Thursday 29 June 2017

Broadwater GP - 24th June 2017

Accompanied by MRB and Margaret we visited our key Colne Valley Ringing Group site to prepare for the coming months.

There was a minor amount of clearing to be done but the main issue was the appearance of tyre tracks off the main track through one of our monitoring areas with the removal of several bushes. The site is also used by a fishing club and over the last couple of years they have started bringing vehicles out of their car park and through the site.

We renewed the ties, set up eight nets and rearranged some debris to form a barrier to section off our monitoring area.

We started with the surprise capture of a Chiffchaff flock. We expected our catch rate to be low so this really boosted our numbers. The birds continued to trickle in with a young Treecreeper and Reed Warbler, some young Blackcaps and Robins and adult Garden Warbler and Blackbirds.

3J Reed Warbler

We finished on 29 new birds with three recaptures.

Totals: 29 (3)
Wren - 1
Dunnock  - 1
Robin -   4 (1)
Blackbird - 3
Reed Warbler - 1
Garden Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 3
Chiffchaff  -   11
Great Tit - 2
Blue Tit -    1 (2)
Treecreeper - 1

Wraybury C6 - 23rd June 2017

After some very wet days in May, then some warm days in June followed by the five day heatwave, we were left with no rides workable without a bit of maintenance. We cleared two, put up nets there, then continued to make more of the site usable.

The Whitethroat numbers, as expected, seemed well down after so much prime nesting vegetation was lost during clearance work undertaken by the landowners before the spring.

We had four Whitethroats - one being a juvenile but none eligible for RAS data as not recaptures. The other birds were two juvenile Blackcap, a 4F Garden Warbler,  juvenile Robin and Dunnock and an adult male Dunnock.

4M Whitethroat Z958082

Juvenile Whitethroat Z958081

Totals: 9 (1)

Dunock - 1 (1)
Robin - 1
Whitethroat - 4
Garden Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 2

Sunday 25 June 2017

Stanwell Moor GP - 21st June 2017

We had a net that needed the top panel taking off and not having enough space at home we took it to Stanwell, erected nets in the reed bed, then set to putting up and sorting out the 12 metre net in need of attention.

We didn't expect too much since the reed bed is not managed and we now have more and more willows with less and less reeds growing through them. We didn't expect there to be too many pairs of Reed Warbler in the rapidly diminishing reeds and without the aid of recorded calls or song, traffic through the ride could be slight.

We struggled up to ten birds, but this was still good as apart from getting the faulty net ready to use we also had five already ringed Reed Warblers amongst the captures.

The first, 4M Z958070, had been ringed this year on May the 5th. 4F Z762143 was previously ringed as a 4F on 23rd July 2016 and 4F Z761117 had been ringed as a juvenile on 2nd August 2015.

The other two birds were not ringed on this site, 4M Z763236 was also ringed as a 4M on 24th July 2016 at Bedfont and finally Z239857 is a ring issued to the Hersham ringing group.

The new birds were a couple of adult Reed Warblers,  a 4M Cetti's Warbler, a Great Tit and our first juvenile of the year, a Chiffchaff.

4F Reed Warbler Z761117

Other people ring in peace and quiet, between the aircraft and heavy plant, not us!

First juvenile of 2017 Chiffchaff JRV041

Further to this we spoke to some Brett staff who made the track a little more accessible for our vehicle, that can be challenged by the conditions even though it is a 4x4. So at least we can park off the track now.

Bee Orchid

Totals: 5 (5)

Cetti's Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 2 (5)
Chiffchaff - 1
Great Tit - 1

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Chobham Common - 18th June 2017

We started the day in an area where we have frequently seen Dartford Warbler in small groups, setting two nets in areas where we have seen birds moving through. The first net failed to get any Dartford Warblers but did capture a couple of this year's juvenile tits, one Blue Tit and one Coal Tit.

On re-positioning the three panel net a new 4M Dartford was in the net before the tape had even been put on. A slight adjustment to the two panel net and we recaptured 4M Dartford Warbler Z072736, a bird that was given its ring by DKL on 9th March 2015. It was also assessed as a 4M at that time.

Surprisingly there was no sign of young Dartford Warblers in the immediate area.

There were the first few Silver-studded Blues on the wing in small numbers. How many Grayling appear on the north side after the fire, we will just have to wait and see.

Silver-studded Blues 

We returned in the evening, seeing three Nightjar and hearing a fourth, but none were captured.

All appropriate tape lure endorsements are held.


Dartford Warbler - 1 (1)
Coal Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 1

Saturday 17 June 2017

Waterperry and White Cross Green Woods and Sand Martins - 15th June 2017

We were heading up to Radley where our two trainees were joining George Candelin to get some experience at Sand Martin colony ringing so we decided to do some visits for Black Hairstreak at some of the nearby Oxfordshire woodland. Initially we visited Waterperry Wood where there are some blackthorne near the northern entrance, where once the sun came out we had a couple of Black Hairstreaks, unfortunately just a little too high to photograph without a zoom lens. There were a few odd common butterflies around though.

Large Skipper 

 Small Tortoiseshell

Speckled Wood

After this we tried Whitecross Green Wood where we saw several, some, as usual a little high up, but one or two came lower down.  There was the odd tatty one, but some looked freshly emerged so some more of these, also other species beginning to emerge.

Black Hairstreaks 

 Marbled Whites were just starting to emerge

as were White Admirals

Red Admiral

The Sand Martin ringing was not overly busy through a combination of a small bank with less birds, though there is another colony now at another nearby location, and a rather windy evening making the net very visible. It was also not helped by seeing a Sparrowhawk that went through a few times carrying away one of the Sand Martins on the third attempt.


Sand Martin - 11

Pagham Harbour and Frensham Common - 13th June 2017

We decided with the Elegant Tern just over an hour away at Pagham Harbour we'd have a run down. It was a time of year we would not expect to see much else being mid June, but we have not been to Pagham for some time. After a visit for breakfast at Selsey, where we felt extremely young amongst the local residents, we headed off up towards Church Norton from Sidlesham Ferry. On the ferry pool was a group of around 25 Black-tailed Godwits, and a few Redshank including a fairly well grown young Redshank of the year.

Black-tailed Godwit

Redshank chick

The walk down to Church Norton was different to our last visit some years ago, the track side vegetation was a lot higher often with no views of anything and in quite a few sections not that easy to traverse through. It was in need of a little clearance. 

Black-headed Gull

The harbour, as expected, was very quiet, apart from the birds on the Tern island which held breeding Little and Sandwich Terns and Black-headed Gulls, which had been joined by quite a few recently arrived non- breeding Mediterranean Gulls along with a few juveniles. Apart from the odd Oystercatcher and Redshank the only other bird in the harbour was an adult Peregrine and a chick on a nearby ridge. The Elegant Tern was sat hidden somewhere on the Island, where it remained for some considerable time out of sight. The Terns went up a couple of times, possibly due to the Peregrine, and eventually on one of the occasions when they all went it up, the Tern was picked up flying around amongst the Sandwich Terns. It flew around for several minutes, occasionally harrying other Terns, giving really good flight views, until plopping back down in to the colony out of sight. 

Quite a big twitch for a Tuesday

Rather worn Painted Lady on the way back to the car. 

On the way back we had planned on visiting Buster Hill for butterflies but time was getting on and later than planned so we just continued to Frensham Common. We bumped into a couple of recently fledged Dartford Warblers right next to the path, there were a couple of singing Wood Larks and several family parties of Stonechats. The Red-footed Falcon was absent, but as we started to walk down the ridge back to the car the small Falcon flew, high, over us, and that was it as it continued on towards the Little Pond. One brief view!

Frensham Common

Friday 16 June 2017

Stanwell Moor - 10th June 2017

We've been back in the UK for nearly a week now and decided it's time to venture back out to some of our local sites. Today we tried Stanwell. Here the owners have always shared plans for changes that might affect us, but the nature of vehicles using the site often makes tracks difficult, even for our 4x4. Today we found that much of the hardcore mound was gone with a load of top soil in its place. But the deep trenches from HGV movements, random hunks of concrete and protruding metal rods made it difficult to get the equipment to the reed bed. The area should be flattened and restored to grass by early autumn.

After doing some minor maintenance to keep the ride clear we switched to plan B, scouring the mounds and flooded field for wader pulli. In spite of best efforts only one well grown Lapwing chick was found (a second was present but already fledged), while two pairs of Redshank that obviously had young refused to settle down, from the time that we arrived, even though we observed from some distance away, until we departed. There was little evidence of Lapwings nesting when we last went in early May and it still seems there are very few nesting at Stanwell this year. Perhaps they have favoured Staines Moor.

Lapwing pullus

The flooded field - vehicles have clearly been passing close by.

Total: 1

Lapwing - 1

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Birding in West Virginia 26th May - 2nd June 2017

This part of the trip was very much a laid back approach. We did not venture out in the field until 28th when we made a visit to Pricketts Fort SP, the main reason was to try and see if we could locate the Kentucky Warbler seen/heard here recently, without success but we did pick up a nice pair of Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Towhee and Baltimore Oriole. A Killdeer nest was located a bit too close to a track.

Killdeer nest.

 Cedar Waxwing

In the afternoon we tried another area where several Kentucky Warblers had been reported at South Bunners Ridge, and at one location we found one singing male, unseen and at least another four, where we did manage to see one male, a new bird again for us. We also had American Redstart, Willow Flycatcher and White-breasted Nuthatch.

On 29th we only wandered as far as West Virginia University's Core Arboretum in Morgantown where we had a brief fly over Pileated Woodpecker and better views of a Swainson's Thrush.

The next day, the 30th we headed back towards Pricketts Fort SP, visiting the nearby Valley Falls SP were Woodpeckers seemed fairly visible, plus a Broad-winged Hawk floated over.

Pileated Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

By the river there was an area attracting butterflies down to salts.

Silvery Checkerspot

Zebra Swallowtail

The next day, the 31st we headed down to the Caves at Smoke Hole Cavern. 

On the way down we had eastern Meadowlark at Maysville, and after a tour of the caves we headed to the nearby Dolly Sods bog within the Monongahela National Forest where we saw Black-billed Cuckoo and Chestnut-sided Warbler. As we made out way back to Morgantown we picked up Bobolink in Laneville.

Dolly Sods

On the 1st just for a change we headed to part of the historic Cass Railroad at Durbin. We stopped off at Huntersville to look around farmland by the state prison and picked up Belted Kingfisher and during the train journey at the turn around saw a Goosander on the Greenbelt River at Hevener. 

Our final day took us to Cranesville Swamp NP and again the SatNav did what seems a WV trait, we ended up down some very narrow unmetalled roads (tracks) that even had County road numbers, the SatNav ignoring the new unmetalled road setting and the journey time was doubled, also partly due to trouble finding the reserve access road. This was another mixed woodland bog reserve which was very quiet during our visit, and the only different bird for the trip was a Brown Creeper.

White-tailed Deer

Saturday 10 June 2017

Birding in New Jersey 9th - 25th May 2017

Whilst in New Jersey helping out with the Delaware Bay Knot project, the house we were staying on was located immediately on Reeds Beach, giving us daily great views of the Knot, Sanderling, Turnstone and Semipalmated Plover, with the odd Willet, plus the 5am hoards of Laughing Gulls that were often the cause of the morning wake up call.

Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone and Laughing Gulls

plus some Semipalmated Sandpipers

and Sanderling.

They would be joined by a number of American Herring and Greater Black-backed Gull that took to feeding on many of the upturned Horseshoe Crabs.

Greater Black-backed Gull

One day a a dead Drum Fish turned up on the beach after the high winds and was food, not just for the Gulls, but also a Turkey Vulture.

Turkey Vulture on Reed's Beach

During our first few days we were taken out to a few local sites by Gerry who along with Gwen had been coming to help out on the project for a number of years. Gerry is quite an active birder from Ontario, so knew a number of local sites and all the bird calls.

The first day (10th) was spent at the New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory - Centre for Research and Education where a series of presentations were being given. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds came into the feeders, and that evening we went to the nearby Jake's Landing where throughout our visit Black Rail(s) could be heard calling, often distantly, but sometimes closer. American bird listing also heavily includes heard birds, but for someone that mainly does it on a visual basis there is little chance of any potential sightings. There were a few Marsh Wren and Saltmarsh Sparrows in the area, and whilst listening to the Black Rail, a Great Horned Owl flew out of the adjacent woods.

The next day (11th) Gerry took us to Belleplaine State Forest, one of the better areas for breeding Warblers and migrants away from the coastal migration spots. This is when you get a perspective on why the US birders rely on calls and song. The woods were quite busy with bird life, Poison Ivy and ticks, so birding from the road is the preferred option to specifically going into the forest to track down the birds for views. We did though get to see Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Prothonotary, Pine, Prairie, Hooded, Black & White, Blackpoll Warblers and Ovenbird, White-eyed Vireo and Blue Grosbeak, plus Carolina Chickadee and Yellow-throated Warblers which were both new birds for us.

Afterwards we had a run up to Heislerville WMA which at high tide holds a very large roost of waders of mainly Short-billed Dowitchers, Dunlin and Semipalmated Plovers, with a few Grey Plovers, Willet plus the odd Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and Spotted Sandpipers, along with Black Skimmers.

High tide roost

The main reason for the visit was to try and locate the vagrant Little Egret, which we did in due course, Gerry's second on this side of the pond.

The 12th found us all at Avalon where there is a breakwater into the Atlantic which had two late remaining Purple Sandpipers avoiding a very choppy sea, which brought 38 Northern Gannets in close enough to be visible.

Purple Sandpiper

A local sports field held some Pale-bellied Brent Geese, and nearby there was a colony of Yellow-crowned Night Herons, of which four birds were visible.

Pale-bellied Brent Geese.

The 14th had us make a brief return visit to Heislerville WMA partly to see the Slavonian (Horned) Grebe we'd missed, plus a Greater Scaup that caused a bit of debate between it being Greater or Lesser.

Great Egret

The 15th took us down to Higbee WMA which yielded Purple Martin and Cliff Swallow, Northern Parula and Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orchard Oriole and Field Sparrow. A Black Vulture, the less common of the two Vultures seen in NJ drifted over the car whilst on Cape May Island.

On the 16th, a quick visit to Beavers Swamp WMA produced a couple of Sandhill Cranes, Green Heron, a single Gull-billed Tern, Carolina Wren and Wilson's Warbler. Clapper Rail, one of a few seen during the later high tides was seen at Reeds Beach and a visit to Jake's Landing provided Magnolia Warbler in the woods.

On one of the count visits to Moore's Beach on the 17th we had the only Saltmarsh Sparrow of the trip up and showing in song, another new bird for us, along with at least 10 Seaside Sparrows on one of the few more or less windless days of the visit.

Seaside Sparrow

During another count visit on 18th at Norbury Landing we had three Royal Terns.

Royal Terns 

Immature Bald Eagle on the beach

Turnstone digging for eggs on the beach

Foster's Terns

Another visit on 19th to Heislerville WMA to join up with the Semipalmated Sandpiper ringing team and we had the usual gathering of birds.

Short-billed Dowitcher

Bald Eagle

Black Skimmer

A Black Scoter appeared on Reeds Beach on the 20th

Black Scoter

A visit back to do counts at Moore's Beach on 21st produced Swamp Sparrow

Willet (Eastern) Moore's Beach road

Belleplaine SF on 21st produced Acadian Flycatcher and Worm Eating Warbler, plus an un-seen but heard Kentucky Warbler.

Another visit on 23rd added Alder Flycatcher and Wood Thrush with a Northern Flicker out in the middle of the marsh at Moore's Beach feeding on the track.

The 24th saw us pay a visit to Stone Harbour Point where a few Piping Plover still breed, with three seen on the beach as the tide receded.

American Oystercatcher

Lesser Black-backed Gull

On the way back at Mummy Island there were two Little Blue and two Tricoloured Herons, and a Wilson's Snipe.

Tricoloured Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

The last visit was on the 25th to South Cape May Meadow Preserve to see a late American Wigeon, seen briefly before disappearing out of sight.

Song Sparrow, on Reed's Beach in the house garden.

Northern Mockingbird, another common bird on and 
around the beaches.

Wild Turkey that were often seen on roadsides.