Friday 31 December 2010

Garden 23 - 31 Dec 2010

Whilst I still suffered in true male style with the flu, Denise had a few brief sessions in the garden, either with a potter trap or a 20ft net which due to the cold weather was more or less watched constantly and birds removed straight away, though the snow went quite quickly and today was a balmy 9c. Siskins have come in small numbers, and whilst one capture on 30/12 was one of our previous years birds, X380147, a 4 male, previously rung on 7/3/2009 as a 5 male. The foreign ringed male did not put in an appearance.

Siskin - X380147
Totals were:

23th - Blackbird (1)

26th - Dunnock (1), Blackbird (1), Song Thrush (1), Great Tit (1), Goldfinch (5) and 2 re-traps.

27th - Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Song Thrush (1), Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (1), Goldfinch (2), Siskin (2) and 3 re-traps, one a Blue Tit V461478 originally ringed on 23/6/2007 as a 3J.

29th - Goldfinch (1)

30th - Woodpigeon (1), Blue Tit (4), Long-tailed Tit (2), Goldfinch (4) and 3 re-traps, including the Siskin mentioned above.

31st - Blackbird (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (1), Goldfinch (5), Greenfinch (1), Siskin (3) and 1 re-trap.

A wander around Thorney CP on the 26th produced a good sighting of a Bittern in thin reeds on the ice, a fly over Little Egret, a Buzzard moved around the trees by the lake and a drake Red-crested Pochard on one of two small open areas of water.


 Afterwards Denise took a wander around Hardings Row Nature reserve.

Monday 20 December 2010

Garden - 19 Dec 2010

Denise did a little in the garden for a short while, whilst I continue to suffer with the flu. She did not leave the net up for long as it usually inhibits visits to the garden, especially by the Finch species, which tend to avoid coming in once they notice it is up.

In her short session she caught:

Robin x 5
Blue Tit x3
Long-tailed Tit x 3
Greenfinch x 1

All birds despite the cold were of good am weights, Lotties being in the range 7.5 - 8.3.

Despite having rung 5 Robins we are still finding unrung birds coming in, so the weather has clearly pushed them into the garden but oddly apart from a slight increase in Blackbirds we are not getting any Redwing/Fieldfares, though two Reed Buntings on the neighbours fence was notable.

We are currently getting a solo male Siskin coming, which is rung, but the ring is a notable by it's rather shiny appearance and slightly larger size, suggesting it is not a BTO ring!

Saturday 18 December 2010

Garden - 18 Dec 2010

A few brief catches in the garden in between snow flurries mainly using a potter trap, feeding trap and a very short period using a mist net produced:

Blackbird x 2
Starling x 4
Pied Wagtail x 1
Blue Tit x 3
Great Tit x 1

Pied Wagtail - 3

There is a second, male Pied Wagtail coming into the garden which is ringed. We have only ever done two others, 1 and 2 years ago. Is it one of these? Which brings home the really value of re-traps or controls, and whilst it was good that we caught our second in the feeder trap, the rung bird would have been the real catch.

Having the flu, I have got out of keeping the feeders full and the ground well supplied of food.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 12 Dec 2010

Another day with the aim of targeting Meadow Pipits with a hope of possibly another Water Pipit, saw us at the site with Sam and Gavin from the RRG. The day was ideal, little or no window and a flock of 150 + Meadow Pipits on the mound, but alas they did not respond and we only had a catch of 10 birds, all Meadow Pipits, with 8 new birds and 2 re-traps, one of them interestingly a bird from September which we had assumed potentially at that time was a passage migrant as opposed to a bird having arrived for the winter, which through re-trapping has shown that it was not a migrant but a bird moving into a wintering area. The value of re-traps and controls, which provide the real data apparent from the breeding and population numbers that ringing new birds provides.

Other birds seen included 2 fly over Little Egrets, a fly over Water Pipit and a Jack Snipe which some how had avoided being flushed for a few hours in front of the nets, but as always manged to jink at the last minute over the net!

Meadow Pipit - 3, a grey cast individual

Monday 13 December 2010

Rainham Tip - 11 Dec 2010

A trip out with the North Thames Gull Group, this time to Rainham tip to target Lesser Black-backed Gulls. There was quite a large group ringers present, including three colleagues from the Runnymede RG, together with Malcolm Wilson from Africa, with Jez Blackbird being master of ceremonies for the day. A more compact refuse tip brought two quite successful catches, with a good number gulls being caught, including a number of the sought after Lessers, along with a single adult Yellow-legged Gull. Three Starlings were also caught feeding amongst the pile of left overs from the many black bin bags. Thankfully re-cycling is not as yet 100% successful! Totals for the day were:

Black-headed Gull                          210 plus 2 controls
Common Gull                          
Herring Gull                                  188 plus 2 controls and 1 re-trap
Lesser Black-backed Gull               54 plus 2 controls
Greater Black-backed Gull               5
Yellow-legged Gull                           1
Starling                                             3

Tip face and setting up

Catch taken

Common Gull - sub-adult

 Herring Gull - adult

Lesser Black-backed Gull - adult (above and below)

Yellow-legged Gull - adult (above & below)


Whilst some of us were at the tip, the Wraysbury team from the RRG had a session at Chobham Common and using a slightly different location managed an improved catch of around 40 Lesser Redpoll, with no Commons being caught this time. They did catch this leucistic individual.

Lesser Redpoll (Andrew Kingston)

Sunday 5 December 2010

Chobham Common - 5 Dec 2010

Back again for more punishment with Barnaby, Gavin and Sam from the ringing group. No easier to set up the second day running, just as wet and tiring trying to set nets up in a bog. Catch low again. Put on a Reed Bunting tape as there was a group of 10-20, and they flew off ??

Catch was:
Lesser Redpoll - 3
Blue Tit - 1
Coal Tit - 2
Reed Bunting - 1

Reed Buntuing - 3f

After packing up earlish at 12 we headed back home via Bracknell, just simply so we could miss seeing the Waxwings.

I dropped Denise off at home and headed off to the West London reservoirs to pick up some of this weekends birds. First stop was Wrasybury Res that produced 3 Great Northern Divers, single Red-necked and Slavonian Grebes, 5 Goosander and a Peregrine and then off to Queen Mary Res for the Black-throated Diver, returning home even more knackered.

Saturday 4 December 2010

Chobham Common - 4 Dec 2010

A visit with Denise on our own. The aim was Redpolls, the group on two previous visits has done 100+ on each visit and a total of 11 Common Redpolls. It was thawing quickly and the ringing area being on the edge of a bog, was boggier than ever and really knackering to work in. Got totally soaked through. Unfortunately birds were slow - 4, but there was on group of 60 Redpolls that came in, odd groups of 10 or so and small groups of 3-5. A group of 20 or so Reed Buntings feeding in the area and also possibly heard a Dartford - sound like one, though it was over the other side of the valley so may have been hallucinating. Of the 4 birds caught 3 were Redpolls and the first extract was a Common, which bearing in mind the number caught was quite impressive.

Common Redpoll - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 2
Blue Tit - 1

Common Redpoll - 3 (and two below)

Lesser Redpoll - 3 (and below for comparison)

Sunday 28 November 2010

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 28 Nov 2010

Our second outing for the weekend was to Stanwell Moor, still with Redpolls at the back of our mind and a possible cannon net wader catch on the South coats, we met up with Lesly from the ringing group. Again, unfortunately the day was rather slow and we only managed 18 new birds with 7 re-traps, one of these being one of our autumn Cetti's again, with a second one calling from the opposite side of the lake. Visual sightings included one Little Egret and a minimum of 3 Water Pipits, which unfortunately landed on the mound behind the net, instead in front of it, so despite still being in the area we draw a blank on any as far as ringing was concerned.

Ringed totals were:

Meadow Pipit - 6 (though 150 odd present on the mound next to the M25)
Wren - 2
Song Thrush - 2
Blackbird - 1
Chiff-chaff - 1
Blue Tit - 4
Reed Bunting - 2 (both cr)

Song Thrush

Cetti's Warbler


Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath - 27 Nov 2010

With the weather have turned cold and frosty we thought we would give the orchard a go for winter Thrushes with Gavin and Sam from the ringing group, though we were all in two minds, as we were not sure whether any had actually started coming into the orchards, and with the low wind we wondered whether a bash at Chobham Common for the many Redpolls in the area would have be a better option. As it turned out, yes it would have been, as the catch at Chobham was a 100+ Redpolls. We had a few Fieldfares knocking around, but no Redwings, and none of the 20 Fieldfares about were coming into the orchard where the large amount of windfalls were, possibly as they were still rather hard and not yet softening up. We managed only 24 new birds, with 3 re-traps.

Green Woodpecker - 1
Robin -1
Blackbird - 4
Song Thrush - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Great Tit - 5
Blue Tit - 8
Chaffinch - 2


Green Woodpecker

Song Thrush

Sunday 21 November 2010

Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath - 21 Nov 2010

Due to the slightly breezy conditions we decided to give Home Cottage Farm a try. The farm is a mixed fruit farm, mainly pick your own and can get a good gathering of winter Thrushes. Unfortunately the weather was too mild and despite some fields having had large crops of fruit, with many apples still on the trees and even more on the ground, only one Fieldfare was seen. Despite this we caught 86 birds with 11 re-traps, one being a Blue Tit rung in the garden by Denise the day before. New birds were Blue Tit (68), Great Tit (4), Long-tailed Tit (1), Goldcrest (1) and Blackbird (1). Catching was slow apart from the 74 Tits in the net at once, mostly Blue, an exercise hopefully not to repeated too often again. Whilst extracting large catches of Warblers is a delight, taking out some many Blue Tits that grab every bit of the net they can and want to take every opportunity to peck you was an experience. Thankfully we had the assistance of Helen from the ringing group.

juv Goldcrest

Later we met up with Vic and Emma, plus Gavin at Stanwell Moor to give the Starling roost a try, which we were not sure was a good idea after the 74 Tits earlier, but always one for punishment we gave it a try, but unfortunate the roost is quite mobile, either due to weather conditions or the harassment from the local Sparrowhawk, and tonight only about 20 came in instead of the usual 400 odd, resulting in a nil catch..

Garden - 20 Nov 2010

Whilst I was enjoy the day on an Essex tip Denise stayed at home and whilst doing a few odds and ends, did some garden ringing, with 27 birds of which 2 were re-traps, one a Robin last caught in 2008 and not in 2009.

New birds were the usual Blue Tits (21), plus Goldfinch (2), Robin (1) and Starling (1).

Saturday 20 November 2010

Pitsea tip - 20 Nov 2010

Today it was up and off to Pitsea tip for a ringing session with the North Thames Gull group.
Plenty of Gulls around, with a Caspian and two adult Meds seen. There very few colour ringed birds about.

Two catches were made, neither especially large, the second producing an adult Med Gull, alas not mine to ring. The catches consisted of:

Catch 1

    Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed
Black-headed Gull     117 3 0 0
Common Gull     1 0 0 0
Herring Gull     34 0 0 34
Great Black-backed Gull     2 0 0 2
Catch totals     154 3 0 3

Catch 2
Species     Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed
Mediterranean Gull     1 0 0 1
Black-headed Gull     68 0 0 0
Common Gull     1 0 0 0
Lesser Black-backed Gull     3 0 0 3
Herring Gull     8 0 1 8
Catch totals     81 0 1 12

Setting up

adult Black-headed Gull

colour ringing a juv Herring Gull

adult Common gull

adult Mediterranean Gull

Sunday 14 November 2010

Stanwell Moor - 13 Nov 2010

We left just after 11am for a session at Stanwell Moor, but on route the rain started to come down. A planned quick diversion to King George VI Reservoir at Staines managed to produce the Great Northern Diver, and the Common and Velvet Scoters.

We went to the ringing site and watched the rain. We had a look at the potter trap to see if anything had cleared the mackerel up and as we went into the ride found a Swan sitting in the middle, which made no attempt to move. It had a head injury and when it did make an attempt to move it only hobbled on one side. Probably injuries due to a territorial scuffle with the pair on the lake. A fortunate visit as we were able to get it collected by Swan Rescue and saved it any overnight harassment from the local foxes. While at the site a Little Egret flew over.

Rain continued and any thoughts of ringing were forgotten and a return to home was made.

** sadly the Swan died overnight with injuries to the leg caused either by a fox or dog

Sunday 7 November 2010

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 7 Nov 2010

A visit today turned into one of those upside down days. Setting up took an eternity, with 3 out of 5 60 ft nets with cords through the loops, one other had a previously repaired bottom line break at setting up, one double panel also had loop/cord problems and the cord on the potter trap snapped!

Then the birds did not turn up in any quantity - only 15 for an 8 hour stay. We found the Starling roost was about 400 odd birds and I rather stupidly started to think how could we optimise a catch on another day with some backup.

We did manage 4 Starling at the roost, with the other birds being a Great Tit, 2 Reed Buntings, 7 more Meadow Pipits, taking us over 200 this autumn, plus a control MEPIT! L631581 - obviously this years from somewhere. But the star bird, one of the reasons for getting access to the site as they sometimes are present from the near by Staines Moor was this bird:

Water Pipit

A good catch considering the slow day and at times rather windy conditions that made the nets rather noticeable.

Garden - 6 Nov 2010

I was at the OSME council meeting at Tring and Denise was going to occupy herself with some garden ringing, but before I left, the first bird in the net turned out to be:

Ring-necked Parakeet

Unfortunately, unlike a few others that had previously managed to extract themselves, this one seemed to have got it self settled permanently into the net pocket. Neither of us are proud, garden gloves were obtained as neither of us wanted to lose parts of our fingers during handling. Once processed I left Denise to mixed day varying between some garden ringing and decorating. 36 birds were processed, 15 Blue Tits, single Coal and Great Tit, 10 Goldfinch, 4 Starlings, the Parakeet, plus 4 re-traps.

Monday 1 November 2010

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 30 October 2010

A visit today in quite good conditions, despite a slightly lazy start just after 8am, took us through until almost dusk.

A total of 52 were caught with six re-traps (including a Cetti's Warbler), a Reed Bunting (X763004) from the ringing groups nearby site at Wraysbury GP, a controlled Chiff-chaff (BXT506) and 45 new birds: Blackbird (1); Blue Tit (4); Dunnock (1); Goldcrest (4); Linnet (1); Meadow Pipit (23); Robin (2); and Reed Bunting (9). A Water Pipit was also seen.

Chiff-chaff (above and below)


Reed Bunting

Thursday 28 October 2010

Garden - 28 October

A quite session, as the feeders had probably run dry by Saturday evening/Sunday morning which would have caused the Goldfinches to wonder further afield with only 2 Goldfinch, 7 Blue Tits (plus one re-trap) and a Starling (20 odd in the garden after the nets had been closed). One Blue Tit followed the tendency for the odd one to have a large beak.

Yorkshire ringing week - 23 to 30 October 2010

Sunday 24 October

No ringing due to the strong winds from the West! So a few hours at Flamborough with a bit of seawatching and a wonder around the headland.

Sea foam drifting across the headland


Our couple of hours seawatching produced 4 Little Auks and single Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, along with the usual sea birds. The wonder around the headland was pretty quite.

Monday 25 October

Allowed us to get in a ringing session with Peter Dunn at Filey.  We did 24 birds plus 3 re-traps; 3 Blackbirds, 8 Blue Tits, 3 Great Tits, 5 Long-tailed Tits, a single Goldfinch, 2 Lesser Redpolls and 2 Tree Sparrows. I annoyingly missed the fly over Hawfinch whilst collecting the bacon sandwiches.

 Tree Sparrow

Lesser Redpoll

 A visit to the Brigg pm produced five Purple Sandpipers and a flock (70) of Common Scoter and six Eiders.

 Turnstone bathing

Filey Brigg

 Purple Sandpipers

Tuesday 26 October

Wind and rain from the west.

Wednesday 27 October.

Due to the forecast showing no change in the wind direction or strength it was decided to head back south, as even the birding was potentially uneventful.