Monday, 27 July 2009

More weekend CES's

Guy & Co. did the Thorns and realised 31 birds as follows (all bar 2 were juvvies):
Grewo 1/0, Wren 0/1, Dunno 4/0, Robin 0/1, Blabi 0/1, White 1/1, Garwa 2/0, Blaca 3/0, Chiff 5/0, Wilwa 1/0, Bluti 1/0. Greti 2/0, Treec 1/0, Chaff 5/0, Bullf 1/0.

Graham & Co. did the new Chalton site in windier conditions but managed 21 as follows (no other details): Magpi 1, Wren 2, Dunno 4, Robin 2, Sedwa 2, Reewa 3, White 2, Blaca 1, Chiff 3, Greti 1.

We're hunting around for a base for the new shed, which, when erected, will be the ringing hut, the other two huts then being used for storing ringing equipment and, in the more secure one, site maintenance tools. If only all our sites were this secure, if only to provide cover in poor weather!.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

CES plus

Saturday dawned calm and bright; it stayed that way, too. We had managed to get the nets up the night before - even though we were interupted by a violent thunderstorm which passed directly overhead.

The Wildlife Trust were having an Eco-day in the park, so we opened up and invited visitors to come and see us ringing. With it being holiday time, it was not surprising that the park was exceptionally quiet until we were half way through our allotted time slot.

At first it was a few birders as they finished their 'walk round' and towards the end other interested members of the public, including one recently retired teacher looking for a new hobby.

43 birds was a good tally for the day (2 to be excluded from the CES) with just 6 adults, 3 of them new. Two thirds of the juveniles were now under-going PJ (post-juvenile) moult or had finished, the rest were still very much "babies".

Above: Errol & Sabrina chatting with visitors about ringing.

Above: Errol showing a visitor a juvenile wren (one of 7 caught).

Above: Although not demonstrated here, it was fascinating to see a german ringer (Sabrina), who had joined us, handling the birds 'upside-down' (in the reverse grip). Sabrina has a juvenile male blackcap (undergoing its post juvenile moult with a part brown & black head) in the British standard ringing grip. This is just one of several differences between British and foreign ringing schemes.

Summary for the day (ad/juv/r-t): Wren 0/7/0, Dunno 0/4/0, Robin 0/3/0, Blabi 0/4/0, Sonth 0/1/0, Reewa 0/3/1, White 1/2/0, Blaca 2/4/2, Chiff 0/2/1, Bluti 0/1/0, Greti 0/1/1, Goldf 0/3/0.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Double, double toil & trouble.

A private demonstration for a dozen locals and volunteers at the new Sandy Smith reserve at Beadlow last Thursday evening proved eventful. Sedge, Reed, 3 Whitethroat and a Wren were taken with two nets near the small, overgrown pond. On the final net round to take down, 19 LTT were waiting. With the help of my old mate Pete Smith, who bought this tract of former farmland for the Greensand Trust, they were soon on their way back to the car for some "number plates". As luck would have it, the rain, which had held off, now came with a vengeance. I've never ringed under a large golfing umbrella before! Willing hands held the 5 bags into which the ringed Lottis went so that they could all go at once. That was the easy bit - had to take the nets in as it got dark and while it was still pissing down. The nets went in the airing cupboard - but I couldn't fit in.

The Barnacle Goose round-up came to nought. With just 3 experienced ringers (that were scattered across three counties) and no transport for the fencing, this year's was called off at the last minute. Having to go to site anyway, in case a stray canoeist turned up, I went on to our oldest CES site. Guy and co managed to trap 38 birds despite the force 4-5 wind whipping across the airfield. They had put up an extra 180' of net, though; the birds caught in these will be excluded from the survey total, unfortunately.

With better weather forecast for today (Wed), I had hoped to put up all 4 nets around two sides of the (dodgy) reed-bed. However, the trainee cried off sick and so it became a mere 2 nets for a couple of very early hours.
14 birds were caught of which 8 were new. A good job they were all A's (one retrap was an AA) as I had left all the 4 small ring sizes on the dining room table; I did have 400 unused A's in the box. What a blessing!

The goose round-up has been scheduled for 10 July next year, the week before the Bedford River Festival. I have put the rings back in the box. The nets are now dry.

Sunday, 12 July 2009


We visited the Emplins colony that we have been monitoring for many, many years (as seen on 'Breakfast TV' recently).

The house is mid 15th century, so access and getting around in the roof is a bit on the "iffy" side. This year we managed to find 13 ringeable birds in 6 nests plus a 'naked & blind' brood of 2. Two nests were inaccessible and a further three broods had already fledged, making 12 breeding pairs in total.

There were over 40 birds in the air including quite a few "screamers".

Above: A party of 'Screamers' passing by.

Above: A juvenile in the nest

Above: This juvenile weighed 43.2 grams (and it is still growing).

Above: Feathers are just starting to poke through the pins on this juvenile.

Twenty years ago we were ringing over 40 young, reducing to 24 chicks just ten years ago. Now there are even less. One reason is that the House Sparrows have built nests in quite a few of the holes/ledges and these ought to be cleared out - as they tend not to reuse them, anyway.

Above: After straining to get his leg over the ladders, Errol is left panting!

Above: Feeling for birds!

CES visit 8 - 11/07

What a day - drizzle for most of the morning. According to the forecast, it should have been just low cloud! That meant constant surveillance of the nets plus lots of shaking. Notwithstanding, a total of 38 birds were caught plus a dead Reed Bunting that we picked up (a breeding female ringed as a 4F in 2007), gotten by an avian predator, most likely one of the local Sparrs.

The only new adult bird was a 5M Reed Warbler, there were 25 new juvs of 10 species, and 10 retraps (5 of which were juvs). Wren 3, Dunno 7, Robin 3, Reewa 4, Garwa 2, Blaca 4, Chiff 7, Greti 2, Treec 1, & Bullf 3. A Dunnock and a Reed Warbler, both males, were notable retraps, being ring as 3J's in 2006; the male Bullfinch (caught with its 5F mate) was ringed as a 3M in October 2007.

Above & Below: This creeped its way into the net!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Bargo Red B bar P - update

The blog dated 21st June has been updated to include a record just received from Welshpool, Powys.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

CES Visit 7, Priory 04/07

A brilliant day, 25 degrees C, all sun and little wind! 39 birds today (plus at least 5 'bouncers') of 11 species. There were 28 juveniles; 23 of them were newbies. Some trainee got a wished for ringing tick!

Above: Green Woodpeckers are not a bird we normally catch, so somewhat of a surprise. For more photographs of this 5M (red in the malar stripe = M), see Ed's Blog.

He thinks that was 'special', but the real 'glory bird' was a female Song Thrush ringed as a '3' back in September 2003! We also caught one of our own Chiffs - but not from this site! Look out Icklesham - they're on their way, already!

Todays totals (new ad/new juv/re-trap):
Grewo 1/0/0, Wren 1/0/2, Dunno 0/7/1 (not quite top bird), Robin 0/4/2, Blabi 0/0/1, Sonth 0/0/1, Reewa 0/1/1, White 0/2/0, Blaca 3/6/0 (top bird today), Chiff 0/1/4, Greti 0/2/0.
Chaff-, Green- & Gold-finches, mainly juvvies, flew well above the nets on their way to the large willows bordering Fingers Lake, probably to drink.

The GCG's on the open section were carrying at least 1 "humbug". They've had a terrible season, thanks to the Coots taking over their nests and the terrapins (Red-eared & Yellow Bellied Sliders) munching the eggs.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Priory - crescent on 02/07

As the heatwave continued, this demanded a 5am start. Temperature was 20C by then and not a cloud in the sky. The reeds that were cut last winter are as tall as those that weren't and the whole of the small reed bed (the crescent), which is a mere 0.16 hectares, is taller than I have seen it for many a year. This meant that shortly after arrival, a Kingfisher passed over the net.

Yesterday, there was a Little Egbert on 'lilypads' but not today. A juvenile Gt. Spot was trapped (see photo), a young Willow Warbler, a fledgling Wren and a 4-year (or more) old female, a second-year, male Blackcap that was first ringed down by the 'sheep pen', and 5 tits that were just starting their moult into adult plumage.

GRSWO Juvenile wing moult in progress - primaries 1-6 are old, P7 is missing
and the remaining 3 primaries, 8-10, are new

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker - the red cap is diagnostic of a young bird.
Adults have their "patches" on the nape. This bird also has a 'dull' eye.

Out of the 10 Reed Warblers, only one, unusually, was a re-trap; they comprised 3 females, 4 males and 3 juveniles. An old male (on features and wing-length) was already thinking of "packing it in" (going by the amount of 're-feathering') and returning south in the not too distant future. We have only had young Reed Warblers 'on the wing' in any numbers over the last 7-8 days.

There were many small flocks of young birds, with or without their parents feeding in the willow trees. At one point, a (male) Buzzard followed by a mewing juvenile flew across the 'Fingers' at tree top height. By 8am, the temperature was beginning to soar and the heat was beginning to become unbearable, meaning that catching was coming to an end.