Monday, 25 March 2013

Recent recoveries

A Reed Warbler ringed as a young bird in Suffolk in August 2009 hit a window in Attenborough in July 2012. A Sedge Warbler ringed as a young bird at Holme Pierrrepont in July 2011 was controlled at Icklesham in August 2012. Two young Reed Warblers which were ringed at Holme Pierrepont during August 2012 were controlled a few weeks later, gaining weight at Icklesham, it seems there may be a migration highway direct from Nottingham! 

The Icklesham connection continues with a Lesser Redpoll ringed there in October 2011 later being retrapped at Bestwood in November 2012. Even more Leser Redpolls featured this time round with a young Lesser Redpoll ringed at Bestwood in October 2012 controlled fifteen days later in Bedfordshire.
An adult Lesser Redpoll also ringed in October 2012 at Bestwood was controlled in Surrey in January 2013. Finally, another in Bestwood November 2012 was controlled by Birklands Ringing Group in Warsop also in January 2013.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Brackenhurst, Sunday 17 March

We didn't celebrate St Patrick's day at Brack yesterday, but it was wet enough for us to be in the west of Ireland with water oozing out of very pore in the ground. We had a good turnout from the Group including Ruth, Gary, David, Pete S and Emma for the second student ringing demonstration of the winter at the feeders (in my day they occupied buildings, now they just watch).

The weather, to begin with, was better than we feared and was nice enough til the rain kicked in from about 11:00 am. The birds were steady and averaged c10 per round which was about right in demo terms in that there was time to show the birds to the students & explain about their moult and ageing. In all we processed 58 birds, about a third of which were our target sp Yellowhammer. It looks like the Long-tailed Tits are at it as we caught three 'pairs'. We often recapture older birds as spring approaches as birds return to their breeding territories, and retraps included Robin, Blue and Great Tit from 2010, Chaffinch 2008 and 2010 and a 2009 Yellowhammer.

Totals were 38/20 (new/retraps): Dunnock 1/1, Robin 2/2, Blackbird 3/-, Long-tailed Tit 5/1, Blue Tit 2/2, Great Tit 3/6, Tree Sparrow 1/-, Chaffinch 7/4, Yellowhammer 15/3, Reed Bunting -/1.

Other observations included a pair of Peregrines on the powerlines and a flock of about 20 Siskins.


All pics by David Hodkinson.

Wales, Sunday 17 March

This was SNRG's annual checking and maintenance trip to the Pied Flycatcher nest boxes in Wales. Unfortunately, for the first time since the project began in 1993, project leader Kev Hemsley couldn't make the trip. However, Kev still organised and arranged everything as usual and Chris, Duncan, Steve and I made the trip to a snowy Wales to complete this important job.

It all went well but extra care was needed on the very slippery hillside. Squirrels seemed to have had a field day on many of the boxes and quite a lot of maintenance was needed. Hopefully this ground work has paved the way for a successful Pied Flycatcher breeding season!

Mick P

Monday, 11 March 2013

Granby, Sunday 10 March

Before leaving home I had to scrape 2 inches of snow off the car and I did so happily as ringing in the snow always seems to bump up the totals so it was a little surprising to find that Granby, only 10 minutes from my house, was completely snow-free. The distant snow covered Belvoir hills remained so all day too but whilst we had a few flurries through the morning, nothing settled.

Jim and I caught a total of 47 birds, comprising (new/retrap): Dunnock 0/1, Robin 0/1, Blue Tit 0/5, Great Tit 0/12, Chaffinch 5/6, Yellowhammer 9/6, Reed Bunting 2/0.

As usual, the late morning and late season retraps tend to be more interesting. We caught a Yellowhammer from 2011, Great Tits from 2010 and 2011(2), a Blue Tit from 2008 and Chaffinches from 2006, 2010 and 2011. It's perhaps worth noting that all the tits caught were marked!

Good to catch a couple of Reed Buntings, but compared with last winter there have not been many. The fact that both today's birds were female may be because males are starting to drift towards territories and in fact we did hear one almost singing.

Not much else was noted flying about. Winter thrushes are fairly thin on the ground now and the only other notable numbers were gulls and Wood Pigeons overhead. I heard a call twice that was almost certainly a Chiffchaff, but I became hopelessly entangled in an overhanging dog rose before I could get a look so we'll never know. Nevertheless, the thought made me feel a bit more springy as the numbness crept further up my fingers. Only 3 weeks until the first swallow...


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

North Notts cannon netting, 3-5 March

Duncan, Gary, Mick and I were part of the North Notts Ringing Group's cannon netting mini-weekend over the last three days. Work started with setting two nets nr Sturton-Le-Steeple by the River Trent on the Friday afternoon. The presence of c500 Wigeon was highly encouraging and so it proved as we fired early on Saturday morning for a record-breaking catch of 168 Wigeon, together with Mute Swans and Greylag Geese. We then reset for Sunday. That went less well, with an eight hour wait for the birds to get themselves into the catching area producing just 19 Wigeon. Still, with an average catch producing 30-60 Wigeon, everyone was well happy with 187 birds over the two days.

Monday was on to a landfill site near Retford, and it was gulls this time. Sorting the necessary health & safety training etc meant we weren't ready to fire until late morning. However, we did not have to wait too long as the very helpful 'spiky' driver moved a fresh load of household waste in front of the cannon net. As there were not that many big gulls about we took a quick catch of mostly Black-headed Gulls.

The best of the retraps were Wigeon from 2005 and 2006, plus control UK and Finnish Black-headed Gulls and a UK control Wigeon.

Total number of birds processed (new/retrap) were:
  • Saturday - Mute Swan 2/0, Greylag Goose 4/0, Wigeon 163/5, Mallard 1/0, Coot 1/0
  • Sunday - Wigeon 15/4
  • Monday - Black-headed Gull 294/13, Common Gull 6/0, Herring Gull 4/0, Lesser Black-backed Gull 1/0

Thanks to Gary for the photos.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Langar Lesser Redpolls

Since receiving my mist net endoresement this year I have caught a Blue Tit or two during a 'practice session' in the garden, and thought it time to branch out. So this morning I cast my net a little further afield and made a trip to the young plantation owned by Naturesecape wildflower farm at Langar.

I had noticed large Goldfinch flocks at the site in previous years, usually towards the end of winter, as they come down for the compost and remains of old seed stock from the Naturescape nurseries over the road, which the owners handily scatter liberally throughout the rides.

I was pleasantly surpised to hear calling Lesser Redpoll amongst the circling flocks overhead as I arrived on site at dawn and noticed they were congregating, as finches do, in a 'look-out tree'. So I otped to set my one thirty foot net directly opposite this, literally on top of one of the feeding areas.

When I returned twenty minutes later I was rewarded with a good number of Lesser Redpoll, and more flew into the net as I started to extract! I was particularly pleased to catch this species as I have only handled a few as a trainee, and to have fourteen all in one go allowed me to compare differences and subtleties from bird to bird.

Bird of the morning was a handsome adult male, displaying characteristic 'blushing' plumage on head, cheeks, chest and rump. It was one of three adult birds, the rest were first-years.

I was encouraged to see that the site is continually being managed with wildlife in mind and a number of areas have been created throughout the site which will hopefully help the Grizzled Skipper, which myself, Chris and Pete enjoyed last year.

 Adult male Lesser Redpoll
First-year Lesser Redpoll
 Conservation work in progress