Again, apologies for the lack of posting lately. Life mainly consists of uni work at the moment, and no-one wants to read about that.
I have managed to squeeze in some birding and ringing here and there though. This weekend has been the most fun.
On Friday night we went out wader netting, and although the catch rate was slow, we did get a nice range of species. Curlews, Bar-tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Dunlin, Snipe, Oystercatchers, Mallards and a Shelduck all managed to find their way into the nets. My night extraction skills are improving well now, just need the opportunity to practise some more.
I've never had luck with ringing ducks. Over the last 2 years I haven't ringed a single species, despite SCAN making quite a few decent catches. They've always been caught on the sessions I've had to miss. Fortunately, I got to ring both of the mallards (nice adult male and female) and the shelduck on this occasion! My bad duck luck was well and truly broken.
Saturday was spent doing a bit more uni work and then preparing for my Tenerife field course. I did manage to fit in some nice birding in the afternoon though. Zac, Conor and I headed out to Llanfairfechan reserve and notched up 27 species, with good numbers of Wigeon, and singing skylark and chiffchaff being the highlights. We then headed up onto Conwy mountain to try and see Chough. We didn't see any, but there were plenty I smart looking stonechats and we did bump into 5 other North West birders, including Rob Sandham and Rob Hughes which was nice. Finally we headed to Pensarn to try and see the surf scoter. Although there were the impressively large scoter rafts (Conor not seen these before), no surfies were found and I had to cut the search short as I needed to get back for climbing. All in all a very fun afternoon, and it felt enormously good to be out in the sunshine rather than stuck in the windowless computer room!
I'm a little bit amazed at how early spring is this year. Hawthorn leaves are coming out, there's lots of blossom and daffodils around and I'm regularly seeing bees, butterflies and good insect numbers now. Plus all the birds are starting breeding. I've seen house sparrow and blackbird nest building, coot sitting on eggs and all the males have their summer song now. Great tits, chaffinches and song thrush are really making it sound like spring! I really hope we don't get a cold snap like last year, that might cause all kinds of problems for these early breeders.
The next week will be taken up with a university field trip to Tenerife. I'm very excited and looking forward to learning about all the many and varied habitats and ecosystems on the island.
Happy birding to all and I'll update again at some point before the end of March :-P