Friday, December 30, 2011

iPhonescoping: the return?

Mallard digiscoped through Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece, Apple iPhone 4S and bodged-together adaptor

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The shortest day

Like last year, I spent 21 December on the farm trying to catch some birds. 21 December 2010 was cold and snowy, we caught lots of birds and had a big jar of Quality Street to devour. Sadly 2011 was not quite as successful.

But we caught a few birds around the farm orchard.

House Sparrow
male House Sparrow
House Sparrow
female House Sparrow
'Fascinating' fact: Both adult and juvenile House Sparrows do a complete moult after the breeding season (though obviously not all at once - that would be silly). So once that's complete you can't tell how old they are. But you can tell whether they're male or female.

Coal Tit
Coal Tit (sex unknown)
Coal Tit was a good catch for the farm, with only a couple ever caught there before.

'Fascinating' fact: You can tell how old Coal Tits are at this time of year (though I forgot to photograph the relevant bit). Young birds don't moult all of their greater coverts, so if you look carefully you can see  difference in colour between the old ones and the new ones.

photos taken with Apple iPhone 4S

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011


The shore at Beaumaris
Waiting for high tide and birds at Beaumaris

I've been for a wet and cold weekend in Wales (who'd have thought that Wales would be wet and cold in December?). But there was a good reason: to see cannon netting for the first time. After much briefing, we arrived at Beaumaris on Anglesey before dawn and set up the net. Then we waited in freezing cold temperatures for a few hours until high tide had pushed the roosting waders into position.

One of the 90 'retrap' Dunlin
One large explosion later, we had a net full of c330 unringed Dunlin, c90 ringed ones, and six unringed Turnstones. I'm glad I couldn't see me 'sprinting' the 150m (while wearing chest waders) between our waiting position and the net on the beach (sorry for anyone who saw).

Inside the hide
Inside the hide at Bangor

On Sunday we tried again at Bangor harbour (having failed on Saturday). It was horribly rainy and we then had to wait for the tide again. I was pretty lucky to wait inside the [leaky, hessian] hide instead of outside.

It would have the ideal place to have seen the red button being pressed... but unfortunately, the birds didn't get into the right position for us and once more, we didn't get to fire the net.

Pretty exciting stuff. And we had a great pizza (with free pint) at Gallt y Glyn on Saturday night. Thanks to the SCAN crew for showing me the ropes!

photos taken with iPhone 4S

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Small and sharp

I spent all day ringing at Castor Hanglands near Peterborough. We caught some nice birds - Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, a lot of retrap Long-tailed Tits (some a couple of years old), and this Sparrowhawk.
Before ringing a Sparrowhawk, you need to know for sure whether it's male or female. Males are much smaller and take a smaller ring than females. So you measure the wing and its leg...
This is a male. Mind those talons!
The feet are ready to grab you at all times...
Sparrowhawk feet
The pointy end! Don't worry about the hooked beak, worry about these
Sparrowhawk + ringer
Happy ringer (see how small the bird is)
Castor Hanglands
The fog never really lifted all day...

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I had my first attempt at ringing in my new garden today. It started well, with three birds in the net within 15 minutes, but that was the lot and I caught nothing else before finally giving up around lunchtime.

Great Tit
Great Tit: quizzical
Coal Tit
Coal Tit: innocent
Blue Tit
Blue Tit: "Grrrrr"

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Birds I haven't ringed lately

Whoa! Firecrest!
Firecrest (L) and Goldcrest (R)
Firecrest (left) and Goldcrest (right). They're actually the same size
Whoa! A massive bird of prey!
Er, no, not really. Just a little male Sparrowhawk hatched this year

Sadly, I didn't get to ring either the Firecrest or the Sparrowhawk, though I have done both before so it was only fair that someone else had a turn (grits teeth).

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640

Friday, October 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I have punted on the Cam

Punting on the River Cam 
 ... not very far, admittedly - I prefer to leave it to those who know what they're doing ;o)