Wednesday 30 September 2020

Stanwell Moor GP - 29th September 2020

We planned to join MRB and Margaret for a Meadow Pipit session with the added chance of Hirundines. We were hopeful that both targets might oblige as we had low cloud and fine drizzle as we set the first nets, but the tapes failed to attract House Martins or Swallows although some of both species were seen briefly. There were some Meadow Pipits around, however numbers present were well down on our previous session and the numbers caught didn't amount to a great deal considering the effort put in to flush birds into the nets.

We were correct in our assumption that the summer warblers were now well on their way with only a few late stragglers being captured. We were a little surprised at the end of the morning when Chris played Redwing and Redpoll in spite of not hearing or seeing any of either species, and captured the first Lesser Redpoll of the season for the group. A little later a party of some 40 Lesser Redpoll flew through and although they stopped briefly and perched in trees close to the lure, a jet departed from Heathrow at an inopportune moment, drowning out the calls and the birds were immediately back in the air and on their way. 

Lesser Redpoll, aged 3

Totals: 51 (1)

Meadow Pipit - 10
Robin - 3
Dunnock - 6
Blackcap - 11
Chiffchaff - 2
Goldcrest - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 9
Blue Tit - 6
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Lesser Redpoll - 1

Friday 25 September 2020

Wraysbury GP - 23rd September 2020

Last chance out for a few days and we went to Wraysbury. A try for Meadow Pipit worked quite well with over 20 birds captured in the three net combination. All the other birds came from four singles, but it was clear that diversity of species is really dropping off now as all birds were from 5 species, although there were still at least a  few passage Blackcap and Chiffchaff about.

Sunrise over a misty C6

Total: 50 (5)

Meadow Pipit - 23
Dunnock - 4 (2)
Robin - 1
Blackcap - 10 (1)
Chiffchaff - 12 (2)

Stanwell Moor GP - 21st September 2020

Decided to make the most of calm before the weather changes mid week. We tried a new strategy for Meadow Pipits, putting three nets around a small stand of trees on the bank with a further four singles for other species. We tried the lure for House Martins that has provided good results and been discussed of late, but over the whole of the morning there was no sign of interest from any hirundines and that net only caught a single Chiffchaff and a retrap Green Woodpecker.

Age 3 Meadow Pipit showing retained juvenile 
median coverts longer than the new adult coverts. There is also contrast 
in the tertials and first two inner greater coverts have been replaced.

Retrap DT40271 4F Green Woodpecker

Totals: 70 (5)

Meadow Pipit - 25
Robin - 2 (1)
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Blackcap - 24
Chiffchaff - 9
Willow Warbler - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 5 (1)
Great Tit - 3 (1)
Green Woodpecker - 0 (1)


Nanjizal, Cornwall - 19th September 2020

Another windy start. KW did not open nets initially as there was also rain nearby. We didn't go straight away and had to vacate the accommodation before going. JR was there when we arrived and KW has left. JR was doing a round when dogs started to run through the site. We saw the trail setter ride past the site, but the dogs must have picked up another scent. They were running back and forth and somehow didn't damage any nets. A hunt on the ringing site was a first we could have done without. 

Bird numbers were up and there were some interesting species that we hadn't caught earlier in the week.

3M Redstart

Adult Siskin, male

Lesser Whitethroat adult

Lesser Redpoll, age 3

One of the visiting hounds

Total: 77 (22)

Kingfisher - 0 (2)
Wren - 0 (1)
Dunnock - 2
Robin - 6 (1)
Redstart - 2
Blackbird - 0 (1)
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 2 (2)
Reed Warbler - 3 (2)
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 1 (1)
Blackcap - 39 (6)
Chiffchaff - 8 (2)
Willow Warbler - 7
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Great Tit - 1
Siskin - 2
Lesser Redpoll -1
Chaffinch - 1
Bullfinch - 0 (2)

Sunday 20 September 2020

Nanjizal, Cornwall - 18th September 2020

It was impossible to predict the wind speeds as none of the weather sites seemed to be in agreement. When the alarm went off at 5:10am it was blowing a gale and there seemed little prospect of being able to drop nets. Some 90 minutes later and the wind was abating. We were soon on site and able to set most of the nets.

We didn't get a very large catch, but this is what we managed, and a t least we got a Firecrest.

3F Firecrest

Age 3 Willow Warbler

3F Kingfisher

Total: 34 (10)

Kingfisher - 1
Robin - 3 (1)
Blackbird - 0 (1)
Grasshopper Warbler - 1 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 15 (1)
Chiffchaff - 10 (1)
Willow Warbler - 1
Firecrest - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (4)
Blue Tit - 0 (1)

In the afternon a walk along country lanes across to Porthgawarra, again still in strong Easterly winds failed to produce very much. Sadly the winds gusting between 30-40 mph were not good for finding passerines, which will without doubt pop up once the wind drops in a day or so. It also is not a good wind direction for pushing any sea birds on shore unfortunately. A few Wheatears arrived late afternoon, seeing 11.

Northern Wheatear

Nanjizal, Cornwall 17th September 2020

 It was forecast for the winds to increase, gusting to 38mph, but KW was prepared to charge and set out the audio-lures so we went down just as it was getting light and dropped the few nets that were sufficiently sheltered. We were able to drop less than half the nets but did so in case there was anything good keeping low in the cover.

We took two rounds, furling on the second as the wind was strengthening. Subsequently, we had a very low total, none of which were retraps.

Juvenile Whitethroat

Total: 34

Robin - 2
Reed Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 26
Chiffchaff - 4

As we were finished so early we took the opportunity to sea-watch from Porthgwarra.  There was little going past but a shoal just off shore kept the Gannets busy while we sheltered, from the strong wind, behind some large boulders.

Following that we tried to see a Dotterel that had been reported around Sennan wihtout any succes though the field held a flock of 10 Golden Plover and a few Mediterranean Gulls.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Nanjizal, Cornwall - 16th September 2020

We arrived a little earlier today as we were to drop the nets. KW had kindly charged and set out the audio-lures, so the nets being opened a little later (to avoid negotiating the narrow boardwalks in the dark) wasn't too much of a problem. The site didn't appear very busy with small passerines, but we did see a Barn Owl as we opened up.

The first two birds from the first net were a couple of Pied Flycatchers. Promising to say the least. Seeing birds such as this is the reason why we ring in locations away from our home sites. The chances of any flycatcher is remote indeed.

It was clear that many birds from the previous day were still about including most of the Sedge and Reed Warblers done in the last day. The numbers of retraps compared to new was well up on previous days. New birds were fairly low but in addition to the Piedflys and Blackcaps there were more Chiffs, a couple of Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Grey Wagtail.

Towards the end of the morning we tried for Siskin and Swallow but to no avail.

It was possible to sex the first year Pied Flycatchers using TFs. Note the female (above) does not have the window panel as seen on the male below.

Spotted Flycatcher, age 3

Grey Wagtail, age 3

Totals: 63 (19)

Grey Wagtail - 1
Wren - 0 (2)
Robin - 3
Dunnock - 1
Grasshopper Warbler - 0 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 0 (2)
Reed warbler - 4 (3)
Garden Warbler - 0 (1)
Blackcap - 35 (7)
Willow Warbler - 2
Chiffchaff - 11 (3)
Goldcrest - 1
Spoted Flycatcher - 1
Pied Flycatcher - 2
Great Tit - 1
Chaffinch - 1

While closing, we had a call about a European Bee-eater over fields, between St Leven church  and Roskestal Farm. We drove straight there from the ringing site and struggled to see or hear the bee-eater for a while, before, out of the blue literally, seeing the Black Kite drift past. This bird can be seen over quite a large area, but until today we had not managed to see it. Then the unmistakable call of Bee-eater was heard, but could not be seen. A little more perseverance and we were rewarded with views directly overhead as the Swallows gave it a hard time. All in all worth having to wait until 2:30pm for lunch.

Later in the afternoon we spent a couple of hours on a walk across the fields and down to the coast at Nanjizal. We noticed an increase in the numbers of Robins around and a couple of Wheatears. Stonechats were very common in the areas of bracken.

The ringing site from our path to the coast

Nanjizal beach, Mill bay and Zawn Peggy

Stonechat in the bracken

One of several Robins in the area

The sea fog had been hanging just off the coast all day and as the sun sank lower in the sky, as the Land's End foghorn continued to sound, it was it was still there. We'll wait to see if it affects us tomorrow.

Fogbank from Faraway Loft.

There were Wheatears on the wall as I returned to Faraway. We'll have to wait to see what's about tomorrow.

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Nanjizal, Cornwall - 15th September 2020

 After rain over night we awoke to a mizzle shrouded morning. KW always opens in the dark and with the  boardwalks now wet we were glad not to have to negotiate the pathway (with some fair drops)  and open the nets ourselves. JR was able to join us for a while before going into work. We wondered whether the fine mist may actually turn to rain during the ringing session and during the first round that is exactly what happened. We pushed up nets as we cleared the second half, then left a few as the sky cleared a bit. It soon started to rain again so all extracted birds were placed in the dry and another circuit of the site ensued to collect the few that had been caught between showers and secure the remaining nets.

Much later it was possible to drop some nets and get a few more birds.

 We were slightly disappointed not to have caught any of the Firecrest that had been reported for the area on the previous day, but on the final round we found the best bird of the day.

Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta, juvenile

The mist was at its heaviest first thing and had
 not cleared by the time we closed at midday.

The route crosses the streams through the valley in several places.

The bridge net

Sedge Warbler, age 3

Total: 69 (18)

Robin - 3
Wren - 1 (3)
Grasshopper Warbler - 3 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 2
Reed Warbler - 5 (1)
Garden Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 43 (8)
Chiffchaff - 8 (3)
Melodious Warbler - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Bullfinch - 0 (2)

Nanjizal, Cornwall - 14th September 2020

 It was quite windy overnight so we were unsure whether this would help or hinder the ringing efforts today. KW was on site early to drop nets and we were joined by JR for the first round. It turned out to be quite a quiet day with just over 70 new birds ringed and processed.
We were particularly please to get a Grasshopper Warbler as this is a species that we no not catch at our own UK sites.
Juvenile Grasshopper Warbler

Totals: 74 (20)

Wren - 0 (1)
Robin - 7 (1)
Songthrush - 0 (1)
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 2 (1)
Reed Warbler - 4
Blackcap - 33 (5 including 1 control)
Chiffchiff - 20 (6 )
Willow Warbler - 0 (1)
Goldcrest - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (2)
Blue Tit - 4 (2)
Great Tit - 0 (1)

Observations from the morning included Buzzard (3), Grey Wagtail (1), Water Rail (1), Chough (2), Kingfisher (1), Hobby (1) & Marsh Harrier (1).

In the afternoon we spent a while in the Cot Valley. 

Ruins of infrastructure from the tin industry.

We turned up a Pied Flycatcher by the stream.

Other observations included Chough (2), Stonechat, Grey Wagtail (2), Rock Pipit (5) & Kestrel.

Sunday 13 September 2020

Nanjizal, Cornwall - 13th September 2020

Our first day of a week spent in Cornwall, helping KW monitor birds in the far south west of the country. Today we worked with PR, JR, Rob and Josh to keep the nets clear, process birds and send them on their way.
This is a beautiful site and today the total number of new birds exceeded 100. The bird of the day was a juvenile Pied Flycatcher.
Pied Flycatcher

Totals: 110 (22)
Kingfisher - 0 (1)
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 0 (1)
Wren - 1 (3)
Robin - 10 (2)
Blackbird - 0 (3)
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 2
Reed Warbler - 3
Whitethroat - 1 (1)
Blackcap - 68 (7)
Chiffchiff - 17 (3 including 1 control)
Willow Warbler - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Pied Flycatcher - 1
Blue Tit - 3
Great Tit - 0 (1)
In the afternoon we took a run back to the Hayle where a Baird's Sandpiper and Semi-Palmated Sandpiper have been present. We managed to find the Baird's, along with some Dunlin and Ringed Plover down to a short distance. There were also several Rock Pipit along the shoreline.

Baird's Sandpiper


Ringed Plover juvenile

Rock Pipit

Thursday 10 September 2020

Wraysbury GP - 10th September 2020

 It was barely light as we arrived just after 6am. The first of the eight nets up was brand new and went up as part of the first double. We left that and set a further two doubles and two singles. There's something special about a brand new net, beautifully soft, that lovely smell and only the holes that are meant to be there. Could it be any better? Well, yes when you check it on your first round to find close to 30 birds fresh out of roost! They were mainly Blackcaps and made up the bulk of the 42 birds processed following the first round.
After that, the birds reduced to a steady trickle. We tried playing Meadow Pipit on one of the doubles on the off chance and managed to catch a few, even though the net wasn't specifically set for them. The most unexpected bird was a Nuthatch that was heard in the taller trees and lured down. This species is most unusual on C6 Wraysbury.

3F Nuthatch

Retained outer lesser coverts 
as mentioned in Demongin

Our only Whitethroat of the day aged 3

Treecreeper juvenile

Totals: 63 (11)

Meadow Pipit - 6
Wren - 1
Dunnock - 1 (2)
Songthrush - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 34 (5)
Chiffchaff - 9 (3)
Willow Warbler - 1
Goldcrest - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (1)
Blue Tit - 3
Great Tit - 1
Treecreeper - 1
Nuthatch - 1

Wednesday 9 September 2020

Stanwell Moor GP - 7th September 2020

 We arrived for a 6am start and set up 7 nets. Warbler numbers are beginning to wane now but we managed reasonable numbers of Blackcap and a few others too, and an attempt for Meadow Pipits at one of the bank nets proved that it is possible to catch them here. Knowing that they can be attracted into the low bushes has allowed us to put a bit of thought into how we might maximise catches there using a combination of nets rather than a single, but that's an idea for next time.

Juvenile Meadow Pipit

Total: 59 (6)

Meadow Pipit - 9
Wren - 1
Robin - 2 (5)
Dunnock - 4
Reed Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 2
Blackcap - 32
Chiffchff - 2 (1)
Willow Warbler - 1
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 2
Goldfinch - 1