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

Norfolk - 7 & 8 March 2014

Friday 7 March 2014

Getting out was delayed by a breezy morning, which was soon joined by some moderate rain, so we waited for it to clear and had pleasant sunny afternoon out, first of all walking across Overy Marsh with up to four Marsh Harriers performing nicely, at least two Common Buzzards, one of which had a fairly pale head, which at some distance resembled a Rough-legged, until it flew failing to show any of the characteristic under parts and tail pattern of this species, and a single ringtail Hen Harrier. Geese were represented by Brent and Pink-foot only. A couple of Avocet were in the channel and a Water Pipit was on the flooded fields to the west of the track. On the way back to the car a Barn Owl flew around the adjacent field to the track and eventually over us.

We headed afterwards to Warham Greens for the roost and over a period of an hour or so we had a Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard over the Marsh, and four Hen Harriers, including an adult male, but unfortunately no Short-eared Owls were seen.

Saturday 8 March

Natural Surroundings NR

The weather was somewhat marginal due to wind. However, happily not too bad once we got on site, being relatively sheltered being surrounding by trees within the Glenavon Valley.

 Daffodils at Natural Surroundings



We avoided the more exposed areas, put up three nets and waited to see what we'd catch in the spring sunshine.  The Marsh Tits eluded us and there was no evidence of Brambling around the nets. We did see and hear Redpoll and Siskin but all stayed well away from the nets.  We managed to process some continental type Blackbirds amongst the other  captures.

 5M Blackbird 

Coal Tit

Many thanks to Andrew for inviting us to ring with him. Natural Surroundings is open to the public daily and we can thoroughly recommend the  delicious coffee and cakes. The wood burning stove is a particular delight on chilly days.

Totals: 32 (11)

Wren - 1
Dunnock - 1 (2)
Robin - 2 (1)
Blackbird - 6 (1)
Blue Tit - 12 (3)
Great Tit - 3 (0)
Coal Tit - 3
Long Tailed Tit - 0 (1)
Chaffinch - 4 (3)

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Chobham Common 4 & 5 March 2014

Taking the opportunity presented by the low wind and sunshine forecast for both mornings, these two days were utilised in doing a survey of the Common for Dartford Warbler and Wood Lark, and through ringing trying to establish the population levels with un-rung birds v re-traps, which is actually throwing up more un-rung birds than those with rings, suggesting the population level is fairly good.

The first day was spent with Eleanor and Bill when we checked the south side and second with Gavin and Paul on the north. The first day seven male and one female Dartfords were seen, together with two Wood Lark, one or two males. The second day four male Dartfords were seen and a single male Wood Lark.

At total of six birds were rung, four new Dartfords, males except one female and two Wood Lark

Wood Lark

 Dartford Warbler

Totals: 6

Wood Lark - 2
Dartford Warbler - 4

Monday, 3 March 2014

Delta de l' Ebre, Spain - reprise for colour ringed birds 03 March 2014

So it's nearly 6 months since our stint at the ringing station but some interesting emails received over the weekend provided the perfect excuse to refer back to that time. While there, we did our best to record the codes on darvic rings seen on a couple of Audouin's Gulls and several Glossy Ibis. This self set task brought its own difficulties, firstly in that all birds are nervous in the extreme due to regular and extensive hunting (in so much as just stopping a vehicle can be sufficient cause for entire flocks to take to the air) and secondly because the rice paddyfields although great for all manner of food for birds are filled with a thick, gloopy ooze that definitely obscures the markings and, we suspected probably stains the plastic as there were several shades of buff to ochre rings that we thought may have been white when originally fitted.

Our records are all at Canal Vell.

Audouin's Gull 

 Audouin's Gull on rehabilitation cage

ALXS PVC Ring White Black (Niger). Ringed 24/06/2003 in the Ebro Delta.
seen on
11/08/2010 Playa de Matalascanas (Huelva)
01/08/2011 Costa Donana (Huelva)
10/08/2013 Salinas Decerrillos (Almeria)
seen by us on
26/10/2013 Canal Vell, Tarragona

AY2F PVC Ring White Black (Niger) ringed on 17/6/2007

seen by us on
26/10/2013 Canal Vell, Tarragonad 

Glossy Ibis

All of the following are on white PVC although the actual colour is just discernable in the following image.

Feeding Glossy Ibises, two on the right with darvics

CAN  ringed on 19/05/2008 in the Donana National Park, Spain.
seen on
15/11/2010 & 21/11/2010 Brazo del Este Sevilla
seen by us on
30/10/2013 Canal Vell, Tarragona

TAX ringed on 18/05/2010 in the Donana National Park, Spain.
seen on
18/03/2012 Carmargue, FRANCE
seen by us on
30/10/2013 Canal Vell, Tarragona

 Reports for Glossy Ibis TAX

RV3  ringed on 27/05/2010in the Carmargue FRANCE
seen on
04/06/2010 Buisson Gros-Marais, Petit Carmargue, FRANCE
20/03/2011 Els Montells Tarragona
seen by us on seen by us on
30/10/2013 Canal Vell, Tarragona

RV9 ringed on 27/05/2010 in the Carmargue, FRANCE.
seen on
31/05/2010 Buisson Gros-Marais, Petit Carmargue, FRANCE
04/06/2010 Buisson Gros-Marais, Petit Carmargue, FRANCE
seen by us on
30/10/2013 Canal Vell, Tarragona

00WF ringed on 17/05/2011 in the Carmargue, FRANCE.
seen by us on seen by us on
30/10/2013 at Canal Vell, Tarragona

018H ringed on 24/05/2011in the Carmargue, FRANCE. 
seen on
01/11/2013 at Canal Vell Tarragona
seen by us on
30/10/2013 at Canal Vell, Tarragona

X27 ringed on 12/05/2011in the Carmargue, FRANCE. 
seen on
29/02/12 Montilles de Capettes, Petite Camargue, FRANCE
seen by us on
01/11/2013 Canal Vell, Tarragona

0H3C ringed on 25/05/12 in the Carmargue, FRANCE. 
seen by us on
01/11/2013 at Canal Vell, Tarragona

OHH8 ringed on 25/05/12 in the Carmargue, FRANCE. 
seen by us on
30/10/2013 at Canal Vell, Tarragona

There is still RT15 outstanding and we believe this bird may have been ringed in Italy. It's possible that the ring were misread but the search continues.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Wraysbury GP - 1 March 2014

CL, DKL and TA met up at 6.45am and walked on site. There have been large numbers of Thrushes present throughout the winter, but inclement weather has meant that there have been no trips to  monitor numbers and behaviour of late.

We set three doubles and began to play for Redwing, Linnet and Redpoll. 
Over the course of the morning, we tried other songs including Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Greenfinch and Long Tailed Tit, but for all our efforts we only managed 15 birds and not a single Thrush amongst them.

This has to be the first time that we used more B rings than any other.

 5M Greenfinch

Totals: 12 (3)

Wren - 1
Robin - 2 (2)
Dunnock - 3 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 4
Greenfinch - 2