Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Iver Heath garden - March 2014

Siskin numbers were on the rise with the transition from February to March. There were a few dates when early morning numbers in the nearby ash trees, and the volume of twittering indicated that numbers had received a boost - but then other days were very quiet indeed.

We were pleased to process two controls and details of the following are awaited.

D381689 a 5M captured on the 6th and Y551884 a 6F that was caught on the 9th.

Here are some interesting individuals.

 D710850 a smart 6M Siskin


D710885 5M showing retained median coverts as well as all greater coverts. 

 Control Y551884 6F

There were only 8 species on the list and Siskin accounted for well over half of the birds caught. This has not been one of our best years by a long chalk but it's nice to host these lovely little birds as most ( there is ocassional breeding in our local country park, Black Park) take a break from their Northward journey.

Numbers have tailed right off now so we do not expect to catch more until next winter - unless of course we get juveniles in late April to May.

Totals: 58 (12)

Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Robin - 0 (4)
Blackbird - 4 (2)
Blue Tit - 2 (1)
Goldfinch - 14
Siskin - 36 (3)
Lesser Redpoll - 1 (1)

Friday, 28 March 2014

Broadwater GP - 28 March 2014

 Spring is traditionally a time for having a general clean up and getting things in order after the long winter months. Our new notices are representative of this - fortunately the fishing club have already done a lot of trimming and clearing of fallen trees ( not that we would have been shifting the fallen trunks, but at least we needn't work around them anymore!)

We last visited on the 18th of last month when tits along with wintering Redwings made up most of the catch. This time the catch was small, but truly reflected the change in season. Leading species was Chiffchaff with 4 individuals caught. None of these birds were carrying any fat.

 Chiffchaff with abrasion to tips of primaries, tail and all coverts

There were quite a few Blackcap on site but we only managed to capture one - our first of the year.
She did not appear to have completed her migration yet as she had a fat score of 4 with muscle 2.

5F Blackcap with weight of 20.0g

We were also surprised to find a female Reed Bunting in the net as none have been seen or heard in the ringing area.

Reed Bunting 5F

Apart from a couple of Long-tailed Tits and two Blue Tits ( just to show they have not deserted the site altogether) there was also a Great Spotted Woodpecker whose tail showed spectacular wear.

Great Spotted Woodpecker 5M

Here's looking forward to our April visit. We need to find out if the site attracts as much usage from Phylloscopus Warblers in spring as occurs in the autumn. We think probably not but we'll check to be sure.

Totals : 10 (1)

Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Blackcap - 1
Chiffchaff- 4
Blue Tit - 1 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Reed Bunting - 1

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Stanwell Moor - 25 March 2014

As the evenings draw out there is just enough time to fit in a few hours birding or ringing on Tuesdays afternoons when I (Denise) finish work at 2.30pm. We didn't really expect very much since the site is quite exposed. Further to this, we made a visit last week  (with 6 others) only to find that we caught no birds at all - the less said about that, the better.

We made a quick reccie and assessed that the water level in the river and lake had again risen after the previous night's rainfall and that the track had accumulated even more water in the wide and often deep depressions formed by heavy vehicles moving earth around the site. We put 3 nets up along the track hoping to capture one of the Cetti'sWarblers that move up and back along the Colne bursting into song periodically, or the two Grey Wagtails that had teased us with their presence on our last visit. We saw the Grey Wagtails briefly, confirming that they were still in the vicinity, and heard the Cetti's often but caught neither species.

However, we improved on our capture rate from the visit before by managing to catch a retrap Robin that was first done as a 3J in June 2013 - posing the question - Did it stay all winter or has it recently returned? We also caught our first Chiffchaff (and summer migrant) of the year, but it seemed likely that the bird would not be staying long as it carried fat scored at 4 with muscle of 2. The Chiff weighted in at 8.3g.

Chiffchaff aged 4

Totals: 1 (1)

Robin - 0 (1)
Chiffchaff - 1

Monday, 24 March 2014

Chobham Common - 24 March 2014

CL, DKL & EP made a final roving visit to the common. We had already passed our window of opportunity with Woodlark as these birds have been known to lay the first clutch by 17 March with an average date of April 8. Since  arrivals in general, seem to be quite early this Spring, we won't be attempting any further captures, despite seeing one bird on territory and hearing singing from another location with a pair seen to traverse the common at that point.

Dartfords usually begin egg laying in mid April hence the reason for this being our last try to ring any located and recorded via map reference where possible, although there may be further observational visits.

We first set  a double of two panel nets at a site where a pair were seen along with a male Stonechat. We managed to catch the female, but the male evaded us and the Stonechat managed to disappear completely.

4F Dartford D710932

As the Easterly wind freshened we tried another spot where the net was in the lea of a substantial clump of gorse. The male that initially attracted us to the spot by perching atop a conifer some 10ft  from the ground managed to skirt around the net a couple of times and although we caught a female Coal Tit,  we took down since the net was just too obvious and the bird too canny.

Out last attempt was not far from the first. We saw a pair of Stonechats and a couple of Dartfords but the closest we came to a capture was a Magpie ( that we really didn't want in the fine two panels anyway) that skimmed the gorse bushes along which we had set.

We were all off site and reached the Old School Cafe well before closing time for lunch and a celebratory piece of  cake for both Denise's recent birthday and ringing 8 new Dartfords since the start of the year.

Totals: 2

Dartford Warbler - 1
Coal Tit - 1

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Bletchingley - 16 March 2014

The date had been pre-arranged with JHH, her mum Allison and our hosts Ralph and Pat, and dawned rather windier than we had hoped or expected according to the weather forecast. The numbers of birds visiting the garden have been tailing off as the weather became more Springlike but we weren't too perturbed as we usually catch plenty without the need for tapes.

We put up three nets.

Net one by the feeders at the front of the house.

 Net two in the trees at the side of the house.

Net three by the feeders at the back of the house.

We could tell that there were fewer tits around while we were setting up. One of the first captures was a smart House Sparrow.

 4M House Sparrow

The Blue and Great Tits trickled in, then came a surprise for Ralph and Pat who had never had  Golcrest on the garden list before.

5M Goldcrest

There was plenty for JHH to do as the complete catch totalled 46 birds. One individual amongst the Blue Tits was in surprisingly good condition considering its bill deformity.

Blue Tit aged 6 plumage in good condition weight 11.6g

The oldest retrap of the day was Blue Tit L532486 that was ringed as age 4 on 9th December 2012 by DKL.

Many thanks to Ralph and Pat who looked after us very well, as always, with Bacon Rolls, biscuits, flapjacks and all the tea and coffee we could want. The freshly made cheese scones for lunch were especially delicious!

This will be the last session until late autumn, when we will be back again to monitor the feeding station visitors.

Totals:33 (13)

Dunnock - 3 (2)
Robin - 2 (1)
Blackbird - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 17 (6)
Great Tit - 4 (3)
Long-tailed Tit - 1
House Sparrow - 1
Chaffinch - 0 (1)
Goldfinch - 2
Lesser Redpoll - 1

Friday, 14 March 2014

Chobham Common - 12 & 14 March 2014

12th March

Another opportunity to visit the common with a day of low wind and sunshine forecast, that gave us a chance to make another tour of the north side of the common, but shortly after leaving home the sunshine disappeared as I drove into fog, which was even thicker at the common. I meet Eleanor and Liz & Roger and initially we had a brief try for Dartfords without success. In the mist it just proved how inactive they are on a day without much sunshine in the damp and cool, so on the way back to the car I decided to try an area with some low trees next to a wet area for Redpoll. This was met with moderate success, producing 12 Redpolls and a Great Tit. Of interest was one Redpoll that was fairly pale, but not particularly stocky, weighing 12.3, with a wing of 75, that for a female was a high wing length, being at the very the top of the Lesser range. But, despite being pale, with white covert tips (which on Lessers are now becoming paler), the mantle was a brown and not outside the colour range of Lesser, but lacked any buff on the underside. The bird dropped a contour feather that was saved as it drifted down towards the ground, and may be sent off for DNA analysis if the person running the project is prepared to carry out an analysis for us.

 The pale female next to a Lesser for comparison.

As the sun came out we packed up and moved further down the common and walked to an area from the monument car park, in which  we had previously seen three Dartfords, which were still there and behaved exactly as they did last time, evading us, which is a shame as this is an area where they have been previously rung and it would have been useful to establish whether these were new birds or previously ringed birds. Another Lesser Redpoll was processed, making it 13 for the day.

14th March

Finally conditions looked right for the common when DKL was available to join CL. The morning began shrouded in mist so, as the warblers tend not to move about much in these conditions, we started the first part of the operation.

Stage one.

We arrived just before 9am and set a singe 60' net close to a pool where birds regularly come down to drink. We could hear Redpoll and Siskin calling from both sides of the net and managed a modest catch while we waited for the mist to clear. Out of just five Redpoll we were pleased to get one already carrying ring L231097 - not one of ours so we look forward to hearing where and when that first encountered a mist net.

 A striking 6M Lesser Redpoll

 Gorse breaking into bloom in the sunshine

Stage 2

 View across the heather and gorse

With the mist cleared we got on with the primary objective and moved on to the South side of the common to search for Woodlark and Dartfords. We heard a Woodlark singing as we walked from the car park but having no luck with the audiolure we moved on. As the day progressed we also logged the location of 8 Dartford and 2 Stonechat, but it wasn't until we finally caught a single Dartford at 3pm ( by then it seemed like an awfully long time since we'd seen a bird in the net) that we got the final bird of the day.

 5M Dartford Warbler

Totals: 21 (1)

Robin - 2
Dartford Warbler - 1
Great Tit - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 16 (1)
Redpoll Sp  - 1

Monday, 10 March 2014

Stanwell Moor - 9 March 2014

We decided to try out a new tape for Snipe and arrived on site at 5pm to allow us to set nets prior to nightfall. We only put up a double and triple in a triangular arrangement then set the audiolures. We know from experience that night time efforts can be disappointing here due to excessive light pollution from the adjacent M25 and airport so decided we would be happy providing we were not empty handed on returning home.

We found that we'd captured 3 Meadow Pipits (even though we were using 19mm mesh nets) on the first round prior to losing the light. The third round revealled a single Snipe with no birds flushing as we traversed the wet meadow. The fourth round brought no further captures and it was decided to take down.

Total: 4

Snipe - 1
Meadow Pipit - 3