Monday 27 May 2019

Wraysbury GP - 25th May 2019

A combined effort for CES and RAS projects today, covering part of C4 that is not ringed regularly and a few extras on C6 and beyond the regular CES nets. There was a high proportion of recaptured birds, never a bad thing for data collection or training and quite a few Whitethroats. Of the nine retrapped Whitethroats, three had not been seen previously this year and so became part of the RAS data. Before the end of May we have almost met our adult recapture minimum quota of 25. This has no doubt been helped by the way in which the site is recovering having not been cut at the start of this year, unlike 2017 & 2018 when vetch eradication was underway. We hope that such clearance will not be necessary again.

Totals: 48 (38)

Robin - 10 (1)
Dunnock - 3
Blackbird - 1 (2)
Songthrush - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 0 (5)
Lesser Whitethroat - 1 (2)
Whitethroat - 3 (9)
Garden Warbler - 7 (3)
Blackcap - 2 (4)
Chiffchaff - 1 (3)
Long-tailed Tit - 11 (6)
Blue Tit - 7 (1)
Great Tit - 0 (2)

There were a number of Brimstone present, together with a few Orange Tips, single tatty Small Copper, Holly Blue and a fresh male Cluded Yellow flew through.

A very large number of Common Blue Damselflies were present alogn with single Hairy and Emperor Dragonflies.


Female Orange Tip

Home Counties Dragons and Butterflies 21st - 24th May 2019

21 May

A short run to Hedgerley SP as there are (were) a couple of nice shallow sand pools that can have some interesting Dragonflies, but it entails walking along a public footpath that runs parallel to the M40 and is a tad noise and at one end full of rubbish off the motorway, plastic, cans etc. The middle and northern pools tend to be the best for Dragonflies, the middle held a few Azure and Large Red Damselflies and Four-spotted Chasers. The northern pond held the Southern Emerald Damselflies last year but had been landscaped during the winter, made a lot deeper, steeper sided and rounded, presumably removing this rare population.

 Azure Damselfly

Two captured, then Three, Azure Damselflies - Crab Spider

Four-spotted Chaser 

Large Red Damselfly

22 May

First attempt at Goring for Common Clubtails, took a longish walk along the Thames from the road bridge at Goring to the railway bridge. Pretty quite with a few Banded Demoiselle and a lot of Red-eyed Damselflies, but no Clubtails.

Banded Demoiselle - female 

Red-eyed Damselfly 

Early afternoon attempt at Streatley where there was more riverside vegetation only added Azure and Blue-tailed Damselfly, along with more Banded Demoiselle and Red-eyed Damselflies, along with a single female Orange Tip and a Brown Argus.
Blue-tailed Damselfly 

 Banded Demoiselle - male

 Azure Damselfly

Orange Tip - female

Brown Argus

Another return visit to Burghfield Bridge, again a few Variable and this time some Common Blue Damselflies.

Common Blue Damselfly 

Variable Damselfly

23 May

A visit to Sonning on another Clubtail hunt. This produced quite a few Red-eyed and Common Blue Damselflies, the odd Blue-tailed Damselflies and single fresh Club-tailed Dragonfly, and a pretty poor picture, which it then flew off before allowing for a better attempt, plus a fresh emerged White-legged Damselfly.

Red-eyed Damselfly 

Common  Blue Damselfly

Banded Demoiselle

Fresh emerged White-legged Damselfly

Having had a pretty poor view of a Clubtail through the camera lens before it flew off, which at the time due to the view I had no idea that was what it was, a repeat visit was made to Goring, plus via a shorter walk to the bridge than the day before, producing two Common Club-tails, one on the wall of the bridge and the other in the nearby vegetation.

Common Clubtail Dragonfly

A final visit to Decoy Heath with a single Downy Emerald, a few Four-spotted Chasers and Azure Damselflies.

Four-spotted Chaser

Azure Damselfly

24 May

A visit to Boldermere on Ockley Common. Several Red-eyed Damselflies were present along with Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies, Beautiful Demoiselle, Four-spotted Chasers, Hairy Dragonflies and a number of freshly emerged Black-tailed Skimmers.

Red-eyed Damselfly

Beautiful Demoiselle

Black-tailed Skimmers

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Stanwell GP - 20th May 2019

This morning we put some time in at Stanwell, hoping to capture some returning Reed Warblers. We had three nets (3 panels) over water and another two on the track ride. Work to reduce the soil mound continues, but so far the immediate area where we put the track net is still there, although the removal of a chunk of the bank will no doubt affect the way birds move around the site.

We were quite pleased with the four ringed Reed Warblers that we caught. As in previous years, it seems that returning birds are rarely in their second year although we do get new birds that are probably age 5 bearing in mind leg and eye colour.

All of the returners were ringed in 2016 or 2017

S443012     ringed 03/07/2017 (then aged 4)
S443023  M ringed 03/07/2017 (then aged 4) and encountered 02/07/2018
Z762133 M ringed 23/07/2016 (then aged 4) and encountered 09/047/2018
Z763195  F ringed 14/08/2016 (then aged 4)

Reed Warbler

There were a few new Reed Warblers, also a Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat.

While clearing the track net, I realised that the Little Ringed Plovers were spending a lot of time in an area where some of the earth mound was dug out at the end of last year. We watched the pair for a while, then moved in very carefully and located and ringed two young.

On release this chick made no attempt to hide, but is still quite difficult to see

Although part of the bank has been removed, most of this stony area
has remained undisturbed enough for the LRPs to breed.

The supervisor of the site has always been very helpful regarding access for us while work is ongoing and he has confirmed that the area where the Little Ringed Plover are breeding will remain undisturbed until the young have fledged. Some businesses are mindful, but back to that debate is it impractical to stop anywork at all in the breeding season?

Total: 11 (4)

Little Ringed Plover - 2 pulli
Blackbird - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Reed Warbler - 4 (4)
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Goldfinch - 1

Broadwater GP - 19th May 2019 (On borrowed time?)

The main objective today was to check the two nest boxes and ring any pulli of a suitable size. Before making our checks, we put up four nets so that we might retrap a few birds of our residents and even perhaps the odd summer migrant.

We were disappointed to find that our notices had all been torn down and left on the ground. Our immediate thought was that this happened when maintenance and new signs were put up by the fishing club. Anyway, in spite of this and a pile of fly-tipped waste (initially it just looked like cut vegetation, but a string of defunct LED lights gave it away), we continued and got our four nets up.

We then moved on to look at the two nest boxes, thankfully they were still there. Box one had been used by Great Tits. We know this as one recently dead, well grown chick was left in the box. At least we knew the box had been used and some young had fledged successfully. Box two had been claimed by a pair of very tenacious Blue Tits. They chided us and stayed very close by in the time it took for us to remove the brood of eight and  ring each one before posting them back into the box. They are our first, successfully ringed young at Broadwater and we decided to identify suitable sites and put up a few more boxes, for Robin and tits. By the end of the morning we were seriously rethinking that idea.

The nets gave us some new Blackcaps (no returning ringed birds unfortunately) and retraps of Great Tit, Blue Tit and Dunnock. There was also a new Song Thrush and juvenile Robin and Long-tailed Tit.

Juvenile Robin

Chris wandered away from our ringing area, recording Mute Swan 4AJE on the lake and two other swans, as yet unringed. He also spoke to a fisherman who said that there is a plan to extract gravel from the immediate area for HS2. There had been inspections to see whether the causeway was suitable for HGV movements. It is fairly clear that it is not and it seems there is little chance that our ringing area will be untouched if this plan goes ahead. From what was said, it seems that the whole area is likely to be bulldozed to put in infrastructure for gravel extraction and heavy goods movements. As we were leaving, it struck us that the reason there had been so much cutting back of trees between the access track and canal is to widen the road to permit two way movement of HGVs. In the event the company are starting work this year, we may still have the site until early September, if they observe the breeding season, broadly February to August, since it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly cut down a tree with birds nesting. However, what are the chances that big business will have any consideration for wildlife? HS 2 effects are not just confined to tbe immediate route!

It is an offence to cut down a hedge or tree intentionally or recklessly whilst there are birds nesting in it.

Reckless is a term often used in legal definitions. In this context it means that if you cut the tree down and you knew there was a chance that birds were nesting there and you didn't check, and there were birds nesting there, then you would have been reckless and, therefore, guilty of the offence.

The penalties are imprisonment and/or a fine. If there is more than one bird, nest or egg then there will be a separate fine for each one.
All being ignored as HS2 work goes ahead - the law is meaningless to big business. But, then should only multi-million pound projects be forced to work outside the breeding season creating a higher cost for us all. One area that could be debated until the cows come home, and probably for a lot of people irrelevant.......probably the risk their Huawei phone will not get some updates is more of a concern? 

Totals: 14 (4)
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Robin - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Blackcap - 3
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 0 (1) & 8 pulli
Great Tit - 0 (2)

Wraysbury GP - 18th May 2019

Jay age 5

First time out locally today took us to Wraysbury GP where the main team were doing CES and we covered another area outside of it for the Whitethroat RAS, with LON and WA. This is the fifth year and, in view of the drastic changes to the habitat as a result of attempts to control the vetch, will probably be the last.

Our team of four had a total of nine nets up and managed a respectable 58 birds. This included two retrapped Whitethroats, ringed in August 2018. There were also other Whitethroats, either new or previously captured by our trainees in April.

It was unusual to see that Garden Warbler captures outnumbered that of Blackcaps. However it was a Blackcap recapture of Blackcap Z763858, ringed as a juvenile at Wraysbury on 3rd September 2016 that provided most interest. The day was rounded off with the capture of a Jay, providing LON with an opportunity to practise handling of a larger species.

Totals:  33 (26)

Dunnock - 3 (5)
Robin - 7 (1)
Song Thrush - 1 (2)
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 5 (6)
Garden Warbler - 5 (4)
Blackcap - 5 (3)
Long-tailed Tit - 5 (1)
Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Great Tit - 0 (3)
Treecreeper - 1
Jay - 1

For the time being C6 is showing signs of recovery after after 
episodes of cutting and weed killer over the last few years.

Saturday 18 May 2019

Decoy Heath and Burghfield Bridge - 16th May 2019

Primarily a Dragonfly outing, first stop at Decoy Heath, a small reserve, little used with hardlky detectable paths. Had gone in hope of Downy Emerald, but no luck, three Four-spotted Skimmers and a few Large Red Damselfies and Varibale Damselfly. A few Butterlfies were out with Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Small Heath, Green Hairstreak and Brimstone.

 Large Red Damselfly

Variable Damselfly

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Dingy Skipper

 Grizzled Skipper

Green Hairstreak

After lunch at a very convinent pub at Burghfiled Bridge a walk along the canal for more Varibale Damselflies, followed by a quick drop into Theale GP to see four distant Black Terns and a large number of emerging Common Blue Damselfies.

Beautiful Demoiselle 

Banded Demoiselle

Variable Damselfly 

 Large Red Damselfy

 Common Blue Damselfly