Tuesday 28 November 2023

Broomfield Hall College – Sunday 26 November

A chilly start to the morning, temperatures barely above freezing. Pretty good conditions for a morning of ringing, no breeze and overcast. Approximately 50 birds for the morning, as expected a lot of recaptures from our previous visits. Started off strong with a group of Robins, which we discovered has a collective term of 'Round of Robins', although we also liked Sue's suggestion of 'Jolly'.

Keeping in trend with previous weeks, a new species in the net: a Kestrel! Definitely an unexpected visitor. From the measurements, rump colour and banding we determined it to be a juvenile male.

As usual from our base, Ravens, Buzzards and wagtails were all spotted.

In our ongoing saga to deter the squirrels from the feeder we installed two new hanging feeders - courtesy of Kev's handyman skills. We await to see how they have held up of against the squirrels of the site.



Monday 20 November 2023

Broomfield Hall College – Sunday 19 November

The weather forecasts said no ringing this weekend but on the assumption they would get it wrong again we went to Broomfield again on Sunday. It was not ideal conditions, a little breezy but a lot less so than was forecast and the rain that was forecast didn’t arrive until we were packing up anyway. 

A good catch again with 56 individuals, 70% of the birds having been ringed on previous visits. Another new species caught this week was Magpie.

We decided yesterday to invest in a new style of big feeder as the squirrels are emptying the wooded hoppers far too quickly. Hopefully these will be ready for us to put up next weekend.

Buzzards and a Peregrine were around.


Magpie (Jake Holness)


Tuesday 14 November 2023

Brackenhurst - Sunday 12 November

Jim, Alex T and I opened up the feeding site at Brackenhurst for the winter, with expectations of a bit of a tit-fest, and we weren't really wrong on that front. 

We got off to a somewhat spluttering start with foggy conditions affecting travel, a delay getting through the security gates, and then a couple of concrete blocks creating an impassable obstacle down to the ringing site, meaning a U-turn back to the Equestrian Unit to park and a walk down to the feeding station...

Nevertheless, we kicked off nicely with a busy round of c25 birds and we were soon getting our eyes back in with the ins and outs of Blue and Great Tit ageing and moult. 

Things became steadier after that, with most rounds being fairly busy, but mostly with day retraps. We caught a decent number of Chaffinch too, but with the policy at this site of releasing birds due to the high incidence of FPV-infected birds, we had to let them all go. One bird in particular was possibly one of the worst examples Jim and I had seen in terms of severity of infection.

Other interest came in a couple of Coal Tits and 2 female Bullfinches - the 18th and 19th ringing records of both species for the site. Otherwise, species richness was fairly poor, with Dunnock being the only other species caught amongst over 40 Blue and Great Tit. Thrushes were notable by their absence, though heavy fog may well have put them off, as when it cleared a reasonable-sized mixed flock was noted over the far end of the field.


Chaffinch with severe FPV infection

Adult Great Tit, with 82mm wing - one of the largest caught by the group

1cy female Bullfinch

An almost unrecognisable ringing station with young plantation starting to develop


Sunday 12 November 2023

Broomfield Hall College – Saturday 11 November

We made another visit to the feeding site yesterday. A frosty start, but pleasantly warm in the sun once it came up. A good catch again with 98 individuals processed, including nearly 50% of the birds caught the previous week, so they are sticking around for the free food! 

A few more species were added to the list caught at the site, including Wren, Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Blackbird, Greenfinch and Lesser Redpoll. We have transferred all the seed stored on site into new metal bins as an anti-squirrel measure: they had gnawed right through the old plastic bins.

Buzzards and Tawny Owl were around again along with Nuthatch.


Monday 6 November 2023

Broomfield Hall College – Sunday 5 November

This new site is at Morley in Derbyshire and was identified by Alex earlier this year. He applied for permission to ring there and received a very positive response. So Alex and I went over in September to meet our main contact there, Paul Foskett, we toured the site looking for a suitable feeding spot and settled on a small triangular stand of trees, very similar in size to the feeding station at Brackenhurst. 

Just over two weeks ago a few of us went over to bait up for the first time. On Sunday we held our first netting session and had a very promising start. The conditions for mist netting were not ideal, with a stiff breeze blowing and bright sun, but we finished on a respectable 86 birds captured of 10 species. Not surprisingly for a new site, all the birds were new. The breeze also meant that every leaf that was falling went into the nets, and there were many! 

We expected the catch to be made up of a high proportion of tit species so it was no surprise to see they totalled over 70% of the catch. What was a little surprising was the number of old greater coverts the first winter Blue and Great Tits had retained: 36% of Blue and 26% of Great Tits had some remaining. This is high compared to our last autumn captures of 10% and 0% respectively. 

It was nice to catch 9 Chaffinch before getting 1 with ‘scabby’ legs. Also good to get a Green Woodpecker, the first the group has caught since 2018. With so many birds we did not get much of a break but at one point Holly served us all with a great Blackberry and Apple crumble in our new weekend ringing base - used as a bike shed the rest of the week!

Other observations on site were lots of Fieldfare and Redwing passing over, a couple of Buzzards and a Tawny Owl.


Our ringing shelter (KH)

The netting site (KH)

Adult male Chaffinch (AP)

Young female Green Woodpecker (AP)



Monday 23 October 2023

Ramsdale Park Golf Club– Sunday 15 October

A surprisingly frosty morning gave way to some pleasant autumnal ringing with over 40 birds caught including Redpoll, Redwing and a Jay; plus resident Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Robin and Goldcrest.

Lots of Redwing and some Fieldfare flew over early in the day. Towards the end, we put a tape lure on for Yellow-browed Warbler as some had been reported in Notts but none were caught or heard by us today. 






Wednesday 11 October 2023

Ramsdale Park Golf Club– Sunday 8 October

The morning started off misty, but the still conditions lent themselves to a steady flow of birds in the nets. Thirty were trapped, including a Song Thrush, two Goldcrests, two Bullfinches and six Redpoll. One of the Redpolls was a retrap, initially ringed 19km away in April this year. Pictured below is a strong fault bar in the tail of one of this year's Blue Tits.