Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Further recoveries

Following on from the previous recoveries, we have had details of two birds that we have reported.

The first was a Cormorant, ringed as a young bird at Abberton Reservoir in Essex in 2007, which had its colour ring (Black on orange, CD3) read 7 years later at Attenborough in October.

The second was a Tree Sparrow which was caught at Brackenhurst in January this year, with a B ring on, meaning it was ringed as a youngster. It was ringed by Chris de Feu at the nest in Beckingham in June last year. This bird found the net shortly after Duncan and Jim were remarking how we very rarely get any control or even retrap Tree Sparrows!


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Recent Recoveries

The first big batch of 2015 recoveries has come in and as usual there are a good few Barn Owls amongst them. Most recoveries of this species are local birds which have been either found dead or controlled, but this time only 2 fell into this catergory, a bird ringed at the nest in Claypole near Newark whose leg and ring was found in the same area 4 months later in January this year, and another which was found as a road casualty in Balderton in January after it was ringed 4km away at the nest in Hawton in June last year.

A little further afield was a Barn Owl controlled by SNRG friend Garry Barker as an adult in Long Clawson last June, which we ringed as a chick 21km away in Allington, Lincs in July 2013. Even further afield was a bird which reached Dronfield in Derbyshire, 38 km away from its nest site in Kirklington, where it was ringed in June last year. It was picked up as a road casualty in February.

Anything further than this is less common, but a bird ringed in Woolsthorpe near Belvoir in June last year, travelled to Warwickshire where it was killed on the roads in February this year, 93km away. Lastly, a bird ringed as a chick in Clifton Wood in September decided to have a trip to Skegness where it was found freshly dead in January, having travelled 107 km from its nest site.

In non-owl news, a female Pied Flycatcher which was ringed as an adult during the trip to Wales in 2012, was controlled 35km away in Herefordshire, in May last year.

One of Attenborough's Cormorants ringed at the nest in 2013 is still residing at Priory Water in Leicestershire, having its colour ring read in the field again. This bird (CTH, black on yellow) was reported from the same site in October last year.

And finally, a Lesser Redpoll, ringed nearly 40 years ago at Cotgrave Forest on 28 May 1977, was controlled 13 months later on 28 June 1978, 437km away near Antwerp in Belgium (see map below). A good movement, which is often the case with these finches... but maybe the Belgians need to get up to date with their ringing data!


 A Lesser Redpoll movement from 1978...

Friday, 13 February 2015

Brackenhurst, Wednesday 11 February - Student ringing demonstration

It was the perfect morning for ringing - cold with clear skies and little wind. Jim, Gary, Liz, Geoff, Duncan, Simon, Esther and myself set off for the ringing site with David Roberts from NTU's Conservation Society. We set up the usual nets at the ringing site (where food is currently being topped up every other day) plus extra nets nearby.

The morning started off well with over 25 birds on the first catch and 100 birds in total. Just under half of the birds caught were retraps, and all but one were from this and last winter, perhaps indicative of the relatively mild winters we have had following the harsher winter of 2012/3. There was a diverse range of species including House Sparrow, Goldcrest, plenty of new Yellowhammers and a noticeable number of retrap Great Tits (although very few Blue Tits).

Capture totals were (new/retraps) 100(59/41): Blackbird 5/3, Blue Tit 1/3, Chaffinch 4/4, Dunnock 4/1, Goldcrest 1/0, Great Tit 2/22, House Sparrow 3/0, Robin 5/3, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Yellowhammer 35/4.

We were joined at hourly intervals over the morning by NTU students interested in finding out more about bird ringing. Jim did a grand job of showing the students the different birds and explaining exactly what everyone was doing and why. The students were really interested and asked plenty of inquisitive questions. It was a great opportunity for them to see and learn about wildlife monitoring in practice rather than just in lectures. Approximately 30 students plus several members of staff joined us over the morning and we have a similar number coming along to another ringing demonstration next month. Many thanks to the Conservation Society for helping to organise the morning.

Nevertheless, the highlight of the day, which even surpassed Simon's famous lemon drizzle cake (double drizzled!), was a migrant adult male Blackbird from Heligoland. Apparently, Jim had just been discussing large migrant Blackbirds with the students so this was perfect timing! Heligoland is a small group of islands in the North Sea, home to one of the world's first ornithological observatories, and a major migration stopover for birds crossing the North Sea. It is approximately 600km (373 miles) from Southwell as the 'Blackbird' flies, with a shortest land route of around 950km (590 miles), so the bird certainly travelled quite a distance! The bird was noticeably larger than our resident Blackbirds, with a wing length around a centimetre longer than usual. Luckily, the bird didn't seem to mind everyone's excitement, and obligingly posed for photos - the perfect end to the perfect morning!


The German Blackbird and Brack students at the demo (G. Goddard)

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Granby, Sunday 8 February

It was a beautiful, calm and clear morning at Granby with enough members to merit two trips in the Landie to get us all into the site. Tom, Alex, Duncan, Nick, Gary, Kev, Jim and Pete set the normal nets and an additional pair with a thrush tape above the cutting. A young female Sparrowhawk found its way into one of the latter before the sun had come up and got us off to a good start.
With the exception of a single Song Thrush, Blackbirds were the only thrushes in evidence around the nets and only a trickle of Redwings and Fieldfares were noted elsewhere. The most numerous species trapped were Great Tits and Robins whilst finches, bunting and sparrows were conspicuous by their absence.
In total we captured 48 birds (28 new/20 retrap) comprising: Blackbird 6/2, Blue Tit 2/2, Chaffinch 1/0, Dunnock 1/0, Great Tit 11/6, Robin 3/9, Sparrowhawk 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Wren 1/0 and Yellowhammer 1/1.
The majority of the retraps were from last winter, bar a Blackbird from 2009/10, a Great Tit from 2011/12 and three Robins from 2010/11, 2011/12 & 2012/13.
Elsewhere around the site we noted Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, a few Reed Buntings and a single Greenfinch. In general it felt quiet, but we enjoyed the sunshine.

Pete & Jim

Setting up at dawn, young female Sparrowhawk and a view from the bridge (all photos PML)