Monday, 4 October, 2021, 10.52 am, Newmillerdam near main car park, sunny slight breeze: There’s a commotion amongst the black-headed gulls and a boisterous flock of 20 or 30 of them swoop and tumble over towards me from the outlet corner of the lake. At first I think that someone must be feeding the ducks and they’re falling out, as they do, over a snatched crust.
Then I notice that the pale brown ‘crust’ is moving about on its own account. My first thought is that for some reason the gulls have ganged up on a sparrow, but the manoeuvrability is un-sparrowlike and I wonder for a moment if it could be a late swallow or martin.
One of the gulls briefly captures it and it’s not until it escapes that I can see that it’s a small bat. It dodges around then escapes into the lakeside willows where the gulls can’t follow it and the gulls head off back towards the outlet.
Some day we will get it right for the birds!
First we put up a blue tit box and sparrows nested in it, so we replaced it with a sparrow terrace with three nest holes and the blue tits nested in it.
Now the blue tits are sub-letting to a group of wrens.
As I went to make our morning cuppa, passing the back door something caught my eye, I looked out at the sparrow box and in the half light could see a little head appear from hole number one. I was amazed to see a wren fly out and it was quickly followed by three more, they had obviously been using it as an overnight roost.
We had spotted a wren yesterday coming out of hole number three, while at the same time a blue tit was taking great interest in hole number one. Another blue tit attempted to investigate the middle hole but the one at hole one in no uncertain terms let it know it wasn’t welcome, although it didn’t seem bothered by the wren.
We watched three wrens this evening. One popped in the middle hole then joined the other two in hole one.
It would be lovely to think that we could have blue tit and wren making a nest in the terrace this Spring and a bonus would be a sparrow in the middle. Well, who knows what will happen with these contrary birds!
At a recent meeting of Wakefield Camera Club, I was asked to identify a bird seen perched in a tree at the bottom of a garden in Wrenthorpe. Expecting a jay, as this is the bird that most often crops up, I was totally suprosed to be shown an image of a little egret perched high in a tree in the middle of Wrenthorpe! The garden likely backs on to Balne Beck whcih flows through the centre of the village and the egret is feeding along the beck and maybe even taking fish from garden ponds. Whateever it’s doing there, it illustrates just how much the bird life of Britain is changing. I remember twitching a little egret in Chesire or somewhene when it was a real rarity for Britain back in the 80s. How far we come and now these beautiful birds are commonplace at most of the waters around Wakefield and even, it seems , in more urban areas too. Thanks to Robert Bilton for sending the images.
Little Egret in Wrenthorpe
Little Egret in Wrenthorpe
Setting out on our morning walk we are surprised by the piping call of three oystercatchers as they skirt the edge of Coxley Woods.
Our regular one hour walk involves a lot of road walking but is proving enjoyable with plenty of signs of spring in the hedgerows.
We have seen lots of dogs mercury and celandine in scrubby areas and over the last week jack-by-the-hedge has come into flower. Chiff-chaff singing and buzzard mewing are much easier to hear without the distant roar of traffic.
Low Lane is a delight with sweeping views across the Calder Valley, grey partridge bursting from the field and a skylark singing in the spring sunshine.
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.
Waxwings in Crofton
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
young male peregrine chick fitted with a Darvic ring
part of the team: Left to right: Mark Watson (ringer), Danny Kirmond (Wakefield Wildcats), Francis Hickenbottom (project co-ordinator, Wakefield Naturalists’ Society)
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.
Darvic rings are easily identifiable through binoculars. The female chick has been fitted with 4Z
Pergrine chicks in the nestbox
Taking the chicks for ringing
The ringing process
One of the chicks patiently waiting his turn
forming an orderly queue!
The ringing process
The ringing process
Looking a bit glum about it all!
The final check of the rings
weighing and measuring the chicks
and back home to mum
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.