Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Priory:crescent - 29th April

Early doors. Not a bad morning for the time of year, but completely different from that anticipated. The fog thinned slowly and dissipated about 08:30.

The reed bed is much reduced at present as the rangers cut the 'dry end', perhaps 40mx25m remains. The cut phragmites is beginning to sprout plus a few goat willows. There is still a lot of water on, too. Four Reed Warblers were singing, a Moorhen had 2-3 small chicks and a Wood Mouse was out eating cow parsley heads and taking the side shoots back for 'elevenses'.

Today's total was 4 new and 7 retraps: Wren 1F/-, Dunno -/1M, Robin -/1M, Blabi 1F/1M, Reewa -/1(M), Blaca -/1M, Treec -/1M, Chaff 1M/-, Reebu 1M/1F. The Reed Bunting (above) was ringed as a breeding bird in early July, here in 2007. The Reed Warbler was caught as a breeding adult in '07 and '08, and the Blackbird was ringed as a 3JM in the 'rough' at the beginning of October 2007.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Long Hedge (W) - 25th April

Less windy and more cloud about. Struggled out on my own. Good job I'd put the Etesia through the plantation 2 days ago - the coppice and herb layer are galloping away (cleared 18 months ago). The cowslips have really got away with more light reaching the floor.

19 birds of 8 spp. in all, 13 of them new and just the 6 re-traps.

Dunno 3/0, Blabi 1/1, Sonth 3/0, Blaca 2/1, Wilwa 2/0, Bluti 0/2, Chaff 1/0, Bullf 1/2

We've now caught 5 of the possible 7 male Blackcaps in this block, and the female is the first of the year. She was not an easy bird and ended up as a '4bracket5'. The photo' shows it much better than when viewed in the hand!

I also caught our first Willies of the year, one either side of the net - since they were singing against one another! Remove one and catch the other (both new birds).

The first Swifts of the year passed over this morning.

There was also a noisy pair of House Sparrows in the very old Blackthorn thicket by the gate.

The CES season must be nearly upon us - the mozzies were out ... and biting!!!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Meadow Lane, Willington pits - 23/04

First visit of the year (with DTH) to this belt of elderberry and nettle alongside the cycle track [NR51]. The dragonfly pit to the north is now landscaped (Smartie hotel now no longer in existence) and tree-ed up between it and the path. South of the bushes, the field is now covered in dead nettle and rank grass.

Birds caught (2 nets in 2 hours) = 7 new + 3 r/t; Wren 1M/1M, Robin 0/1M, Lotti 1M/1F, White 1M+1F/0, Blaca 2M+1F/0. The 2 retraps were all from each of last year's 2 visits; Wren when a 5 in May, & Robin as a 3 in Sept. The Lotti was a 4Fb at the'spit', Priory (ca. 1.5km away to the SE) in late March '08

Perhaps this site will come into its own when its surroundings are a little more mature. At present, sun and wind limit catching opportunities in this part of the river valley.
There is a pair of Redsh and a pair of Lapwi displaying nearby.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Bromham Lake LNR

Tues - Had another go at the same end of the site. 12 new birds this time.
3 male Robin (1x 5 & 2x 6's), 1 Dunno male, a pair of Lotti ( a B3 for her but no nest search today), a pair of Bluti (she a 5 and probably in egg, by her weight), a male Blaca, 2 male Chiff and our first new White of the season (see pic of the 5M, above)

One of the Robins, a 6, had lost all 3 anterior claws on the left leg (see pic)

We always love the colour of Chiffies' feet.

Here's the first bird of the day.

A Wilwa was singing by net 1, but never descended to our level. Will try again next week.

A wishful Comte (no raft this year) sat on the overhead wires for a 'buzz'.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Chalton 19/04

Graham & co made a pre season visit to the proposed CES part of the site. Not a lot of birds caught as the wind was whipping over the emerging reed beds - which normally cut the wind when they have grown.
Six new birds and three retraps as follows: Sedwa 2/1, White 0/1, Blaca 1/1, Chiff 1/0 Greti 2/0.
The Sedge was a 3J in June '07, the 'throat was a 5M in May '06, the 'cap was a 4M on the same day. All three were re-trapped here last year.
With warm weather forecast this week, things should pick up - especially as the first Nightingales and Hobbies have been seen locally.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Long Hedge (E) - 18th April

Male Chiff - wing 62, e6, wp4, 2=7-8 - the half eye-ring showing better in a photo. A little bedraggled at this time of year.

Out alone, set 4 nets (eventually) in the tallest coppice because of the strength and direction of the wing (NE, increasing >F4).
Nevertheless, caught 8/12 (new/old) - Wren 1/0, Dunno 2/2, Blabi 0/1, Blaca 1 F/3 M, Chiff 3/0, Bluti 0/1, Greti 0/2, Chaff 0/2, Bullf 1/0.
Best bird of the day was a female Chaff caught as a 5 in April 2004 but not 'seen' since (now =1819 days); the male was a bird we caught last month as a 6.
Next best were the Blaca's - first a new female aged 6, then 'old hands' from April 2004 when a 5M (now = 1840 days), a 3J from June '06 and a 5M from June '07.
New Chiff's were 1 male & 2 females, one of which was in egg (as was the female Bluti). The male retrap Bluti (2007 bird) was virtually bald, with no feathers on the back of its head.
Oyk and Siskin over plus a Robin feeding young that was impossible to get to!
The cowslips are probably at their best at the moment.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


A dismal attempt was made on the 12 April at this site but, though damp, we managed to catch a whole 9 birds. They consisted of a retrap Greti ringed in November '06 and 4 new birds -
Wren 1, Bluti 1 and a pair of (newly-wed) Marti. Not too bad I guess.

Will we, won't we.

This morning, EN espied a female Cuckoo in the 'rough' (Priory), calling for a mate. [So far this year, no male Cuckoo has yet been heard] She was making circuits, calling from 3 distinct areas and flying low between them across the net lanes. We have never caught a Cuckoo at this site in 20+ years; will this be the one?

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Bromham Lake LNR

Went and had another look at this site, now that a bit of greenery is showing.

These two pix are of the area along the less well used path, at the wetter ground nearest the railway (on the old tip). This looks ideal for Nettle Peggy, Gropper and Yommer.

This is the 'Willow' area tucked away at the back of the lake. This is where the feeding station was/is, but it needs a few racks opening up again - shouldn't be a long job (with the Etesia). Being away from the public, it might turn up something, including Yaffle.

Thursday, 9 April 2009


Early this morning (06:50 BST) I retrapped this female Goldfinch. It was originally ringed as a 3 in November '07 and then retrapped in breeding condition in late May '08. Today, it was minus its left foot; this has "disappeared" since the last capture. It seems to be surviving well (weight 17.0 gms, fat 2 and BP2) and does not have any difficulty using the feeders.

This fledgling Robin from the nest next door was next; it was a reasonably strong flier - even with a wing of 66mm. Our first for the year.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Bits and pieces

A quick run down of what's been happening lately.
The hide at Chalton has been vandalised again, this time mercilessly. AW decided to remove it and we (Graham) asked for the main supports so that we could bridge part of the old lagoons. When he went on Sunday, there was a pile of panels from the old hide - but no uprights, no door, no windows, no nothing - except an unlit bonfire!!
He did catch 2 Wrens. A 'pwuik' sound from the U-pond suggested that the LBJs were back in town.
On Monday, Errol went to the new Sandy Smith reserve for a look see. A pair of Red Kite were hunting over the site, where Sky Larks and Mipits were displaying. There was also a Stonechat and a pair of Reed Buntings. The fields had been cut and will be sprayed for Ragwort before the eastern one gets its sheep and the western one goes down to natural regen. There was a Siskin in the alders.
The fine weather has curtailed activities because of the strong winds. However, dawn sessions in the garden have picked off 3 r/t Goldfinch, one of which was a 3JF from 2005, 3 new Greenfinch, a new female Dunnock and a female House Sparrow, plus half a dozen mixed retraps. Unfortunately, the HS use the narrow front garden to get to a neighbours feeders in preference to EN's, so they are a bit of a bonus bird as there's no chance out front of setting a net or trap.
At present, there is very little background at most sites for nets but many of the bushes are now starting to turn green. We anticipate catching over Easter - except that we're expecting poor weather.
The first Whitethroat was seen this morning - so we're hopeful - and it won't be long now 'til the Reed Warblers are here too.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Thurs 2/04

After all the hard work at Priory, and with the vegetation starting to come green, we set about erecting the CES line of nets to catch some early birds. Most likely, we will repeat this in another ten days time, before giving it a rest for three weeks to allow the Sylvia warblers to get established.

We caught, but did not ring, this 2CY female Bullfinch with moderately severe 'leg mange' [Knemidokoptes spp. ] This is the first time we have seen this in this particular species, it being rather more common in Sedge Warblers and Chaffinches.

We did manage to trap just 16 birds of 7 spp. as follows (new/retrap):
Wren 2/1, Dunno 0/1, Blabi 1/2, Chiff 3/0, Bluti 0/1, Greti 1/2, Bullf 1/1.
The female Blackbird weights were up (117/118) with BP2 but the male was lower at 89 gm. Two of the Chiffs were females fresh in - the other being the male that sings non-stop from the Locust tree in the centre of the patch. The lone female Blue Tit was probably the oldest bird today, as it was hatched in May 2007.