Wednesday 29 August 2018

Stanwell GP - 22nd August 2018

The track nets were a little more wind affected than we would have hoped. although that didn't stop them from catching all but five of the birds today. As expected Blackcaps made up most of the numbers. The reedbed was very disappointing giving just two birds all morning and with hindsight we might as well have not bothered to put these nets up, but the reeds were leaning in and tidying was required so we put them up anyway.

We sited one net hoping for hirundines, but these were elusive in spite of the overcast conditions and another that might have been excellent if birds working along the Colne were to have crossed towards the lake at the opportune spot. Today the flock didn't, but the net did give us a Kingfisher.

Willow Warbler aged 3

Kingfisher 3M

Lesser Whitethroat aged 3

Whereas there seem to be fewer Lesser Whitethroats at Wraysbury, they are being caught more frequently than usual at Stanwell Moor.

Total:  60 (2)

Kingfisher - 1
Dunnock - 2 (1)
Robin - 3
Reed Warbler - 3
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 3
Garden Warbler - 4
Blackcap - 33 (1)
Willow Warbler - 3
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 3

Wraysbury GP - 21st August 2018

After a few days  away, we felt that the day with the least wind this week should be given up to Wraysbury where the RAS efforts will soon draw to a close. There were some Whitethroats around, but most likely birds on transit through the site. Numbers of Phylloscopus warblers were low and with Garden Warblers on the decrease, the majority of birds, by far, were Blackcaps.

Total: 75 (3)   

Robin - 1
Wren - 1
Songthrush - 2
Reed Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 11 (1)
Garden Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 45
Chiffchaff - 6
Willow Warbler - 2
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 1 (1)
Great Tit - 1 (1)

Grutte Wielen NR - 17th August 2018

After Thursday at the ringing station we headed over to Friesland where on Saturday and Sunday we were spend the two days supporting and videoing a UK Medieval combat team, White Company at an event at Kening Striid.

Early Friday afternoon we had a walk around part of the nearby Grutte Wielen NR.

The area is mainly reeds and areas of open water, with shallow areas. There were no waders to be seen apart from a single party of Snipe, but there was a single Great Egret, eight Spoonbills roosting on one pool, up to six White Storks in the area, Marsh Harrier and Buzzard over, and a few unseen Bearded Tits pinging at various locations.

 Common Snipe

White Stork

There were a lot of Dragon and Damselflies, mainly Common Blue and Blue-tailed, with a few Willow Emerald Damselflies, together with Black-tailed Skimmers and Common Darter, plus Southern and Brown Hawkers.

Willow Emerald Damselfly

Common Darter

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Black-tailed Skimmer

The event on the Saturday and Sunday took place in a park called Vijversburg, which like most areas of the Netherlands had a number of waterways and open water areas, which held again a number of the common dragon and damselflies.

Common Darter

Migrant Hawker

If anyone would like to see what Medieval combat is all about the events entered by White Company were all recorded. These are not re-enactment events, but full contact sport events, fought by individuals to win, based on point scoring, loosely similar to a number of 1v1 fight sports, such as boxing etc; and in the team events, they are fought to when all your opponents are down to the last man. The videos can be watched on Youtube.

Thursday 16 August 2018

VRS Van Lennep, Zuid-Kennemerland NP - 16th August 2018

Today en route to a Medieval sporting event in the Netherlands, we spent the morning at VRS Van Lennep, that is one of three ringing stations within the Zuid-Kennemerland NP, having stopped off at a friend's on the way.

It was not expected to be busy due to the SW area flow. The expectation proved to be correct with early rounds not providing a great deal, setting the tone for the morning. And, as predicted the wind gained strength mid morning, which together with the low number of birds present, resulted in a fairly early finish just gone 10.

Still it's not often we get to see Nightingale or Grasshopper Warbler in the hand. Many thanks to Andre for still getting up at 5am when he knew the catch would be low.

Juvenile Nightingale

Van Lennap - a well vegetated dune complex

                          Grasshopper Warbler (brown tones above and yellower tones below.)
 Clap nets


Ringing hut

Totals:  24 ( 3 )

Dunnock - 2
Nightingale - 1
Grasshopper Warbler - 4
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 5
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Garden Warbler - 4
Blackcap - 4 (2)
Greenfinch -2 (1)

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Broadwater GP - 13th August 2018

After the Sunday session was cancelled due to the possibility of rain and high winds, we were there this morning wondering whether there would be many birds on site.

The usual routine here is to get a few birds from most rounds with the chance of a hit as a flock moves through one of the nets.

There were no big hits today and birds had all but dried up by 9:00am but much of the catch were Willow Warblers and we also go some Reed Warblers and a couple of Whitethroats. There weren't too many Blackcap with no Garden Warblers. There was also another Treecreeper.

Juvenile Treecreeper

Totals: 47 (5)

Wren - 1
Robin - 1
Reed Warbler - 4
Whitethroat - 2
Blackcap - 10 (4)
Chiffchaff - 9 (1)
Willow Warbler - 17
Blue Tit - 1
Great Tit - 1
Treecreeper - 1

Stanwell GP - 11th August 2018

Knowing that we'd not be monitoring our sites for a few days we decided to get another session in at Stanwell. After the heavy rain of the previous day, we not only found getting through the site difficult inspite of the 4x4, but also that the weather seemed to have pushed a lot of birds on.

There were no signs of flocks of warblers moving through and numbers of each individual species caught tended to be quite low with Whitethroat being the maximum with nine. We had another diverse spread on the recording sheet with House Martin, Magpie and Meadow Pipit  featuring.

House Martins aged 3 in more and less advanced 
stages of post juvenile moult.

Magpie aged 3

Totals: 40 (2)

House Martin - 5
Meadow Pipit - 3
Dunnock - 2
Robin - 1
Wren - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 4
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Whitethroat - 9
Garden Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 0 (1)
Chiffchaff - 1
Willow Warbler - 2
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 3 (1)
Goldfinch - 1
Magpie - 1

Wraysbury GP - 9th August 2018

Low wind was forecast with  showers due late morning. We were up earlier than usual as our son needed a lift to Heathrow for a 6:40am flight. It was drizzling, but we decided we'd go and keep everything compact and managable. We put up six nets as large drops of rain continued to fall on and off, although jackets were not necessary. The first couple of hours were rather slow and a brief reccie to the other end of the site showed that a large flock was feeding there, but not really on the move.

At 9:30am we were already thinking about taking in as the forecast showers were due after 10am and we had no intentions of getting caught in heavier rain. We'd decided to take down a net each on the next round and found that flock travelling clockwise from the solar farm had travelled through the area with two nets. All birds were extracted and rain began to fall again as we took down one 18m single.

We began processing at a brisk pace, stopping two thirds of the way through to clear nets and push up to ensure no birds were caught in the rain, now arriving in increasingly heavy bursts.

By 11am Chris and I were both quite wet from taking down after the main showers had started. The birds had all been processed and released before rain made the mistnets unworkable.  We finished on just shy of 70 birds.

Totals: 56 (13)

Green Woodpecker - 1
Dunnock - 3 (1)
Robin - 0 (1)
Blackbird - 0 (1)
Songthrush - 2
Reed Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 5 (2)
Garden Warbler - 11 (4)
Blackcap - 16 (3)
Chiffchaff - 1
Willow Warbler - 7
Blue Tit - 2 (1)
Great Tit - 0 (1)
Goldfinch - 4
Bullfinch - 1

Aston Rowant - 8th August 2018

An afternoon sorty for a few chalkland butterflies, with a few remainign Chalk Hill Blues, with recent Silver Spotted Skipper and Adonis Blues on site.

 Brown Argus

Chalk Hill Blue, 2 females and a male 

 Adonis Blue


 Silver Spotted Skipper

Broadwater GP - 8th August 2018

There was rain forecast over night, and although it did not appear to have rained it was very cloudy in the morning. While setting up we noticed large numbers of Phyloscopus warblers high in the trees and it appeared that the conditions had caused birds to drop in. This rarely happens at our inland site and we hoped to make the most it. We tried taping, but the birds did not appear to respond readily and they remained high in the trees. Most appeared to be Willow Warblers from a distance, and this was reflected in our catch. We continue to get small numbers of Reed Warblers moving through, but Garden Warblers seem to have peaked already and only one bird was captured.

Willow Warbler

A single Garden Warbler today.

Reed Warblers continue to drift through

Treecreepers are doing well at this site, another two birds processed
and recorded on the record sheet.

Migrant Hawker

Totals: 52 (9)

Blackbird - 3
Wren - 2 (1)
Robin - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Reed Warbler - 5 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 11 (2)
Garden Warbler -  1
Chiffchaff - 5 (1)
Willow Warbler-  12
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 1 (1)
Great Tit - 6 (1)
Treecreeper - 2

White Cross Green Wood - 7th August 2018

A brief trip to White Cross Green Wood in Oxon to look for Brown Hairstreak, which unfortunately only produced two, one of which was just photographable, but the site was fairly low in butterfly numbers, with all the rides mowed and very little flower plants to be found on the reserve.

 Common Darter, female and male (below)

Brown Hairstreak, female 

 Common Blue, male & female (below)

We made a brief stop at Piddington Wood, again for Brown Hairstreak without any success.

Small Copper

Stanwell Moor GP - 6th August 2018

After this morning, there's no doubt that Whitethroats are definitely on the move. We saw a rise in numbers at Wraysbury (traditionally a Whitethroat stronghold although recent site management to tackle the vetch has had its effect) on the previous day, but today's catch of 36 new Whitethroats was well over half of the entire total and unprecedented at this site.

Totals:  53 (2)

Robin - 1
Reed Warbler - 4 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 0 (1)
Whitethroat - 36
Garden Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 5
Blue Tit - 1
Great Tit - 1

Wraysbury GP - 5th August 2018

We started just after 6am, setting seven nets in what have been some of the better locations with an added single in what we considered to be the best chance of Pied Flycatcher, since there have been several sightings of birds on passage across the country. Of course, we didn't have any luck in that respect, but you have to give it a go.

It was pleasing to find that there were a few more Whitethroats around, although all were juveniles. Blackcap numbers seem to have tailed off somewhat at the moment being outpaced by captures of Garden Warbler that actually comprised a full third of the entire catch.

The heat began to built quite quickly and the bird activity dropped off before 10am. Nets were all down before 11am.

Totals: 57 (4)

Wren - 1
Blackbird - 1
Reed Warbler - 3
Whitethroat - 15 (1)
Garden Warbler - 18 (2)
Blackcap - 12
Chiffchaff - 6
Willow Warbler - 1
Bullfinch - 0 (1)

Thorney Lake - 2nd August 2018

A brief look around the lake for damselflies on an afternoon that was really hot with minimal breeze.

Large Red-eyed Damselfly 

Common Blue Damselfy in tandem

Banded Damoiselle (female above, male below)