Thursday 28 September 2023

Black-head Gull RW (2C23), sightings since June 2022 - 28th September 2023

Black-headed Gull 2C23 is a gull that was ringed in our small back garden in June 2022. We resorted to mist netting adult gulls at that time, due to the stall in our Black-headed Gull project when cases of Avian Influenza were being identified at breeding colonies, and we decided not to risk entering the areas.

2C23 was no less than a 3rd summer individual when captured on 22nd June 2022.

The first resighting came in on 7th October. The bird was now some 340km further south west on Weymouth beach and a further five sighting confirmed that the bird remained broadly in the local area, being seen at Radipole Lake and Ferrybridge until 8th January.

2C23, Ferrybridge Dorset, 7/12/2022 photo by Will Brown

Radipole Lake, 3/11/2022 photo by Richard Fairbank

The next sighting was rather unexpected. 2C23 was seen on 7th July 2023, by CL & DKL, on the scrape at Sculthorpe Moor. We had not been looking for colour ringed gulls, but pulli Lapwing. At the time we felt that the maturing nature of the scrape and reported cases of Avian Influenza at Pensthorpe may have contributed to the arrival of  several pairs of Black-headed Gulls to a site where they had not attempted to nest before. The water level remained quite high into the breeding season and some birds moved on after a few days. The bird was not reported again, so in all likelihood it did not remain to breed there. A few birds had young but very few fledged from the site.

This morning we have a report of 2C23 back at Radipole Lake, Dorset all thanks to the increased value that fitting darvic rings brings. It remains to be seen whether 2C23 has a set routine, or may strike out in an alternative direction as other birds marked under his project have done.

Sightings of our birds contribute to the understanding of seasonal movements and longevity of Black-headed Gulls, and the study would not be possible without reports from observers, whether dedicated or casual.  Every sighting counts and we are most grateful for each and every one.

Find details for reporting a colour ringed bird at

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Baconsthorpe, Castle wild camp - 27th September 2023

 There were no campers so we were able to get a few nets up before the site usually becomes available for ringing. Two doubles and three singles went up and we were catching before all the nets were set.

The first round brought us 63 birds as an enormous mixed feeding flock connected with a strategically placed dogleg. There was only a light breeze and no chance of rain so extracting was quite relaxed. The opportunity of dealing with a sizable catch like this doesn't come along, that often, at our sites so provided a valuable learning experience for DKH.

Male Goldcrest


    Male Blackcap

Leading species was Blue Tit, at 30, followed by Chiffchaff with 16 birds. There were even a couple of Blackcap, one clearly preparing to travel a distance with fat score 5.

Total: 87 (1)

Blackbird - 6
Wren - 4
Robin - 4
Dunnock - 5
Blackcap - 2
Chiffchaff - 15 (1)
Goldcrest - 4
Coal Tit - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 11
Blue Tit - 30
Great Tit - 4
Chaffinch - 1

Friday 22 September 2023

Deepdale Farm - 22nd September 2023

 After a few days of terrible weather that brought American migrants to the west coast, we finally got out and tried Deepdale Farm again.

We could hear Meadow Pipit, so tried a configuration of three nets, but only succeeded in attracting birds to sit on the net. The breeze proved too much and the couple that did drop into one of the panels quickly managed to get out again.

The usual nets captured a nice mix of the birds that you would expect to be around during late September.

Long-tailed Tit

One of several Robins on site, heard all the time, sometimes caught 
but rarely seen when singing

3M Coal Tit

Male Blackcap

LJN029 Adult Chiffchaff, ringed near Hollersley Heath, Suffolk
3rd April 2023, recaptured at Deepdale 19 days later, and again today.
114km from where the bird was ringed.

Totals: 23 (6)

Wren - 2
Robin - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird - 2
Blackcap - 2
Chiffchaff - 4 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 6 (3)
Blue Tit - 4 (1)
Coal Tit - 1

Thursday 14 September 2023

Deepdale Farm - 14th September 2023

 A day when the wind was stronger than forecast and birds only amounted to 13 captures. A few migrants reflected the time of year, but the most notable fact about this session was probably the use of the new Svensson 5th Edition handbook.

The first batch of the new hand books ordered through us were despatched on the 12th and will be arriving today.

Totals:11 (2)

Wren - 1
Dunnock - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 6
Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Long-tailed Tit 0 (1)

Saturday 9 September 2023

Deepdale Farm - 8th September 2023

 Despite the national heatwave Norfolk continues to experience lower temperatures in the mornings, often accompanied by thick fog. This morning was cooler than much of the country and heavy mist hung across the fields and stand of trees at Hilly Piece. We didn't see the coast once while the nets were up. We hoped that the weather conditions might bring birds to the little patch as observations along the coast are starting to include Pied Flycatchers and other seasonal visitors.

There were a few Dunnocks and Robins about, species that are not always present when we ring here. We heard Chiffchaff but didn't catch any. We got a few Blackcap, two Goldcrest and a single Whitethroat.

Juvenile Whitethroat

One of the Blackcap was a control, ringed 25/06/22 as a 5M, with a subsequent record on 29/04/23. We look forward to receiving the details.

ADX4768, adult male Blackcap

We tried but failed to connect with a flock of 100+ Linnet, hopefully they will be there on another visit.

Total:14 (2)

Wren - 1
Robin - 2
Dunnock - 3
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 4 (1 control)
Goldcrest - 2

Thursday 7 September 2023

Norfolk Rivers Trust, Ingoldisthorpe - 7th September 2023

 A visit to the sewage lagoons with DKH. For the second time this month the site had a quiet feel and no birds previously ringed were captured. Singles of Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat bore out our impression that migration of these species through the site is all but over. 

Juvenile Whitethroat

We did a little better with Chiffchaff and Blackcap captures. The Blackcaps are showing signs of  preparing to migrate, some birds carrying fat scored as 3, meanwhile only one Chiffchaff scored as having any fat at all.

    Juvenile Chiffchaff

Total: 29

Wren - 2
Robin - 2
Dunnock - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 9
Chiffchaff - 8
Blue Tit - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 2

Monday 4 September 2023

Norfolk Rivers Trust, Ingoldisthorpe - 3rd September 2023

 Our first ringing in the UK in a while so we decided to try the lagoons as Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers, from what we experienced in the reedbed site at Massereau, Loire Valley, are already well into the migration south. We were not wrong, only one Reed Warbler and one Sedge Warbler all morning.

Audio lures for Chiffchaff attracted no birds and we only began to catch Blackcaps after 11am, finding 7 altogether in one net, preventing Wren from being the leading species numerically.

Age 3 male Blackcap

Total: 19

Wren - 4
Dunnock - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 9
Blue Tit - 3

Saturday 2 September 2023

Aquatic Warbler project, Frossay, Loire valley, Massereau site - 28th & 29th August 2023

 Our last two mornings at the site, and now more chance to do some ringing as only two trainee ringers remain at the gite.

We continued to drop nets well in advance of dawn, hence the first round at 7am or just before tended to be rather short of birds. On the 28th we only got 54 captures of 10 species in all, only 27 Sedge Warblers and no Aquatic Warblers. Great Reed Warbler being the best capture with a few Bluethroat, mainly retrapped individuals.

Two juvenile Great Reed Warbler

In the evening the number of Sand Martin overhead looked very promising, but those birds drifted away and the eventual roost catch consisted of 19 Swallow and 7 Sand Martin.

Our last day and the ringing team was Frederic, Gilles, Paul and ourselves. The numbers had improved and there were 138 captures including 81 Sedge Warbler, 2 Wryneck and an Aquatic Warbler. This was our third trip to France hoping to ring Aquatic Warbler and this time we succeeded. Both of us ringed 2 new birds, my last being today.

Juvenile Aquatic Warbler

Juvenile Grasshopper Warbler

We enjoyed our time with the project. Anyone thinking of applying to join the efforts should bear the following in mind -

These efforts are run primarily as training exercises and anyone coming up to their exam will ring all the time. Trainees have little chance to ring and are given priority during sessions. There are paid staff members and sometimes they will also ring every round. There are only three people ringing at any one time as data in recorded straight onto laptop. There were several days when neither of us ringed. We are limited as to the help we can offer to trainees at the net as methods are quite specific, for example extraction using the legs primarily, is not allowed any longer and trainees are taught to clear the wings first. Most of the time we were there for extracting and there were not any particularly high volume days. Most of the ringers at the station spoke English, or had a little English. We used French when we could including during giving data.

Many thanks to Frederic and the team for making us welcome to join their Aquatic Warbler efforts. The sites are fantastic with great species of birds passing through.