Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Out Cocking again

Last night I decided to have another go for the Woodcock at my site adjacent to Fygyn Common. I have ventured out on several occasions recently but on each time I have failed to catch, I have seen birds, but I could not get near enough to them before they flew away. On this occasion I increased the length of my net handle by another metre in the hope that this would get me just that bit nearer.


I had nearly finished the walk around the fields thinking another blank when I spotted this Woodcock. The problem with the long pole was the difficulty in holding it steady in the strong wind, especially when it started to gust and all control of the net was lost. I approached the bird from downwind and when I was at the right distance to drop the net I had to wait a while for a momentarily drop in the wind speed. This came, I dropped the net and I caught this juvenile bird.



After I processed the bird I took a couple of pictures in the hand and when I put it on the ground it just sat there for about a minute before deciding to fly away which allowed me to get the two reasonably good shots above. This is my third bird this season, two more than last year so I am going in the right direction.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Whoosh Net now operates remotely

I know I have posted a couple of Jay pictures recently but this one is special, caught in my Whoosh Net which in itself is not unusual. The net is activated by a pull cord from my garage window which is about 30yds from the net. The house is a further 30yds from the garage. I can see the net from my lounge window and often see a bird feeding on the bread in the catching zone. By the time I get to the garage, going the back way so I am not seen by the bird and get to the pull cord the bird has frustratingly gone. On one occasion I had a Buzzard do this on me.
I have been looking to modify the net activation from the pull cord system to being operated electronically with a remote key fob and capable of doing this from the house for some time. I put the finishing touches to it yesterday and set it up in the garden, tried it, and it activated ok. I then set it up again and went into the house and it again activated ok. Test complete and now for the real thing.


In the afternoon I had to go to the garage for a screwdriver and just as I opened the door of the house a Jay flew over my head and perched on a tree above the net. I stopped and waited and within a few seconds it flew down to the bread in the catching zone. One click on the fob and thank you, it was caught and it worked brilliantly.


This picture and the one below show how the net was operated with the pull cord on the right. The elastic bungee's are blue with one either side of the net that slide over projectile poles. The net was supplied by Peter Reid last year and if anyone wants to get in touch with him I can forward his email.


At the end of the elastic there is a length of nylon rope with a plastic loop which fit over the projectile poles and a metal ring which is held in place by a trigger pin in the vee of some Dexion angle iron which is knocked into the ground. Pulling on the white rope on the right through the 90 degree pulley pulls the trigger pins out, the elastics retract and pull the net upwards along the poles and then onto the ground flat.


This picture shows more clearly how the trigger pin is positioned. There is a trigger pin on each side of the net.


This is the modification.
The end of the black rope which was attached to the white pull cord is attached to the short length of orange cord. The other end of the orange cord is attached to the loop/hook on the 18 inch yellow bungee.
The black bit is a conversion kit to make your car doors work by central locking, available from eBay. The rod at the end operated by a key fob retracts and extends. The rod end is attached to a piece of 90 degree metal hinged in the corner. When the rod retracts it pulls on the angle iron and releases the pin which is holding the bungee under maximum tension being pegged in the ground at the other end. The bungee when it retracts pulls out the trigger pins on the net and the net fires.
One other important thing is the metal plate has to be pegged to the ground as well, the position being important. It needs pegging, leaving about half an inch of slack of the orange cord so all the elastic tension is between the stake in the ground and the firing pin. I tried setting it up with no slack in the orange cord and occasionally the tension from the elastic would set the net off if the plate was not exactly in the right place, so it gives you some room for error and does not affect the operation in any way.


Finally this picture to show you the layout in its firing position. To adapt to remotely operated did not cost a lot of money. It certainly was less than £40 which included the cost of the central locking bits and pieces, a battery, 200mm x 100mm aluminium base plate, 5m cable and connectors. It has been worth all the effort and fiddling to get it to work properly. Anyone who has a whoosh net will not be surprised with anything I have written but might find it helpful if thinking about a remote operated system and it's not difficult to do, saving yourself a lot of money as well.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Fygyn Common

I had a guest with me today, Heather Coats. She is the Leader of the Gower Ringing Group of which I am a member, she is my mentor and trainer as well.. This is her first visit to my new site so we were both looking forward to the it.
Weather wise, it was disappointing. There was thick fog, visibility was poor, it was cold and the moisture in the air kept forming into globules of water on the nets. Not an encouraging start. About 10.00ish it started to get breezy which cleared the fog, behind which was very bright sunshine.

The day mainly consisted of Blue Tits. One of the birds was a re-trap and the number of the ring was a bird I ringed on my other site which is my garden at Ffynnon Gro on the 17th November 2014. By far the best birds today were the two Goldcrest we caught. The site total since the first ringing session on 14/11/2014 is now eight.


Can anyone help with the identification of this Scat. I think it is a fox and surrounding feathers probably a pheasant. Any help with this would be appreciated.


This is what the Common looked like after the fog had cleared. Very bright, not ideal for catching birds in the nets, but beautiful to look at.


Species
New
Re-trap
Totals
Bullfinch
1

1
Blue Tit
11
2
13
Chaffinch
1

1
Dunnock
1

1
Goldcrest
2

2
Great Tit
1

1
Totals
17
2
19

Maybe you would like to read articles in our group website at the link below
http://gowerbirdringinggroup.blogspot.co.uk

Thanks to Heather for coming today and giving me her support.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ffynnon Gro Whoosh netting.

The plan was to have a ringing session in the garden this morning with my Whoosh net in the lower garden and a 20ft mist net near my feeders by the house. I set up my Whoosh net, yesterday afternoon, read for today. I put some bread in the trapping zone and again topped it up before first light this morning. I also put up the mist net yesterday and furled it ready for this morning.


Much to my surprise within half and hour of it being light I caught the first bird, this little beauty above. If I am not mistaken this Jay is the first in my garden with the Whoosh net this year having been busy ringing elsewhere.


The second bird to be caught was this Magpie. This is the first one for my garden and only me second one I have ever caught. A Juvenile based on the black area at the point of the first primary feather. These were the only birds to be caught in the Whoosh net today although I just missed out on a Crow.


The mist net was quite productive albeit there was a huge amount of Blue tits. The male Bullfinch is the third for my garden. You can clearly see the moult of the Greater Coverts the grey coloured being the new feathers.


The above Willow tit is the fourth for the garden having had three about four weeks ago. Typical characteristics which can be seen in the picture are the pale pain in the wing and the absence of a white spot on the mandible.


Only one Goldfinch which was a surprise This bird was a juvenile male. It had 2 old Greater Coverts and the red behind the eye and black hazel feather indicate a male.


The Treecreeper is not a common visitor to the garden.

Species
New
Re- trap
Totals
Jay
1

1
Magpie
1

1
Blut Tit
17
1
18
House Sparrow
1

1
Great Tit
3
1
4
Coal Tit
1

1
Willow Tit
1
1
2
Goldfinch
1

1
Bullfinch
1

1
Teecreeper
1

1
Robin

1
1
Totals
28
4
32


11species in the garden today I thought was a good result.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Fygyn Common. Biking bonkers 23/11/14


The weather was as forecast yesterday. It was dry and wind speeds of 5-6mph. I had my nets up and ready to go for about 07.40am The first round was a blank but the second and third both produced just two birds. A slow start but potentially a good day.


This Redwing is bird number 4 in a week and the tape worked again but only the odd birds are being caught. I think there may be only a few Redwing about at the moment because other than the birds I have caught, I have not actually seen one. There are a number of Fieldfares on the common and the first flock I saw was about 2 weeks ago. The other birds today were Chaffinch and Blue Tit, 4 birds in total. 
It would be about 08.45 when I forced to abort my ringing session for the day. I thought I was at a scrambling/trials bike meeting. There were four off road bikers that created so much noise and dirty smelly smoke it was unbelievable. One in particular had totally no consideration to even enquire if his activities conflicted with mine and kept running up and down on both sides of the Common in front of my nets rides. His bike chewed up the paths and you could see the dirt being sprayed up from the back wheel.      


From my point of view I may not do any more ringing on a Sunday, and probably Saturdays and Bank Holidays if I experience a similar thing on these days. All my ringing has been done on weekdays and I seldom see anybody, the occasional tractor and that's it. We all have to share the Common land but wonder if the use of bikes that churn up the ground are actually allowed.     


Anyway enough said about the morning ringing session. At about 9.00pm last night I decided I would have another try for Woodcock. It was frosty, the grass was crunchy and there was little wind and no rain. The worst possible condition to try and dazzle for Woodcock.
I just wanted to see really if there were more birds showing up. First field was barren but in the middle of the second field there was one bird. I crept up to it but I was about 12ft short before it decided it was time to go. As I entered the third field there was a second bird, again I crept up to it, got a little closer than the first and it flew off. I watched in my light as it turned around and came back towards me. It was that close I managed to catch it with my landing net. Talk about luck!


It was processed as an adult male, photographed and released.


I put it on the ground to release it and it stayed for about 10 seconds before flying off, so I managed to get this picture as well.

This picture of the Common I took today, Monday. In this area 4 snipe flew up as I walked through the grass.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Fygyn Common. Cocking last night.

Went out lamping last night for the first time this Autumn. The local farmer gave me permission to  lamp on his fields which are adjacent to the fence line of the common. I caught one Woodcock from two seen. I am hoping that sometime this winter I will also pick up one or two Golden Plover as well, having seen them during the day.


This bird was aged as an adult based on the four following criteria.

Adult alula has a pointed profile giving it a spear like appearance.
Juveniles have a rounded profile.

Adult primary coverts have a flat profile and a pale terminal band.
Juveniles have a more rounded profile with a terminal band the same colour as the rest of the feather.

Adult inner primaries show a flattened tip with a step between the inner and outer web.
Juvenile inner primaries have a rounded tip with no step between the inner and outer web.

Adult underwing secondary coverts have a broad flat tip and distinct barring.
Juvenile underwing coverts have a pointed tip and faint or irregular barring.


Based on the wing length of 203mm it was sexed as a male, range being 195-206. the female range is 185-202.

This was the first time I have lamped this field. A word of warning, walk raound the field in daylight first. There was one stage this evening where I lost my bearings for a while and it is a bit disconcerting to realise you are lost. Lesson learnt.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Fygyn Common. Another new species. First Redwing.

I can't keep away from my new site. I am enjoying it so much. You never know what you are going to catch and this is why it can be so exciting. This morning I was a little late leaving home. At 07.30 am the sun was starting to rise because there was no cloud coverage, yesterday at 07.30am it was still dark. The forecast also predicted a sunny morning from about 10.00am, and the wind certainly was not 7mph, more like 11mph or 12mph so it was not a good start.
Wendy James from the Teifi Ringing Group joined me today and we had four nets up by 08.10am. On previous occasions I have only erected two because it would be difficult to manage the site with more nets than this as a lone ringer. In nets 1 and 2 we put on Redwing sound, in 3 we had Reed Bunting and 4 Goldcrest.


First net round produced 2 out of the 3 Redwing. It is a long time since I have caught and ringed one of these. Both birds were Juveniles the 3rd later in the morning being an adult. The juveniles clearly showed the buffish coloured triangular tooth marks on the tips of the Tertials and Greater Coverts. In the picture above you can see a couple of buffish tips on the Coverts.


This Redwing is the adult. No tips to the Tertials and GC's. It had a good adult tail. 1st Tail Feather being wider and more rounded than Juveniles.


Another Reed Bunting, an adult male. They seem to be feeding on the seeds of the grasses in the common. No doubt they will hang around until the winter months when seed may be scarce and they are forced to forage elsewhere.


The white collar, black coming through on the head and the drooped moustache will develop between now and next year. The buffed coloured feathers in the head will gradually wear away over the winter months exposing the black feathers ready for the breeding season in the Spring


The two Willow Tits from today make a total of three birds since I started on the Common. This is good by any standard for the area. It is a bird that tends to be localised. There has been no sighting reported in 2013 in the latest issue of Carmarthen Birds produced by the Carmarthen Bird Club for this area.


Species
New
Re-traps
Totals
Blue Tit
7

7
Willow Tit
2

2
Redwing
3

3
Dunnock
1

1
Reed Bunting
1

1
Chaffinch
1

1
Goldcrest
2

2
Great Tit
3

3
Totals
20

20

Thanks to Wendy for the help today and her positive comments about the site.