Sunday, 2 March 2014

The future

Growing up and birding a coastal town, Blackpool, meant that my bird watching was able to be very varied as a youngster. I found my feet birding around the Fylde, in local bird groups and often traveled on organised trips out to various locations. Networking naturally came as part of these events and I came to meet some fascinating people in my local area.

I was taken under the wing of my local ringing group in 2007. Seumus and Phil were my newly adopted family, enthralled by bird ringing and migration, my interest manifested. Birding became a really worthwhile part of my life, I began to take notes and I started to feel really confident with my personal reliable records. I started to bird a patch, Marton mere LNR and kept religious notes. My findings were interesting, thought provoking, fluctuations in numbers and species were always noted, even no data collected is good data. I was introduced to Birdtrack and thoroughly enjoyed recording the daily comings and goings in my garden, patch or wherever.

By 2010 I was a fully licensed C permit holder for the BTO allowing me to live capture, mark and release birds in the UK, by 2011 I had landed myself a job in Sweden heading up survey work and leading an international team of bird ringers at a site called Kvismaren F├ągelstation. I also travelled and worked in Falsterbo during the autumn of 2011 and finally ran ringing studies down in Southeast Denmark at Gedser Fuglestation. In 2012 I repeated the process and in 2013 I worked only at Gedser and only for 6 weeks (early autumn). My time out in Scandinavia was incredible, I was lucky enough to meet and work with some great people. I learnt so much about migration, behaviour, pressures on birds etc. My passion for birds has grown into an insatiable thirst for knowledge, everything we see can pose questions, results from bird ringing recoveries for example, answer one question, leave many others unanswered.

My passion for data collection is astonishing, clean data sets encourage me to gather more and more info, 'citizen science' seems the buzz word nowadays and I not only love to contribute to my own notes but data can also be important on a national or international scale, so join in, submit your sightings, enthrall and enjoy yourselves.

The reason for this post is not only to promote the ease of citizen science websites such as Birdtrack, but to inform that my blog will be changing slightly as I look to answer more questions or ask more questions regarding bird behaviour, migration, breeding stategies. I will also look into the fact that migration never stops, it only slows.

I would like to thank all the people that have played a huge role in making me into the birder and data cruncher that I am now, particularly the following few.

Seumus Eaves, Phil Slade, Ian Gardner, Kane Brides, Steve Christmas, Bo Nielsen, Magnus Persson, Martin Carlsson, Jan Sondell and last but not least Louis Hansen.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

A summary of 2013

Last year saw some big changes in my life, new projects, ambitions, friends, birds, jobs etc. After working away for 2 whole summers in 2011/12, I decided this year I would work the majority of the summer in Blackpool, start a trial CES at my local nature Marton Mere and just enjoy the British summer. The CES went quite well with nothing unexpected other than a Cannabis farm to show for the long hours of bush whacking. Fewer birds than expected were caught due to poor weather presumably not aiding the breeding season whatsoever.

Below is a table of what the CES sessions yielded.
 
Species
April
May
June
July
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
0
1
1
2
Wren
0
4
1
2
7
Dunnock
0
4
2
1
7
Robin
0
0
1
1
2
Blackbird
1
4
3
0
8
Cetti's Warbler
1
1
0
0
2
Sedge Warbler
0
12
5
3
20
Reed Warbler
0
11
10
6
27
Lesser Whitethroat
0
2
0
0
2
Whitethroat
0
1
1
0
2
Blackcap
0
5
3
0
8
Chiffchaff
3
3
1
1
8
Long-tailed Tit
0
5
0
3
8
Blue Tit
0
1
0
1
2
Great Tit
0
1
0
0
1
Chaffinch
0
0
0
1
1
Greenfinch
0
6
0
0
6
Reed Bunting
3
1
0
0
4


 Worryingly small numbers of common birds were caught during the season and maybe that can be placed down to the net placings or a bad breeding season? Or is the site struggling under lack of management and over disturbance? At this stage we can only guess, but future observations will certainly help in pulling together a better picture of the sites diversity and I am looking forwards to carry on working the site.

Fylde Ringing group efforts for the year were great considering the amount of hindrance from the weather and wind. The group ringed 3245 individuals of 62 Species. Noteworthy amongst them were Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) (Ian chasing one into a wetland I believe.) 761 Swallow (Hirundo rustica) (Mainly taken at roost, though with increased man power we believe this number could have improved.) 100 Sedgies (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus), 108 Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), 132 Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) *. 56 Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) due to a huge effort by Phil Slade at the farm during a bumper Autumn/winter for the Northern finches. 79 Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) and 33 Siskin (Carduelis spinus)were also captured during the year but the undoubted species of the year comes in the form of a Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla). The Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) project was carried on and colour-rings began to be re-sighted, thus far they seem to be all from the Fylde coast during the winter, but I expect some Inuit post box somewhere is full of sightings waiting to be delivered.

The autumn after Gedser was a no go for me as I started Nottingham Trent University in October (Studying Wildlife Conservation Bsc) and my thoughts mainly involved beer and accruing debt. 5 Months on and I am loving it, the course is increasing in pace and beginning to flow really nicely. With the spring and exam period just around the corner it's time to bird really hard and revise just enough, my parents might argue the toss, but hey-ho.

2013 was good to me on a whole. 2014 is shaping up to be a decent year too, all that needs to happen now is for a Summer job to fall into place. In the mean time, I'll keep me fingers crossed and me bins on.

 * 132 Willow warblers is a fantastic total given the lack of breeding evident in the Northwest. Fleetwood Bird Obs recorded a great spring passage during April.

My bird of the year, caught at Gedser fuglestation in September 2013, during a mega migration week which I was able to share with great friends and birders. Louis and Gert. The below, Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva).
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva) - Adult Female. Photo: Craig Brookes
 Thanks for reading, I'll hope to update my blog fortnightly if not more often, please check back.