Friday, 30 December 2011

Granby Longevity Records

The Granby cutting from the bridge. (PML)

The recent capture of an elderly female Yellowhammer got me wondering about what other old birds we have had at the Granby feeding station. The table shows the top ten species longevity records for the site and gives the national records for comparison.

They are pretty much as you might expect in that the oldest birds come from the biggest samples. For example 990 Yellowhammers have been ringed there over last 12 years, so it's perhaps not so surprising that a nigh on nine year old bird has been retrapped. The older Robin retraps are mostly males and, given their territoriality, they are perhaps more likely to be recaught in the spring as they are frequently retrapped. Whereas the Blackbird was only retrapped the once. Disappointingly we’ve had no sight or sound of Willow Tits this winter, but this three year old bird was trapped 14 times over three years. Of the 399 adult Tree Sparrows ringed, only four have been trapped in the following winter and P575873 is the only one caught beyond that. Also, none of the 91 Tree Sparrow pullus ringed in the vicinity have been caught at the feeders.


Granby, Tuesday 27 December

 Robin, age 3 (PML)

Duncan, Ian, Pete and I made the sixth visit to Granby on Tuesday. Weather was breezy from the SSW and overcast for the whole session. The feeders were sheltered from this, but the track nets caught less as a result (only 3 birds after last week's 20 plus!)

The full catch was 55 birds (27 new / 28 retrap).Highlights were the first Reed Bunting of the season and the biggest Blue Tit catch so far. One young male Blackbird was intriguing as it had replaced three inner secondaries on both wings. All the retraps were all from this and last winter with the exception of two Great Tits, one 4 and the other 5 years old.

A good illustration of how similar adult and young Great Tits can look. The bird on the left is a youngster and yet it shows hardly any green on the primary coverts. However, when compared with the primary coverts of the adult on the right you can see the inferior quality of the feathers and, most notably, the rather scruffy, pointed tips. (PML)

Full catch numbers were (new/retrap): Dunnock 2/2, Robin 1/0, Blackbird 4/0, Long-tailed Tit 0/1, Blue Tit 4/8, Great Tit 3/10, Chaffinch 5/4, Tree Sparrow 2/0, Yellowhammer 3/0, Reed Bunting 1/0.


 Without doubt the best weapon against the Granby Fridge Experience is sloe gin made with Granby sloes. Seasonal ringing at its finest. (PML)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Rushcliffe Country Park, Saturday 24 December

Ruth, Duncan, Gary and I spent Christmas Eve morning at Rushcliffe Country Park. The morning started well but soon slowed down and we ended with 44 birds, 23 of them new. As at Granby we seem to have the local Great Tit population marked with all 8 birds caught being retraps, one of them from 4 years ago and no subsequent captures until today. The full capture list was (new/retrap): Chaffinch 10/3, Blue Tit 3/5, Goldfinch 4/0, Reed Bunting 2/2, Yellowhammer 2/2, Dunnock 1/0, Robin 1/1, Great Tit 0/8.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Granby, Wednesday 21 December


Duncan, Libby, Pete and I made the fifth visit to Granby on Wednesday. Weather was calm, damp and overcast for the whole session.

More variety this time with 13 species caught. The full catch was 28 new birds with 30 retraps. Though the catch at the feeders was poor compared to recent weeks as the majority of the the catch came from the additional nets we put up along the railway track bed. This may be down to the milder weather, but there was a big drop in the number of Chaffinches about and only one was caught & ringed this time (also noted in the Retford area). The extra nets produced our best ever catch of Long-tailed Tits with a flock of 18 birds processed. Six of the Lotti's had been ringed last winter, including five in the same catch in November 2011. So, they seem to have fared quite well in the harsh cold last winter. Also of note was four first winter Bullfinches in the track nets. That's now six so far this winter compared to to 14 ringed over the last 10 years at Granby.

Note the male's 4 and the female's 5 retained juvenile greater coverts.

We seem to have the entire local population of Great Tits marked as none were ringed on the day for a change. Full catch numbers were (new/retrap): Wren -/1, Dunnock 1/2, Robin 2/2, Blackbird 2/-, Goldcrest 1/1, Long-tailed Tit 12/6, Blue Tit 3/5, Great Tit 0/9, Chaffinch 1/0, Goldfinch 1/-, Bullfinch 4/-, Tree Sparrow 2/-, Yellowhammer 3/-.

This young Goldfinch had retained 4 juvenile greater coverts, obvious with their buff, not yellow, tips.

One of the best sightings of the day was a particularly bold weasel which came very close to us, although you wouldn't think so judging by the terrible pictures...

There wasn't much else around to see, though a few flocks of Fieldfares and the odd Redwing were still stripping the last few hawthorn berries.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Starting young

The youngest member of the Shiants Auk Ringing Group gets a ringing tick.

Recent Recoveries

The most recent batch of reports from the BTO comprised 10 recoveries and 1 control.
As usual, the bulk were made up of owl recoveries, with 5 Barn Owl and 1 Little Owl. Not suprisingly 5 of the recoveries were dead birds, 4 of which were ringed as chicks and failed to make it beyond their first 6 months; life really is quite tough for these birds.

Probably the most interesting was a Barn Owl ringed at Upper Broughton in July 2011 which travelled 82km in 2 months where it flew into power lines and died in South Yorkshire, illustrating just how far young birds can disperse after fledging.

Happily one Barn Owl ringed at Barton-in-Fabis in 2008 was still doing well at Elton this summer.

Other birds included a Tree Sparrow ringed as a chick at Attenborough in June found dead in a nestbox a month later and a juvenile Sedge Warbler ringed at Bestwood in August trapped in Grantham during the same month and putting on a bit of weight ready for migration.

Speaking of migration, a juvenile Blackcap ringed at Holme Pierrepont this September turned up at East Bedfont in Greater London having travelled 174km in just 7 days whilst gaining weight also, this bird really was heading somewhere!

The control was a Reed Warbler ringed as a juvenile at Marston Sewage Works in Grantham back in July 2010 which we picked up on 3 July 2011 at Holme Pierrepont, again strongly suggesting that birds return to the general area where they were born / were present at previously.

This is the kind of stuff that makes ringing really interesting.


Granby, Sunday 18 December

Duncan, Ian and I made the fourth visit to Granby on Saturday. Weather was frosty with sleet & drizzle early on, but fairly calm.

For a change , the majority of the catch was tits. The full catch was 17 new birds with 26 retrapped; down on previous visits. A big drop in the number of Chaffinches trapped accounts for this. Twelve of the thirteen Great Tits were already ringed. The poor showing for the Dunnocks continued with just one retrap. All the retraps were recent bar Great Tits from 2008 & 2009.

Full catch numbers were (new/retrap): Dunnock -/1, Robin -/4, Blue Tit 3/6, Great Tit 1/13, Treecreeper -/1, Chaffinch 7/2, Tree Sparrow 1/-, Yellowhammer 5/-


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Attenborough, Tuesday 20 December

Tim, Ruth and I set a couple of nets behind the Attenborough Visitor Centre this morning for a couple of hours aiming to catch some Tree Sparrows. We had better netting conditions than when we tried a couple of weeks ago but still only caught 13 birds, six of which were retraps and only 3 of which were Tree Sparrows. However, it has become the norm to catch something a little different at this site and today was no exception. We had a retrap Great Spotted Woodpecker, a control Tree Sparrow and a Sparrowhawk. Ruth ringed the Sparrowhawk, which was apparently her second and exactly two more than Ian has managed to do. Ruth sent a text to Ian to let him know and received an immediate response, unfortunately it would not be appropriate to repeat it here.

Monday, 19 December 2011

A little bit of SNRG history

Many of you will know that the ringing group was started in 1971 by Humphrey Dobinson who started the Fairham School Ornithological Society (the Bird Club). Humphrey spent much of his free time taking pupils out on field trips and our transport was usually his Bedford (the Beddy) minibus. Humphrey now lives in Norway and recently his son Colin arranged for the minibus to be restored, the restoration made it on to Norwegian television and can be viewed on I can't help with the translation of the commentary but to some in the group this will bring back many happy memories.

Friday, 16 December 2011

2010 Ringing Report

Our ringing report for last year is now available and members should have had it sent to them already. Anyone else interested in a copy, please email me directly on pleonard at care4free dot net (expanded address to avoid detection by spam software...).

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 11 December

On Saturday the forecast indicated we were not going to get a session in on Sunday, heavy rain being forecast from early morning. So it came as no big surprise that the forecast was wrong again and a full session was completed, it only started raining when I was nearly home. Unfortunately the lack of rain was almost matched by a lack of birds as we ended with a catch of 45 birds, including 31 retraps, most of them recent. This was our lowest catch this winter and with few new birds. The best of the few older retraps being a Yellowhammer from 2006. The full breakdown of the catch was (new/retrap): Robin 0/3, Goldcrest 1/0, Blue Tit 0/4, Great Tit 0/16, Chaffinch 7/3, Goldfinch 4/0, Greenfinch 0/1, Bullfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 1/4.

No visit is planned for next Sunday because of another event taking place at the park but weather permitting we plan to hold a session on Christmas Eve.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Granby, Saturday 10 December

Duncan, Ruth and I made the third visit to Granby on Saturday. Weather wise it was the usual winter GFE (Granby Fridge Experience), but nevertheless bright and sunny with less wind than predicted. And also enlivened by Pete & Penny dropping in.


Yet again the majority of the catch was Chaffinches & Great Tits, with birds being caught steadily through the morning 'til we packed up early at midday. The full catch was 57 - 32 new birds with 25 retrapped. Fifteen of the 16 Great Tits were already ringed, so I guess we now have the local population well marked. The Yellowhammers are starting to build up with five caught, no Dunnocks were caught again. So that's three in three visits. It does look like they got hammered by the dry weather this year.
Virtually all the retraps were from the last year or so, bar a Great Tit from 2007. Typically, for an old bird, it turned up late morning. There were plenty of thrushes roosting when we arrived and the first five Blackbirds of the winter were trapped. We also ringed the 14th ever Bullfinch at the site; all bar one have been captured before the New Year.
Full catch numbers were (new/retrap): Blackbird 5/1, Robin 0/1, Blue Tit 1/7, Great Tit 1/15, Chaffinch 16/1, Greenfinch 3/-, Bullfinch 1/-, Tree Sparrow, Yelllowhammer 4/1.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Recent recoveries

The most recent batches of recoveries from the BTO are dominated by Barn Owls (21 of 27). About three quarters of these were female, which is to be expected as we mostly just catch the females in boxes in the breeding season, with the males roosting elsewhere. Usually, when we catch new breeding birds, especially females, they are first summer birds, but this year there were: 4 first summer, 3 second, 2 third, 1 fourth & 1 fifth summer females. Some of these weren't in the same box last year as there were different females in them then and they would have bred elsewhere since fledging. This is uncommon and I put it down to the bad snow and cold we had last winter, in which birds presumably moved off their winter territories and/or lost their mates, went in search of food and stayed put wherever they ended up. Of the 5 males controlled, one was 5 and the other 6 years old. The Barn Owl movements varied between 4 and 93 km, with the median distance being 15 km. Most recoveries were movements within our study area (south Notts and Vale of Belvoir), but there were also 3 from Lincs, 1 from Cambridgeshire & 5 year old male from South Yorks.

Aside from the BOs, we also had a Jackdaw pullus from Kersall that hit an overhead wire near Southwell 12 km away at one of the farms where we have boxes. A typical Kestrel recovery is one found dead in a barn in its first winter. So, no surprise when 2009 Kestrel chick from Brackenhurst was found 5 km away in a barn near Southwell in September. Of more interest was another 2009 Kestrel chick from Bunny that was caught in a Barn Owl box with chicks near Bottesford; a movement of 24 km. There are very few live recoveries of Kestrel and this adds to our knowledge on their dispersal. In addition, there were also two local recoveries of Long-tailed Tit and a Yellowhammer on the Brackenhurst Campus.


Monday, 5 December 2011

Attenborough NR, Monday 5 December

Strong breeze forecast, not good for a session on the peninsula at the back of the visitor centre. Tim and I decided to give it a go for a couple of hours but the breeze was really too much and we managed only 9 birds including 2 retraps. The breakdown of the catch was (new/retrap): Woodpigeon 1/0, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Great Tit 0/1, Tree Sparrow 4/1.


Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 4 December

A brisk breeze to start with that slowly increased throughout the morning appeared to affect the catch, this was the first session this winter with less than 80 birds! The session ended with a catch of 53 birds, including 29 retraps, most of them recent. The best of the few older retraps being a Great Tit from 2005, which was also caught in 2006 but has evaded the nets every year since. The full breakdown of the catch was (new/retrap): Dunnock 0/1, Redwing 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 4/1, Coal Tit 0/1, Blue Tit 2/6, Great Tit 2/14, Chaffinch 5/2, Goldfinch 3/1, Greenfinch 5/0, Bullfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 1/2, Reed Bunting 0/1.

Interesting to see Jim's comments on the blog regarding the lack of Dunnocks at Granby. I mentioned to Gary on Sunday that we did not seem to be catching many Dunnocks at Rushcliffe, so having done a little checking - after the first four visits in 2010 we had caught 8 individuals, in 2011 it has only been 2.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

Granby, Friday 2 December

Duncan, Libby and I made the second visit to Granby on Friday. The weather was initially calmer than predicted, but blew up later. It was pretty chilly with ground frost at dawn, but maybe the very mild autumn has made us soft.

Again, the catch was dominated by Chaffinchs & Great Tits, with most of the birds being caught around the middle of the day. The full catch was 39 new birds with 25 retrapped. The 31 Chaffinches (22 were male) processed is the highest ever for a single session at Granby, and is even more unusual for being in the autumn as higher Chaffinch catches have tended to be in the spring. Also, there were no Dunnocks caught on the first visit and only three on this (two were adults). To account for this, it may be that they had poor winter survival and then a poor breeding season due to the drought like conditions we've been experiencing.

Most of the retraps were from the last 12 months. The exceptions were a Blue Tit ringed as a chick nearby in 2006, and singleton Great Tits and Chaffinches trapped in 2008. Full catch numbers were (new/retrap): Wren 1/-, Dunnock 1/2, Robin 0/2, Blue Tit 3/4, Great Tit 4/13, Treecreeper -/1, Chaffinch 28/3, Greenfinch 1/-, Yelllowhammer 1/-.

There was not much else around bar Redwing, and occasional Skylark, Tree Sparrow, Bullfinch, and Reed Bunting. If the weather's okay, the next session will be Saturday 10 December.


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Cannon-netting Wigeon at Dunham

Mick and I are bi-curious in that we also ring with North Notts Ringing Group. Early today, Libby & Duncan joined us at Dunham for a cannon net catch of Wigeon along with the Blackburns and other ringers. The last time we were there, Mick and I were twinkling til after one o'clock. So, it was great to take a firing just after eight o'clock with a catch of 70 Wigeon (including four retraps) and a solitary Coot.

An excellent morning in good company.


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Granby, Tuesday 22 November

What with the damp and drizzle, Duncan, Libby, Nabegh and I did not approach the first visit to Granby this morning with any great optimism. But in the event, the intermittent drizzle cleared up by about 10 and then brightened a little. The catch was dominated by Chaffinchs & Great Tits, with most of the birds being caught late morning. Though a pair of Goldcrests and a couple of Treecreepers added some welcome variety. The full catch was 53 birds (37 new and 16 retrapped). All the retraps were from last winter, bar a Chaffinch from 2006, and a Yellowhammer originally ringed in January 2003 as an adult female. This bird is more than 10 years old, which is a very good record considering the oldest Yellowhammer from ringing is under 12 years old.

Full catch numbers were (new/retrap): Robin 3/1, Goldcrest 2/-, Blue Tit 2/3, Great Tit 7/10, Treecreeper 2/-, Tree Sparrow 1/-, Chaffinch 18/1, Greenfinch 2/-, Yelllowhammer -/1.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 20 November

A foggy and still morning at the Park, it never did clear all morning but we had another good session and ended with a catch of 87 birds. The number of retraps is increasing though with 48 this time, again most of them from last week or the week before. The best of the few older retraps being a Blue Tit from 2007 and the first Yellowhammer of the winter from 2009. A new Goldcrest was nice, this was only the fourth for the site and the first ever for Nabegh. The full breakdown of the catch was (new/retrap): Dunnock 1/0, Robin 1/1, Goldcrest 1/0, Blue Tit 2/14, Great Tit 7/21, Chaffinch 6/5, Goldfinch 12/2, Greenfinch 8/1, Bullfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 0/1, Reed Bunting 0/3.
We are not planning to visit next week because there is a big event at the Park but will be back the first Sunday in December.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 13 November

We started in dark overcast conditions with a little light drizzle but the forecast was for it to soon clear up and it did. The first net round was a little disappointing but it picked up from then on and we ended with a good catch of 80 birds but this did include 35 retraps, most of them from last week! The best of the few older retraps being a Chaffinch from 2008. The full breakdown of the catch was (new/retrap): Robin 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 1/0, Coal Tit 0/1, Blue Tit 4/9, Great Tit 8/15, Chaffinch 7/4, Goldfinch 15/3, Greenfinch 7/1, Bullfinch 0/1, Reed Bunting 1/1.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Clive Minton wins prestigious Eisenmann Medal

Several group members have ringed with Clive - a founder member of the Wash Wader Ringing Group and pioneer ringer in Australia. Here's a press release from Birds Australia:

Birds Australia is pleased to congratulate Clive Minton on being awarded the 2012 Eisenmann Medal by the Linnean Society of New York.

The Eisenmann Medal is awarded to people not only for their great achievements in ornithology, but to those who have also provided outstanding guidance, assistance and encouragement in working with volunteers, amateurs or students as a personal mission (not as part of their employment) to interest them in ornithology.

Clive's countless hours of work with both the Victorian and Australasian Wader Studies Groups for so many years on so many different levels has made him an obvious and deserving candidate for this prestigious award.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Granby re-opens for season 12 at the fridge!

Duncan and I spent this morning cutting back the vegetation at the Granby feeding station, and the thorn bushes along the track. Growth wasn't too bad after the dry summer and autumn, but we still worked up a sweat in the gloom. The hoppers are now back up and baited. There was the odd Yellowhammer about and a few mixed thrushes, but otherwise pretty quiet bird wise.

I will see if birds are coming to the bait in a week or so. Plus, need sloes for the gin! Aim will then be to start ringing there on either Friday 18 or Sunday 20 November.


Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 6 November

We opened up the site for the winter on a nippy but sunny morning. The sun soon warmed things up and the number of birds caught kept us busy throughout. We ended with the best opening catch for a good few years with 83 birds caught including 6 retraps and a nice catch of Goldfinch. The oldest retrap was a Reed Bunting from February 2008 and not seen again since March 2009. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was a new bird for Ian, luckily it had blunted its bill drawing blood from Gary when he extracted it so was no problem later to Ian. The species caught were (new/retrap) Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Blackbird 0/1, Blue Tit 14/1, Great Tit 18/2, Coal Tit 1/0, Chaffinch 14/1, Bullfinch 2/0, Greenfinch 5/0, Goldfinch 22/0 and Reed Bunting 0/1. Let's hope it continues to catch well throughout the winter.


Recent Recoveries

15 of the recent batch of 19 recoveries were Barn Owls. Many were initially ringed as chicks in 2008/2009 with the 'oldest' initially ringed in 2005. Most birds seemed to move no further than 6-8 km from their original site, but some spread a little further including a bird ringed as a chick in Sleaford back in 2007 which was picked up 35km away at Brock Hill, Leicestershire in June this year, and a 26km movement for a chick from Barton in 2008 which turned up near Elton this summer. One heavy bird ringed at Old Dalby still seems to be eating all the pies as it weighed in at 430g this June at Upper Broughton.

It was good to hear about the female Cetti's Warbler caught in June at Attenborough which was originally ringed as a juv in Pembrokeshire in October 2010 as well as the male Blackcap also caught at Attenborough which made its way to us after being ringed as a juv in North Yorks in the summer of 2006.

Other recoveries included a Shelton Little Owl found at Lambley, a Hucknall Goldfinch ringed in April this year and found dead not too far away 2 months later. Sorry Mick!


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Holme Pierrepont - Sunday 23 October

Yet again the forecast was not good, it was going to be far too windy for mist netting but yet again they were wrong and we soon had all the usual nets erected. The site seemed quiet and it turned into a steady morning of just a few birds each net round. All the summer migrants had gone, not even a Blackcap managed to find the nets. The only bird of interest caught was the first Redwing of the winter.....oh and a new Cetti's Warbler but then we do catch one every October at this site now! All the poles and guys were removed but we will need to do a fair bit of 'gardening' again one day this winter ready for next spring.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Attenborough Migration Day Ringing Demo - Sun 16 October

No full ringing session was held yesterday but a few of us went to do a ringing demo at the annual Attenborough Migration Day event. On a previous demo there we had managed only four birds but the weather conditions were near perfect and I was hopeful of a few more birds finding the nets. The first round produced 17 birds, the second round was almost as good and then it did start to tail off. We finished with 43 birds, our best ever total for one of these events, the majority were Tree Sparrows but a few other species as well gave the visitors plenty to look at. The visitor numbers were high and many seemed very interested, especially the children. A Nottingham Post photographer arrived and wanted to take some pictures of one of us with a bird and some children watching. Tim, as we know, is rather camera shy but volunteered and I guess it was a break for him to be in front of a still camera after all his television work. Thanks again to the staff at the centre for keeping us fed and watered.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Monday, 10 October 2011

Isle of May - 1-8 October 2011

1 Oct
Left Anstruther 14.00 on the RIB - island covered in mist and visibility less than half a mile. After unpacking at Low Light nets were set on Holymans Road and in the Top Gardens. Many Goldcrest and Thrushes on the island. Wind NE force 1. 15 birds ringed, GOLDC 3, BLABI 5, CHIFF 2, BLACA 1, MEAPI 1, BRAMB 1, REDPO 2.

2 Oct
Early start but heavy rain so no nets could be opened, just a few birds from traps until just after midday when rain cleared and nets opened. Wind E force 1 to SE force 2 by afternoon. 348 birds ringed, GOLDC 262, SONTH 10, REDWI 4, BLABI 4, CHIFF 26, WREN 1, BLACA 3, BRAMB 2, WILWA 3, REEWA 1, WHITE 1, SISKI 1, ROBIN 30.

3 Oct
Early start on clear calm morning, nets opened, traps driven and spring traps set. Birds seen laving the island. Wind has gone W force 5/7 by evening.111 birds ringed, GOLDC 52, SONTH 2, REDWI 3, CHIFF 13, WREN 1, MEAPI 24, REDPO 2, WILWA 1, ROBIN 4, TREEC 1, WHEAT 3, ROCPI 5.

4 Oct
Woke up to strong westerly winds going NW by evening, no nets could be opened so spring traps set and used all day. 17 birds ringed, GOLDC 1, SONTH 1, REDWI 2, CHIFF 1, REDPO 1,WHEAT 1, ROCPI 8, WHINC 1, SNIPE 1.

5 Oct
Strong W to NW winds all day and no nets opened, all birds have moved out. 10 birds ringed, SONTH 1, MEAPI 6, ROCPI 3.

6 Oct
Strong westerly winds all day, no nets opened, spring traps set in afternoon, 12 birds ringed, MEAPI 4, REDPO 5, WHEAT 2, ROCPI 1. 700 Pink-footed geese and 42 Barnacle geese over island plus 4 Golden Plover.

7 Oct
Winds north-westerly and have eased after a 3 day blow bright sunshine at times. 18 birds ringed, GOLDC 2, REDWI 2, BLABI 1, CHIFF 2, WHEAT 1, ROCPI 3, DUNNO 6, OYSTE 1. 1368 Pink- footed geese over island and over 1000 Kittiwakes on the sea.

8 Oct
Left island at 11.00 after another great week.

Total for the week 531 birds ringed.




Saturday, 8 October 2011

Recent recoveries

A couple that have just come through are a Tree Sparrow ringed at the Bunny colony as a chick last July which was caught in March this year at Wanlip Gravel Pits in Leicestershire, 21km to the south. The other was a Reed Warbler ringed at Holme Pierrepoint as a 3 last September and caught in Portugal on 10 August this year, 1808km to the south. Interesting how the bird travelled south much earlier once it was an adult.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Isle of May - Weds update

As you might have expected from looking at any recent weather map, things have quietened down on the May and Ian reports that they are only spring-trapping. Birds around include Turnstone, Curlew, Purple Sandpiper, Merlin and Short-eared Owl.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 2 October

I did not think I would manage to get a team together for a session on Sunday but Jim said he would come along and others added their name to the list so I soon had a team of 6, including Duncan just back from Shetland.

I said I did not think we would catch much and personally would have been happy with anything over 20. The forecast was for still, sunny conditions so I thought we would be taking down early because of the heat, if the previous day was anything to go by it would reach the high twenties. The forecast was wrong, it did start still and sunny but as the morning went on and the temperature started to rise some broken cloud came along and pegged the temperature back to the mid-twenties - crazy I know but this was an October ringing session!

We started to catch well and it continued throughout the morning, we ended with 74 birds including 20 retraps. The species we caught most in the nets was, however, not a bird but hornets! We must have taken out at least 30 spread throughout all the nets, luckily without anyone getting stung. The species of bird we caught the most of was Reed Bunting with 20 followed by 12 Blackcaps. The only other warblers caught were 4 Chiffchaff and a single Sedge Warbler, the rest of the birds were a good selection from Blackbird to Goldcrest. So it might be worth another session there next week...............unless it is too hot!


Isle of May - Monday update

In from Ian:

Did some spring-trapping today - Northern & Greenland Wheatears and Rock Pipits. Also watched Short-eared Owls and Great Grey Shrikes flew in from sea and landed on the island. Will get them in the morning we hope...

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Isle of May

It sounds like the crew on the May have got off to a good start with c300 Goldcrest ringed today. More as and when it comes in...

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 25 September

This morning began with a fly-over Tawny owl and a cup of coffee as we waited for it to get light! There were only four of us initially on what promised to be a good morning according to the Met Office. However, within minutes of getting the nets up it started drizzling and we had to close the nets. In the middle of all this, with the four of us spread out, both Gary and I spotted a Spoonbill flying over and both started screaming to the others to look up. Had there been any other people in the area they might have called the police at this strange behaviour. Anyway, the bird appeared to bank and head towards the A52 pit, but despite Gary's efforts it was not relocated.

Once the rain eased we opened the nets again and managed to catch 20 birds before the tape batteries ran out and the breeze became too strong. The total included 9 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs and single Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. Several of these we managed to show to Archie and family and all his cousins who came along mid-morning for the first time in a while.

The most interest remained with the birding though and also recorded were 30 Black Terns on the lake, 1 Curlew, 1 Hobby, 1 Green Sandpiper, 54 Lapwing, 20 Siskin, 20+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Redpoll, 1 Grey Wagtail and good numbers of waterfowl such as Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon and Shoveler. A few Migrant Hawkers and a single Speckled Wood were the only inverts of note.


Monday, 19 September 2011

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 18 September

On Saturday morning the forecast for Sunday morning was fairly grim, so it was a surprise to get on site and find no wind and only scattered clouds. We quickly erected all the usual nets except for 2 that would be close to some folks camping on the site. The weather stayed good throughout and the campers moved, on so mid-morning we put up the other 2 nets. Catching was steady right up to the time we took down, although many of the warbler species seem to have mostly moved on. We ended with 69 birds including 9 retraps. The warblers caught were Blackcap 27, Chiffchaff 11 (plus 1 control), Whitethroat 3, Reed Warbler 1, Garden Warbler 1, Willow Warbler 1. Overhead were a few hirundines and Yellow Wagtails, a few Siskin and a Buzzard.


Trip to Derbyshire

Today myself and Libby made a very early start and journeyed to Ramsley Moor in Derbyshire to meet Sorby Breck Ringing Group members and have a go at catching some Meadow Pipits on migration.

It was great to meet other ringers and study new species in an interesting habitat and Libby and I both managed to get our hands on some much anticipated species (Sparrowhawk and Lesser Redpoll and Goldcrest).

However, with a rather strong wind and rain showers, our catch wasn't in the hundreds as we had hoped and instead we finished on around 60ish birds, 16 of which were Meadow Pipits.

Other birds of note in the area included Yellow Wagtails, Mistle Thrush and a nice flock of Dunlin which narrowly missed the Mipit nets!

Ian B

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Mick P in the spotlight

A small slice of fame for Mick & the group here:

It's not all about totalising...

...but it was oddly satisfying when Duncan and I notched up the 101st Barn Owl pullus ringed last night. Especially as it was in a box that the owner thought had 'pigeons' in it. In south Notts and the eastern Vale of Belvoir, it's been an okay year for the Barn Owls, with the number of pullus ringed 50% up on 2010. However, there has been perhaps twice as many control adults as usual with breeding females moving boxes. Presumably this dispersal is down to the hard weather last winter. Elsewhere, the picture is very mixed, with poor or no breeding in the Lincs/Yorks Wolds, but record numbers of second broods in west Lincs. Just two more boxes to check later this month, and that should be it for this year.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 11 September

The forecast was not good but we gave it a go and when we met at the site it was fairly breezy. We persevered and erected all the usual nets, none of them were being blown about too much......but then the wind speed increased. Eventually by 0900 we decided we would have to take all the nets down with a paltry catch of just 14 birds including 4 retraps, half of the birds were warblers. We did hear Wigeon and Siskin so winter approaches.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Wind farm proposal

Seeing as it is in our area and close to Attenborough you may find this interesting:

Monday, 5 September 2011

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 4 September

It was a strange morning, yet enjoyable and productive. We arrived in near perfect conditions - calm and overcast - at which point Ian ordered “a flock of Redstarts please”.

We had ten nets up swiftly, but then almost immediately it started to drizzle. This then came in waves throughout the morning and had us running backwards and forwards opening and closing nets. At 10:30, we threw in the towel and packed up after barely 4 hours of sporadic, damp ringing. (Actually a towel would have been useful at this point.) So it was somewhat incredible that during this period we managed to process 103 birds. It was a good job we had a big team with 9 members present.

Blackcaps made up half the total and we caught all the other common warblers in small numbers with the exception of Sedge. Blue Tit was the only other species caught in any numbers, with 14 new and 1 retrap and the remainder of the catch comprised all the usual suspects.

With the exception of 2 male Redstarts. Well we take our trainees’ requests very seriously you know. Better still, one was an adult and the other a youngster, allowing for useful comparison.

Note the adult’s blacker throat and whiter forehead. Also, its greater coverts are fringed grey and tipped orange, whereas the youngster has just a couple of the innermost feathers like this which it has replaced (barely visible here under the scapulars) and the rest are juvenile - brown, fringed buff.

And the final star of the show was a young Magpie – a species we catch surprisingly rarely.

Not many sightings to report, but 3 Little Egrets drifted over first thing, a Greenshank was heard, good Yellow Wagtail passage was noted and several hundred distant racing pigeons did their best to try to look like something more interesting.


Ian with half his requested flock.