Monday, 28 April 2014

Recent Recoveries

A Barn Owl ringed as a chick near Rolleston in June 2011 was found dead in March 2014 near North Muskham.

A Starling ringed as a 5 in Hucknall in May 2013 was found dead nearby in March 2014.

A Reed Bunting ringed in Dec 2009 in Hucknall was found 2km away having hit a window in March 2014.

A Goldfinch ringed as an adult in Hucknall in July 2012 also met its fate against a window nearby in April 2014.


Owl box checking

With great help from Emma, Gary, Ian and Pete, I've virtually finished checking the south-east Notts Tawny Owl nest boxes and I've also had a look to see how some of the Barn Owls are doing. Tawnies have used 12 of the 40 or so boxes checked. A tad disappointing, but all look to be doing well and broods of four (1) and three (3) ringed so far. Also, good to retrap adult females that were first ringed as breeders in their boxes in 2006, 2007 and 2011. Five broods of Tawnies still to ring, so not looking too bad at the moment.

Barn Owls have been reported as going down to lay much earlier this year, and we checked several sites on the way round the Tawnies. Where breeding, they have complete clutches of 5-7 eggs, and two sites (one a box and one in an ash tree) c500m apart are just hatching. Near Southwell we retrapped a male Barn Owl that had been ringed as a chick by Newark in 2007 and not seen again til now.

All monitoring of Barn Owls is done under a BTO issued Schedule 1 licence to disturb.


(All pics by G. Goddard)

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Tawny Owl box-checking, Sunday 27 April

Made the decision on Friday to check the majority of my boxes on Sunday as the forecast for Saturday was grim. Saturday turned out to be fine (so much for the forecast again!) but did not waste the day as I nipped down to Attenborough to check a couple of boxes there (both empty) and cut out the net rides ready for the start of the CES next weekend.

Alex joined me on Sunday morning and we set off round the boxes hoping for a better result than last year, which was 1 failed box and 1 that managed to fledge a single chick. It did not start well and after the first 6 boxes all we had was a failed Tawny and a Jackdaws with 5 eggs. The next box was much better as it contained 4 healthy looking chicks all at FS stage. The last two boxes of the morning were also occupied by Tawny’s one with 3 chicks, too small to ring but we did ring the brooding female and one one incubating at least 2 eggs that we obviously left alone.

A Kestrel also flew from one of the Kestrel boxes we had to pass, so that bodes well for later on. I have two boxes left to check and hopefully another to ring that I was informed was incubating eggs a couple of weeks ago, that’s on an island in the middle of the Trent. So if all the currently active boxes survive I will end with 4 broods at least ringed, much better than last year.



Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Groppers at Langar

Only this week I was telling Pete about my site at Langar and how much it is changing from season to season. It'll be interesting to see how the bird populations change as this young open plantation gradually sees more scrub taking hold and aquatic vegetation spreading from the nearby flooded fishponds (perhaps fewer Whitethroat over time and an increase in Blackcap?)

After five years of watching the site, this morning I heard three reeling Grasshopper Warblers in the scrub for the first time. And guess what the first bird into my net was?


Monday, 21 April 2014

More Tawny Owl box-checking

Ian and I spent today checking my allocation of Tawny Owl boxes. It was a very pleasant and mild day with lots of migrants including my first Lesser Whitethroats and Garden Warblers of the year and as it started getting hot we clocked up six species of butterfly.

We found two broods of Tawny Owls, which was two more than last year. Perhaps not as many as I would have liked, but we can't be too fussy. One brood was just big enough to ring, the other slightly too small. We managed to catch and ring the adult females in both boxes as well - interestingly, both older birds and both unringed.

The wing of one of the adult female Tawny Owls, showing three generations of primaries.

However, perhaps the most encouraging thing about today's broods was the amount of prey cached in each box. The first contained 5 voles and the second at least 12 items, seemingly a mixture of mice and voles (see below).

Of all the other boxes that we checked 5 were empty, 2 damaged, 3 had Jackdaw clutches and 2 had Stock Doves. So all in all, a reasonable start to the season, though it would be nice if the Barn Owls could do a little better.


Jackdaw eggs

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Holme Pierrepont, Saturday 19 April

Having looked at the weather forecast for Easter I decided Saturday would be the best day for a ringing session at HPP. The morning started still with light cloud but the breeze increased as the morning went on. Alex, Gary, Nabegh and I made up the team, Duncan having dropped out due to illness, get well soon Duncan.

The acros were back and singing and Whitethroat was evident as well. Overhead the pair of Buzzards were around all morning again, joined later by another bird.

Another decent spring morning with a catch of 38 birds, totals new/retrap were: Song Thrush 1/0, Reed Bunting 3/2, Blackcap 2/1, Great Tit 2/0, Cetti’s Warbler 0/1, Willow Warbler 1/2, Chiffchaff 2/3, Wren 2/1, Bullfinch 4/1, Robin 2/1, Long-tailed Tit 2/1, Whitethroat 1/0, Reed Warbler 1/1, Sedge Warbler 0/1.

It was nice to get some returning warblers. The oldest was a Reed Warbler from 2010 and there was also a Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler from 2013.


Tawny Owls so far...

Ruth and I checked 24 boxes on Friday and the results were as follows:

Tawnys: 1 female on 2 chicks + addled egg; 1 sat tight; 1 with abandoned single egg

Stock Dove: 2 with small chicks; 3 with warm eggs; 1 with single cracked egg

Jackdaw: 3 with cold incomplete clutches; 3 nests at N2/3

Squirrel: 5

Empty: 4

Disappointing, but still 30-40 boxes to check, mainly north of the river. Nothing ringed, but the retrap female at Hawton was ringed as 8F in 2007 in front of BBC cameras and only caught in 2011 since then. It must be at least 10 years old.


 Tawny Owl (RW)

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 13 April

A fine and still morning greeted Duncan, Alex, Gary and I as we opened up Holme Pierrepont for the year. I thought I heard an acro calling first thing, but none found the nets and we did not hear any more. There were Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps which did find the nets along with 2 Cetti’s Warblers and a Jay. Overhead were A few Swallows, Sand Martins and a Common Tern, there was also a pair of Buzzards around all morning showing a lot of interest in one particular area of large trees!

A very pleasant morning with a catch of 43 birds, totals new/retrap were: Jay 1/0, Blackbird 3/1, Song Thrush 1/0, Dunnock 1/0, Greenfinch 2/0, Blue Tit 2/0, Reed Bunting 4/2, Blackcap 3/0, Great Tit 2/1, Cetti’s Warbler 1/1, Willow Warbler 4/0, Chiffchaff 8/0, Wren 1/1, Bullfinch 0/3, Robin 0/1.

The oldest retrap was a Bullfinch from 2010, the Cetti’s was from 2012.


Jay and Cetti's Warbler (GHG)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Recent Recoveries

A Barn Owl ringed at Sutton Bonington in May 2009 was found dead in Costock in May 2013.
A Barn Owl ringed as a chick in Normanton in July 2011 was retrapped 18km away at Hathern, Loughborough in September 2013.
A Barn Owl ringed as a chick at Lambley in August 2012 was retrapped 29km away at Hathern, Loughborough in September 2013.
A Barn Owl ringed at Costock in June 2012 was found dead in the same location in May 2013.
A Barn Owl ringed as a chick at Bunny Hill in June 2012 was found dead at Costock in September 2012.
A Barn Owl ringed as a chick at Wysall in May 2013 was found dead at Bunny Hill in September 2013.

And lastly a non-Barn Owl... An interesting bit of news about a young Reed Warbler ringed at Holme Pierrepont in August 2013 which was caught again in Charente-Maritime, France 24 days later having travelled 832km.


Monday, 7 April 2014

Wales - nest boxes

I told the volunteers for the Wales nest box trip that I would decide on Thursday, depending on the weather forecast, which day we would go at the weekend. It seemed an easy choice as all day Thursday the Met office were saying mid-Wales was going to be dry on Saturday and wet on Sunday. I was pleased to see this forecast was still true on Friday morning having let everyone know we would go on Saturday. Unfortunately by Friday night they changed the forecast but the plan was in place and Nick, Alex, Duncan and I went on Saturday morning.

We had a good journey through to the site and set off round the boxes in light drizzle with 18 new/refurbished boxes. I wondered how the west facing wood had fared in the westerly gales that we had been battered with over the winter but was glad to see that damage seemed minimal. The task was completed by early afternoon having used 17 of the 18 boxes we took.

I was glad that we found only 2 unfledged chicks from last summer, so a good season was had which hopefully will mean plenty of birds returning this spring. Alex had one box containing a couple of wood mice, other than that the usual inhabitants for the spring trip were there, namely slugs and fleas! Spring seemed later in the valley, as usual, and the only summer migrants were a few Chiffchaffs calling. Also around/overhead were Nuthatch, Raven and Fieldfares along with a few Buzzards and Red Kites.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Update for Brackenhurst & Granby ringing efforts

Just a quick summary of recent visits to the feeding sites at Brack and Granby. They've been characterised by low catches due (I guess) to the unseasonably mild and windy weather we've been experiencing, perhaps combined with poor breeding over the last year or so. Certainly Yellowhammer totals will be down by a third this year. Positives have been:
  • Ringing early migrant Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. 1st April could be the earliest date the Group has marked this species?
  • Clearly all the Great Tits are settled on their territories as all 24 birds were ringed!
  • Nice to ring what appears to be resident pair of Treecreepers at Granby.
  • Time at Granby for Gary and I to burn some more of the brash, helping the Grizzled Skippers.
  • Getting back into ageing Chiffs with three in the hand together.
Totals for individual species (ringed/retrapped):

Granby, Wednesday 19 March
38 (23/15): Chaffinch 7/0, Great Tit 0/9, Robin 0/2, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Treecreeper 1/0, Yellowhammer 14/4

Brackenhurst, Saturday 29 March
21(12/9): Blue Tit 0/2, Chaffinch 3/0, Chiffchaff 3/0, Dunnock 1/1, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Great Tit 0/6, Robin 1/0, Yellowhammer 3/0

Granby, Tuesday 1 April
27(10/17): Blue Tit 0/3, Chaffinch 1/3, Great Tit 0/9, Reed Bunting 2/0, Robin 1/0, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Treecreeper 1/0, Willow Warbler 1/0, Wren 0/1, Yellowhammer 4/0


A gloomy start at Granby on 1 April. (JL)
One of a pair of Treecreepers that appear to be resident at Granby. (JL)
Cowslips out at Granby. (JL)
An early Willow Warbler at Granby. (TS)
Getting rid of all the scrub that's been cleared to help Grizzled Skippers. (JL)
An adult Great Tit at Granby on 1 April showing well marked primary coverts and alula. (JL)
A first winter Great Tit at Granby on 1 April showing worn primary coverts and large alula feather with fault bars running through them. (JL)
 A young male Great Spotted Woodpecker at Brackenhurst. (JL)