Monday, 25 July 2011

Grey Wagtails at Bromham Mill

Grey Wagtails have a clear preference for fast running water. As Bedfordshire is a relatively flat county there aren't many places that meet their requirements. In the north of the county, the only two breeding sites I know of are at water mills. A pair has bred at Bromham Mill this year. On Friday we ringed the second brood of two pulli.

An interesting find were pieces of Signal Crayfish in the river - a likely sign of a recent visit by an Otter.

Thank you to Roger and Adrian for your help.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Ringing at Marston Vale Millennium Country Park

Today we ringed at the Marston Vale Millennium Country Park, Marston Moretaine, for the first time. The Country Park has been created on the site of former clay workings and has an area of approximately 250 hectares (617 acres) and is run by the Marston Vale Trust. The Park consists of areas of water (Stewartby Lake,The Pillinge and some smaller pools as well as a network of ditches and Elstow Brook which runs through the site), reedbeds and areas of established and more recently planted woodland. The Forest Centre includes the Lakeside Bar and Cafe, a gift shop, displays of information, a play area, cycle hire and toilets.

The aim of our work at the Country Park will be to find out more about the bird life of the area. This will be achieved by the recording what is ringed plus details of any wildlife and plants seen.

The weather was better that the forecast, but was not very favourable for ringing today - blustery wind with occasional showers, but the total of 3 Reed Warblers (see photo top left) and 2 Sedge Warblers (see photo lower rights) was a good start. Other sightings included a Sparrowhawk overhead carrying food, a family party of Long-tailed Tits, 2 Little Egrets, 3 Lapwings, Reed Buntings still singing, along with Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood butterflies. We had packed up just before the heavy rain shower came through!

Thank you to Roger and Sue for your help today.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Dead Buzzard and Barn Owl on Bedford Bypass

I was told that a large bird of prey was lying in the central reservation of the Bedford Bypass (A421). So this evening I drove along the section from Bedford to the Black Cat roundabout with the A1 to look for the bird. In fact I found two.

The first was a freshly killed Barn Owl bird lying just west of the bridge carrying the road from Great Barford to Wilden. The second was a Buzzard (see photo), lying just west of the bridge carrying the Roxton to Chawston road.

Neither bird had been ringed. Sadly many birds of prey, but in particular many Barn Owls, are casualties on Britain's roads. If you do find any dead bird please check if it had been ringed and, if so, report it to the British Trust for Ornithology using this website.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Swallows - second broods well under way

I ringed two broods of Swallows this evening (4 pulli in one nest and 5 in the other) in a farm in Old Warden this evening. That brings the total Swallow pulli ringed so far this year to 80.

Many of the nests checked elsewhere still have eggs - such as the ones pictured here, in a farm in Cople this evening. Others haven't started re-laying yet.

Most of the first broods were ringed in a fairly short period between 23rd May and 26th June, the second broods (and some that possibly failed with their first broods or started much later) seem likely to be ringed between now and the end of August.

In addition to ringing, I managed to upgrade House Martin this evening for the Bedfordshire Bird Atlas, prooving breeding in tetrad TL14I, Sheerhatch Wood.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Successful Swift ringing

On Monday evening we visited The Emplins, Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire to ring the Swift pulli. Martin and Keith went into the lofts and ringed 28 pulli. 5 other pulli were seen but not able to be reached. They also ringed 4 adults and retrapped an adult ringed in a previous year.

Some pulli were small, but others were almost ready to fly.

Outside Mike, Katie and I put up a net in the garden and ringed 4 more adults, plus retrapping a bird that had been ringed in 2008 (and was also retrapped on 23rd June this year).

Ringing in the lofts is hot and dusty work - possibly more akin to caving than normal ringing as the photo of Martin suggests.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Chalton STW 10/07/2011 CES7

A good day, in fact, one of the best catches so far with 92 birds caught. 76 new and 16 retraps as follows

Blackcap 12/0
Blue Tit 3/0
Chiffchaff 6/0
Dunnock 2/1
Goldfinch 3/1
Great Tit 1/3
Long-tailed Tit 2/0
Marsh Tit 1/0 new for the site
Reed Bunting 1/0
Reed Warbler 21/5
Robin 2/0
Sedge Warbler 6/3
Whitethroat 12/3
Wren 4/0

Let's hope it may continue.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Priory Country Park CES Visit 7

Today (03/07/11), the new CES period started so I decided to squeeze in Visit 7 of 12. I had high hopes after my success at Sandy Smith Nature Reserve yesterday (click here for more details).

The wind was virtually non existant for once. It was very sunny to start with the second half of the session very cloudy.

In order of appearance, the totals were: 35 birds of 11 species: (reptraps in brackets)

Great Tit 1 (0) = 1 [a juvenile]
Dunnock 8 (3) = 11 [8 juveniles]
Wren 1 (1) = 2
Blackcap 5 (1) = 6 [5 juveniles]
Robin 3 (1) = 4 [all juveniles]
Chiff Chaff 4 (0) = 4 [3 juveniles]
Reed Warbler 1 (0) = 1 [a juvenile]
Whitethroat 2 (0) = 2 [1 juvenile]
Chaffinch 1 (0) = 1
Blackbird 1 (1) = 2
Bullfinch 1 (0) = 1 [a juvenile]

Above: A juvenile Bullfinch.

My high hopes didn't get realised but I have no grounds for complaint! Thanks to DH for helping and to DK & DB and later JM for stopping by for a chat.