Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Wraysbury - 27th October 2017

Out with MEH this morning, we'd just got the last of the nets up when a very distinctive call was heard from a single bird in the lakeside trees, Before the bird was seen flying off low after leaving its roost. We were very pleased to have glimpsed a Hawfinch, and saw a further two overhead, then three more singles, all moving south westwards, in the first hour or so.

We caught a reasonable number of Goldcrest, one being control KKD760, three Chiffchaff, one Cetti's Warbler and a mix of common garden birds. A juvenile Jay was a first for MEH.

Juvenile Jay

Totals: 28 (3)

Wren - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Robin - 1
Blackbird - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 3
Goldcrest - 10 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 6
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 2
Jay - 1

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Stanwell Moor GP - 26th October 2017

The wind forecast was low and we took the chance to take MEH, a trainee that usually trains at the Bedfont site, to Stanwell. It was very misty and rather colder than we have become used to. Nets were deployed in the reedbed ride, on the track and on the mound.

We got a few Redwing, from groups that were flying over in the murk. There were also a few Goldcrests and tits. Interestingly, three Cetti's Warblers were caught, two on the track net, where they do not usually frequent. This may indicate that birds are moving away from their natal grounds and they may not have been youngsters bred in the immediate area. All were females.We also had a couple of Chiffchaff that are known to winter at Stanwell. However three were carrying quantities of fat scoring either two or three suggesting they still had a distance to travel.

Redwing - of the birds caught so far this autumn there seems to 
be a higher percentage of adult than young birds.

The Meadow Pipit nets didn't do well at all. Only one Meadow Pipit was captured.

At around 11:30am it started to drizzle and we took down. The last bird was a female Blackcap with a fat score of three, more likely to be a late departer than a wintering bird.

Blackcap aged 3, fat 3 muscle 2

So, no controls today ( BPCP has been spoiling us) and not a fantastic number of birds and that would have been very different had the Meadow Pipit nets caught, but MEH gained her first experience of handling Redwing and Meadow Pipit so a good morning nonetheless.

Totals: 35 (4)

Meadow Pipit - 1
Wren - 1
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 1
Blackbird - 0 (1)
Redwing - 5
Cetti's Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 1
Chiffchaff - 3
Goldcrest - 8 (2)
Long-tailed Tit - 7
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Chaffinch - 1

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Black Park Country Park - 25th October 2017

It was drizzling  when we arrived on site, and a bit windier than we would have liked. We had to decide whether to stick to our usual place or try another area where gorse has grown up and paths were cut through in spring as part of the park management. Not knowing this new area so well, we stuck with what we know.

While four nets went up without a hitch, we became aware of a stream of vehicles passing by as there was filming going on somewhere in the park and as it turned out not very far from where we were. The birds were a bit slow to start moving, but it soon became clear that Goldcrests numbers would be lower than last time, whereas Lesser Redpoll numbers would probably be up.

We tried the tape for Redwing, attracting a few birds and catching just one of them. Lesser Redpolls were frequently dropping into the alders and fifty were caught over the course of the morning, 49 new and a control. As we thought, Goldcrests were down to 15 with one retrap from Monday.

Control S101959, aged 3

Adult Redwing

A shuttle bus service was running back and forth from the filming all morning - we though it must be something historical when we'd seen props going by on an open backed truck. The rustic wagon had us thinking it may be a western, then we began to hear whooping sounds from the direction of the filming, then the sound of the Redcoat drums. It seemed to be about the American Indian wars.

Now, we always notice those TV programmes with the wrong natural sounds in the background, Poldark with Bee-eater calls springs to mind, but if at some stage in the future, you are watching something set in North America history and can hear the Redwing Latvian love song or persistent Redpoll song in the background, then it's our fault!

It was just as well we didn't go for the other location because the track was completely blocked by their vehicles, we would have struggled to get out and may even have been in shot.

Totals: 76 (2)

Wren - 2
Robin - 1
Redwing - 1
Goldcrest - 15 (1)
Blue Tit - 5
Coal Tit - 3
Lesser Redpoll - 49 (and 1 control)

Black Park Country Park - 23rd October 2017

After too many days of strong winds, rain or both we spotted a brief window at the start of the day that would allow us to get out and put a few nets up. We know that the forecasts have tended to vary from each other a lot lately, so we hoped that our notification to the park would not need to be cancelled for a second time.

We had a slight delay, getting held up in the staff car park by a team from Pinewood Studios that  were there for filming, then made out way to the area where we have usually ringed in the past.  We only put four nets up and quickly began to catch.

The first two rounds provided decent numbers of birds and we continued with  continually clearing nets and ringing birds as there were a couple of brief showers. By 9:30am capture numbers were reducing and we packed up with 60 new birds and a control Lesser Redpoll.

Leading species was Goldcrest, followed by Lesser Redpoll with a few tits and a Chaffinch. We are often unable to ring Chaffinches in this area as many have infected legs, but this individual showed no sign of the infection.

 S270083, 4M control Lesser Redpoll


3F Chaffinch

Totals: 60 (1)

Robin - 2
Goldcrest - 27
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Blue Tit - 10
Coal Tit - 1
Great Tit - 1
Chaffinch - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 16 (and 1 control)

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Swan darvics and metal rings - Windsor and Truss's Island - 22nd October 2017

Another very windy day so we headed to the Thames at Windsor to record darvic codes and any metal rings that we could see. There are fewer birds with colour rings now, very few from the Edward Grey Institute - black print on a white background and some of these with a rather poor print quality as some codes are becoming extremely difficult to read. We saw K2U, S2H, S2Z and V3O - the last would have been impossible were we not already familiar with that colour ring. There were a further 6 orange darvic swans ringed by MR and a blue ring T029 fitted by TW in or around Winchester. Added to that another 11 metal Swan rings and a Canada Goose already made the effort worthwhile. We then found that the Polish ringed Black-headed Gull with darvic TLLN was back again.

TLLN - back for a second winter

Moving on to Trusser's Island there were 33 colour rings from MR's project, one EGI bird and 3 birds that came out on to the boat slip allowing for metal rings to be read. Three Canada Geese metal rings were also noted.

So, quite a good return for a few hours out on a windy day. Chris decided to enter these records using DEMON, the new BTO recording programme that we're trialling before its complete release. These were the first records that we've actually entered and the ease of entry and immediate response of when ringed were impressive. We look forward to going live with Colne Valley Ringing Group recording in January.

Two of the metal ring codes recorded. Both birds carry just one metal ring so are candidates for MR's colour ring scheme, should they demonstrate the same bold behaviour when he next goes to catch and darvic mark birds.

Totals: 0 (24)

Mute Swan - 0 (11 darvics, 11 metal rings)
Canada Goose - 0 (1 metal)
Black-headed Gull - 0 (1 darvic)

Trusser's Island, Staines - 0 (40)

Mute Swan - 0 (34 darvic, 3 metal)
Canada Goose - 0 (3 metal)

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Broadwater GP - 15th October 2017

The wind turned out to be rather more gentle than forecast and we could actually have gone to a more open site. However, hindsight is all very well, but no use whatsoever once committed to a particular course. Nets went up without a hitch and WA & LON were soon processing birds.

We caught quite a few Goldcrest and Blue Tit and got one of at least two Cetti's Warbler that could be heard in our immediate earshot.

 Cetti's Warbler with dramatic fault line on tail.

3M Cetti's Warbler

Two Redwing were also captured, one with contrast within greater and median coverts, and tertials.

Totals: 30 (4)

Wren - 1
Dunnock - 2
Robin - 1
Redwing - 2
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 9 (1)
Blue Tit - 8 (1)
Great Tit - 5 (2)

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Broadwater GP - 13th October 2017

Broadwater GP was monitored today, our only real option, being a very sheltered site in rather blustery conditions. MRB and Margaret were also present and a total of eight nets were used.
There had been quite a few birds, thrushes and Robins mainly, along the track as we accessed the site. We could also hear plenty of Goldcrests in the surrounding vegetation during setting up. We caught some, but the catch was not particularly large. The Long-tailed tits came down to net level, and boosted our numbers somewhat. Our best birds were Lesser Redpoll and Redwing (first of the winter), just one of each and a Treecreeper.

Redwing, age 3

Treecreeper, age 3

3F Goldcrest

3M Coal Tit

Lesser Redpoll, age 3

Retrap Goldcrest DPH887 was ringed on 30th September 2015 by PD. Since that time it has been captured a further five times, always between August and November although absent in 2016, and never processed by someone that's handled it before - until today. MRB processed it this morning and he was also the processor, two years ago to the day.

Totals:   33 (4)
Wren - 1
Dunnock - 0 (2)
Robin - 0 (1)
Redwing - 1
Chiffchaff - 4
Goldcrest - 9 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 10
Blue Tit - 5
Coal Tit - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 1
Treecreeper - 1

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Stanwell Moor GP - 9th October 2017

The restoration of the site near where we ring should be fully completed now so we went over to see about the new access arrangements. We found that the area is now levelled with a layer of top soil that has been seeded. There is a track alongside the mound and we'll be able to drive over to our usual spot once the grass is established.

Having made the trip we put up a three of nets for a couple of hours and waited to see what was about. There were no Blackcaps at all, but a couple of Chiffchaff and some Goldcrests were netted. The tit flock passed through with some caught and it was nice to see a group of six Siskin drop in to drink briefly at a puddle, although none were captured. Meadow Pipits proved tricky, only one being caught. The least expected bird was a Redwing. We has heard a few overhead and didn't expect a capture, but this date is the earliest that we have personnaly caught Redwing with one other group record for 9th October 1999.

Age 3 Redwing

Total: 14 (1)

Meadow Pipit - 1
Redwing - 1
Wren - 1
Robin - 0 (1)
Chiffchaff - 3
Goldcrest - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 1
Linnet - 1

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Chobham Common - 8th October 2017

Now that warbler season has all but finished we thought that the common would be worth a go. We were joined by WA and LON who haven't been out for a while due to foreign travel during the second half of September.

Our three primary targets were Redpoll, Goldcrest and Meadow Pipit with of course the usual effort to monitor the population of Dartford Warblers.

We put up three singles, a V configuration and a double and were catching before the last nets were up. The Redpolls came in consistently with a couple of waves of Goldcrest and some interest from the Meadow Pipits resulting in just three birds in the nets. We got one Dartford Warbler and there was also a tit flock that helped vary the species diversity.

It was a busy session and it was good to see that our trainees have attained the stage where there is no 'rustiness' after a few weeks away from ringing and extraction.

Age 3 Lesser Redpoll

Age 3 Meadow Pipit

3M Reed Bunting

We were puzzled to capture a Lesser Redpoll bearing a group ring S444913. At first we thought that another group member may have ringed the bird in the preceeding days, but on liaising with our group's rings officer it transpired that the bird had been ringed at Wraysbury, 9km away, earlier that same morning. Their recorded time was 8:55am with the bird processed by us at midday. 

Totals: 117 (1)

Meadow Pipit - 3
Dartford Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 2
Goldcrest - 14
Long-tailed Tit - 6
Blue Tit - 4
Great Tit - 2
Lesser Redpoll -  84 (1)
Reed Bunting - 1

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Cyprus autumn 2017 - 5th October

On our last day we had a few things to do at the house and had a late start, heading first to Limassol before finishing up at Larnaca where we were to catch our flight home.

We spent some time at Phassouri, seeing nothing additional to our other trips and missing the Levant's Sparrowhawk by a day. There were some fairly distant raptors from the South Hide, Bonelli's Eagle, Montagu's Harrier and Eleanora's Falcon.

At Zakaki Marsh we were fortunate enough to see the Little Crake, as it spent a lot of time wandering around in the open. The Bluethroat was still showing, as was a single Little Swift still, along with up to ten Red-rumped Swallows.

Little Crake

At Larnaca we found that the Salt Lake, Meneou Pools and Spiro Pools were all completely dry. At the sewage farm, one basin was dry, holding some groups of waders although the light angle towards the end of the day made viewing and identification difficult. But, most appeared to be either Little Stint, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover or Dunlin, but a single Collared Pratincole was also present. The filled basin had a lot of ducks around its banks with Flamingo gathered at the far end, with couple of White-winged Black and a single Whiskered Tern, single Black-necked Grebe, nine Ferruginous Duck, a couple of Grey Plover and Spotted Redshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, and the usual large group of Ruff. 

Cyprus autumn 2017 - 4th October

Our last ringing day in Cyprus, and we  were joined by Graeme who again scribed for us. This was most helpful as we captured more than 60 birds and nets needed frequent checking in the temperatures, unseasonally hot for October.

Our best capture has to be a Laughing Dove, from the records available, probably the first ringed in South Cyprus. A few years back we were searching the port area at Limassol for one of a small number of birds, regularly seen there and now they are being seen more frequently at various locations. We've seen Laughing Dove at both Mandria and, the donkey sanctuary, Paphos in the last year - but never where we ring before. Initially it was suggested they were releases, but with natural populations in Turkey and Israel, whilst there may have been some from keepers, they probably have naturally expanded from the nearby mainland breeding areas.
Laughing Dove

This was the first day with Red-throated Pipit heard overhead throughout the morning. A few small groups were seen dropping into bushes in the ringing area and one was caught.

Red-throated Pipit

Record shot of three Common Cranes seen flying over.

Juvenile female Redstart

Today there was a sense that birds were on the move with discernible times were birds were working through and other times when nothing moved. The Willow Warblers continued picking their way through the weedy plants and were, again, our leading species.

Totals: 64 (2)

Laughing Dove - 1
Crested Lark - 0 (1)
Red-throated Pipit - 1
Redstart - 1
Reed Warbler - 2
Sardinian Warbler - 9 (1)
Garden Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 15
Willow Warbler - 32
Spanish Sparrow - 2

Later we birded Ayia Varvara and Mandria.

There were no new species at Ayia Varvara - but we spent some time photographing butterflies and enjoyed watching the Bee-eaters feeding from the wires.

African Grass Blue

There had been some 60 Red-footed Falcons at Mandria the previous day but we could see no sign of them.
Long-tailed Blue

Eventually we found some 20 or so birds that had remained, and were feeding on a recently ploughed field, known amongst regular Mandria birders as lark corner. The birds were all feeding on insects and some took advantage of the irrigation system to freshen up.

Red-footed Falcon - juveniles

adult male

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Cyprus autumn 2017 - 3rd October

A trip up to the Troodos was planned for this date, to see whether there really was as little evidence of migration at that altitude at this time of year, since so few reports were coming through, and also to get a day with reduced temperatures. We knew there had been rain so hoped to find some puddles giving oportunities to photograph birds coming to bathe and drink.

We located an area with a burst pipe and settled down to watch, but were soon asked to move on as we were close to the army base where photography is forbidden - even when the camera is pointed away from the base.

We checked out another place where water sometimes pools at a semi-built hotel but there was nothing. Apart from Chaffinch, Cyprus Coal Tit, Crossbill, Treecreeper and Jay there wasn't too much to see. No small finches, thrushes or buntings.

When the air started to warm up we photographed some butterflies in wild flowers by the road.
Clouded Yellow

At the picnic sites some unpromising, stony ground provided the right conditions for the endemic Aprodite or Cyprus Crocus.

Crocus veneris

Probably the best birds of the day were two Griffon Vultures seen to drift over southwards. We usually only see vultures at Kensington Cliffs so these may have been either migratory or resident birds.

One of the Griffon Vultures over Troodos

Moving on to Platania picnic site we watched birds at the steam that runs through the site. 

Cyprus Coal Tit

This was the site where a Yellow-browed Warbler was found last year but there was nothing unusual today with barely a Willow Warbler to be heard.

Butterflies attracted to the few damp areas around Troodos - Platania.

Cyprus Grayling

Eastern Rock Grayling

A single Spotted Flycatcher seen in the visitor centre car park

The trees make the area much greener than at the lower altitudes - 
another reservoir can be seen at well below full capacity.

A check at Asprokremnos dam on the way back to the house turned up a juvenile Whiskered Tern.

Whiskered Tern

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Cyprus autumn 2017 - 2nd October

The day started on a positive note with a Nightjar sighted as we drove through the semi-light towards Arodes. Today we returned to the new area, discovered recently, and set up five single nets. It was quite hard work with the route to some nets being on rather steep paths. We had an initial catch of Blackcap, then a few Willow Warbler. The Cyprus Wheatears were less cooperative today with only one captured, and the less expected captures were a Cyprus Warbler, Linnet and Whitethroat.

3M Cyprus Warbler

Cyprus Warbler in arrested moult 0 to the 6, 5 to the 4

4M Linnet

4M Whitethroat

Cyprus Wheatear 3F

While working, we saw a Raven fly through, and after ringing, a brief tour around turned up a few Red-backed Shrike and singles of Lesser Grey and Masked Shrike.

Adult male Red-backed Shrike

There were a few butterflies around. Most were difficult to photograph but this species would remain still when in shady areas.

Cyprus Meadow Brown.

Totals: 32

Cyprus Wheatear - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 4
Cyprus Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Garden Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 13
Willow Warbler - 6
Great Tit - 2
Linnet - 1