Thursday, 28 April 2011

Tawnies and Hobbies

Yesterday evening Mick P and I met up with David Stock who used to work at Stanford Hall, he has found at least 3 Hobby nests for us there over the last few years. We went to erect a 'hanging basket' artificial nest for the Hobby to use. These are known to work but it is the first the group has erected. Mick P did the honours of climbing the tree and the position of the basket looks good to us - but of course it will be up to the Hobby to decide just how good. There has been some large-scale trapping and destroying of corvids in the area so a lack of suitable crows nests may help in the basket being used.

I decided to check a few more Tawny boxes whilst in the deep south of Notts. Mick P joined me so far through the afternoon prior to doing the Hobby basket. Most boxes in my patch have now been checked and so far the results show a 46% occupancy rate by Tawny Owls. I guess the birds in this area must have started a little later as most boxes have eggs and the few with chicks are no where near big enough to ring.

As we walked to check the boxes at Thorpe Plantation I told Mick about a particularly aggressive female that nested last year, she did a fair amount of damage to my hand. The first box we got to had a female sitting on chicks, I asked Mick if he wanted a glove but he declined. I was wondering if it was the same female as I heard Mick shout and blood started to drip from above. Mick bravely hung on to the bird, blood pouring from his hand - yes it was the same bird. She was originally ringed at the same site as an adult 8 years ago and has since developed her anti-ringer grip to perfection.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Some more Tawny pics

These ones from Ruth - good examples of the different colour morphs...

Monday, 25 April 2011

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 24 April

A calling Cuckoo greeted us as we walked down to the ringing site but what looked like a perfect morning for ringing, overcast and still, proved to be less productive than the sunny and hot morning of a week ago. We put up 14 nets again and the catching rate was steady all morning. We ended on 40 birds, 20 of them retraps!

Broken down (new/retrap): Chiffchaff 0/1, Willow Warbler 1/3, Wren 1/1, Chaffinch 0/1, Blackcap 2/2, Bullfinch 0/1, Sedge Warbler 4/1, Dunnock 0/1, Robin 3/0, Reed Warbler 5/1, Great Tit 0/3, Garden Warbler 2/1, Song Thrush 0/1, Blue Tit 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 0/1, Whitethroat 2/1.

Of the ten retrap warblers 4 were ringed last week, the others last year; except for Garden Warbler T304255 originally ringed in may 2005 and only caught once since, in 2009. This bird is only two rings on from the six year old Blackcap we caught last week and was originally ringed on the same day. The most interesting birds seen overhead were a few House Martins and as we took the nets down the first Swifts of the year.


Saturday, 23 April 2011


Had a fantastic day checking Tawny boxes today with Jim & Ruth. Some pics below. We also saw a female Wheatear, a Hobby and Lesser Whitethroat heard.

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Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 17 April

A glorious morning greeted us for the first session of the year at Holme Pierrepont. All the 'usual' warblers were heard singing during the day but alas no Cetti's. We put up 14 nets, some in the new or modified sites created at our clearance session a few weeks ago. The catching rate was fairly brisk until about 10.30 when the sun got too bright and hot, so hot even Meisha agreed it could now officially be called warm!

We ended on 57 birds, 43 new/14 retraps, broken down: Chiffchaff 3/0, Willow Warbler 5/1, Wren 2/1, Chaffinch 2/0, Blackcap 7/2, Grasshopper Warbler 1/0, Bullfinch 3/0, Reed Bunting 3/4, Sedge Warbler 5/0, Dunnock 2/1, Robin 1/1, Reed Warbler 4/1, Great Tit 1/1, Garden Warbler 1/0, Song Thrush 3/0, Blackbird 0/1, Blue Tit 0/1.

The Grasshopper Warbler pleased Ruth and was a strange bird in that it was caught in the net wrapped around the top shelf, well above the altitude normally associated with this species. Of the four retrap warblers 1 Blackcap was ringed in 2010, the Reed Warbler and Willow Warbler were both ringed in 2009 and both caught again in 2010 - but the best was Blackcap T304253 originally ringed in may 2005 and only caught twice since, the last time in 2007.

There was little moving overhead the best being 3 Oystercatcher. So a good start to the ringing season at Holme Pierrepont despite the singing Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroat evading the nets.


Monday, 11 April 2011

Granby, Sunday 10 April

A bright day (and later on unseasonably hot) with light winds from the south made for a reasonable ringing session at Granby for the time of year. Overall, we handled 56 birds of seven species, including the first Blackcaps ever (four) for Granby.

Yellowhammers were again the dominant species in the catch, making up three fifths of the overall total. All the adult male Yellowhammers had cloacal protuberances, so breeding is starting to happen for them. Amongst the seven Yellowhammer retraps, there were two four year old birds. Probably the Blackcaps were the star birds, but the lack of Blue Tits and Dunnocks was also notable.

Total number of birds processed was 56 (44 new / 12 re-trapped), which is broken down as follows: Blackcap 4/0, Great Tit 1/3, Tree Sparrow 4/0, Chaffinch 7/2, Yellowhammer 25/7, Reed Bunting 1/0.

Sightings wise, there seemed to be warblers passing through consisting of Willow/Chiff & Blackcap.


Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 10 April

A beautiful morning with virtually no breeze and warblers singing in the bushes; what sort of catch would this last visit of the season result in? Thankfully better than expected with 35 birds caught, 19 of which were retraps. The species list was (new/retrap) - Reed Bunting 0/2, Long-tailed Tit 0/2, Dunnock 0/1, Goldfinch 2/0, Wren 1/0, Robin 0/1, Chaffinch 1/1, Chiffchaff 3/0, Yellowhammer 9/12. The most interesting retrap was Yellowhammer originally ringed at the park 4 years ago (almost to the day!). Next week we will be at Holme Pierrepont.


Besthorpe heronry, Saturday 9 April

A fine day and three climbing teams made for a very smooth visit to the Besthorpe heronry on Saturday, which was aided by six members of from South Notts RG. After the harsh mid-winter, this first visit had been delayed from the usual time of around St Patrick's Day. Overall 33 pullus were ringed from 12 broods, which is unusual for the first visit. The mild weather, since the snow, meant there were more synchronous. The number of active nests was much lower than previous years, but with larger clutches. This suggests low winter survival, and that the birds have maybe compensated for this by having larger broods. There was a brood of five pullus, which is the first since monitoring of the heronry started in 1996, and three broods of four. They'll be another visit over the Easter weekend when a smaller team will hopefully ring the remaining chicks.


Sunday, 10 April 2011

Besthorpe Herons with NNRG, Sat 9 April

Several group members joined our sibling group again this year. Here are some pics from Ian:

Yellow Wag

Another great bird for the small roost in a small reedbed behind a factory building in Hucknall. Last year a Whinchat this year a male Yellow Wagtail!

My fingers (and everything else) are are firmly crossed in hope that the planned development of the pond and the general area don't go ahead! The rest of the catch was 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Reed Bunting and 3 Pied Wagtails.

Mick P

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

More on the Collared Doves

I can almost breathe a sigh of relief as the Collared Doves look ready to fledge! With my limited knowledge I estimate them to be c. 16 days old. Fingers crossed!

Mick P

Goldfinch recovery

Just had news of of this from Mick Briggs at Gibraltar Point - X017161 was ringed at Clifton Wood on 23 March 2008 as a 5F and not caught again until it found its way into a Gib net on 28 March 2011! For more see:

Monday, 4 April 2011

Arnot Hill Park update

Apparently the Collared Doves chicks are still going strong and there is a ringed Chiffchaff on site (I haven't caught one there...)
Mick P

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 3 April

Not a lot to report for the despite the best efforts of Meisha and myself. Only 17 birds caught: 6 new and 11 retraps. But we did catch 2 Blackcaps so Spring is on its way at last. Must be time to move to HPP.

Brackenhurst, Sunday 3 April

A bright sunny morning, and the predicted winds from the south west were lighter than expected at first. We had two sites going with Duncan, Ian (RRB), Libby and myself at the feeding station (and we also opened Orwin's for a while) and Amy, Kev & Mick whoosh-netting up at Home Farm. Overall, we handled 75 birds (seven whooshed) of 11 species, including five Chiffchaffs. With a virtually tit-free catch we had more time to colour ring the Yellowhammers and managed to do 21 birds; many of which had been ringed earlier in the winter.

Yellowhammers accounted for three-quarters of the catch. Orwin's was good for the warblers, and along with the five Chiffs we also had the first Willow Warbler and Blackcap of the year. The oldest retrap was a four year old female Yellowhammer. Can you work out which is which below?

Willow left, Chiff right. (& Common Redpoll in the background...)

Sightings wise, the winter thrushes seem to have gone, but singing warblers were in evidence with several Chiffs, Willow Warbler & Blackcap in song. It was also nice to note a Linnet singing.This first Swallow came over, as did several Meadow Pipits and both Little Owl and Buzzards were around. However, Ian picked up the star bird when he said "That looks like a Red Kite". Which indeed it was, it flew over the sheep field above Orwin's and then rose away on a thermal. This was only the second record for Brack. 

Total number of birds processed was 75 (35 new / 40 re-trapped), which is broken down as follows: Blackcap 1/0, Chiffchaff 4/1, Willow Warbler 1/0, Dunnock 1/2, Great Tit 1/2, Blue Tit 0/1, Tree Sparrow 6/0, House Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 1/2, Yellowhammer 16/31, Reed Bunting 3/1.