Sunday 25 September 2011

Wraysbury GP ringing session - 24 September 2011

A trip out Saturday am with the ringing group, was one of the few occasions this September a session at this site has been viable as it is easily affected by wind conditons. It is usually a very good site early/mid September for Blackcaps, but with other local catches and with September nearing an end, the potential for the day was not high. As it turned out this was partly correct, Blackcap numbers were not high, with only 29, not a particularly high no, though the days over all totals was 121, this is not significnat for September where 200 + would be expected. There was one surpirse though, a late Nightingale, only the seventh for the site with the last in 2001, a spring bird in April, with no previous autumn records. This species used to breed at this site but along with Grasshopper Warbler has in recent years disappeared from the site.

Goldcrest - 3

Meadow Pipit - 3

Nightingale - 3 (and below)


Green Woodpecker - 0 (1)
Meadow Pipit - 20
Robin - 4 (2)
Dunnock - 6 (1)
Nightingale - 1
Blackbird - 2 (1)
Blackcap - 29
Chiff-chaff - 26 (2)
Goldcrest - 5
Blue Tit - 3 (3)
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Treecreeper - 1
Jay -1
Chaffinch - 4
Goldfinch - 3
Linnet - 1

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 23 September 2011

Another morning session with a few of the RRG team, Tim, Colin and Sam. It was a relative quiet morning with Warblers more or less absent, with a catch of only 46, mainly supported by 24 Meadow Pipits and a few Goldcrests, being the first of the autumn at this site. An evening visit with Denise produced another eight birds, and a clear indication that it is time to consider any attempts for Swallows or Sand Martins at roost are now over and that any future visits at this time of the day for this year will cease.

Kingfisher - 3 female being weighed


Kingfisher - 1
Meadow Pipit - 24
Wren - 1
Robin - 2 (1)
Dunnock - 2 (2)
Blackcap - 1
Chiff-chaff - 6
Goldcrest - 2
Blue Tit - 7
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Linnet - 2
Greenfinch - 1

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 22 September 2011

As the opportunities for catching departing summer migrants seems to be drawing to a close we squeezed in another
evening roost. There were no signs of House Martin or Swallow, and attempts for Reed Bunting and Greenfinch were also unsuccessful. It did, however, turn out to be a little out of the ordinary since we ringed 10  and birds never even got the A rings out of the box. Don’t think we’ve ever done a purely AA session before.

Total as follows

Cetti’s Warbler – 0 (1)
Chiffchaff – 9
Long Tailed Tit – 1
Blue Tit – 0 (1)

Broadwater GP - 22 September 2011

A new ringing site has been arranged within the old works area at Broadwater GP with Lafarge. The area is mostly now dominated by Buddleias with another area of young Silver Birch. It often when birding seems pretty active and full of birds, but this first visit is late in the autumn migration season for an inland site, at least as far as Warblers are concerned as we edge more into the winter arrival period rather than the summer departure one. This particular site will be run jointly with the RRG Maple Cross team. For our first visit four of us turned up with Peter Delaloye, Mike Beatley and Kenny Cramer, catching 64 birds, which was not bad considering a lack of warbler migrants. The odd thing was the high number of the Blue Tits caught being adults, a higher proportion I would normal expect elsewhere, with a ratio of 15:11 (adults to juveniles). Nothing of particular note was caught, though a large flock of House martins were present all morning, with a Hobby present and six Wigeon present on the lake, plus a single Dunlin on the washoff mud at Moorhall pit.

Kingfisher - 3

Treecreeper - 3

Goldcrest - 3 male


Kingfisher - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Robin -2
Dunnock - 1
Blackcap - 4
Chiff-chaff -  8
Goldcrest - 6
Blue Tit - 26
Great Tit - 5
Long-tailed Tit - 7
Treecreeper - 1
Chaffinch - 2

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 18 September 2011

The day turned out to be a much better ringing day than weather reports had foretold.

Ringing had not been planned, but there had been reports of visible migration of swallows on Saturday and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so we loaded the gear into the car and were on site and set up by 4.30pm. 
We noted small bands of Swallows crossing the lake in waves then heading on, low across the mounds, but none were tempted by the tapes while there were still available daylight hours. The catching was slow but we did manage some Chiff-chaffs along with a single Meadow Pipit. As the light began to fail, a group of some 50+ Swallows began to circle the reed-bed. The Hobbies didn’t seem to be around and we were optimistic that the roost attempt would be a success this time. The birds gradually flew lower and some appeared to go in as others made another circuit of the lake. It was shortly after this that a group of birds flew fast towards us, skimming the reeds, with a big female Sparrowhawk in hot pursuit. With the sky devoid of Swallows we went down to check the nets and found that 5 juveniles had been caught along with another new Cetti’s Warbler (3F).

Total as follows:

Meadow Pipit - 1
Swallow - 5
Cetti’s Warbler - 1
Chiff-chaff - 4   
Blue Tit – 0 (2) 

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 16 September 2011

Following the continuous frustrations with disruption at the roost due to attention from aerial predators, and the success of the previous day, we and Tim Alexander decided to try for Meadow Pipits as well as the Hirundine roost. As usual, the conditions at the top of the soil heap was rather breezier than the surrounding area, but nevertheless we set up our triangle, did the minimum of weeding possible, got the mp3 going and made a swift retreat to erect the usual nets. It was a slow start but the first bird was a retrap, Cetti’s Warbler L851703, captured on 30th August weighing 14.1g and now showing a weight increase of 2.2g, more that a 15% up to 16.3g. The hobbies patrolled overhead and apart from just one party of Swallows, that inspected the nets and rapidly left, there was not the most remote interest shown in forming a roost. Starling numbers were also well down on those seen on previous evenings. For all the effort of walking up and down the hill we managed just 4 Mipits.

Meadow Pipit - 4
Cetti’s Warbler - 0 (1)
Reed Warbler - 1
Chiff-chaff - 5
Reed Bunting -1 

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 15 September 2011

After our solo visit Wednesday night, early next morning a team of us returned, with Carl, Karl and Helen joining me from the ringing group, with Denise having to go to work, which turned out to cause her much frustration as we caught the sites first Little Owl, a bird she has not rung either. I was hoping with four of us, that today would not be a repeat of our last morning's visit, on 3rd, which only had arelatively low catch of c30 birds. Luckily, I set up a net on one of the mounds in the hope of catching some local Meadow Pipits, and fortunately it paid off, producing 39 out of the 108 birds caught. Other birds of interest from the morning, as well as the sites first Little Owl, was our first Tree Pipit coming from the Mepits net, and a Woodpigeon, that was in the same net together with the Little Owl. We also caught we a single Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat, with the other Warbler species being three Reed Warblers, 18 Blackcaps and four Chiff-chaffs.

One of the first Meadow Pipits of theautumn.

Tree Pipit - 3

Little Owl - 3

Woodpigeon - 4

Mipit nets in a V set up

Totals :
Woodpigeon - 1
Little Owl - 1
Kingfisher - 0 (1)
Tree Pipit - 1
Meadow Pipit - 39
Robin - 8 (3)
Dunnock - 8 (1)
Blackbird - 2
Song Thrush -1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 3
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 18
Chiff-chaff -4
Blue Tit - 6 (1)
Great Tit - 3
Chaffinch - 1
Linnet - 3
Reed Bunting -1

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 11 September 2011

We did a visit about an hour before dusk - a single Swallow - little else to say really, accept it was at least a Swallow!

Sunday 11 September 2011

Garden - 10 September 2011

In the garden recently we have been having quite a few Goldfinches coming in, mostly 3Js along with a few Greenfinches. They become extremely net aware. No net = quite a few birds in the garden, sometimes up to six, net up = an almost empty garden all day. Often it feels not worth trying as it is nicer seeing the birds in rather than none at all. Denise tried yesterday but only managed three Goldfinches and a single Chaffinch. Even the Tits kept away with only two and a single Dunnock. Today if fairing even less well. Garden virtually empty!

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 9 September 2011

The usual evening roost visit with Tim from Reading produced the usual crop of birds, the roost again was difficult to pull in due to SW winds and the planes taking off on the southern runway at Heathrow causing a fair amount of noise disturbance, plus the presence of a Hobby for about an hour also will not have helped. We did get a small roost in but only caught a couple. No Yellow Wagtails were seen unfortunately. Sixteen new birds were caught including four Starlings from the roost, which all had just about finished their primary moult. One had one potential control - DTJ291, a Chiff-chaff, but as we already have had DTJ285 we suspect they might be from Hersham RG at Queen Mary Res.

Chiff-chaff 3, fairly bright green compared to our usual dull versions.

Kingfisher - 0 (1) 
Sand Martin - 1
Swallow - 1
Robin - 0 (1)
Chiff-chaff - 6 (1 - control)
Blue Tit - 1
Long-tailed - 4 (1)
Starling - 3
Reed Bunting - 0 (1)

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 7 September 2011

Between the high winds and bands of rain forecast throughout the week, a window of opportunity was spotted so, ever optimistic, and as there had been no showers by early evening, we decided to give it a go. Two nets amounting to 100ft in total were put up by 7.00pm while clouds gathered and Swallows flew low across the lake. We began catching almost immediately and in the space of less than an hour managed 19 new birds. The light was failing fast and the last birds were away by 8.15pm. Packed up and off site by 8.40pm. Job done!

 Last net into the water - there is scope for setting another
off a fixed post 50 metre further out.

Swallow - 12
Robin - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Starling - 4

Thursday 8 September 2011

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 4 September 2011

It was decided to try a brief roost session, and go for Yellow Wagtails as birds had been heard overhead, so 3 nets were erected in the reed bed and by 7pm we had begun catching. It was 45 minutes later that the first Swallow was caught as birds were attracted by the tape and flew around the net extending over the lake. The Starlings were restless, throughout the evening, due to unwelcome attention from a rather persistent Sparrowhawk. However no Starlings were captured and once again predator disturbance resulted in the hirundines departing not long after the first wave of birds had dropped into the net. Yellow Wagtails were seen overhead but none could be tempted down to the ringing ride.

The complete totals are as follows:-

Swallow - 8
Sand Martin - 4
Sedge Warbler -1
Chiffchaff - 1

Sunday 4 September 2011

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 2/3 September 2011

We decided to do a back to back session, doing the roost Friday night and going back early Saturday morning, this being the first am visit this year to the site. The Friday evening session was fairly quite, with eighteen birds, with two Swallows and eight Sand Martins. There was at one stage about 30 Swallows present, but the appearance of the Sparrowhawk caused them to all depart. We also had a Yellow Wagtail tape going for a short while, but decided to change it to Sand Martin, but in doing so flushed a few birds coming into roost, with a group of about 20/30 flying low over and off. Saturday turned out to be as quite as the night before despite the dawn start. The only bird of interest was a re-trapped 3 Cetti's that had been in the area since June, otherwise only 36 birds were caught. The lack of birds did at least motivate us to fix the NR 60 ft that had a broken bottom line that had needed repairing for about 12 months, which was at least one good thing done as it was a fairly new net.

Friday totals:
Sand Martin -8
Swallow - 2
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Reed Warbler -1
Blackcap -1
Chiff-chaff - 4 (1)

Saturday totals:
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Robin - 0 (1)
Cetti's Warbler - 0 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 3
Reed Warbler - 6 (1)
Whitethroat - 2
Blackcap - 9
Chiff-chaff - 5 (1)
Great Tit - 5 (1)

Thursday 1 September 2011

Broadwater GP - 31 August 2011

A visit was primarily to look at one area around the old plant to see if it could be used as a ringing site. The area is almost a Buddleia forest with an area of Silver Birch but is often quite full of birds. There was some prospect and as usual quite a few Finches and Chiffs in the area. All that has to be done now is sort out access permission. Whilst looking over the pit which had quite a lot of birds on it, all of which could be expected to be seen, including twelve Egyptian Geese and an eclipse male Red-crested Pochard, I heard a small thud next to me and looked down and there was a gasping 3J Greenfinch lying at my feet. I picked it up but within a few seconds had died. It appeared in good condition plumage wise but had no fat and extremely sharp breast with absolutely no muscle to speak of. The bird had a clean beak and obviously had not been making use of the many rose hip or blackberry bushes nearby and presumably was under nourished.

Stanwell Moor ringing site - 30 August 2011

An evening roost visit which was showing some good potential with four early Swallows and a group of about thirty gathering until the Hobby went into them and we found a Sparrowhawk sitting in the net ride, put paid to any chance of them coming in, with the group heading off east. We only managed 12 new birds. Time is reduced now in the evenings with Denise back at work and with dusk drawing in. We did rather nicely catch our fourth 3 Cetti's warbler of the year though.

3j Cetti's Warbler

Swallow - 4
Wren - 0 (1)
Robin -1
Dunnock - 1
Cetti's Warbler -1
Reed Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 1
Chiff-chaff - 3 (1)

Norfolk 27 - 29 August 2011

We took what we thought was the easy option of driving up Saturday morning but it turned out to be a bit of a slow slog and managed to make it to Cromer about 3pm, then a long wait ensued for some slight high and obscured views of the Greenish and Western Bonelli's Warblers, that were slightly frustrating, with what may our last sighting of five swifts flying over the wood at one stage with a group of Hirundines.

The next day (Sunday) we potentially had been looking at some ringing at Holme NOA but as suspected the westerly wind direction was not a net opener and we arrived at a leisurely 8.30am and ended up chatting to Sophie for an hour or so before deciding to have a wander around. All was relative quite and despite an hour or so at the Red-backed Shrike area in the plantation nothing of the bird was to be seen. Hundreds of Knot on the beach was impressive and we managed to pick up six Manx Shearwaters on the sea, otherwise bird wise it was relative quite.

 Heligoland trap Holme

In the afternoon we headed to Titchwell, which compared to our last visit has now some good wader habitat. There was a good mix of autumn waders present with some close Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stint to the path. The sea produced a couple of Arctic and a single Great Skua and a single female/immature Long-tailed Duck.

 Juvenile Curlew Sandpiper

A pair of Woodpiegon showing affection

Titchwell freshwater scrape

On Monday we decided to head to Cley, partly drawn by the Red-necked Phalarope and Red-back Shrike, which showed well at the back of Walsy Hill, but the Phalarope had seemingly departed overnight. Cley again had a good selection of autumn waders, along with a group of 14 Spoonbills, and a colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit rung by Pete Potts team in Portugal. One of the hides with rather plagued by the constant noise of DSLR camera shutters going off, made more frequent by the motor drives that after a while left you feeling that you were no longer in what is supposed to be the peace and tranquility of a nature reserve. On the way back to the visitor centre as you crossed the bridge, a medium sized Pike was briefly sitting just by the bridge, but when it decided to move it was so quick you missed it, it had just go with a splash.

Portugese colour ringed adult Black-tailed Godwit

Some of 14 Spoobills, asleep as ever