Saturday, 10 December 2016

Wraysbury GP -9th December 2016

Having worked this area a few times now, we've been wondering how responsive the Redwings might be, at the end of the day, when coming to roost. The birds feed over a wide area and in spite of the large numbers we rarely catch more than a few in any net over the course of a morning. Perhaps it might to possible to draw them into the nets as the light fails at the end of the day.

We set 5 nets in close proximity, put the audio lures on and waited. We saw several large flocks arriving, but they were not pulled in and we only got three Redwing, a Song Thrush and a couple of Robins in total. We probably won't try again but at least we now know it it's not worth doing. 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Wraysbury GP - 5th December 2016

We returned to Wraysbury on a frosty morning and put up a total of 9 nets. We caught quite a few more Redwing, three female Blackbirds including a a definite continental individual and several Robins, some of which showed signs that they may be about to move on. Z958037 was ringed on the 2nd weighing 19.9g and only three days later it increased to 22.7g with the fat score going from 2 up to 4.

 Blackbird 4F

 Song Thrush age 3

Robin, age 4

 Redwing, age 3

It was a strange day for additional observations with a Blackcap being seen along the footpath and a Peregrine passing over the ringing base late morning. We also saw Muntjac, Fox and a Hedgehog.

Total: 33 (5)

Robin - 4 (3)
Blackbird - 3
Song Thrush - 1
Redwing - 24
Goldcrest - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (1)
Blue Tit - 0 (1)

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Staines Moor - 3rd December 2016

Today we tried for thrushes in the corner of the moor adjacent to Stanwell. We have seen lots of birds in this area but due to the height of the bushes weren't sure how successful attempts to catch them might go. We put up three double nets and played audio-lures, but there were far fewer birds and the temperature had raised by a few degrees.

There were 11 captures - we'll give it one more try if we get a forecast for a windless, cold and frosty day.

age 3 Redwing

Total: 11

Robin - 4
Song Thrush - 1
Redwing 6

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Wraysbury GP - 2nd December 2016

After a couple of days with rather harsh frosts, we tried for thrushes amongst the berry bushes on C4.
There were a lot of birds first thing and it was clear that more birds roost there than remain to feed in the immediate area. We know that they also frequent the pony field, foraging on the ground, but with the ground quite hard they were more likely to turn to the berry crop rather than invertebrate food. As it happened there was no frost today, but the ground was still quite hard.

Our most numerous capture was Redwing.

Redwing, age 3

Adult and juvenile type greater coverts

We also caught a young male Sparrowhawk.

 Male Sparrowhawk, age 3

Song Thrush

An interesting retrap was Chiffchaff JRV022, only ringed three days ago, at Stanwell Moor, about a kilometre away.

Total: 26 (8)

Sparrowhawk - 1
Robin - 4 (2)
Blackbird - 1 (1)
Song Thrush - 1
Redwing - 13
Chiffchaff - 1 (1)
Goldcrest - 3
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (3)
Blue Tit - 1 (1)

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Stanwell Moor GP & Staines Moor - 29th November 2016

Stanwell Moor

By far the coldest day yet, this winter, with a very light wind and a heavy frost that lingered all morning. We set five nets, three in the reed-bed and another two across the track from the stream. There didn't seem to be much about and catching progressed slowly. In just over three hours we captured 10 new and 6 retrapped birds.

We caught four Chiffchaffs, all with fat scores of zero, a Cetti's Warbler along with a few Wrens and Long-tailed Tits, and three Robins which were all local re-traps.


 Robin, age 3

Cetti's Warbler, age 3

Total: 10 (6)

Wren - 2 (1)
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Robin - 0 (3)
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 4
Long-tailed Tit - 3 (1)

Staines Moor
This is a wintering site for Water Pipit, a species that visits the UK in relatively low numbers each winter. The annual number ringed in this country is usually low, 10 in 2015, 12 in 2014, 1 in 2013, 9 in 2012. One of these was a bird ringed in our adjacent site, Stanwell Moor, in November 2012 with another in November 2010. We managed to get permission to target Water Pipits over on Staines Moor and thought that a colour ringing project would be worthwhile, if catching was possible. This is a very open site with a lot of dog walkers, often with dogs running off the lead.

Today, at midday, we arranged to meet the Countryside and Commons officer responsible for the area for an initial try at capturing Water Pipits. We put up two, two panel 12m nets alongside the river, tried audio-lures (appropriate licence endorsements held) and waited. There were a few birds around, although more Wagtails than Pipits and we had no captures for quite a while. The first bird was flushed into the net by a birder walking by the river's edge.

 Water Pipit, 2513265, age 3

Water Pipit 2513266, age 3

As the temperature began to drop we also caught a second bird. Both were fitted with metal rings - and the order for colour rings will be put in very shortly as this first try leaves us hopeful that a reasonable proportion of birds present may be captured. This is being done to aid monitoring the birds using the Moor without the need for recapture, and hopefully will give an indication of whether they winter at the site for the whole winter period, how faithful they are to the site each year, longevity and hopefully with luck (if they are reported, from other locations, during the summer months) where they breed.

Total: 2

Water Pipit - 2

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Chobham Common - 26th November 2016

Our first ringing outing, now we're back in the UK, was to Chobham Common with LON and WA. The common was quite different to the last time we were there, partly due to the way all the deciduous trees had dropped their leaves - potentially likely to affect our effectiveness at netting Redwing, and also down to the complete absence of Lesser Redpoll that had been so evident back in October. Most of those birds had been passing through - now there would be far fewer on the common and we saw and heard none of them.

We did manage to catch some Redwing, although the Fieldfare passing overhead from the golf course were less inclined to come down to their gathering calls than Redwing.

We were quite surprised to capture three Dartford Warbler with only one of them being attracted by audio-lure, and a single Stonechat. We also saw two Jack Snipe.

 Dartford Warbler Z958020, 3M

 Dartford Warbler Z958031, 3F

Dartford Warbler Z958033, 3M

There was also a rather smart male Stonechat, and a Great Tit with aberrant plumage colouration.

 3M Stonechat

Great Tit with pale colouration in left wing and bronze sheen to mantle and cap.

To round off the morning there was a tit flock, captured just before packing up time.

Total: 37  (2)

Meadow Pipit - 1
Wren - 2 (1)
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 1
Stonechat - 1
Redwing - 7
Dartford Warbler - 3
Goldcrest - 5
Long-tailed Tit - 7
Blue Tit - 7
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Goldfinch - 1

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Cyprus - Eastwards then home - 19th November 2016 (and 20th unexpectedly)

We had an early evening flight from Larnaka and packed and finished up at the house before taking a drive eastwards for some final birding. There was a new bird for us both at Akahna dam so we headed there first. The route near to the dam took us close to the abandoned town of Akahna, observation towers and the border with Northern Turkey. One year we really will have to explore the north.

At the dam there was plenty of water and several people fishing, this being a Saturday. We spotted the target bird, a young Great White Pelican, at the far end of the dam.

Great White Pelican

We had really good views of the bird and noticed an unusual pipit, with the Meadow Pipits, Water Pipits and White Wagtails along the shoreline. It was identified as a Buff-bellied Pipit but was distant and difficult to photograph. We were glad to hear later that Alan and Lyn Crane were able to find the bird the following day.

Jack Snipe and Snipe

We had good views of Jack Snipe and Snipe as we left the dam before having a look around the wet and marshy areas of Oroklini, then looking at the pools along the coast behind the Sewage works and the actual sewage pools at Larnaca. There were some Curlew in the field, a new species for the visit.

As the light failed we thought this to be the end of our Cyprus trip as we stopped off to eat then headed to the find that our flight was delayed until the following day. We were transported to the Palm Beach hotel where they arranged a free evening meal and breakfast as well as a room until our departure, for the airport, at 7am.

Now, under normal circumstances I wouldn't go in to detail about the transfer to the airport, but there were too many passengers to fit on one bus and while we waited for the second coach we both heard the call of a Yellow-browed Warbler from the trees along the access route to the hotel. We followed the call, pinned it down and got brief views - just as coach number two turned up, so no chance to photograph the bird and we're hoping that someone else manages to relocate the bird, last seen by the church next to the tennis courts.