Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Recent Recoveries

Another handful of recoveries just through include a young Tawny Owl that expired a month after being ringed as a chick 3km from the box and couple of local yearling Barn Owls, though one moved 40km. A Greenfinch ringed at RCP in 2006 as a 5 was found dead having got stuck in a house this year, making it a 6 year old bird. Lastly a Willow Warbler ringed as a 3 at HPP last August was picked up on a road in Argyll this July. It would seem likely that this wasn't too far from its natal area and we had ringed it on passage last year.

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 28 Aug

We went to the A52 side of Holme Pierrepont and were surprised to find a calm an partly overcast morning, the forecast said there would be a moderate breeze and mainly clear skies. The nets were quickly erected and the first net was filling well by the time we had put up the fourth. We went on the first net round shortly after and extracted over 25 birds, 17 from a single 12m net. The next round was good as well but then skies cleared and the wind started to pick up forcing us to take down early at 1100. We ended on 52 birds, 51 were new. The catch was predominantly warblers made up mainly of Blackcaps and Whitethroat but we did have a single Lesser Whitethroat, a couple of Reed Warblers and a Chiffchaff. Tits were noticeable by their absence as they have been on most sessions this summer. Bird of the day was adult Spotted Flycatcher that made Duncan happy.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 21 Aug

Conditions were pretty much ideal this morning and we weren't disappointed with over 50 birds caught before 8 o'clock. The following two rounds were also good, though the sun came out after that and we began packing up at about 11:30 having processed 91 birds (78 new / 13 retrap).

Most numerous was Blackcap (18 new/2 retrap) followed by Reed Warbler (13/2) and Chiffchaff (10/0) but all the common warblers put in an appearance with a clear passage of Sedge Warblers, this being (somewhat unusually) the fourth most numerous bird of the day (7/0). 

A couple of unexpected birds included a young Goldcrest in post-juvenile moult with just the first few orange crown feathers emerging and indicating it a male.

But perhaps most unusual was an almost fully grown Great Crested Grebe caught on the muddy margins of a reedbed by hand.

The bird was still unable to fly, but fortunately big enough to ring. It was also an expert swimmer on release. It was fascinating getting a close look at a species rarely handled. The legs felt like they were in the wrong place, positioned right at the back of the body, rather than underneath and the toes were intriguing to see as well.

Other records included good numbers of hirundines overhead, Buzzard, Kingfisher, 2 Little Egrets, Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall. Single Greenshank and Wood Sandpiper were heard and a few Yellow Wagtails passed over too. A singing Coal Tit was a bit out of the ordinary. This must also be one of the best sites in the area for Hornets - we saw more of them than wasps today!

The water levels are now the lowest for as long as we can remember. If only the exposed mud was a little richer in invertebrate life to attract a few more waders! The back pit can now we crossed without getting wet at all and the side pit is getting very overgrown.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Some Barn Owls are busier than others . . .

I've been doing some checking for second breeding attempts by the Barn Owls, as well as late breeders. The premise for this is predicated by the first brood having been born by no later than mid-April, and that the female BO showed no signs of wing moult when trapped as if they were in moult it indicates they're most likely done breeding. This reduces the number of boxes to go back to significantly, but it's also worth checking boxes close by as they will second clutch were the male's been roosting.

Anyway, this was Duncan and I's mission when we set off for the Vale of Belvoir last Friday. First, we went to two boxes at Normanton where a pair of BOs had flew from one of them in early June to see if they were now breeding. We went to that field box first and trapped a first summer male BO, that had been ringed as a chick near Flawborough last year. As it was not going through post-breeding wing moult, we wondered if the female had gone down in the box in the adjacent garden. This proved right, and we trapped a ringed female and ringed 3 of the 5 chicks that were big enough to ring, and 5 S-T Fields, 2 Field Mice and 1 shrew were cached.

Now, if you're still awake, this is where it gets really interesting. We had caught the first summer female on 3 chicks that were 3-4 weeks old on the 7 June in a nest box about 2 km away. So, not only has she bred twice, but must have been laying the second clutch while her mate was still feeding the first brood. Double broods is not uncommon with BOs, but I've only once before in 2007 at Farndon proved this rapid turn round before. Going by the cache size the male BO is obviously good at hunting. I'm left wondering if he's one of the birds that left the Normanton box in June, may be paired up with his second 'wife' who he may or may or not have bred with. All a bit Jeremy Kyle really.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Recent Recoveries

Barn Owls in the latest batch include a 3 year old bird found close to where it was ringed in Laxton, then a 2 year old that moved 32km into Lincs and a 1 year old that wandered much further - 132km to Cambridgeshire.

A Chaffinch ringed at Brack was found nearby a couple of years later, a Goldfinch moved from Clifton to Beeston in 8 months and a Mute Swan moved from RCP to Derbyshire.

Some of you know about the remarkable Kingfisher record  - a bird ringed in 2008 at HPP was seen at Colwick Park by Michael Welsh who read the ring through his telescope! An almost unbelievable feat...

Lastly a fantastic record of a Black-headed Gull ringed at Burnt Stump Landfill in 1987 and found 24yrs later in the Netherlands, 438km away.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 14 Aug

A fine morning for ringing with no wind and part cloud cover raised our spirits first thing but the lack of bird calls at the site had us wondering what was in store as we erected the nets. We need not have worried as the nets started to fill up, including our first Long-tailed Tit flock of the summer at Holme Pierrepont. Catching was good until about 1100 when the breeze started to pick up and we had the nets down for 1230. The total for the day was a respectable 91 including 77 new birds. The Long-tailed Tit total was 25, the rest of the catch was as you would expect except for a low number of Reed Warblers and only 3 Adults caught. Overhead we had Hobby, Buzzards and Green Sandpiper.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 7 August

A strong breeze greeted us as we met at Holme Pierrepont and it only got stronger as the morning progressed. This undoubtedly affected the catch but the site was strangely quiet. The breeze did not give us much hope and then as we started to erect the nets and found another two poles had been stolen it only made it seem worse. We decided to take the nets down early because of the conditions and only managed a catch of 21 birds, two of them retraps. It would appear that all the 3J warblers we have ringed so far have moved on. Although we caught a few new 3J Reed Warblers we did not have any adults, surely they have not moved out already?

More pics from the Wash

From Ruth:

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Wash Waders trip

Ian, Libby & Ruth joined the Wash Wader Ringing Group last weekend and the following pics give a flavour of their trip: