Castlerock has still been the focus of our attentions although we have only visited twice in the past three weeks. The first visit was back on the 28th of December and the second on the 4th of January. The flocks of birds are still present feeding on the seemingly endless Sea Buckthorn berries with the exception of the Chaffinches which appear to have moved on.
Blackbird 1 1
Bullfinch 9 2
Song Thrush 1
Wren 1 1
Total 25 5
On Sunday the 8th John, Dean and I visited a few of the local streams to catch some of the local river species. I always find river ringing quite entertaining and it didn't take long before out first couple of Dippers appeared. They were quite crafty and both managed to slip under the net but were caught on their return pass downstream with a third bird, which was a retrap, five minutes later. We moved on to our next spot only around 1 mile upstream and caught another new dipper with it's partner bouncing from the nets. We hadn't seen any of the other river species so we moved to a new stream where it connects to the River Bann. This spot has been good for Kingfishers in the past and again we did see a Kingfisher continually return to sit at the mouth of the stream but it did venture the extra ten metres to the net. We added another two Dippers giving us a total of five new birds and the retrap, first caught in December 2015.
One of the 20+ Dipper boxes dotted around the streams surrounding Coleraine
Steve had his last ringing session of 2016 down home at his Drumlegh site also on the 28th of December. Blue Tits dominated the catch with 8 new birds and the best of the bunch was a smart male Goldcrest.
Blue Tit 8 1
Coal Tit 1
Great Tit 4
Total 20 1
With the turn of the year the Patchwork Challenge starts up once again and so begins the challenge to better the previous year. I did this in 2016 with a total of 123 species, up 10 species on the previous year. I failed to pick up any rarities but Black Tern, Garganey and Spotted Redshank were patch ticks and are nice records for Northern Ireland. This year I'm up to 60 species so far and hoping for a good spring. I will also be taking on Copeland Bird Observatory as a second patch and hope to better my total of 77 species in 2016.
We still need to finish off the final group totals for the year and I should hopefully have those by the weekend. We also have news of an Oystercatcher than has wound up in Dublin Bay and I will post the details next time out.