Sunday, 26 September 2010

Ever hopeful

Ed and I went out ringing this morning, despite a stiff northerly wind and grey skies. The breeze had got up quite a bit since yesterday, which was also beautiful and sunny. Still, you never know. The "Rough" is well sheltered from northerly winds so it might work out, nevertheless.

And so it did. The main run of 160' did catch the wind, but not until it had delivered a pair of Blackcaps in the early morning gloom, then a retrap 1CY Marsh Tit and a Blackbird. Despite the wind, a Chiffchaff 'came to tape'.

Today's target species - Blackcap (1cy male)

Ed got the feeding station net up and, to begin with, all we had were re-trap Blue and Great Tits. As it was in the lee of 'the Long Hedge', I moved the lure over there with a modicum of success. Hey Ho, apart from lots more new Blue and Great Tits, two Goldcrests, a solitary Blackcap and five more Chiffs!

The two extremes of Chiffies this morning - adult male & late brood female (juv doing PJ)

Other birds we noticed were a couple of migrating Jays (scarce birds round here, you know), a few Swallows and 110 Starlings beetling south-west, once upon a time a common bird hereabouts. Of course, the local "Bushtit" flock was moving around, 'around' being the operative word since we could see them and hear them - but not catch them!

We took down after four hours and beat a hasty retreat home before the forecast rain caught us out. We had caught 42 birds of which 27 were new and 15 were recaptures. This time the re-trap tits produced four more youngsters from our various boxes situated around the park.
Goldcrest 2
Blue Tit 8 (8)
Great Tit 5 (3)
Marsh Tit (1) - that same youngster
Chiffchaff 6
Blackcap 3
Blackbird 1 (1)
Dunnock (2)
Chaffinch 2

Promise of things to come - Goldcrest (young male)

Another good day; probably worthwhile trying again in the week. Weds? The feeders will need filling in couple of days, anyhow.
Today's pics by DK.

Chalton - summer results

Below is the final count from the Constant Effort Survey at the sewage treatment works; adults first, followed by birds of the year. This is the number of individual birds (new or re-traps from other years) and makes no account of their subsequent re-capture during this year's fieldwork. The works are situated adjacent to the M1 motorway, close to Toddington service station.
Moorhen 1 + 0
Wood Pigeon 0 + 2
Kingfisher 1 + 1
Barn Swallow 4 + 0
Wren 5 + 10
Dunnock 6 + 4
Robin 4 + 7
Blackbird 6 + 1
Song Thrush 1 + 0
Sedge Warbler 20 + 13
Reed Warbler 29 + 28
C.Whitethroat 13 + 12
Garden Warbler 1 + 1
Blackcap 8 + 9
Chiffchaff 4 + 29
Willow Warbler 0 + 1
Long-tailed Tit 5 + 20
Blue Tit 6 + 17
Great Tit 2 + 14
C. Crow 1 + 0
Starling 4 + 0
Greenfinch 0 + 2
Bullfinch 1 + 3
Reed Bunting 6 + 1
128 Adults & 170 juveniles [ 2009 = 111 adults & 188 juveniles)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Magnificent Seven

Great Spot. - note the dull eye of this juvenile and the emerging red crown feathers, indicating 'male'.

A lonely vigil today, starting at a dewy 7 o'clock and finishing at a (comparative) sweltering 12 noon. My main intention was to catch a few more Blackcaps, which I achieved. It was also a chance to try out - and learn how to use - the new MP3 player and speaker with a bit of tape luring. It is certainly a tad better than my 30-year old tape set-up, but then that is capable of blasting them out of the sky. I had to join the 21st century sometime!

Well, it went very well. An early Reewa and a Chaff followed by a couple of Blaca cheered me up so I set about putting a net by the new feeders. A Goldf, two more Blaca and another Reewa, plus loads of immature Bluti and new Greti kept me busy for a couple of hours, by which time I decided it was the right juncture for a cupp'a.
Just love the black and white uppers of the King Harry's
A recently fledged juvenile Reed Warbler -all three in different fitness to emigrate
One of two male Blackcaps included in the seven new individuals.

From then on, it slowed down but became the more interesting. A young male Grswo dropped in, two Robin, more tits, another Blaca, a Treec, a couple of adult Lotti, another Goldf, two more Blaca, a third Reewa and finally, at half eleven, a Coati.
On measurements, this young Treecreeper should turn out to be a male.
Coal Tit - I claimed this immature bird as a ringing tick for the park.

Now these are rare in the park; one was seen by DK in Feb 2009, but the previous record was one I and another birder saw back in 1995. Bingo.

At the end of the morning, I had bagged 50 birds of which 10 were retraps. Four of the six tits recaptured had been ringed 'at the nest' as pulli, in different plantations. Twelve species at this location is just above par. I didn't manage to catch any of the 3 Chiffs feeding on Ivy blossom, nor the lone Whitethroat that had been seen here up until yesterday. I only saw 2 Blackbirds all morning and heard an alarm call of a Dunnock without seeing one. The Marsh Tit came to the feeder but not the net! A Hobby came over, too. About 6-8 Meadow Pipits passed west-south-west during mid-morning.

The all important ringing list (re-traps in brackets, as usual):
Gt. Spotted Woodpecker 1 - second for the year
Blue Tit 8 (6)
Great Tit 12 (1)
Coal Tit 1 - 'ringing tick' for the park
Long-tailed Bushtit (2) - both lone adults
Blackcap 7 - now 2010 total (89) beats last year's
(2nd highest annual figure in 20 years)

Reed Warbler 3 - makes 37 youngsters for the year
Treecreeper 1 - second for the year
Wren 3
Robin 1 (1)
Chaffinch 1
Goldfinch 2

Blackcap is the most ringed species on the site. At present it accounts for 11.35% of all new birds. Blue Tit is next (10.49%), then Reed Warbler (5.63%), Blackbird (5.48%) & Sand Martin (5.09%).

A typical young Blue Tit, still a bit scruffy as it comes to the end of its post-juvenile moult (mainly body feathers are replaced).
Surprisingly, only one Great Tit was a retrap (ringed as a pullus, too). Not an adult among them.

One other bit of news - DK picked up a Cetti's on call/song (remained hidden - so only brief views) by the STW bridge, our first since winter 06/07.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Fatty & skinny

... went out today; that's the Blackcaps, not us!
First up - a 3F Blackcap, fat 4, wt.22.3g
Another session at Priory in the 'rough' from sun-up 'til late morning produced 23 birds, including 6 retraps.
Next up - 3M Blackcap, fat 1.5, wt. 19.2g
Retraps often mean winter is on its way and today we were also delighted to catch 4 tits. These in themselves seem to appear about now, reminding us that we ought really to get the feeders up. Instead, we just cut out the rack through the waist high nettles.

To clarify today's efforts, we have:
Blue Tit 3, still with small signs of their juv plum
One of today's 3F Blue Tits
Great Tit 1,
Blackcap 6 (1), weights from 19.2 - 22.7, except the retrap which we have handled on the last 3 visits without any appreciable weight gain over the 9 days.
Blackbird 1 (2), a couple of adults ending primary moult
Robin 2 (2), all except one were youngsters
Adult male Robin in fresh/winter plumage
Dunnock 1 (1), young males of the year
Greenfinch 1, 3J
Goldfinch 2, both 3J's but only just out of the nest, many primaries in sheath.
Underwing of 1J/3J Goldfinch, showing primary sheaths.
Other birds around included 4 Tufted, 4 c.Swift, 14 House Martin, a C.Buzzard, a Jay and a singleton Spotted Flycatcher.
One man (Ed) and my (new) dog (bitch), Cerise.

. New Blackcaps now only 4 short of last years total for the site.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Black Friday

A short session today, starting ~9am, after the fog started to lift.
Chiffchaff - 2
Blackcap - 12, 10 of these were females!
C.Whitethroat - 1
Wren - 1
Blackbird - 1
Song Thrush - 1, (1)
Robin - 1, (1)
Dunnock - 2
Greenfinch - 1
The only adult birds were two of the female Blackcaps and a male Chiffchaff (with an abietinus call).
Brings the Priory total of new Blackcaps this year to 71. Best year by far was 1994 with 107; next best was last year with 88 and then 2007 with 87. So far so good - at least 4 more weeks to go before passage ceases.