A round up of our bird ringing activities (all birds ringed under licence from the British Trust for Ornithology with schedule one authority where appropriate), birding trips and other wildlife sorties within the UK and whenever we get chance, elsewhere.
We returned to C6 to monitor warbler migration. Our newbies came along to get more practice at net handling, extraction and processing - and with just under 100 birds of thirteen species processed, they had plenty to keep them occupied.
Last week we were out with our trainees and while setting up for Nightjars in our usual place, it transpired that they also knew a place on the same side of the common. Their place seemed very promising as they had seen Nightjar and Woodcock quite recently. They had also identified a narrow point between a stand of trees and some smaller trees next to it where Nightjars regularly passed close by, flying just above at head height. How could we not give it a try!
When we got there, we found that not only could we set along the path, but it was also the exact site where the group sometimes rings in the late autumn and winter, so well known to us.
We set two doubles and settled down to wait amongst the voracious midges. Several Nightjars were heard and seen. There was also a fly by Woodcock, but that was not attracted to our audio-lure.
We packed up at about 10.45pm having processed two male Nightjars. We were pleased with our captures, especially as the conditions were less favourable than our last session. Less sunshine, lower temperatures and much cloud - added to that, still no juveniles from our five captures thus far.
5M Nightjar (below)
Our only other capture was a Brown Long-eared Bat.
The morning was spent at Stanwell with a total of 7 nets deployed, four in the reed-bed, one along the access spit and two initially on a newly strimmed part of the track that has fallen into disuse. These last two nets didn't do very well so they were later relocated to where hirundines were flying low over a weedy area. This was only possible because HGVs were not working on the track - it being a Saturday.
It was a good start with the first Sparrowhawk of the year being captured in the reed-bed on the first round. The birds trickled in throughout the morning, reaching a total of twenty by 11am, with the addition of a controlled adult Sedge Warbler Z970591 caught in the nets set for Swallows or House Martins. It wasn't until midday that the first House Martin went in but we caught just enough to make House Martin the leading species of the day.
CL & DKL put in four hours with four nets this morning at what turned out to be a numerically average session. The demographic make up of birds had changed a bit since the weekend, the wave of 3P Garden Warblers seemed to have left the area leaving lots of immature Blackcap and Whitethroat youngsters that probably haven't travelled far yet. There were only two adults, one Garden Warbler and a female Blackcap.
3M Linnet (above and below)
3JP Blackcap - replacing primary and primary
covert, on one wing only.
The second outing of the day was to Stanwell Moor and nets were set out over part of the lake with the intention of trying for a hirundine roost at the end of the day. In addition to these two nets there was an aditional one extending into the reeds, a double at the dry, far end of the same ride and a single in the dried out filter bed (the first independent effort at putting up a net by our new trainees - and a good job they made of it too!)
The session was notable for the high number of adult Reed Warblers caught, as well as two Cetti's Warblers and a couple of Kingfishers.
3JM Cetti's Warbler
Retrapped Reed Warbler L769324 was first processed, as a 4M, on 30/06/2011 by GDB. Since then it has cropped up on 27/07/2011 (DKL), 26/06/2013 (EP) and again this evening when processed by WA.
Twenty or so Sand Martins showed initial interest and began to circle the reedbed, but as so often happens were put off. There were no Hobbies present so the only likely cause was that planes taking off from the south runway were just too loud.
Totals: 22 (2)
Kingfisher - 2
Wren - 1
Robin - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 2
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 13 (2) Twelve adults and three juveniles.
Great Tit - 1
We opted for for a leisurely start and went on site at 7am. The first thing we noticed was that there were notices posted for the flygrazers to remove their 40 or so ponies within the next week. We can only hope.
We set the same five nets as the previous Sunday, continued until just before midday - part of this time with two nets furled as the areas were particularly hot and still exceeded last time's total. Around half were Blackcaps but any total into 3 figures is none too shabby.
Original plans for summer ringing included trying for Nightjar from mid June - however both Chris and I were ill after our travels and lost at least three weeks out in the field.
We weren't sure whether we'd try at all this year but having a couple of keen trainees, we relented and went to one of our usual spots on the north side of the common. We arrived on site at 7.30pm and set two doubles along the path. This part of the common has no through pathways so no one passed by to ask about our monitoring or read the notices placed by the nets.
It turned out to be a most worthwhile session, for our team of four (CHL, DKL, WA & LON) with three Nightjars captured - all from the same net between 21.40pm and 22.40pm.
We were slightly apprehensive this morning as we'd heard that the fence keeping 40 or so ponies on land adjacent to the ringing site was down. On close inspection it had clearly been cut and folded back - and all the ponies were on the wrong side of the fence. Taking this into account we limited nets to just five - three of which could not be accessed by the ponies without us seeing them first. We hoped we'd hear the animals approaching, or see them before they got to the other two.
It wasn't too busy and there were plenty of extraction, processing and equipment handling opportunites for the trainees without too much pony wrangling.
Today we joined EP and LJB for a CES session at Bedfont. It was our first outing with new trainees WA and LON and the good weather conditions and steady supply of birds was just perfect for them to make some useful progess with extractions, handling and ringing.
The catch included Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat, species not regularly present in that area of the park, Sedge Warbler and Kingfisher.
The morning looked good for ringing at Broadwater but the team of four became just three when CHL had to work. Thankfully MRB and Margaret were kind enough to give me a lift since I have no transport when CHL has the car - but we were glad that we did go as numbers are really picking up now with a total of 67 birds, 31 having been caught around midday. There was a sharp shower at about twenty past 12, a little earlier than forecast, but the flock had already been extracted and bagged, so all birds remained dry and it was just ringers and equipment that got a bit wet during the rain.
We spent the morning tidying up the rides at Stanwell. We hadn't been since May, down to travelling and sustained windy conditions - then there was the rain that fell throughout much of June and contributed to so much new regrowth. We had reeds shooting up close to the water, particularly in the lake end of the ride where it was thick enough to block the view to the lake. We checked to ensure that no birds had nested there since May, when the area had been clear, before taking the vegetation back to ground level. Other areas had thick vetch.
We put up one net for a short while and managed just three birds. The retrap had been present when we last visited in May and the two new birds were our first juvenile Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler for the year.
For the first time in a long while we decided to take a run up to Norfolk for the day. We went for the Great Knot, a long time after it first turned up but due to illnesses following our return from Azerbaijan this was our first opportunity since June 15th when we got back to the UK.
Every cloud has a silver lining - at least there shouldn't be too many people.
We were there before 11am and found the flock in a tight bunch on the freshwater scrape. There was a Peregrine around, disturbing the bunch a few times.
After searching through, the Great Knot was located towards the back of the flock.
Whilst enjoying views over a sustained period, we also noted down some colour-ring combinations on Black-tailed Godwits. One could be seen to be carrying a satellite transmitter.
Sleeping satellite tagged Black-tailed Godwit.
There were good numbers of Avocet. It looked as though a few youngsters had survived to this point in the breeding season, but comparatively few for the numbers of adult birds present.
Well-grown chick Avocet
Amongst the Black-headed Gulls was a Mediterranean Gull and a Little Gull.
Other birds seen included some Spotted Redshanks, Redshank, Common Terns, Shelduck, Bearded Tit and Curlew Sandpiper. A couple of Spoonbills dropped in briefly.