I’ll admit I’ve not done much birding or ringing at all this month after seeing the Franklin’s gull, mostly because of the large number of deadlines and also commitments with my band. However, I can see light at the end of the tunnel (apart for revision, exams and then more work…) and I’ve tried to make time for some birding and ringing.
I joined Paul White and Simon Lane for some ringing on 15th. We started in Romsey, in a rather lovely 100 acre garden(!) and this gave me a chance get to grips with species I don’t usually ring including blue and great tits and also chaffinches.
We then headed to Chilworth, the University’s science park, to try to ring green and goldfinches as they came into roost. Unfortunately we didn’t have much luck, so will be trying again later in the winter! It was still nice to visit new sites and meet other ringers.
I had a trip to Marwell Zoological Park on 27th (admittedly not a birding trip!) but, when not recording the behaviour displayed by the Humboldt penguins, I spent some time watching the rooks – a species I don’t see very often. I was also amused to watch the jackdaws taking advantage of the food thrown into the meerkat enclosure during the meerkat talk. Always interesting to watch the wild birds, no matter where you are!
The weather was right for ringing again on 29th. Titchfield Haven sessions have ended now so we headed to Walpole Park with the aim of trying to ring the gulls there. Unfortunately, the gulls seemed unsure of the net that had been set up, so we’ll have to try a different tactic next time! Instead, myself and the other trainees had a go at ringing a mute swan each, which was different. It also gave me a chance to see Waldo, the wintering ring-billed gull who’s returned for it’s 12th winter!
There was also a small group of brent geese at Walpole Park, and, as seems to be the current trend, there were quite a few 1st-winter birds which is good news.
Finally, on 30th, I made it to Titchfield Haven for a brief 2 hours and bumped into Sean Foote while I was there. I started in the Meonshore hide where there were large numbers of snipe, lapwing and oystercatchers. Estimates on the sightings board reckoned there were as many as 80 snipe – don’t think I’ve ever seen so many before!! A peregrine flushed the lapwing also one or two redshank which I hadn’t spotted earlier. I was thinking of heading to another hide when a goosander landed at the back of the South scrape. It swam around and came rather close to the hide. I’d never had such good views before! Correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems like a more unusual bird to turn up at Titchfield Haven, especially in the scrapes and not the river?
We moved onto the Meadow hide to see what was about. Not much, but a single brent goose and a group of distant pintail were lovely to see.
The feral barnacle geese are still around too, but only 3 yesterday – there had been 5 in the summer. Finally, heading back to the car, I checked Hill Head itself briefly. I was pleased to see a number of sanderling with the turnstones.
Hopefully with the end of term looming, I’ll do more regular birding in between revising for the all important January exams. I’ve invested in a camera for digiscoping, so with a bit of luck and practise the quality of my photos should improve…