Wednesday, 30 September 2009

September finale

After a warm night (14C) we (DTH & I) erected the nets under an overcast sky. As hopes did not run high, we stuck a net across the feeding station, too.

Just as well as we caught 14 tits in this net (8 Greti, 6 Bluti). All told, we had 38 birds, 14 of which were retraps. We caught our 60th Chiff of the year at this site today, even if we had to 'tape lure' it. (see below)

Totals: Wren 1 (1), Dunno (5) [= the ringers' friend!!], Robin 1, Blabi 0 (1) [this one a 5M from 1st May 2005], Sonth 1, Blaca 3 [all 3's, 1M, 2 F], Chiff 1 [4M], Bluti 6 (3), Greti 7 (3), Treec 1 (1), Chaff 2, Goldf 1.

Border control?

Hope springs eternal and we shall be back here again soon. October has always been good to us - when the weather holds!

A newly emerged Grasshopper spp.

PS. I always reckon that September and October are like chalk and cheese; if one is brill, the other is shi*e for ringing. I'm keeping my legs crossed.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Day 3 - not bad

Retrices - with much white.

Once again we (Ed & I this time) got things going at 7 am. The 240' run just had to be unfurled and so we then set up 2x forties, one by the feeding station, the other in the bottom corner where it doesn't catch much but turns up the odd 'goodie'.

First job, ring three 3M Blackcaps, then a stint at the feeders before Ed left for work. One of those birds was a Blue Tit, A761442, which was a shade under 7 years & 3 months since it was ringed as a juvvy at the end of June 2002. Two more 'old' Gt. Tits were captured after Ed went, but not in the same league! Prize of the day was a Lesser 'throat, that caused IPMR to "cough" when I put in a wing length of 72.5mm. Halimondendri type I ask myself? This is the 2nd latest, the other being a scraggy female (on size) that had fat1/muscle 1 caught on the 27th last year. [Late Sept. records - there have been 2 on 14th, 1 on 16th, 1 on 18th (involving 3 birds) & 2 on 19th before] .


Todays count, 19 (9): Woopi 1 (a juv), Robin 1 (1), Blaca 3, Leswh 1, Chiff 1 (our 59th this year here), Bluti 5 (4), Greti 3 (5), Chaff 2, Goldf 2.


There was a weak passage of Mipits, a few Sky Larks through and, to top it all, a Nuthatch [8th record] calling like mad, close by where I had the first record for the park back in August 1991. DK had a Jay.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Slow 'everything' day

Second of three days ringing 'the rough', before spending the weekend in NW Norfolk. Routine was the same as yesterday - but without the feeder net. The start temp. was 6C and had only climbed to 7C by 9 o'clock. There was a very heavy dew that lasted a long time. The sun shone in a clear sky throughout and by midday the temp was 18C.

12 birds, 6 new, 6 "old friends". The newbies were: a 3F Goldc, 2x 3F Reewa & 3x 3M Chiff. The retraps were juv Treec & Sonth, a Robin & male Blabi from '08 (3's) and 2 Greti, one a 3M from '08, the other a J from 2005 (a big [80 wl] male).

A Blaca was present but didn't show, a poss (silent) Siski flyover and a small flock of 6-7 Lotti. A very quiet day compared to yesterday.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Slow hand day

It was light when I reached the (Priory) park and a couple of Song Thrushes hastily left the grass area. I decided to concentrate on the feeding station nets but to no avail. I only caught 6 birds from 7.30 to 2 o'clock, despite having a 40/20 dog-leg [5 GT & 1 BT].

At 7.45, I had a Yellow-browed Warbler pass over, calling. [This is the 2nd record here]. It moved forcefully through the 'rough' from bush top to bush top. I couldn't actually see it clearly because I was putting a net up and looking in to the rising sun, but its distinctive call was enough to clinch it. Sure as eggs is eggs, neither I nor anyone else saw/heard it again and the sun went behind the clouds soon after.

I then put the 4-net run up and caught 22 birds here from 9 until finish. Today's total was made up as follows: Dunno (3), Robin 1 (1), Blabi (1), Blaca 2, Chiff 1, Lotti (1), Bluti 2, Greti 5 (3), Golfi 7, Bullf (1).

No Wrens; they're having a poor year (after last year's mega production). Shared my breakfast with a new, young Robin. The male Blackcap caught early on had a fat of 1.5 in contrast to the female at midday that had fat 0, but weighed the same. Both had good muscle score. About 5 Chiffs passed through during the day but only managed to ring the one that I was watching (top shelf job). One of the male Dunnocks was in its 6th year, the other in its 4th.

All of the Goldfinch were juveniles in all shades of PJ moult from 8 ogc to obw and nearly in adult plumage. We're doing quite well for this patch at 29 so far - and more to come, no doubt. In contrast, this year we have only caught 4 new Greenfinch on this site; presumably this is as a result of the infection going round, much like it did in the early 'nineties, when we had another low, total catch. You never know, it might pick up with a few "immigrants" later in the autumn.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

More Chiffs - Sat 19th @ Priory

For the second day running we had the nets up in the Rough. This time Ed accompanied me. We used the CES configuration.
A really good tally with 47 birds, including 19 re-traps, all different from yesterday, and 14 adults compared to 6 yesterday. Fewer species today with just 11, although we did finish earlier (i.e. before the Gold- and Green-finches get about).

It was cloudy from start to finish (noon) and the sun came out with clear blue skies as we packed up. The 'species list' consisted of: Wren 1 (1), Dunno 1 (2), Robin 3 (1), Blabi (3), Blaca 3 (2), Chiff 9 (1), Lotti (3), Bluti 5 (3), Greti 4 (1), Chaff 1, Bullf 1 (2). We didn't put a net up by the feeders; that can wait 'til next week sometime.

15 Chiffs (and a retrap female we first caught on 2nd April) over 2 days was brilliant for us. These "dickies" had been piling up on site during the windy weather - but most cleared out on Thurs/Fri night, before we could get the nets up in any reasonable sort of conditions (beware the 'thorn, bramble & dog rose). Some had evidently come in overnight (Fri/Sat) as it was obvious on inspection that they had spent most of their fat deposits. The 5 Blackcaps were a mixed bunch,too.

Well, that's 72 more birds on the year's totals; let's hope it goes on for a little longer before the summer migrants all disappear. Of the 30 retraps, the following were notable: couple of Bullfinches from '07, Blackbirds from '03, '05 & '07, a Blackcap (m) from '07, 2 Lottis from summer '07 and an '07 Dunnock. Aerial activity today was cut short by 4 "quacking" Gadwall that couldn't make their mind up (10 altogether - per DK).

Nearly forgot. Another close encounter with 'Reynard' as he mouched about in the brambles. Also a Jay from the new meadow (now cut and baled) to Fingers. The first of the high-flying Blackbirds was seen.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Priory - 18th Sept

As this was the first day that the wind had died down, took it into my head to net the Rough. Starting at 7 am, I processed the first birds at 8 o'clock. I had a 40 foot by the feeding station as well as 4 other nets scattered round the area.

Took 55 birds of 13 species with only 5 adult birds (all retraps, naturally). Oldest bird was a 2005 juv male Blackbird, plus an '07 female Bullfinch.

The list: GRSWO 1, Wren (1), Dunno 2 (3), Blabi 1 (2), BLACA 2, CHIFF 6, Lotti 4 [first for quite a while], Bluti 8 (2), Greti 13 (2), Chaff 1, Grefi 2, GOLFI 4, Bullf (1). I 'lost' a young Golfi and a young Grefi - wrong side of the net.

Early on, Dave K had a Spot Fly hanging round the ringing table but it went in the opposite direction to the nets. Paradoxically, in the early afternoon, I 2 (poss 3) Spot Flicks in the Long Hedge opposite the net to the new feeding station (the Laburnum). We also had 16 House Martins checking out a male Sparr as it sallied across the nets. Later, about midday, I spooked a Redstart on the sunny side of the Long hedge where it abuts the dipping platform; naturally, it went "the other way"!

One of the Chiffs was exceedingly olive and yellow compared to all the other five, which were browny and buff as you would expect. It didn't check out as one of our occaisional hybrid Willow-Chiffs. There were another 3 or 4 Chiffys about that didn't make the nets (or if they did, I wasn't there and they managed to escape)
The Great Spot was completing its PJ moult. It was a male and discernable as a 1CY by the old greater and primary coverts. I must admit, they were not easily spotted on this individual.

Take away the 25 tits and the day brought forth a good selection of 30 birds of another 11 species. Well worth the day out . I packed up at 3 pm, tired, hungry and thirsty.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Chalton STW Management

After my last posting,'sending in the girls' I thought I'd bring you up to date with current developments. Well, I like to think of them as
The Three Muckateers. They have done a splendid job. Maureen and myself went over again and removed some more of the debris pulled creating a bigger area of muddy gunge. We were told that it wasn't very deep, about knee depth. Well, Toni kindly obliged by missing her footing and, sure enough, it was about knee deep as we were told. Now, it's quite possible to go through it with waders. So much better.
The part finished scrape which has already been used by moorhen and grey heron. What next - Egret perhaps!

I was also joined by Kieran and between us we managed to trim up the rides and also create the feeding station area to the east of the site. Ground feed has been put in to the site but, we are awaiting poles to erect hanging feeders of seed and nuts. Here's hoping for a good winter haul. If there are any would be workers out there, we do have alot to do in respect to more typha pulling and also the placement of a metal grid over one of the ditches so as we can get the ride on over it as well as the erection of the new ringing hut when everything is sorted and in place. If you wish to volunteer please contact me direct.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Our Waterloo!

On 29th Aug, we accomplished our 12th CES visit to 'the Thorns' for the year. This is the first time for a while that we have managed to get all twelve in, mainly due to the dire weather in previous years and the exposed position of the site.
[The site is the old "Secret Airfield" used by the SOE in WW2. Our patch of scrub is now part of Waterloo Farm, hence the name "Waterloo Thorns"]

A huddle on the "dispersal track"

As always, late August does not generate very many birds. This last visit served up 32 birds, 14 of them retraps. Wren 2 (1), Dunnock 1 (1), Robin 1 (2), Blackbird 0 (1), Lesser 'throat 1, Whitethroat 1 (1), Blackcap 4 (1), Chiffchaff 2, Willow Warbler 1, Blue Tit 1 (1), Great Tit 2 (4), Bullfinch 2 (2).

The season's total is approximately 30% UP on medium term average catches. This compares to last years, which was 30% DOWN.

Our next visit, some time over winter when the guns are silent, will be to undertake some more 'extreme gardening'.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Between times

Now that the CES programme is concluded for another year. we have set about starting up the feeding station again. Feeders and nuts bought ... and the first now in place. It's hanging on a 'wire' from a branch of the Laburnam, the one with original NB3 that was heavily vandalised by the "Peckers".

Looking up "our approach alley" towards the net background.
The other feeder usually hangs alongside the nuts.

It is an innovative design from the RSPB, where the 'squirrel' cage lifts off over the hanger - nice and quick and easy to fill/clean. Just need to wait for results.
Of course, this involved cutting out the appropriate net lane ready, since the veg has grown tremendously over the last 10 months. In places the nettles were a good three foot and the Elders have reached well over two metres. There are also some small Blackthorn regens which we will have to hit where they occur in the rack.

Feeding station - 40 foot rack.
Feeder just left of dead centre, tucked out of sight behind Elder bush

The ground was bare last winter when it was completely cleared of trees/bushes by BTCV & ourselves. Next job - put up the seed feeder - and await "the Squizzers".

Throughout September, we will endeavour to trap as many of the remaining and transient warblers as possible, before turning our attention to the tits, finches and thrushes, our core winter rations. There's always a second rush to leave these shores ... and we have to join in keeping Icklesham on there toes!