Monday, 4 April 2011

Out and about this week

At last the first signs of summer migrants! A walk along the Don last Sunday resulted in 5 Chiffchaffs not much else really mind. And on Friday my first Wheatear of the year in Trow quarry followed by 2 pairs here on Saturday in the second bay allowing excellent views. Myself and Max just sat on the grassy bank and watched the spectacle of the paired birds going about there business. A female even had a bath in front of us!......... Also on Friday seen my first Sand Martins, about 6 had returned to the nest site in Marsden bay. This visit here was brought about by having to meet the Shields Gazette photographer. The paper wants to run a story about the rescue of a Seal pup that Dougie and John carried out when Dougie found it wrapped up in a fishing net…a possible illegal one at that! Which a local expert thinks a poacher has been using. We thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight the dangers of fishing line and any other potential hazards to wildlife that is discarded by us humans. After the meeting myself and Dougie went on to collect a bag full of fishing line on Marsden beach which had been washed up. Clare Rawcliff from the South Tyneside country side team kindly give some of the members of the Coastal conservation group a demonstration and training with small mammal trapping this week. A classroom style lesson first and then off to place the traps in Whitburn coastal park un- triggered but baited.This allows the mammals to get used to the traps before capture. The 10 traps were baited 2 nights in a row and then set for capture on the 3rd night. Then we went around all the traps one at time on Sunday morning to inspect if we had been lucky and managed to capture anything. Yip we had 4 Wood mice and a Common shrew!....After careful extraction and sexing of the mammals they were released safely in the same area of capture. A fantastic experience and a one we hope to repeat in the future…..But £50 a piece for the traps is a tad steep! We will have to look into getting funding for these me thinks!. Ringing was also taking place on Sunday morning in the coastal park and I managed to see a Chiffchaff released here. Also Moth trapping…..not into moths myself but still nice to see different species. Visited Station burn in the afternoon and seen another 5 Chiffchaffs and a territorial battle between 2 of these. Also 3 male Bullfinch and 1 Willow tit, the latter two species were real rarities here when I was a lad plodding this patch 30 odd years back…

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