dinsdag 13 december 2011

Auch, a Jay!

The past two weeks the weather has been great for seawatching...! But not for ringing birds! Abundance of rain and wind make it unpleasant to be out ringing birds. Still, I had a ringing session in my garden on last week's Monday resulting in 5 Blue Tits, 1 Chaffinch and 2 Greenfinches.
Greenfinch, 1cy female. This individual from last week shows the same pattern in the primaries as a 1cy female Greenfinch I ringed yesterday. 
You can see that P6,P7 and P8 have been moulted, but that the rest of the primaries have been retained. Note the difference in yellow of the shafts of P6-8 with the rest of the primaries. So the two Greenfinches I ringed lately both showed eccentric primary moult, which is interesting because it doesn't happen that often

Yesterday 12-12-11 I ringed the following:

Blue Tit 2 - 2
Greenfinch 1 -
House Sparrow 1 -
Jay 1 -

Total of 7 birds

The Jay was a long-awaited new species to be ringed in the garden. While I was watching the garden from my attic I saw it bump into the net! I ran downstairs as fast as I could and I succesfully extracted the bird from the net.The Jay was - as always with the cuties - very aggressive and made sounds as if I was slaughtering the bird. All the neighbourhood birds decided to check what was going on! I guessed all the birds wouldn't be coming back for a while after hearing and seeing what was going on, haha!
Adult Jay, based on the neat striping on the alula feathers, primary coverts and the greater coverts and by the fact that the outer GC has more than 8 stripes. In addition the bird showed squared like tailfeathers, which is a pointer for an adult bird too.

Yesterday afternoon we also went to see a Red-crested Pochard on Bussloo, which was a county tick for me! Sunday we had difficulties with finding it, but yesterday we succeeded. What a beautiful duck! Furthermore, a hybrid Ferruginous Duck X Tufted Duck has been present there for a while.
 The male Red-crested Pochard with its brother, the Common Pochard (Photo by Tammo Meijer)
On the left a female Pochard, and on the right the hybrid Ferruginous Duck. Almost looks like a real Ferruginous... (Photo by Tammo Meijer)

zondag 4 december 2011

Time for a regional rarity again

This morning it was time for some birdwatching again. The past days the weather has been terrible but the weather for the coming days isn't promising neither.. Anyway, this morning it was dry and Tammo and me decided to head off to the IJssel, to the Veenoordkolk near Deventer where Theo van Veenendaal had discovered two Snow Buntings on Tuesday. This is always a good (say rare!) bird inland. As the birds could be anywhere along the edge of the pool where it had been sighted we decided to split up. I went around left and Tammo went around right. Soon I flushed the bunting, on the southside of the Veenoordkolk. Cool! It showed really well, and it came as close as 2 metres distance. I quickly gave a call to Tammo and spreaded the news on our local bird alerts group. It's my second observation of this species in my county (saw one at the same place three years ago). And last year I saw one just outside my county on the Veluwe. So that makes three in total.
Snow bunting's aren't that cooperative when foraging - always keeping their head down - which makes photographing them quite an competition. From the many shots I kept a few good ones. See the results below:
My best shot of the Snow Bunting
And some other shots. We aged this individual as an adult female because of the fresh white fringing on the primaries and the broad shaped tailfeathers. It's a female because of the overall brownish colouration, with for example a brown rump.
 Look for the bird!
Tammo in action

While we were busy with the bird Maarten Kaales called us saying he would be coming to, to see the bird. After we had seen the bird we checked some other parts of the Veenoordkolk and just when we were about to leave, to go to my cousin's birthday Maarten arrived, so we could explain to him precisely where we had seen the Bunting a couple of minutes ago. While we drove back on the highway we passed the Veenoordkolk and we could see that Maarten was already busy with photographing the Bunting as he was laying next to the Bunting in the mud, good work Maarten;)!

maandag 28 november 2011

Two early winter visitors in the garden

In the form of a Redwing and a Fieldfare. Last Saturday I woke up and heard the call of a Redwing outside. I figured it was a fly-by but when I opened my curtains a little later I saw that the Redwing was sitting in our garden, and eating some of our berries. cool! Later in the morning I looked outside the window again and saw a Fieldfare foraging on berries, a first for the winter too! Yesterday it was still present and I saw it eating our small red apples in the front garden and through the window I was able to take a few pic's. This is the best one:
Especially the blackbirds like the apple tree in the front garden. In the winter there can be easily up to 15 blackbirds in the tree. But we've also had a few Fieldfares and Redwings in there. When there are Fieldfares around they always chase away the Blackbirds, apparently they feel superior... In winter I often drop apples in our back garden often resulting in long-staying Fieldfares. The apple tree in our front garden is also good for Waxwings;) Here a pic of a single bird present for only a couple hours in our front garden last year on 03-11-2010:
Made by Tammo

Also see:http://fabianmeijer.blogspot.com/2010/11/waxwing.html

maandag 21 november 2011

Beauty concealed in feathers

 Hidden colours:
In the wing of a Magpie.
Overall pic of the Magpie.

I caught this Magpie in my garden this morning. This was the second Magpie to be ringed in my garden. The first one I ringed was a juvenile and so was this one. It could be aged easily as a 1cy looking at the amount of white on the two outermost primaries P1 and P2 (or P10 and P9 the other way around.)
The white on the P1 and P2 doesn't come close to reaching the tip of the P, with an adult bird the two primaries would have a much larger amount of white.
Tammo with the Magpie.

I was also able to catch and ring some other birds. Check the totals below:

Blue Tit (Pimpelmees) 1 - 1
Blackbird (Merel) 1 -
Chaffinch (Vink) 1 -
Great Tit (Koolmees) - 2
Greenfinch (Groenling) 1 -
House Sparrow (Huismus) 6 -
Magpie (Ekster) 1 -

The Greenfinches have outsmarted me already.. Today was the first time again that I had my net up with Greenfinches around, and they already knew exactly the whereabouts of my nets, eventhough all of them were unringed! This morning I had up to five birds feeding next to the net..

I did catch this adult male though:
 Greenfinch, adult male
Wing of the Greenfinch

zondag 20 november 2011

Asio flammeus

My dad and I made a trip this morning to Zeeland, to see if we could see some cool birds. On the weather forecast we heard that there would be some fog this morning but that it would clear after a couple of hours. The entire drive to Zeeland we were covered in fog. We arrived at Colijnsplaat around 10.00, for the Greater Yellowlegs that already has been present for over a year now. But because of the dense fog, we weren't able to locate the bird... We decided to continue on, in the hope of seeing other interesting species. As we drove on, we saw that the fog had cleared a little and for a while, from 11.00 till 14.00, we had a view of 500-1000 metre, a lot better! During these hours we had incredible views of four hunting Short-eared Owls. I'd never seen them this well before. Two of them were hunting next to the dike, where the grass had just been mowed, which meant there were a lot of small rodents present. On the other side, down the insert, there were three other birds hunting. Some of them coming by really close. A couple of times they were mobbing a perched Buzzard and a couple of times we could see them mobbing each other. While mobbing the Buzzard they made a call, reminding me of a calling Snipe. Next to the owls, we saw about 4 Horned Grebe's, quite a few Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Peregrines, a Spotted Redshank, 2 Water Rails and lots of geese.
Just a few I picked out!
The one clear moment we had today. The rest of today was.......:
That's right, fog..
We ended the day accordingly, with a meal at the BurgerKing.

vrijdag 18 november 2011

The latest usual fare of garden birdies

This past week I've done two ringing session in my garden. One was on Sunday, the 13th of November, together with Bram, and the other one was yesterday, the 17th of November. On Sunday the first 1,5 hours of ringing were pretty good, but after those 1,5 hour the catching rate dropped and we only caught like one more bird the rest of the day! No unusual species were ringed although a Jay bounced against the net..

Sunday 13-11 with a 6 metre net opened from 7.30-14.30:

Blackbird (Merel) 4 -
Blue Tit (Pimpelmees) 3 - 1
Great Tit (Koolmees) 5 - 1
House Sparrow (Huismus) 1 -

Total 15 birds

Yesterday, after I got home from work at the Albert Heijn at 12.00 I opened my net as well. It was misty the entire day so the birds weren't really able to see the mistnet which resulted in good catches still in the afternoon.

Thursday 17-11 with a 6 metre net open from 12.00 - 17.15

Blackbird (Merel) 1 -
Blue Tit (Pimpelmees) 6 - 1 I was surprised by these good numbers of 'new' Blue Tits!
Great Tit (Koolmees) 3 -
House Sparrow (Huismus) 2 -

Total 13 birds

The Blackbird was a bit of a weird looking 1cy male, with some white feathers in the throat. There were some recent messages on the Ringersnet (the Dutch mailgroup of ringers) about dark looking 1cy females that some ringers had ringed recently. With that in mind I looked at this bird, but it still looks like a male to me (the black start for instance). Pictures below:

An example of a 1cy Blue Tit (male).

This morning there were four Greenfinches present, feeding on sunflowers seeds, hopefully I will catch some next time!

I still wanted to give a complete list of species banded/ringed during my two month lasting stay at Powdermill. Be prepared!!

American Bittern 1
Green Heron 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3 
Wilson's Snipe 2
American Woodcock 1 
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 3
Black-billed Cuckoo 2 
Eastern Screech Owl 1 
Northern Saw-whet Owl 7
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 187
Red-bellied Woodpecker 4 
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 4 
Downy Woodpecker 6 
Northern Flicker 11 
Pileated Woodpecker 1 
Eastern Wood-Pewee 23 
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 34
Acadian Flycatcher 21 
Traill's Flycatcher 9
Least Flycatcher 20
Eastern Phoebe 49
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
White-eyed Vireo 2
Yellow-throated Vireo 3 
Blue-headed Vireo 32
Warbling Vireo 3
Philaldelphia Vireo 16
Red-eyed Vireo 185
Blue Jay 16
Carolina Chickadee 1 
Black-capped Chickadee 20
Tufted Titmouse 16
White-breasted Nuthatch 7 
Brown Creeper 7
Carolina Wren 1 
House Wren 16
Winter Wren 53
Marsh Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 66
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 326
Veery 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush 93
Swainson's Thrush 217
Hermit Thrush 75
Wood Thrush 50
American Robin 2
Gray Catbird 228
Brown Thrasher 8
Cedar Waxwing 133
Blue-winged Warbler 8 
Tennessee Warbler 60 
Orange-crowned Warbler 6 
Nashville Warbler 91
Northern Parula 4
Chestnut-sided Warbler 61
Magnolia Warbler 402
Cape May Warbler 46
Black-throated Blue Warbler 95
Yellow-rumped Warbler 957
Black-throated Green Warbler 66
Blackburnian Warbler 6 
Pine Warbler 4 
Prairie Warbler 2 
Palm Warbler (Western) 61 
Bay-breasted Warbler 7 
Blackpoll Warbler 58 
Cerulean Warbler 2
Black-and-White Warbler 9
American Redstart 118
Ovenbird 58
Northern Waterthrush 48
Kentucky Warbler 1 
Connecticut Warbler 29
Mourning Warbler 3
Common Yellowthroat 196
Hooded Warbler 109
Wilson's Warbler 19
Canada Warbler 13
Yellow-breasted Chat 1
Scarlet Tanager 81
Eastern Towhee 50
Chipping Sparrow 19
Clay-colored Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 36
Vesper Sparrow 1 
Savannah Sparrow 2
Fox Sparrow 11
Song Sparrow 188
Lincoln's Sparrow 27
Swamp Sparrow 179
White-throated Sparrow 287
White-crowned Sparrow 13
Dark-eyed Junco 115
Northern Cardinal 19
Indigo Bunting 85
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 63
Common Grackle 2
Purple Finch 5
House Finch 10
American Goldfinch 393
House Sparrow 4

6133 individuals (recaptures exluded)
100 species

PS. For a Sparrow Quiz and a Late Fall update, check the Powdermill website:

maandag 14 november 2011

Saturday: a coastal visit

Last Saturday I went birding at IJmuiden with Tim De Boer and Jo Bouwmeester. I got up at 6.00 and with my bike I drove to Tim's place where we left with his car. We picked up Jo at a carpool along the highway at Soest and continued to IJmuiden. We arrived at IJmuiden around 8.00. We witnessed the beautiful sunrise on a crystal clear November morning. It was a while ago for me that I had been to the Zuidpier at IJmuiden. (I just looked it up: 2,5 years ago!!)
The Zuidpier ( taking from halfway down the pier), looking back to the mainland.

The walk to the breakwater 'Zuidpier' took us about 15 minutes. As we arrived on the Zuidpier we heard our first Rock Pipits of the day. As we continued we saw some Red-throated Divers flying. A bit further down the Zuidpier we saw a Guillemot swimming next to the breakwater. Later it turned out that there were quite a few present along the Zuidpier. Pretty cool, because I'd never seen so many present along the breakwater here.

On the massive basaltblocks, halfway down the breakwater a Red Knot was foraging together with a couple of Oystercatchers:
Red Knot

Suddenly Joachim jelled: Red-throated Diver above us! A single Red-throated diver flew past us, from really closeby. We were too late, but I still manged to get a close pic with the beautiful morninglight included:
Red-throated Diver

The birding on the breakwater was really pleasant, eventhough there was a cold breeze blowing from a northeasterly direction.
Birding on the Zuidpier

As we were watching the sea we saw a raptor coming from the sea. It turned out to be a juvenile Hen Harrier. A colourful individual!
One of the two Hen Harriers we saw, coming from the sea.

Not only Hen Harriers arrived from the sea, we also had quite a few Blackbirds, Redwings, Songthrushes, a single Mistle Thrush, tens of Skylarks, a couple of Chaffinches coming from sea. On the blocks there were plenty of Ruddy Turnstones foraging, together with a few Purple Sandpipers.
Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones. One Ruddy Turnstone is ringed, with both a steel and colourring on the left leg. It seems though, that it might have lost its colourrings on the left leg, since a single colourring doesn't really sound probable..

As we reached the end of the breakwater there was plenty of bird activity at the end:
A group of 24 Pink-footed Geese together with these 2 Tundra Bean Geese flew past.
Gannets were hunting among the gulls.
Kittiwakes were present between the Black-headed, Common, Herring and Greater-black Backed Gulls.

As we were checking the sea we saw a Skua hunting and chasing all the gulls. From a distance it looked like an Arctic Skua. But then as we saw a (or the same) Skua again it looked much heavier. Then, it suddenly showed up in front of the lighthouse. I was able to take three sharp photos as it raged by!
It turned out to be a juvenile dark Pomarine Skua!!

There was a lot of auk activity on the sea but some were difficult to ID, most of them were Guillemots but probably there were some Razorbills amongst them as well. 2 Velvet Scoters flew past, together with a teal, as well as 2 Northern Pintails. A group of 20 Black Scoters and 3 Velvets Scoters were present in the bayof the breakwater:
Three Velvet Scoters

It was really busy with fishermen along the Zuidpier! Busier than usual!

After a couple of hours we walked back to the mainland and we went to check the Kennemermeer. A lake situated behind the dunes. The shrubs around this lake often hold good species. And every now and then a rare warblers turns up here. On the lake itself we had a group of 5 Greater Scaups, 2 males and 3 females. Always nice to see! In the reedbeds, we had about 4 calling Water Rails. The bushes around the lake held quite a few birds, mainly thrushes (Blackbird, Redwing, Fieldfare), but no rare birds were found. As I walked back to the parking lot I had a Grey Wagtail flying overhead, calling loudly. As I reached the parkinglot I noticed a group of birds foraging on the parking spaces: Snow Buntings! The group existed out of 17 individuals, with some bright coloured males amongst them:
The Snow Buntings.

While I was observing these beauties I heard some noise: wingbeats: I looked behind my back and a Woodcock flew past me, coming from a small patch of dunes...! Amazing!

So as you can see we had a great day with a really nice diversity of species. More over, I was able to take a lot of photos. The same morning I was doubting if I should take my camera with me... Fortunately, I did!