Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Woolley Firs, Maidenhead - 31 January 2012

Another run up the M4 after work to Woolley Firs, Maidenhead to try for Tawny Owl with Gavin. We got closer this time, as when we went to pack up the Tawny Owl was in a tree next to the end of the net, but not in it! Always another day!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Garden - 29 January 2012

And afterwards, again back to the garden. One interesting bird was in the form of a Siskin previously rung as a 3 male also in the garden back 31/12/2010. Your own re-traps are so much more interesting!

Totals (9 new, 2 re-traps):

Blue Tit - 4 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Goldfinch - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 1
Siskin - 2 (1)

Black Park - 29 January 2012

Another go in the heathland area for Finches was a little disappointing as very few came into the area and settled, and even the number of Redpoll and Siskin flying over where not that high. A small flock of around 20 Crossbill flew over and at least one Woodcock was flushed.  On our way out we checked out an area of Beech and found around 100 birds feeding mostly on the floor, predominately Great Tits and Chaffinches. Something to try on another day.

Long-tailed Tit ringing

Blackbird - 5 male

Coal Tit - 5 male

Lesser Redpoll - 5 male 

Totals (new 15):

Blue Tit - 1
Coal Tit - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 9
Lesser Redpoll - 4

Garden - 28 January 2012

Very recently we have noticed that Siskin are starting to come into the feeders again, as they normally do around the end of January, so after the morning session, whilst getting on with some of the routine bits of life, we dropped the nets in the garden and processed whatever turned up.

Siskin - 5 male

Totals (new 14, re-traps 3):

Blue Tit - 3 (1)
Great Tit - 0 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (1)
Goldfinch - 5
Siskin - 5

Home Cottage Farm - 28 January 2012

We went in anticipation of overnight frost, but there was none, and the ground was nice and soft. Plenty of Fieldfares and Redwings, about 500+ at one stage in the horse paddocks, and they spent most of the day roaming around feeding on the ground in the various adjacent fields and orchards. We had about 150 on the ground in the orchard where we had set up, but unfortunately they were at the opposite end to where we had the nets up, and only managed one of each of the target species. A little frustrating seeing so many in the right orchard and when they flew off, to find so few in the nets!

 Redwing - adult

Totals (5 new 3 re-traps) :

Green Woodpecker - 0 (2)
Blackbird - 1
Fieldfare - 1
Redwing - 1
Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Goldfinch - 2

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Norfolk 14 - 15 January 2012

As the weekend was forecast wind speeds that would make ringing not especially viable we decided to take a run up to Norfolk to visit family and do a bit of bird watching, but as it turned out the wind even for that was not that pleasant. Saturday started off with light/medium rain, with moderate cold wind, that made using a scope unpleasant. Sunday was brighter, but the wind was stronger and seemed to get a bit stronger by mid morning making birding a even more unpleasant. Birds in strong winds either whizz by quickly and tend not to give particularly good views. It seemed most of the birders around where either being guided by someone or out on a bird club outing, as any one local with sense was giving birding over the weekend a miss, as there would be better days to get out.

Saturday started off looking for Great Grey Shrikes at Fakenham and Egmere without success. If I had not been so intent looking into the field at Egmere I would have noticed the Barn Owl roosting in the hedge a few feet from me, which I could have probably picked up, but we had no rings of that size ion us in any event. We then made our way to Titchwell to find the fresh marsh looking like a small lake with water level particularly high. Titchwell was relatively quite, with the sea on an ebbing tide. The only birds of note were a Spoonbill and in the Goldfinch and Redpoll flock a single Common and Coue's Arctic Redpolls. A Water Rail was showing in a ditch next to the main track. On the way back to Fakenham we stopped off at Burnham Overy and had views of the Lapland Bunting flock of about 70 odd birds, and finally back at Fakenham poor, but close views of the Great Grey Shrike which was in the hedge next to the old road and was only seen in flushed flight views.

Titchwell beach

 Water Rail

Meadow trail

Goldfinch in an Alder

Sunday we made a trip to Cley, which probably held more than we saw, with most small birds keeping low or out of sight, and most of the waders on grassy/muddy field over looked by Avocet hide at the back of Whitwell scrape, where most of the Dunlin, Golden Plover and Ruff were taking refuge, along with distance and not very thrilling views of the Western Sandpiper. By early afternoon we decided two days of birding in strong winds was enough and headed south home.

 Avocet and Dawke's Hide

View from from Teal hide looking over Pats Pool

Three male Teal

Arnolds Marshes from East bank

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Woolley Firs, Maidenhead - 17 January 2012

A brief trip up the M4 after work and we were on our way towards Woolley Firs, Maidenhead to try for Tawny Owl with Gavin. Birds were enticed into the mature trees around the catching area but could not be persuaded down from their lofty perches, so never made their way into the shelves of the heavy 60. We also took a walk across the surrounding fields in an attempt to lamp whatever potential targets could be found, but the Lapwing took off when we were still some distance away and that was that!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Home Cottage Farm - 15 January 2011

The colder spell continued as forecast and an outing to the orchards seemed in order. The sheep had been moved into a secure pen so we and Gavin began putting up nets . The apples looked all the worse for the recent frosts but the ground was really hard and likely to remain so until well into late morning, meaning that feeding in the adjacent paddocks would be difficult.. As we continued with four configurations of 2 or 3 nets each, the fieldfares became vocal in the surrounding tall trees. All of the orchard nets were set before 8am and we left the rows of Spartan, Russet, Coxes and Red Pippins with the scent of fermenting fruit in our nostrils. Two singles were also put up along the access road.
The morning seemed promising with large numbers of birds loafing around the orchard and they did eventually build up the confidence to drop into the orchard to feed, but a Sparrowhawk flushed the birds out and they did not return in the same numbers. A buzzard was seen over.

Fieldfares - but out of reach

Chaffinch - adult male 

Fieldfare - adult male

Redwing - aged 5

Green Woodpecker - 0 (1)
Robin - 1(1)
Dunnock - 1
Fieldfare - 3
Redwing - 1
Blue Tit - 1(1)
Gret Tit - 1
Chaffinch - 6
Goldfinch - 4

Pitsea tip - 14 January 2012

Whilst Denise had a more local ruin out, I joined two of our local RG to join our colleagues at the North Thames Gull RG at Pitsea tip. There were quite a few Gulls present, but despite the overnight freezing they showed little interest in feedign much and did not come down onto the rubbish laid out for us. It took several runs over by the compactor before birds decided to come down, but then after several birds in the wrong place, we did not get a catch until 10.30. The catch was mainly Herring Gulls, followed by Black-headed, a few Greater Black-backed Gull and a single Common Gull.

Gulls over the tipping area

Black-headed Gull - adult

Herring Gull - 8i
(above and two below)

 Juvenile Herring Gull with abormally long bill 
(photo Richard Bonsor)


Black-headed Gull - 68 (2) + 1 control
Common Gull - 1
Herring Gull - 187 (1) + 2 controls
Great Black-backed Gull - 14

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Black Park - 14 January 2012

Denise took a group of three hopefuls on site to target Crossbills. The day started off cold and frosty, and showed promise as Siskins and Redpolls were present around the ringing area. Unusually, a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were sighted. The latter bounced off of one of the doubles and was seen off by a flock of some 20+ small finches. A Woodcock was also flushed, but although it flew low in the direction of the nets running parallel to the path it managed to evade capture. Crossbills, including a group of 5, were also seen but remained clear of all nettage. By 11am few birds were in evidence and a disappointing session was brought to a close early due to the low catching rate.

morning frost

 Lesser Redpoll - 6 male

 Great Spotted Woodpecker - 5 male


Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Robin - 2
Goldcrest - 2
Lesser Redpoll - 2 (1)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath - 7 January 2012

Despite a forecast for slightly strong gusts we decided to give the orchard another go, especially after seeing 150 odd Fieldfare on the ground in there on our last visit. The wind was, fortunately, not that strong, but after our last visit sheep had been moved into the area, though had been fenced off using a temporary electric fence arrangement. In the morning gloom we could see a number of white bodies moving amongst the apple trees where they should not have been. Their electric fence was rather all over the place. A couple of nets where put up and we rounded the sheep back into their section, re-tightened the fence strands and reconnected the electric fence up, where they should have stayed sound and safe. During the morning it was very evident there were a lot of Fieldfare and Redwings around with lots of birds flying around and sitting in the taller trees. Alas today their preferred feeding area rather than the orchard was the adjacent horse paddock were a mixed flock of about 300 birds were feeding on the ground. We did manage to get four Fieldfares by the end of the day, but also the sheep flock squeezed out of their enclosed area between the electric fence and the orchard boundary fence. We though they had not got as far as the nets, but one 60 had a very large sheep flock hole in it and has had to be ditched, with another two 40s repairable, though only to be become 3 panel rather than 4 panel nets, losing their lower panels due to damage also. An expensive morning and a visit probably not to be repeated if the sheep are still in the field, albeit in their fenced off section. Total for the morning was 23 birds, 20 new and 3 re-traps. Plus a Buzzard and redwing, and the surprise of the morning, a Raven flew over cronking, a rare bird in this part of Bucks.

Fieldfares - both 5s, male (left) and female (right)

Goldfinches - both 5s

Greenfinch - 5 male


Robin -1
Blackbird - 2
Fieldfare - 4
Goldcrest - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 4 (1)
Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Coal Tit - 0 (1)
Chaffinch - 1
Goldfinch -2
Greenfinch - 2

Monday, 2 January 2012

Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath - 2 January 2012

Chris and I took the last chance of the festive break to target thrushes at Home Cottage Farm today. The weather forecast was not promising with strong gusts expected but, with the prospect of work for the rest of the week, we went anyway.

We set a double beneath a huge pear tree where birds were seen feeding on the ocassion of our last visit, but this produced none of the target species and would have been a total failure were it not for a couple of Green Woodpeckers, one of which was first ringed on 19th December 2009.

Initially we set a double at the bottom of the orchard and a run of three, mid orchard, alongside some particularly delicious looking Spartan apples that birds had clearly been visiting. The final double was erected next to a berry patch.

To out dismay, the Fieldfares that had patiently awaited our departure, bowled into a corner of the field where we had no coverage at all! So the double by the berry patch came down, rather sharpish, and we hoped that our disturbance wouldn't put them off of their favoured area for good.

On the next round we found that the bottom double had caught our first Redwing of this winter.


The hastily erected net in the corner caught a second Redwing, a Starling, Fieldfare and a couple of Mistle Thrush, one of which was not properly caught and made its escape before I could get a hand to it.

Field fare

Starling - 5 female


Mistle Thrush

The triple had a couple of Chaffinch, a Goldfinch and a second Mistle Thrush under attack by a Kestrel. Amazingly, despite the heap of shed feathers, the Mistle Thrush (pictured above) was unharmed and suitable for ringing. This made me very happy, partly to see it fly off fit and healthy, but also because Chris and I alternate when we get a species that neither has done. For the second time in a week (last Tuesday it was Crossbills) we both got to ring a new species - great for me since it's actually his turn next!

Kestrel - 5 female

It was very quiet after 11am and there were no further captures.


Kestrel - 1
Green Woodpecker - 0 (2)
Robin - 1
Fieldfare - 1
Mistle Thrush - 2
Redwing - 2
Blue Tit - 1 (1)
Starling - 1
Chffinch - 1 (1)
Goldfinch -1

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath - 30 December 2011

A brief visit to the orchard turned out to be frustrating for a number of reasons, firstly we did not take all the 60s with us, having failed to check what was in the car the night before, plus the rain started to fall, firstly lightly, but it was clear with the cloud cover thickening, it indicated a need to take down earlier, which turned out to be the right thing to do. The main frustrating thing was there were a fair number of Fieldfare around, though most were coming down into an area where some Pears had fallen, not where we were set up, unfortunately.  In the end we only caught nine birds before finishing at 11.

Chaffinch - 3 male


Green Woodpecker - 0 (2)
Chaffinch - 3
Goldfinch - 4