Friday, July 31, 2015

The Quarry Birds

I met up with Andy this morning for our third ringing session of the season at the Cockerham quarry where there is a colony of Sand Martins. We were joined today by Kim, the latest recruit to the ringing group. 

After catching more than 160 Sand Martins on the first two visits of 2015 we perhaps didn’t expect a huge catch today but were more than satisfied with 34 birds - 31 Sand Martin, 2 Linnet and 1 House Martin. The catch of Sand Martins comprised of 12 new ones, 18 recaptures and 1 previously ringed elsewhere, most likely at a Sand Martin colony near Whittington in the Lune valley some 25 miles north of Cockerham. 

Of today’s 31 Sand Martins just 3 proved to be juveniles with 28 adults - 20 females and 8 males. 

Sand Martin - juvenile

A flock of 30+ Linnets were around the rough grass areas at the foot of the quarry and two found a net that was placed to catch Sand Martins. Another bycatch proved to be a juvenile House Martin which had joined in the feeding flock of Sand Martins. 

Our once abundant Linnet is now quite scarce in this part of Lancashire. The days of catching dozens are long gone as small flocks become the norm and to see just one or two in the hand becomes something of an occasion.

Linnet - juvenile

Birding was quiet apart from the aforementioned Linnets plus 2 Pied Wagtails and several Tree Sparrows. Two Whimbrel flew west about 0900 hours. 

From a different quarry today came the exciting news that two pairs of European Bee Eaters are breeding at Lower Gelt, near Brampton, Cumbria some 80 miles to the north and east of our Cockerham quarry. The RSPB - “Up to six adult Bee Eaters - two breeding pairs and two 'helpers' have been present on site since mid-June. The young are believed to have hatched and with the actions of egg collectors now not a problem, news has been released.” 

Bee Eater

I wonder if those Bee Eaters passed over Cockerham on their way north in spring and maybe gave a thought to setting up home in Lancashire instead? I’m certain that they would have been looked after although our Sand Martin ringing would have been curtailed in the light of a Schedule 1 species breeding amongst the Sand Martins.

We can but dream. But meanwhile this post is linking to Anni's Birding and Eileen's Saturday.

18 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, beautiful birds from your outing. It is awesome that the Bee Eater are breeding nearby. 80 miles to me is not too far. They are beautiful birds. Great post, enjoy your weekend!

Linda said...

They are so precious!

Barb said...

I've never seen a Bee Eater - they are such colorful birds! I'm not sure how you catch the birds to ring them? They seem quite calm held in your hand.

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Phil Wonderful news about the BeeEaters aand that is fabulous image. Have a lovely weekend.

eileeninmd said...

Hi Phil, just stopping back to say thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

EG CameraGirl said...

The Bee eater's colours are gorgeous!

HOOTIN ANNI said...

Lovin' that Bee Eater!!! I so wish I could watch you and others ring birds. That would be so fascinating. I'm gonna have to check into it in our area and hope I can 'tag along' with someone.

And your comment about gators growing up to chow down on the trophy hunters over at Eileen's blog...that was spot on!!!!

Rajesh said...

Beautiful shots of birds, very cute.

Andy Wilson said...

Love that Bee Eater

marsha said...

the bee eater is such a gorgeous bird...

Gayle said...

The Bee Eater is fabulous and I love that you caught the beauty of the barn swallow in detail.

TexWisGirl said...

bee eater steals the show!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

All the birds are wonderful and all are ones we only see virtually, more's the pity. Why would people collect birds eggs? Hate to confess my ignorance, but ...

Anni said...

Thanks, Phil, for sharing this link at I'd Rather B Birdin'. And yes, I agree with you about the stilt having babies somewhere close by...there was just too much distracting actions and trying to get me drawn away...

Happy weekend to you and yours!!

Wally Jones said...

A good day ringing Martins! Is the decline of the Linnet due to the usual culprit, loss of habitat? Or have they just changed their flight route or breeding area? Interesting about the breeding Bee Eaters. How silly of them not to recognize the superior quality of Lancashire.

Going on 18 straight days of rain and over 12 inches of the stuff for the month of July. Starting a mold collection.

Hope your weekend is terrific! Out early tomorrow in search of early migrants.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Nice work ringing, and what a lovely bird the Bee Eater is. I hope they make a successful comeback!
~

Marie C said...

Wonderful job you are doing ringing the birds and I always love seeing them "in hand" for their photo shoot! The bee eater is awesome!

Roan said...

Awesome! Love the Bee Eater.

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