Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Broadwater GP - 28 July 2015

Yet another breezy day but thankfully not too breezy for Broadwater. On arrival at 6.20am there were lots of  House Martins and Swifts overhead, but conditions were just too blustery to have tried for hirundines by the sailing club.

Once the nets were up, MRB, BC, CL & DKL began processing the first birds while Margaret scribed. It wasn't as busy as some of our recent sessions but a total of 49 by the close of nets was pretty good, nonetheless. We noticed that the number of Blackcap and Garden Warbler had dropped right down while Chiffchaffs had a lot of birds lingering on site with 9 of the 21 being retraps. Five Reed Warblers, an infrequent catch on site, appeared to indicate that these birds were on the move through the site.

Totals: 33 (16)

Dunnock - 2 (1)
Robin - 1 (3)         
Blackbird - 1     
Reed Warbler - 5    
Garden Warbler -1
Blackcap - 2
Chiff-chaff - 12 (9)
Goldcrest -3
Blue Tit -3
Great Tit - 3
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (2)
Treecreeper - 0 (1)

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Wraysbury GP - 23 July 2015

We met with ESA & RMA at 6.30am and had all 8 nets up pretty quickly. The area seemed rather quiet so we thought, at first, that we'd picked a day with fewer birds about to go out.

We didn't have a particularly busy first round but the catching was steady and we got some species that are not regularly captured at the site. There were no noticeable mixed flocks passing through and there were few Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, so there is still more migration, hopefully, to come. As usual, Blackcap was the most common species in the catch.

 3JP Goldfinch

 3J Starling in main moult

 Adult Garden Warbler

 3JM Reed Bunting

 3JP Lesser Whitethroat

For the third visit in succession there were men in high viz jackets on site. Activity around the imminent Solar panel farm and planned flood relief channel is increasing and when work on the second of these projects begins, in two or three years, we expect to lose access. The proposed channel will run straight down the track visible in the images above.

Total: 100 (20)

Wren -1 (1)
Dunnock -2
Robin - 6 (3)
Blackbird -1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler -2
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat -16 (5)
Garden Warbler -8
Blackcap - 42 (9)
Chiff-chaff - 3
Goldcrest - 2
Blue Tit - 4 (1)
Great Tit - 3
Starling - 1
Linnet -1
Bullfinch - 1 (1)
Reed Bunting - 3

Broadwater GP - 22 July 2015

We were joined byMRB, Margaret and JC for a mornings ringing. We got the nine nets up quickly and started catching straight away. We got a very respectable 66 birds including the first Pied Wagtail for the site.

 3JJ Pied Wagtail

It was noticable how Chiffchaff numbers have increased while numbers of Garden Warbler and Blackcap have tailed off for the moment. There were a couple of Treecreepers and a Willow Warbler.

3JP Willow Warbler
We were especially pleased with the number of birds considering there was no large feeding flock to boost the figures.

Totals: 58 (8)

Pied Wagtail - 1
Wren -3 (1)
Robin - 6 (1)         
Song Thrush - 1     
Reed Warbler - 1    
Garden Warbler - 5
Blackcap - 12 (2)
Chiff-chaff - 21 (2)
Willow Warbler - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Great Tit - 4 (1)
Treecreeper - 1 (1)


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Black Park - 21 July 2015

A late afternoon visit failed to produce any White Admirals, though eight Silver-washed Fritillaries were seen, together with a number of other commoner butterflies.

Small White

Holly Blue

Silver-washed Fritillary


Monday, 20 July 2015

Wraysbury GP - 20 July 2015

A last minute check of the weather on Sunday night indicated that the forecast for the end of the week was changing, and there had been an about turn so that Monday now seemed to be the calmest day, plus overcast.

We couldn't start early due to a commitment at 7.30am, but after that we headed to Wraysbury. By this time it was drizzling and we only put up four nets. Thankfully we were spared too much running around closing nets as the only time we closed was to clear extracted birds. Not bad all in all, 4 nets (and only two of those were full 60s), 3 and half hours and 92 birds.

Juvenile Lesser Whitethroat

3JM Blackcap 

Total: 87 (5)

Wren - 2
Dunnock -3
Blackbird -1 (1)
Reed Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat -6 (2)
Garden Warbler -15
Blackcap - 43 (1)
Chiff-chaff -4
Willow Warbler - 0 (1)
Blue Tit - 8
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Linnet -1

Wicken Wood - 19 July 2015

One of our rare butterfly sorties in the UK this year, apart from a unsuccessful Black Hairstreak visit to Bernwood Forest in June, from a photographing perspective.

When we arrived it was drizzling but we sat it out for a few moments and headed down the main track. Mostly it consisted of Green-veined White, Small and Large Whites, Ringlet, with a few Common Blues, Meadow Browns, Peacock, Comma, and Small Tortoiseshell, but was also managed to see a single Painted Lady, Silver-washed Fritilliary, four White Admirals and as we left what was initially thought to be a White Admiral flew in over the entrance gate, landed a few feet inside on the main track, turned out to be a Purple Emperor.


Green-veined Whites


 Painted Lady

White Admiral

Purple Emperor

Stanwell GP - 18 July 2015

Another morning with a bit too much wind so we avoided the more open areas and stuck to the sheltered reedbed ride with just one net out on the lake bed that continues to expand as water is drawn from the lake. At this rate there will be virtually no freshwater mussels or fish left. Three Little Egrets and a Grey Heron have been there on the last three times we've visited, taking advantage of the shallow pools and stranded shellfish.

 Grey Wagtail juvenile

We only got 21 birds, but that said, they were of  10 species, including our first Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat of the year, and a juvenile Grey Wagtail.

Totals: 21

Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Grey Wagtail - 1
Wren - 1
Dunnock -  1
Sedge Warbler - 2
Reed Warbler - 5
Whitethroat - 2
Garden Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 4
Blue Tit - 3

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Broadwater GP - 16 July 2015

Broadwater is one of those places without much in the way of open spaces. It can be quite difficult to judge what's about as indications are limited to what crosses the path ahead as you walk and what can be heard, apart of course for the hirundines overhead, these being out of scope at this end of the lake.

It didn't seem particularly busy when we turned up but we still got nearly 80 birds. I don't think we've ever had 8 Wrens in a day before. There were also good numbers of Blackbirds. The Phylloscs are starting to build now and we had the first Lesser Whitethroat of the season.

 Lesser Whitethroat

3JP Goldcrest

Totals: 66 (13)

Wren - 8
Dunnock -1
Robin - 7 (3)
Blackbird - 7 (0)
Song Thrush - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Garden Warbler -3
Blackcap - 14 (1)
Chiff-chaff - 12 (3)
Willow Warbler - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 4 (5) 
Great Tit - 3
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (1)
Treecreeper - 1 
Chaffinch - 1

Wraysbury GP - 15 July 2015

An arrangement, with RMA and ESA, to start at 6am was scuppered as the 10% likelihood of rain materialised as intermittent drizzle that continued until 7.30am or so. The late start didn't have an adverse effect on numbers as 80+ birds were captured throughout the morning, much improved on the previous week. The bulk of the catch were Blackcaps and Garden Warblers with a little variety brought by single Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler and Treecreeper. There were also a couple of young Linnets.

There were a couple of interesting retraps, Blackcap Y979984 first captured on 9/07/2011 when already a 4F and L851199,a Garden Warbler that was processed as a 4F on 29/08/2013.

Totals: 72 (10)

Dunnock - 4
Robin -7 (1)
Blackbird - 3
Song Thrush - 1 (1)
Reed Warbler - 1
Whitethroat -8 (2)
Garden Warbler -14 (2)
Blackcap - 24 (2)
Chiff-chaff -3
Willow Warbler - 1
Blue Tit - 3 (1)
Great Tit - 1
Treecreeper - 0 (1)
Linnet - 2

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Stanwell GP - 13 July 2015

We tried Stanwell as there was complete cloud cover with intermittent drizzle, but the south runway was in use again, causing considerable disturbance to the site. There were virtually no Hirundines to speak of and the sum total of two hours effort was a couple of Blackcaps and a Pied Wagtail. We suspect that in these weather conditions they are to be found on the nearby Staines reservoirs.

We also dropped into Broadwater, which can often hold large numbers of Hirundines in these weather conditions, but apart from a reasonable Swift flock, mostly high up, there also were no Hirundines here to be seen, perhaps the post breeding flocks are not around as yet.

Totals: 3

Pied Wagtail - 1
Blackcap - 2

Stanwell GP - 11 July 2015

An evening session was planned to target hirundines, but the south runway was in use for take off, and as we've seen in the past, House Martins, Swallows and Sand Martins prefer to be somewhere less noisy.

There were a few retraps including Reed Warbler D859107 (ringed 6/7/14) & Chiffchaff EBX743 (ringed 10/08/14), both 4Fs with BP4.

EBX743 4F Chiffchaff

The bulk of the catch were birds from a tit flock that passed through.

Totals:  14 (4)

Blackbird - 1
Reed Warbler- 2 (2)
Chiffchaff - 0 (1)
Blue Tit -  2
Great Tit -5 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 4

Friday, 10 July 2015

Wraysbury GP - 10 July 2015

We returned to Wraysbury with RMA and ESA to try out some nets in our newly recut rides. The weather wasn't ideal, virtually no cloud, growing increasingly warm and wind building up as the morning advanced. We started at 8am and continued to midday.

3J Garden Warbler Z072805

 Recapture X271923 4F with BP4, first ringed 25/4/09 at
the adjacent CES site, but has not been re-trapped, since
first ringed, 6 years ago, so where has it been?

Totals:  28 (7)

Wren - 1
Dunnock -  2 (2)
Robin - 2
Blackbird - 3
Whitethroat - 5 (4)
Garden Warbler - 4 (1)
Blackcap -8
Chiff-chaff - 2
Blue Tit -  1

Broadwater GP - 9 July 2015

This date falls within the designated CES 7 time span so the session this morning would be CES compliant. We were joined by BC and soon had the five CES nets up. We also put up two extras, in a location that we've used before, but had avoided for CES purposes since quite large feeding flocks have connected with them in the past and this may not be manageable when CES is covered by two people.

3JJ Chiffchaff

It was a slow start but on approaching the extras at 8.30am we had got around 40 birds. That said, we finished on 57 so not too many in the CES nets overall all (13 actually).

Meanwhile there was a great deal of activity overhead as Swifts wheeled around, feeding near Broadwater lake. We also heard Siskin a couple of times although none could be seen.

Totals: 42 (15)

Wren - 3
Robin - 4 (2)
Blackbird - 1 (1)
Garden Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 8
Chiff-chaff - 7 (1)
Blue Tit - 7 (2)
Great Tit - 2 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 6 (8)
Chaffinch -2

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Wraysbury GP - 8 July 2015

We earmarked today for maintenance work due to strong wind gusts and showers featuring heavily in the forecast. We arrived at about 11am, armed with strimmer and hedge trimmer, some secateurs and loppers along with a couple of three panel nets just in case there was a sheltered area close to where we were working on the non-CES area of the site.

Most rides needed a lot of clearance, except one that was mainly clear except for where some cretin had decided to flytip in the one section of the dogleg. After some light pruning the main run was good to go and the two 40' nets were put up in a line.

 We set about clearing the rides and DKL went to check for birds after half an hour and returned with eleven. They were processed and the net checked again and the five birds from that round were ringed. CHL did a bit more clearing while DKL moved some Dog-rose cuttings from the rides and monitored the nets.

There were a couple of sharp showers but all was fine and in less than two hours we'd done over 20 birds and cleared eight areas for nets.

Now they say you never know what to expect when you're ringing, well we certainly weren't expecting the three young lads that happened along. One had a fly that had flown inside his ear and wouldn't come out, and was very upset as his 'friend' insisted he would die if it reached his brain! So, while processing a Linnet, one was advised to call a parent to take him to A&E (I declined the request to try to get it out), I explained that he should get a professional to help and what could happen if things are poked in his ear. I also spoke to another young lad who was very interested in birds, especially catching Goldfinches - and knowing if they are boys! No prizes for guessing their community group.

Totals: 23 (1)

Dunnock - 1  
Song Thrush -1
Whitethroat - 5
Garden Warbler -2
Blackcap - 11 (1)
Chiff-chaff - 1
Linnet - 1
Bullfinch - 1

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Stanwell Moor - 6 July 2015

We made a last minute switch from evening to morning after noticing that the wind gusts were forecast to increase significantly as the day progressed. As we hoped to get nets up on the recently exposed mud where nets would not be sheltered from the wind, this seemed like the best alternative.

As so often happens, it was windier than forecast when we arrived, but we set up as planned, intending to rejig permanent stakes to accommodate the reed growth advancing into the lake, at the end of the session.

With a 40' extending from the reeds into the open and a 60' double panel positioned close to the edge of the water we hoped we might have some luck as there were Pied Wagtails, House Martins, Swallows and Common Tern flying around in the vicinity.

We had to be content with captures from the reedbed as the wind and strong sunlight rendered the other nets much too visible.

 3JP Reed Warbler

The Reed Warbler captures included quite a few juveniles, a rather different story to the session held a week ago.

We also finished up with a single Pied Wagtail before rearranging the stakes for our next outing to the site.

3JP Pied Wagtail

 The lake with less water than ever before .

Water is being drained, from the lake, to limit dust put up by lorries on the road to the new recycling plant. As the lake looks now, I wonder if it will ever recover to the previous water level. It has never been this low since we started ringing there.

Totals: 15 (3)
Pied Wagtail - 1
Robin - 3
Reed Warbler- 7 (2)
Blackcap -2
Chiffchaff - 1
Great Tit -1 (1)

Stanwell Moor - 29 June 2015

We hadn't been to Stanwell for a couple of months so didn't know quite what to expect. On arrival we found that the pile of bricks where the old conveyor belt used to be had grown considerably.

We walked down to where the Lapwings nested last year, along a newly developed earthen track, but there was no sign of any birds, adults or chicks. There had probably been a lot of disturbance from heavy plant, and the pool was totally dry.

We returned to the reedbed ride and took the recent reed growth back a little  to get a couple of nets in. The lake had receeded somewhat and there was more exposed mud than we have seen for a few years. It's looking good for waders later in the season.

We had a few Reed Warblers, all adults, but none were retraps.

Juvenile Kingfisher

Totals: 19 (1)

Kingfisher - 1
Wren - 1
Robin -1
Reed Warbler- 7
Blackcap -3
Chiffchaff - 1
Blue Tit - 2 (1)
Great Tit - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 1

Broadwater GP - 23 June 2015

While we have been away on the North American continent, MRB, with BC, have been running the newly set up CES at this site. CES 5 was planned for the 16th June, and all was going well until two additional nets caught a huge roving flock. It was necessary to close some of the CES nets, so the session was no longer CES compliant although 105 birds (mostly from extra nets) were processed. Today was another chance to complete CES 5. The team consisted of CHL, DKL, MRB, PD and Margaret.

We put up the five CES nets, along with the two extras since we had a team of four ringers plus scribe, whereas the abandonned session was running on two plus scribe. We know there can be very large roving flocks at this site, hence only five CES nets for those times when we only have a limited team available. The sky was overcast with no wind or rain as we started the session.

We had a steady trickle of birds from the start including a few Chiffchaffs, quite a lot of Blackcaps, a Treecreeper and the first Garden Warbler of the year.

 3J Treecreeper

   4F Garden Warbler

We caught part of a large flock and had a good round at 10.30am with 20 birds from two nets and finished on a total of 56 birds.

Totals:  47 (9) 

Wren - 1
Robin - 2
Dunnock - 4 (2)
Blackbird -  3
Garden Warbler -1
Blackcap -18 (1)
Chiff-chaff - 4 (3)
Blue Tit - 11 (2)
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (1)
Treecreeper - 1
Chaffinch -1
Greenfinch - 1

Michigan, US and Canada 11 to 19 June 2015

11 June

We made another trip into Backus Wood, for more views of Cerulan Warbler, and this time some good views for Denise of Prothonotary Warbler, going to and fro from the nest box.

Backus Woods

We had a quick look at St William's Conservation Reserve where only I managed to see the Ruffed Grouse sand bathing on the side of the road, but there were a few butterflies coming down to areas with salts in the track.

Red-spotted Purple

We spent the night visiting friends in  Brantford.

12 June

We headed into Michigan from Ontario, heading for an overnight stay at Grayling, the crossing into the US was thankfully not busy, but the toll booth and then US Immigration made the process a little slow. God knows what it is like when there is a lot of traffic. We stopped off at Shaiwassee NWR on the way, but being mid June the wildfowl numbers were very low with only Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon and American Coot being added to the trip list, plus our first Trumpeter Swans. The area was also good for Horned Lark, but we were a little short of time to explore the reserve fully.

 Shaiwassee NWR

 Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Blue-winged Teal

 Trumpeter Swans

13 June

We met up for the Kirtland's Warbler trip run by the Michigan Audubon society at Hartwick Pines, State Park, and after a short film on the species recovery program, headed back though Grayling to an area of Grayling Forest that consisted of young Jack pines and very quickly had sightings of the first pair of Kirklands, plus another male and several other singing males. A couple of Brewer's Blackbirds were seen further along the dirt road. After breakfast we visited various locations within Huron Forest, picking up Broad-winged Hawk and Vesper Sparrow, plus walking around Lake Wakeley within the forest we added Virgin Rail, Hermit Thrush, Brown Creeper, Pine Warbler and Slate-coloured Junco. We also found further singing male Kirtland's that can found anywhere in this area from the dirty track roads in areas of low young Jack Pine, without breaking the law, which prohibits entry off public roads into Kirtland's habitat.

Kirtland's Warbler

Lake Wakeley

Northern Watersnake

Little Wood Satyr

The night was spent on the shore of Lake Huron having travelled into northern Michigan via the Mackinaw bridge.

14 June

The day was primarily focused around trying to see Sedge Wren and Le Conte's Sparrow, hopefully with a few northern species and grouse, spending most of our time in the Eastern section of the Hiawatha National Forest. It was without doubt not good for Mosquitoes - as soon as you got out of the car, they descended on you, and to add to this, the birds here were not particularly showing well. We did though manage on FR3344 to hear and then finally see a singing male Le Conte's Sparrow, but only managed to hear two singing Sedge Wrens some distance back from the road. The only other new species seen for the trip were Pileated Woodpecker and Winter Wren, and on FR3141 Ruby-crowned Kinglet. We tried for Grouse in the Racco area and old airfield without success.


Canadian Tiger Swallowtail


Eastern Chipmunk

We spent the night at Newberry.

15 June

A slightly delayed start getting a slow puncure repaired due to an errant screw, we made our way to Seney NWR. First of all trying the Diversion track for Sharp-tailed Grouse where we successfully saw three, which for mid June was probably good going. We then headed to the visitor centre and the 5 + mile scenic drive, which was taken at a slow pace, as it was mostly devoid of Mosquitoes and we were trying again for Sedge Wren, without success. We had excellent views of an American Bittern and Wilson's Snipe singing from a tree branch, plus Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Seney NWR

Sharp-tailed Grouse

White-tailed Deer

 Painted Turtle

  Sandhill Crane


 American Bittern

Wilson's Snipe

Trumpeter Swan

16 June

Was spent driving from Michigan to Algonquin Provincial Park, back in Ontario. We returned to Canada via  Saulte St Marie and had a much quicker return into Canada, though vehicle traffic here was very low. We did little birding on the drive apart from a stop at Echo Bay where Sedge Wren had been reported on ebirder, but none were heard, but another American Bittern was seen out in the open, albeit a bit further away this time. We eventually arrived at Dwight after some seven hours driving.

Red-winged Blackbird


17 June

The day was spent in various areas within Algonquin Provincial Park with two separate sightings of Black-backed Woodpecker being the only new bird for the trip. We managed to find Ruffed Grouse, but did not manage to find any Spruce Grouse, Gray Jays or Boreal Chickadee (this being the only new bird we were possibly going to see here). We had two sightings of American Mink, a Northern Snowshoe Hare (in a car park eating grass, so it took sometime to realise it was not a Rabbit!). The only Beaver and Moose were only seen late pm, which was a contrast from our last visit at the same time of year some years ago, when Moose where very obvious around the park.



Wild Iris

American Mink

 Mourning Cloak

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail on Hawkbit (aka fox and cubs)

White-throated Sparrow

White Admiral

Female Black-backed Woodpecker


18 June

A day trying to pick up on Spruce Grouse, Gray Jays and Boreal Chickadee, was partly thwarted by an early afternoon, very heavy thunderstorm that caused us to lose the trip along part of the Mizzy Lake trail, which had had some recent ebirder Gray Jay sightings, due to being rather wet through. We managed before hand to pick up Purple Finch for the trip.

Beaver dam

Spruce bog


North American Red Squirrel

As yet un-identified Saddlebags?

Black Ducks


 American Crow

Ruffed Grouse

19 June

We headed back to Toronto via Carden Alvar, an area we had picked up via ebirder as potentially having several Sedge Wrens present. This turned out to be a particularly interesting area of cattle ranches which would have been worth far more time exploring than we had, but we did at last see Sedge Wren, the first only feet from the road, and eventually we saw at least four with at least three other singing males present. The area is also one of the few remaining breeding areas in Ontario for Loggerheard Shrike and at the allotted spot, two were seen.


Sedge Wren

European Skipper

Loggerhead Shrikes

 Savannah Sparrow

We then departed for the airport and the Toronto Friday night rush hour!

The walking boots weren't worth taking home! At least it gave us some spare capacity for a bottle of Maple syrup in the luggage.