Saturday, 28 November 2009

Update from Mick's garden, 27-11-09

I managed to put a net up for a couple of hours today. It was the best session of late and I finished on 8 birds, 5 new and 3 recaptures. Of the new birds 3 were Goldfinches and 2 were Greenfinches.
The Greenfinches were interesting. They were a 3M and a 4M. The tails were a good example of Svennson's explanation of the tips of the outer web of the 5th TF, with the juvenile feather tapering off and the adult feather remaining broadly rounded. Also, the young bird had moulted several tail feathers and you can see the contrast between old and new feathers in the pic.

There were also obvious differences in the quality of the feathers and amount of abrasion. Lastly, the 4M had clean grey tips to the primary coverts and a bright yellow alula.
The recaptures were all Goldfinches that I ringed in September (of 116 ringed I have only recaptured 9). After sexing and ageing them on their characteristics in the hand, I looked back at the ringing data and to my relief my records tallied and it's good to have the opportunity to follow the development of specific birds as they get older.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Lennon blog goes live...

Jim & Elaine have now established a blog from their little island home:

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Trying to ring in the November gales...

The weather caused us to cancel the session at RCP on Sunday but we made plans to have a go at Attenborough on Monday morning, despite a poor forecast. It was breezy to start with - too breezy really for any successful mist-netting but Tim had already caught a Moorhen. We put the net up anyway and retired to the comfort of the visitor centre. We finished at about 10.00 with 8 birds and 5 of those had been caught by hand. No prizes for guessing which they were:

1 Tree Sparrow
1 Chaffinch
1 Dunnock
1 Moorhen
3 Coot
1 Egyptian Goose


Sunday, 22 November 2009

AGM & Social

It was a pretty good turn out for our annual chin-wag and booze-up and we covered a broad range of issues in the serious part of the evening concerning how the group is run. Kev will be circulating minutes to members soon in case you were not able to make it.

But then it was onto the important stuff and for the second year in a row members provided a superb spread of food and particular mention should go to Alena Sexton for her continental snacks (sorry - can't remember their proper name!) and Ruth's marvellous cake.

We were then treated to a very entertaining slide presentation from Gary covering his and the group's ringing activities over the last 20 years or so and we also looked at some of my slides from Zambia. Finally we tipped the cleaning staff (below) who did a very professional job. Thanks to Mick for hosting us at RCP once again.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Tina's work on Yellowhammers

This is Tina's latest poster presentation on her Yellowhammer studies. It's really great for the group to have an involvement in things like this - just hope everyone can read it. Try clicking on it, then clicking again to zoom in.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Brackenhurst - Sun 15 Nov

Despite its best efforts, the rain never quite reached us and we managed to get the nets up in good time and the Chaffinches seemed to be queuing up in the trees as we got organised. Off 22 birds processed, 12 were in the first round and the remainder provided a satisfying trickle through the morning. Although many birds have clearly not yet felt the need to seek out the feeding station, it's quite nice to have the odd steady morning so that you can look at birds carefully and not feel under pressure. The total comprised 8 Chaffinches, 4 Great Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 3 Dunnock and 1 Blackbird. Finally, 4 Yellowhammer were the first of the season and of course we were glad of the time to fit colour rings.

These were the first two, both males, an adult on the left and a young bird on the right. Although there is some difference in the intensity of the plumage colouration, this is not a particularly useful aging character. In fact it can be downright misleading. Note however the tails - the adult's is fresh, strong, well-marked and rounded whereas the youngster's is faded, narrow, pointed and abraded.

We also managed to find time to clear some rides though the rapidly regenerating copse in Orwin's and it will be interesting to see how future catches compare with last year when it was much shorter.

Other things flying about included a couple of Buzzards, about 80 Fieldfare, 20 Redwing, 5 Meadow Pipits, 10 Skylarks, 12 Bullfinch, 10 Tree Sparrow (almost at the feeding station), a Marsh Tit, a Siskin and a couple of Cormorants over. 


Rushcliffe Country Park - 15 Nov 2009

After meeting at 0700 and then waiting for the rain to stop we eventually had the feeder nets up and open by 0800. There seemed to be plenty of birds around and the first round produced about 10 birds. From that point on the clouds broke up, the sun came out, the breeze picked up and it all went downhill from there. Despite me telling a few people we finished on 26 birds it was wishful thinking as we only had 21. The pick of the bunch were 4 Goldfinch and a Bullfinch. As the birds dropped off we completed the ride clearance ready for next Saturday, weather permitting we should get 10 nets up next week.


Attenborough ducklings

An unusual sighting from Tim in the last few days at Attenborough was this slightly unseasonal brood of Mallards. There have been a couple of other such broods in the last few years. Must be climate change...

Christmas is coming...

Thought members might like to see a painting by our very own Tim that might make you feel festive...

Not sure why it's unringed though...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Rushcliffe Country Park - Sun 8 Nov

Six of us made it out this morning and we caught about 35 birds. Perhaps the most interesting was a Goldfinch that was moulting strangely and which was the cause of much discussion.It had moulted its tail, tertials, secondaries, primaries 1 - 6 and the small alula feather. It also had some gold flecks in the red of the crown (which Gary has seen in adults). So the debate centred around whether it was an adult with arrested moult or an early hatched juvenile which had seized the opportunity to have an extensive moult. Unfortunately I don't have photos and I'm not sure what the final verdict was!

Mick P

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Marsh & Willow Tits

An article in the latest issue of British Birds examines the identification of Marsh and Willow Tits. It finds that some of the established separation criteria are less reliable than thought due to large degrees of overlap and the differences seen in juvenile plumage (cap colour and gloss, cap shape, bib shape, lower mandible colour). However, it finds that cheek pattern and colour and the colour at the base of the upper mandible are both helpful. Of course various biometrics still help in the hand too. Have a look at the pic below.

PS In case any of you were wondering - I've looked at the pics of that bird we caught at HPP a couple of years ago and we were right - it was definitely a Marsh Tit!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


A nice note in the latest issue of British Birds...

Some recent recoveries

The latest batch of recoveries included a wide variety of species - more than just Barn Owls! A Holme Pierrepont Blackbird found its way 5km to Woodthorpe, a Bunny Tree Sparrow was found after 251 days and a Brack Yellowhammer found its way 5km to Morton. A Kingfisher was 'seen' (goodness knows how...) at Colwick just over a year after having been ringed at HPP and a Sand Martin was caught at Attenborough about a year after being ringed near King's Lynn, 118km away (and after a quick jaunt to Africa). Barn Owls are in there of course, with the most notable being one 2 yr old and two 4yr olds, travelling between 10 and 37km. But perhaps the star bird was a Common Tern ringed in Oxfordshire in 1997and seen at Attenborough this year.

Monday, 2 November 2009

RCP - Mon 2 Nov

After yesterday's foul weather, we managed to get in the first session of the winter at Rushcliffe Country Park today. The morning started still and bright and we set the usual nets. Mick T had warned there were not many birds about and the breeze started to get up from mid-morning but we finished with just over twenty birds caught, half of them tits. A Sparrowhawk was hanging around looking for a meal, but it managed to evade capture as usual!