Earlier today, Chris Swaine tweeted his sightings of a small flock of waxwings near the former Slipper pub in Crofton. Although there seems to be hundreds of waxwings up and down the country at the moment, these are the first we’ve heard about in the Wakefield district.
Chris Swaine, a regular birder at Wintersett, just Tweeted this great image of a raven over Anglers Counrty Park. This is a very unusual bird for the area and Chris informs me that he also saw it just before Christmas and Pete Smith also heard one there just before Christmas. It must be the same bird blogging around the area and I’m hoping I might just get it on the garden list if it flies over Ryhill!
The wedge shaped tail is unmistakably raven as are the long narrow wings. Ravens are definitely on the increase and expanding their range as a breeding bird, no longer confined to the coast or mountains but are nesting in ciities on cathedrals and tower blocks.
You can follow more of Chris’ sightings on Twitter @Croftonbirder
During the previous ringing of the peregrine chicks it wasn’t possible to fit the Darvic rings due to a fault with them and so tonight, again with the aid of licensed bird ringers, the Darvic rings were fitted. The Darvic rings differ from normal metal rings in that they are big, bright and easily readable through binoculars or a spotting scope. It is hoped that by fitting these rings, our peregrines may be identified elsewhere in the country and we will gain an understanding into how far they move from the nest site. The adult female holds the territory around the cathedral and she will eventually drive the chicks out as they head towards adulthood.
Danny Kirmond, captain of the Wakefield Wilcats, is a keen follower on Twitter of Wakefield Peregrines and so he was invited along to watch the rings being fitted. There will be more on this story in the Wakefield Express this week
In order to keep track of our young peregrines and find out where they head off to in the future, the chicks were today ringed by licensed and experienced bird ringers from the mid-Derby Ringing Group. This involved taking the chicks carefully from the nest for around 20 minutes to weigh, measure and fit a metal closed ring on the birds’ right leg. These small metal rings have a unique number on them which is logged with the Brtish Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and should the peregrine be found dead or watched at a nest elsewhere, anyone that can read the ring and check with the BTO will be able to find out that it was one of our birds.
The small metal rings are only really readable of the bird is retrapped by ringers or found dead or maybe watched on camera at another nest, so in order to make it more easy for the general birdwatcher to read, a bright coloured plastic ring is also fitted to the left leg, This large plastic ring is called a Darvic ring and is bright coloured and has large letters that should be able to be read through binoculars or a spotting scope while the bird is perched. Unfortunately, today there was a problem with the Darvic rings and they were therefore not fitted so as not to cause any problems with the birds in the future. New rings have been ordered and these will be fitted sometime later this week, The second disturbance of the birds will be very quick and kept to a minimum as the birds have already been close ringed, weighed and measured. Disturbing the birds at the nest for this short period of time for scientific purposes is done under licence and won’t cause any significant distress to the chicks or the adults.
An osprey was recorded flying low over Stanley Ferry Flash today, it was heading north, mobbed by carrion crows, Red kites have also been recorded on several days lately at Wintersett and Anglers CP.
Francis just sent in these latest images of the peregrine family on the cathedral. These are taken using his phone on the eye piece of a telescope which gives remarkable results and shows clearly just how big and rapidly developing the chicks are!
Went out with the camera today and as I passed Newmillerdam, I noticed two drake goosander very close to the outfall opposite Beauly Cafe. I pulled into the car park but as soon as I stepped out of the car they were off, so no piccies :¬(
There have also been a pair of goosander on the Calder by Chantry Chapel and these are giving great views.
Got a call last night to say there was a great northern diver (common loon for the USA visitors) on Cawood’s Pool at Pugneys Country Park and it had still been there at dusk. So, I set off early this morning as the sun was rising and met up with this battle cruiser of a bird as drifted across the lake in the winter sunlight. Cawood’s is a big pool and the bird was a way off, but fortunately just as I arrived it dived beneath the water and I ran to where I thought it might pop up only to find it broke the surface about a yard in front of me!! I was over-geared for the bird at this range but in any case it panicked, dived again and came up about 100yds away to look back at me. I got off a few quick shots before it headed further out into the lake. I always find them hard to photograph because, despite it’s size, they sit low in the water and there is little contrast or definition for the camera to lock onto. Here’s a shot of the bird which will at least serve as record of its visit to Wakefield. On the way back to the car, I came across some carrion crows drinking in a puddle in the car park. I’d already reached my car and taken the 500mm off the tripod when I saw them, but the light was good so I whipped off the 1.4x and stalked them hand held. Here’s a couple of shots I really like and were an unexpected bonus to the short morning session.
John Gardner (President)