Tuesday 28 August 2012

Stanwell Moor - 26 August 2012

The weather forecast for the coming week looked unpromising to say the least and we were keen to find out whether the pool in the meadow had dried up, so we headed to the site for the evening. Two nets were put up to cover the roost and some others strategically placed to intercept ducks and waders using the rapidly reducing flash.

The reedbed produced several Reed Warblers (all new and hatched this year) with a few Chiff-chaff and a solitary Sedge Warbler. There was a small roost but only one Swallow and three Sand Martins were caught. The water meadow produced an adult Ruff moulting out of breeding plumage and pictured below and a  juvenile Lapwing.

Adult male Ruff

Totals: 18

Lapwing - 1
Ruff - 1
Swallow - 1
Sand Martin - 3
Wren - 1
Chiffchaff - 2
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 8

Marazion - 18 to 25 August 2012

Marazion Marsh – 18 to 25 August

The week had been arranged in order to support the Aquatic Warbler project. Marazion Marsh, an established RSPB reserve, has been known as a site where these birds may be found during their migration period. However the number of sightings has dropped in number since the 90s when we last saw Aquatic Warbler at this site. This will be due in part to the way in which marsh plant varieties have spread and reduced viewing opportunities, but ringing efforts since 2006 have also shown that these birds are present in fewer numbers with none caught until 2011 when two were captured.

We arrived in Cornwall on the Friday evening via Wet Moor in Somerset to see the four White Storks, just a short diversion off the A30. We met up with MG to be shown around the site, receive information such as where the pool bed changes level suddenly (we already knew that waders were essential) and to be given other informative documentation and kit (including a magnetised logo for the car to seal our authenticity as bona fide volunteers).

On the first day (Saturday) it was misty, drizzling and blowy so we cautiously dropped only the main net run and had audio lures on by 6.10am. As the conditions improved, the other main nets were opened and the numbers of birds ringed steadily increased. We managed 30 by the end of the session but the Acros were supplemented by Long-tailed and Blue Tits. The conditions had been ‘right’ for the target species, but news of birds caught in Devon didn’t alter the fact that we had none.

After settling ourselves into the self-catering accommodation that we had booked, we returned to Marazion as the Spotted Crake (ringed by other volunteers in the previous week) had reportedly been seen again. We stood watching the favoured area for about two hours. In that time we had more great views of the Wood Sandpiper and were able to take a count of Little Egret as they departed when the canon was fired on St Michael’s mount. We were also witness to a Water Rail making an unsuccessful attempt at taking a Dunlin. The small wader was grasped by the tail and an attempt was made to drown it, but the Dunlin managed to escape leaving a flurry of white feathers and one confounded Water Rail behind. The closest to seeing  a Spotted Crake that we got was a family of Moorhen. There were at least three well grown youngsters and one adult. After sustained viewing for the Crake, an individual that had been seen, at dusk, by many observers and relatively easily, we began to wonder about the reported sighting by one individual at 4pm.   

The weather for Sunday indicated minimal wind and a bank of cloud drifting in from the west, bringing persistent rain with heavier intervals, so we took the decision not to start early and monitor the weather from the comfort of our accommodation.

Day two (Sunday) dawned with a damp, grey hue beneath a blanket of slow moving, rain dispensing clouds. There was no ringing in the morning but this allowed time to watch the tide roll in at the Hayle Estuary. In the evening we joined MG for an attempt at a Swallow roost but only 30 or so birds were caught after a Hobby put most of the birds off. After splitting the team, the Swallows were processed and roosted while three others set for Storm Petrels at the Lizard. The lures worked and 6 new birds and one French ringed bird before deteriorating conditions forced an early finish at 1.00am.

 Storm Petrel

Day 3 (Monday), considering that the alarm failed to go off, it was perhaps surprising that we were on site at Marazion before 6am. With the nets fully deployed, it became apparent that there had been an exodus of Reed Warblers during the previous day and most of the catch was made up of Sedge Warblers, with again no Aquatics being drawn to the tape lures. A Honey Buzzard and Black-tailed Godwit flew over during the morning. A brief sleep after the session then out again to visit the Hayle. This evening the regular gulls, ducks, Curlew and Little Egrets were joined by 5 Black-tailed and 1 Bar-tailed Godwits.

Day 4 (Tuesday) turned out to be our best day with 39 birds caught, but still no target species. The afternoon was spent at Nanquidno, producing a single Pied Flycatcher in the garden of the last house.

Juvenile Reed Warbler showing growth bars on wings and tail.

Day 5 (Wednesday) was our quietest day with only 12 birds. An afternoon visit to Nanjizal had several butterflies along the lanes on route to the sea including a number of Wall Browns. At Nanjizal a couple of Chough were seen heading towards Lands End.

 Wall Brown

Day 6 (Thursday) was again a moder day producing 23 birds and frustratingly MG managed to catch, around 10.15 the target species 15 miles away at Gunwellow on the Lizzard, much to our frustration. An afternoon visit to Cot Valley revealed at least 8 Basking Sharks at the bottom of the valley and we also had another Chough over.

Basking Shark

Day 7 (Friday) was started off with the weekend forecast rain. The morning was spent in the dry but by early pm the rain had stopped and we headed off to Porthgwarra. There was a steady southerly wind at about 15/20 mph. The seawatching was not especially heavy with about 20 odd Balearic Shearwatres going by, single Sooty Shearwater, and Arctic and Pomarine Skuas, along with 2 Great Skuas. a number of Manx Shearwaters were passing with a lot more Gannets. Late pm we were joined by Mark Thomas. The passage had got slower, so we decided to head off and look for the two Wrynecks at the farms on the way back to Polgigga. As we had just pack up and started to walk off Mark shouted and called us back - he had just picked up a Feas Petrel to the right of Runnelstone buoy, and then lost it. Some else mentioned they might have to the right of the buoy a few minutes later and I managed to get on the bird, which despite a departing view clearly was the 'bird'. Alas Denise never got onto to it. Having disappear out of sight, we continued off up the lane to the farm, where despite seeing one, found two Wrynecks frequenting an ants nest in the stone wall.

Day 7 (Saturday)we woke to find the forecast 40mph winds, well not there, but still head off to Pendeen. There were a few birds going by, but not the expect thrill of a good passage in storng winds. In between some heavy showers we managed a few Balearic, a couple of Sooty and many Manx Shearwaters. A single Pomarine, five Arctic and four Great Skuas, and two Common Scoter. With the onset of some heavy rain, lacking in a full set of water proofs and no umbrellas, taking the lower than expected winds we decided a good soaking was not called for so we departed. During about 3 -4 hours of non stop rain the winds got up, and despite being aware of a Cory's at Pendeen, we did not get to hear of the Greats also going by, so despite the rain stopping around 4pm, we did not return. We did manage to see one of the Spotted Crakes at Marazion though before heading back home.

Totals for the week:-













33 (5)


Wednesday 15 August 2012

Stanwell Moor - 14 August 2012

Chris and I were joined by CDW to have another try at the roost and put nets up over the already diminishing flashes. Conditions were good but we weren't seeing birds in large numbers around the lake. As always, in order to put up nets in the water meadow all the ducks and waders including 6 Greenshank and 2 Green Sandpiper were flushed off in the process.

Things went quite slowly. The tapes didn't draw much in and birds dribbled through while nothing connected with the flash nets and few hirundines were seen overhead. A Hobby drifted above the lake, alighting on one of the taller trees lining the silt beds as Chris returned from the meadow with a single Linnet. It seemed that it was just one of those quiet nights, especially when only 3 birds were caught at the roost.

With all other nets down we made our way to the water meadow but nothing had been caught and birds could be heard departing as how ever hard we tried to be quiet, rather noisily sploshed through the standing water. We decided to give it until it got properly dark and secreted outselves briefly in the tall grass, before relocating to the soil slopes. We didn't see much but did hear some duck and Lapwing. On checking the net we had made one capture.

Totals: 13 (4)

Lapwing 1
Sand Martin 1
Swallow 2
Dunnock 0 (1)
Sedge Warbler 1
Reed Warbler  1 (1)
Blackcap 1 (1)
Willow Warbler 1
Chiff-chaff 1
Long-tailed Tit 3 (1)
Linnet 1

Wraysbury - 14 August 2012

While Chris had to go to work, I was at Wraysbury for an early start. This site plays host to 1000s of Sylvia and Phylloscopus warblers on autumn migration and additional midweek sessions are organised through September to monitor the birds. This was to be the first of the extra sessions.

We had 10 nets up, in single and double configurations and 7 ringers. It was a promising start with the best catches being Garden Warbler, 28 new and 5 re-traps, followed by Whitethroat, 18 new and 4 re-traps. The totals as follows:-

Totals: 92 (21)

Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Dunnock 2 (1)
Robin 5
Blackbird 1
Song Thrush 2
Lesser Whitethroat 1 (1)
Whitethroat 18 (4)
Garden Warbler 28 (5) 
Blackcap  24 (8)
Chiff-chaff 1
Willow Warbler 5 (1)
Blue Tit 1
Great Tit 2
Magpie 1        

Sunday 12 August 2012

Stanwell Moor - 11 August 2012

This was one of our rarer sessions planned for earlier in the day and with +1 expected we decided to maintain a presence at both the reed bed and water meadow. Unfortunately our help couldn’t join us but we decided to split our efforts anyway. The meadow supports a small pool in Spring and early Summer, but is usually long gone by this stage of the year. This was an unusual opportunity, but we still wanted to monitor what was happening in the reeds.

We put up 100ft of nets at the lake edge then put up a further three doubles covering three edges of open water in the water meadow. We saw two Sandwich Terns while setting up, prompting hopes that there could be ‘a bit around’ today.

I (Denise) took the first walk to the reeds and returned with three Reed Warblers and a Sedge, but Chris had surpassed himself while I was away by managing to extract and retain three Snipe that had hit the net together. Having the birds together helped with differentiation of their ages.

We tried unsuccessfully for Meadow Pipit at the flashes (although a few were seen heard) and Swallow, managing one bird as it skimmed the area catching some of the myriad of insect life rising above the water. The reed bed produced more warblers including Blackcap, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Willow and Garden warbler.

The day was topped off by a juvenile Osprey over at 10.40am heading East.


Lesser Whitethroat


flooded flash

Totals - 27

Snipe - 3
Swallow - 1
Dunnock - 1
Reed Warbler - 9
Sedge Warbler - 4
Whitethroat - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Garden Warbler - 4
Blackcap - 1
Willow Warbler - 1

Stanwell Moor - 9 August 2012

The evening was just how an evening in early August should be. Light wind, bathed in sunshine and with just the slightest of breezes to take the edge off the warmth. The prospect of a decent roost was promising, and the hirundines were totally relaxed and not in the least bit spooked by a hint of interest paid by a single Hobby as it flew, high, across the lake.

The session started with a cast of assorted warblers that trickled in and kept us occupied until roosting time. Chiffchaff CNB965 (4F  BP4) became the first Chiffchaff to be recorded at the site for two consecutive years.

We then caught our largest number of hirundines in one evening for the year. The total may be small in comparison to other roosts but between disturbance from aircraft that depart directly above the site (and put birds off - well no one sleeps under a flight path by choice) when the wind direction is wrong, or right, depending on your point of view and off putting attention from aeriel predators at dusk, we are always grateful to find more than a few birds in the net once the group has gone in. The first adult Sand Martins and Swallow of the year were among the catch.

Totals - 22 (3)

Reed Warbler - 3
Chiffchaff - 2 (1)
Blackcap - 3
Garden Warbler - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (2)
Robin - 1
Swallow - 7
Sand Martin -  5

Sunday 5 August 2012

Stanwell Moor - 5 August 2012

The forecast promised showers and breezy conditions, but we were sorely in need of some fresh air so we decided to try the grassy pool behind the soil mounds for Hirundines. The birds have been seen skimming the pool and surrounding long grass for insects on rare ocassions when the sun shines. As it turned out, the cloud was too high, the sun too intermittent and the wind too strong and we caught no Swallows or Sand Martin, however we managed a first Snipe (age 3) for the site, confirming our instincts that winter ringing at this spot would be worthwhile. Also a Wheatear that flew down past us towards the nets, saw them and sat on the pole, before flying off! We erected a single 60' next to the car and connected with a mixed foraging flock including a few Chiff-Chaffs.

A flock of some 40 Goldfinch were seen over the adjacent fields and we passed a flock of 100+ Linnet as we departed.

Snipe - 3

Totals: 7

Snipe - 1
Chiff-chaff - 4
Blue Tit - 2

Stanwell Moor - 1 August 2012

A moderate evening session with two new Cetti's Warblers, a female and juvenile and a Blue Tit from 2009, plus a couple of Sand Martins at roost, bringing the evenings total to 15. An area that normally only floods late winter in January or February is very wet and holding a few duck and waders, such as Lapwing and the odd Green Sandpiper, had 50 odd House martins feeding over it, which well be worth another look at sometime.Unfortunately it is a little bit to far from the main ringing area to be left unattended without more than the two of us.

Totals: 11 (4)

Sand Martin - 2
Cetti's Warbler - 2
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 2 (2)
Blackcap - 2
Chiff-chaff - 1
Great Tit - 1
Blue Tit -0 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (1)

Icklesham - 26 - 28 July 2012

This years visit to probably UKs busiest ringing operation was perhaps an indication of what this years UK migration might be like as catches were 75% less than this time last year. Hopefully it is not a true indication of how really bad our breeding season has been, because if it is, those of us that rely on it for some bigger catches in the autumn are going to be disappointed. Catches were around 100 each day. Fair number of adult Reed and Sedge Warblers being caught, with juveniles less abundant. Willow Warblers started to pick up be the end of the four days, but still nothing significant. Over the four days the only 'oddities' were a juvenile Water Rail, and single Wood Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher.

Water Rail - 3

Wood Warbler

Holly Blue

Elephant Hawkmoth

Poplar Hawkmoth

Common Blue Damsefly