Tuesday, 2 September 2014

What a way to end!!!

Today is our last day, tomorrow we start our journey back to the UK. Two flights will get us to Heathrow and then I have a 6hr coach trip and arrive in Carmarthen in South West Wales at approximately 1.00am on Thursday morning, it's going to be a long day!

Weather today was great as forecasted for a change. Catching conditions were perfect and we were not disappointed. It turned out to be the best day of our visit to Norway. In total we caught and processed 404 birds over 19 species. I have been banging on about Meadow Pipits for the last 2 weeks and today we had in total 243 birds followed by Common Redpoll and Reed Bunting. Two new birds for me, an Arctic Redpoll which is one of five caught during our visit and a Merlin which is one of two caught, again during our visit. In total I have ringed and processed 12 new species.

Siberian Tits are fairly common in the Finnmark area of Norway their heads are quite distinctive but there is a similarity to the Willow Tit.

For information they occasionally hybridise with Willow Tits.

The Merlin has been quite common all week, taking an interest in our ringing activities. We have had days where we have had two flying around together. Dave was good enough to let me ring it knowing it was a first for me.

As usual with Raptors care has to be taken when handling, especially the claws which can very easily draw blood from an unwary ringer. Stunning birds but ferocious killers if you are a small bird!!

Garden Warbler, the only one during our visit. Three were caught last year and none in 2012

Below are the final figures for the number of species caught and the total number of birds processed. Today it was 404 birds and was the most productive day overall with A garden Warbler to add to the species list and two new ringing ticks for me. The title of this blog sums it up very well.

Ringed Plover
Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint
Meadow Pipit
Red Throated Pipit
White Wagtail
Barred Warbler
Garden Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Willow Warbler
Pied Flycatcher
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Willow Tit
Siberian Tit
House Sparrow
Common Redpoll
Arctic Redpoll
Reed Bunting
Little Bunting
Lapland Bunting

Total Species 33
Total Processed 3369

I have enjoyed the 2 weeks I have spent in this beautiful part of the world. Both the bird ringing and bird watching has been excellent and hope there will be opportunities to return again sometime soon.

I also have enjoyed the company of Colin M, Dave C, Colin H, Stu and Sara B. We all got on well and never a crossed word.

See http://varangerringing.blogspot.co.uk for further information.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Whoa Black Belly (bam-ba-lam)

Why is it the weather forecasters can never get it right. Even when different forecasters agree it is still wrong. This morning was supposed to be 4 degrees C and calm. Instead it was 2 degrees C with ice on the grass in some areas with wind that at times was gusty and we were wondering whether to furl the nets or not. They didn't even tell us we were actually going to see the aura borealis.
Whilst bird numbers coming to the nets were down on previous days we still managed 182 birds with a nice mix of species including Little Stint, Dunlin and Redstart. The school children also arrived and Colin will expand on that on the Varanger Blog. I put the nets up in the garden this evening after spending the afternoon as tourists and only had two more Redpoll.

This Repoll is a youngster just like any other which was ringed today. It is interesting to see the other picture below.

It has this black wedge of feathers on its lower belly. The first I have ever seen. Colin H who is part of the team here told me after seeing this bird he has ringed a couple like it as well, in the last week. It is as big as the black belly of a male Great Tit. Could this possibly be a sub-species? If there is any reader out there that can give me information on this please do make contact.

As part of our tourist activities today we drove East and then North to Varso about 130km from Nesseby. It is an area of Tundra and is at Latitude 70.3 N, Longitude 31.1 East. We spent a couple of hours in this very remote area and took this picture of the crane with a Stellers Eider painted on the side. Stellers Eiders and King Eiders are regularly seen in this area during the winter period and the area is very popular with bird watchers.

Tomorrow is our last day ringing here in this amazing friendly country. We have had a lot of birds, eaten some great food and drank a few beers from the Northern most brewery in the world aptly called "Arctic". We have met some really nice people who have be exceptionally kind and friendly and very interested in our ringing activities. Colin has been to a school to talk about the ringing with the pupils and teachers and we have had two school visits which went well. The geography of the country is also beautiful, rugged in places which gives it that magic. I hope it is not long before I can visit here again.
It is forecasted to be warmer tomorrow morning at 6 degrees C, light wind and sunny, we wait and see.
Further information at http://varangerringing.blogspot.co.uk