Monday, 18 December 2017

Brackenhurst, Sunday 17 December

It was another beautiful frosty start at Brack for Jim, Sue and I on Sunday, but with the forecast predicting rain later in the day, we were on borrowed time! Unfortunately as Simon was away, and the students being off for their winter break, the feeders had not been topped up, and were empty following a week of cold weather. This was reflected in the catch round the feeders, with numbers of 'regular' species down. However a good number of blackbirds were caught from around the feeder nets, possibly visiting due to the surrounding land being frozen solid. Otherwise a decent catch of Redwing was made, and a Song thrush was an unusual capture for the site. Rain stopped play around 10:30.

In total 39 birds were caught, of which 13 were retraps. Full totals were (new/retrap): Dunnock (4/1), Robin (4/3), Blackbird (8/1), Song Thrush 1/0, Redwing 8/0, Blue Tit 0/2, Great tit 0/2, Chaffinch 1/1, Yellowhammer 0/2, Reed Bunting 0/1.

A Woodcock was flushed from Orwin's first thing, and the Tawny Owls were noisy in the gloom. A Raven also flew over the feeding station late morning.


Sutton Bonington, Sunday 17 December

I decided to run the session today as Sunday suited more people, despite the later forecasts on Friday suggesting that Saturday would be better. As it turned out the weather on Saturday was better – but maybe the birds would not have been as good! This morning started very cold, frosty and calm, but the clouds were gathering from the start, delaying the dawn for a while. Eventually it started to get light and the sun just appeared fleetingly above the eastern horizon before being covered by the cloud advancing from the west.

Waiting in the frost for the dawn to arrive were Kirsten, Alex, Duncan, Gary and I. The first round was a little disappointing but did include a Fieldfare, always a nice bird to catch and take your mind off the cold. The mince pies Gary brought along were also most welcome.

The next few rounds were better and it looked like we would have a decent catch by the end; even a Woodpigeon stayed in the net waiting to be extracted. Last week we had one in the net but it jumped out as soon as we approached. But then at around 10am the rain started. We headed to the nets and as we got close to the first net I noticed a shape in the net that I had not seen for many years. I nipped under the branches smartish to extract it before it had chance to escape. The last time I saw one of these little beauties in a net was at Widmerpool Hall in 1985. We caught over 50 there in the early 1980s. Although the last time the group ringed one Chris caught it in Clifton Wood in 2005, strangely it was on December 17th! Just the bird to warm up frozen fingers with a peck or two.

Hawfinch (all photos by K. Hemsley)
What a stunning bird, it made us forget the cold but unfortunately not the rain. That persisted so we had to take down by about 10:30 which was a pity but we were not disappointed with the birds we did catch in a much shortened session. We ended with a catch of 38 including 13 retraps and a control Long-tailed Tit. The catch was made up of (new/retrap and control): Fieldfare 1/0, Redwing 2/0, Dunnock 0/1, Robin 1/1, Blue Tit 1/3, Great Tit 0/3, Long-tailed Tit 8/4, Chaffinch 5/1, Greenfinch 2/0, Yellowhammer 1/1, Woodpigeon 1/0, Starling 1/0, Hawfinch 1/0. The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit from 2014.


Monday, 11 December 2017

Recent recoveries

As usual, several Barn owl recoveries have come through:

- A bird ringed in June last year in Woolsthorpe was controlled at a box at Rutland water in May this year.
- Another ringed at Allington in June last year has been controlled at a box in Thrussington, also in May.
- A bird ringed in Normanton back in 2011 has been found dead 45km away in Tallington, Lincs in August.
- Another, ringed in 2016 in Newstead, has been found dead on the roads, 42km away near Tickhill, South Yorks.
- The latest comes from a bird found dead in Kirkby-in-Ashfield in October, originally ringed in nearby Linby in June the same year.

A Tawny Owl, ringed as an adult at the nest in Bulcote, September 2015, has been found dead in the same locality in September this year.

A Jackdaw, ringed in Lambley in May 2015 was found wounded at a stable in nearby Papplewick in June this year.

J8TN, the Norwegian-ringed Black-headed gull, with a penchant for Nottingham Forest (possibly), has been seen again, returning for its 5th winter at Trent Bridge.

A Chaffinch, ringed by the Whites at Devon Farm in February 2016, has been reported up in County Durham in October this year. Unfortunately the bird, picked up in Bishop Aukland, was dying when found.

A Lesser Redpoll, ringed at Bestwood in November 2016 has been controlled by a ringer in Edwinstowe, this November - not the first SNRG Redpoll to be controlled by this ringer.

2 Blackcap have been controlled at Stanford Reservoir in Northants. both recaptured within a week of one another this September. Both had been ringed within a week of one another at Holme Pierrepont in July this year.

A Reed Warbler, controlled in May this year at Holme Pierrepont, had initially been ringed at Rutland Water only 15 days prior to recapture.

And finally, another Reed Warbler, ringed at Holme Pierrepont as a youngster in August last year, has been controlled this August, down at Poole Harbour in Dorset.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Sutton Bonington, Saturday 9 December

A very cold, calm and clear start to today's session for Jake, Sue, Kirsten, Gary and I. Quite a few birds were around early on but we had only set the main feeder nets because the forecast was for a breezy morning (although this never arrived!) and the pheasant feeder had disappeared anyway.

Catching was steady throughout the first half of the morning and we ended with a catch of 30 including 15 retraps, a little better than the last two weeks. Yellowhammer numbers were up, Chaffinch down and unusually we caught a Starling.

The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 0/2, Fieldfare 1/0, Redwing 2/0, Robin 2/2, Blue Tit 1/5, Great Tit 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 0/2, Chaffinch 2/1, Greenfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 4/2, House Sparrow 1/0, Starling 1/0. The oldest retraps were from 2016.


Sunrise, Ringing station and Starling (S. Lakeman)

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Brackenhurst visits

26 November

A frosty start at Brackenhurst greeted Jim, Tom, Issy and me. Setting the nets in Orwin's in the dark was a challenge, but rewarded by a fleeting glimpse of a Woodcock in the ride. Unfortunately it, like most of the Fieldfares and Redwings around, evaded the nets.

Catching was steady enough to keep us busy at the copse feeder site throughout the morning, with quite a lot of new Chaffinches, despite letting a few go due to leg disease. We found time to cut out a new ride in Orwin's later on as the wind got up and things slowed down. Hopefully this will be useful in the future.

We finished on a total of 29 birds, including 15 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Redwing 1/0, Robin 2/4, Goldcrest 1/1, Blue Tit 1/7, Great Tit 1/3, Chaffinch 7/0, Yellowhammer 1/0. All of the retraps were first ringed at Brackenhurst, with the oldest retrap a Blue Tit after nearly 4 years, ringed as a juvenile in December 2013 and previously retrapped twice in 2014 at the same site.

3 December

A still and overcast morning made Jim, Duncan, Issy and me hopeful of a good catch. Meanwhile, the sheep greeted us, hopeful of some breakfast. We were both eventually rewarded for our optimism. We got the nets up in Orwin's early and there were plenty of thrushes around. They were definitely interested in the tape, but they remained high up in the branches. We also noted a female Sparrowhawk patrolling the area, keeping things moving.

We finished on a total of 44 birds, including 20 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/ retrap): Dunnock 0/3, Robin 1/2, Blackbird 1/0, Fieldfare 1/0, Redwing 2/0, Long-tailed tit 1/2, Blue Tit 4/7, Great Tit 5/4, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 4/2, Yellowhammer 4/0.

All of the retraps have been caught at Brackenhurst before, mainly as young birds. The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit, first ringed at Brackenhurst in November 2014 and retrapped 5 times in between at either Orwin's or the copse.

Sue Lakeman

 Blackbird, Yellowhammer, Blue Tit and hungry sheep (I. Connell)

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 3 December

The cold weather of the last week had been replaced by quite mild weather when Maria, Jake, Trish, Alex, Gary and I arrived on site this morning. It was overcast with only a light breeze but there did not seem to be very many birds around, I thought there would be more after the last few cold days. We ended with a catch of just 24 including 10 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Redwing 2/0, Robin 0/1, Dunnock 0/1, Blue Tit 1/5, Great Tit 0/2, Chaffinch 9/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 1/0, Reed Bunting 0/1. The oldest retrap was a Blue Tit from 2015.