Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Brackenhurst - Sun 24 Jan

Calling Tawny and Little Owls greeted us on this beautifully still morning, overcast and a slightly more finger-friendly temperature than the last visit. This did mean that numbers were slightly lower, but in turn this allowed us to process everything fully and colour-ring every Yellowhammer we caught. We finished on about 60 birds, including 23 Yellowhammers, 5 Long-tailed Tits, 1 new Marsh Tit, a Reed Bunting and all the regulars.

The Reed Bunting was a retrap and known adult, so here are some pictures to confirm what adults look like at this time of year:

I wonder - can you see that eye colour...?
We also caught a young female Blackbird that had moulted all its greater coverts, something you don't see that often. Contrast in colour between the greater coverts and primary coverts was still evident (though I'm not sure it shows well in the picture) and tail shape gave the age away.

Fairly good numbers of winter thrushes were still flying around and we found several badger trails.

Tree Sparrows at Bunny

Below is a summary of data from the Tree Sparrow colony in Bunny which we monitor.

Monday, 25 January 2010

RCP - Sun 24 Jan

RCP was fairly quiet today, we caught 44 birds including 23 retraps. Of note was the lack of Yellowhammers, (only 1 caught) and the capture of 4 new Bullfinches. There also seemed to have been a small influx of new Blue and Great Tits.


Sunday, 24 January 2010

Thankyou Gedling Borough Council

We would like to express our gratitude to Councillors Bob Tait and Carole Pepper of Gedling Borough Council, Nottinghamshire, who have provided some valuable support and assistance for our research projects.
Here is Mick explaining the British Trust for Ornithology’s ringing scheme to the Councillors at a recent meeting.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Satellite tracking African migrants

The following webpage is a great hub for the various sat tracking sites. I know not many are the sort of thing you find in Notts, but very interesting all the same...


Tuesday, 19 January 2010

RCP, Sun 17 Jan

The milder weather reduced the catch to only 47 birds this week, again about half of them retraps. After my comments last week about catching only retrap Yellowhammers from previous winters it was, I suppose, only to be expected that the trend should be reversed today, most were new birds! A few Greenfinches were caught this week, we had none in the hard weather the previous week and a few Blackbirds were still around.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Brack Sparrows

Brack staff and students gathered at Andrew’s house on Wednesday for another attempt to colour-ring some of the farm’s House Sparrow population. The feeders were certainly busy and we caught nearly 60 birds. However, only 5 of them were House Sparrows which seemed to spot the nets against the snow and disappear off to feed elsewhere, until we took the nets down of course, when they quickly reappeared.

Despite the prolonged harsh weather, virtually all the birds we caught seemed to be doing well, many with fat scores of 3 and 4. The most interesting bird of the morning was a retrap Tree Sparrow, ringed as a chick in a nextbox last year (the titcam box). It is unusual to retrap Tree Sparrows anyway, but to retrap a known age bird was a real bonus. As you can see from the pics below, the bird does show many of the features we have spoken about which may indicate a young bird such as the yellowish bill base and the rather washed out facial markings and ‘dirty’ cheek pattern. We also noted that the inside of the upper mandible had pale areas and the legs had a pinkish hue. What we need now is a known adult to compare it with!

We also caught a couple of Starlings. Always good to get you scratching your head when it comes to aging…


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

BTO blog

If you haven't already added it to your favourites, I recommend the BTO blog. One recent posting has some video of Jez whoosh netting Fieldfares!


Sunday, 10 January 2010

RCP, Sun 10 Jan

We had a decent session at RCP this morning. We were careful to check the birds for any signs that the hard weather was having an adverse affect on them but all seemed ok. We ended up with 85 birds caught, about half of them retraps. The weather seems to have brought the Blackbirds in here too and we caught 19, we had previously ringed only 5 this winter at RCP. The weights ranged from 97.7 to 124.7 (fat 5), most being over 105. We caught another Lesser Redpoll, 2 Song Thrushes and 9 Yellowhammers, 8 of which were retraps with 7 of them being from previous winters. I can't remember catching so many retrap Yellowhammers before, I wonder if the breeding season locally was poor? We decided to finish slightly early as we were starting to catch birds for the second time, just as well as the light snow showers we had been having all morning suddenly turned to persistent sleet as we left.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Mick's garden

Due to the cold weather I decided not to mist net in my garden but to try my luck with a potter trap.This causes less disturbance, particularly for the small birds, and leaves them with plenty of opportunity to feed. So far I have caught 1 Woodpigeon and 2 Blackbirds. The blackbirds appear to be coping well with fat scores of 3 and 4.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

2010 Ringing Expedition to the Shiant Isles

The Shiants Auk Ringing Group is running its annual trip to the Shiant Islands, this year, and we still have some spaces in the party.

We will be mainly ringing & surveying auks, Shags and Storm Petrels, plus gulls and Bonxies & some passerines. We will also be doing seabird colony counts (particularly in the first week). The terrain is quite rough and you will need a reasonable level of fitness. The dates for the trip are 19 June to 3 July 2010, and we will cross to the Shiants from Uig on Skye in a charter boat. This year there is the option of coming for either one or two weeks.

The costs for one and two weeks are £325 & £475 respectively. This includes the boat, food and rings, while on the trip. The owner's website is very good and explains what it's like to stay there: http://www.shiantisles.net/ . Also, one of last year's team members, Emily Scragg, has done a bit about the trip on her blog; see http://c-ringing.blogspot.com/ (you need to scroll down).

Please email me as soon as possible if you want to join us on the trip and I'll send you an application form. If you have any queries, I am very happy to answer them by either email or messages can be left on my mobile (07900 608037), which I check every couple of days.


Sunday, 3 January 2010

RCP, Sun 3 Jan

We ended on 62 today but that included many retraps and we had to take the nets down by 11:30 due to another appointment. Of note were another 2 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Redwing, a Goldfinch originally ringed at Clifton and a 6 year old Reed Bunting ringed originally at Bunny and last caught at RCP 4 years ago. Only 4 Yellowhammers went into the nets, 3 already wearing rings from last winter, not many but the known age retraps showed the new ageing guide in R & M is not necessarily correct.

Pete mentioned in the Brack report 'the thought of the RCP crew in their heated ringing room drifted into my head'. I must admit the reverse thought drifted into my head..........as the heat forced me to move a little further away from the heater!


Brackenhurst, Sun 3 Jan 2010

The thought of the RCP crew in their heated ringing room drifted into my head at several points this morning, usually when I had lost all feeling in my hands and feet. Still, mustn't grumble, a day that's bad for the fingers is generally good for ringing and today was no exception. What's more, the conditions didn't seem to bother Andrew who was happy scraping ice off the bamboos with his bear hands.

Due to other commitments we only had the 3 feeding station nets open from 8am until noon, but throughout those 4 hours it was non-stop. What's more, there were only 4 of us and during the morning Ian managed to ring his first few birds and Jill James from NNRG joined us to get some colour-ringing experience. Ironically, we had to stop colour-ringing at certain points during the morning so that we could keep up and we were even having to ring and fling at the busiest times. 

We finished on 106 birds, about half of which were Yellowhammers. Also notable was the number of Blackbirds with 19 caught and many more around the feeders. This seems to be a widespread influx, presumably due to the cold weather and perhaps involving a lot of continental birds. (We had 23 birds on our patio alone yesterday!) Two Tree Sparrows were the first of the season and one was a retrap. This was satisfying as Tree Sparrows aren't regularly retrapped. Also it was good to have a close look at a known age adult bird. It would have been even better if the second bird had been a known youngster. Nevertheless, it was interesting to note a few differences that might be consistent with aging such as the colour of the bill and the definition of the head pattern. The known adult is the bird on the right with a very black bill and better marked face.

We also caught Reed Bunting, a Marsh Tit and a sprinkling of all the other regulars. We didn't notice much else flying around as our heads were down most of the time but we did see a Buzzard and a skein of about 100 Pink-feet flying north.