Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Holme Pierrepont, 28-6-09

Ordinarily one might think a team of 11 people was a little excessive for a morning at Holme Pierrepont. Fortunately Sunday 28 June was no ordinary morning. After meeting at 6am, we had 20 nets up in 40 minutes and in the walk back to base we extracted 16 birds, the first of which was an R series Reed Warbler, more than ready for his bus pass.

The conditions were ideal – mild, overcast and hardly a breath of wind. By 09:00h we had already caught 95 birds. As scribe, I didn’t leave my seat until after 09:30h as a never-ending chain of groups took turns to process or go on net rounds. Even after that, things didn’t slow up that much and the following haul is from the midday round:

However, between twelve and one, the clouds broke, the roasting began and we soon began to pack up.

So – a few stats for the anoraks (there’s a bit of it in all of us…). We finished up on 173 birds and of this total:
- 77 % were new, 23% were retraps
- 63% were young birds, 37% were adults
- 72% were migrant warblers
- 43% were juvenile migrant warblers

Top species by miles were:
- Reed Warbler – 27 new, 31 retrap
- Blackcap – 41 new, 1 retrap

We also caught 3 Garden Warblers (inc 2 juvs), 3 Whitethroat (all juvs), 6 Willow Warblers (all juvs), 8 Chiffchaffs (all juvs) and 5 Sedge (all adults – juvs seem not to have fledged yet). It was particularly satisfying to retrap several young Reed Warblers that we had ringed either as pulli or 1Js in the previous month or so.

We didn’t have much time for birding, but the highlight was a pair of Sandwich Terns flying north at 09:50h. Blue Damselflies were numerous but dragonflies seemed notable by their absence and I think a single Common Darter was the only sighting of the morning.
It was great to see Inge again, back from Sweden for a short visit. From what she said it seemed as if not only was very little ringing going on around Stockholm, but also the winter snow had not long melted. Still – she showed us some great pictures and hopefully we’ll be able to persuade her to send us some to post here soon.
So, all in all, a great day and a reminder of what the right weather and the right season can bring us.


Sunday, 28 June 2009

Monster day

What a cracking day's ringing at Holme Pierrepont! Over 170 birds ringed by lunchtime and fantastic to be experiencing a decent breeding season once again after a couple of terrible years. More details and pics to follow shortly...

Big boxes update

In south Notts and north Leics it would seem that most species in big boxes are having a fairly good year. However, this is not the case everywhere and in east Lincs, for example, it has been a poor season. To date Jim has ringed 94 Barn Owl pulli and the average brood size seems to be about 3. Furthermore, so far there has only been one definite nest failure. Kestrels seem to have averaged 4 and Jim has now ringed 71 pulli.

Jim has now embarked on his month of seabird madness and we look forward to hearing about his adventures on the Shiants and on Sule in about September, once he has returned and slept for about a month. Best of luck up there!


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Yellowhammers again

I, too have had sighting today (22/06/09). As far as I could see it was pale blue over orange, red over metal. Pale blue could also be white. PORM is a male, WORM is a female. There is a male song post in tree at top right corner of Upper Dickholme (next to lane and dead tree) - not far from Kestrels (who were peering out of box today). The colour-ringed bird was in the tree alarm calling and there seems to be pair there carrying invertebrates but both were very yellow (so it's either a boundary between two territories or the female is getting old!). I shall return and try to read colour combination again and figure out who's who.

Two ringed birds have made it over the road and are breeding at Stubbins Lane (both metal ringed only) Female left leg, male right. They were feeding chick(s) on Friday (I could hear chicks and could see where the parents were going but I couldn't find the nest). I wondered if chicks had left nest but were still being fed. Went back today briefly but all was quiet. Party of three yellowhammers flying around.

According to the records, Rory's bird is a female ringed by Rory on 15 February 09 and retrapped on 4 March 09.

Have found plenty of territories and several pairs. No nests as yet. I am finding that yellowhammers are very shy and if they think you are looking they just sit in a hedge alarm calling and fly off and disappear as soon as your back is turned!. My arms bear witness to fruitless rummaging in hedge bottoms. I think I am more allergic than the average person to nettle stings!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Another CR Yellowhammer

I have had another sighting today (21/6), small reward seeing as I disappointingly could not go ringing today. Left leg - red over light blue, right leg - orange over metal and I'm not sure about the sex. This was seen between Morton village and the ringing site at Brack. Map refs to follow.
P.S. a sparrowhawk tried to snatch it off the hedge when I was watching it, but I can confirm it is still alive!

Mistle Thrush

A young Mistle Thrush caught in my garden today. No Karen is not about to take it into the kitchen...

Final CES visit

Today was the last CES session at Attenborough for the season. It was fairly steady with about 40 birds processed. We caught a male Blackcap with a substantial brood patch and a patch of nettles was smothered with Peacock caterpillars.
Gary & Ruth

...and terns

Once we'd finished the gulls we headed for the three tern platforms. We had timed it just about right with only two chicks big enough to fly away and most a good size for ringing. We finished on a total of 40 Common Tern chicks ringed (10 on Church Pond, 17 on Main Pond and 13 on Beeston Pond). As was the case in the gull colony, many other pairs were still incubating.

Attenborough gulls...

On Saturday morning a group of 7 of us met at Attenborough to ring the Black-headed Gull and Common Tern chicks. Many thanks to Graham, a NWT ranger, for the boat and all his help. It was a swift, smooth and successful operation with a total of 68 chicks ringed. We began by heading out to the island on the Clifton Pit where the Black-headed Gull colony is now quite substantial.
Here are Ruth and David on the first voyage and this was to be David's last outing with the group for some time. No, he wasn't put off by sea-sickness, early starts or gull vomit, he's off to Canada to study Weatern Sandpipers for 18 months. Best of luck David. You may even discover places where the midges are worse than Attenborough...As soon as we landed we were picking up chicks. Here's Nabegh with the first of 28 Black-headed Gull chicks ringed.
Many gulls were still incubating and we estimated that at least 30 nests still had eggs.
Kev earnt his breakfast by constantly circling the island in his not entirely watertight kayak, keeping an eye on proceedings from all angles and ensuring the safety of ringers and birds. As can be seen in the photo, the vegetation on the island has become fairly thick in patches and so we undoubtedly missed a few chicks that found good hiding places.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Wales follow-up

Yesterday (Thursday) Mick P and I made the follow up trip to Wales.
Totals as follows:
Pied Flycatcher: 71 pulli, 3 adults, 1 retrap and 1 control
Redstart: 1 adult
So 77 birds for the day. Quite a few boxes had failed, mainly in the north wood. However, the Buzzards were still in the nest and the Wood Warblers were singing and we saw 1 with a ring on its right leg.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Colour-ringed Yellowhammers

As many of you will know, over the 2008-9 winter season we began colour-ringing Yellowhammers at Brackenhurst College near Southwell. One of the main reasons for doing this was to make use of all the students who are looking for research projects (well done Tina for having yours approved!).

Anyway, we have just had our first two resightings. One was on Andrew's feeder on campus and Rory saw the other near Morton which is over a mile from the ringing site.

If any of you are looking for somewhere to go for a Sunday afternoon stroll, it's a great area and the more people we get scrutinising Yellowhammer legs the better.

Monday, 15 June 2009

More celebrity birds

Found a Blackbird nest with 5 chicks in today. It was in the courtyard of the school nursery, in a bush beside a noisy play area. I ringed them in front of 80 four and five year olds who had been drilled to sit quietly and avoid going near the bush again for a month! Their faces were a picture - some good PR there...

Holme Pierrepont etc - 13 June

As is usual at this time of year, meeting at 6am feels like mid-morning, but the weather was perfect, overcast and no more than a breath of wind. In the first round we caught 24 birds, the second produced 28 and as we were expecting it to quieten down the third then came up with 34, so we’d caught 86 birds before about 09:30. Luckily it didn’t really get too hot until lunchtime and we took down at about 13:30 finishing on 117 birds (80 new, 37 retrap)

Of course young birds made up a large proportion of the catch with the first decent flush of young warblers (Chiff, Willow, Blackcap, Reed) and lots of young Reed Buntings. We also caught young Willow Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Old birds included a 6 or 7 yr old Chaffinch and two similarly aged Reed Warblers. 2 adult male Willow Warblers trapped were already moulting. We had to release one Sedge that had fungus on its legs. I’d not seen it on this species before.
Once the nets were down we had a session looking for Reed Warbler nests. Although we found 10 or 12, not one had ringable chicks. Some had already fledged, one had tiny young and several were still on eggs. We also checked the Pochard nest and it appears to be finished with. Let’s hope the ducklings got off all right.
The day didn’t stop there though and three of us headed for Newton to ring Swallow chicks at the livery yard. We also saw a ringed Pied Wagtail of unknown origin but didn't catch it. Maybe another day...
PS Is this Water Figwort? Can anyone confirm? We found it on the edge of the reedbed. Have pics of leaves if it helps.

Wales – first visit

A quick scan of the data shows the number of active nests seems about 30-40% less than last year. I think they laid the first eggs about 5 days later than last year and the majority started to lay over a two week period, last year the majority were all within 1 week.
Pied Flycatcher: 130 ringed, 3 retrapped
Redstart: 7 ringed
Wood Warbler: 3 ringed
Nuthatch: 3 ringed
Buzzard: 2 ringed
There were 27 active Pied Fly nests we did not ring, 20 that had small chicks. Watch this space for part 2.

Pied Wag nest

One of 5 chicks ringed at my school in Bingham. Nothing particularly unusual about that except that these chicks are now celebrities and half of Bingham's kids now seem to claim them as 'their' birds.

Sparrowhawk retrap

This handsome fella was retrapped at Holme Pierrepont recently having not been caught since he was ringed as a chick 5 years ago.

Unusual nest record

Bet you've not seen anything like this strange beast before. Presumably an escapee from someone's collection, Jim & Mick P were ringing owls in Lincs with Adrian when they found it in a box. It's an albino female Mandarin!

More 2009 pics

And here are some Tawny chicks at Holme Pierrepont (which have evaded rings - unlike their mother), some more Tawny chicks from a box at Radcliffe Golf Course and a female Pochard sitting on 9 huge eggs at HPP again.

2009 so far...

A few pics of some of this year's highlights to date. First a Mistle Thrush in Lambley, a Cuckoo at Holme Pierrepont and some Little Owl pulli near Woodborough.

Sunday, 14 June 2009


And here are a few pics from 2008 just to keep things going. Apart from the swans and the coot (both at NNRG cannon-netting sessions) these are all birds ringed by SNRG. Can you tell the Marsh and Willow Tits apart? If you want a better view, just click on the picture for a bigger version.


Just thought I'd add a few pictures from the last couple of years to kick start the blog. Most of these are from SNRG activites, but some North Notts days have crept in and one or two shots from my occasional ringing in Bagley Wood, Oxford.


Welcome to the South Notts Ringing Group Blog. This posting is really just to make sure that I have worked out how to do it properly.

If you want to put anything on the blog, either add a comment right here, or if you have a posting or a photo, please just email it to me.