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Hebridean Imaging

Hebridean Imaging


2012 Ringing Totals

Ian has worked very hard to get our year-end totals ready. All in all a very good year. The amazing number of House Sparrow resightings is mainly down to our neighbour Bill who faithfully records our colour-ringed birds every day that he is at home. Needless to say his wife is still telling him to “get a life!!” But we say “THANKS BILL!! you’re amazing!”

So here are the final totals for 2012:-

Full grown Pulli Retraps Total
Buzzard 0 1 0 1
Oystercatcher 0 40 7 47
Ringed Plover 0 4 0 4
Lapwing 0 164 22 186
Dunlin 0 2 0 2
Redshank 0 7 1 8
Common Gull 0 11 0 11
Arctic Tern 0 15 0 15
Rock Dove 0 1 0 1
Woodpigeon 1 0 0 1
Collared Dove 20 0 4 24
Sand Martin 1 0 0 1
Swallow 23 18 4 45
Meadow Pipit 280 4 4 288
Pied/White Wagtail 13 4 2 19
Wren 18 0 9 27
Dunnock 7 0 5 12
Robin 15 0 15 30
Stonechat 4 0 0 4
Wheatear 2 0 0 2
Blackbird 52 0 54 106
Song Thrush 35 0 12 47
Redwing 6 0 0 6
Sedge Warbler 9 0 0 9
Blackcap 4 0 0 4
Chiffchaff 4 0 0 4
Willow Warbler 40 0 6 46
Goldcrest 11 0 2 13
Spotted Flycatcher 1 0 0 1
Starling ^ 198 0 36 234
House Sparrow 213 0 5995 6208
Chaffinch 9 0 6 15
Brambling 2 0 0 2
Greenfinch 170 0 297 467
Goldfinch 8 0 1 9
Siskin 4 0 0 4
Linnet 1 0 0 1
Twite 3 0 0 3
Lesser Redpoll 76 0 31 107
Redpoll (Common/Lesser) 3 0 0 3
Reed Bunting 5 0 1 6
Total: 1238 271 6514 8023

^ We are still awaiting details of the Norwegian ringed Starling that was captured here during November.

May 2012 – Uist ringing totals

Lapwing chicks were the most frequently ringed bird during May with 115 new pulli ringed!

We only had one control this month, a Greenfinch TR02363 which was a second year female with a brood patch. We know that it was originally ringed by Terry, the other ringer here in Uist. We also know, after chatting with Terry that a couple of days after we had controlled this Greenfinch it was further north in South Uist, at Terry’s house where it had been killed by a Sparrowhawk!

New Retraps TOTAL
Oystercatcher 6 6
Ringed Plover 3 3
Lapwing 115 14 129
Redshank 2 2
Collared Dove 8 8
Meadow Pipit 9 9
Robin 5 5
Wheatear 1 1
Blackbird 6 5 11
Song Thrush 1 2 3
Blackcap 1 1
Chiffchaff 2 2
Willow Warbler 5 1 6
Spotted Flycatcher 1 1
Starling 14 8 22
House Sparrow* 27 598 625
Chaffinch 1 1
Greenfinch 9 31 40
Siskin 1 1
Lesser Redpoll 3 3
Reed Bunting 1 1
Grand Total: 221 659 880
Total Species: 21 7 21

* Once again the incredible number of House sparrow retraps are re-sightings of our colour-ringed birds. Thanks as always go to our neighbour Bill who keeps a daily note of all our colour-ringed sparrows seen in his garden.

Chicks and Moths

Wow, what a busy couple of weeks! Everything seems to be happening here at an amazingly fast pace – everywhere has suddenly become very green, the trees are about as much in leaf as they are going to be and even the slopes of Ben Mhor, our highest hill, are looking green. The weather has been amazingly warm and we had 5 days in a row where the temperature was over 20’C. A bit different from last year when the highest temperature we recorded here at Askernish Weather Station was just 19.6’C and we missed that as we were out at the bird observatory in Gibraltar!

Butterwort, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

The Butterwort is out in the damp shady places.

We’ve still been having a ride along the machair every now and again and still finding Lapwing chicks, amazingly some Lapwings were even still on eggs only last week. We were very happy to find these Ringed Plover chicks, just tiny balls of fluff.

Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover chicks

We’ve been keeping our eye on a Buzzard nest, mainly from a long distance by telescope and early one morning (2nd May looking at the Nest Record Card)  Ian walked out to check it and found three eggs. Around the 18th May we though we could see small fluffy heads in the nest so on the 24th we walked over to do another check. We found two downy young, too small to ring yet. We don’t know what happened to the third egg, whether it hatched and the chick died (or was dinner for it’s siblings) we’ll probably never know.

Common Buzzard chicks

Buzzard chicks

It was an amazingly calm morning and walking back across the field towards home the sun was coming up making for a gorgeous early morning sunrise.

sunrise Askernish, Isle of South Uist

Sunrise - a rare calm day!

Later on in the day i was sitting on the bench at the front of the house enjoying a cuppa in the warm sunshine when i went to scratch my arm and felt something small and hard. Yuk! A tick. One of the hazards of living an active outdoor lifestyle i guess 🙁 I was able to remove it with a very fine pair of tweezers and put it under the microscope to make sure that i had completely removed the beastie. It was very tiny barely 1mm in length. Under the microscope it made a gruesome sight and the mouthparts were a bit like something out of a horror film – a row of double serrations. Did the makers of the film Alien get their inspiration from the insect world i wondered.

Tick, South Uist

Tick, extracted from my arm!

Tick mouthparts by Hebridean Imaging

Scary looking tick mouthparts!

25th May was forecast to be very calm so i packed up the van and headed out to the plantation at Druidibeg to put up some nets. As you can imagine, with the almost constant wind here, the opportunities to mist net are very few and far between – you have to grab every chance you get! We had previously considered joining the BTO’s Constant Effort Scheme (CES) with Druidibeg plantation as the site. However after the first season trialling CES there we felt that due to the weather there is no way we would be able to fulfil the required 12 visits between May and August.

The plantation was pretty quiet although there were quite a few Willow Warblers singing. A juvenile Robin was first out of the net followed shortly by a couple of the Willow Warblers. A nice surprise in the net a little later was a Willow Warbler with a ring on already – first of all i thought it was one of the ones from earlier in the day that had gone back in but on reading the ring number it was one of ours but not a recent bird. I took the bird back to the van and processed it and was able to look back in the book to find that we had first ringed it, at Druidibeg in June last year.

It never ceases to amaze me that such a tiny bird – it weighed in at less than 10g – has travelled all the way to Africa to overwinter then found it’s way all the way back to the same tiny plantation on the east side of Uist.

Juvenile Robin

Juvenile Robin

Willow Warbler, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

Willow Warbler. This bird was an adult when we first ringed it in June 2011. (Oops think i should've had a manicure!)

As there is never much about at Druidibeg (well, there had been a sighting of a Wryneck a couple of days previously) it’s not usually worth us both going so Ian had stayed at home. He texted to say he was catching reasonably well and had ringed both Siskin and Spotted Flycatcher.

Siskin, South Uist, Outer Hebrides


Spotted Flycatcher, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

Spotted Flycatcher

House Sparrow, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

Juvenile House Sparrow - i'm sure he's not really as sad as he looks 🙂

Colour-ringed House Sparrow, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

All the juvvy House Sparrows are coming to get their colour rings

We’ve been noticing more and more Collared Doves around with up to 11 being seen on the electric wires at the back of the house and they’ve been increasingly visiting the garden to hoover up the seed we’ve been putting out for the sparrrows and finches. It was inevitable that we would catch a few.

Collared Dove, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

Collared Dove

A few days ago I was fascinated to watch two juvenile Blackbirds in the garden. They hung around for ages, they had obviously not been out of the nest very long and were just standing around looking a bit like they didn’t really know what they were supposed to be doing. Every now and again the adult male Blackbird would come along and feed them and they eventually followed him into the field behind. I’m sure they’ll get the hang of it soon!

Blackbird, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

Juvenile Blackbird

There are so many young around at the moment! On a trip to Balivanich we had our customary stop-off at Stinky Bay and were happy to see a pair of Shelduck with their brood of 7, i don’t know what the official term is, i called them Shelducklings? I usually say “oh no don’t count them” because such is nature that every time you see them there are less and less! – Ian managed a fab photo.

Shelduck, Benbecula, Outer Hebrides

And finally the moth catching has at last been getting better. Our best catch of the season so far was on the 26th May when we had 42 moth of 21 species. Needless to say we had had the traps out in our neighbours garden – he’s been here at least 30 years and has the most enviable trees and vegetation! A small selection from our moth catch below.

Pleurota bicostella

Pleurota bicostella, a micro moth, it's long hairy palps with spikes on are very distinctive.

Fox Moth, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

Fox Moth. We've been getting a fair few of these the last couple of weeks.

Poplar Hawk-moth

Poplar Hawk-moth, always impressive to see 🙂

Elephant Hawk-moth, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

Elephant Hawk-moth - the other hawk-moth species in the trap these last couple of weeks.

White Ermine

White Ermine

Buff Ermine

Buff Ermine


Always good to find in the trap, the very beautiful Campion

Knot Grass

Knot Grass - one of the most abundant moths this last couple of weeks.

Belted Beauty, South Uist, Outer Hebrides

A bit of a surprise in the trap was this male Belted Beauty, i've only seen them out on the machair before.

Well, that’s it for now. June looks like it is also going to be very busy and i think it might be easier to update the blog more frequently rather than one long once or twice weekly tome!