Lockdown Bird Ringing

Despite lockdown restricting many people's ability to get out into nature and connect with the environment, for me at least it has shifted my focus onto the wildlife found in my local area, and as my previous blog alluded to, you'd be amazed at what you can find if you just take the time to look. 

As a keen birder and bird ringer, not being able to access some of my usual sites has been a bit of a bummer, but I feel very fortunate to have been able to continue ringing in my modest suburban garden, and it's been quite remarkable seeing just how many birds use the feeders on a daily basis. Since the start of Lockdown 2.0 on 5th November 2020, I have caught 170 birds in our 10 x 14 m garden, 123 of which were Goldfinches. Other species included 20 tits (Blue, Great & Coal) and seven Greenfinches.

Adult male Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

Over the last week or so, a number of Siskins have joined the other finches on the feeders, and whilst scanning them with binoculars I was surprised to see that at least two of them already had rings on (very exciting as I've not ringed any Siskins in my garden before). I wasn't quick enough to read the ring numbers with bins or a scope however, so I made various attempts to catch them. 

In doing so I managed to catch not one, but eight birds, far more than I originally thought were present. This included one of the birds already wearing a ring, and after submitting the data to the British Trust for Ornithology (who coordinate the British Ringing Scheme), I was delighted to receive the news that the bird had originally been ringed in Melvich, Highland on 10th May 2019, some 629 days previously and having moved a total of 824 km... not too shabby for a bird weighing ~13g!

Adult male Siskin Carduelis spinus

This just goes to show how much bird ringing helps to further our knowledge and understanding of British birds, their population changes and movements, as well as highlighting the importance of gardens for birds and other wildlife. You can find out more about ringing and how to get involved on the BTO's website, and for an animated visualisation of Siskin movements in Europe, the Euro Bird Portal is pretty snazzy.

Adult female Siskin Carduelis spinus

Siskin movement from Melvich, Highland to NE Hampshire, a total of 824 km.

Top 10 Moths of 2020

As a keen naturalist and moth botherer, I felt I ought to put together a few highlights from my mothing adventures over the past year to show that you don't have to travel far from home to see some absolutely stunning species, and put some extra dots on the map. 

Due to a premature return from my year studying abroad, I recorded my first moth of 2020 on the 12th April. From then until the end of the year I recorded 6772 moths of 635 species (including 136 lifers), the vast majority of which were from my home county of North Hampshire (VC12). Amongst these were two species of micro moth that were new to VC12: Phtheochroa schreibersiana and Coleophora saturatella, plus quite a few other species which have fewer than 10 records in their respective VCs.

Anyway, onto my Top 10. Although I recorded moths from nine different vice counties in 2020, all of my top 10 species (except no.7) were found within a 15 minute drive from home, just to emphasise how easy it is to find brilliant moths, regardless of where you live!

1. Alabonia geoffrella

Alabonia geoffrella - 24th May

2. Goat Moth Cossus cossus

Goat Moth Cossus cossus - 25th June

3. Clifden Nonpareil Catocala fraxini

Clifden Nonpareil Catocala fraxini - 9th September

4. Silver Hook Deltote uncula

Silver Hook Deltote uncula - 28th May

5. Coleophora saturatella

Coleophora saturatella - 8th June

6. Chrysoesthia drurella

Chrysoesthia drurella - 21st May

7. Stathmopoda pedella

Stathmopoda pedella - 26th July, Norwich.

8. Coleophora limosipennella

Coleophora limosipennella - 16th November

9. Chrysoclista lineella

Chrysoclista lineella - 8th August

10. Hysterophora maculosana

Hysterophora maculosana - 7th May

I hope you all enjoyed seeing some fantastic moths in 2020 and perhaps this summary has provided some encouragement or motivation to explore your own local area even more in 2021 to see what hidden treasures are waiting to be found!