups studies on Swifts, Barn Owls and Wheatears and is only £5 including postage. Visit SW Lancs Blog for more info.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Big Day at Brook Vale

Following Glastonbury, a midweek jaunt through South-west Lancs yielded six Barn Owl pulli, including two newly fledged youngsters that were being fed in the barn. This now takes the 2010 total to 28, with a significant number of broods to ring.

Brook Vale is now showing a good return on the hard work of cutting net rides and more recently, setting up a feeding station. I started off on my own this Saturday, arriving on site at 3:30am - just as most of my friends (who lead normal and relatively civilised lives) were returning home. Moxey joined me at about half seven, just in time for the feeding station to pick up and the ringing totals to rise significantly.

Juvenile Willow Warbler - one of two ringed.

Whilst the totals of warblers were low, the reed bed yielded little and a conspicuous absence of Sedge Warblers - should be fledging round about now. The feeding station has to take credit for the significant increase in totals since the last session two weeks ago.

There were good numbers of Greenfinch and Chaffinch in the willow close to the feeding station, with only a small proportion being caught suggesting that future sessions should be relatively productive at this site.

During the morning both Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were seen hunting over the reed bed and the Reed Buntings were particularly vocal yet ellusive. Once again, there were hoards of Magpies noisily patrolling the scrub and so it was refreshing to catch three juvenile Blackcaps, and two juvenile Willows and Chiffies. At least some of them got off!

Blackcap - 4
Blue Tit - 20 (1)
Great Tit - 12 (3)
Reed Warbler - 5 (2)
Willow Warbler - 2
Chiffchaff - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 4
Wren - 5
Dunnock - 6
Blackbird - 2
Song Thrush - 1
Greenfinch - 20 (1)
Robin - 2
Chaffinch - 5
Moorhen - 1

TOTAL: 91 (7)

With a busy week ahead, starting my first full time teaching job (on the Wirral), going to see Crosby, Stills and Nash with Moxey (proper father/son bonding) and ringing more Barn Owls, I hope to get out to Brook Vale again at the weekend. Depending on weather conditions, I might have a bash at luring some Storm Petrels - if anyone has any tips or advice on this, good lures, location or net tips....then give me a buzz.