Monday, 31 July 2017

Broadwater GP - 30th July 2017

We'd arranged to meet LON at Broadwater, our most sheltered site and got six nets up under a sky that threatened rain despite there being none in the forecast.

The birds were slow to get moving after a night with some very heavy rain, but amongst the first songs heard was that of Willow Warbler, a species not yet captured on site this year.

Wilwa JRK110, first of the year

Over the course of the morning we processed just over 40 birds including some Willow Warblers, amongst the usual Chiffchaff and Blackcap, also some Reed Warblers with a control from the Runnymede Ringing Group Bedfont site. We also had a young Cetti's Warbler too.

Z763146, ringed Bedfont 5th June 2016 as a 4M.

There was a heavy shower not long after noon but in anticipation we had already packed up and were on our way to the cafe before it became a real problem.

Totals: 35 (7)

Wren - 1 (1)
Robin - 4
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 4 (2)
Blackcap - 7
Garden Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 7 (3)
Willow Warbler - 4
Great Tit - 3
Blue Tit - 3 (1)

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Stanwell Moor GP - 29th July 2017

Not a very promising day, a bit windy in the morning and showers forecast for the afternoon. We weren't sure whether we'd go at all but eventually arrived on site just after 10am. The reed bed was well sheltered and the track net wasn't too affected either. We started off with five nets, but one just wasn't catching anything so that came down towards the end of the first spell of light showers.

The track net worked well and from the numbers of Whitethroat and Garden Warbler caught in such a short space of time it seemed that these species were definitely on the move today.

There wasn't too much going on in the reed bed with just a few Reed Warbler, one Sedge Warbler and a juvenile female Cetti's Warbler.

The first showers were light and eventually ceased but a second approaching band of showers looked  heavier and nets were taken in before 2pm.
Juvenile Lesser Whitethroat

Adult Sedge Warbler

Adult Reed Warbler

Totals: 31 (1)

Songthrush - 1
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 3
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 3 (1)
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 11
Garden Warbler - 7
Blackcap - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 1

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Chobham Common - 25th July 2017

After some rather windy conditions this evening definitely looked favourable and with the added bonus that the young would now be on the wing, we were hopeful of improving on our 2017 total, so far, of a single Nightjar caught in June.

We arrived at 8pm and between the four of us (CL, DKL, WA, LON) the three doubles were up in next to no time. As usual we set on established paths and cleared areas so as to avoid disturbance of heather covered areas. It's already over a month since the summer solstice so we knew that we would only have a very, very short space of time to try for diurnal species, before the still, quiet time when nothing seems to move until dusk falls when the churring and calls of Nightjars are first heard.

By the time it started to get dark there had been no captures and with the first Nightjar calls, we started to play the tapes and had a glimpse of a couple of birds, one skimming just over one of our nets.

There didn't seem to be a great deal of activity and after several unsuccessful tries earlier in the summer it wasn't looking too hopeful. However, our first capture was of a bird hatched this year,  The solid, irregularly shaped large markings on the outermost primaries provide an indication that it is male. It was in the net just a metre off the ground.


3M Nightjar

We were then surprised to catch a young Dartford Warbler, that had been moving around after dark, and glad that it departed readily after processing.

We expected these to be our only captures as we had decided that we would not continue beyond 11pm. On starting to take nets down a second Nightjar was captured.

5M Nightjar

Broad dark bands between light patterning on
underwing, indicative of second year.



Total: 3

Nightjar - 2
Dartford Warbler - 1

Wraysbury GP - 25th July 2017

A plan to be on site for 6am was changed because the forecast that the wind would drop early in the morning was wrong. It was looking better a couple of hours on and we pitched up later, hoping to get some more Whitethroat recaptures for the RAS study.

We put up seven nets and waited to see what the morning would bring. It wasn't long before we knew that the nasty green biting flies were around and it seemed that the ultra short grass was attractive to walkers with dogs, as we saw four dog walkers that we'd never seen before.

It was a slow start with the birds but the arrival of a couple of roving flocks boosted our numbers. We even got a couple of recaptured adults for the RAS.

 Z072912 4F, ringed 2 years ago as a 3J

 New S443893, an adult Blackcap, with a black cap, had been
enjoying the blackberries

 Main moult 4 to the 1, 1 to the 1, 0 to the 8

and bare belly

Total: 80 (10)

Dunnock - 1
Robin - 5
Reed Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 14 (5)
Garden Warbler - 20 (3)
Blackcap - 16 (2)
Chiffchaff - 9
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Blue Tit - 7
Great Tit - 2
Linnet - 1
Goldfinch - 1
Greenfinch - 1

Monday, 24 July 2017

Wraysbury GP - 23rd July 2017

We arrived at around 6am and were extremely disappointed to see that the site had been mowed again. Apart from the fact that Chris spent so much time and energy strimming out rides in areas where the vegetation is now no more than two or three inches high, we really do have grave worries for the local and migrant birds, for which this is such an important site. Regular blog followers may recall that we lost many of our Whitethroat nesting sites just before the breeding season. Now, all the thistles and teasles that sprung up over the last six months and would have provided winter food for finches, and cover for migrating Sylvia warblers had all been cut and removed.  It was surprising to see so many birds darting between remaining clumps of brambles and the scattered trees this morning. The results from today would be interesting to compare with those for the CES on C4 as another team was working there and results there this year have been very poor. Most likely a reflection of birds being forced to move elsewhere due to the ground management on C6.

We put up seven nets to be managed between the two of us and kepT a close eye on the sky as sporadic showers were forecast for later in the day. We noted that the cloud was starting to bunch after a change in wind direction with the telltale temperature drop and began to draw in the nets, around 11am, and were finished and off site before midday. The first shower didn't really amount to much but it was better to finish up than risk getting caught out.

Just one more point of note, on two separate ocassions a mink, almost black in colouration, was seen in, then entering one of the net rides. The net was highered as a precaution and fortunately the animal was not seen after the second round.

3P Garden Warbler


3JP Goldcrest
Where the birds are concerned, less is definitely NOT more!

The Jay from the 17th July - note all the lost vegetation.

Totals:  82 (17)

Songthrush - 2
Dunnock - 3 (2)
Robin - 5
Whitethroat - 14 (10)
Garden Warbler - 22 (2)
Blackcap - 31 (2)
Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 2
Bullfinch - 0 (1)
Goldfinch - 2

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Broadwater GP - 22nd July 2017

Today's session with CL, DKL, WA, MRB and Margaret was planned to get a few hours in before thunder storms due to start around midday. We had five nets up by 6:30am with a further three erected not long after. It wasn't particularly busy, but we didn't connect with any large tit flocks while still processing over 40 birds. We had more Chiffchaffs than any other species with  a quarter of them adults, one of which was a recapture. The most intriguing captures were six Reed Warblers. These birds only appear in the nets when actually 'on the move'. Reed Warblers are not usually found in buddleia bushes and the lake by the ringing area has no suitable waterside vegetation. Most were young birds, showing signs of feather wear appearing to indicate that the birds had travelled some distance from elsewhere.

 3JP Robin showing tracts of retained juvenile feathers


Taking a wing measurement (51mm) on the smallest bird of the day.
Totals: 47 (2)

Robin - 2
Reed Warbler - 6
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 7
Garden Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 20 (2)
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 4
Great Tit - 5

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Stanwell Moor GP - 21st July 2017

We've had a series of windy days but decided to go to Stanwell all to same, hoping that the reed bed nets might be sheltered enough for us to catch a few birds. As it turned out there was very little in the reeds, only one Reed Warbler captured, a Chiffchaff and a few tits. We put a single net on the track up to the mound and that was rather blowy but still caught in the lower panels.

3P Reed Warbler S443755

Totals: 18 (1)

Dunnock - 1
Whitethroat - 5
Reed Warbler - 1
Garden Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 3
Blue Tit - 1
Great Tit - 3 (1)
Goldfinch - 2
Linnet - 1

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Wraysbury GP - 17th July 2017

Another outing working towards getting enough adult Whitethroats for the RAS. The wind was forecast to drop after a blowy start so we took the unusual decision to start a little later than normal. We put up seven nets and continued until 2pm. We caught a few Whitethroats but only one adult, and a new one at that. With any luck some of the youngsters will be recaptured in the next few years.

Adult Jay in main moult



The catch included a recaptured Blackbird, ringed in 2011 and also a Jay. There seem to be fewer large birds in the catches nowadays, something we've been especially aware of since having trainees this past year. In spite of being out with us on more than twenty sessions we've not caught any Sparrowhawk, both having done plenty of Thrushes but only one Jay each and a couple of Nightjar each too. They've joined others for larger specialist species - but it's a shame neither was there to do the Jay.

We also discovered that the material put down on the track is very attractive to butterflies, drawing several Holly Blues out of the vegetation.

Holly Blue

We finished the session off with attempting to herd a yearling colt back to the correct side of the fence, but it had only just managed to get out and resisted all efforts to guide it back through the gate - so it remains on the wrong side of the fence.

Totals: 32 (7)

Jay - 1
Blackbird - 0 (1)
Robin - 1
Whitethroat - 12 (5)
Garden Warbler - 8 (1)
Blackcap - 6
Chiffchaff - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Goldfinch - 1
Linnet - 1

Monday, 17 July 2017

Stanwell Moor GP - 15th July 2017

The forecast looked set to turn a bit windy later so we opted for Stanwell this morning. We set nets in the reedbed, then put up another four beside the Colne.

Unusually, we didn't base by the reedbed, but stayed on the track where the nets were in view from across the river. It wasn't long before we felt the first few spots of rain and by 10am the wind was also getting up with a distinct drop in temperature that threatened further rain.

We were off site at 11am, before a rather heavier shower passed through, with just short of 30 birds processed.

3JF Reed Bunting

3M Greenfinch

There has been a new development on site and from now on we will be wearing hi-vis jackets when walking around the site. Thankfully hard hats are not required!



Total: 24 (5)

Blackbird - 1
Wren - 0 (1)
Robin - 0 (1)
Whitethroat - 4 (1)
Reed Warbler - 4 (1)
Blackcap - 5
Garden Warbler - 3
Chiffchaff - 2 (1)
Great Tit - 3
Greenfinch - 1
Reed Bunting - 1


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Wraysbury GP - 13th July 2017

A mid-week morning session with just CL and DKL and seven nets. We continue to hope for recaptured Whitethroat data to enable us to continue with the RAS, now in its third year. There was certainly less Whitethroat song and fewer nesting pairs this year after so much bramble was removed early in the year.

Three birds (female Z761972 ringed as a 5F on 28th April 2016, D859524 a 4M ringed as a 3J on 27th July 2014 and  female Z072799 ringed when a 3J on 10th July 2015) contributed to the study.
Several young Whitethroat, trapped earlier in the summer had also remained in the area.

D859524 4M Whitethroat (hatched 2014 actual 9M using data)

Z761972 4F Whitethroat (hatched 2015, actual 7F according to data)


We also recaptured a 6M Bullfinch D710480, ringed on 1st April 2014 as a 6M. The bird had some form of infection, possibly avian pox, with growths around the beak. Necessary precautions were taken to prevent cross contamination (bag separated for laundering before reuse, hands and weighing pot cleansed with antiseptic gel).

 6M Bullfinch

Totals: 57 (15)

Wren - 2
Robin - 6 (1)
Whitethroat - 11 (10)
Garden Warbler - 7 (1)
Blackcap - 22 (2)
Chiffchaff - 4
Blue Tit - 1
Great Tit - 1
Bullfinch - 0 (1)
Goldfinch - 2
Linnet - 1

Stanwell Moor GP - 12th July 2017

Another evening spent at Stanwell. No sign of much in the way of Hirundines but again the track net served to raise the total. Reed Warblers now seem to be venturing further afield, with more birds coming from the track net than the reed bed itself. Perhaps they had been down to the River Colne that borders the site.

A bit more extraction practice for LON and a Sedge Warbler to round the evening off. Off site by 10.00pm.

 3JP Goldfinch with the first of the red crown feathers coming in.


Total: 23 (1)

Dunnock - 2
Blackbird - 1
Whitethroat - 2
Reed Warbler -2  (1)
Sedge Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 5
Chiffchaff - 1
Great Tit - 2
Greenfinch - 2
Goldfinch - 1
Linnet - 4

Saturday, 15 July 2017

London Parks - 11th July 2017

It's many. many years since PB started his study of the birds in the London parks and quite a while since we went out to help him monitor the birds. Every year, around the time that Wimbledon holds the tennis tournament, PB spends a couple of weeks hand catching Mute Swans, Canada Geese and what ever else he can catch with a hand net or swan hook.

It was a successful day with an assortment of Mallard, Egyptian Goose,  Coot and Moorhen along with several swans.

At Roehampton University it was possible to ring all seven cygnets as well as catch and weigh the adults. The successful pair had relocated from Adam's Pond, Richmond.



A mixture of adult and pullus birds were processed.

Adjusting the ring on a young Moorhen

Taking a wing measurement on an adult Moorhen

Just one Coot at Wimbledon Lake, less cautious that all the other birds

At Richmond park one pair of Mute Swans was out of scope at the far end of the lake and the other pair had just one small cygnet, that was too small to take a ring, left.

Just like the grown-up

We also spotted a Coot fitted with a black lettering on white darvic fitted by BH at Hyde Park on 11th January this year.

 FJ3 obliges with a clear view of the darvic

Another Woodpigeon

At the smaller ponds, especially close to housing, local residents are very attached to their swans and had questions and information for us. The birds are well cared for - but we didn't expect this!  


Free bird food!!!

Cygnets of normal and 'Polish' colouring

Some of the work was to catch and ring young swans that had not been captured when their siblings were ringed earlier. Birds can become more wary and increasingly difficult to catch after successive attempts. One brood had a mix of normal (greyish) and 'Polish' (white down and pinkish grey bill and legs) - two of six were still to be ringed and both had to be left for another time.

Totals: 25 (plus a few rings read in the field)

Muts Swan - 9 pulli
Canada Goose - 1 pullus
Egyptian Goose - 3 adults
Mallard - 3 adults
Moorhen - 2 adults & 1 pullus
Coot - 1 adult and 2 pulli
Woodpigeon - 2 adults

Robin - 1 juvenile

Yes, there really was a Robin!


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Wraysbury GP - 9th July 2017

CL, DKL and WA arrived on site for 6.30am for more work on the rides and a bit of ringing too. We put up three 12m singles and two 18m nets as a double. On checking the double on the first round it was clear that CL would have to leave the strimming for a bit and help to clear the catch.

We managed to reduce to two processing after 90 minutes or so and Chris commenced his ride maintenance while WA and myself extracted and processed birds. No photoes, but plenty of birds ringed. Still no ringed adults from last year or before. Looks like the groundwork has probably scuppered the RAS!

Total: 82 (5)

Robin - 2 (1)
Blackbird - 0 (1)
Songthrush - 1
Whitethroat - 28 (1)
Garden Warbler - 13 (1)
Blackcap - 29
Chiffchaff - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (1)
Blue Tit - 4
Linnet - 2

Monday, 10 July 2017

Stanwell Moor GP - 6th July 2017

The first evening visit here this year as it may now be possible to induce hirundines to roost as long as the Heathrow runways were in operation from the direction so as not to completely drown out the calls.

On arrival, with LON, we put the 18m on the spoil heaps track, put up four nets in the reed bed and tried one other net by a large puddle where Stock Dove had been as we arrived. The first net was already catching on the first check after the last net was up, bringing three Whitethroat to our total. A Hobby went through at around 20:00 but there was nothing much about to keep it on site.
We had a few Reed Warbler from the reed bed with a smattering of other species, including a first Greenfinch for LON. It was looking as though she'd picked a much better evening (not hard when total evening birds amounted to 0 yesterday with WA).

3JM Greenfinch

We followed our usual routine, gradually taking down until just the lake side reed bed nets were left. The net by the puddle caught precisely nothing and all I (Denise) got for my trouble, a bee sting on the thumb, my own fault really as it stung me through the bird bag that I was using to try to extract it unharmed, since the bees seem to be having such a hard time of it now.

 So, just three nets remained for our attempt at Sand Martins and Swallows. It's always a debate as to when to play the recordings, start too early and you need to hold their attention for quite a while, the benefit being that the flock can attract other birds - good if they're hirundines but not so good if a Hobby throws itself into the mix, but flocks sometimes drift off elsewhere before dusk anyway. Start too late and a lot of birds may have passed by with nothing much left to draw in. We opted for 20:30hrs and there was soon a loose bunch of twelve or so birds making circuits of the lake.

The flock was drawn to the lure and finally went into the reeds around the nets at around 21:30hrs. We caught three of them - we're always grateful no matter how few as airport operations so often conspire against us. Starlings were also seen coming into the nearby willows - if this is to be their chosen roost area this year, we'll be able to use the usual nets to try for them too.

So LON got Greenfinch and Swallow as new species this evening, although the real purpose had been to get back into extractions after few extracting opportunities while Chris and I were out of the country. The time had been well spent though with a weekend supporting MR's Pied Flycatcher work and a couple of days on PW's Barn Owl project. Thank you gentlemen for giving our trainees a chance to see ringing applied using a very different approach to that used by us.

Totals:  21 (1)

Swallow - 3
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 1
Whitethroat - 4
Reed Warbler - 5
Blackcap - 1
Chiffchaff - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Greenfinch - 1

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Barn Owls in Cambridgeshire - 7th July 2017


We hadn't seen PW for a long while and as he's been kind enough to take WA and LON  out, giving them the benefit of his experience, we arranged to help him with some of the boxes most difficult to access.


We had a very successful tour around -

Box one, roosting adult not captured.


Box two, one adult male (unusual as normally females remain with owlets) and one young Barn Owl.



Box three, two young Barn Owls


Boxes four (aged and fallen from its mounting) and five (evidence of fledged Stock Doves) paired boxes.

Box four was cleared of all the sticks (old Jackdaw nest)
and taken to be renovated before re-siting.

There are three reasons for pairing boxes a) males will use the second for roosting after eggs hatch b) where Kestrels compete with Barn Owls, there is one for each pair and c) providing the second box has not been occupied a second clutch is often laid in the other box.

Box six two young


Box seven three young Kestrels


Box eight two young Barn Owls



Measuring P7 for length of emerged feather and an indication of age

Box nine two young Barn Owls

 Another barn sited Barn Owl 'des res'

A well grown young female Barn Owl

Box ten four young Barn Owls





The brood mode is two this year although we had one box with four healthy young. The good news is that some boxes had young extremely close to fledging, in fact, if not checked today may well have gone without being measured, recorded and ringed. So the owls clearly got off to a flying start this year, meaning some will fledge before boxes are checked (PW and his team look after a lot of boxes over a wide area), but there will be a good chance of any second broods fledging early in October giving a better chance of survival in their first winter.

Totals - 15

Kestrel - 3 pullus
Barn Owl - 1 adult male and 11 pullus