Jump to content


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

97 Excellent

About Meroman

  • Rank
    Mega Hunter
  • Birthday 19/10/60

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
  1. Mealy Redpolls

    Tenbob I think its going to be one of those seasons, I've only bred three chicks from seven pairs (goldies,siskins and chaffies) so far and there's not that long left to turn it around so I'm not holding out much hope for the next few weeks.
  2. Any British Nesting Yet

    Indeed Fireman I agree it has to be the weather... Good luck with the bullies, anyone I've spoken to here that's breeding them are not having much joy with them with one exception, a mate of mine is putting native bullie eggs under Siberian hens and they are rearing them for him...
  3. Any British Nesting Yet

    My season so far has been bad to say the least. I have one chaffie and three siskins to the sticks at this point, I've had lots of clear eggs, hens jumping the nest because of thunderstorms at night (I assume) and nests being torn apart by cock birds in the same flight. I've also lost three birds since May which does not help. The clear eggs make me think I didn't get my birds into good breeding condition but I've done the same thing for years now with much better results. The joys of keeping Natives I suppose!!
  4. Any British Nesting Yet

    Sorry to read that Keeper its always a challenge with natives......
  5. Any British Nesting Yet

    Any success with the Goldie.siskin pairing Keeper?
  6. A Few Photos From The Show Bench.

    Yes Neil, the South county show is one of the oldest cbs shows in Ireland and still going strong. The INBBS run their young stock show in conjunction with it the October bank holiday weekend and then have their main show the third weekend the following January every year... Both shows are well worth a visit...
  7. Any British Nesting Yet

    Hope you get them to the sticks fireman....What livefood are you using?
  8. A few photos of natives on the show bench at the South county show in Dublin & the INBBS show from a few years back...The last photo was taken at the London & home counties show the same year 2009 I think...
  9. I've only ever met him once, a true gentleman and a top birdman is Alan...
  10. An article written by Alan Haury. I have always had a great fondness for Lesser redpolls. A Lesser Redpoll cock was the very first bird that I owned. I was seven years old. This bird lived in an old budgie cage in the house and I fed it on mixed canary seed and family left overs !! The area I lived in had lots of Lessers. We had different names for them (Tillys – mountiers ). Many local birdmen would always try to obtain the ones with the red breast. You could obtain these birds for £1 a pair !!! As I got into my early teens I started to seriously breed British Birds (Goldies were the first I bred). I started showing birds when I was fourteen. At the local show the junior section was very competitive. On leaving school I showed as a partnership with a friend called Chris Coulton. He was a few years older than me and his Dad took us to the shows. One Saturday at Skelmersdale Show we were lucky enough to get Best Novice CYB and Best Novice Exhibit. A local hero of ours Mr Terry McCracken won Best British Bird In Show and Best Exhibit with a greenfinch. We always admired the quality of Terry’s show team. Three to four days after the show Chris received a letter from Terry saying how wonderful the Lessers looked. I was well chuffed that such a good birdman thought this. In his letter he asked if we had any spare birds that he could buy. He gave his phone number and said to reverse the charges!! Chris phoned Terry to inform him that I had bred 17 young. We arranged to meet at the No1 Labour Club in Haydock. That’s where Haydock Bird Club and Lancashire held their shows for many a year. I took Terry to my parent’s house to see my very small set up – we hadn’t lived there long. I gave him the choice of 3 – 4 birds. Terry was pleased and picked 2 of the birds and asked how much they were or were there any birds I would be interested in. So straight away I said a pair of greenies. With a smile he said he had none at present but would put me on his waiting list. Being young and foolish I didn’t want to go on a waiting list. So I asked if there was any chance of a pair of siskins. He said his friend, the late Derek Oldknow, had some. A few weeks later he fixed me up with a wonderful pair of siskins, especially the hen. A few weeks later our local bird club got a mini bus down to the All British Show in Doncaster. When I got there I bought a catalogue and going through the classes I noticed Terry had entered two Lesser Redpolls. So straight away I went to look at the class, this was when Lessers and Meallies were in the same class. There were over thirty birds in the class and Terry was first and third!!!! Straight away I recognised the birds as the ones Terry swapped me a few weeks earlier. On seeing this I shouted Chris and a few of the lads over – they didn’t believe me!!!!! They said that a Champion of Terry’s status wouldn’t be getting birds from a novice to show!! After a while Terry noticed Chris and me and shouted me over. The first thing Terry said was have you seen your redpolls and how well they had done. He said you have some nice redpolls there and you should concentrate on them. That is where it all began. Later the following year we decided to show at the All British at Winsford. It was our first major show. We won all the redpoll classes. We also showed the two siskins and the hen won a major special. The following show season we split our partnership as Chris had other commitments. Over the next four years I did relatively ok with the Lessers in the novice section and I had one or two good softbills as well at the time. When I moved up to Champion I would be lucky to get one in the first seven placings. After a few more years, still struggling, I decided to reluctantly part with all my softbills and to concentrate only with my Lessers and Goldies. Looking back now there have been some really great Redpoll men and these names stick in my mind; Val Emmery – Wales, Kevin Dodd – Blackpool, Terry Ball – Anglesey and Jack Lloyd – Lancashire. I asked every one of these if I could buy a bird off them and had help from Kevin and Jack. The two biggest breaks that helped me were first obtaining a cock bird from Mick Brookes from London. This bird was a few years old and had a dropped wing but could fly ok. I remember the anticipation of picking the bird up from my local railway station. When getting it home I noticed it was bigger, better coloured and with better flank markings than anything I have ever had. The red flush went right between its legs but obviously it was no good for showing with the dropped wing. I managed to breed from this bird for three years, putting it with as many hens as possible. I can trace my current stock back to this old cock. I believe it had been bred by a gentleman from Scotland called Mr Bullock. My second lucky break was meeting an Irish man from Cork in the bar at the National Show in Birmingham. We got talking about redpolls and he said he had plenty of these small brown birds. After exchanging phone numbers I arranged for a friend who kept greyhounds to collect them for me. So with the Irish birds and the bird from London things just clicked. Diet the main staple diet I give is Bayers Goldfinch/siskin mix and Bayers Wildfood. I feed blue maw, white/brown perilla, niger seed, oyster shell grit and a big piece of cuttle fish in each cage and outside flight. Eggfood Cede eggfood, frozen peas (pour boiling water over them and microwave for around 4 – 5 minutes ), scrambled eggs, blue maw seed and a small amount of sausage rusk just to make it go that bit further. Three quarter Cede and one quarter sausage rusk and mix all the ingredients together. I start to give eggfood after Christmas and give one finger drawer per cage. I cage all my birds singularly during the show season. After my last show I start to give them mini mealworms and frozen white pinkies ( I leave them out for a while before offering them to my birds), these are given once a week so the birds get a taste for them. Soakseed My soakseed consists of Bayers and Manor Farm with a little niger added. seed consists of Bayers and Manor Farm with a little niger added. Wildfood I’m a great believer in giving as much wildfood as you can get. I start with coltsfoot, dandelions, chickweed, sow thistle, milk thistle, sorrel, mugwort, fat hen, ragwort, meadowsweet and alders during the winter. Breeding Lessers will breed in cages and small flights. Mine are outside flights. I use both every year. I have a block of thirteen flights built on a 24’ x 8’ base with a passageway running through the front. I use these for lessers, goldies and twites. Each is set with four nesting sites. I use small metal baskets with coconut fibre lining. The nesting material I offer to the birds is coconut fibre, white kapok, white horse hair cut into very small lengths and sometimes I use 100% cotton wool (no man made fibres) if I cant get enough kapok. I usually breed in single pairs but if I have a real good cock I will run him with numerous hens. I use a small amount of conifer cover around each nest basket. The bottom of the flights I cover with horse bedding with small silver birch branches placed low down for the young to perch on. All the flights are covered in corrugated pvc but there is an 18’’ strip at the back of the flights which is felted. This provides some shade. I have wire trays in the flights for chickweed and sometimes the Lessers actually build their nests in the chickweed!!! Pairing Up (the harder part) I usually pair up a few weeks after the All British Bird Show. This takes me a few weeks as I get all my previous breeding records out (it is so important to keep accurate breeding records). I don’t always pair best to best. Over the years I have tried different combinations. In the past I was obsessed with getting a good colour by pairing the best coloured birds together each year. By doing this I slowly improved the colour but the Lessers were getting smaller. So then I tried to put the size back in without losing the colour. I achieved this by using big heavy feathered birds Show Standard the standard states that type, colour and markings will give a combined total of 60 points. Colour should be rich, nutty brown. As we all know there are a few shades in nuts. I know people now prefer the warm conker colour. I was trying to get mine as dark as possible. After colour and type I wanted to get real strong, heavy markings. On a few occasions I have managed to get four lines on each side (this doesn’t happen very often) usually you will get three lines. Try to avoid birds that show too much white on the front of the chest. Try to get the brown to come down as far as possible. I have never been bothered about the size of the bibs as most adult cocks lose the bibs in the second year. Shape – try to aim for the wagon horse shape (shapely and cobby). I am not too keen on the over large birds on the show bench now – the ones with thumbnail sized bibs and large beaks. As we all know the cock Lessers only get the red chest the following year but I have had hens that are three and four years old get a red flush on the chest ns that are three and four years old get a red flush on the chest and some people would mistake these for cocks. These hens are the birds that throw good coloured young. Show Training I wait until the young have finished moulting and start by running them in a show cage (no more than one hour a day). The show cage fronts have half inch spacers instead of the five eighths. This stops the birds putting their heads through the wires. I have some training cages with Perspex fronts. This stops the birds jumping on the wires. Some birds are naturals and don’t need much training. My biggest disappointment is when I breed a real good bird and it throws its head back in the cage (known as a twirler). This happened last breeding season. I would love to know the reason why this happens? Size No 2 show cages are used but I would love to see the Scottish No1 allowed back in use in England. At this moment in time Sean Fitzpatrick is trying to revive the No1 cage in England. I colour feed when the birds are six to seven weeks old using carophyll red in their drinking water. Redpolls are one of the quickest British birds to moult and are always ready for the early shows. There is no need to put redpolls on any sulphur drugs. Lessers are not long lived birds. It is so easy to lose a strain. You need to keep having a decent breeding season and to always keep some spare birds if possible.
  11. Breeding The Linnet.

    Here's an article written by Jeff Hulme. I have been breeding my strain of Linnets in pens for about 10 years now. The pen sizes that I have found give my Linnets more security are about 3' 6" wide x 3' high x 18" deep. I have also bred them in pens that are about 4' x 2' x 2'. I line breed the Linnets, and have found that they are now becoming very steady, and are gradually improving in markings and size. The colour is still a problem and I would like to see darker birds. Last year my Linnets went to nest earlier than ever before and I had eggs at the beginning of April. Normally it is the last week in April before they go down. By the beginning of March I have started my conditioning programme with the Linnets. My basic mix of Beyers wild seed and Scottish budgie tonic is supplemented with a cage bird tonic. I have gradually built up the green food, using punnet's of mustard, cress and broccoli from the wholesalers, and the only wild food I use is dandelion, which I start to dig up and feed the lot, roots, soil, leaves and flowers when they eventually start appearing. I do not give a lot of egg food or soaked seed to get them into condition but I increase the Beyers wild seed. Most of my Linnets rear mainly on the Beyers wild seed. I have never seen a captive bred Linnet take any form of live food and they definitely do not need it to rear healthy chicks. My nest sites consist of a wire basket hung on the front of the cage mesh, with no cover inside the cage, but I use artificial Christmas tree branches to give some protection on the front. The Linnets are quick to build their nests. I supply moss, and also natural materials which I buy from Quicko. I never interfere with the nest once I have set it up. By observing the birds it is easy to see if the hen has started incubating. As soon as she does, I mark my diary with the date, and I do not touch the nest again until I am ready to ring the young. From when the hen is sitting, I wait about 19 days. At anything around 12 days the chicks will start to hatch. When I take the nest down to ring the chicks there is usually an assortment of sizes. My hens seem to start incubating early in the clutch. When I have rung the birds, I replace the nest and do not touch it again until the chicks fledge. It is not uncommon for the hen to go down to nest again very quickly. I have had eggs in one nest and chicks in another. When the chicks' tails have grown in fully, normally about twenty five days, I take them away and moult them in family groups. At this time I give the chicks lots of wild seed, soaked seed, egg food and lots and lots of millet sprays. I use intradine in the water at 2ml to a litre, 5 days on and 2 days off right up until the birds have finished moulting. Unlike redpolls, if you colour feed young Linnets, the cocks get red breasts in their first moult. So, if you are unsure as to how to sex your young, if you colour feed you will not go far wrong. I do not colour feed my Linnets anymore, I feel its one less toxin they have to endure. This is only my method of keeping and breeding this wonderful bird, they are too often overlooked, but are gradually making a comeback on the show bench.
  12. Any British Nesting Yet

    Good luck with the chaffie's I hope you are successful with them. I've kept them for years and only bred them twice. They are not an easy native to breed in my opinion. I'd keep an eye on the cock when the chicks hatch if he is rank he'll toss them out of the nest or break up the nest to get the hen down again. The chaffie eggs I put under a red canary weren't birded but the hen chaffie has built a nest this time round and is sitting on two eggs, one of which is birded so fingers crossed on that one...
  13. These species profile articles were compiled by a good friend of mine namely John Carter, the info was gleaned from the internet and he put them together to show an accurate & condensed profile of the various native bird species. Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula Cock Bullfinch. General Overview: The male is unmistakable with his bright pinkish-red breast and cheeks, grey back, black cap and tail, and bright white rump. The flash of the rump in flight and the sad call note are usually the first signs of bullfinches being present. The female has a brown back and pinkish-fawn underparts. The juveniles are like the adult female, but do not have black caps. In the winter, our resident population can be joined by "northern" Bullfinches from northern Europe. These are slightly larger and heavier and much less shy than our own Bullfinch, and the male has a more intense pink breast and very pale grey upperparts. They feed voraciously of the buds of various trees in spring and were once a 'pest' of fruit crops. Recent declines place it on the Red List. Juvenile Bullfinch. Habitat: Within Britain, the species breeds mainly in deciduous woodland, but it will also use large gardens, orchards, hedgerows, thickets and churchyards. Bullfinches are shy birds, rarely seen in the open and seemingly visiting only those gardens that can be accessed via suitably thick cover. Diet: Bullfinches usually feed on insects, berries, seeds, and buds - its liking for the latter has made enemies of some gardeners and fruit growers. These attacks can become a serious problem. A single bullfinch can remove 30 or more buds in a minute. Bullfinch numbers increased enormously in the 1950s making this for a time the biggest problem that the fruit-growing industry had to face. Almost every grower had little option but to trap bullfinches (using cage-traps complete with a live decoy) during the winter and spring. Many growers in well-wooded districts caught more than a thousand birds annually. In late autumn the diet changes because the bird becomes more of a wanderer, feeding largely on the seeds of herbaceous plants. But these decrease in importance with the onset of winter and are replaced by tree seeds, especially ash. Hen Bullfinch feeding. Breeding: A carefully hidden nest. Bullfinches usually nest in shrubs or bushes, such as blackthorn and hawthorn, in woodland, orchards or agricultural farmland. The nest, which is a flimsy, loose structure of twigs and moss lined with fine roots and hair, is built by the female. The nest is made between 4 and 7 feet off the ground in cover. The female Bullfinch lays and incubates eggs that are smooth, glossy and light blue with purplish markings at one end. The eggs are about 20 mm by 15 mm. Both parents feed the young after they have hatched. The adult Bullfinch develops a food pouch in the mouth during the breeding the season, this is so that they can store more food in their mouths when they are out foraging and in turn means that they visit the nest less often......which is actually a natural defence mechanism to avoid predation, namely from the Magpie, Crow etc. Both cock and hen share the feeding responsibilities. Distribution: Map showing distribution throughout the U.K Voice: The call note is a low, piping ‘deu-deu’ (sometimes ‘deu’), while the song is highly variable, though usually quiet in nature and audible only over short distances, hen Bullfinches are unusual amongst finches in that their song matches that of the cock birds .
  14. Any British Nesting Yet

    I'm very late this year with my breeding season due to work so it hasn't really started in earnest yet. I have three flights 12ft x 5ft x 8ft in height two of which are sorted and have a pair of goldies, a pair of siskins and a pair of chaffies in each. The third flight has only a pair of chaffies in at the moment and I'm still sorting a few goldies and siskins that are in cages to fill the flight. The pair of chaffies that are alone are nine years old and due to be put in cages for the summer to free up the flight as they have not bred for the past two years due to age I reckon but last Thursday I found an egg on the floor of the flight, same Friday and same again today, the hen is laying off the perch no nest built I'll put the chaffie eggs under a red canary tomorrow or the next day but am 99% sure the canary wont rear them if they are birded. I've tried it a few times without any success and dont know if a canary has ever reared chaffies. I am open to correction on that though. Good luck with your chaffies Fireman...
  15. Any British Nesting Yet

    You mention a siskin hen sitting as well. What size is the flight and how many birds are in it? Cock goldies & siskins are well known for interfering with sitting hens usually to drive the hens back down in my opinion. As fireman says... remove the cock until she has finished laying and is sitting tight.