Colour Banded Tui

Colour Banded Tui
C Banded Tui © Peter Reese

Sunday, 30 December 2012

A bit of banding and an old bird confirmed

Spent a couple of hours at the Houghton Bay stream yesterday (Friday). I didn't expect to catch much after heavy overnight rain but still caught 13 birds.
House Sparrow - 3 (0)
Greenfinch - 1 (1)
Goldfinch - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 4 (1) the recap was banded in 08 so a reasonably old bird.
Tui - 2 (0)

I have also done a bit of banding both here and down the road at Bridie's with not a lot of birds.
Blackbird - 2 (4)  the recaps included the old bird "White Eye" who was caught for the 19th time and at 3064 days is the oldest live Blackbird recapture at any site, but has a while to go to beat a couple of recoveries.
Dunnock - 1 (0)
Greenfinch - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 5 (2)
Tui - 1 (0)

Called in at the Zoo a couple of days ago and spoke with Nathan who was the keeper who found the dead Blackbird mentioned in the last post. He confirmed that it had only been dead for 2-3 days.  It apparently has been around the Giraffe enclosure for some time and was very confiding and well known to the keepers working there. It was last seen about 4 days prior to the body being found and the comment was made that he wasn't looking very well. As it was banded as a Juvenile this makes it just over 11 years old at the time of its demise and at 4021 days our oldest bird recaptured or recovered of any species, surpassing the Silvereye that had held the record since Nov 2007 when it was recaptured after 3817 days having been banded in May 1997.

This is the last post for 2012 and I wish you all the best for the new year. The past year has been a good one for old birds with a new oldest bird overall as well as for Blackbird, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Starling and Tui. I am away for the next few weeks so there is unlikely to be any new postings till towards the end of January.

Monday, 24 December 2012

A bit of banding and several recoveries

I have done a limited amount of banding in the last week or so with small numbers of birds caught at each attempt.
Totals caught for the combined sites were -
Blackbird - 6 (4)
House Sparrow - 9 (7)
Starling - 0 (1) a bird banded in Oct 06 so of a reasonable age.
Silvereye - 2 (2)
Tui - 1 (0)
Fantail - 2 (0)

We have also had a number of recoveries reported in the last few weeks and the most significant was of a Blackbird that was banded at the Zoo on 1 Dec 2001.  This was found and reported by one of the Zoo keepers who advised that it was badly decomposed but even if it was dead for 6 months or a year it is still the oldest recovery or recapture we have had of any species at any site. I hope to call in at the Zoo later in the week and see if I can get some further info.

Among the other recoveries there were 6 killed on the road. 1 Blackbird, 2 Silvereye, 1 House Sparrow and 1 Tui. A considerable number of birds are killed on the road over the Spring early Summer months and it is often assumed that the majority are naive young birds but as all these recoveries were adult birds so a considerable % are probably older.

I hope you all have or have had a happy and safe Christmas.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Zoo Stream - an old bird

I have had a couple of session at the little stream over the Zoo fence in the last few days. Had a 2 hour session on Saturday afternoon 15 Dec and another this morning 17 Dec. Part of the reason was to compare the catch rate between morning and afternoon and with some species there appears to be a difference. Caught 27 birds Saturday PM and 31 this morning so the overall the numbers caught were very similar. In all there were 52 new birds and 6 recaptures, the recapture rate is low but the majority of the catch were newly fledged juveniles. Among the recaps was a very good one and it is now the oldest of the species caught by the group.

Species caught were - (Recaps in brackets)
Blackbirds - 5 (1) all were caught in the AM session.
Song Thrush - 2 (0) this makes 3 in the last week, both caught this morning.
Chaffinch - 10 (1) 7 caught PM, 4 caught AM. The recap was banded 30 Nov 2005 and is now at 2574 days the oldest recapture of a Chaffinch at any of our sites. It was the second to last bird caught this morning.
Goldfinch - 19 (1) the 13 caught this morning is I think the most caught in one day, most were newly fledged juvs.
Greenfinch - 9 (0) 6 on Sat afternoon and 3 this morning and included the first juveniles for the year.
Silvereye - 1 (1) 1 each day and an extremely low number for this site.
Fantail - 0 (1)
Grey Warbler - 1 (0)
Tui - 5 (0) all except 1 caught in the afternoon and the one this morning was the last bird caught.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Houghton Bay 14 December - a 1 legged bird reunited

Danielle and I had a session at the Houghton Bay stream this morning. Danielle had traveled down from Palmerston North where she is a vet doing a post grad at Massey University. She is keen to up-skill her banding so she can get a permit for her study on avian disease in forest birds.

Although there were fewer birds than I had expected we still caught 30 of 8 species with 24 new and 8 recaptures
Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 3 (1)
Song Thrush - 1 (0) the first Thrush at this site since Oct 09 and the 3rd ever.
Dunnock - 3 (0)
Chaffinch - 1 (1)
Greenfinch - 1 (1) the recap was banded at the Zoo 3 weeks ago when it was noted that it was missing its right foot and lower leg and that the stump had a pox like lesion on it. The foot is still missing but the stump has healed and is looking healthy. The bird is in good condition with a brood patch and is probably breeding. (It was checked over by a Vet)
Goldfinch - 2 (1) the two new birds were caught together and appear to be a pair.
Goldfinch female left, male right.

Grey Warbler - 1 (0)
Grey Warbler with the red eye of an adult.
Tui - 3 (1) the recap was banded a couple of days ago and had increased in weight which is good.
Danielle checking the wing cord of one of the Tui.
Silvereye - 10 (2) a considerable drop in number from recent sessions.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Houghton Bay 12 December

I spent a bit of time this afternoon at the Houghton Bay stream.  I had tried to con a couple of people to come along as well but, no takers. Was late getting there as I had to wait for a serviceman to come and fix a stove so was very happy to catch 41 birds of 8 species. There were 34 new birds and 7 recaptures.

Species caught -
Dunnock - 1 (0)
Greenfinch - 2 (0)
Goldfinch - 3 (0) 2 were juveniles the first for this spring.
The first Goldfinch Juvenile.
House Sparrow - 2 (0)
Silvereye - 22 (6) the oldest was banded April 09 all the rest in 2011.
Grey Warbler - 0 (1) a bird banded as an adult in April 2010.
Fantail - 2 (0) both were juveniles
Juvenile Fantail showing their usual defiance.

Tui - 2 (0) also both juveniles

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Island Bay Saturday 8 Dec - some old birds.


Annette, Ros, David and I had a very successful session this morning. We had very good conditions with the forecast showers not eventuating and the southerly wind dying away. In all we caught 117 birds of 8 species with 106 new and 11 recaptures. 1 of the recaps is in the wait and see basket with a number that does not seem to be one of ours. The number of recaps was lower than I had hoped for but does include a few good ones.

Species caught were (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird – 18 (0) all but 2 were juveniles with the other 2 being 1 year old. One of the young birds had a nasty wound on the back of its head. It was starting to heal and looked to have occurred several days ago. 
The wound on the back of a juvenile Blackbird's head
Chaffinch – 3 (0)
Greenfinch – 2 (0)
Dunnock 3 (0) all juvs.
House Sparrow – 73 (8) one of the recaps was banded 24 Feb 2007 on our first banding day at this site and was the first Sparrow banded; not sure if it was the first bird but it is highly likely. It is now at 2114 days the oldest bird of any species banded and recaptured there. There was one Sparrow caught with a number recorded that is not in our data base so I will have to investigate it's origins. Interestingly 28 of the birds were judged to be juveniles with (including recaps) 28 adult female and 26 adult male.

Two of the male Sparrows had chestnut coloured bibs instead of the usual black, which is I understand caused by a recessive gene.
Male House Sparrow with chestnut bib instead of the usual black.

Starling – 6 (0)
Silvereye – 0 (1) it was banded 14 July 07 and is at 1974 days our oldest Silvereye recap at this site.
Tui – 1 (2) one of the recaps  was  banded Jan 2011 as a newly fledged juvenile so good to catch it as an adult. The other was a colour banded bird which was banded 4 Nov 2007, and is now at 1861 days the oldest Tui at this site. In the 5 years since it was banded the only sighting was in Zealandia July 2011.
The older Tui still sporting the full set of colour bands

We once again enjoyed great hospitality including a scrummy morning tea (except for David who left early)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Bridie's - a couple of old birds

I have had some of trapping sessions down the road at Bridie's over the last couple of days; on Friday evening and an hour this morning. Not a big catch with 16 birds of 4 species, 6 new and 10 recaptures.
Species caught were-
Starling - 0 (1)
House Sparrow - 4 (0)
Silvereye - 0 (5) The oldest was banded in July 07 and at 1975 days has joined the 5 year group.
Blackbird - 2 (4) A male that we have named White Eye because of some white feathers on the side of his head was caught for the 18th time. He was originally banded in August 04 as a first year bird so is now aged as a 10. At 3037 days from banding he is our oldest Blackbird recaptured at any site with only a female that was recovered after a fatal car accident at 3299 days from banding being older. Hopefully White Eye will survive another year or two and take over the mantel completely. By the look of the bill full of food he was taking away he is still breeding and is a busy boy.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Houghton Bay - Wednesday 28 Nov

Spent a couple of hours at the Houghton Bay stream Wednesday morning. After having had 2 afternoon sessions  thought I would see what was around during the morning. Caught a total of 24 birds which is much lower than the afternoon tallies but still caught some interesting birds. Six species were caught with 13 new and 11 recaptures.

Species caught were -
Blackbird - 2 (1)
Goldfinch - 1 (1) first recap for a considerable time, a bird banded as an adult about a year ago.
Greenfinch - 1 (1)
Grey Warbler - 1 (0) the first juvenile for this spring
Fantail - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 7 (8) a very high recapture rate for this site. No really old birds, 3 banded 2010, 3 in 2011 and the other 2 this year.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Zoo banding - Sat 24 Nov


With good conditions despite the forecast predicting showers we managed to catch 59 birds of 10 species with 39 new and 20 recaps. Ten species is a high number for this site but with a bit of luck it could have been higher. We didn't catch any Grey Warbler despite there being a number near nets. There was also at least 2 singing Bellbirds in the area. We didn't actually see any but the Zoo Keepers report seeing birds several times in the last couple of weeks. The other bird that would have been great to catch was Shinning Cuckoo, there were 2 playing chase near the double vertical net but unfortunately they took a right turn when a left might have put them into the net. 
As was to be expected a number of species like Blackbird, House Sparrow and Starling had a number of juveniles amongst the catch. 
Juvenile Blackbird being processed

There was a good turn out of people which was pleasing as there is so much on at this time of year.
Young Stan taking a break to have a bite to eat
Species caught were – (recaps in brackets)

Blackbird – 10 (0) they were mostly juveniles with 2 nestlings as well from a nest about 10 m from the banding station.
Mrs Blackbird back brooding her newly banded chicks

Dunnock – 3 (4) the highest total we have caught at the Zoo and reverses the trend of lower numbers over the last couple of years.
Chaffinch – 1 (0)
Greenfinch – 5 (2) 1 of the recaps was banded at the Zoo in Sept 08 as an adult so is now a 6+ bird and was caught at Hornsey Rd a couple of times this year.
House Sparrow – 10 (1)
Fantail – 1 (0) this was a juvenile and there seem to be several family groups in the area which is good to see.
Song Thrush – 1 (0) our first since May and only the second for the year.
Starling – 5 (0) there had been a huge number of newly fledged birds about earlier in the week but they seemed to disperse about Thursday.
Tui – 1 (0)
Silvereye – 2 (13) with only 2 new birds and I of those being a juvenile it seems we have most of the resident Silvereye banded. 3 of the recaps were banded in 2009 with 1 recaptured for the first time; another was banded in May 06 so has passed the 5 year mark

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Houghton Bay - Mostly Silvereyes

I have had a couple of short sessions at Houghton Bay; this afternoon and another a few days ago. Caught a total of 89 birds of 9 species, with 73 new and 16 recaptures.

Species caught were (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 3 (2) the oldest recap was banded Dec 08 and is now the oldest Blackbird banded and recaptured at this site.
Chaffinch - 6 (0)
Greenfinch -1 (0)
Goldfinch - 2 (0)
Dunnock - 1 (0)
Fantail - 1 (0)
Grey Warbler - 2 (0)
House Sparrow - 2 (0)
Tui - 1 (1) The recap was banded Nov 10
Silvereye - 72 (13) The oldest recap was banded on 19 Jan 08 at the first session at this site and is now the oldest bird of any species banded and recaptured there. It was good to get a resonable number of recaps with all but 1 being banded at this site. This is in sharp contrast to the last 12 months when very few locally banded birds have been recaptured.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

An old Tui Recovery

Recieved a recovery report from the DOC Banding Office of a Tui caught by a cat in Hataitai. It was a colour banded bird that was banded at the Zoo as an adult in Aug 2004 so would have now been at least 10 years old. This is our longest Tui recovery, recapture or sighting. Surpisingly this was also the first report of it since it was banded so where has it been for the last 8 years?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Hornsey Rd - A mixed bag

I have done a bit of banding in the last couple of days both here and down the road at Bridie's. I caught 33 birds of 6 species with 11 new and 22 recaptures.
Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird 1 (6)
Chaffinch 1 (0)
House Sparrow 2 (0)
Silvereye 0 (9) The oldest recap was from May 09
Starling 6 (5) Included in the recaps was another bird over 5 years making 7 in the last week or so.
Tui 1 (0) It is very unusual to catch a Tui in a trap, this bird was entering the trap and licking the juice out of half eaten apples.

We had an interesting recovery report yesterday. A Silvereye that was banded on Mt Albert in March 2005, recaptured by Ralph in Roseneath in Nov 07, was caught by a cat in Hataitai. It is now in the bird collection at Te Papa.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Hornsey Rd - Some Old Starlings

I have done some trapping both here and down the road at Bridie's in the last few days. The main target was Starlings which are easier to catch when they are feeding young because they loose some of their usual caution.  Managed to catch 12 of which 8 were already banded, and amazingly 6 of these recaps proved to be at least 5 years since being banded.

These birds were banded (with days from banding to recapture in brackets)
Nov 07 (1834)
Oct 07 (1853)
Oct 06 (2532) Banded at the Zoo
Nov 05 (2532)
Aug 05 (2651)
May 04 (3092) This last bird is now the oldest Starling recaptured by the Group at any site.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Houghton Bay Friday 9 Nov

Spent a couple of hours at the Houghton Bay stream this morning, caught 34 birds of 6 species with 32 new but only 2 recaps.
Species caught -
Blackbird - 5 (1)
Greenfinch - 3 (0)
Goldfinch - 1 (0)
House Sparrow - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 22 (0)
Grey Warbler - 0 (1)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Island Bay 6 Nov - Lots of birds


Ros, Danielle and I had a busy morning at Island Bay yesterday. There was a strong southerly wind blowing which made it very cold but the threatening rain held off and fortunately the net site is sheltered from the worst of the wind. Danielle is an avian Vet at the Zoo and wanted some more experience with handling and banding small passerines so with a constant flow of birds I think she achieved this.
Danielle and Ros busy at the net
And busy at the banding table
The "Totem Pole" with bags of birds

In all we caught 93 birds of 8 species with 75 new and 18 recaptures. Among the recaps there were several interesting birds. Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 7 (4) Most of the recaps were banded as Juvs last year.
Dunnock - 1 (0) This continues the trend of the last 2 years of very low Dunnock numbers at all our sites. Not sure why, perhaps they have had poor breeding success.
Chaffinch - 4 (1) The recap was banded 15 Sept 07 and at 1879 days is not only the oldest Chaffinch but the oldest bird of any species banded and recaptured at this site. It is also the second oldest Chaffinch recaptured at any of our sites.
Greenfinch - 1 (0)
Silvereye - 0 (1) A bird banded in June 09
Starling - 10 (2) One of the recaps was banded at Houghton Bay in Jan 08 and is now at 1752 days the oldest Starling recaptured at this site.
House Sparrow - 46 (10) Most of the recaps were banded in the last 2 years but one was banded in Nov 08
Tui - 6 (0) A bit disappointing not to get any recaps as there were a number about but then I think Tui are quick learners. The brown/fawn (Leucistic/Isabelline?) that has been at this site for a while was about but having hit the net last month avoids it with ease.

As usual we were treated to great hospitality by Marion and Ken including a great morning tea feast and several hot warming drinks.
The morning's feast waiting for a break in bird numbers

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Not much banding being done

My projected 3 days in Hospital turned into nearly 3 weeks so no banding done. Yesterday 30 Oct I had my first attempt setting the funnel trap and managed to catch 12 birds before a side effect of my surgery caused the unsetting of the trap and I was back in Hospital for the night.

Of the birds caught there were 3 new House Sparrow + 1 recap, 1 new Greenfinch +1 which was banded at the Zoo last year in May and 2 new Silvereye with 4 recaptures.

Probably won't be much banding for a while but I am hoping to have sessions at Island and Houghton Bays and possible the Zoo in the next few weeks.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Hornsey Rd 7 October - Silvereyes

I set the funnel trap here this morning and caught 31 birds.  Almost all were Silvereyes which have returned to the area in the last couple of weeks. Of the 26 caught only 2 were new but 9 of the recaptured birds had not been caught at this site this year. Of the 11 that had been banded in 2012 6 had been banded at the Mt Albert site last autumn. The oldest one caught was banded in June 2007 so was of a reasonable age.

Other birds caught were 3 new Greenfinch and 1 recap and a new Blackbird.

It's unlikely that there will be another post for at least a week as I am off for a bit of an op tomorrow which will put me out of action for a while. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Not much banding this week.

With 2 grandchildren staying and a bad forecast most days there has not been much banding going on. I did manage to get down to the Houghton Bay Stream for a while but there were very few birds about, only caught 4 Silvereyes with 1 in moult.

Also set the trap at Bridie's for a while one evening but didn't catch many birds. However, I did recapture a Blackbird that was banded 5 Sept 2004. This bird is now our oldest recaptured Blackbird at any site, although we have had an older bird but that was recovered dead. The latest recapture was banded as an age 1 and now is age 11. This bird has been recaptured 10 times already and hopefully we will catch it again over the next few years.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Hornsey Rd 25 Sept - Greenfinch

This post is a bit late but I have been trying to get up to date with data entry. On Tuesday I set the funnel trap here to try and catch some more of the Greenfinch that have turned up in the last few weeks. Managed to catch a total of 15 which is as many as was caught here all last year. There were 6 new birds and 9 recaptures with 7 of the recaps being banded at the Zoo. 2 were banded last Saturday = 3 days, 1 in August = 1 month, 1 2010 = 2 years, 1 in 2008 = 4 years and 1 in May 2007 = 5+ years. This bird is now the oldest Greenfinch we have caught at any site, surpassing the bird caught last week by 4 months. Amazing that having banded here for 20 years and at the Zoo for 12 years these are the first Greenfinch we have recaptured over 5 years from being banded, and now 2 in one week.

Also recaptured a House Sparrow and 4 Silvereyes; the first Silvereyes for 2 months.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Houghton Bay 24 Sept - Silvereyes

Ros and I had a session at the Houghton Bay Stream this morning with the principal aim of catching Silvereyes and checking for moult. We were successful with this and as well caught a few other birds. In all we caught 75 birds of 5 species with 63 new and 12 recaps.

Species caught were -
Blackbird - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 2 (0)
Greenfinch - 1 (0)
Grey Warbler - 1 (2) the oldest was banded Nov 2010
All the Grey Warblers had the reddish eyes of adult birds
Silvereye - 58 (9) 16 of the new birds and 3 of the recaps were in moult.  With this being just over 25% it is a significant number. Whether this is an unusual year with a lot of late fledged birds delaying the moult until the spring or whether we have not paid enough attention other years (and also not usually catching very many spring birds) I am not sure.

Of the 9 recaptures only 1 was banded at this site; with over 3300 banded there in the last 5 years this is surprising. 5 birds were banded at the Mt Albert site with 4 being from the 164 that were banded this year, 2 were from Hornsey Rd and another from Houghton Valley School.

There were several Silvereyes with pox-like lesions mostly on the foot but one had a large one below the eye.
Silvereye with pox like lesion 
  On a slightly different subject we had a report from a Zoo staff member that a band combination had been recovered from the remains (just the legs) of a bird in the Serval enclosure. On checking our records I found that this was not one of our birds. Suspecting it might be a Bellbird from Zealandia I forwarded the report on to them and was extremely surprised to hear back that it was a Hihi (Stichbird) that had made its way across town.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Wellington Zoo Saturday 22 Sept


We had a reasonably successful session at the Zoo on Saturday with a total catch of 57 birds of 6 species with 34 new and 23 recaptures. This number is fairly typical for this time of year. Conditions were very calm which was good but also very sunny which made some of the nets very visible, especially at a new site where I had misjudged the sun’s angle and it produced very few birds for the day. There was not a big turnout of people but those who did come arrived at suitable times.
Three of our younger helpers who did a great job as couriers. In the background is Ros who was the organiser, bander and general 'go to' whose help  made a huge difference to the day's success.

Species caught were – (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird – 0 (3) all had been banded in the last couple of years.
Dunnock – 1 (1) the recap was banded in July 10.
Although the Dunnock recap is aged 3+ it still has a brown eye

Greenfinch – 21 (6) the oldest bird had been banded in March 08 and is much travelled; originally banded in the Gully below my house it was then caught in Island Bay and now twice at the Zoo.
Last Wednesday I set the trap at Bridie's; didn't catch many birds but did catch a Greenfinch that was banded at the Zoo on 8 Sept 07. This bird is now our oldest Greenfinch recap at any site, the first over 5 years (only by 11 days) and also only our second Finch.

House Sparrow – 10 (3) the oldest was banded in March 10
Silvereye – 0 (10) amazing to get 10 recaps and no new birds; must have most of the resident birds banded? Four of the birds were banded in 2010 and another in May 2007 putting it into the elite 5 year group. One was also in wing moult; a bird banded back in July.
Tui – 2 (0) there are big numbers of Tui about the Zoo and when I was extracting the second bird which was a squawking female at least 10 arrived into the tree above the net to watch proceedings.
Ros and Hugh busy at the banding table
One of the privileges of banding at the Zoo is getting glimpses of back of house activity like staff giving some monkeys a vet check.
The monkeys getting their check but I am not sure who is checking out who?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Island Bay 18 Sept - another old bird


I had a good morning’s banding at Island Bay this morning with a steady flow of birds and pretty good conditions. It was a little windy early on and then a bit too sunny later. Numbers were not spectacular but fairly typical for this time of year, with a total of 31 birds of 6 species including 24 new and 7 recaptures.

Species caught were – (recaps in brackets)
Chaffinch – 3 (0)
Greenfinch – 3 (0)
Blackbird – 3 (3) D-193264 a female which was banded 26/5/08 was for a time our oldest Blackbird recap and then D-190454 a male was caught and she was relegated to second oldest (but still oldest female). He was banded 4/11/07 and is now the oldest bird of any species banded and recaptured at this site; neither bird had been recaptured before.
The old bird about to be released - until next time
Another Blackbird was recaptured twice about three and half hours apart in that time it had put on about 6 gr in weight.
First year Blackbird about to be released for the second time.

Starling – 1 (0)
House Sparrow – 11 (4)
Tui – 3 (0) the Brown/fawn coloured Tui that has been in the area for some time was seen several times, mostly while being chased by a large normal coloured male. Managed to catch the chasing bird but unfortunately not the chased!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Houghton Bay Friday 14 Sept - Mostly Silvereyes

With the Houghton Bay stream being mostly out of the near gale northerly I set up the nets there this morning. Had a reasonably successful session with 40 birds of 6 species caught but although a this appears to be a good variety by far the majority were Silvereye. The recapture rate was extremely low with only 2 banded birds caught.

Species caught were - 2 Greenfinch, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Chaffinch, 1 recap Grey Warbler, 1 Tui and 33 new Silvereye and just 1 recap. The recap was banded here at my place back in July which adds a little bit of credence to the theory that the Silvereye from here have gone over to Houghton Valley to feed on flowering Karo.

Seven of the new Silvereye were in active wing moult; the first time I have come across this at this time of year but must admit I haven't always looked
Silvereye AP-6706 in moult
Birds AP-6688 & 6687 which were caught together I suspect are siblings from a late brood
Silvereye AP-6688 in moult
Silvereye AP-6687 in moult
 There appears to have been some young engineers at work in the stream doing a bit of dam building with dams built under two net sites. How this will affect the birds I am not sure; probably for the better.
The Dam under the bottom net
The Dam under the top net.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Hornsey Rd 13 Sept - Greenfinch

Set the funnel trap here this morning and caught a couple of Greenfinch, set it again this evening and caught 8 more including a recap that was banded at the Zoo in April 08. Although not a big catch it is the most Greenfinch caught here in the last 2 years, prior to that 20 a day was not uncommon.

None of the Sparrows that have been scoffing food for the last month entered the trap and there is no sign of Silvereyes returning yet.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

No Recent Banding

There hasn't been any banding done for the last week as I have been in Canterbury visiting family. I doubt whether there would have been much if I had been in Wellington as the weather has not been good as anyone watching the All Black /Puma test on Saturday night would have realised.

Did a bit of birding while down south seeing over 50 species including White Heron (Great Egret), Crested Grebe and Cattle Egret all at, or near, Lake Ellesmere.
Three of the Cattle Egrets 
I did manage to see some banded birds; not passerines, but some colour banded Wrybill at the Ashley Estuary
A couple of the colour banded Wrybill at the Ashley Estuary
I hope to do some banding in the next few days but with a bad forecast it might not be possible.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Houghton Bay - Saturday 1 Sept

Mary, Kate, Graeme and I had a rather disappointing session at the Houghton Bay Stream this afternoon. In all we caught 17 birds of 4 species with 14 new and 3 recaps. It started well with  8 birds in the first net round and then the flow became a trickle. The quiet time however gave us time to enjoy a large plate of pikelets that Mary had brought along.

Species caught were - 2 new Chaffinch, 1 new and 1 recap Grey Warbler.
Kate about to release the Grey Warbler recap after processing it.
 1 new Tui which was the last bird of the day and gave Graeme a chance to band his first Tui and 10 new Silvereyes and 2 recaps. 1 of the recaps was banded at 69 Hornsey Rd in July 10 and the other at Island Bay in Aug 08 so the birds had come a similar distance but from opposite directions.  Both were first time recaptures.
Mary who usually is the scribe with a Silvereye while daughter Kate  the bander looks on.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Houghton Valley School - Friday 31 August


Gen, Nick, Graeme and I had a banding session at the school with a number of children joining us for periods of time. We also had Kate come along to assist after school and a surprise visit from Siobain who used to live in the valley before moving to Picton a year ago.  She was a very keen member of our banding group.

It was Siobain's birthday so Gen presented her with a cake.

Dave the Caretaker who is one of our liaison people at the School and was the original person who suggested doing banding at the School with the kids was also present and brought along a couple of his friends for the experience.
Dave and friends, unfortunately we didn't have bands big enough for them.
Although we didn’t catch a lot of birds we still had a successful afternoon's banding. We had very pleasant conditions and it was much dryer underfoot than at the last session. In all we caught 20 birds of 3 species with 8 new birds and 12 recaptures.

Species caught were –
Blackbird – 3 new birds.
A Blackbird awaiting its release

Chaffinch – 1 recapture, a bird banded at the Houghton Bay stream on 28 Jan 2008 so is a reasonably old bird in at least its 5th year. This is now the oldest bird we have caught at the School.
Silvereye – 5 new and 11 recaptures. 1 of the recaps was banded 31 May 2010 at our second session at this site. 2 others were banded at the Houghton Bay stream and another here at my place.
The first bird of the day
The second bird about to get its freedom
And its away

Although not all the children got to handle a bird they all showed great enthusiasm for the project with a lot of interesting comments and questions.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Karori Cemetery - Wednesday 29 August

Ros , Derek and I spent some time this morning at the Karori Cemetery. We put up a couple of nets to see what was about and also with the hope that we would catch a colour banded Tui that has lost a band and therefore can not be positively identified. To catch a specific bird is a difficult task and one that we failed in.  Although the bird was seen near a net it didn't oblige by going in. If it is the bird I suspect it to be it would be the oldest Tui we have records of.

We did manage to catch 5 unbanded Tui as well as a Blackbird, a House Sparrow and the last bird of the day was a colour banded Kaka which we managed to get out of the net without losing any fingers. This is almost certainly a bird from Zealandia.  We also had a Bellbird bounce which would have been a good catch but not this time.

One of the Tui had several small white flecks around one eye, not sure if these were small feathers or some small beasties. Took a photo with my little camera but unfortunately the quality is not good enough to resolve the issue.
Tui with small white flecks around outside of one eye

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Houghton Bay - Saturday 25 August

Ros and I had a session at the Houghton Bay stream this morning with reasonable success. In all we caught 56 birds but there wasn't much variety with only 3 species.

First bird caught was a female Blackbird  which had an unusual tail pattern with the entire tail covered with small bars/lines. These did not appear to be growth bars as they were very even and spread down the length of the feathers.
The Blackbird's tail with the bars unfortunately not showing very well in the photo
Next bird caught was a female Chaffinch and all the rest were Silvereyes, with 50 new birds and 4 recaptures. Only 1 of the recaps was banded at this site with 1 from my place banded in July 2011, 1 from the Gully below my house and 1 from Bridie's just down the road. Interestingly only 1 of the over 2000 Silvereyes that have been banded at the Houghton Bay stream since we started banding there in Jan 2008 have been recaptured.

One of the Silvereyes appeared to be going through at least a partial tail moult which is odd for this time of year.
Silvereye tail with retained central feathers and moulted outer ones

Hornsey Road - Friday 24 August

I put up a couple of nets in the morning to see what was about and then in the afternoon operated the trap at Bridie's for a couple of hours. Didn't catch a lot of birds but did have a bit of variety. Caught a total of 9 birds of 5 species, 2 recap Blackbirds, 2 new and 1 recap Starling, 2 recap Greenfinch, 1 recap Dunnock and a recap Sparrow. No Silvereye were caught. Almost all of the Silvereyes left the area about 3 weeks ago, which is the same time as they left last year, so we will wait and see if they return mid October as happened last year.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Island Bay - Saturday 18 August


Gen, Nick, Aussie Graeme (A replacement for Aussie Mick who has returned to Australia) Ros, Bernard and I had a good session at Island Bay this morning with almost ideal conditions; except like most of the country at the moment it was a bit wet underfoot. There was a steady flow of birds with no big catches, about 6 would have been the max at any one time. In all we caught 47 birds of 5 species with 41 new and 8 recaptures.
Species caught were – (Recaps in brackets)
Blackbird – 2 (2) both the recaps were of a reasonable age, 1 banded in 09 and the other on 28 Sept 08 and is now at 1422 days the oldest Blackbird recaptured at the site. All the birds were male and over 2 year old.
Chaffinch – 6 (1) All 7 birds were also male.
Gen extracting one of the Chaffinch
A general discussion on the age of one of the Chaffinch

House Sparrow – 25 (3) the oldest recap was banded as an adult in Dec 10
We had a recovery report this week of a Sparrow caught by a cat in Russell Tce, Berhampore, it had been banded at the Island Bay site on 12 Feb 08 and at 1644 days our oldest recap/recovery of a Sparrow from this site. 
Silvereye – 3 (0) a very low tally, they seem to have left most artificially fed sites. 
Tui – 5 (0) the first 3 to hit the nets bounced out and then they started to stick.
Nick & Bernard taking the Head-Bill measurement of a Tui

Interesting that the total number of birds caught today was very similar to August last year when we caught a total of 49 but the species were very different, as last year it was dominated by Greenfinch with 36, this year I didn’t even see one.

Thanks once again to Marion and Ken for their great hospitality including a scrumptious morning tea.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Houghton Valley School - Friday 17 August

Nick, Kate and I together with numerous little people had a busy afternoon banding at the Houghton Valley School's young forest.  In all we caught 42 birds of 4 species with 33 new birds and 9 recaps.
The first bird, a Silvereye about to be released
Species caught were - (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird - 2 (0)
Dunnock - 1 (1)
Tui - 3 (0) the first Tui caught at this site and it came as a bit of a surprise. We first caught a young female then 2 males were caught together probably having a chase and forgot to look where they were going.
Silvereye - 27 (8) 2 of the recaps were banded at the Houghton Bay stream 1 in 2010 and 1 in 2011, another was banded at the Mt Albert site in March this year and another in the Gully below my house in May 2010.
Kate's mother Mary brought us a big plate of pikelets which were very much enjoyed, she also volunteered to be the scribe for a few minutes which turned into more than an hour.  Thanks Mary on both counts.
Nick at the banding station with couriers.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Zoo - Saturday 11 August


We had a very successful workshop on aging and sexing passerines at a banding session at the Zoo on Saturday with Mike Bell and his daughter Conori over from Blenheim to assist us. 
Most of  "The Team"

The number of birds caught was a bit lower than I would expect at this time of the year but this was ideal for the workshop with no pressure and the time to look closely at various features. The number of species was also lower than usual but once again this enabled us to concentrate on a few rather than getting confused with a big variety.

In all we caught 61 birds of 6 species with 24 new birds and 37 recaptures; the ratio of recaps to new birds is surprising as it is usually the other way around.
Species caught were – (recaps in brackets)
Blackbird – 1 (2) the new bird was a first year Male with some unusual wing features with broken wing feathers and P3 replaced, there is also a growth/fault bar across the wings at the break point.
1st year (1) Male Blackbird 
1 of the recaps was banded as a Juv in March 09 and had an unusually shaped bill.

Male Blackbird with unusual bill

The other was banded as an Adult on 12 Aug 2006 1 day short of 6 years ago which makes it an 8+ bird. It was almost the last bird caught for the day and was caught at the same net site as the original capture. This is the first recapture so where has it been for 6 years?

Greenfinch – 12 (2) numbers are way down on recent years.
Two male Greenfinch, the older on the bottom

House Sparrow – 3 (5) most unusual to have more recaps than new birds but a new net position had an effect - probably won’t work next time?
Silvereye – 3 (26) an incredible recapture rate, I think we must have most of the resident birds banded and that there has been no influx of new birds this year. Most of the recaps were banded in the last couple of years but there were 2 from 2010 and 1 from 09 with another banded at Houghton Bay in Sept 2011.
Dunnock – 4 (2) I think 6 is the highest number we have caught at the Zoo in one day. The 2 recaps were both banded as Juveniles last spring.
Starling – 1 (0)

There were no Tui caught which was surprising as there are a large number in the Zoo grounds at present, mostly feeding in the red flowered gum tree. But we did actually band one which is in rehab at the "Nest" (The Zoo animal hospital) and is nearly ready for release.

There were signs of the (hopefully) approaching spring around the Zoo.  A pair of Fantails are nest building (the female is banded and just missed a net a couple of times), the Kea were seen mating in their cage much to the amusement of watching kids and Tui were also doing the business. 

The odd coloured Tui that has been at Berhampore for the last couple of weeks is still there and I managed to get a rough photo of it.