Thursday 22 December 2022

A farm in west Norfolk - 22nd December 2022

 Following the cold snap, the weather has become unseasonably warm with wind, and from time to time rain too. We had spotted a couple of distant chances for completion of winter CES 4 but risked the weather changing and reaching the end of the allotted time without doing a session. Today we took our chance to complete the session despite the chance of gusty weather.

On arrival it was very misty and there had been rain as we drove there. We managed to complete the session although there were two rainy spells, but nothing that couldn't be handled by emptying nets and pushing up until the showers had passed.

3F Blackbird.

Redwing aged 3

The top slot, numerically, was a tie between Blackbirds and Blue Tits, both being 11 new and 4 retrapped. Four Redwing were a bit of a fluke since they didn't drop into feed, just alighting in the hedgerow before moving on. A large flock of finches was seen further along the hedgerow. These birds probably included Tree Sparrows too as a few were seen in the hedge. However, none were caught despite deploying an additional double outside of the usual winter CES nets.

Total: 33 (9)
Wren - 1
Dunnock - 3
Blackbird - 11 (4)
Redwing - 4
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 11 (4)
Great Tit - 2

Friday 16 December 2022

Stanhoe Orchard - 16th December 2022

 After a cold week the numbers of Fieldfare at the orchard appeared to have increased. The Redwings were still around too although numbers of finches were down.

We started late to allow for birds to feed in advance of our session, and further to that it is a rather large orchard with plenty of space for birds to feed away from our nets, which a great deal of birds did. During setting up we flushed a Woodcock with two more seen later in the day. At one point there was a large female Sparrowhawk in one of the nets but it got out before we could get to it.

The ground was very hard with a severe frost that remained all morning. There was a breeze but it didn't affect our catch rate very much.

Our capture numbers were good, leading species being Redwing with 25. Fieldfares were up on the previous session with 12 new birds and a control ringed under the Norwegian scheme.

One of 25 Redwing captured

3 female Fieldfare NOS 7657858 weighted only 87.7g F0M0

Bearing a Stravanger ring, it will be interesting to see when
 and where this young bird was ringed.

3M Blackbird

3M Yellowhammeer

Total: 65 (3)

Robin - 3 (1)
Blackbird - 11 (1)
Fieldfare - 12 (& 1 control)
Redwing - 25
Song Thrush - 1
Blue Tit - 4
Great Tit - 4
Greenfinch - 1
Goldfinch - 1
Brambling - 1
Yellowhammer - 1


Wednesday 14 December 2022

Sculthorpe Moor - 14th December 2022

 We had to postpone a monitoring session a few days ago due to severely low temperatures, today there was still a heavy frost but it was one of the few opportunities before temperatures rise and it starts to get much windier.

We limited ourselves to 5 nets as we wanted to reduce the time between net rounds. We also delayed our start until 7:30am to allow birds to start feeding before we had nets up ready to catch.

Our catch reflected a recent sudden increase in Blackbirds (many long winged, black beaked individuals indicating continental birds) on site, with Redwings and Siskins also in the mix.

3M Siskin

Age 3 Redwing

Total: 45 (11)

Wren -3 (1)
Robin - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 1 (1)
Redwing - 13
Blackbird - 11
Song Thrush - 1
Long - tailed Tit - 3 (1)
Blue Tit -7 (6)
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Goldcrest - 1
Siskin - 3

Monday 12 December 2022

Stanhoe Orchard- 12th December 2022

 Our first outing to the orchard this winter. We were surprised to hear so many Redwing at the site, there having been none at all last winter. Blackbird numbers were also good, and a large flock of Fieldfare right down the bottom of the orchard away from our netting area.

We noticed that there seemed to be plenty of windfalls, even some fruit still on the frosty boughs.

We put up three triples and were soon catching. Today we were joined by DKH and FB, both licenced to catch and monitor various seabirds, but relatively new to mist netting. 

4M Fieldfare

A number of Norfolk varieties attract many winter birds to this orchard

3M Brambling

A good number of thrush species provided some comfortably sized birds for FBs diversification into mist netting with a few smaller (fiddly compared to auks) species, allowing more development.

Totals: 62

Robin - 4
Blackbird - 16
Fieldfare - 4
Redwing - 22
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 2
Greenfinch - 3
Brambling - 4
Chaffinch - 2
Goldfinch - 3

Sunday 11 December 2022

Farm in West Norfolk - 10th December 2022

 An opportunity to get winter CES 3 in. It was cold and frosty and we were joined by DKH, already licenced to ring Arctic Terns but keen to increase the species on his licence. He had done very little mist netting before and extracted a couple of larger birds as well as ringing most of the Blackbirds and processing some retrapped birds. It was quite a challenging initial mist netting experience due to the chilly conditions. 

The species diversity was narrower than we would have hoped, especially as we have yet to capture any Tree Sparrows.

Total: 22 (9)

Blackbird - 6 (1)
Wren - 2 (1)
Robin - 4 (1)
Dunnock - 5 (3)
Blue Tit - 5 (3)

Wednesday 7 December 2022

Tsavo West, around the lodge and game drives - 18th - 30th November 2022


Tsavo Zebras, 'tangoed' by rolling in the orange soil

Hildebrandt's Francolin

Vulturine Guineafowl

Hartlaub's Bustard

Black-faced Sandgrouse female

European Roller

Black-backed Jackel

Black-headed Plover

African cow Elephant


Plains Zebra

African Darter

Mzima pools



Secretary bird


Leopard Tortoises

Verreaux's Eagle Owl

Vervet Monkey

Across the plains

Yellow-necked Spurfowl

Fischer's Starling


Go away Bird

Dwarf Mongoose

Namaqua Dove

Some plants bloomed immediately after the rains to be gone in a few days.

Lone bull Elephant

Vulturine Guineafowl

Dik dik, usually found in pairs and quite nervous

Unstriped Ground Squirrel

Yellow Baboon

Yellow Baboon juvenile

Steppe Eagle

Buffalo passing the lodge

Baboons cashing in on the abundance of moths

Northern White-crowned Shrike

Black-necked Weaver

Red-headed Weaver

Red-billed Hornbill

Black Rhino - population estimated at 20,000 in 1940 and only 20 by 1990.

Rainbow Agama

More Zebras

Kori Bustard

Helmeted Guineafowl

Buffalo at wallow

Park sign post

Hippo pool

Blacksmith Plover

Three-banded Plover

Monitor Lizard

Wooly-necked Storks

Rock Hyrax


Impala buck



Leopards coming to the lodge feeding station