Friday 19 April 2024

A farm in North Norfolk - 18th April 2024

 This morning we took advantage of a brief window of opportunity, between the showers and wind gusts, to monitor migrants and resident species, using a small copse at the farm as the breeding season commences.

Despite the chilly temperatures, and this date being within  the second  half of April when the weather might be expected to settle a little, we captured 28 birds with half of these being migrant warblers. Some of the 7 Chiffs and 6 Blackcaps were already showing signs of preparation for breeding. We were particularly pleased with a Lesser Whitethroat. The absence of Whitethroat, either seen or heard, was notable.

Lesser Whitethroat

Female Blackcap with feeding residue on upper mandible 

Among the residents there were plenty of individuals with CP or brood patches coding 2 or 3 so the young will be around in a few short weeks. 

6M Bullfinch

5F Bullfinch

6M Yellowhammer

Total: 26 (2)

Blackbird - 0 (1)
Blackcap - 6
Blue Tit - 2
Bullfinch - 2
Chiffchaff - 7
Dunnock - 2
Goldcrest - 2
Great Tit - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Robin - 1 (1)
Yellowhammer - 2

Saturday 13 April 2024

Baconsthorpe, Castle Wild Camp - 13th April 2024

 A first session at this site produced a total of 19 birds, including 6 retraps of which two were Chiffchaffs returning for a second year.

Leading species was Chiffchaff with 6 new and the two recaptures, followed by 4 Blackcaps.


Total: 13 (6)

Blackbird - 1
Blackcap - 4
Chiffchaff - 6 (2)
Dunnock - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (2)
Wren - 1 (2)

Sunday 31 March 2024

Deepdale Farm - 30th March 2024

 A first session for the year hoping for a few early migrants. We only had 13 captures, three being Chiffchaff and the Blackcaps heard about the site keep well away from the nets. The others birds were resident and included three obvious pairs captured together. A pair of retrapped Goldcrest has been ringed here as juveniles last year female with BP1, a pair of Long-tailed Tits included a Marsh Barn Carr bird neither in breeding condition yet and the Goldfinch pair male was starting to develop a CP. There was also  female Dunnock with a clear BP2.

 Totals: 8 (5)

Dunnock - 1 (1)
Chiffchaff - 3
Goldcrest - 0 (2)
Goldfinch - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (1)
Wren - 1 (1)

Friday 29 March 2024

Sculthorpe Moor - 24th March 2024

 A monitoring afternoon at the scrape for birds marked for our colour ringing projects. This was the second try for Lapwings ringed as chicks that may have returned to their natal site to breed. The North Norfolk Lapwing project started in 2022 when 4 chicks were found at this site, and marked with a red project marker and blue individually coded rings. Typically birds with attempt to breed in the second season after hatching and the current survival rate for Lapwings in their first year is believed to be around 0.595 (known from data previously collected across the UK via ringing studies). Our project is designed to collect further information about chick survivability, as the UK population is in decline, and an increasing mortality rate is suspected. Lapwing are status red in the birds of conservation concern list. 

The use of colour rings allows records of the bird without the need for it to be captured and also encourages public engagement as field observations can be submitted by anyone who sees and records the individual ring code with location and date information.

The water level is still very high and the prospective breeders are in the process of finding suitable nesting sites. It looks as though there will be increased numbers of Black-headed Gulls as there are many birds present and as water levels drop they are likely to complete with the Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Greylag and Redshank for places to nest. Little Ringed Plover have nested in the past but were not in evidence on our visit.

We managed to find 01 in a grassy area to the right of the scrape from the viewing hide. From the behaviour observed, this bird is probably female, keeping away from the gulls on the ground and flying in support of another Lapwing, tenacious in its efforts to drive away gulls that came too close. 

Lapwing 01 ringed 25th May 2022

Statistically, there could be other returners so we will continue to monitor for other birds with colour rings.

We also saw that Black-headed gull 2C23 was one of the birds loafing about the scrape. This bird has a history of sightings that shows both summering the wintering locations, demonstrating the sight faithful nature of the bird.

2C23 sightings

Ringed on 22/06/2022 as adult Black-headed Gull (EA88135)    Little Snoring garden, Norfolk

Encountered on 07/10/2022 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Weymouth beach, Dorset

Encountered on 03/11/2022 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Radipole Lake, Dorset

Encountered on 09/11/2022 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Radipole Lake, Dorset

Encountered on 11/11/2022 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Radipole Lake, Dorset

Encountered on 27/11/2022 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Radipole Lake, Dorset

Encountered on 07/12/2022 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Ferrybridge, Dorset

Encountered on 08/01/2023 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Radipole Lake, Dorset

Encountered on 06/07/2023 Black-headed Gull (EA88135)  Sculthorpe Moor, Norfolk

Encountered on 28/09/2023 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Radipole Lake, Dorset

Encountered on 04/11/2023 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Radipole Lake, Dorset

Encountered on 13/12/2023 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Radipole Lake, Dorset

Encountered on 24/01/2024 Black-headed Gull (EA88135) Radipole Lake, Dorset

Last encountered on 24/03/2024 Black-headed Gull (EA88135)  Sculthorpe Moor, Norfolk

2C23 Radipole Lake, 13/12/2023

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Costa Rica - March 2024

 Costa Rica is a wonderful place to see the natural world and we're now back with 3000+ images to sort through. Mervyn Cruz was our guide for the 14 day trip, using Ebird to record observations and show the target birds when mixed flocks were involved. We didn't provide a wish list, just a brief to see a good spread of species types without being in the field all hours of the day. We visited the Caribbean and Pacific sides and the cloud forest in between ending on 385 bird species including one day when we saw 50+ species before breakfast. A typical day started at 5.45am for birding before breakfast, second birding 8.15 to 11ish then a rest in the quiet, hot time of day until restarting at 3.00pm until 5.30ish.

Very pleased to find a Motus terminal at one of our lunch stops!

Here's a selection of birds seen.

Emerald Toucanet

Golden-hodded Tanager

Green Violetear

Fiery-throated Hummingbird

Fiery-throated Hummingbird

Sooty-capped Chlorospingus

Tiny Hawk

Baltimore Oriole

Buff-throated Salttor

Black Vulture

American Pygmy Kingfisher

Collared Aeracari

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Tent making bats

Spectacled Owl

Gray-necked Wood-Rail

Green Heron

Montezuma Oropendola

Greater Kiskadee


Silver-throated Tanager

White-naped Brush-Finch

Black and White Owls

Pacific Screech-Owl


Magnificent Frigate Bird


Gartered Trogon

Keel-billed Toucan
White-nosed Coati

Great Jacamar

Slaty Flowerpiercer

Resplendent Quetzal

Purple-throated Mountain-gem female

Volcano Hummingbird

White-whiskered Puffbird female

Sunday 25 February 2024

A farm in North-west Norfolk - 25th February 2024

 A windier day than expected and only 17 birds caught. We switched to an adjacent hedgerow but as we might have expected, the flock then simply located to where we would normally site nets.

Observations were of greater interest than the birds captured with female Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, 2 Red Kite, 6 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and 4 Grey Partridge seen, also our first Brimstone butterfly of the year.

5F Reed Bunting

Totals: 13 (4)

Chaffinch - 2
Dunnock - 5
Goldfinch - 1
Great Tit - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (2)
Reed Bunting - 1
Robin - 1 (1)
Wren - 0 (1)
Yellowhammer - 1

There was quite a lot of activity from the Hares on the fields.

Sunday 18 February 2024

A farm in North Norfolk - 17th February 2024

 A morning spent with PWL & EGB at this very good farmland winter site. There are still lots of birds on site but the behaviour is changing and small flocks of finches and buntings are now moving between bird crop areas rather than there being some birds in all areas at any one time. The hedges were trimmed in January and topping of the bird crop has now started leaving any nets much more obvious with less vegetation to disguise their presence.

We managed to catch 19 birds altogether. Ten were new, and half of these Dunnocks, including a female already with BP2. Amongst the retrap birds were another 5 Dunnocks and a Reed Bunting that we had ringed on 7th November, our first day of monitoring here. 

CL made a brief survey of the fields and wood with the thermal imager and found no signatures for Woodcock at all. They had been very jumpy when he tried dazzling on two evenings in the previous week, usually a sign that they will soon leave their wintering grounds and the mid weather may have already induced them to depart.

We are very grateful to the landowner who had granted access for monitoring to take place on his land.

Totals: 10 (9)

Blackbird - 1
Chaffinch - 1
Dunnock - 5 (5)
Long-tailed Tit - 2 (3)
Reed Bunting - 1 (1)