Tuesday 27 April 2021

Wraysbury GP - 27th April 2021

A day with very low wind spent at Wraysbury. There were plenty of Whitethroat, six of which were recaptures from previous years and of the 13 Whitethroats in total only 3 were female. This is in line with what one might expect with males arriving first to stake out, defend and maintain territories. There was certainly plenty of interaction, sometimes with up to 3 birds chasing around the disputed vegetation.

AAH5009 ringed at this site on 26/06/2020.

It was rather concerning to see that large areas of bramble appear to have died off. This seems to be most likely due to the late frosts that we've been having throughout April and is no doubt compounding the issue of sufficient numbers of suitable nesting sites for the Whitethroats.

Large areas of Bramble appear to be severely affected by late frosts
and have died off. Hopefully we will see some rapid regeneration.

There was a smattering of other species. Among the residents there were plenty of Dunnocks, three Song Thrush, a couple of Bullfinch and our first juvenile Robin of the season.

This 3JJ Robin was walked back and released in the bush it had been heading for when captured.

There were singles of Blackcap and Garden Warbler, ringed in 2018, amongst the migrant arrivals.

Totals:   25 (17)

Robin - 1
Dunnock - 4 (5)
Song Thrush - 1 (2)
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 7 (6)
Garden Warbler - 2 (1)
Blackcap - 5 (1)
Chiffchaff - 3
Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Bullfinch - 2

Monday 26 April 2021

Aston Rowant NNR - 26th April 2021

An afternoon visit, to the slightly sheltered southern slope at Beacon Hill. At first sight it seemed devoid of any Butterflies, indeed the top end of the slope this was very true, and those found were at the bottom of the slope just above the sunken path. Numbers were not high, with 5 each of Grizzled Skipper and Green Hairstreak seen, with 2 Small Cooper and Peacock seen, with a single quick flyby Dingy Skipper.

Green Hairstreak

Small Copper


Grizzled Skipper

Sunday 25 April 2021

Heronry monitoring - Lee Valley Park - 25th April 2021

Today we joined PR and a small team to visit the Heronry at the Lee Valley Park to monitor the birds' progress and ring the pulli. This was the team's second visit this season.

The Grey Herons were well on their way with well grown young in most nests. Some nests were empty and it looked as though those broods were already fledged. There was one tree, however that had nests faring rather less well than the rest of the colony. This tree was at the edge of the lake and as well as the tree looking rather sickly with foliage behind the surrounding trees, it was evident that the prevailing north easterly winds of the last three weeks had taken its toll on the tree and nests in this very exposed position. The young in those nests looked undersized and because of the condition of the tree and the apparent condition of the young were not disturbed.

Seven chicks were marked with metal and darvic rings.

There were several Little Egret nests but apart from a nest of three young that needed another few days before being large enough to ring, the other clutches were not yet hatched.

Time on the island was limited to an hour as adult birds are put off as soon as the punt approaches.

Many thanks to PR to gain experience of this type of monitoring.

Saturday 24 April 2021

Iver Heath Garden, spring passage of little finches - March/April 2021

This year turned out to be one of the few years when we get an obvious passage of Siskin through the garden. Ever since the bumper year when there were hundreds of birds through the feeding site, but still being trainees, we only did a few hundred when we could get our trainer round, we hope every year for the little birds to return.

The first Siskins were seen at the end of February and it became common for parties of up six or so to be seen. As the spring progressed we began to see Lesser Redpoll too. In fact there was a gradual transition from Siskin to Lesser Redpoll being the most frequently seen or captured birds.

The first Siskins were caught on the 27th of February.

February - 4

Siskin - 4

A single Lesser Redpoll was ringed 1st March with the next bird on the 17th a small groups dropped in to feed, being captured in small numbers from the 30th.

March - 76 (7)

Siskin - 62 (6 & 1 control)
Lesser Redpoll - 14

The one and only control to date was a 6 female Siskin AZK9672 controlled 18th March. The bird had been ringed at Pope's Hill, Gloucestershire on 26th January earlier this year.

Lesser Redpoll male

Siskin adult male

March drew to a close and the Siskins were seen less frequently, but as the last of the Siskin passage were moving through we began to see more Lesser Redpoll. It's unusual to get more than a handful in the garden at any time so the continued surge of small finches has been most welcome. After months when travel and ringing has been limited it's great to have such quality little birds just metres from our backdoor. 

April - 80 (10)

Siskin - 13 (2)
Lesser Redpoll - 67 (8)

We are still seeing a few individuals with a female Siskin recently captured presenting with a BP2 giving cause to believe that she has decided to remain in the area and breed locally.

Noar Hill - 23rd April 2021

 The day had warmed up nicely and we visited Noar Hill hoping to see Duke of Burgundy butterflies soon after emergence. These butterflies were once classified as a fritillary due to the similarity to those fritillary species found in the British Isles. It is, however, the UK's only representative of the subfamily known as 'metal marks'.

Duke of Burgundy

These butterflies are really quite small and well camouflaged but we managed to locate seven, mainly in the sheltered areas of the chalk pits.

Chalk pit habitat of the dukes

There are other butterflies at Noar hill too. Several Brimstone butterflies were seen.

Egg laying Brimstone female

Green Hairstreak

Cowslips and Violets are scattered across the hill.


More finds in the lane leading to the hill.

Holly Blue

Lesser Celandine


Thursley Common - 23rd April 2021

A bright but windy day and we decided to go to Thursley to look for returning migrants, interesting residents and the over wintered Little Buntings.

The first find was the Little Buntings, not in their usual spot but very close and quite confiding.

Little Bunting

We carried on to the spot where we'd seen them and the Rustic Bunting last year to find a photographer sitting right where they usually like to feed. He couldn't understand why they weren't there as seed had been put out for them

We heard and saw several male Redstarts with views ranging from distant to fairly close.

Singing male Redstart

There were several Woodlark singing overhead with others seen foraging across the areas cleared both my last year's fire and for fire prevention.

Wood Lark

The Tree Pipits were conspicuous by their absence. Apparently two pairs have returned to the common, but not in the areas where we had walked.

It was a lovely morning with sightings of Curlew, Red Kite, Buzzard, Stonechat and Crossbill as well as the species already highlighted. We also heard the Cuckoo, so well photographed due to a plentiful supply of mealworms - we rather frown on manipulating the behaviour of birds in that way so avoided the photographers, being content just to have heard the call.

Of course no visit to Thursley is complete without a glimpse of a Dartford Warbler (or several as was the case today).

Dartford Warbler


Tuesday 20 April 2021

Broadwater GP - 20th April 2021

A beautiful morning for a dual based, socially distanced ringing session with MRB and Margaret at Broadwater resulted in 39 birds captured of which 26 were new. Leading species was Blackcap with two Cetti's Warbler, two Reed Bunting, two Treecreeper and a Willow Warbler providing some most welcome diversity in the catch.

Male Cetti's Warbler

Total: 26 (13)

Wren - 3
Robin - 2 (3)
Dunnock - 0 (4)
Blackbird - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 13 (2)
Willow Warbler - 1
Great Tit - 0 (3)
Reed Bunting - 2
Treecreeper - 1 (1)

Sunday 18 April 2021

Wraysbury GP - 18th April 2021

A very low wind day, perfect for netting at Wraysbury where the Whitethroats are starting to arrive. We caught 24 birds in all and were most pleased with an early Garden Warbler and a returning Blackcap.

Garden Warbler

Blackcap  APA1614 was ringed in 2019

Totals:   20 (4)

Wren - 1
Robin - 1
Dunnock - 0 (3)
Song Thrush - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Garden Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 13 (1)
Chiffchaff - 2

Stanwell Moor - 17th April 2021

Managed an early start for the first visit to Stanwell in a while. We put six nets up and progressed really rather slowly. We later discovered that this was in part due to a trespassing plane spotter that had tucked himself away in the main fly line through the monitoring area (despite the nets having been there when he arrived). Needless to say our catch was affected as nothing at all turned up in the hedge double from the time he said he'd arrived.

We had to be content with an unexpected capture from one of the other singles and a smattering of the usual species.

Pied Wagtail

We at least had a chance to try out the Magkoo, a project of mine from the 3rd lockdown designed to increase our chances of capturing Cuckoo once they arrive at Wraysbury. 

A plastic life sized Magpie painted into Cuckoo livery -
will Magkoo do the trick when Cuckoos arrive?

Total: 13 (5)

Pied Wagtail - 1
Wren - 1
Robin - 2
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird - 2
Blackcap - 3
Chiffchaff - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (2)
Blue Tit - 0 (2)
Great Tit - 0 (1)

Wednesday 14 April 2021

Hazeley Heath, Hampshire - 13th April 2021

Today we were invited to help TOA and NT at their Hazeley Heath feeder site where it was quite busy when they last worked the site. We ran a completely socially distanced session with separate ringing tables and although it wasn't quite as busy as their last session we had plenty to do.

Lesser Redpoll male

Siskin male

Thanks to Tim and Nancy for the chance for a near normal morning away from home ringing and to meet friends we've not seen for over a year now.

Totals: 92 (51)

Wren - 1
Robin - 1
Dunnock - 1
Chaffinch - 1
Siskin - 11 (4)
Lesser Redpoll - 75 (46)
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Great Tit - 1 (1)

As we had never been to this place before we took a walk around to see what it's like.

We were spotted about the same time they saw us.

Fallow Deer stag with adornment on antlers

Friday 2 April 2021

Broadwater GP - 31st March 2021

 After the first step towards returning to normal, non-distanced living on March 29th, we met with MRB and Margaret for ringing. We have all now had one dose of the vaccine, but we still followed the guidance to maintain distance and ran two separate ringing tables extracting from separate nets and using separate equipment.

We caught a few migrants as well as the predictable resident species. All in all not too bad a session.

Pair of peckers

Combined totals: 27 (13)

Great Spotted Woodpecker - 0 (2)
Wren - 2
Robin - 1
Dunnock - 7 (1) 
Blackbird - 2 (1) 
Blackcap - 5
Chiffchaff - 3 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 3 (2)
Blue Tit - 1 (4)
Great Tit - 2 (1)
Treecreeper - 0 (1)
Jay - 1