Sunday 28 August 2022

Deepdale Farm - 28th August 2022

Seven nets were put up and 27 birds captured. It is clear that there isn't a great deal of thoroughfare through Hill Piece, and now that few birds are feeding on the set aside catching is more difficult. The trees are high, so small flocks that do pass through are often above net height.

Jay, adult, marked with darvic H4, black print on white, 
for the University of East Anglia study.

This young male Blackcap showed a great deal of interest on hearing the engine of a microlite overhead. It appeared to look in the direction of the sound and remained on Chris' hand
 for several minutes.

There were a few migrant warblers still, Blackcap and Whitethroat in equal numbers. We suspected that there may have been some drift across the channel as some Whitethroats has particularly low weights, including one at 11.8g. Very much in contrast to the last of the morning with fat score 2 and a weight of 16.9g. Further credence was added to the theory of birds having crossed the channel with news of a newly located Pied Flycatcher at Wells Wood.

This juvenile Whitethroat was notable for being in the process of moulting in new 
central tail feathers. This is usual in Chiffchaff , Blue Tit and Great Tit but 
much less common in Whitethroats and the other Sylvia warblers.

Total: 23 (4)

Jay - 1
Wren - 2 (2)
Dunnock - 1 (2)
Whitethroat - 7
Blackcap - 7
Chiffchaff - 2
Long-tailed - 1
Blue Tit - 2

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Sculthorpe Moor - 22nd August 2022

 We got a session in today, in advance of some windy, and potentially wet weather, followed by a return to temperatures in the high 20s. It was the first time we'd ringed here on a southerly wind and that may have contributed to the distinct feeling that many summering warblers had pushed southwards on autumn migration. Migrants like flying into a headwind. It's beneficial for generating lift when there are substantial distances to cover and Norfolk birds tend to head to the south coast rather than heading east.

We processed a total of 40 birds although half being Blue Tit was rather too many for our liking. These birds do not tend to travel much in the UK and numerous studies can attest to their survival rates and factors influencing breeding productivity. However, continued monitoring for change in circumstances is still important. Six Chiffchaff and two Sedge Warblers were the only summer migrants captured.

Juvenile Sedge Warbler

There was a nice spread of resident species including adult birds, some of which are now nearing the end of their main moults following the breeding season.

Treecreeper, age 3 

Total: 39 (1)

Wren - 4
Robin - 1
Sedge Warbler - 2
Chiffchaff - 6
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 20
Great Tit - 4
Marsh Tit - 0 (1)
Treecreeper - 1

Monday 22 August 2022

Selbrigg Pond - 21st August 2022

 This afternoon we went back to see Scarface and his mate, intending to darvic ring the remaining seven cygnets. As usual, the cob (named Scarface due to a nick in his beak caused by a discarded fishing line) knew exactly what we were up to and remained a good distance away, as did his mate. He already has a metal ring but she has not been marked at all.

The cygnets are very used to receiving handouts, and kept coming back despite  seeing their siblings caught up. After catching 6 of the 7, the last unmarked youngster knew to keep out of reach of Chris.

All captures were made from a small grassy area. 
So small in fact that the ringed cygnets frequently got in the way.

6 of 7 cygnets marked. The cob currently in primary moult.

This established pair are good parents, still having 7 of the original 9 young. The two that were lost may have been road casualties as the pond is right next to a road.

Thursday 18 August 2022

Deepdale Farm - 18th August 2022

 The second heatwave of the summer has now passed, and we've also come through the thunder, lightning and torrential downpours that ensued once the hot spell broke. The farm tracks showed evidence that some water had been running through the farm, displacing gravel, but the fields looked in good shape with the low vegetation, whether stubble or cover crop preventing run off and loss of top soil. The ground around the area where we set nets was noticeably softer underfoot.

One of 12 Whitethroats processed today.

Lesser Whitethroat in post juvenile moult

One of two Willow Warblers. Both were hatched this year and have
 completed their post-juvenile moult in preparation for their first migration south.

As in recent sessions, Whitethroat was the leading species. The catch was a good representation of the birds seen moving about the site, five species being summer migrants.

Adult male Blackcap AXD4199 was ringed, by another ringer/group, as a juvenile in September of last year and we await details. He is currently in the process of renewing his flight feathers. Note short outer primaries that are not yet fully grown and the old lighter, outer feather that has not yet dropped and has still to be replaced.

This young Robin would have hatched fairly late in the breeding season and has barely begun to develop its diagnostic red breast as it moults out juvenile feathers in its post juvenile moult.

Additional observations included a Green Woodpecker, 2 Marsh Harrier, Red Kite, 5 Common Buzzards and a juvenile European Stonechat.

A spectacular sunrise, a perk to follow the 5am alarm.

Total: 25 (2)

Wren - 1
Robin - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 12
Blackcap - 2 (1 control)
Chiffchaff - 2
Willow Warbler - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (1 control)
Blue Tit - 2
Goldfinch - 1

Friday 12 August 2022

Deepdale Farm - 12th August 2022

 We planned for an early finish today with temperatures set to climb. We decided to give this site a try as the winds were blowing from the north east and with birds on the move there was a chance of catching one of the less usual species.

The catch was spread over seven unexceptional species, however a Fieldfare flying from the direction of the sea at 11:15am was unexpected and a very early date for this winter migrant.

One of 6 juvenile Wrens. They seem to do very well here.

Juvenile Robin

Total: 19 (5)

Wren - 5 (1)
Robin - 0 (1)
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird - 1
Whitethroat - 7 (3)
Blackcap - 1
Blue Tit - 4

Thursday 11 August 2022

North Norfolk Black-headed Gull project - a first resighting, 9th August 2022

 We are very excited to receive news of a Black-headed gull mist netted and ringed in our very own back garden, and marked for the project with a white print on red darvic ring on 6th June 2022. This is the first confirmed resighting for the project and 2C18 has travelled 279Km to the River Lune, Lancaster, Lancashire. This north westerly movement is not quite what we would have expected as an initial record for the study. We expected reports from the coast, but mostly likely on the east coast or even from across the channel.

Wednesday 10 August 2022

Sculthorpe Moor, Discovery Day - 10th August 2022

 A return to the moor this week accompanied by ERB, not to monitor the beaver enclosure today, but situated on the boardwalk as part of a summer holidays discovery day. Nets were placed in a part of the reserve where we do not usually ring, and at a time later than usual in order to contribute to the activity day.

Marsh Tit

There were lots of questions about what we were doing and how the data collected informs our knowledge of wild birds. Children and adults alike discovered what happens when a bird is ringed, and how and why ringing schemes around the world work together to gather information and monitor what's happening with our wild birds. We were a little concerned that there might not be too many birds when people came by, but most visitors were able to see wild birds in the hand and several were able to release birds back into the wild.

Total: 19 (2)

Sedge Warbler - 3
Reed Warbler - 2
Whitethroat - 1
Chiffchaff - 6 (1)
Goldcrest - 1
Marsh Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 5
Great Tit - 0 (1)

Monday 8 August 2022

Sculthorpe Moor - 8th August 2022

 A good session with 17 species trapped and recorded. Amongst the five warbler species caught was the first Cetti's Warbler that we've ringed at this site. The Cetti's Warbler Cettia Cetti differs from the other Warblers that summer at Sculthorpe in that it will not migrate after the summer and will remain in the UK. Cetti's Warblers are also unusual in that they have only 10 tail feathers when most other species have 12.

    Juvenile Cetti's Warbler

Sculthorpe provides an ideal habitat for the Cetti's Warbler within its fenland and reedbed areas. Two other warbler species of the Acrocephalous genus,  commonly found close to wet areas are the Sedge and Reed Warblers and birds from these species were captured too.

This Sedge Warbler retains a few spots on the gorget 
showing this to be a bird hatched this year.

Juvenile Reed warbler

Reed warblers nest in the reedy areas and we haven't caught many breeding birds as our nets are not set in reedbeds. But, now that the young are out and travelling along the streams and ditches to find food we have started to catch a few youngsters.

The Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, of the genus Phylloscopus (Leaf warblers), were also recorded.

Willow Warbler juvenile

This Willow warbler looks a bit scruffy as it has started moulting out of its first juvenile feathers in its post juvenile moult. The changed feathers will be more robust than the feathers it fledged with and help the bird complete its first autumn migration to southern Africa.

There is clearly a broad diversity of resident passerines breeding on site with the usual Robin, Dunnock, Wren and tit species ringed in addition to the less commonly recorded Song Thrush, Blackbird, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Bullfinch.

This Bullfinch has yet to start its post juvenile 
moult into male or female plumage.

Total: 58 (11)

Wren - 6 (1)
Robin - 1
Dunnock - 1 (1)
Blackbird - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Reed Warbler - 3
Sedge Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 6
Chiffchaff - 11 ( 2 (including 1 control))
Willow Warbler - 1
Goldcrest - 3
Marsh Tit - 1 (1)
Blue Tit - 14 (4)
Great Tit - 3 (2)
Treecreeper - 3

Sunday 7 August 2022

Deepdale Farm - 6th August 2022

The autumn migration is starting to gather pace as apparent from reports at some observatories in Europe where catches have suddenly leapt from very little to three figure totals over night in some cases.

Today we wondered whether there would be much in the way of migrant warblers yet and placed an extra net along the hedgerow to intercept any birds flying to and from a section of  hedge, into the field borders sown especially to feed wild birds. We thought that Whitethroats would definitely make use of this.

As it turned out we were correct with Whitethroats (all juveniles) making up almost half of the catch, although about a third of these were actually visiting the fruiting Blackberry bushes of Hilly Piece wood. We were not surprised to find that the Whitethroats were all hatched this year. Our Rate of Adult Survival study on Whitethroats, completed over 5 years at Wraysbury in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead clearly showed that adults leave the breeding grounds very soon after their chicks fledge and commence their migration well in advance of the young birds. 

Chiffchaffs and Dunnocks were conspicuous by their absence.

Juvenile Whitethroat

Totals: 30 (1)

Wren - 3
Robin - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 14
Blackcap - 4
Willow Warbler - 1
Blue Tit - 3 (1)
Great Tit - 1
Yellowhammer - 1