Monday, 31 May 2010

Two days from Priory

With rain persisting through much of the daylight hours on Saturday, ringing was obviously dropped from the wekend program. Looking out at first light on Sunday, it was apparent that we would have to ring somewhere with a bit of shelter. So we, of three different rankings, had a makeshift session at the back of "the sheep pen".

The main accomplishment was picking up several young birds, evenly split between Blackbird and Robin.
So the tally was 10 new birds and 9 re-traps as under:
Blue Tit 1
Great Tit (1) - this had 'moved house' from the CES area
Blackcap (1) - a 5M
Garden Warbler 1 - a 5F
Whitethroat (1) - another 5M
Wren (1)
Blackbird 4 (2)
Robin 4
Dunnock (3) - oldest, a 4F in July '08

Female Blackcap with "gunge" from feeding her youngsters.

Bank Holiday Monday took us back to CES, visit 4/12. My 'C' ringer from Bucks joined us for some practice in extraction and looking at "funny little birds". [He spends much of his free time checking birds of prey and ringing things in boxes].

Regular Ed with 'newby' Dave (but permit numbers say otherwise)

We were lucky enough to catch seven 3J's, considering the conditions; 1 Dunnock, 3 Robins, 1 Blackbird & 2 Greenfinches.

Young Robin and young female Greenfinch

The best moment for me was catching both of a pair of LESWH, that had arrived about three weeks ago. You never know when these are around because of the very short song period of the males and their 'hushed' contact calls.

Lesser Whitethroat (2CY female [5F])

Ed proudly presented us with the 12th species of the day, a 2nd year Reed Warbler; note the abrasion.

Immature male Reed Warbler - prospecting?

Today's tally was a modest tit-less 23, 16 new and 7 re-traps.
Long-tailed Bushtit 1
Chiffchaff 1 - a breeding female
Blackcap (1) - nesting female
Lesser Whitethroat 2 - a pair
Whitethroat (2) - a pair with young nearby
Reed Warbler 1
Wren 1 (1)
Blackbird 1
Robin 3 (1) - re-trap male was ringed as a '3J' exactly 3 years ago!
Dunnock 1 (2) - one time juveniles from '04 and '07
Greenfinch 3 - 2 juveniles and a female novice breeder
Bullfinch 2 - both 2CY females

Female Bullfinch

Because of the gentle/moderate westerly, a lot of insects were been blown off the willows. To our delight, we were entertained by the comings and goings of 150 to 200 Common Swifts for much of the morning. And I nearly forgot; something has been nobbling our nestlings. The evidence was found in the middle of the rack.

[Click on picture to enlarge, then click again (+)]

Now that we've managed to get this visit in, we can think about ringing a new site next weekend. We've had 2 "out of season" recce's, so we'll see whether it's worthwhile ... or not, as the case may be.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Acros at dawn

Up in the dark, down to the river in twilight, up with two nets at dawn - although you wouldn't have thought so, after the welcome, overnight rain. The sun appeared briefly before 7 o'clock but didn't really get going until half-7. Off back home soon after 8am.

The 'crescent' reed bed is a mere one third of an acre (0.13 hectare) and one net was erected on each of two sides, facing Fingers Lake. Alot of movement also takes place across the main path to the narrow reed strip that grows along the edge of the (steep-sided) main lake but catching is difficult to organise safely.

This 2CY, female Reed Bunt was a right wriggler and this is the best of 10 button pushes!

Today's tally was 7 new and 7 re-captures as follows:
Blue Tit (1)
Reed Warbler 4 (6)
Blackbird 1, Chaffinch 1
Reed Bunting 1

Yesterday, I caught the first 3JJ (recently fledged) House Sparrows in the garden.
This shows the vivid yellow gape of a young bird ...

... and the poorly feathered underwing and loose body feathering.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

CES Solo

Looked a lovely day in prospect when I woke up. How wrong can you be.

With no trainees or other helpers, it was down to me today. First bird at 6 am, second half an hour later, then a third at 7 o'clock. Well, by then the fog had come down and there was a slight breeze . Forty minutes later, a Blackbird. Then, a bit of a rush; three birds at 8, one at 8.30 and two more before the hour was out. Shortly after, 2 male Whitethroats had an arguement - to their detriment and my pleasure.

Was the fog thinning? Ah haa, 09.17 and there's hope of some sunshine. Hope accomplished and three birds in the nets with the final bird at 9.50. Well, not quite. I spooked the second Wood Pig of the day into the top shelf, shortly after, but that was it. Zilch until take down at 11.30.

The day's tally was 11 species, 13 new birds and 4 re-traps as follows:
Woodpigeon 2
Blue Tit (1) - we had lifted this bird off a nest 1 week ago
Blackcap 1
Garden Warbler 1 (1) - r/t female first ringed last May
Whitethroat 3
Reed Warbler 1
Wren 1
Blackbird 2
Dunnock (1)
Chaffinch 1 (1)
Goldfinch 1
Would have been good practice for the trainees - had they not had events on their social calendars.

The May blossom was a picture when the sun came out.

Characteristic "loose feathering" of a juvenile bird.

Back view of a male Chaffinch. Note the new versus old tertials.

... and, when the sun comes out, my all time favoutite ...

Just for good measure (500 gm worth) ...
The best bit today was listening to a Turtle Dove for half an hour before the fog closed in (c.6.30). Other delights were a persistent male Cuckoo, a low-flying Oystercatcher and a "dot in the sky" Buzzard.

For an overview of how we got on with our tit boxes, go HERE

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Another handfull

Go to Errol's blog HERE.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Boxing clever.

This year, the Blue Tits are out in front! And it's the Great Tits that were slow off the mark!

Today we inspected 21 of the 30 boxes at Priory. 7 boxes held Blue Tits big enough to ring safely(58 chicks); just 1 box of Gt. Tits was ringed (brood of 9!) in what is habitually a Blue Tit box.

Eight broods (4 Blue, 3 Great & 1 Robin) will be ready for a mid-week session, along with another 9 boxes to check, which traditionally are later.

Four broods, two of each, will not be ready until next weekend. Two adults were ringed with another whizzing past 'someone's' ear! Hey, ho.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Late start.

Having been unable, for various reasons to do the first CES visit within the time frame allotted, we were glad the weather was fine and the frost and fog of recent days did not manifest themselves today.

The day started well with a Sedge Warbler; the last time we had one on this CES site was way back in 2007, when we had a male in June followed by a juvenile in July. They used to be quite common with 50 or 60 individuals in a season in the early 'nineties. Last year was the first 'blank year'.

Blackcap produced no re-traps, but the most new rings. Four were female and one was a male; all were in their 2nd calendar year. The male still retained many 'brown' feathers in the crown from his youth.

The five Garden Warblers were all sexed as female with well-defined brood patches. Most of the males are still hanging around in the trees, warbling away, whereas many of the male Blackcaps are only giving short periods of song at the moment. I suspect they are feeling a little worn out by now but we will catch them as soon as they have recovered their strength! Back to our borin birds. The two retrapped ones were definite Euring "age 6". They were aged on tail shape as the photo (below) shows.

However, we do know that one was "aged 4" last year and the other was also "aged 4", but way back in early May 2003. This makes 'her' at least 8 years old and a new group record. These older birds all have 'flat ended' outer tail feathers with a fine white edge or white tip to them, possible caused by the sun's bleaching effect during the winter in Africa. The youngsters moult their tails later than their parents and the tips, apart from being more pointed, do not show this same amount of bleaching.

In contrast, the Whitethroats, although more colourful, are heavily worn at this time of year, especially on the tails.

Young Whitethroats often drop odd feathers in the tail. This can be at any time and is probably caused by their live-style, grovelling around in often rough or prickly vegetation. It is not uncommon to three different ages of retrices in one bird. The latest feather to re-grow is 'R2right' in the one above.

Unfortunately the supplementary ageing characteristics for Whitethroat don't show up well in our "snapshots" with a compact camera; eye, crown, breast and leg colouring. Believe me when I say the above is "aged 6"!.

Todays tally was 27 birds, 12 of which were re-traps. The four warbler species made up 15 (55%) of the total; as expected not one was a Phyllosc. now that most of these are settled in and nesting. What a change from a month ago. Another notable re-trap was a Blackbird first ringed as a 3JF on 25-06-2005.

Blue Tit 1
Great Tit 1
Long-tailed Bushtit (1)
Blackcap 5
Garden Warbler 3 (2)
Whitethroat 3 (1)
Sedge Warbler 1
Blackbird 1 (2)
Song Thrush (1)
Robin (1)
Dunnock (4)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

First acros

The set-up on the south side of the reed bed.

After a four week gap in ringing activities at Priory, an early morning start, with a decent frost on the ground, along the 'crescent'.

Cut middle section regrowing. Once a 'wash-out pit'

A male Reed W. jumped into the net almost immediately, some thing it repeated three times more over the next 4 hours. Keen or what?

Mr. Keen.

Just 10 birds in 2 nets with 4 new Reeds and 2 re-traps. My favourite - a Garden W, and my first of the year.

Male Garden Warbler.

Other birds were - new male Dunnock, retrap 2cy female Wren & a retrap male Gt. Tit.
I consider this to have been a reasonable start here. In 4 weeks time, the place will be swarming with anglers and ringing here becomes a bit hit and miss. Hoorah for CES (elsewhere on the site).