Monday, 28 December 2009

Brack feeding station

Or as Andrew prefers - 'Whitelee Woods'. I'll let him take things from here...

I filled the feeders up to the brim on Friday 18 in case you were ringing and they were almost empty today (Christmas Eve). I brimmed them again and noted the following around the site:
20+ Yellowhammer (no colour rings on any that I could see the legs of)
10 Chaffinch
5 Blackbird
5+ Dunnock
4 Robin
Blue, Great and Marsh Tits
2 Woodpigeon
1 Reed Bunting
1 Moorhen
3 Bullfinch (one male, two female) in hedge along lane

Also quite busy in my garden:
40+ house sparrow
12 Starling
8 Tree Sparrow
7 Blackbird
7 Chaffinch
6 Goldfinch
2 Carrion Crow
2 Collared Dove
2 Magpie
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker (female)
1 Song Thrush
1 Tawny Owl (in tree at back of garden calling at 11am today)
And lastly, 5 Grey Partridge, not in a pear tree, but in the field behind my

RCP, Sun 27 Dec

A slightly disappointing morning at RCP, only 42 birds, the breeze did not help and that increased as the morning progressed.
We expected a really good catch after the spell of hard weather we have had. The only things of note were a lack of Yellowhammers in the nets, although they were around and a couple of Lesser Redpoll caught.

Some more recoveries

Highlights of some other recent recoveries include a Common Tern we ringed as a chick at Colwick in 2004 which has been sighted at Seaforth near Liverpool. The Blackcap that we controlled at Holme Pierrepont in April was ringed near Burton-on-Trent as a 3J in July 2008. In March we controlled a Greenfinch at Granby and it turns out it was ringed in Cropwell Bishop and so we have discovered another ringer operating nearby! Perhaps we can persuade him to join us at some point. One of the Black-headed Gull chicks we ringed at Attenborough found its way to the Vale of Belvoir before being found dead 59 days and 26km later. Lastly, a Canada Goose caught at Attenborough in July was ringed near Tamworth, 45km and 110 days later and a Mute Swan found dead at ANR was ringed 59km away in Lincs, 400 days previously.

Owl recoveries

Of 25 recent Barn Owl recoveries just received the average movement was 10km and the average time elapsed was about 400 days. The furthest travelled was 38km and the oldest was 1072 days. A single Tawny Owl had travelled 11km after 727 days.

More Fieldfares

For the second consecutive day, I joined Jez and Carl of NNRG at the North Wheatley orchard in an attempt to catch more Fieldfares. The first catch of the day produced over 50 birds, but the breeze started to pick up and blow the nets. We closed the nets by 11.00 with a catch of just over 70 birds. However, the total number of Fieldfares caught during the two days was just 2 short of 100 birds (98 Fieldfares) which equates to almost 10% of annual UK catch according to Adrian! Many of the other birds caught were continental Blackbirds and we also had some local Robins, Bullfinches and tits.
The two days ringing were a very nice experience with an abundance of birds due to the huge amount of apples and some pears still left on the orchard trees. However, if more apples had been on the ground Adrian anticipated that the catch would have been even higher than that with such ideal conditions (snow, sun and calm weather).

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Fieldfares with NNRG

Nabegh and I joined Jez Blackburn and Jill James of NNRG at an orchard near Retford today (22 Dec) in an attempt to catch Fieldfare. This has become an annual event in recent years, whenever there is very hard weather and ideally snow.
We had a great day with 180 birds caught, around 80 of which were Fieldfares. Even though temperatures were pretty low we were kept warm by the constant net rounds and numbers of birds to process.
Many thanks to Jez and Adrian Blackburn for the invite.
Mick P

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 20 Dec

We arrived at 0730 to be met with a temperature of -5C. First two rounds produced 50 birds then the bright sun and increasing breeze slowed things down. We ended with 70 birds including the first 4 Yellowhammers of the winter, all of which were retraps - 2 from last winter, one from 3 winters ago and one from 4 winters ago. We thought we might have to finish early due to a power cut. No lights in our ringing hut was not a problem as we generally take all the birds outside to age in natural light and the sunlight was streaming through the windows by then.... but the heater is electric, after a little deliberation we decided we would just have to bear it for the last hour!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Rolls-Royce, Saturday 19

Because I couldn't make Sunday this week I went out on Saturday. I was at the site in Hucknall for 05:30 and had the nets set for Snipe around the boggy area and another net set for anything else well before first light. It was a long wait in the cold at minus 3 degrees C, but it was worth it as I caught another Snipe. Other birds were a smart 3M Yellowhammer, 2 Wrens and a retrap juvenile Song Thrush which was initially caught and ringed in October. I finished at 11:30 having caught just 5 birds. I wasn't disappointed though as the target bird was Snipe and I hopefully learnt a little more about this difficult species.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Unseasonal nestling

An unusual time of year for breeding activity, but blissfully unaware of the snow outside, Penelope Grace arrived at 5:35am on Friday 18 Dec after a very quick and efficient hatching (which is more than can be said for the incubation). She weighed 6lb 10oz, but probably not for long as she has an appetite like her father. An M ring would have probably fit nicely, but the midwife seemed to think that a plastic band was more appropriate (entered as an 'unconventional mark' I think). So Brack activities on hold for a short while...

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

HPP waders

Chris has been out at night recently working the muddy shores of the HPP gravel pits. His considerable efforts have started to pay off. One night last week, he caught 6 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, 3 Redshank and 3 Lapwing. He also had 70 Lapwing land right next to his nets. His totals so far this winter are approx 20 Snipe, 2 Jack Snipe, 6 Redshank and 3 Lapwing.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Brack, Sun 13 Dec

It was a beautiful, cold and still morning - just what we had been waiting for - and the first round didn't disappoint with 22 birds. 18 of these were Yellowhammers, and 17 were new birds and as each needed one metal and three colour rings, this kept us busy for a while. Credit must be given to a great team, several of whom had never colour-ringed before. Everyone picked up the procedures quickly and the processing was focused and efficient. From time to time folk were dispatched to check nets and collect more birds, but things didn't really slow up until about midday and we finished on 55 birds, 31 of which Yellowhammers. These are our main target species, not only as they are a species of conservation concern, but also because the colour-ringing project will hopefully yield lots of valuable data (and of course it's our logo bird!).

Our youngest recruit, Archie, joined us again and this time he had his own carabina!

His ringing grip is pretty polished now, and what's more, he can take the pain without flinching...

Towards the end of the morning we caught our resident pair of Marsh Tits and had a chance to go through the identification criteria more carefully than last week. The pale base to the upper mandible is obvious in the close-up photo below, along with the pattern of the tail feather tips.

A Goldfinch had been knocking about near the nets in Orwin's field all morning and Archie had said how he'd never had a good view of one and it would be nice to catch it. So we did. After last week's Long-tailed Tit request was satisfied, I'm getting a bit worried that Archie will begin to think we can produce birds to order.

Other birds around included good numbers of Fieldfares, but far fewer Redwings. The two most notable sightings, however, were both waders. A Green Sandpiper flew over calling and Nabegh disturbed a Woodcock near the feeding station on his way out.
Thanks to Libby and Richard for the pics this week.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Ordering SNRG clothing

Hi all,

Several people in the group have said they are keen to order clothing with the SNRG logo on, however not everyone has found it easy to navigate the website as there is an enormous choice! So a few tips follow.

Firstly, the link is

If you want to order directly, that's no problem at all - just make sure that when you order you specify that you would like the 'South Notts Ringing Group' logo on the item. They have the logo in their computer and there is no extra cost for the embroidery.

However, a bit of money can be saved on postage if you order in a group and I think Ruth is planning on putting an order together fairly soon, so you may wish to email her with details of what you would like.

For those of you overwhelmed by the website, then below are the product codes for items we have ordered in the past. When you go to the website, scroll down to the bottom of the menu on the left and type these codes in the 'search by product code' box.

Standard sweatshirts - 762M or GD50
Polo shirt - K400
T-shirt - SS10
Women's T-shirt - SS72
Short-sleeved rugby shirt - FR20
Cap - BB83
Fleece - 881M
Ski hat - BB243

When you have found the item you want, make a note of the size, colour and price that you want, and of course the product code.

It is worth spending a bit of time browsing the site though as you can get pretty much anything in any colour and it's all reasonably priced. HU230 would look cracking with the SNRG logo on!

If you have any questions or want any help, just email me.


RCP all-dayer, 12 December

We spent a whole day at Rushcliffe Country Park today and ended up on 85 birds, including 29 retraps and a couple of oldies in the small Reed Bunting roost catch. It was the normal range of species, though a ringing tick for Duncan came in the form of a Wood Pigeon.  It was the best catch of the winter so far so worth the all day effort.

Daring Dunnock

In the latest batch of recoveries (more of which another day...) Kev received details of the Dunnock we controlled at Holme Pierrepont this year and it turns out it was ringed as a 3 at Rutland Water in September 2007 and therefore had moved 45km!
Although Dunnocks further east on the continent are known to be fairly long distance migrants, in this country the average recovery distance is less than 1km and less than 5% of recoveries are over 1km. Therefore this bird is something of a Ranulph Fiennes of the Dunnock world.
P.S. We've just discovered it was ringed by our friend Candice Barker!

BTO Conference

Last weekend (5-6 December), I attended the BTO conference and was delighted to see Mick Pearson there as well. I also saw many people from various parts of the UK whom I've met previously through ringing (e.g. Sule Skerry, Wash Wader Ringing Group, Suffolk and even people who started ringing with me from the course at the Flatford Mill Centre).
More than 400 participants had gathered in the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick for the BTO Annual Conference 2009 which also marked the Centenary for the start of the Ringing Scheme. The weather out was brilliant in the morning and then it started raining in the early evening, however the atmosphere inside the conference hall was very warm and enjoyable with a lot of presentations by various speakers. The first couple talks were discussing the history of ringing and the process of monitoring birds in the USA (how advanced they are with ringing and tagging - even fitting dragonflies and bumble bees with dataloggers!) and in Italy where with guidance from the BTO there has been a shift from catching birds for food and sport, towards ornithological science. This last talk was followed by an update on the Out of Africa appeal and how the teams are doing and the expected outcome of this work which is carried jointly by the BTO, RSPB, and both the Burkina Faso & Ghana National Wildlife Societies.
These interesting talks were followed by several other shortish presentations from BTO staff about nest record scheme, monitoring Blackbirds in gardens, Garden Birds and the ranking of birds in starting their activities in the gardens (Blackbird came first), CES experience and effort needed and a BTO Atlas update. They were full of information, tables, statistics and brilliant photos.
The evening were closed by the BTO AGM and lastly the dinner which cannot be missed. I left Mick P behind to enjoy the remainder of the Sunday morning sessions which I couldn't manage to attend.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Greenfinch with aberrant moult

Some pics from Mick of another young female bird with some replaced primaries (but not the corresponding primary coverts) and a really obvious moult limit in the alula. Not sure quite what's happening in the tail... We expect young birds not to moult any wing feathers, but the more we look, the more we find doing so, though it is rarely complete and rarely obvious!

Ringing on TV

Mark has just posted this on the ringers' forum. Jim thinks the Hobby ringing is with Adrian and NNRG...

From: Mark Grantham
Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2009 11:29 AM
Subject: [btoringers] More ringing on TV

People might be interested in two bits of recent ringing on TV and one coming up.

A bit on general ringing (with an insight into the BTO archives in the 'attic' which might be of interest) was on InsideOut and is available via Demog Blog:

A bit on Stone-curlew ringing in the Brecks was also on Animal 24:7 recently and is on iPlayer for the next week or so: /b0072238

Animal 24:7 will also be showing a piece on Hobby ringing on electricity pylons this coming Friday (21:15 on BBC1): /b00pdhf1

Sorby Breck Ringing Group

This is a neighbouring group in Derbyshire and Mick has recently been ringing snipe with them. I have added the link to their website to the 'Links' section of the blog. There's a lot to look at!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Brack - Sat 5 Dec

Thankfully the ongoing deluge paused for Saturday morning. As I type this though, I'm wondering if I'll be swimming to work tomorrow. It was a beautifully clear start to the day, though strangely quiet and the first net round to the feeding station produced only 4 birds. We had also put a line of nets up in Orwin's and this produced a trickle. However, by 10:30 we had still only caught 12 birds. It's never a problem having a slow morning though as we were able to look at the birds carefully and not feel under pressure.
Joining Tina, Andrew, Michael and myself this morning was my colleague's son and budding ornithologist, Archie Hall. Not only did Archie help us release the birds expertly, but he also helped us to identify some of them. He had already spotted his first Redwing on the walk down and half way through the session a large flock of Fieldfares flew over us - another new one for him.

By about 10:30, we started noticing a little more activity around us. Flocks of Starlings appeared with the thrushes, a Great Spotted Woodpecker came through and a Buzzard drifted past. We could also hear Long-tailed Tits along the Dumble and we commented that a flock in the nets was what we needed to boost the day's numbers. Archie really hoped they found the nets too as he'd never had brilliant views of this species, so imagine what it was like when we found 16 of them lined up in the Orwin's nets. And as a small bonus, Archie's first ever Marsh Tit was with them.

We took down soon after this as the wind picked up, finishing on 31 birds.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Mick hits the Jackpot!

Well... Jack Snipe....
I  went to Williamthorpe Ponds with Geoff Mawson of Sorby Breck last week and managed to do a couple of Common Snipe, a Jack Snipe and a few Lesser Redpoll. Whilst there I took the opportunity to pick his brains. This resulted in me visiting the small boggy area at my Rolls Royce site well before dawn on Tuesday morning. I had nets up by 06:00 and two Common Snipe in them not long after!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Bleak weekend

Well it was never going to be a record-breaking weekend for ringing, but the forecast did keep us guessing a bit. In the end we cancelled Brack and considering there is no shelter there, this was probably just as well. Although much of the morning was dry, the few localised downpours were fairly violent.
Kev and gang did head out to RCP and the start was delayed by rain, and then a mid-morning furl was required as well. About 20 birds were ringed.
It was perhaps Mick, who stayed at home, who had the most to report. He managed to open a net between showers and the first drama was when a Sparrowhawk bounced! He also caught a young Goldfinch still in post-juvenile moult. This species's breeding season just seems to go on and on...

Finally, he caught a couple of Collared Doves.

Let's hope the weather is kinder next weekend.