Sunday, 29 November 2009


We had a shufti at 'the rough' on the way round on the guided walk this morning. There seemed to be less Redwings and Blackbirds about - but that may just have been a blip. However, the Hawthorn berries are disappearing at a rate, so the thrushes may be about to vacate the area and move onto better pickings elsewhere. We'll see come Tuesday. (Frost forecast and possible fog early; cold and damp!)

Friday, 27 November 2009

Blues away

Withdrawal symptoms now departed. Six days is a long time in a ringer's life if he/she has not handled a bird!

The wind had dropped a little overnight, so I was up in the dark, dressed and had the garden nets unfurled before 7am. I was determined to 'fondle' a few Goldfinches today! Quick! Shovel down some breakfast (and a catalogue of pills) - it's parky outside today.

My dreams were answered - 30 "Stillits" (wonderful Norwegian name) including 5 retraps. The average weight of the 17 males was 15.73 grams and the 13 females 14.17 g. The age classes were split 50:50. Half a dozen birds were still wanting to come in while I furled the nets as the wind speed was picking up and I wanted the captured birds to get back on the feeders asap.

I don't bother to check them for fat/muscle as they stay down at their "fight or flight" weights; if the weight is >0.20 of the wing length then they are likely to be >F1 and probably on the move at this time of year. [At >0.22 they certainly are]. The "residents" know where the food supplies are and tend to keep on the 'lean side'. In midwinter, however, all those that are likely to survive a cold spell fulfil the criteria of 'wt(g) => 0.2 wl(mm)"

Also in the bag - 3F Blue Tit r/t, 3F Greenfinch and a 4M Collared Dove, the first for the year. Often there are 9 COLDOs hogging the feeders later in the day.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Chalton 15/11/2009

This one's for you Errol. The new ringing hut with nameplate.

An exciting morning with Mike, Roy, Sue, Paul and myself in attendance. Some more work to the ringing hut was carried out as well as ringing. 25 birds of 7 species were caught. Ringed/processed. Greti 7/8, Dunno 0/1, Wren 1/0, Bluti 4/0, Robin 2/0, Blabi 1/0, Redwi 1/0.

2 Buzzards seen over the lagoons with plenty of Gadwall and wigeon on the lagoons.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Chalton STW Sat 7th November

Well, while you lucky people in the North of the county were out ringing and enjoying yourselves, A band of volunteers joined me at Chalton for the long awaited erection. Yes, the new ringing hut is up. It took most of the day and a lot of hard graft.

First the old hut had to be emptied and moved so that we could use the sleepers it was resting on.

The electric cable had to be redirectd to the new hut.

And the new hut erected

My Thanks go to Mike Reed, Roy Ingram, Brendon Toms, Kieran Ray for their hard work and Maureen Buss for keeping all stocked with bacon and sausage rolls, pastries, tea and coffee.

Saturday, 7 November 2009


This is the culprit. "All the Sparras is up the other end of the park, mate! Leave our tits alone!"

Three degrees when we arrived - (not those singing gals!) - bloody parky and fingers numb by the time we got the four nets up. First bird out was a Redwing. Then a lull until a Gt. Tit flew towards the feeders, intent on some breakfast and, in the other direction, that young hoody of a Sparrowhawk above. He was nabbed and ringed in the evening twilight nearly four weeks ago; he's obviously trying to claim this area for himself.

Overhead migration was weaker than it has been recently. A few incoming, continental Blackbirds (like the female above) and Redwings but not as many as last week. We did have a site rarity, Linnet, and a male at that, singing away as it flew south. Shortly after, a Brambling went the other way, settling in the top of the one and only Alder - until we tried to get a better view!. Both Green & Gt. Spots trogged back and forth, the former at low level (but not low enough) and the skewbald one at some height. The local Kestrel arrived, hovered, and was then seen off by 7 Sky Larks that appeared from nowhere.

Today's tally for a 6 hour stint was 16 new & 11 r/t: Sparr (1), Wren 1 (1), Dunno(1), Blabi 4, Redwi 4, Chiff 1, Lotti (1), Bluti 2 (2), Greti 3 (4), Bullf 1 (1).

In the last three and a half weeks, we have ringed 9 new Bullies, which is 50% of all the newbies this year. Of these nine, just 2 have been female. With recaptures from previous years, that's 32 different individuals in all, a decent haul at this site which is ideally suited to their continued presence for years to come.

This little fellow was singing away happily as soon as the sun rose above the trees. A few wheezy calls followed before he graced us with his presence. A big lad at 64.5mm in the wing; sorry, should have addressed him as 'Sir' since he was an adult. He looked as though he had been in the wars with his abraded tail and spent a few weeks down the boozer with the belly on him (a good fat4 for those who haven't twigged). This is the second 'northern' bird of many to come, perhaps.

We've now had 18 Redwings in the bag, a record for any one year. Usually they pass through very quickly before we've have a chance to get our act together (the weather usually stops us). The other thing which might be helping is the 'much reduced number' of Grey Squirrels that have devoured the Hawthorns berries in the past before the thrushes even arrived.

Next week - it'll be cleaning out, repairing and swapping nest boxes plus a few extras that a kind birder has donated (cost him a £ton). Thanks, pal.