Thursday, 7 January 2021

Staines Moor - 31st December 2020

 Our last chance of the year to try for Water Pipits, the morning was much colder than expected with quite a lot of the moor covered in ice. Four nets, three panels deep, were put up and at first we feared a zero return for our efforts. There were no less than seven Water Pipits about the moor, but as usual they seemed very aware of our presence, paid no mind to the audio-lures and deftly avoided our nets. The record sheet had data on only two birds, both of interest in their own way, both wintering birds, a Dartford Warbler - the second that we've caught there this month despite the less than favourable look of the site and a Chiffchaff. This is the third Dartford Warbler caught there and the second this year, proving that sightings are not merely of an odd wintering bird.

3F Dartford Warbler

On leaving the moor we spoke to a lady who regularly walks the moor (keeping an eye on the cattle herd when they are out to pasture) and found that a new pair of swans has taken up residence on the river. We had noted this pair ourselves and the male had mantled his wings and advanced towards us as we stood on the bank. This explained the dead swan that is caught in the trees trailing into the river by the bridge. We had thought this to be one of the cygnets that we'd ringed earlier in the year. Unfortunately it was impossible to see the darvic or fully read the metal ring. The cob had been seen to attack and drown the cygnet, while a second is apparently at the north end of the river nursing minor injuries. The original pen with one other cygnet has retreated to the stream that borders the east boundary of the moor.

Total: 2

Dartford Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 1 

Friday, 1 January 2021

Broadwater GP - 28th December 2020

 On a frosty morning we decided to get some fresh air and our permitted exercise at Broadwater. Apart from being able to ring, it's a better option for staying away from people than our local country park that has been attracting visitors from outer London since well before the tier 4 restrictions came into force. 

We did rather better than we expected, although there were a great deal of tits and many of those were retraps. The best birds were a handful of Redwing and a single wintering Chiffchaff.

Juvenile Redwing

Adult male Blue Tit

Total:  27 (13)

Blackbird - 2
Redwing - 5
Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Blue Tit - 11 (8)
Great Tit - 4 (5)

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Staines Moor - 22nd December 2020

 The weather conditions were favourable today so Chris & I decided to try, yet again, for Water Pipits. The moor is becoming increasingly wet with so much rain lately so we expected that the birds would still be scattered across the moor. We used 4 single 3 panelled nets, with audio-lures, and set slightly away from the areas of open water that birds often feed around. We know that the birds are extremely good at avoiding nets so opted instead for marshy areas interspersed with clumps of longer grass where there was more chance that a net may not be seen. Another advantage of working in this miry area is that walkers certainly keep their distance should they decide to ask us about our activities. 

It was another session when we failed to catch any Water Pipit, but if there's one thing to be said for Staines Moor Water Pipit session failures, the bycatch can be really quite exceptional! Who could complain about Stonechat, Reed Bunting and even for the second time a wintering Dartford Warbler.

3M Dartford Warbler

Juvenile male Stonechat

Totals: 8

Wren - 2
Dunnock - 2
Stonechat - 1
Dartford Warbler - 1
Reed Bunting - 2

Thursday, 17 December 2020

River Thames, Windsor & Truss's Island - 16th December 2020

Today we took our exercise by the Thames. From the two locations we managed 33 records with no more than the aid of a box of grain, loaf of bread, bins and a camera.

We look for plastic coded rings, but also manage quite a few metal rings too although this requires the swan to up end or come out of the water.

4DYH competes with the flock for the little food being provided currently.
Probably got there care of the local rescue centres rather than a natural movement.

No tourists to feed the waterfowl in a place where free food is usually guaranteed.

ZY6622 (Y3T) - an interesting one that was reported dead in 2018 according to DeMon

It looks to us as though the same darvic ring has been shown as associated with both ZY6622 & W28320. According to the records W28320 hit power cables and died in 2018. Very curious! 

W38003 - the first time we've seen this one and a while since it was reported at all.

Tourists were absent, but we still found two foreign visitors amongst the Black Headed Gulls.

T6ML - a Polish bird


FS 13525

Black-headed Gull

Chroicocephalus ridibundus


Halina Pietrykowska



Black-headed Gull

Chroicocephalus ridibundus


Adam Loręcki



Black-headed Gull

Chroicocephalus ridibundus


Mateusz Loręcki
Adam Loręcki



Black-headed Gull

Chroicocephalus ridibundus


Adam Loręcki



Black-headed Gull

Chroicocephalus ridibundus

Poznań: Jezioro Maltańskie

Maciej Gierszewski



Black-headed Gull

Chroicocephalus ridibundus


Christopher Lamsdell




Three lucky shots to give the entire number. IA160537 with GELWARTE and what appeared to be Germany printed. It still needed a quick email to ask if anyone knew which of three schemes it could be and we had identified the correct scheme by the end of the day.

There were a few more birds at Truss's Island, however nothing was as interesting as the individuals recorded at Windsor. 

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Thursley Common - 10th December 2020

Having allowed a little while for the crowds to dissipate and picked a day in the middle of the week we were very please to not only find the right location for seeing the two rare buntings, but also see both birds as well as the Great Grey Shrike that had also been reported from the common.

It was a drizzly day, so wet in fact that we probably wouldn't have tried had we seen that these conditions were expected. 

Even a couple of Dartfords put in an appearance despite the drizzle and gloom, plus eight Crossbill, but otherwise the common species seemed fairly abscent.

As it turned out it all worked out well for us, no more than six other birders, not too soaked and back at home in time for lunch. Result!

Rustic Bunting

Little Bunting

Great Grey Shrike record shot

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Staines Moor - 7th and 8th December 2020

 Two mornings with a forecast for very low wind so we decided to try for Water Pipits at Staines Moor. Both mornings were very cold and foggy. Just for a change all the livestock was right over the other side of the moor so with the exception of one cow that was wandering about on its own and noticed one of the nets towards the end of the second day, we had no interest from the cows and horses whatsoever.

So, for ten hours of effort spread over the two days we managed to catch just three birds. There were quite a few Meadow Pipits on the moor, one of which we captured. The second bird of the 7th was an age 3 Water Pipit. Catching is difficult as birds tend not to react much to either song or calls being played. This capture was the result of me flushing the bird from the cover of soft rush as I went to check a net.  The bird flew across water and straight into another net. Interestingly, there was one session in 2017 when two Water Pipits were ringed, but sadly before the darvic marking scheme, as a result of being flushed by dog walkers.

Aged 3 Water Pipit

The second day was slightly warmer and just as misty, and although there were several Water Pipits around in the early morning, they soon dispersed to other areas of the moor. There was only one capture, a juvenile Stonechat.

  Total: 3

Meadow Pipit - 1 (7th)
Water Pipit - 1 (7th)
Stonechat - 1 (8th)

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Staines Moor - 1st December 2020

A day calm enough to try for Water Pipits at Staines Moor. We arrived before too many people were walking dogs, or just plain walking. Something that we see increasingly since the start of the pandemic. Many carry Costa coffee cups, some don't bother to take them home and most would be much more at home in the High Street.

Many regular walk ways show the result of increased footfall on the moor.

We intended to put nets on a part of the moor close to the river and near a tree favoured by a ringed bird that has been present for a few years now, that remains unidentified as it has not been retrapped. The  audio-lure encouraged a few birds to fly over but none could be caught. We didn't see the ringed WATPI and presumed that it has not returned this year. 

We relocated to the other side of the river where water had been pooling a few days ago. There were at least five Water Pipits in this locale but of course most took themselves off elsewhere as soon as we disturbed the area. We also attracted the unwanted attention of the horses.

The audio-lure and unusual human activity can be most interesting for some of the horses. We try to avoid getting their attention but when we are noticed the herd investigates together, 
one reason why full height triangle formations are not possible here.

A ringed bird was seen to forage within a few feet of the net.

The horses would not move off, requiring management as they
continuously approached the nets.

The ringed bird probably won't be one of ours. We've had darvics since
2017 and the rings we fit are very much darker. This looked too
shiny by far, and maybe a European country ring maybe.
We ringed a single Meadow Pipit from the nets and also the last youngster of the cygnet family. We'll have to try again and hope to catch the ringed one and perhaps more of the WATPI present.

Total: 2

Mute Swan - 1
Meadow Pipit -1