Saturday 24 January 2015

Wraysbury GP - 23 January 2015

Cold and frosty weather always tempts us out to Wraysbury and as usual, our focus was for winter thrushes. On arrival the numbers of Fieldfare seemed to have reduced, as had the supply of rosehips, the reason why this site is such a draw for thrushes in winter.

Frosted rosehips

We only managed to catch one Fieldfare but there were four Blackbirds, all adults and a Song Thrush.

6M Fieldfare

Unusually, the leading species was Bullfinch with six individuals. All were aged 5.

 Old greater coverts on the first male
 5M Bullfinch

4 ogcs on one of the female Bullfinches
Female Bullfinch aged 5

There were a few retraps but the most interesting was Z071069 a Cetti's Warbler that started off life at Windsor Great Meadow Pond where it was ringed as a 3J on 29/06/2014. It had made its way to Wraysbury by 12/07/2014 when it was recaptured. This bird had a wing of 62mm and a weight of 15.3g so undoubtedly male, and judged to be a 5 (before referral to the data base) on the quality of the eye colour, a technique routinely used in Europe.

Cetti's Warbler Z071069

During the late morning a Snipe was flushed from a grassy area close to one of our dog-legs and a Woodcock flew over low in the direction of some nets but both eluded capture.
Totals: 17  (7)

Wren - 0 (1)
Robin - 3 (1)
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird - 4
Fieldfare - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 0 (1)
Blue Tit - 1 (1)
Great Tit - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (2)
Bullfinch - 5 (1)

Beaconsfield Motorway Service Station - 20 January 2015

It's some time since we tried for Wagtails at Beaconsfield. This is due in part to the windy weather this winter, but also because we have had some poor captures with lorries parked in the wrong carpark, obscuring our nets and affecting the birds' usual behaviour as well as other random disturbance.

Tonight looked quite good. There wasn't too much wind, the area where the Pied Wagtails wander around was clear apart from a coach parked at the far end which really doesn't present a problem and we were set in good time. There were a lot of birds on the services roof and just as they becan to fly out towards the roost trees a breakdown truck pulled in with two Dreams vans, one on tow and the other loaded on to the truck. The van on tow had developed some additional fault and the driver began to switch the vehicles around. He was only obscuring about a quarter of the  rear nets and we thought we might get away with it, when in drove another Dreams HGV. Less Dreams and more like a nightmare! We only got five birds and one of those was released as it only had one foot - something that we see fairly often with Pied Wagtails!

Totals: 4

Pied Wagtail - 4

West Country weekend - 16 -19 January 2015

Back in August one of our trainers relocated to the banks of the Tamar - and issued an invitation for us to visit. We travelled down on the 16th, stopping off at Broadsands where there were reports of a Yellow-browed Warbler in a carpark. We spent some time searching the vegetation around a stream but had no luck. We moved on to a second carpark where the Cirl Buntings were coming down to the seed that is put out, with around 10 present mid afternoon.reported. We spent quite some time scanning the bay and saw Razorbill, Gannet, a single Velvet Scoter, a couple of Black-necked Grebes and several Great Northern Divers. On returning to the stream we had a single Chiff-chaff, female Blackcap, two Firecrest and Water Rail - but still no Yellow-browed.

 male Cirl Bunting

We arrived with PCD in the early evening and after a good meal and a chance to catch up, we set a time to get up and commence ringing activities at PCD's new location. Two 18m nets were put up in the garden and they began to catch before we had even cleared the area. Over the next four hours we captured and processed 95 birds. They were mainly Blue Tits but there were also Great Tits, Robin, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Dunnock, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail and a single Marsh Tit.

Marsh Tit and undertail tips

The afternoon was spent helping to site and put up 10 nest boxes in a local copse by a tributary of the Tamar. After that we had a tour of the immediate area including a walk along the small river running down to the Tamar. We saw the bridge where Dippers may quite likely roost or breed in the spring. but water was in flood and was too muddy to be really suitable for them at the moment. On taking a tour of PCD's 6 acres, we flushed a Woodcock from the stream and CHL also saw a Dipper fly up from a stony area on the small stream, only about a foot wide, but with clear water which was not effected by muddy flood water.

The next day saw loads of Thrushes feeding in the paddocks, but we didn't want to risk running short of A rings, as there were only another string and we needed to ring the next day, so we gave the birds a break and went off birding for the day.

We started off with a drive around Colliford lake, which was pretty empty apart from a Great Northern Diver and some Geese and Teal on the eastern most finger, together with a feral Bar-headed Goose. A Lesser Scaup was on nearby Dorzmary Pool together with four Goldeneye and a large flock of Golden Plover. We headed towards Penzance via the Hayle Estuary where there was nothing exceptional though there was a Water Pipit mixed in with Meadow Pipits, with a couple of Rock Pipits nearby. The remainder of the day was spent looking in the bay at Marazion and Penzance for the Pacific Diver, and alas we never did manage to pick it up, or at least nothing close enough in to say that was the bird, though we had at least four Great Northern and two Black-throated Divers, a couple of Eider and 11 Purple Sandpipers at Jubilee Pool at high tide.

Colliford Lake

 Hale Estuary

We were up early on the Monday morning and set some nets close to the far side of the paddocks. We also set one net by the garden feeders. We kicked off with a couple of Redwing and had ringed more than 50 birds by 11.00am. There was also the first Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Wren and Goldcrest for the site. PCD invited a lady from the village who is very involved with local conservation work. It was her first experience of being present at a ringing session. We must have impressed her as PCD now has a booking for a local demonstration in the autumn.

Many thanks to PCD, Coral and Ruth for their wonderful hospitality. We look forward to a return visit.        

Rickmansworth Aquadrome - 13 January 2015

Another windy day so we decided to go Swan darvic reading again, but this time up at Rickmansworth Aquadrome. We managed to see 15 Swans from Mikes Reeds scheme, plus read the rings on three Canada Geese. None had any significant movements, though one 041 was first ringinged on 31/1/98 on the River Brent at Hanwell as a juvenile (5). Unfortunately another, 4 BFR was found dead the following day have it power lines at Stockers Farm.

Monday 12 January 2015

River Thames, Windsor - 6 and 12 January 2015

We've had another very windy spell and haven't been able to get out to ring much yet this year so  took a walk along the Thames at Windsor to look for colour rings on Mute Swans.

Over the two dates we found several black on orange colour ringed birds. These birds have been ringed at Ruislip Lido and the surrounding area by Mike Reed.

This female was colour ringed at Ruislip Lido on 24/10/2013. 

We also picked up 041 (black on orange) on our second visit and wait to see whether  this is a different series used on Mike's study.

There were also several birds with black on white darvics. We already have some details for these, but others have yet to come through. So far, all were local birds. There was a time when many more of the swans at Windsor had white darvics but now they are becoming less common.


When birds stand out on the bank it's sometimes possible to read the metal BTO ring

 Chris tries for a clear view while birds preen on the bank

I photographed some, successfully, too.

We were really quite excited to see white on blue TO32 as we've never seen a dark blue one here before. 


It seemed to match with a series issued by the Latvian scheme on dark blue. But ever keen to ensure reliable data is recorded, Chris made further enquiries just to make sure the O was not a 0. As it turned out, it was 0 and not O, and it was ringed under a project on juvenile dispersal at Winchester, so rather less well travelled than we first hoped. It was ringed on 3rd October in 2012.

Finally, we also witnessed the rescue of a Mute swan from between two barges. As ringers, we  are used to working under close scrutiny. I can't help thinking that I might have tried to increase the gap between barges rather than yank the bird out by its neck.