Thursday, 26 March 2009

Barnacles @ Roxton/Willington

Things are moving at last. Some birds are pairing up and visiting potential nest sites, with or without other pairs.

A few birds are already listed as "missing". A count in February had about 344 birds at Willington; the latest combined count only adds up to 280. That's 60+ not staying with the main flock(s).

So far, recent counts at Roxton have varied between 25 & 150 birds. Some birds will go to Zwetsloot's (Blunham) and Gt. Barford.

It would be nice to cannon net the flock in winter and 'darvic' a good proportion. This would enable a better understanding of where they go to on their wanderings. 'Til then, we'll have to settle for ringing a few more birds in July with red colour rings.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Sandy Smith Reserve

This new reserve named after Pete Smith's wife is along the Flit at Clophill. We have been invited by the Greensand Trust to give a ringing demonstration to the locals on Thursday 16th July.
I (or someone) will have to check it out in late June for access, bird species present and possible net sites. More details later after I've had a chat with Liz, the ranger here.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Sat 21st March

Back in the Long Hedge plantation (helps to ease pressure on the 'Rough' before the CES season starts) now that the feeding station has come to an end. Frosty start and a very warm, sunny finish.

Errol had cut out an old rack yesterday, which turned up a majority of the birds. Afterwards, Errol & Ed cut out another old rack that always does well post breeding.

Today's tally was 32, 21 new & 11 retraps. Wren 4/0, Dunno 2/0, Blabi 2/1, Redwi 1/0, Lotti 4/4 (see below), Bluti 2/2, Greti 4/2, Blaca 0/1, Bullf 1/1, Chaff 1/0.

The Lotti's were all paired up, with all 4 males ringed and all 4 females unringed, suggesting that they were not 'Priory birds'. When PRO and ECN were ringing at both South Mills and Priory in the 'nineties, they often exchanged Lotti's. South Mills to Priory is 8 km (due west) up the Great Ouse. Unfortunately, South Mills has been out of bounds for a long while; shame, it was a mega site.

The Redwing was a turn-up and the Blackcap was ringed as a 5M in April 2004. Peculiarly, it had a mass of brown (or faded/bleached) feathers in the front of its crown [No pic, unfortunately - first bird processed]. The 6M Chaffinch had a wing of 94mm, well outside our local birds.

Above & Below: Chaffinch with long wing

Below: Bonus picture of the male bullfinch.

Saturday, 14 March 2009


Friday 13th - checked out Harrold-Odell for ringing demonstration (net) sites in the reserve bit. Ed Burnett was not around, so couldn't confirm this area or the arrangements for Sunday April 26th. Might also have to do the last of the Cormorant and Heron pulli on the island.

Friday 13th - checked out Bromham LNR for future net sites (need to know where they used to be); looks good for Whitethroats and possibly Gropper. Caught a few birds up the road in the Ranger's garden over coffee and caught 1 of 2 male Yellowhammer.

Saturday 14th - Went to Priory. Ed and I first filled the feeders in the Rough for the last time this winter and cleared the rides of 'grot'. We then looked at what work is needed in the 'long hedge' and where to put to put the nets in April. Also discussed a possible 'whoosh' siting.
Then we had a look at the 'crescent' which will possibly be used for the demonstration in July.

On our walkabout, we saw three Little Egberts on 'lilypads' before they flew off.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

July Ringing

Some dates that have been sorted.

Barnacle Goose Round-up.
This will take place over the weekend of 18-19th July at Roxton (thanks to Simon Bath).
Bods wanted include - canoeists, to push the geese up the lake; helpers, to erect the corral fence and then swing it into position; ringer of all classes, to put BTO and WWT darvics on; a photography anorak, to document the scene.

Ringing Demo at Priory on Wildlife Trust day.
This is booked for Sat 25th July; their thing starts at 11 am but we will probably be up and running by 9 am. The actual site has not been decided; either the 'crescent' or the 'long hedge'.
All the CES visit 9s will have to be done on the following day, Sunday (weather permitting in both cases)

I am still waiting to hear from Stockgrove, Sandy Smith, Bromham Lake, Harrold and Park Wood. E.

Saturday, 7 March 2009


Admittedly at North Wootton in Norfolk, but the female Chaffinch above was first ringed by an old friend AJH over 20 km away as a 5F in 2005/06. This is the second time she has fallen into my nets, the last time in June 2007. There were some splendid long-winged males around, too.

Suddenly, Siskins started appearing this week, about 3 weeks later than last year, which was a bit of an invasion year. Over 4,300 Siskins were ringed in Norfolk in 2008! [180 in this garden]. The photo is of an adult male (6M).

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Post extreme gardening

Errol and Mike burnt up most of the brash that was not being left in habitat piles.
One 40' net ran for the morning at the other (main) feeding site; we were working by the subsidiary one.
23 birds of 5 spp. as follows:- Dunno 0/2 (a 4M from 06/03), Lotti 0/1, Bluti 2/9 (2 juvs from the nest boxes), Greti 3/2 (incl. a new pr) & Goldf 4/0.
It was time for the Blutis to take over from their bigger cousins; probably gone off to stake their claim to all the boxes, haha! The Oyk was kleeping again (or should it be - the Kleep was being an oyk?)

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Just a bit of Norfolk

Errol spent the weekend in Norfolk near Castle Rising. On Sunday 1st March he caught this 'new' bird above.

It already had a ring on, which wasn't closed very well; in fact, it looked as if it had been squeezed on by hand and then not closed with the pliers afterwards. Anyhow, the ring number was "9200683 Zoo Bruxelles". Nice one! [Possibly the first Belgian ringed Brambling to Norfolk; there have been at least 8 the other way]

There were several 'continental' (large) adult male Blackbirds around; 20 came out of the Hollies at dusk alltogether, with 8 'high fliers'. A clear night with light winds, good for migration.

And a silent Chiff was poking around in the Camelias for insects!! The male Peregrine from the docks flew over on a dusk raid for fat Blackbirds(?)!!! Mistle Thrushes are very active; so are the Green & Gt.Spot Woodpeckers. Most of the Coal Tits (a speciality) have cleared off for the breeding season. The local squirrels are having a hard time just now - didn't see one on Monday.

PCP 3rd March

Back of Net 3 - looking north

Looking along Nets 2 & 1

The corner - from Net 2 towards Net 3

The "IRG firemen" at the end of the day

Today, Mike, Errol and David were ably assisted by the Rangers in clearing or reducing the scrub in 'the Rough' along one side of the CES site. We were able to clear away the bramble pushed down by the recent snows as well. Hopefully, this work will enable us to catch more birds this year as well as providing better nest sites for the warblers. Not all the brash was burnt - we left strategically placed piles of brash and some more wood piles too.

We all look forward to the start of the season (our 18th here) at the beginning of May.