Sunday 16 December 2012

Beaconsfield Motorway Services - 16 December 2012

We arranged a 3.30pm meet with ESA/RMA/MRB and Margaret to give the Pied Wagtail roost another go. The pre-roost tree that we noted on our last reccie was totally denuded of foliage so we knew that in all probability the behaviour would differ to that previously observed. We plumped for a 60' in front of two Holm Oaks where we had seen birds congregating before. A 40' was placed by the perimeter road, just in case the birds pre-roosted in the surrounding hedges. The birds appeared to be hanging around in the car park with much fewer birds up on the services roof. Shortly after both nets were up a very large, very black, raincloud loomed large on the horizon. Rain had not featured in the forecast or we would probably have stayed away. As it was we continued to monitor the nets closely, while an inconveniently parked yellow van discouraged the birds from taking a line intersected by the 60' net. The 40' was pretty much redundant where it had been placed, so was swiftly taken down. A few birds found the net by the Oaks and were quickly extracted.  The van departed and as the rain eased, CL noticed that many birds were walking about, a few metres beyond our net, in the coach park. On going to have a proper look, several flew towards the net and were caught. Not wanting to risk a bad mix of dropping temperatures and rain, the net was cleared and immediately taken down. We processed the modest catch, releasing the birds to join the other individuals that were still milling about in the light from the car park lamp posts and were done by 5.30pm.

Pied Wagtail - 14


Saturday 15 December 2012

Garden - 14 & 15 December 2012

After a few days of sub-zero temperatures when work got in the way of ringing, we finally got the chance to drop the net  inbetween showers. There were fewer birds, than were being seen over the passed few days, that were mostly of the Parus variety. There were a couple of nice recaptures - two Blue Tits last seen two or three years ago - but the most interesting birds are shown below.

 Pied Wagtail Aged 3, caught on 14

Adult Jackdaw, caught on 15

Queen Mother Reservoir - 14 December 2012

With the Buff-bellied Pipit being found at Queen Mother reservoir the day before, being only five or so miles from home, a visit could not be avoided. After ensuring it was still there, which also ensured the forecast rain was by now coming down, I plodded around the the three and half miles around the reservoir. The Pipit was actually not that far from the car park, just past the pier, and was very confiding allowing views as fed on the reservoir bank just a few feet away. As usual I did not take a camera, as often happens and this has resulted in missing some good close photo opportunities. A wader around in cold heavy rain also produced a first year Red-necked Grebe and the Long-tailed Duck. Not an overly pleasant walk in those conditions but at least I did not do it in a T-shirt carrying a back pack weighted with 50kg - as my youngest did as part of his getting fit regime - and I thought I was mad walking around with a scope in those conditions!

Sunday 9 December 2012

Bletchingley - 9 December 2012

It's some time since our last trip to see our friends Ralph and Pat whose home is built on the site of Anne of Cleaves palace. The house is surrounded by trees that are linked, via hedgerows to areas of long established woodland. When we last visited on March 25th 2012, we were hoping to find out whether the bird that had been photographed at the feeders, was a Willow Tit, as the photo seemed to show, or a Marsh Tit. We did more than 100 birds that day but no Willow or Marsh Tits.
As we arrived, there were 20+ Collared Doves and several Ring-necked Parakeets, Jays and Magpie. We could hear Redpoll and Goldfinch too, but of course, by the time the three nets were erected, many larger birds had left, and the small finches were visiting the feeders by working their way down, then up the tree on which the feeders were hung.
We got a lot of these........

and even more of these..........

in our total of 85 new birds. There were also 4 birds from the previous session.

Totals: - 85 (4)

Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2
Robin - 1
Dunnock - 2
Blue Tit - 50 (2)
Great Tit - 27 (2)
Nuthatch - 2
Greenfinch - 1

Saturday 8 December 2012

Chobham Common - 8 December 2012

We joined our local ringing group for an outing to Chobham. There has been extensive clearance work to improve the habitat for heath species such as Dartford Warbler, Nightjar and Wood Lark so we headed for an area close to some mature silver birch, adjacent to a carpet of heather with coniferous trees, were less vegetation has been removed. Double panels were also set out in the hope of catching Dartford Warbler. The start was promising, with 10 Crossbills passing overhead and a flock of some 30 to 40 Redpolls arriving soon after audio players were put on. There was an initial rush but this was followed by a couple of rounds with no return for our efforts. There was a late flurry from the nets in the birches, but we'd all had enough by then so packed up early and were making out way back to the car park by 11.30am.

Totals: 17

Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Goldcrest -   4 (1)
Coal Tit - 2
Great Tit - 1
Chaffinch - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 7 

Monday 3 December 2012

Garden - 3 December 2012

We continue to do ad-hoc ringing in the garden, but it is predomently Blue or Great Tits that are caught. Recently we seem to be getting a fair number of re-traps, one being a Blue Tit V461478 on the 1st that was around 51/2 years old, having been ringed orginally on  23 June 2007. We are getting little in the way of Finches coming in, but have sighted at least one each single male and female Blackcap, but today we caught a 3 male with a weight of 21.6 with fat score of 3. At least if we see any unringed male now we'll know it is a different one.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Stanwell Moor - 2 December 2012

We were joinedby MBR and we decided to try Stanwell since the wind was just about low enough. We started, hopeful as ever, that we'd get some Meadow Pipits and perhaps manage to connect with the Linnet flock. There was even the outside chance of Water Pipit.

There were some Meadow Pipits around in the first hour or so but these just sat on the nets, eyeing the audio boxes before leaving. The Linnets worked up and down the weedy bank edge but evaded the nets every time. The only Water Pipit seen was across the hedgerow, away from our area when C & M went to see the Short Eared Owls. Other species seen included Jack Snipe, Red Kite and Red-legged Partridge.
The catching was disappointing with only one Meadow Pipit caught, although a retrapped Sparrowhawk was interesting having been ringed over two years ago.

DE05142 6M ringed 18/09/2010

Totals: - 3
Sparrowhawk - 0 (1)
Green Woodpecker - 1
Meadow Pipit - 1

Saturday 1 December 2012

Black Park Country Park - 1 December 2012

We arrived on site at 7am and it was only just becoming light. During set up we heard a few finches that appeared to have roosted in a large fir tree, but they left very quickly and it seemed that we had the park to ourselves. Even the dog walkers were absent until well after 8am. It was very misty, cold and beautiful but the birds just weren't about so I took some scenic shots, mainly to pass the time.

 The view across the heath

 Frozen, flooded ditch

Trees along the ditch 

Frosty leaf

Frosted bracken

Frost bordered holly

 We packed up by 11.30am, with only two birds to show for our efforts.

Totals: - 2

Goldcrest - 1
Lesser Redpoll -1

Sunday 18 November 2012

Stanwell Moor - 18 November 2012

Wind speeds were predicted to be no more than three miles an hour - perfect for Meadow Pipits. We didn't arrive too early since they tend to arrive a little later in the morning. We put up two boxes with a further net to cover the gap between the two. We also erected three nets on the access track.
It was another slow day that just made it into double figures, a highlight being Kestrel and the low point - having an audio box pilferred by the terriers and lurchers brigade.

Totals - 15

Kestrel - 1
Meadow Pipit - 1
Wren - 1
Robin - 4
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird - 2
Goldcrest - 3
Goldfinch - 2

Black Park Country Park - 16 November 2012

We drove to the heathland area, where we ring, through an area being used by Pinewood Studios. There was a great deal of artificial lighting, many people standing around in fluorescent jackets and notices to warn of the likelihood of gunfire that was purely artificial.

We were concerned that the activity may affect our ringing and as it turned out we were right. We saw a few small flocks of Siskin but Crossbill were heard only once and Redpoll were even less in evidence. It seemed fairly quiet ( in bird terms) all morning and this was not helped when there was filming involving gunfire within earshot.

Although the birds were few and far between it was nice to see Y334679, a bird that had been ringed on 29th January and erroneously recorded as being female at that time. He is now sporting plumage that most definitely shows him to be male, and he has taken up with a young female!

Totals: 10 (1)

Blackbird - 1
Goldcrest - 6
Blue Tit - 1
Long-tailed Tit -1
Lesser Redpoll - 1(1) 

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Beaconsfield Motorway Services – 13 November 2012

Following our reconnaissance a few weeks ago and the granting of appropriate permission from the company, the team set three 60ft nets between the coach and lorry park.
As expected birds assembled on the services roof and gradually increased in number as groups  ranging from twos and threes to fifteen or so flew in from the surrounding area.

The birds didn’t leave the pre-roost until after 4pm by which time the light was failing fast, however contrary  to the indications of our earlier observations they ignored the coach park and moved to the parking area to the right of the station. They could be seen fluttering under the street lighting and moving into the small trees but few birds chose the holm oaks where we had seen them roost before and as a result only one bird was caught by our team of 6. We will make another reccie soon and take it from there. 

Totals: 1
Pied Wagtail - 1

Sunday 11 November 2012

Stanwell Moor - 11 November 2012

It had been over a month since we ringed at Stanwell, so when the weather forecast indicated no rain and little wind, there could be no other choice. We decided to try for Pipits and knowing that they are never much in evidence, at Stanwell, until later in the morning, we agreed on a late start. We put up two boxes for Pipits, one on the wet grassy area near the pool and another on the soil area that had become extremely claggy following a lot of rain on the previous day. There was also a double by the pool and a single net by the track.

On finishing setting up the nets we returned to the car to find the rear nearside tyre flat. Despite the setback, we decided to go on the first full round of the day. It semed pretty unpromising as there was still no sign of any Snipe and only one or two Meadow Pipits about. As we approached the box combination on the grassy area, two Water Pipits were walking about between the nets. As we approached one flew above the net but the other went into the second panel. This was our star bird and the second to be captured at Stanwell. The first was in 2010.


Water Pipit age 3

It was a day that was definitely quality over quantity with only nine other birds caught. Six were Meadow Pipit, one being a retrap from March 18th.

Totals: 9 (1)
Meadow Pipit - 5 (1)
Water Pipit - 1
Wren - 1
Robin - 2

Sunday 4 November 2012

North Norfolk – 26 October to 2 November 2012

Friday 26 October

We had arranged to spend our first day ringing at the NOA Holme. There had been a major fall, earlier in the week, of Blackbirds and Robins, and as we drove towards the reserve birds were still present all around.

In all, six ringers were available to process the birds. Leading species of the 133 new birds was Robin (44) with Brambling (3). A Woodcock that was flushed from behind the ringing hut into a nearby net. 

 Brambling (3M)

 Bearded Tit


Saturday 27 October

The wind really got up over night and was forecast to be extremely strong all day. Chris did a quick recee and found a flock of  seven Waxwing lounging at the bottom of the garden. With the wind so strong, we went birding and started at Holme reserve where we saw a Black Redstart in the car park. We watched the sea for a while, seeing Gannets, Kittiwakes, Great, Arctic and Pomerine Skuas . We missed the Little Auk and I still failed to see one of the Ring Ouzels, but I did find a Firecrest in the pines behind the NWT. 

 The pines at Holme Observatory

We visited Burnham Overy later that day and in between the hail showers saw a Great Skua above the coastal path and the Little Bunting on the track by the sluice gate. On the walk back to the car we watched Fieldfare and Redwings in the field and hedgerow and were pleased to see a male Ring Ouzel fly to and then emerge from the bushes showing a clear gourgette. On returning to Beach Cottage we managed to get a couple of nets up in the blow. We caught and quickly extracted and processed a few birds but sadly none of the Waxwings that had now increased to 25 in number, but we did enjoy trying to get a 30 net out of the rose hip bush that the wind blow it into as set it up, just to close - three times! The Waxwings were coming down to the Rose hips and later one did almost make it into the net once we had got it up.

Beach Cottage

Over the next few days we continued to ring for a couple of hours every morning and on most evenings. We noted that the number of Blackbirds and Robins quickly dropped off but luckily there were plenty of other birds around to keep us occupied.

Sunday 28 October

We visited Titchwell on the 28th. We saw species that included Little Egret, Brent Geese, Pintail, Egyptian Goose, Avocet, Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot, Turnstone, Grey Plover, Red-crested Pochard, Bearded Tit, Rock Pipit, Red Breasted Merganser, Marsh Harrier, Spotted Redshank and 1st winter Glaucus Gull. We also heard Cetti's Warbler and Chris glimpsed a distant flock of what could only have been Snow Bunting.

 Titchwell fresh marsh

 Titchwell brackish marsh

While passing through Burnham Norton we noted two Swallows (that could be our latest date for the year) flying along the coast road. We then went to Lady Anne's Drive and looked for that Pallas' Warbler that we did manage to see and the Yellow-browed Warbler that we didn't.

Monday 29 October 

We headed off towards Salthouse on the next day, and hoped to get closer views of Snow Bunting.

 Flooded fields adjacent to the shingle bank

 Just one of the circa 50 Snow Buntings at Salthouse

Moving on to Cley we were treated to large flocks of Golden Plover along with yet more geese, ducks and waders, including a White-rumped Sandpiper. Chris stood out in the rain at the beach car park and saw a Barn Owl before setting off back to Beach Cottage.

Tuesday 30 October  

The 30th was quite blustery so we went back to Holkham Meals. The Yellow-browed remained elusive but the Pallas' showed even better again.

Holkham Meals 

 Holkham Dunes

We glimpsed a Barn Owl in fields near Burnham Overy mill as we returned to the cottage for some late afternoon ringing.

Wednesday 31 October  

Another visit to Titchwell on the 31st revealled some different species on the sea with Long-tailed duck (4) and Eider (6) being seen along with Red-breasted Merganser and Common Scoter. This time Knot, Sandering were seen on the beach and Brambling were using the feeding station.

 Viewing the sea and beach

Black-tailed Godwit at Titchwell

The day was rounded off by seeing a Tawny Owl on the road into Holme after eating out.

Thursday 1 November  

The 1st was spent around the Holme area with sea and general bird watching on the agenda we saw Guillimot, Red Throated Diver, Shag, Gannet, Common Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Brent Goose, Knot, Turnstone, Red-breasted Merganser and Waxwing (now around 30 birds).

Ringing at Beach Cottage, Holme. Here are some images of the ringing captures.

 Mistle Thrush

 Green Woodpecker

 Robin - 1000+ ringed at NOA in previous week. Yearly total for 2011 was 138.

 Male Blackbirds for comparison

Coal Tit


Totals: 119

Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Green Woodpecker - 1
Wren - 2
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 9
Blackbird - 80
Goldcrest -7
Blue Tit -9
Great Tit - 4
Coal Tit - 1
Treecreeper - 1
Greenfinch - 3


Sunday 21 October 2012

Apple Day at Home Cottage Farm - 20 October 2012

Apple day is a national event to promote apple varieties and orchards all over the country and for the third time we had been invited to do a ringing demonstration for the public.
Chris and I were due to meet Roger and Margaret at 7am but it wasn't long before they were on their way home again after Roger slipped and hurt his back before getting out of the car park.

We erected nets in orchard and woodland habitats and had ringed 10 Goldcrests before our second wave, Peter, Kenny and Sarah arrived at 9am. The final nets were put up around some garden feeders and our stand was decked out with posters, pamphlets, a display of local ringing information  and some examples of rings. Liz joined us later after helping to make Roger comfortable at home.The official opening time was 11am but we were visited by stall holders from the time that they started to arrive.

The morning started well considering the numbers of people around, and the considerable noise created by the talloy system. We had a stream of Goldcrests and Blue Tits for people to watch being ringed. There were also some larger species that really wowed the public.

Many thanks to those who volunteered and helped to make the day a very enjoyable success.


 Jay (aged 4)

Adult Blue Tit showing plumage damage to primary and secondary feathers of left wing

Totals: 64 (8)

Green Woodpecker -  0 (1) re-trap
Robin - 3
Blackbird - 2
Goldcrest - 30
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (2) re-traps
Coal Tit - 3
Blue Tit - 16 (5)
Great Tit - 4
Nuthatch - 2
Jay -3
Lesser Redpoll - 1

Blue Tit X762240 was 1st rung on 12/7/2009.
Green Woodpecker DD34382 was ringed on 19/12/2009. This is the fourth time it has been processed.