Monday 27 January 2014

The Ketch, Hayling Island - 26 January 2014

A 7am meet meant a 5am get up in order to make it to the south coast in time. We had an uneventful run down and the weather was really quite mild on our arrival.

There were many hands (although having just the two shovels rather slowed things up) and the four cannons and single 18m net was soon set. The birds were a little flighty, moving to alternative waterside spots and being flushed by a jogger but eventually a good number settling in the desired spot. On firing most birds took off and it became apparent that one cannon had failed to fire leaving just 3 Redshank, one adult and two juveniles, to be colour-ringed.

With so small a catch I decided to document the complete process.

Metal ring applied above the knee.

 Wing measurement taken.

 Birds aged according to plummage features - this is a 5.

 Tarsus and toe ( not including the claw).

 Bill measurement.

 Combined head and bill.

Additional measurements are taken as these can indicate race and natal origin.

 The weight is taken and recorded.

Colour rings are fitted.

Each bird is photographed just prior to release.

Totals : 3

Redshank - 3.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Broadwater GP - 25 January 2014

A visit to the other end of the lake was full of promise for CL, DKL & EP as a lot of birds were in evidence. Four nets sited along the river were tantalisingly close to a number of birds, particularly several bands of Long-tailed Tit accompanied by birds of Chiffchaff varieties that nipped over or skirted past along hedgerows just behind the net.

It was very interesting to watch the Siberian and usual Chiffs flicking through the whippy twigs and branches above and along the river, which was a novelty in itself as it had breached one bank in places to flow into an adjacent body of water. In the event our success was limited to three Goldcrest and a Wren.

Goldcrests aged 5 and 6 - tails for comparisen

 6 Male wing - whiter and more clearly marked tips to tertials and greater coverts. The rounder primary coverts are unfortunately not too easy to see here.

5 Male wing - Tipping less defined and feathers generally less pristine.

Totals: 4

Wren - 1
Goldcrest - 3

Thursday 23 January 2014

Queen Mother Res - 22 January 2014

A visit to see if the Ring-billed Gull put in another appearance - large reservoirs are not the best place to look for Gulls, let along one that would take a lot of careful observing to pick out, but there had also been a Glaucous Gull in nearby Bourne End, which if it came in, are usually a lot easier to pick out, but neither were seen, with only a single adult Mediterranean Gull being seen, along with two Peregrines, a Buzzard and a Red Kite.

Home Cottage Farm and Beaconsfield Motorway Services - 21 January 2014

A morning visit to the orchard, DKL and myself having set and furled the nets the night before, I was met by ESA, RMA and PW, minus D as she was at work, and a lack of frost, and consequently a lack of birds in the morning fog/mist. Only three birds were caught, with thankfully at least one Redwing, but Thrushes were few at the site.

Totals: 2 (1)

Blackbird - 1
Redwing - 1
Blue Tit - 0 (1)

We were joined by ESA, RMA and PW for an attempt at the Pied Wagtail roost this evening. On arrival it really didn't look good as several vans were scattered around the coach park. With time, most moved away and the last vehicles moved off as we set the two three panel 40s along the hedge. At that point a tow truck came and abandoned a Red Ford Fiesta that had obviously encountered some nature of front end accident (and didn't appear drivable) along with its two very unhappy looking occupants right in the wrong place. As roosting time approached birds started to gather on the services roof. The wind was getting up so the nets were billowing much more than we would have wanted or was forecast. At that point the AA man arrived and started to attend to the stricken vehicle - right in front of the nets where the wagtails would usually totter about prior to roost. This really was the last straw and with birds diving straight into the roost trees from above, we abandoned our effort and took down.

We resisted the temptation to call in at 'The Hope and Champion' the first motorway service  station pub in the country,  a Weatherspoons, that opened on site at 4am this morning, amidst much controversy, and went home early.

Wraysbury GP - 20 January 2014

A visit by ourselves today was for Thrushes, with reasonable numbers on site, being very mobile and switching readily from the bushes to the very wet open fields, which were even attracting reasonable numbers of Black-headed Gulls down to fed in the many wet pools. Setting up turned out not to be a piece of cake, as we had strung seven nets in a line, which put too much tension on the first nets pegs, which decided to shoot out. Well, you cannot expect everything to go well, all the time! Alas, the birds whilst present were not too obliging either, and tended to prefer to feed on the very muddy open areas. We did manage a couple of Fieldfare and a single Redwing by the end of the session, but the catch over all was low with only nine birds.



Totals: 7 (2)

Wren - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Robin - 2
Blackbird - 1
Fieldfare - 2
Redwing - 1

North Norfolk - 18/19 - January 2014

This was not especially a birding weekend, but we took the opportunity to have a bit of a run around on Saturday to Holme and Titchwell.

Holme was relatively quiet. We failed to see the Short-eared Owls by the entrance and even the beach and sea seemed, on this day, to be slightly devoid of birds. There is at the moment an unusually large flock of Pink-foots in the area which may be present due to changes brought about by the storm surge making previous wintering areas less favourable. So apart from three Marsh Harriers, a single Red-throated Diver and a few Red-breasted Mergansers, we spent nearly two hours chatting to Sophie at the NOA.

Sea Buckthorne Holme

Little Egret - Holme

Titchwell had it's usual collection of winter waders and what seemed to be a higher than normal number of Pintail on the fresh marsh. Again the sea was relatively quiet, apart from a few Goldeneye and a fairly large flock of Common Scoter, which when they took flight contained at least one Velvet Scoter, nothing else was picked up, although a Peregrine going through the beach waders provided a distraction as it put everything up.

Common Scoter Titchwell, with a Velvet Scoter in there somewhere!

Sunday was supposed to be a ringing morning at Natural Surroundings NR, but it was raining and did not stop until 10.30am. It was too late to consider doing anything, but whilst sat in the cafe we saw a couple of Brambling and the Marsh Tits toing and froing from the feeder.  Afterwards we drifted towards Cley, but decided not to bother joining the 20 odd people looking at the Glossy Ibis as it did not seem worth the hassle after the daily roost flights of several thousand in Spain at the end of October, with no other birder in sight!

Monday 20 January 2014

Wraysbury GP - 17 January 2014

Today was a bit of a hit or miss attempt for Thrushes, mainly as they were present in two main areas and rain was very likely, so we went to the area nearest to walk to, which had had a number of Thrushes feeding on the floor and going between the vegetation the previous day. Birds flew off as we walked over, but despite playing the Redwing tape, whilst birds did come into the surrounding trees, it became obvious they were going to remain too high, and the birds were not inclined to drop down onto the ground. A walk on the other side of the stream found the area held more Fieldfare and Redwing, as it had done the day before, where, even when they were disturbed, the birds tended to fly from bush to bush and remain low, so this area will need another visit soon to see if it produces better results. Heavy rain set in after an hour and a half, during which we caught only two birds, albeit Thrushes, not the species we were trying to target. The rain seemed to reduce the bird activity and we packed up by midday, rather wet.

Totals: 2

Blackbird - 1
Song Thrush - 1

Staines and Wraysbury areas - 16 January 2014

Going out just to bird is not something that I find I overly do locally these days, but today was one of those days, but without taking the camera, again. First port of call was Staines Reservoir, which after some searching I managed to pick up the Slavonian Grebe that was tight up against the far north bank, but three Black-necked Grebes and a single male Scaup on the south basin were more visible.

A wet and slippery trod around Wraysbury GP followed, that only produced three Goosanders and a female Smew, plus a single Chiff-chaff and a pair of Cetti's Warblers, plus good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing. The visit also brought to mind a ringing visit for the Thrushes, plus a ringing visit to a damp wooded area for later this month.

A visit to the cafe in the Stanwell garden centre was to be followed by a return home, but I some how managed to get myself to walk around Staines Moor, which failed to produce any Jack Snipe, or many Snipe for that matter, but a Little Egret was seen, together with two Water Pipits and two Stonechat.

Friday 17 January 2014

Beaconsfield Motorway Services - 14 January 2014

A team of five (CL,DKL,MRB,PW and Margaret) convened in the carpark to observe the Pied Wagtails at their pre-roost activities and to try for the first catch of 2014. As usual, there was an HGV parked at the back of the coach park and we were only able to put up one 60ft net on that side. We used two three panel 40s above the low hedge on the other side of the coach park and settled down to wait.
It was clear that the numbers had increased somewhat since our last attempt on December 12th with circa 200 birds loafing on the service station roof, then wandering around the tarmac. The birds had started to catch just before 5pm and a total of 29 were taken from nets. There were two retraps, both 6Ms having been ringed on 1st February 2013.

Totals : 27 (2)

Pied Wagtail - 27 (2)

Chobham Common - 14 January 2014

A visit to the south side with EP and Richard Cope, during which it soon become evident that the birds were in short supply. A 40/60 dogleg was set with Redpoll tape playing, plus two parallel 19mesh 60s set for Redwing, playing Redwing :), a single 60 and two 40 double panels for Dartfords. We had two quick Lesser Redpolls, but then nothing. There were no Thrushes going over at all, let alone responding to the tape, plus the Dartfords failed to appear, so with the only addition being a Goldcrest, we were packed up by 10am. We then set off around the common to try and find Dartfords as part of the monitoring that the RG do at this site, and eventually came across at least seven, plus three Stonechats at least. We manged to trap two un-rung Dartfords, both males, a 6 (adult) and 5 (last years juvenile), and also lost two through holes in the net.

Dartford Warbler (6 and 5 males)

Totals: 5

Dartford Warbler - 2
Goldcrest - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 2

Saturday 11 January 2014

Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath - 11 January 2014

A dire day. Nets set before dawn but no Redwings or Fieldfare. We definitely need frost - or snow for this site to produce worthwhile results.
There are no bird photoes for the day and only 3 rings used as most birds were retrapped. A 6M Blackbird had been aged as 6 when first ringed on 7th January 2012.

A disappointing result for TA, EP and PW who joined us.

Totals - 3 (5)

Blackbird - 0 (1)
Blue Tit - 1 (2)
Great Tit - 1 (2)
Chaffinch - 1

Friday 10 January 2014

Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath - 10 January 2014

An early start to make the most of the thrushes and calm conditions.  PD, MRB and Margaret joined up with us and nets were placed in three separate orchards with a couple of extras near our base.
There seemed to have been a change in the numbers of birds with fewer Fieldfare about but increased numbers of Redwing.

The first round yielded some of our target species and a young Sparrowhawk.

 Adult Redwing

 Song Thrush - aged 5

5M Sparrowhawk

The next round brought more thrushes to the ringing table including a rather smart male Fieldfare.

6M Fieldfare

Then a small tit flock found one of the doubles and we got some Blue and Great Tits. These included  some retraps but none were particularly old. A Treecreeper was the most interesting individual of the group.

Treecreeper aged 4

The birds trickled in with more Redwing, Fieldfare and a couple of Blackbirds.

Adult Redwing

 The remains of a Sparrowhawk kill (perhaps of the female ringed at the
end of  December as a Fieldfare would be rather large for a male bird
such as that ringed today).

Unusual light effect - not a rainbow and the sun was just 
out of shot to the right.

The morning had quietened down substantially by 11am so we packed up early - but will try again tomorrow when a heavier frost is expected. Thanks to the owners of HCF for allowing us access and to those who joined our team today.

Totals: 28 (9)

Sparrowhawk - 1
Blackbird - 2
Fieldfare - 6
Redwing - 11
Song Thrush - 1
Blue Tit - 2 (5)
Great Tit - 3 (4)
Treecreeper - 1
Chaffinch - 1

Thursday 9 January 2014

Broadwater GP - 8 January 2014

This was the second outing of the year, minus Denise as she was alas back at work, but I met up with EP, one of the groups other A ringers and PW a trainee. The wind was lower than expected, but this site has the benefit of being fairly well sheltered, and looking at the tree tops there did seem to be a bit more of airflow than we were experiencing at ground level. The site can be a little Tit focused, but can have a few wintering Chiff-chaffs and Goldcrests present, and often can produce a few birds. Today was not the busiest but with most catches locally not being that productive lately within the RG, 33 in total was not to be considered bad. Three Redwings came to the now infamous MP3 recording, though more did lingering higher up without coming down further, a Lesser Redpoll responded to tape, with also Chaffinch and Bullfinch putting in an appearance, three Goldcrest, including the re-trapping of one bird caught here in November, though originally rung at Hilfield Park Res, with the rest where the usual Tits suspects. The trainee had a couple of new birds and was left the two Magpies to do, due to lack of interest of the two A ringers present. A Blackcap singing as we packed up rounded off the morning.

Magpie - 5

Bullfinch - 6 female

Totals: 24 (9)

Wren - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Robin - 2
Goldcrest - 2 (1)
Redwing - 3
Blue Tit - 4 (1) 
Great Tit - 4 (4) 
Long-tailed Tit - 3 (1)
Magpie - 2
Chaffinch - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 1
Bullfinch - 1

Sunday 5 January 2014

Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath - 5 January 2014

The first mist netting session of the year, and after our last try at this site ( when so many birds flushed as we went in to set nets) we got rather keen and went in for 6.15am to set two runs of three nets with the aid of headlamps. It was quite difficult as the apple trees are due a prune soon and many slender branches extend into the rides at head height. There was even enough light to get another two up before ESA and RMA arrived for the 7.30am start that we'd arranged.

 Red sky in the morning heralded rain due later in the day.

We were pleased to find several Fieldfare in the nets on our first round.

5F Fieldfare

There were also a couple of Redwing attracted by the audiolure.

Redwing aged 5 displaying a flash of red underwing.

We went on to put three additional nets up beneath a large pear tree where the fruit were fermenting.

There were a few more Fieldfare including a young bird with a single adult tail feather growing in amongst the faded and broken tipped juvenile retricies.

Fieldfare aged 5

Adult male Fieldfare

We managed a few Chaffinch, none of which were afflicted with diseased feet happily.

5M Chaffinch

The morning was rounded off with a new species for ESA, the only bird from the pear tree configuration.

 Mistle Thrush aged 5

Before we packed up in plenty of time to avoid the worse of the wind and all of the rain and went home to polish off a bottle of mulled wine. We only drink it after a good few hours outside, preferably with snow or frost on the ground and this has been our first opportunity this festive season (today being the 11th day of Christmas.)

Totals: 21

Fieldfare - 9
Redwing - 6
Mistlethrush - 1
Great Tit - 1
Chaffinch -4