Sunday 25 June 2023

Norfolk Rivers Trust, Ingoldisthorpe - 25th June 2023

 A return to the site to mark the second brood of Marsh Harriers and the four chicks that we'd seen on 11/06 were now just three. However,these three were well advanced in their development with much less down than the pulli in the first nest.

We were joined by ERB and PCD who each ringed and tagged one of the chicks and I, DKL ringed and marked 6I. Thanks again to the guys from North West Norfolk ringing group who came to provide more training on best practice regarding handling and tagging of these rather feisty young birds. It is great, in particular, to have the opportunity to learn the toe span technic for sexing young from the ringers that first introduced the method to the UK.

In the coming months and years we should get reports of at least some of the young harriers marked at this site, providing data on where they travel, breed and longevity. All seven chicks marked at this site have been sired by the same male that has supported both hens to feed the broods. It's an indication of a plentiful food supply when one bird can supply the same as two males in an alternative area.

Female 6I ready to return to the nest. 
Photo credit ERB

Thanks also to ERB for the heads up that a nest of Kestrel's from another location were being ringed
before the harriers. CL and I both ringed one each, the first Kestrel pulli that we've ringed. In the past we've only ringed adult birds.

  1 of 3 rather downy young. Examination of the emerging tail feathers
appears to indicate that all three are falcons, i.e., female.
Photo credit ERB

Total: 4

Kestrel - 3
Marsh Harrier - 3

Wednesday 14 June 2023

Norfolk Rivers Trust, Ingoldisthorpe - 14th June 2023

 Arranged to meet DKH at this site, finding it much windier than expected. Despite the nets being affected by the gusty NE blow we managed 22 birds from six nets sited at the end closest to the parking area. We managed to get a net across the stream and that did very well. We all look forward to being able to place nets at what we consider to be the best end, once the Marsh Harriers have got their broods off.

We had our first bird in main moult this summer, a female Long-tailed Tit looking as though the breeding season has really taken its toll.

A male Barn Owl was out hunting just before 9am.

Total: 19 (3)

Wren - 3 (1)
Reed Warbler - 3
Sedge Warbler - 1 (1)
Blackcap - 4
Chiffchaff - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Blue Tit - 4

News of a Blyth's Reed Warbler came through during the morning. We took a detour to Holme before packing in for the day, hear it calling, and singing with a mimicry repertoire that included snatches of Blue Tit, Goldfinch and Golden Oriole. The bird was moving around very close to the ground, making tracking quite difficult but it eventually showed in a Dog Rose bush briefly. 

Tuesday 13 June 2023

Baconsthorpe, Castle Wild Camp - 13th June 2023

One of two Marsh Tits captured. Local breeding confirmed.

A first try at this new site provided 27 birds. The session was short as it was mainly aimed at finding suitable places to site nets and work out the optimum net lengths. This campsite is closed midweek and has a few additional benefits in terms of facilities available.

During open season handy trolleys make moving kit easier.

It was a breezy morning and we only had three doubles up, but still managed a decent result in just under three hours, closing before the morning became too hot.

5F Yellowhammer

Totals: 27

Wren - 1
Robin - 3
Dunnock - 3
Whitethroat - 2
Blackcap - 2
Chiffchaff - 8
Marsh Tit - 2
Great Tit - 4
Yellowhammer - 1

Sunday 11 June 2023

Norfolk Rivers Trust, Ingoldisthorpe - 11th June 2023

 A collaboration with the North West Norfolk ringing group enabled us not only to gain experience of a species that we've never had the privilege to ring before, but also to get the birds wing tagged so that it is possible to identify the birds without recording the metal ring code. Marsh Harriers are known to travel widely and we look forward to receiving reports of the wing tagged birds in the future.

The nest was first discovered on April 17th and since that time the Norfolk Rivers Trust, the land owner and work being undertaken at the site has avoided causing disturbance to the nesting Marsh Harriers. Not long after we notified the trust about this nest a second was discovered a short distance away. Observations at a distance have shown this to be a site with a polygamous male bring food to females at both nests. The second nest is much less advanced than this one.

The toe span method was used to sex the nestlings, very important since male and female take F and G rings respectively. We were shown by the ringers who first developed the technique and used the method that was eventually adopted into the ringing scheme as the method to use 

Ringed under schedule 1 licence. Many thanks to NWNRG for their help.

4P, male weight 598g, wing 220mm, toe span 70.1mm - 25 days since hatching

4R receives its wingtag, male weight 605g, wing 197mm, toe span 74.1mm
 - the most downy and the last to hatch 23/24 days since hatching

4S, probable female, weight 701g, wing 231mm, toe span 81mm - the largest
nestling and fitted with a G ring - hatched 27 days ago

4T, male weight 556g, wing 218mm, toe span 69.1mm - 25/26 days since hatching

All nestings tagged and returned to the nest.

Total - 4

Marsh Harrier pulli - 4

Deepdale Farm Leaf Open Farm Day Ringing Demonstration - 11th June 2023

 We arrived on site for 6:45am and set up for the ringing demonstration between 9 and 10 am. There was plenty of bird song but not much movement across the ringing rides. We had only ringed two retraps before the demonstration and over the course of the next hour we only had three Whitethroats and a Robin. Despite this, in addition to explaining the ringing process with birds in the hand, we were able to provide a lot of information about the reasons why we ring, what discoveries have been made due to ringing and how ringing data can be used not only for studying individual bird species, but also to demonstrate the effects of wider issues such as global warming. The group were able to see the full range of ring sizes, learn exactly how mist nets work and four released birds after processing. All seemed to enjoy the demonstration and we received thanks for the voluntary work that we do for birds and conservation.

Total: 5 (3)

Wren - 0 (1)
Robin - 0 (1)
Whitethroat - 3
Blackcap - 2
Chiffchaff - 0 (1)

We then went on to join the farm walks at 11am and 2pm and at Hilly Piece, the area where we ring, Chris talked a bit about the birds on the farm and importance of the land seeded for birds and supplementary winter feeding that helps to see then through the winter.

View across a Poppy filled field to Burnham Deepdale, and Scolt Head Island

Friday 9 June 2023

Sculthorpe Moor - 9th June 2023

 Back to Sculthorpe for the third day in a row. This time accompanied by ERB & CPG to collect, ring and return Red Kite chicks. The whole operation took more than two hours with the chicks only out of the nest for about 10 minutes. Much time was taken walking to and finding the tree with the nest. It was much more difficult to locate close up than from a distance. Then CPG assessed how best to climb the tree so that he could position himself where there was no risk to the nest whilst still being able to collect the chicks. It took a while to get the initial line correctly positioned, then the actual climbing the tree took only a matter of minutes. The chicks were lowered to the ground in individual bags. Unfortunately for CPG, a trainee ringer as well as qualified tree surgeon, he didn't get to ring any of the chicks as he remained up the tree to hoist them back up after ringing and return them to the nest.

The three chicks were all ringed by ERB.

In order from oldest to youngest, eggs are laid at three day intervals and 
brooding begins with the first egg so hatching is asynchronous.

The eldest chick has shed most of its down as the feathers come through.

The process of collecting the chicks, after getting a line over a sturdy branch, a distance from the nest

Ascent using full harness 

Safety strap used for increased safety

Once to the side and slightly above the nest, the young could be
placed into bags 

and lowered to the ground

The chicks were ringed and wing measurements taken. Smallest chick measured 
184mm and the largest 235mm.

Eldest chick

The chicks are secured and hoisted back to the nest.

They are returned while the adults watch from above.

Finally CPG can descend back to earth and remove the climbing lines.


Red Kite pulli - 3

Thursday 8 June 2023

Sculthorpe Moor - 8th June 2023

 We were joined by DKH for the usual monitoring session in the beaver enclosure (confirmed breeding with 2 kits seen being carried by the adults on trail cam), later did a reconnaissance for possibility of ringing Red Kite chicks then checked the farthest Barn Owl box for signs of habitation and breeding.

The morning started slowly with cloud and a chilly breeze that strengthened throughout the morning. We also checked out a box known to contain Blue Tit pulli, however they were much too immature to be ringed yet. As we started to take down, a flock of mostly young Long-tailed tits was caught, doubling our total at a stroke.

On seeing the tree where Kites are nesting, the nest was sited half way up, at a place where the trunk splits into three large branches. It looked possible to us, but the final decision will be down to CPG, our trainee and professional tree surgeon. There appear to be 2 chicks.

The last job of the day was to check out the most distant Barn Owl box. Two adults flew from the entrance prior to the barn being entered so it seemed likely there would be chicks. On inspection there was only one and one unhatched egg. The chick was between 3 and 4 weeks old so it is unlikely that the egg will hatch now.

There was very little post-juvenile plumage emerginging, but the tail feathers within the sheath looked fairly dark with flecking. The owlet was recorded provisionally as female.

A first BAROW pullus for DKH

Returned to await the adults. With two adults to feed the one
owlet, the prospect of survival looks extremely good.

Total: 25 (8)

Barn Owl - 1 pullus between 3 and 4 weeks old

Wren - 0 (1)
Dunnock -  0 (1)
Whitethroat - 1
Willow Warbler - 1(1)
Long-tailed Tit - 13 (1)
Blue Tit - 5 (1)
Great Tit - 4 (2)
Treecreeper - 0 (1)

Tuesday 6 June 2023

Deepdale Farm - 6th June 2023

 A session to get the site ready for a ringing demonstration next weekend. The chief objective was just to shorten the grass in the rides and trim back brambles and trees as necessary. We also put up a double and single although a sea fret closed in just after 10:30 am forcing an early finish. 

It was great to catch a few youngsters including a Blackcap that we returned to the tree it had leapt from, also six young Long-tailed Tits.

3JJ Blackcap

Age 5 Chiffchaff retrices

Total: 11 (2)

Wren - 0 (1)
Blackbird - 1
Whitethroat - 2
Blackcap - 1
Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 0 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 6

Sculthorpe Moor - 5th June 2023

The youngest owlet was completely downy.

ERB rings the second owlet.

 An evening set aside for ringing juveniles of the year with ERB. The Barn Owls in their specially build shed have three young in the box, between 4 and 5 weeks old. Two adults emerged as we entered the shed and although these evaded the hand net at the access hole of their box the nestlings were quickly ringed. Barn Owl hatching is asynchronous so ages of owlets can differ by up to three weeks. Incubation starts with the first egg with additional eggs laid over the next 8 to 21 days.

The third and oldest owlet had primary feathers emerging

The next task was to locate, collect and ring wader chicks on the scrape. The water levels are much higher than last year and there are definitely fewer young. Black-headed Gulls are in residence, however there are no chicks as yet and close inspection of a few nests showed that none are actually on eggs. Two pairs of Little Ringed Plover were seen, along with two well grown chicks but they were on an area too soft to be walked on and they remained out of reach. Lapwings at the back of the scrape had two or three young, again not accessible. It is unclear whether the Oystercatchers have made a breeding attempt.

So apart from the Barn Owls we were unsuccessful but we had an unexpected bonus, successfully observing the female Beaver feeding on the opposite bank of the ditch. In a year of monitoring the birds in the beaver enclosure, this is our first clear sighting of beaver.


Total: 3

Barn Owl pulli - 3

Thursday 1 June 2023

Little Snoring Garden - May 2023

 There was very little netting done in the garden this month due to almost constant windy conditions and three known nests. At the start of the month a pair of Goldfinch had been in a large variegated Holly tree. Blue Tits were also showing interest in one of the nest boxes. The Goldfinches had built a rudimentary nest in our Cherry Tree in September of the previous year. There was no real nesting attempt then, but material from this structure was collected and used for the new 2023 nest.

The Goldfinches had been present since late April and seemed to be doing alright, but then Wood Pigeons decided to build in the same tree. This drew the attention of Magpies and the Goldfinches lost their nest in the first week. The Wood Pigeons were still sitting on 12th May when we went away for a break but had gone when we returned 11 days later. That nest had also failed. The Blue Tits had had a large clutch of eggs at the end of April then a check on 23rd May showed just two extremely immature young. At the end of the month there had been no visits to the box for a few days and the adults had apparently deserted. We suspect that food has been difficult to find in the current conditions.

We were seeing juvenile birds in the garden at the start of the month, three young Blackbirds were present in the borders most days, supported by both adults. We also caught two juvenile Robins.

On the 31st a party of Long-tailed tits passed through the garden and juveniles were seen. It's worth mentioning that a Blackbird male recaptured 1st June had lost muscle mass since ringed at the end of March. This poor weather is certainly having a detrimental effect on the breeding birds and we have restarted supplementary feeding of dried mealworms, and apples.

Total: 4 (2)

Robin - 2
Dunnock - 0 (2)
Blackbird - 2