Monday, 22 March 2010

Wales maintenance

On the Sun 21 March, Kev, Chris, Duncan and I made the trip to Wales to clean/repair/replace the Pied Flycatcher nest boxes. It`s tough going carrying a bag full of new nest boxes and other bits and bobs up the steep, wooded hillside, but this hopefully pays dividends later in the year when the birds return to breed.
Here we are preparing for the gruelling task ahead with the steep wooded hillside in the background.
And the well deserved picnic afterwards...
Mick P

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Great resource

Have a look at this if you get a chance - a fantastic resource!

Tawny Owl chicks

As usual, Kensington Gardens leads the pack...

bizarre Rook

Thought you'd all be interested in this pic just posted on BirdGuides...

Friday, 19 March 2010

Clifton Grove

Hi all,
Not sure if you are aware of this but a key wildlife area in Nottingham is under threat:
Just across the river from Attenborough, this area is unprotected and is constantly under pressure from development.

Clifton Grove provides breeding ground for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Water Rail and Tree Sparrow as well as essential stop-off habitat for key migrants such as Bittern, waders, chats, thrushes and warblers aplenty.
Clifton Pastures (the area of farmland stetching out towards Gotham and Thrumpton along the A453) supports large numbers of Grey Partidge, Skylark, Lapwing and Golden Plover as well as Merlin, Short-eared Owl and Barn Owl. It is arguably the last stronghold for the Corn Bunting in Nottinghamshire.
A 10,000 strong housing estate would not be good really.So if you love Nottingham's wildlife please have a look at this and pass it around.More importantly, if you haven't visited Clifton Grove/Pastures, make sure you do this spring/summer, it's a wonderful place.

More satellite tracking...

Some interesting updates on this satellite tracking hub:

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Spring stirrings...

In the few seconds as I walked between the car and the front door over 30 Meadow Pipits flew over heading north. Spring is certainly not too far away now.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Subs reminder

If you haven't yet paid your 2010 subs, please do so asap. Otherwise you'll be put on net-mending duty next session... :)

RCP, Sun 14 March

We finished on 39 birds, including 21 retraps. Numbers were mostly made up of Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings again. Nothing particularly interesting to report.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Brackenhurst - Sat 13 March

What a beautiful morning. Blue sky and singing birds everywhere, though still not much sign of new leaves and I'm still yet to see a daffodil. It'll be very interesting to see how spring progresses when everything seems so late. Anyway, it was a great morning to be out, even if the mild weather seemed to discourage many birds from visiting the feeding station. As always, a slow morning means a chance to scrutinise birds more carefully than usual.
We finished on 23, 10 retrap and 13 new, about half of which were Yellowhammers. 4 retrap Yellowhammers were all adults and this gave us a good opportunity to check them against the recently published aging and sexing criteria published by Jenny Dunn and Chris Wright. We found that birds showed many of the features described but not all and by continuing to check birds carefully we hope to be able to establish which are the most helpful for us. We also looked carefully at alulas as it would seem that many first year birds show a moult limit with the tiny feather having been replaced, and the larger two not. This is potentially very useful as it could prove to be one of very few hard and fast aging criteria available. The smallest feather of the young bird is fringed with a greenish-yellow and has a dark grey brown centre that matches the replaced lesser coverts and this contrasts with the larger two feathers which are a more bleached brown with a buffy yellow fringe. There is no doubt that this is subtle and on some birds it is difficult to determine, however, on others it is fairly easy to detect with a bit of practice. The following picture show two fairly typical birds (well, perhaps slightly more obvious individuals!) and as can be seen the adult birds also tend to show a more attenuated large feather, whereas that of the the first year bird is blunter. However, like so many Yellowhammer criteria, there is some overlap and such a feature should never be used in isolation.
We also caught a first year Blackbird with asymmetric moult limits. Firstly there were two old greater coverts on the left wing, but on the right wing the outermost had been replaced, but not the second. This was possibly a result of accidental loss, but the tertials were also odd making us wonder if it was just an odd bird. On the left wing only the smallest tertial had been replaced but on the right wing exactly the opposite - only the largest two. Also below is a picture of a typical first year tail, fairly narrow and pointed.
I am starting to prepare a crib sheet for aging and sexing the common winter birds we catch as a group and at some point we'll hopefully be in a position to illustrate this with the photos too. So there is nothing unusual about this Robin at all, it is just a typical young bird.
Away from the nets, we recorded one flock of over 600 Fieldfares which was fairly spectcular. It was being ineffectively hassled a Buzzard, which was in turn being hassled by a Carrion Crow. Redpoll, Siskin and Linnet all flew over, Lapwings were displaying and two different Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Odd Chaffinch

Just been sent some pictures from Archie's Granny's garden in Norfolk. This appears to be a female Chaffinch that has lost all the feathering from its head. I suppose it's due to something like a fungal infection, but if anyone else recognises these symptoms as something else, let us know.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Sparrow-chasing at Brack...

It was a bit of a disappointing session trying to catch House Sparrows at Brack again. There seemed to be lots of activity as we were setting up but we finished on 1 Wren, 1 Yellowhammer, 2 Dunnocks and 3 Robins. It was a bit breezy again, so hopefully better luck next time...
Mick P

Sunday, 7 March 2010

RCP, Sat 6 March

We had a decent ringing session at RCP on Saturday. The drizzle never amounted to much and the cloud cover was a bonus. We ended on 55 birds including retraps, 36 of which were Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings. Duncan got a new ringing tick with a Redwing.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A boootiful pair...

Some more Starling pics from Mick P - note the blue bill base and uniform dark eye of the male and the pink bill base and pale-ringed iris of the female.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


This has been in the pipeline for a while and hopefully it will be useful. Click pages to enlarge. If anyone would like the pdf (better resolution) just email me or leave a comment with your email address below.