Monday 31 July 2023

Sheringham - 31st July 2023

 We started the day at Sheringham for sea watching. The sea was much calmer than the weather forecast had led us to expect and by the time we arrived at around 7am there wasn't a great deal passing on the sea at all.

There were, however quite a few gulls loafing on the groynes and as the tide dropped, also on the beaches due to some shoals of small fish being drawn into shallow water, and in some cases being washed up on the shore.

Amongst the Black-headed and Herring Gulls, a Little Gull, a few Mediterranean Gull and a some Caspian Gulls were noted. Using the scopes it was possible to record three darvic rings.

Caspian Gull DGW(4|X)

The larger gulls happily took to the groynes, leaving legs 
exposed and available to check for darvic rings.

For all the smaller gulls present none were found with plastic project marks.

Caspian Gull RW (0.X)

A Yellow-legged Gull, the third gull recorded but not photographed was YN(P:5GZ)

Most unexpected records had to be a group of 5 Turnstone that dropped in very briefly and a Marsh Harrier that passed by out to sea.

Friday 28 July 2023

Norfolk Rivers Trust, Ingoldisthorpe - 28th July 2023

 A morning of very low wind gave us the perfect opportunity to survey the sewage lagoons. Chiffchaff was leading species with 17 and only two of these adults, both  females with brood patch code 5 (feathering over) and showing very nice examples of advancing primary moult now the breeding season is finished.

Primary moult, Adult Chiffchaff 4332000000

Similarly other adult migrant warblers captured were also commencing moult, although Sedge and Reed Warblers only begin body moult in the UK, doing their flight feathers much later in the year.

The juveniles are also on their way with over half starting post juvenile moult and several laying down fat in preparation for the migration south. 

Juvenile Sedge Warbler

Total: 44 (3)

Wren - 2
Robin - 1
Dunnock - 3
Reed Warbler - 5 (2)
Sedge Warbler - 4
Blackcap - 6
Chiffchaff - 17
Blue Tit - 3 (1)
Great Tit - 3

Thursday 27 July 2023

Sculthorpe Moor Discovery Day - 26th July 2023

 Today we were joined by JLS and DKH for a ringing demonstration during Sculthorpe Moor's Discovery Day. The children's activities started later than previously so our numbers were dropping off by the time they were arriving. We were still able to engage some very interested adults, including a photographer who has been capturing images of our colour ringed Marsh Tits and another who used to be involved with an initiative similar to the Curlew headstart programme, but with Black-tailed Godwits.

Twenty five birds processed including a some already accruing fat with a few adults no longer showing breeding condition.

Thanks to JLS and DKH for supporting the demonstration.

Totals: 24 (1)

Wren - 2
Robin - 1
Blackbird - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 2
Reed Warbler - 3
Sedge Warbler - 3 (1)
Chiffchaff - 5
Great Tit - 6

Friday 21 July 2023

Tree Sparrows - 21st July 2023

After failing to capture any Tree Sparrows during the winter CES and having no birds take up the new boxes provided at the hay barn, we finally connected with some and marked three birds for the project.
It would be nice to average more than one Tree Sparrow per 13 or 14 birds (mainly tits) so we continue to refine our catching attempts. 
Hopefully, over the winter a number of new boxes will be put up at a second site to encourage nesting where monitoring is possible. 

Adult female Tree Sparrow

Adult male Tree Sparrow

Juvenile Tree Sparrow

Unexpected bonus of the day  was a captured flat fly from one of the Tree Sparrows, collected as part of an ongoing investigation into occurrence of flat fly species and birds that are their hosts.  

Capture and ringing undertaken with appropriate licences.


Woodpigeon - 2
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 1
Blue Tit - 24
Great Tit - 4
Tree Sparrow - 3
House Sparrow - 4
Chaffinch - 1


Thursday 20 July 2023

Norfolk Rivers Trust, Ingoldisthorpe - 20th July 2023

Rarely do we complete an entire sheet (60) of data on birds captured but we did it today! Better than that, the majority were migrants. Leading species Blackcap (25) followed by Reed Warbler (18 new).
Even a few Swallows for good measure.

An interesting observation was that there were three young Marsh Harrier roosting in the area when we arrived, so the report of an untagged bird last week didn't mean we missed one at all. Our thoughts are that a brood from close by have taken a liking to the lagoons and failing that there was another nest in the reeds that we didn't find.

Reed Warbler adult

3JJ Reed Bunting one of a handful of year round resident birds.

Two juvenile and adult male Swallow.

Total: 59 (3)

Swallow - 3
Song Thrush - 1
Wren - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 1
Reed Warbler - 18 (2)
Sedge Warbler - 2
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 25
Chiffchaff - 6
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 1
Reed Bunting - 3

Barn Owls - 19th July 2023

 Today we visited a barn that had a really high box. Much too high for a ladder, so we had a little help from the gentleman who had built the box as a teleporter was arranged for Chris to access the box. We were appreciative of the care taken, in the construction of this box, to ensure that chicks were unable to get out of the entrance hole until developed enough to avoid falling from the box platform. There was also an access hatch for ease of checking and clearing out.

Chris teleports up.

One of two surviving owlets. The remains of a third was in the box.

The chicks are returned after ringing.

Total: 2

Barn Owl -2 (pulli)

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Sculthorpe Moor - 18th July 2023

We had an unexpected start with CL calling for the Lapwing rings to be brought to the scrape as he had seen and captured a youngster despite the increased water level and not having the hand net.

Joined by CVG, we caught 37 birds, including some summer migrant species that have been mostly absent from the capture sheet until now. We were pleased to get some Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers, and Blackcap became the leading migrant species whereas that position has been held by Chiffchaff  for the last couple of months.

Adult Sedge Warbler

There were 7 juvenile Wren, very pleasing as this was a very abundant species last year and captures throughout April to June seemed to indicate a high level of attrition during the harsh winter.

A Marsh Tit was captured and fitted with colour rings.

Marsh Tit G/N R/M

A nice change to have a day with little wind, although there was the very briefest of showers just as the last of the nets was taken down

Total: 34 (3)

Lapwing -1
Wren - 7
Robin - 1
Dunnock - 1
Reed Warbler - 3
Sedge Warbler - 2 (1)
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 10
Chiffchaff - 4 (1)
Marsh Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Coal Tit - 1
Great Tit - 0 (1)
Jay - 1

Friday 14 July 2023

Norfolk Rivers Trust, Baconsthorpe - 13th July 2023

 A first trip out to monitor the birds sharing their habitat with the Baconsthorpe beavers.

The vegetation had grown somewhat since we last visited the area, a patch of head height ferns along one of the paths being difficult to manage while carrying kit and after rain during the night. Needless to say, we were soaked by the time the first two nets were up, but dried off as the sun shone more strongly and the breeze stiffened.

We captured a good range of species, Marsh Tit, Goldcrest and Treecreeper included among the resident birds with Chiffchaff and Blackcap representing migrants that journey to spend a few months in summer to breed here.

Age 5 female Blackcap

Marsh Tit juvenile

Treecreeper, age 3

Goldcrest young, no post juvenile moult on the crown so no indication as to whether it's male or female.

Total: 32

Wren - 1
Robin - 2
Dunnock - 1
Blackcap - 5
Chiffchaff - 12
Goldcrest - 3
Marsh Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 5
Great Tit - 1
Treecreeper - 1

Thursday 13 July 2023

Barn Owls - 12th July 2023

 A morning spent on the last few boxes in the Wolferton and Flitcham area. There were a few that were too high for our ladder, others with access blocked by machinery and yet more that were stuffed with sticks or had Stock Doves or pigeons nesting. Still, we ringed six owls, so the bulk of visits are now done apart from call backs where there were smaller chicks. It hasn't been a good year with our largest brood only 3.

Juvenile male Barn Owl, pure white breast without spotting
under the wings

Juvenile Female, note buff gorget, a feature not present in males

Total: 6

Barn Owl - 6 (1 adult, 5 juvenile)

Monday 10 July 2023

Deepdale Farm - 9th July 2023

 The session threatened rain and we did get a brief shower, but that seemed to encourage the birds to move about once it had gone through and 27 birds were captured, Chiffchaff being the leading species.

One of two Blackcaps.

A re-trap from the neighbouring group. This young Robin had a code
starting AHZ, and could easily have been mistaken for ANZ a current 
string of ours.Hopefully they will also notice and we won't lose re-traps 
of our birds venturing across the road.

Chicory blooming in an area seeded for wildlife.

Total: 23 (4)

Wren - 1
Robin - 2 (1)
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 2
Chiffchaff - 9 (2)
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (1)
Blue Tit - 7
Great Tit - 1

Friday 7 July 2023

Barn Owls - 7th July 2023

 A first trip round to some of the boxes that we've taken over from JM, locating the boxes and constructing a few routes to make the visits as efficiently as possible. It was clear, as we checked each box, that this is a difficult year with most boxes with young having just two and in one case only one youngster. There are a couple of boxes that need call backs due to the small size of the pulli so we hope they continue to develop well.

One of 7 pulli ringed today

We were able to catch three adults with a hand net as they left their boxes,  and two had been ringed as pulli by JM last year.

This adult received a ring as she was captured in a hand net before the box was checked.

We also managed to clean up at the sewage works after a call to ring the one surviving youngster. We hope to have a darvic ringing project in place for next year's chicks.

Oystercatcher young

All ringing and monitoring undertaken with appropriate schedule 1 licence in place.

Fakenham Sewageworks

Oystercatcher - 1

Sandringham Estate

Barn Owl -8 new (7 pulli and 1 adult) with 2 retraps   

Thursday 6 July 2023

Sculthorpe Moor - 6th July 2023

Despite the windy conditions we managed a session, in the beaver enclosure today, assisted by DMD. A total of 37 birds were captured and processed. Colour-ring combinations were fitted to two juvenile Marsh Tits, additional birds for the project to study their movements and longevity at Hempton, NOA that is adjacent to the moor.

Other interesting captures were a young Lesser Whitethroat, and an age 5 Reed Bunting male with an indistinct hood, BP2 and no CP.

3JJ Lesser Whitethroat

5M Reed Bunting

On the scrape a Black-headed Gull with a red darvic (probably ours) was seen but could not be read and the most unexpected observation was a Quail flushed from close to the scrape.  

We returned in the evening and confirmed the Black-headed Gull to be 2C23, the bird that had been seen in the Weymouth area during the winter. We caught and ringed a well grown Oystercatcher for good measure.

Total: 35 (4)

Oystercatcher - 1
Black-headed gull - 0 (1)
Robin (1)
Dunnock- 0 (2)
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 2
Chiffchaff - 9 (1)
Marsh Tit - 2
Blue Tit - 12
Great Tit - 6
Reed Bunting - 1

Sunday 2 July 2023

Little Terns, Blakeney Point, Norfolk - 1st July 2023

 The permissions and authorisation under schedule one licence were in place since last year, but due to the situation with Avian Influenza within other nearby colonies we postponed our first year marking the Little Tern chicks. The weather has a habit of being changeable so that also had us on tenterhooks as the day approached. We were hoping for a dry, cloudy day and that is what materialised, although extremely windy.

We assembled a 6 person team, organisers CL and DKL, DKH who is the warden at the point, ERB,  PH and BD of the West Midlands Ringing Group who brought their thermal-imaging equipment. 

DKH reported two days beforehand that 27 chicks had been counted when last surveyed, down from 43 a few days before and we feared that predation had been a problem. Having now ringed the young, and seen the range of ages present, some may have actually flown off prior to our ringing effort.

Three teams of two, each with their own rings and recording packs, started from the far end of the colony to avoid moving the young towards the area where Black-headed Gulls had been, although now most were gone. The thermal cameras worked well during the first sweep, with young marked and returned to where they were picked up as teams working in twos progressed steadily through the colony. A time limit had been set for each sweep to minimise disturbance and great care was taken as there were still nests with eggs and very small chicks. 

We were very fortunate as there were no gulls, that may have tried to take chicks, present and we were able to complete both separate ringing sweeps without interruption. The shingle had warmed after the time out to allow normal tern activity to resume, and imagers were less helpful second time through the area. Some young were capable of weak flight, and there is every chance that a good percentage of marked young will fledge successfully very soon.

Three character alpha codes on yellow darvic rings were fitted in addition to metal rings.

Six chicks could only take a metal ring. We were all very pleased to fit darvics to 51 young Little Terns. These will be studied at the breeding site, via remote camera should they return as well as via the usual observation reporting opportunities for any bird carrying a darvic.

Many thanks to the National Trust for authorising the project, PD & BD for joining us from the Midlands and providing high tech kit, DKH for arranging access to the point and colony (saving us all a very long walk) and ERB for joining us. Photos by ERB, PH, BD & DKL.

Ringed under schedule 1 licence with all relevant bio-hazard precautions taken.

BCN with both rings in place and ready for release.


Little Tern pulli - 57 (51 with darvic, 6 metal only)