Sunday 27 August 2023

Aquatic Warbler project, Frossay, Loire valley, Massereau site - 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th & 27th August 2023

23rd, Migration such as this are primarily a chance for trainee French ringers to gain experience and increase numbers as there is no 'C' permit equivalent and they must ring under the direction of a qualified person who passed the written examination and has completed several days of practical assessment and been found suitable to get a French permit. From now on this is the only site in operation and the gite is full. We decided, with two fully qualified ringers, six trainees of various standards and weather conditions unlikely to produce a fall, to take the day out and visit La Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu. The lake is currently a third of the maximum winter size with distant views of all kinds of water birds. 

 We saw the resident ringers' base from la maison and wondered whether he ever catches any Sacred Ibis, an invasive species.

Best observation of the day was a new butterfly species, Lesser Purple Emperor on the tree by la maison.

That day reached a temperature of 40 degrees in the afternoon so we kept our observations at the lake quite brief.

In the evening we attended a roost catch, catching 127 birds, Sand Martin (65) and Swallow (62) to add to the morning total of 177 birds that included 2 Acrola.

24th, a morning affected by rain that resulted in finishing before 10am due to sustained incoming precipitation. 110 birds captured.

Retrap PAM BIA (Bearded Tit)

Male COT NIX (Quail)

25th, another day with only 110 birds, as usual Sedge Warbler or Fragmit (ACRSCH) are the most numerous species captured in the reed bed. We did particularly well for Wryneck (4) today with singles of Quail and Bearded Tit.

26th, another rain affected session that soaked us a few times, although the low number of birds and number of people meant none were in the nets when the rain came. We soldiered to the end as we had a local group that came for a demonstration of the ringing. Ringing demos don't change much wherever they happen. 76 birds including Wryneck, Great Reed Warbler, Aquatic Warbler, Bluethroat, Savi's Warbler and Nightingale.

LUS MEG (Nightingale)

With six spectators and all trainees photographing birds, this Convolvulus Hawk
moth was the only 
capture that I recorded once the group arrived. 

Visitors 8am to 11am

 There was another roost catch that night. We missed it as only heard as the others were leaving. Just over 50 birds captured, mainly Swallow but also a one-legged Hobby.

27th, the birds are getting fewer and as our only use at present is to extract we left at 10:30am once it was clear there would be no rain or large bird numbers once the misty conditions had cleared. 88 birds in all of 12 species.


Misty sunrise

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Aquatic Warbler project, Frossay, Loire valley, Massereau site - 21st & 22nd August 2023

 A busy day on the 21st with 264 captures, four of which were Aquatic Warbler.

Juvenile (1a) Aquatic Warbler

There were some firsts for the station this season, Common Sandpiper and Pied Flycatcher.

Common Sandpiper (handled within regulations of the French ringing 
scheme, advice within the UK is not to hold by the legs)

Male and female Pied Flycatcher. (There was some concern, on viewing 
photos after release, that the female bird may not actually be Pied and 
enquiries are underway to see if a species change is in order.)

One of the few Redstarts passing through the station.

Fewer birds on the 22nd with 194. Only one Aquatic Warbler, but there were a few Savi's and Grasshopper Warbler, also Great Reed Warbler and some Whinchat and four Wryneck. 

Great Reed Warbler juvenile

Grasshopper Warbler 1st year

Bluethroat, juvenile female

1a/age 3 Kingfisher male

Bird of the day had to be a Wryneck control carrying a ring from the Czech scheme that was red adonised aluminium. This bird has traveled quite a way west from the point where ringed.

Adult Wryneck ringed in Czech Republic. 

At this station data is entered straight onto access sheets. Totals appear on 
 of completing the session and full details for each day is available there.

In the evening a small Swallow roost was undertaken with only around 50 birds being processed.

Sunday 20 August 2023

Aquatic Warbler project, Frossay, Loire valley, Massereau site - 19th August & 20th August 2023

The Migron site operated for 19th and 20th, but we switched our attention to the main site at Massereau.

Our first day was quiet, or calme as the French say and we only just exceeded the 100 birds mark. Migron performed well, low numbers but an Aquatic Warbler from Poland carrying a red darvic ring. The site was actually due to close after the 18th but another French bagueur agreed to cover the weekend and a number of 'controles' (all subsequent encounters) made the additional effort worthwhile.

Juvenile Wryneck

At Massereau we captured just over 100 birds with a couple of Aquatics. There was a Wryneck for the third day in a row. It was very hot and we were grateful for the rustic ringing station that kept the sun off, but not the mosquitoes out!

The second day saw the team reduce down to 5 from 7. There were 224 new birds, including a Quail, wagtails, some Whinchats, 5 Aquatic Warblers and the first Song Thrush so far. There was also an English Sedge Warbler. There was an additional 88 new and 22 controles at Mignon.

Juvenile Quail, probable female

Juvenile Blue-headed and Yellow Wagtails

Whinchat juvenile female

The site consists of 108m total full height nets playing for Acrola with 108m total playing Sejour, or other species within a currently dry reed bed. There is also a combination for Quail in an adjacent field. Combined teams Gilles, Seb, Laurent, Lory, Tifan, Morgaune and us. We are grateful to LPO, Loire Atlantique for accepting us as guests on the project this year.

Saturday 19 August 2023

Aquatic Warbler project, Frossay, Loire Valley Migron site - 17th & 18th August 2023

 This summer we are joining the team at Frossay, France as they target Aquatic Warbler on their migration south each year. Our first two mornings were spent at Migron. This site is very close to the Loire, just metres from a parallel canal the within the Loire floodplain. The vegetation is a variety of rush and sedge grasses, and only a few clumps of reed. The ground is quite wet underfoot and wellington boots are required. This is the most likely site to produce ACROLA, as they are known here in the Frossay area. The set up consisted of 3x3 2 panel 12m nets for Acrola with 3 full height 18m nets for other species, termed sejourn.

The first day brought 130+ birds from this site. On the first round, DKL extracted the first Sedge Warbler to find that it carried an English ring APL2440. There seemed a certain degree of good luck there, reinforced when the second bird extracted by DKL was not only an Aquatic Warbler but also carrying a ring from Belarus and a blue darvic code T5.

Acrola BW (T5)

The bird is part of a translocation project to spread the range of the birds beyond Belarus, and will either have come from Lithuania or Estonia. This is the second bird from the project, captured by this initiative. In 2019 a site further south captured BW (M5).

There was another Aquatic during the day with more at the sister site Massereau, where also another three UK ringed birds turned up, with another eight reported at Dognes on the northern side of the Loire.

Migron, Frossay

This turned out to be an exception day for migration with other locations recording more Acrola and other species in general.

The second day started with the unexpected capture of a Long-eared Owl. This was probably the cause of the first round having so few birds.

Adult Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl, a first for Gilles the ringer-in-charge.

 This day had fewer birds but we both were able to ring Acrola, and reacquaint ourselves with some of the less commonly seen in the UK  species such as Melodious Warbler and Savi's Warbler.

Melodious Warbler

Savi's Warbler

Aquatic juvenile showing reduced streaking on flanks.

The ringing set up at Migron.

We ringed with Gilles, Mathurain and Morgaune. Thanks for being so welcoming despite our poor attempts at French.

Saturday 12 August 2023

Norfolk Rivers Trust, Baconsthorpe - 12th August 2023

 It's been a month since we last monitored the beaver enclosure at Baconsthorpe and today when we visited, with EGB, we found that the natural rhythms are quickly progressing as most adults are no longer showing signs of breeding condition and are well into the process of renewing plumage. The summer migrants are now drifting off with only 2 Blackcaps and 5 Chiffchaff captured. There was no sight or sound of Willow Warbler, Whitethroat or Lesser Whitethroat either within the enclosure or in the surrounding area.

The tits have now formed into mixed feeding flocks and most youngsters appear to be increasingly independent. The only obvious captures of adult and young together was a small party of Wrens including an adult. Most young are undertaking some degree of post juvenile moult.

Captures of note were a pair of Marsh Tit with, bar for one feather, identical moult codes showing that their moults commenced very close together and a juvenile Kingfisher.

3F Kingfisher

Marsh Tit, moult code  5555555431

Adult Marsh Tit

Total: 34 (1)

Kingfisher - 1
Blackbird - 2
Wren - 6
Dunnock - 1
Blackcap - 2
Chiffchaff - 5
Blue Tit - 9 (1)
Great Tit - 5
Marsh Tit - 2
Treecreeper - 1

Thursday 10 August 2023

Sculthorpe Moor - 10th August 2023

We returned to the moor with DKH to monitor the birds in the beaver enclosure and continue to capture low numbers. We know that the feeding sites situated around the reserve draw birds away from the 20 hectare compound, and in addition the summer migrants remain very low. Chiffchaff is the only species caught in any numbers with a single Blackcap and Reed Warbler the only other summer visitors.

3JJ Goldcrest

Juvenile Jay

Extracting Jay after Goldcrest from the same net provided DKH extraction experience from both ends of the scale in close proximity. 

Total: 29

Blackbird - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Wren - 4
Robin - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 1
Chiffchaff - 12
Goldcrest - 2
Coal Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 4
Jay - 1

Wednesday 9 August 2023

Sculthorpe Moor Discovery Day - 9th August 2023

Today we were joined by JLS for our second discovery day event of the school summer holidays.

We moved to a location nearer the entrance in order to get more visitors, placing three nets in areas that had not been monitored before. There was a total of 27 birds, mainly Blue Tits and Dunnocks also Wrens, Blackcaps, Great Tits and singles of Greenfinch and Blackbird. Although these were mostly garden birds there were plenty of happy smiles as children and adults alike got the opportunity to see birds close up.

Adult Dunnock in advanced wing moult

Total: 26 (1)

Blackbird - 1
Wren - 3
Dunnock - 7
Blackcap - 2
Blue Tit - 10 (1)
Great Tit - 2
Greenfinch - 1