Friday, 18 April 2014

Migrants & Breeding

With migrating birds still coming in (or yet to arrive in some species cases), some of those that have arrived are already getting down to business building nests and breeding. Resident species are also doing the same.

A pre-CES session on Wednesday at Priory Country Park, Bedford produced the following:

Green Woodpecker 0 (1) - 2 years, 315 days (from 2011)

Wren 3 (2) - including one from 2012
Dunnock 0 (4) - including one from 2011
Robin 1 (0)
Blackbird 1 (0)
Song Thrush 2 (0)
Blackcap 6 (1) - including a control
Chiffchaff 1 (1) - retrap from 2011
Long Tailed Tit 1 (1) - retrap from 2011
Blue Tit 3 (1) - retrap from 2011
Great Tit 1 (1)
Chaffinch 2 (0)
Bullfinch 1 (0)

I was struck by the number of females already well advanced with brood patches and in egg. Already in egg were: Long Tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock Brood patches were present in: Song Thrush, Blackcap, Blackbird, Chaffinch.

If the weather stays good, we could be in for a good breeding season.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A return to action

The start of 2014 was a bit windy and a wash out, meaning not many ringers were able to put any mist nets up. I've also been busy elsewhere but I've managed to find a bit of free time coinciding with ringable weather so a couple of early morning starts at Sandy Smith Nature Reserve have produced the following (retraps in brackets).

Great Spotted Woodpecker 2 (3) - 4 different birds (including an IRG & site longevity record at 3 years and 15 days)
Wren 0 (2)
Dunnock 0 (5) - including a site longevity record at 3 years, 25 days
Blackbird 1 (0) - a breeding female with a advanced brood patch (code 3)
Song Thrush 1 (0)
Chiffchaff 1 (0) - the first of the spring migrants
Long Tailed Tit 1 (1) - see photographs below
Blue Tit 1 (3)
Great Tit 1 (4)
Chaffinch 2 (1)

10 new birds and 19 retraps (29 handlings, 26 different birds).

There was one bird that went away unringed - that's because we are forbidden to ring this game species:

Above: A Red-Legged Partridge

Red-Legged Partridges, if they do stray into mist nets, would be more likely to leave a hole than to stay in. This one, after having a photo taken, was released and left to go on its merry way.

A much more regularly caught bird, the Long Tailed Tit, threw up another surprise as you can see:


Above & Below: Long Tailed Tit


This bird still retained some pigmentation, but was remarkably pale all over. It was caught along with a regularly coloured bird (presumably a pair) and had a better weight, though the colour of the bird does not effect it's ability to feed. It may provide it with more camouflage during the snowy times though!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Recent recoveries

Here is a list of recent recoveries that Ivel Ringing Group has received: LESSER REDPOLL, ringed Sandy Smith Nature Reserve (Bedfordshire) 24/11/12, controlled Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire 05/05/13. 275 km, 162 days, NNW. SISKIN, ringed Sandy Smith Nature Reserve 08/12/12, controlled Callander, Stirling 530 km, 154 days, NNW. SISKIN, ringed Wibrin, Luxembourg, BELGIUM 24/02/12, controlled Sandy Smith Nature Reserve 08/08/12. 474km, 288 days, WNW. REED BUNTING, ringed Sandy Smith Nature Reserve 26/05/12, field observation Southill, (Bedfordshire) 12/04/13. 6 km, 321 days, NE. MAGPIE, ringed Chalton STW (Bedfordshire) 29/09/12, road casualty, Haynes (Bedfordshire) 10/03/13. 14 km, 162 days, NNE. CHAFFINCH, ringed Everton (Bedfordshire) 07/08/11, found dead, Little Paxton 10/03/13. 12 km, 581 days, N. BLUE TIT, ringed Carlton (Bedfordshire) 22/10/12, controlled Olney, Milton Keynes 19/05/13. 8 km, 209 days. SWALLOW, ringed Marston Moretaine (Bedfordshire) 02/09/12, controlled Rainworth, Nottinghamshire 14/05/13. 125 km, 254 days.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Eager to learn

By Martin A:

I gave a talk to the Eversholt Beaver pack on Monday 3rd June.

Twenty Beavers, all 6 and 7 years old, came to my ringing station which happens to be in my back garden. Unfortunately, due to the strengthening breeze, I only managed to catch them two Greenfinch but they were an adult male and female so I was able to show them the differences.

The Beavers showed just how eager they were to learn and asked some great questions!

I also showed them a Coal Tit nest and pictures of the eggs and the adult bird. We talked about putting up bird boxes and what to feed the birds.


 Above & below: Martin (dark blue top) shows the Eversholt Beaver pack a Greenfinch.


After half an hour the Beavers had to go. I hope a good time was had by all.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Marston Vale Millennium Country Park - Saturday 1st June

A late morning session at the Millennium Country Park in Marston Moretaine produced some quality results.

Reed Warbler - 1st of two controls caught
Totals ringed/retrapped/controlled were:

Dunnock                - / 1 / -
Sedge Warbler      3 / - / -
Reed Warbler        4 / - / 2
Lesser Whitethroat 1 / - / -
Whitethroat             - / 2 / -
Long-tailed Tit        1 / 1 / -
Blue Tit                   - / 1 / -
TOTAL                   9 / 5 / 2

Lesser Whitethroat - adult female
Both of the Reed Warbler controls had BTO rings; it will be interesting to see where they were ringed.

Aside from the ringing, there was a lot of noise from Water Rails in the reed bed - it sounded like several young birds were calling; there were also many Swifts hunting very low over the reeds; groups of young Starlings were dashing around calling loudly.



Wednesday, 22 May 2013

CES 2 and other sessions

On Saturday, CES session 2 was run at Priory Country Park as follows:

Wren 1 (1)
Dunnock 1 (4) - two of the retraps from 2010
Reed Warbler 2 (0)
Whitethroat 1 (1)
Garden Warbler 1 (0)
Blackcap 0 (2) - one of the retraps was from 2011
Long Tailed Tit 1 (0)
Blue Tit 1 (0)

7 new & 9 retraps = 16 birds of 8 species.

Averages for CES 2 are 15 new and 6 retraps. Thus, CES 2 this year (as CES 1) is showing fewer new birds than average but more retraps than average. I am told there are fewer Chiffchaffs around than normal and none have yet been ringed on CES.

On Friday and Sunday, I did a couple of sessions at Sandy Smith Nature Reserve which proved worthwhile.


Above: A control Common Whitethroat

Friday brought the following birds:

Great Spotted Woodpecker 0 (1)
Dunnock 0 (1)
Blackbird 0 (1)
Whitethroat 2 (3) including a control
Garden Warbler 1 (1)
Blue Tit 0 (3)
Chaffinch 3 (0)
Greenfinch 1 (0)
Goldfinch 1 (0)

Sunday brought a few more birds:

Dunnock 0 (1)
Sedge Warbler 0 (1)
Whitethroat 2 (2)
Garden Warbler 0 (2)
Blackcap 3 (0)
Long Tailed Tit 0 (2)
Coal Tit 0 (1)
Blue Tit 0 (1)
Great Tit 0 (2)
Chaffinch 0 (2)
Greenfinch 1 (0)
Lesser Redpoll 1 (0)


Above: An unseasonal and suprise Lesser Redpoll. Perhaps there is still some movement of this species going on, perhaps it's staying around.

A few of the birds also added to the longevity records for the site (including Whitethroat, Blue Tit & Great Tit). I don't normally catch Greenfinch here so 4 new ones recently is good.


Also seen at SSNR were a flock of 7 Linnets. I managed this rather poor photograph (above) before they departed.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Wind free for once!

As a nice change of pace, Sunday and Monday (last weekend) were largely wind free! This allowed me to get out ringing and catch some of those summer migrants that come to breed in the UK and begin another year of Constant Effort ringing at Priory Country Park (PCP).


On Sunday, I ran CES Visit 1 at PCP. Totals, including extra nets, were as follows (retraps in brackets):


Wren 2 (1)
Dunnock 1 (3)
Blackbird 1 (2)
Whitethroat 3 (3)
Garden Warbler 1 (0)
Blackcap 3 (1)
Willow Warbler 2 (0)
Long Tailed Tit 0 (1)
Great Tit 1 (0)
Chaffinch 1 (0)
Bullfinch 1 (1)

That makes a total of 16 new and 12 retraps - 28 overall. Average for CES visit 1 (including extra nets) is 30, of which 21 are normally 'new' and 9 are normally 'retraps'. Whilst the 2013 total is just short of average, the ratio of new to retrap is more in favour of the returning adults rather than recruitment of new adults. This could be a result of a poor breeding season last year. Delayed breeding and migration from the cold weather in early spring may also have a bearing here. But this is just a small sample and I'm far from being an expert!

Whitethroats were the most numerous on this visit and could be seen feeding well around the area. One of the retraps was first ringed on 1st May 2011, whilst the other 2 retraps were both ringed on 13th May last year.

2 of the 3 Dunnock retraps were from 2010 and the other from last year. One of the Blackbirds was ringed in 2010. The Blackcap retrap was ringed as a juvenile in July 2011. All the other retraps were from birds ringed in 2012.

The best birds were 2 new Willow Warblers. The numbers ringed at this site have steadily decreased over the last 20 years to the point where last year was the first year where none were ringed at all.

A ringing demo for The Wildlife Trust 'dawn chorus' walkers was well received.

On Bank Holiday Monday, a visit to Sandy Smith Nature Reserve (SSNR) produced a tally of 40 birds of 12 species as follows (retraps in brackets).

Green Woodpecker 1 (0)
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 (4)
Wren 2 (0)
Dunnock 1 (1)
Sedge Warbler 3 (1)
Whitethroat 2 (5)
Garden Warbler 1 (0)
Long Tailed Tit 0 (1)
Great Tit 1 (3)
Chaffinch 6 (3)
Greenfinch 2 (0)
Goldfinch 2 (0)


Above: A Whitethroat. 2 of the retraps were ringed at SSNR in 2011 whilst the other 3 were ringed last year (all as adults). L302789, ringed on 22/04/11 set a new longevity record for the site at 2 years and 14 days.

Chaffinches were, surprisingly, the most numerous species. I normally catch a couple per session but I think a small change in feeder & net set up may have proved to be useful. A new longevity record for the site was set by L302734 - 2 years and 62 days. Also, a bird ringed in a field at nearby Beadlow earlier this year was retrapped at SSNR. More pictures & info of this ringing session can be found here.

In terms of breeding evidence at both sites, the resident species (Dunnock, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpeckers), in general, seem to be ahead of the migrant species. More residents are showing respective male/female apendages/brood patches whereas there is little or no evidence yet of this in the migrant species.

Lets hope 2013 is a good breeding year.