Friday, 9 September 2011

March of the ....Swallows

The film 'March of the Penguins' showed the amazing journey undertaken by Emperor Penguins as they walk to their breeding grounds in the Antarctic. I admit that Swallows are quite different from Penguins - not least the fact that they can fly, but they are black(ish) and white(ish) and they both face many dangers as they try to find a way of surviving in a harsh world. The halcyon days of summer are over, our summer visitors are faced with tough choices about how long to remain in the UK before setting of on the long route south to Africa. If they leave it too late before beginning their migration, there is increased risk of bad weather while food supplies may become more limited.

At Marston Vale Millennium Country Park there are still good numbers of Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins feeding over the lakes and reed beds. The reed beds also still hold some Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers.

Last night Mike and I had another session attempting to ring Swallows as they went in to roost. The weather forecast wasn't promising but it was a really pleasant evening (though a touch cool) with a great sunset.

Totals ringed were:

  • 2 Reed Warbler

  • 2 Sedge Warbler

  • 5 Sand Martin (including 2 adults)

  • 11 Swallow(all juveniles)
    Total 20

A group of 10-12 Yellow Wagtails also roosted in the reed beds overnight.

The Sedge and Reed Warblers seem to have a different migration strategy. The Sedge Warblers are getting very heavy, as they are building up fat reserves to give them the energy for lengthy flights. The Reed Warblers haven't put on much extra weight, so the assumption is that they will make shorter 'hops' in their southward migration.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Sandy Smith NR Latest

A days ringing at Sandy Smith Nature Reserve (03/09/11) turned out a lot better than expected, adding 4 new species for the site. 2 of them ringing ticks for me and 3 of them I had never caught myself before.

Above: First up, 3 Meadow Pipits.

Above: Next, 2 Green Woodpeckers. Here David is holding one of them.

Above: A Spotted Flycatcher.

Above: Last but not least, a Wheatear.

For more info on the session, visit my blog here.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Priory Country Park - CES & other

The Constant Effort season is over at Priory Country Park. All 12 visits were completed (including the odd extra visit). I haven't posted CES totals for a while and on this occasion, for my ease, I'm going to lump visits 8-12 all into one (including non-CES birds/sessions).

238 new birds, 57 retraps (in brackets) of 23 species:

Wren 8 (1)
Dunnock 6 (6)
Robin 6 (7)
Blackbird 10 (8)
Song Thrush 8 (1)
Sedge Warbler 1 (0)
Reed Warbler 24 (1)
Whitethroat 25 (6)
Lesser Whitethroat 2 (0)
Garden Warbler 19 (2)
Blackcap 91 (8)
Chiff Chaff 2 (3)
Willow Warbler 2 (1)
Blue Tit 8 (5)
Great Tit 6 (3)
Long Tailed Tit 0 (1)
Chaffinch 3 (0)
Goldfinch 10 (0)
Greenfinch 1 (0)
Bullfinch 4 (3)
Treecreeper 0 (1)
Sparrowhawk 1 (0)
Wood Pigeon 1 (0)

We'll start with the standout total for Blackcap. This site has always been good for Blackcaps - more Blackcaps have been ringed than just about all other species in the park. The total above includes birds caught outside the CES. On Saturday 27th August I caught 26 Blackcaps (the majority new and the majority male). These birds must have moved on and another lot moved in as by the following Wednesday (31st August) I caught 30 Blackcaps (only one retrap from the weekend and only because it's from a late brood & not ready to go yet).

I call on all ringers north of Bedfordshire to get a move on and ring some Blackcaps! Out of all the Blackcaps I've ringed here in the last week or two, none have been ringed other than on site. You can increase my chances of catching one of your birds!

Above: Female Blackcap

Above: Male Blackcap

Above: This bag contains a big living ball of feathers (see below)!

Above: A Wood Pigeon (the big ball of feathers).

Above: A Lesser Whitethroat. This bird represents one of two ringed on 27th August. This species used to be more regular in the park but there have been very few records this year. I assume therefore that these two birds (juveniles) were migrating through the park (we would likely have caught the adults & juveniles earlier if they had bred).

Above: Normally seen in the skys above & normally too good at airobatics to be caught. This juvenile Sparrowhawk is obviously still learning then!