Sunday, 14 January 2018

Stanwell Moor GP - 14th January 2018

The forecast was favourable for open sites today and we returned to the area where we managed to colour ring a Water Pipit two days before. Since 2009 we had ringed four birds up to the end of 2016, but last year none were captured.

However we were optimistic and resigned ourselves to few birds captured with the possibility of one more Water Pipit, if we were lucky. But we did better than that, marking two more birds and a bycatch of Stonechat and Meadow Pipit wasn't bad at all!

Age 5 Water Pipit

Clear contrast showing in the wing


The other juvenile Water Pipit

5M Stonechat

Total: 4

Water Pipit - 2
Meadow Pipit - 1
Stonechat - 1

Friday, 12 January 2018

Stanwell Moor GP - 11th & 12th January 2018

Over the past couple of years there has been a Barn Owl seen over Stanwell Moor and we had arranged for PW, not only a well respected 'owl man' but also an old friend of Chris' from his DEFRA days, to bring and site a couple of boxes for us. Chris and I arrived earlier and we worked a few nets. Then they went off to put up the boxes while I took down and packed away.

Inspite of all  the trees lining the south field, it was difficult to find a suitable tree and only one box could be put up. We may put the second up close to the Colne where a telegraph pole has stood unused for a number of years. One good thing was that PW was impressed by all the evidence of field voles in the water meadow, so different to the farmland where he usually works.

Totals: 14 (8)

Dunnock - 3 (2)
Chiffchaff - 2
Goldcrest - 0 (3)
Long-tailed Tit - 8 (1)
Great Tit - 1 (2)

After noticing a good number of Water Pipits on the wet meadows we returned the following day to see if there would be a better chance of catching there rather than on Staines Moor where we've tried on four separate ocassions, this winter, with no positive result.

We set a double, two panel, of 12m nets, a double 18m configuration and a 3 panel, 12m. There was also a single net at the end of the track to the south fields.

It was a very slow start with no birds in the first couple of hours, then we found several Reed Buntings along the Colne as we walked back from the Staines Moor end of the fied. There were also a couple of Stonechats and a Dartford Warbler moving through the weedy vegetation around the pool. At first we thought we had caught one of the Stanechats, but it was actually a Dunnock. A short time later we got another Dunnock in the track net.

There were a total of nine Water Pipits and the birds moved together as a loose flock, apparently very net aware. It began to rain lightly at around mid-day and while Chris went to see what was on the lake, I went to take the track net down, seeing a ringed Chiffchaff go into the net as I walked along the path. This bird turned out to be JDR838, a control.

Chris went to check the nets around the pool prior to processing the Chiffchaff and returned, finally, with one of the Water Pipit. This bird was also colour ringed as part of the project that we began in 2017, after catching two birds in 2016, although none were captured in the following year.

Finally we are able to fit our first colour ring on a Water Pipit.

Water Pipit age 5

The Water Pipits remained in the area but no more could be captured.

Controlled Chiffchaff JDR838 aged 4

Total: 4

Water Pipit - 1
Dunnock - 2
Chiffchaff - 0 (1 control)

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Swan darvics and metal rings - Windsor and Truss's Island, Staines - 3rd January 2018

The weather has been less than kind this festive season with high winds and heavy rain on several days. Added to that, we've been ill with influenza and apart from a brief walk we've just not been able to get out.

As Storm Eleanor, the first storm of the year, breezed through we wrapped up and went to Windsor and Truss's looking for rings to record.


We recorded a few familiar darvics and also got some new metal rings. We also recorded a couple of numbers of the Canada Goose regulars but none of the Black-headed Gulls carried either plastic or metal rings.

T029 ringed by TW in Winchester. Whether it came of its own
accord or courtesy of oneof the Swan rescue charities is less clear.
We also wondered if that might also explain the presence of the
Black Swan.

Black Swan, Mute Swans and gull feeding frenzy.

The water level was high and some trees were the worse for wear after the
strong winds over night.

A large tree had been carried down river and had got stuck on the bridge.

Totals: 0 (35)

Mute Swan - 0 (33)
Canada Goose - 0 (2)

Moving on to Truss's there were a lot of gulls but still no marks to be read. As always there were plenty of Orange darvics printed with black. Among the birds were more cygnets than we've seen at any other visit this year.


Synchronised head dipping from one pair

Totals: 0 (34)

Mute Swan - 0 (34)

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Black Park CP (am) and Stanwell Moor GP (pm) - 22nd December 2017

We expected this might be our last venture out in 2017 as the forecast for the next few weeks was not looking good, and this turned out to be true. Even checking the Broadwater site this pm (31/12) resulted in a very heavy downpour with hail as soon as we were out of the car, with the wind becoming much stronger as the front moved through :)

Black Park CP

The visit was primarily to see if any Goldcrest or Redpolls were still noticeable in the area, and as it turned out they were not. In fact it was very quiet with only a small moderate sized Siskin flock around that disappeared fairly quickly once the sun was higher. A few Redwing were caught first thing, but very few Thrushes were heard going over.

Total - 7

Redwing - 3
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 2


Stanwell Moor GP

In the afternoon we made a visit to see the site foreman and to see if anything was roosting in the willow/carr.  Again this site was also very quiet and nothing came into roost to speak of apart from about half a dozen Redwing. Only three birds were caught, all Goldcrest, two of which were re-traps.

Total - 1 (2)

Goldcrest - 1 (2)

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Stanwell GP - 19th December 2017

The wind looked quite low with freezing fog forecast. As it turned out there was no fog although there had been a drop in temperature and everything was completely frozen.

We decided to put a double along the track, a walk-in trap on the mound for Meadow Pipits and three singles in the reedbed, including a new ride through an area with a lot of new reed and willow growth. This area had been completely dry the previous year when the water level was artificially low due to water being pumped out to prevent lorries raising excessive quantities of dust, and since the water level has risen the reeds have really thickened out.

One of six Chiffchaff captured on the day

We had a few birds to start with, tapes brought in wintering Chiffchaff and there were even a few Redwings too. The Long-tailed Tits managed to evade the track net, as they usually do, but there were a few Goldcrests to attract to the net in the reedbed, bringing a few other species with them, although playing Firecrest and Cetti's Warbler proved fruitless.The Meadow Pipits were nowhere to be seen - so we were glad that we'd not put up a three net configuration.

 The species diversity was quite good, largely due to a number of singles of different species captured specifically Song Thrush, Blackbird, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch. Linnet and Long-tailed Tit.

 4M Reed Bunting

3F Chaffinch - nice to get one without diseased legs

Brett have been working to relandscape the area immediately next to where we ring. It's all done now with nothing left but to let the grass grow. This area has seen a lot of changes over the years.

The track has been improved and gated while the area behind
 was levelled and set to seed. December 2017

This area has changed a lot over the years. When we started ringing here there was a disused conveyor belt, still there 2009.

Conveyor belt and shingle heaps June 2009 - back then we'd get 
Little Ringed Plovers here.


June 2015 - hardcore storage and we were never sure 
whether access would be possible with the vehicle.

More storage for recycling April 2017


By September they started work on shifting 
the mound of earth and metal. September 2017

There should now be less disturbance near our rides.


Totals : 24 (5)

Blackbird - 0 (1)
Songthrush - 1
Redwing - 3
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 0 (1)
Chiffchaff - 6
Goldcrest - 5 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 1 (1)
Great Tit - 3 (1)
Chaffinch -1
Linnet - 1
Reed Bunting - 1

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

WWT Welney - 18th December 2017

It's years since we visited this place - back then the footbridge was accessed by metal steps so it was definitely before the current visitor centre was built.  Bumped into KV, which was nice, who was only there because he lost his hat when he visited the day before, so as a bonus we had a bit of a catch up.

Adult Whooper bathing.

When we finally got into the hide there was a lot quite close by. The Whooper Swans were interesting to watch. There were several family parties and they were greeting individuals that they seemed to recognise and having the odd spat from time to time, feeding in the lake and on some rotting potatoes as well as taking care of their feathers. 


There were some Mute Swans sporting orange darvics, so these would be birds ringed by MR within the same scheme as that, that we support when colour ringing swans on the Thames.

Mute Swan 4BLI

Mute Swan 4BLR

We also collected some colour rings on Whooper Swans.

Whooper Swan Z3N (black on yellow)

Whooper Swan YCK (black print on orange)

It was possible to see some colour ring combinations on the roosting Black-tailed Godwits, not always both legs however. At least 3 full combinations were obtained, one from Icleand and the others from the UK PP and JG schemes.

Roosting Black-tailed Godwits

Bewick Swan - an injured bird that stayed throughout the summer

Whooper close-up

There were also quite a few ducks to see - Pintail, Teal, Shelduck, Mallard, Wigeon and some rather handsome Pochard.

Male Pochard

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Wraysbury GP - 17th December 2017

We returned to Wraysbury today with thrushes being the aim again. Although it was cold with a lot of frost and ice, this morning had a very different feel to the previous visit. The numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare were well down. It had only been a few days, but it looked as though the hawthorn bushes had been all but stripped and the remaining birds seemed to be feeding on rosehips.

Fieldfare with male pattern crown feathers

We put a single in an area by the stream that has recently undergone some pretty severe clearance. The first time of checking the net was very frustrating, as in the top panel was a bird that has never been ringed by Runnymede Ring Group before. It didn't look as though it was snagged in any way. The wings were both folded next to the body, the legs were bent at the knee and the neck appeared to be tucked down the front of its body. I was fairly sure it would get out really easily - and I was right. I was only abount 12 feet away when it lifted its head, straightened its legs then having cleared part of its body from the panel opened its wings and went. That was the closest I and Chris have come to ringing Little Egret.

One interesting observation was that something had clearly happened at the swing gate. There was a lot of hair, mainly on the C6 side of the gate and the soil had been dug away. A dog walker relayed that a Roe Deer had been stuck with its head in the railings for some time and it had eventually taken two men to man handle the animal out of its predicament.

Total: 15 (3)

Blackbird - 1(1)
Fieldfare - 2
Song Thrush - 1
Redwing - 4
Goldcrest - 1 (1)
Great Tit - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 4 (1)
Reed Bunting - 1