Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Blackbird Recovery

News came through yesterday of a Blackbird ringed at Priory Country Park on 9th December 2009 as a juvenile male. Unfortunately, it had met a sad end - this is a common way for ringers to find out what happens to some of our birds. The fortune this time was on our side as it had made its way to FINLAND!

It was found on 23rd September 2011, at Vistanvagen, Soderudden, Vaasa, Finland - 653 days after it was ringed in Bedford - a distance of 1775km in a North Easterly direction.

Details of the ringing session this bird was caught on can be found here (it was the first bird caught that day).

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Strong winds curtail ringing activities

Having planned ahead for this weekend, the strong winds had a major impact on the ringing this weekend.

On Friday 25th November, a ringing session at Harrold-Odell Country Park resulted in no birds being ringed. Now that most of the leaves in the bushes have fallen, the area that in summer was home to a wide variety of birds, was very quiet. Redwings were eating the berries in the bushes along the edge of the lake. A group of Fieldfares was in the tops of the taller trees. Out on the lake a large group of Wigeon was very active; it was nice to watch a Goldeneye also. But our ringing area was deserted.

By Saturday 26th, the wind had really picked up in strength. Santa was in his grotto upstairs at Bromham Mill, but outside the wind made mist-netting difficult. A group of children sang Christmas carols, much to the delight of an appreciative crowd. Just two birds were caught - with one Blue Tit ringed and one retrapped (originally ringed on 25/6/11).

The forecast for Sunday 27th was for strong winds in the morning, then becoming calmer during the afternoon. As a result a planned morning ringing session at Marston Vale Millennium Country Park was postponed to the afternoon. The wind was still fairly strong at 2pm, but by 3pm it was a really pleasant, sunny, afternoon. Once again there were some dragonflies taking advantage of the warm weather; several kept on landing on both Mike and me.

Several Cetti's Warblers were heard, a Chinese Water Deer was seen and a Water Rail was flushed from the grass near the Pillinge. The Geese are still absent. The aim had been to ring Reed Buntings before they went to roost, but only one was ringed and there was no obvious gathering of others in the area. Totals for the day were as follows (with retraps shown in brackets):

  • Reed Bunting 1

  • Cetti's Warbler 0 (+1 retrap - first ringed on 13/11/11)

  • Robin 1

  • Wren 1 (+1 retrap - first ringed on 29/8/11)

  • Total: 3 (+2 retraps)
This is the fourth week running that we have ringed/caught Cetti's Warblers at Marston.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

5 weeks to Christmas - no-one's told the Dragonflies

Another ringing trip to Marston Vale Millennium Country Park on Saturday afternoon, 19th November. First thing I saw were a couple of Dragonflies. Don't they know Christmas is just one month away? It was a beautiful, calm, afternoon, with the temperature dropping and fog appearing at dusk.

A very successful ringing session:

  • Wren 2 (+ 1 retrap, ringed in October 2011)

  • Long-tailed Tit 7

  • Blue Tit 11

  • Great Tit 2

  • Cetti's Warbler 1

  • Reed Bunting 9

  • Blackbird 1

  • Total 33 (+ 1 retrap)

The black head covering of male Reed Buntings is beginning to emerge, as the brown tips to the feathers wear away. Thank to Neil Wright for the photos below, with a male (top and centre) and a female (below).

A Sparrowhawk flew over and about 20 Lapwings. Yet again no Geese at all. Thank you to Neil for helping.

On Sunday 20th November, David and I ringed at Bedfordshire Golf Club, Stagsden. It was a foggy, damp, morning and the sun didn't break through into about midday. A bacon bap from the Halfway House was very welcome! Totals ringed were:

  • Robin (+1 retrap, ringed in December 2010)

  • Goldfinch 1

  • Nuthatch 1 (pictured right with David and also below)

  • Great Tit 1 (+ retrap, ringed in October 2010)

  • Total 3 (+ 2 retraps)

We saw one or more Great Spotted Woodpeckers and several Treecreeepers. A flock of at least 10 Long-tailed Tits came through the wood.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Cetti's at Marston and a new bird for Ivel Ringing Group

A session at Bromham Mill on Saturday 12th November resulted in 19 birds caught. Totals ringed are shown below, with those retrapped (birds that have been ringed previously and caught again) shown in brackets:

  • Great Spotted Woodpecker 1

  • Blue Tit 4 (+ 4 retraps)

  • Great Tit 4 (+ 1 retrap)

  • Coal Tit (1 retrap)

  • Dunnock (1 retrap)

  • Goldfinch 2

  • Wren 1

  • Total 12 (+ 7 retraps)

The Great Spotted Woodpecker, a female, was the first that I've ringed at Bromham Mill. The retrap Great Tit was ringed on 7/12/2010 - this was the first time she had been caught again since then; where has she been in the mean time? All the other retraps were ringed earlier this year.

Then on Sunday 13th November, I went to Marston Vale Millennium Country Park. The numbers of birds caught were low, but the quality was really high! Totals ringed were:

  • Wren 3

  • Cetti's Warbler 2

  • Bearded Tit 1

  • Total 6

Though there have been Bearded Tits present in the Country Park, we have not previously seen any in the area while we've been ringing. At least two were present, but just one caught and ringed. It was a definitely a male, possibly a young bird but we were not certain. This was the first Bearded Tit ringed by Ivel Ringing Group. See photo to the left and below to the right.

Other birds seen at Marston included: Teal, Little Grebe, Peregrine Falcon, Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrels, large flock of Lapwing, Yellowhammer, Reed Buntings, Redwings, good numbers of Skylarks overhead. A Red-breasted Merganser was also on the pool. A Dragonfly (spot the dragonfly on the reed stalk below; sorry - not sure of the species) was an unexpected sighting. Thank you Neil, David and Phil for your help today.

4 assorted views of a Cetti's Warbler.

Unknown 'Dragonfly'

Wren (back view)

Photos of Wren and Cetti's Warbler by Phil Candlish

Monday, 7 November 2011

Heavenly singing, flashing lights - what was going on?

On Saturday 5th November, I went ringing at Bromham Mill again. There was a misty and cold start to the day, then conditions gradually improved. After a slow start, the numbers of birds caught increased. Most of the Blue Tits (see right) caught were looking really smart and seem to be in good shape.

Part way through the morning, I could hear singing coming from nearby. It was unusual, but not unpleasant. Not much later two police 'panda' cars parked at the entrance to the mill. Two others also turned up as well as an ambulance, all with their lights flashing. It turns out that an African religious group have been meeting for evening services by the river bank, combined with baptising (or maybe washing away sins/spiritual cleansing) in the River Ouse. Now the clocks have gone back, they had decided to meet on the Saturday morning instead. Someone saw this and misinterpreted what was going on. Hence the arrival of the emergency services!

Totals ringed for the day were (with retraps in brackets):

  • Blue Tit 30 (2)

  • Great Tit 7 (1)

  • Chaffinch 1

  • Nuthatch 1

  • Blackcap 1

  • Coal Tit (1)

  • Total 40 (4)
3 of the retraps were ringed on Apple Day, 16th October; 1 Blue Tit had been ringed on 28th August. The Nuthatch (above left)was the 2nd I've ringed at the Mill this year. The female Blackcap (2nd from top, on the right) was the first I've ever ringed at Bromham Mill.

Other photos: Coal Tit (3rd from top, on the right), Chaffinch (lower right).

Thank you to Adrian Fett for the photos of the Chaffinch and Blackcap.

On Sunday 6th November I went back to Marston Vale Millennium Country Park, to see (in particular) what might be coming in to roost. With a northerly breeze, the temperate was low. The numbers of birds ringed was much less than on Saturday, but the ringing of the Cetti's Warbler, one of the 'star birds' of the site, more than made up for this. Totals ringed were as shown below (no birds were retrapped):

  • Blue Tit 1

  • Cetti's Warbler 1

  • Wren 1

  • Total: 3

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

October round-up

October has been a really interesting month, hampered by strong winds that made mist-netting difficult on several occasions. During this month, I've ringed at Bromham Mill, Cardington, Harrold-Odell Country Park and Marston Vale Millennium Country Park.

Total numbers of birds ringed during these sessions are listed below, with retraps shown in brackets.

  • Tawny Owl 1

  • Meadow Pipit 1 (photo below - ringed at Marston C.P. on 29/10/11)

  • Wren 5

  • Dunnock 3 (4)

  • Robin 4

  • Blackbird 2

  • Song Thrush 1

  • Redwing 1

  • Blackcap 1

  • Goldcrest 2

  • Long-tailed Tit 11

  • Marsh Tit 1

  • Coal Tit 1

  • Blue Tit 43 (15)

  • Great Tit 15 (9)

  • Chaffinch 3

  • Greenfinch 1

  • Goldfinch 4

  • Bullfinch 2 (1)

  • Reed Bunting 9

  • TOTAL: 113 of 20 species (plus 29 retraps of 4 species)
Totals ringed for the year are 839 birds of 41 species (plus 88 retraps of 15 species). Swallow is still the top species with 278 ringed, but now being chased by Blue Tit with 162 ringed - will Blue Tit be top by end of the year?

Most of the retraps were birds ringed in the summer or early autumn. The sole retrap ringed before this year was the Bullfinch retrapped at Cardington, originally ringed there on 27/12/2010.

Thank you to the other ringers and helpers for your assistance during the month. Here's hoping for a great November!