Colour Banded Tui

Colour Banded Tui
C Banded Tui © Peter Reese

Friday, 17 April 2015

Houghton Bay Friday 17 April

A small group had a session at the Houghton Bay stream this afternoon. Considering the recent wet weather we had a reasonable catch with 31 birds of 6 species; 26 new and 5 recaps.
The "Team" Kate and her friend Kenisha, our main bag carrier. Andrea, our scribe and George.
As is usual at this site the majority were Silvereyes with 9 new and 5 recaptures the oldest of which was banded in June 2013, Other birds were (all new) 3 House Sparrows, 8 Greenfinch, 3 Chaffinch, 2 Goldfinch and a Grey Warbler.

We had an interesting recapture reported this week. A Chaffinch hit a window and stunned itself in Hungerford Rd. It was taken to the SPCA where it recovered and was released. the bird had been banded at the Houghton Bay stream (about 500m from where it hit the window) in Jan 2008. Although not our oldest Chaffinch it is probably our second or third oldest.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Matiu/Somes & Mana Islands - a wet and windy week

A group of 19 bird enthusiasts (12 teenage trainees and 7 support people) had planned to go out on Tuesday to spend 5 days on Mana island doing bird and nature orientated activities, including mist netting.  Unfortunately with rain and gale force winds predicted for several days and the sea too rough to get out to Mana Island it was decided to go to Matiu/Somes Island until the weather improved. There were a great team of people.  Sharon who organised the trip also acted as Camp Mother as well as being a general helper out, Craig our cook who did a fantastic job. Graeme and Shane both sea bird experts and experienced mist netters, and Paul another mist netter. Lynn is a a Lizard expert as well as an experienced mist netter and Ian a bird and Lizard man. As well the 12 trainees were a great group of enthusiastic young people.

The Team

Matiu/Somes

We arrived on the Island about midday and although the rain eased enough to consider putting mist nets up we were unable to do so as with the sudden change of plans we still needed the necessary permits. With the help of modern technology this was obtained but too late to make a start before dark. We were able on Wednesday to set nets for periods between showers but the capture rate was pathetic.  Plenty of birds but just couldn't seem to catch them. We ended up with just 6: 1 Red Crowned Parakeet, 1 Dunnock, and 2 each of Fantail and Silvereye.
However in the evening we able to check marked Little Blue Penguins coming ashore and then again during the day for birds staying over in nest boxes. This was done under the watchful eye of Graeme and Shane. They have been marked over the last few years as part of a study comparing flipper bands, web tags and transponders on survival rates. Over 40 individual bird were identified which was a good number during the non-breeding period.
A Penguin being examined for its ID.
The opportunity was also taken to check on the Fluttering Shearwater colony that is being established from birds that have been transferred to the Island in the last few years. Even though they don't start breeding for several months it was a pleasant surprise to find 11 present.
Jo the ranger on the Island gave us great support and assistance.

Mana Island

By Thursday the weather had abated enough for us to get out to Mana Island. By the time we got off Matiu/ Somes and up to Plimmerton and out to Mana  it was mid afternoon. We were able to get nets up for a couple of hours before the rain again set in. On Friday the mist netting was again affected by periods of rain but with putting nets up and furling them during periods of rain we were able to have a reasonable catch rate. On Saturday we had our first fine day of the week and were able to mist net in the morning before getting ready for an early PM departure.

As well as the mist netting,  teams under the the guidance of Graeme and Shane, went to the Sooty Shearwater colony and were able to band over 40 chicks. Lynn and Ian took teams searching for Lizards especially Golden striped and MacGregors Geckos and among other findings established that the MacGregors Gecko has expanded its range considerably.

Although we did not catch big numbers of birds we had a great variety and sufficient to be able to give trainees experience and by the end of the trip they were all competent in  handling birds. We colour banded a number of birds to give added experience. We caught 63 birds of an amazing 16 species.

Species caught were - all new, we had hoped to catch some of the original transferees of Bellbird, Yellow Crowned Parakeet and Whitehead but were unsuccessful.

Bellbird - 17 all colour banded.
Blackbird - 4 also colour banded.
Chaffinch - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Goldfinch - 3
Dunnock - 6 colour banded.
Yellow Crowned Parakeet - 11
Craig our cook with his first Y C Parakeet
Fantail - 1 colour banded.
Grey Warbler - 1
Whitehead - 7
NI Robin - 1
Kingfisher - 3
Tui - 2
Silvereye - 3 a surprisingly low number
Welcome Swallow - 1 the first banded in the Wellington area by the group and a first for me.
My first Welcome Swallow.
House Sparrow - 1 colour banded. Had hoped to catch more in order to set up a study to see if they move between the Island and Mainland.

Di the ranger on the Island was of great assistance and took part in, and was interested, in our activities.
Busy people at the banding station


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Prince of Wales Park Saturday 4 April - very quiet

We had a session at the Prince of Wales Park stream this afternoon. There were very few birds about and we only caught 5 - 2 Dunnocks, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Silvereye and a Blackbird recap. There was a NZ Falcon hanging around the area which might have contributed to the absence of small birds.

I am going out to Mana Is for most of next week to assist with a Birds NZ field trip which involves a dozen or so teenagers. Should be interesting. One of the projects will be bird banding so hopefully we will catch a variety of species that will be new to the Group. I doubt if there will be internet access but if there is I will do a few posts. Most likely posting will have to wait until I get back.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Houghton Bay Thursday 2 April - mostly Silvereyes

We had a session at the Houghton Bay stream this afternoon with moderate success catching 30 birds. As is usual at this site most of of the catch were Silvereyes with 24 new and just 1 recap. Other birds caught were 3 Greenfinch, 1 Goldfinch and a Tui.
The team at work. Andrea (scribe) Anna (bag courier) Angelia, Chye-mei and George.

Mt Albert Fennel patch

Before I went up to Auckland a few weeks ago I cut net lanes and set up guy ropes at the Mt Albert fennel patch. I even managed to get a net up for a while and caught half a dozen Silvereyes. When I came back I found that the area had been leveled and is now a construction site. The Council are building a new water tank and are repairing some old ones to make them earthquake resistant. I had known that the work was planned but had hoped that they wouldn't start for another month or so. Last year we caught over 100 Silvereyes there.  If we had caught that number this year SE's would have been still top of the perch.
The Fennel patch with net lanes cut

The sight when I came back from Auckland

As it was yesterday

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The 20014-15 year - A bit below average

I have just collated our banding stats for the banding year 2014/15 which closed on 31 March.
It was a reasonable year with a total of 3079 new birds banded and 944 recaptures. Both these figures are slightly below both the 5 and 10 year averages. For the first time Silvereye have been knocked off the top perch replaced by House Sparrow which is usually No 2 candidate.

Year Banding Totals
10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15 5yr Av 10yr Av
H Sparrow 698 3 620 2 905 2 822 2 1056 1 820 624
Silvereye 1934 1 1341 1 1063 1 1097 1 1001 2 1287 1280
Goldfinch 39 12 43 9 140 6 75 6 206 3 101 70
Greenfinch 710 2 211 3 197 3 313 3 205 4 327 312
Blackbird 123 6 174 5 151 5 111 5 178 5 147 141
Chaffinch 161 5 195 4 175 4 140 4 152 6 165 140
Tui 67 9 57 7 71 8 46 8 71 7 62 61
Dunnock 56 10 37 10 65 9 42 9 55 8 51 46
Starling 76 8 73 6 91 7 59 7 47 9 47 32
Fantail 78 7 30 11 60 10 37 10 47 10 65 78
Grey Warbler 41 13 49 8 39 11 31 11 41 11 48 47
Song Thrush 7 14 1 15 5 13 5 13 12 12 6 6
E Rosella 0 16 1 16 2 14 2 14 3 13 2 1
Yellowhammer 162 4 20 12 27 12 6 12 2 14 43 33
Kingfisher 1 15 2 13 1 15 2 15 1 15 1 2
Magpie 0 18 0 18 0 18 0 18 1 16 0
Cal Quail 1 17 0













4195 2855 2993 2789 3079 3182 3199
Significant movements in the table above are shown - up in Red and down in Blue. The figures beside the total for each species indicates their ranking for the year.

Species caught in order of the number of new birds were ( recap totals in brackets)
No 1 House Sparrow - 1056 (159) The usual No 2 species.  They have had a huge breeding season with a large number of juveniles caught Nov to Feb.
No 2 Silvereye - 1001 (527) The first time Silvereye hasn't been No 1 and the lowest total in 10 years. The mild winter meant that very few were caught at our usual winter sites.
No 3 Goldfinch - 206 (17) The big mover for the year, up from 6 last year and well above average with more than double both the 5 and 10 year. Large numbers of juveniles were caught over the summer at our stream sites.
No 4 Greenfinch - 205 (103) Well down on both the 5 and 10 year average. Usually ranked at No 3
No 5 Blackbird - 178 (94) Slightly up on average.
No 7 Chaffinch - 152 (17) Usually ranked at 4 although numbers were about average.
No 8 Tui - 71 (10) Our equal highest total and continues the trend of rising numbers.
No 9 Dunnock - 55 (17) About average.
No 10= Starling - 47 (33) Down on the last couple of years but still about average.
No 10= Fantail - 47 (5) Down on recent years, possibly affected by the dry year.
No 12 Grey Warbler - 41 (6) About average
No 13 Song Thrush - 12 (1) Our highest total ever.
No 14 Eastern Rosella - 3 (0) A species just starting to show on the radar.
No 15 Yellowhammer - 2 (1) This species is very variable and didn't come to town this year.
We also caught 1 each of Kingfisher, Magpie and a Californian Quail. No Redpolls were caught during the year.

Over 5 yr 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15
Silvereye 21 16 13 23 21
Tui 5 2 6 7 15
Blackbird 8 2 6 5 8
Starling 4 2 9 4 5
House Sparrow 1 1 1 2 1
Chaffinch 0 1 2 1 1
Greenfinch 0 0 2 0 1
Yellowhammer 0 0 0 0 1
39 24 39 42 53

There was a good increase in the number of birds caught over 5 years from banding including our first Yellowhammer.












Recoveries 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15
Blackbird 4 6 9 9 4
Chaffinch 2 1 1 4 3
Dunnock 2 0 1 1 1
Fantail 1 0 0 1 0
Goldfinch 2 1 0 1 0
Greenfinch 9 5 1 3 1
Grey Warbler 0 0 1 2 0
House Sparrow 11 20 7 8 9
Silvereye 14 5 11 11 5
Song Thrush 0 0 0 0 0
Starling 2 2 6 2 1
Tui 6 6 2 5 4
53 47 39 47 28

The number of birds recovered dead was down on the last few years, probably due to the mild winter.

Oldest Birds
  Band No Species Days Est Age
D 71970 Blackbird 4021 12 yr 0 mth
A 135040 Silvereye 3817 10 yr 9 mth
D 181101 Tui 3797 10 yr 8 mth
D 99970 Starling 3270 10 yr 0 mth
A 10435 Chaffinch 3244 9 yr 11 mth
B 96619 House Sparrow 2773 8 yr 0 mth
A 168383 Greenfinch 1956 5 yr 3 mth
A 104139 Yellowhammer 1949 6 yr 0 mth
A 167973 Dunnock 1856 4 yr 0 mth
AA 4172 Grey Warbler 1519 4 yr 4 mth
A 153123 Goldfinch 1428 4 yr 5 mth
AX 1919 Fantail Pied 1176 3 yr 3 mth
C 51678 Song Thrush 889 3 yr 2 mth



The oldest bird of each species banded by the Group and recaptured or recovered, figures in Red are new records set this year. Days column shows the number of days from banding to recapture and Est Age is an estimate of the minimum age of the bird.