Tuesday 29 December 2015

Broadwater GP - 29 December 2015

The last site visit of 2015 joined by MRB, Margaret and James. There were only 14 birds, but when ringing a surprise is always possible and today it was that the last bird of the year was a Blackcap. Overwintering Chiffchaff are much more regularly caught than Blackcap.

3M Blackcap

There were a few Blackbirds and a couple of Redwing. We also managed singles of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll from the few small flocks that were seen passing overhead from mid to late morning.

 3M Siskin showing obvious contrast between new and retained greater coverts.

3F Lesser Redpoll

Wren EJJ903, a known adult, showed distinct contrast within the greater coverts and did not have a particularly strongly barring. However it was not very gingery in colouration and did had 12 spots on P4. A guide published on the Ottenby Obseravatory website is very useful but this bird definitely had a step and contrast within the greater coverts (confirmed by second ringer).

 EJJ903, adult Wren ringed as a juvenile 20/07/2014.

Totals: 10 (4)

Wren - 0 (1)
Blackbird - 3
Redwing - 2
Blackcap - 1
Chiffchaff - 1 (1)
Goldcrest - 1 (1)
Great Tit - 0 (1)
Siskin - 1
Lesser Redpoll- 1

Monday 28 December 2015

Stanwell GP - 28 December 2015

There has been a real shortage of decent ringing weather this festive period and we were in dire need of fresh air so, in spite of the strong gusts in the forecast, we headed to Stanwell for our third visit of the month.

Bird of the day was undoubtedly a female Firecrest.

3F Firecrest

Just two Redwing were attracted as they departed from their roost.

Age 3 Redwing

Two Cetti's Warbler males were also captured, a new male and D860121, last recaptured on August 2nd and initially ringed at Bedfont CP in July 2014.

 Male Cetti's Warbler Z761916

Of several Reed Buntings seen, only one was captured.

 3M Reed Bunting

Sightings included a Little Egret, 2 Fieldfare, 8 Skylark, a Buzzard and 27 Lapwing.

Totals:  14 (12)

Wren - 2
Robin - 1
Blackbird - 1 (1)
Redwing - 2
Song Thrush - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 1 (1)
Goldcrest - 2 (2)
Firecrest - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (8)
Reed Bunting - 1

Tuesday 22 December 2015

River Thames, Windsor - 22 December 2015

The morning was spent collecting ring numbers on Mute Swans at Windsor. There were only five or six with darvics and most of those had been seen before so we were reliant on binoculars and photography to record numbers on metal rings. The numbers can only be recorded when the birds haul out of he water, an action that scratches the metal and can make rings difficult to read.

Many birds carry two rings, one BTO and the other from swan upping http://www.royalswan.co.uk/sources/indexPop.htm

From this visit we recorded around ten new swan numbers and a Canada Goose.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Broadwater GP - 18 December 2015

A rather slow morning, even the feeders weren't drawing the birds - we struggled up to twenty or so with a lot of recaptures, but it was so slow that we packed up early and were off site before midday.

 3F Chaffinch

 Age 4 Redwing

4M Great Tit

This winter, same as last year,  there are few birds around our ringing site. We suspect a lot of birds may be spending time at the other end of the lake along the River Colne. In the past we have believed that it's warmer for the birds there - but temperature is obviously not a problem for the birds currently -perhaps a try on the banks of the Colne is in order.

Totals: 12 (9)

Robin - 0 (1)
Redwing - 2
Chiffchaff - 2 (1)
Goldcrest - 1 (2)
Blue Tit - 0 (3)
Great Tit - 4 
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (1)
Treecreeper - 0 (1)
Chaffinch - 2
Siskin - 1

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Wraysbury GP - 15 December 2015

We took the chance to catch a few birds before the rain, forecast to start at around noon. From just two doubles and a couple of singles we managed over 40 birds in about 4 hours. A high proportion were recaptures with six Redwing and a young male Sparrowhawk among the new birds ringed.

 Age 3 Redwing

3M Sparrowhawk

The drizzle actually began to fall before midday but we were already packed up and off site by 11.50am.

Totals: 24 (19)

Sparrowhawk - 1
Blackbird - 2 (2)
Song Thrush - 1
Redwing - 6
Dunnock - 4 (3)
Robin - 0 (3)
Blue Tit - 3 (2)
Great Tit - 4 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (6)
Goldcrest - 2 (2)
Goldfinch - 1
Chaffinch - 1

Sunday 13 December 2015

Stanwell Moor GP - 13 December 2015

Today we returned to Stanwell to monitor the reedbed at the end of the day, to see whether many Redwing and any other species are roosting over night. We only got a few birds, half and half new and retraps, and no Redwing although a few came in to roost but kept well above the height of the nets.

Totals: 5 (5)

Wren - 0 (1)
Robin - 0 (1)
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird -1

Cetti's Warbler - 0 (1)
Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 2 (2)

Thursday 10 December 2015

Broadwater GP - 9 December 2015

We were joined, today, by MRB and Margaret to ring at Broadwater. We were there at 7am, so it still was rather dark as the first nets went up. The audiolure was on in no time and we hoped to get a few of the roosting Redwing before they all left. The feeders had been topped up the previous day so we hoped that might help to increase the catch. We put up two doubles, two singles and a new short single close to our ringing base and waited to see what we'd get.

The feeder nets brought in some tits, including a couple of Coal Tits.

 Coal Tit age 3

 Most Redwing left the roost soon after first light. We have noticed that they usually do this when the sky is clear, as it was today. However, we did catch 4 singles, first one at 7.30am and the last at 11.30am. Some birds seem to remain close to the roost trees and feed in the locale for most of the morning.

 Age 3 Redwing

We were pleased to catch a few Goldcrest, and also a couple of Chiffchaff. The increase in overwintering birds recorded has been quite marked, and differs greatly to numbers caught as little as five years or so ago.

A late addition, and a little group we were especially pleased to connect with was a small party of Siskin. Six males were captured together, with a sole female netted in the following round.

 3M Siskin

 4M Siskin

Having seen the recently published paper by the Kews on social groupings of Siskin, we decided to release the six birds together, as we would usually do with Long-tailed Tits. It was interesting that, rather than fly off together, the six birds performed what can best be described as a 'bomb burst', scattering in all directions - perhaps a case of 'every man for himself' where batchelor flocks are concerned. Maybe they they met up again later.

A link to the paper is provided below.


Totals: 27 (16)

Wren - 0 (1)
Robin - 1(1)
Song Thrush - 1
Redwing - 4
Chiffchaff - 1 (1)
Goldcrest - 10 (3) 
Blue Tit - 0 (7)
Great Tit - 1 (2)
Coal Tit - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 0 ( 1)
Siskin - 7

Monday 7 December 2015

Stanwell Moor GP- 7 December 2015

We took the opportunity to get out this morning and visited Stanwell. We are a bit out of touch with the site due to not having ringed there since August. On arrival, in the semi dark, it became apparent that there is now a Redwing roost - but no sign of Starlings, that had been expected.

There was a bit of maintenance to do, then four nets were erected and tapes played. Several Redwing were attracted, but generally kept to the taller sallows so that all but one evaded the nets.

Adult Redwing

As the morning drew on the totals increased, some species being captured two by two.
There were a couple of wintering Chiffchaff, two Reed Buntings and also two Cetti's Warblers.

 Age 3 Chiffchaff

 3M Reed Bunting

3F Cetti's Warbler (the second was a male)

There were a few Goldcrests, two of which had not been ringed at the site. One, JAR103, is a bird ringed at another of our group's sites - at present the record has yet to be uploaded to the main database - our money is on Bedfont, but we might be wrong. The other bird was an HHB prefix and was definitely not a group ring. We look forward to receiving details.

Totals: 31 (3)

Robin - 1
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird -1
Redwing - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 2
Chiffchaff - 2
Goldcrest - 5 (2)
Blue Tit - 4 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 12 
Reed Bunting - 2

Thursday 3 December 2015

Broadwater GP - 2 December 2015

Another week where weather conditions are not ideal and Broadwater is the only site sufficiently sheltered to permit ringing. We only set five nets as we expected the wind to get up pretty soon and anticipated a short session.

The new feeders were completely emptied - apparently there are squirrels, even 'though we have never seen any! There was less cloud than at previous sessions and the roosting Redwing soon departed dispite the Latvian audiolure.

We processed a total of  26 birds with several retraps. Highlights were three wintering Chiffchaff, four Lesser Redpoll and of course no session is complete, this winter,without the inevitable Goldcrests.

 3M Lesser Redpoll

 One of the captured Goldcrests was not ringed as it has a deformed foot. This is the second time it has been caught, in the last month, and this 3M manages to maintain a healthy weight and plumage in good condition.

Unringed Goldcrest with foot deformity.

Totals:  21 (5)

Blackbird -1
Chiffchaff - 3
Goldcrest - 4 (2)
Blue Tit - 4
Great Tit -  4 (3)
Chaffinch - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 4

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Broadwater GP - 25 November 2015

RMA and ESA joined us for the rather windy morning with Broadwater being the ideal, sheltered site. We arrived in a shower that soon cleared, but since more rain was expected within a couple of hours we only put up four nets - ready for a speedy take down if necessary. The species list was dominated by Goldcrests and the Latvian recording enticed eight Redwing down to be captured.
There was a high proportion of retraps including a couple of Coal Tits and a good number of Long-tailed Tits.

 3M Coal Tit

Totals: 25 (18)

Blackbird - 2
Redwing - 8
Chiffchaff - 1 (1)
Goldcrest - 11 (5)
Blue Tit - 1 (1)
Coal Tit - 1 (2)
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (9)
Chaffinch - 1

Friday 20 November 2015

Broadwater GP - 20 November 2015

We're not quite ready to lead any sessions out yet, as we are still sorting ourselves out after two months away from home, so were delighted when MRB and Margaret asked if we would like to join them and BC for a morning at Broadwater. We feel as though we've spent far too much time indoors over the last few days - having got used to the fresh air and ringing routines in Denmark, so of course, we went.

There were 29 birds and the Latvian Redwing tape did us proud, attracting ones and twos, most rounds, over the course of four hours.

Redwing age 3

There were eight Goldcrests, a species that we had a lot of experience of in Denmark, but there was another less welcome reminder of our time there as the two Goldfinches seemed to have the fungal infection that we has been recording, mainly in robins, at Gedser Fuglestation. Neither MRB or BC had seen the infection before.

Totals: 27 (2)

Wren - 2 (1)
Redwing - 12
Blackcap - 1
Chiffchaff - 1 (1)
Goldcrest - 8
Coal Tit - 1
Goldfinch - 2
Lesser Redpoll - 1
Goldcrest - 6

Sunday 15 November 2015

Gedser Fuglestation - 15 November 2015

This was to be the last full day of ringing at Gedser, but rain continued until well after midday so nets were not dropped until around 2pm. That meant that we could use tapes as it was much too late to do a standard session.

We caught a few birds, quite a lot of Blackbirds, with many being recaptures.

 Age 3 male Blackbird (1k Solsort)

There wasn't too much damage after the storm, we had one net down due to the net working too far down the pole until it went over, but the other nets were still safely furled with nothing more than leaves caught on a few. 

 A fallen tree just missed the storage shed.

Totals: 22 (10 )

Tårnfalk / Kestrel - 1
Rødhals / Robin - 0 (1)
Solsort / Blackbird - 4 (7)
Vindrossel / Redwing - 3
Munk / Blackcap - 1
Gransanger / Chiffchaff - 1
Fuglekonge / Goldcrest - 5 (1)
Grønsisken / Siskin - 5
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll - 1
Stor Dompap / Northern Bullfinch - 1 (1)

We have thoroughly enjoyed our autumn at Gedser and have met some wonderful people who put so much time and effort into making the observatory a success. It is a superb ringing site with plenty of nets and sheltered areas so that it is usually possible to open some nets, whatever the direction of the wind. It has been fantastic to monitor the progress of birds on migration, processing mainly passerines, with such obvious visual migration going on all around us. During the time we have been here, 10th September to 15th November, a total of 7547 birds were ringed, 5881 of these by Chris and myself with 2745 of these being Goldcrests. It has been brilliant! Thanks to everyone involved with the fuglestation - you are all fantastic.

 Chris in the ringing lab - such a luxury, we usually ring out of our car boot.
One of my favourite birds of the autumn.

We hope to come back again one day.

But, much as we would love to, we can't be here every year so there are volunteering opportunities here for licenced ringers.

Gedser is one of only three main observatories on Denmark and is located at the most southerly point of Scandinavia. It is an important departure point for raptors and passerines and the observatory is just a short walk from the tip, a viewpoint for staggering numbers of ducks and geese passing close to the coast. Busiest ringing days are during Autumn - late September into October with large volumes of common migrants such as Robin, Siskin and Goldcrest, although every year is different. Our stay in Autumn 2015 was remarkable for the numbers of Goldcrest that passed through, 700+ on one day alone. More unusual species should be encountered although we somehow only got one Yellow-browed warbler when so many were turning up in Western Europe and the UK - and there was also a Red-flanked Bluetail! If you think that this could be the place for you next migration season,  have a look at either our or the Gedser Fuglestation blog for more information. We're also happy to answer any questions and provide details of the fuglestation management.


Saturday 14 November 2015

Gedser Fuglestation - 14 November 2015 Great Grey Shrike (Stor Tornskade)

We couldn't do standard ringing again. After a start to the day when we thought there may not be any sheltered nets, we were extremely excited to find that we had caught a Great Grey Shrike (Stor Tornskade). Not bad when we only got 13 birds.

 Adult Great Grey Shrike (2k+ Stor Tornskade)

 We had not been able to open any nets until 10:00am, and even then we had to close twice due to squally showers. Earlier, it was really looking as though there was no chance of any birds, and certainly not a new species! Neither of us had ringed Great Grey Shrike (Stor Tornskade) but this bird was processed by me, Denise.

When I recorded this video I would never have imaged the day could bring such a fantastic bird!

Totals: 13 (1)

Rødhals / Robin - 2
Fuglekonge / Goldcrest - 1 (1)
Stor Tornskade / Great Grey Shrike- 1
Gråsisken / Redpoll -1
Nordlig  Gråsisken / Common Redpoll - 2
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll - 6

Friday 13 November 2015

Gedser Fuglestation - 13 November 2015

Another day of strong wind. The direction had shifted slightly so that even the two sheltered nets where we'd been using audiolures were being affected, particularly by the strong gusts that definitely exceeded the forecast.

We did make a attempt to encourage some finches in first thing in the morning but soon gave up and closed for the day.

Totals:  7

Fuglekonge / Goldcrest - 1
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll - 6

Thursday 12 November 2015

Gedser Fuglestation - 12 November 2015 - some speedy control returns

Yet more very windy weather, but this time with some sunshine. Birds seemed to be more willing to make the crossing and, as we've seen before little alighted in the garden. Hence the very low total for the day.
It really does feel as though migration is almost done. We noticed that the snow poles have been put out alongside the road - it's soon be time for us to be making our way back to the UK too.

Totals:   ( 9 ) 1

Spurvehøg / Sparrowhawk - 1
Fuglekonge / Goldcrest - 0 (1)
Bogfinke / Chaffinch - 1
Grønsisken / Siskin -2
Nordig Gråsisken / Common Redpoll - 1
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll - 4

We have had news of some birds that we controlled earlier in the season -

 13/10/2015 - Rødhals / Robin (first year, 1k) CX49203

Ringnr. Stockholm CX...49203
Dato 27-09-2015 09:00
Art Rødhals (Erithacus rubecula)
Sted Bredmar / Byn, Landsort
Område SV57: Stockholm, Sweden
Alder 1k
Køn Ukendt
Ringmærker(e) Swedish Bird Ringing Centre
Afstand 589 km
Tid 0 år 0 måneder 16 dage (=16 dage)
Retning 220° SW

On the 29th October we captured Grønsisken / Sisken, first year female 1k hun  CX96622 and Fuglekonge/ Goldcrest, first year male 1k han, TL0973.

Ringnr. Stockholm CX...96622
Dato 24-09-2015 11:00
Art Grønsisken (Carduelis spinus)
Sted Fyren, Falsterbo
Område SV63: Skåne, Sweden
Alder 1k
Køn Hun
Ringmærker(e) Swedish Bird Ringing Centre
Afstand 106 km
Tid 0 år 1 måneder 5 dage (=35 dage)
Retning 211° SSW

Ringnr. Stockholm TL....0973
Dato 11-10-2015 09:00
Art Fuglekonge (Regulus regulus)
Sted Ottenby, Ottenby
Område SV71: Öland, Sweden
Alder 1k
Køn Han
Ringmærker(e) Swedish Bird Ringing Centre
Afstand 334 km
Tid 0 år 0 måneder 18 dage (=18 dage)
Retning 239° WSW

A Fuglekonge / Goldcrest, first year female 1k hun, TL0266 was caught on the 30th October.

Ringnr. Stockholm TL....0266
Dato 09-10-2015 08:00
Art Fuglekonge (Regulus regulus)
Sted Ottenby, Ottenby
Område SV71: Öland, Sweden
Alder 1k
Køn Hun
Ringmærker(e) Swedish Bird Ringing Centre
Afstand 334 km
Tid 0 år 0 måneder 21 dage (=21 dage)
Retning 239° WSW

We have been very impressed by the speed of returns achieved by the Danish and Swedish organisers of the ringing schemes.

Good birding!

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Gedser Fuglestation - 11 November 2015

For the second day running we have been unable to complete a standard session due to the weather, however today we did drop a couple of sheltered nets and play for Redpoll as flocks were heading down to the tip, then working their way North again having decided not to cross the Baltic.

We recaptured three Goldcrest (Fuglekonge) and encouraged some Redpoll (Gråsisken) and Sisken (Grønsisken) down to the nets. The catch included a partially leucistic Lesser Redpoll (Lille Gråsisken) with  patchy white colouration on the head, no black leg colouration and pale flanks.

Partially leucistic Redpoll

 The lack of black colouration in the legs was quite stricking although claws 
were the usual very dark colour.

Totals: 62 (3)

Fuglekonge / Goldcrest - 0 (3)
Blåmejse / Blue Tit - 1
Grønsisken / Siskin - 5
Gråsisken/ Redpoll species (believed intermediate) - 3
Nordig Gråsisken / Common Redpoll - 12
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll- 41

Monday 9 November 2015

Gedser Fuglestation - 9 November 2015

Adverse weather again - strong winds after much rain during the night. We managed to open enough nettage for a standard session, choosing the most sheltered nets next to vegetation where most of the leaves were already on the ground, but the large numbers of thrushes and finches reluctant to migrate in the conditions stayed high and most avoided the nets.

The first two birds of the day were a couple of 2nd winter Sparrowhawk (Spurvehøg). These were interesting to compare as they were moulting their feathers in slightly different sequences.

 First 2nd winter Sparrowhawk male (2k Spurvehøg han)

 New secondaries, retained primaries.

 One outer tail feather, on each side, retained.

 Second 2nd winter Sparrowhawk male (2k Spurvehøg han) with
head and breast looking more adultlike than first bird.

 Tail moult less advanced - total of six retained retrices

After standand we tried some sound and attracted some Redpoll before the point in the afternoon where the garden was seemingly lifeless, three rounds had produced nothing and nets were closed with no prospect of opening after dark due to the strengthening wind.

However, one of the Lesser Redpoll (Lille Gråsisken) had a golden rather than red poll. This is quite unusual and may be due to a dietry deficiency although the precise cause is unknown.

 Juvenile Lesser Redpoll (1k Lille Gråsisken)

Totals: 35 (3)
Spurvehøg / Sparrowhawk -3
Rødhals / Robin - 0 (1)
Fuglekonge / Goldcrest - 6 (2)
Bogfinke / Chaffinch - 2
Grønsisken / Siskin -6
Nordlig Gråsisken / Common Redpoll - 5
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll - 11
Stor Dompap / Northern Bullfinch - 2