Sunday, 28 February 2010

RCP, Sun 28 Feb

Well so much for the weather forecast. Three of us braved the torrential rain and high winds that never came and spent a very pleasant morning at RCP. Despite the lack of bait in the feeders we managed to catch 33 birds. 19 new birds and 14 retraps. Five new Yellowhammers were all aged as 5s, are younger birds coming in later or have the adults left to set up breeding territories?

Jerusalem Bird Observatory

A short YouTube film about this here:


Saturday, 27 February 2010

Brack - Sat 27 Feb

With Met Office weather warnings out for Sunday we decided to switch days and we arrived at a surprisingly mild and slightly drizzly Brack. Fortunately the rain held off until just after 11:00, enabling us to catch 33 birds, 18 of which were Yellowhammers (13 new, 5 retrap). But perhaps of most interest was a retrap adult female Reed Bunting. This species gets increasingly hard to age accurately as the season progresses and so it's always helpful to catch known-age birds.
The tail was broad as one would expect, but getting very abraded, particularly the central two feathers.
The primary coverts showed the slightly paler tips we've come to associate with adults, but the barbs and edges were not as crisp or tight as they were on fresh adults back in the autumn. Without a young bird for direct comparison this feature clearly needs to be inspected closely and carefully from late winter onwards. Just for interest, here are the pics we published back in October again, adult first, then a youngster:
It seems that the very tip of the inner web is the best place to look as there is always some looseness on the outer web of adults.
And whilst we're on the subject of known-age birds, here are three pics of a retrap adult Dunnock. Its tail was getting battered too, but still broad and dark.
Its primary coverts had typical tiny black tips (as opposed to crescents):
And its iris was a lovely deep orange:
We also caught a young Great Tit that had not only replaced its tertials, but also the innermost secondary on each side.
Away from the nets we watched 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. One male was drumming and holding territory near the base and a second male came to investigate on a couple of occasions but was rapidly chased off. A female simply watched from the sidelines.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

A message from ANR...

I just wanted to thank you all again for running the ringing demo for Nestbox Day at Attenborough and coping with the cold weather! We have had some super feedback from people saying how much they enjoyed seeing the birds at such close quarters.
Kindest regards,
Karen Bennett
Education and Community Manager
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust
Attenborough Nature Centre

Monday, 22 February 2010

Pics from Mick

I did a little bit of ringing at Caythorpe, near Lowdham at the weekend. Among the birds I caught were this Starling (a male due to the uniform dark brown eye and blue-grey base to the bill) and male Chaffinch aged as a 5 because of the unmoulted brown tertial.
Mick P.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Red Kite

Andrew reports a Red Kite over Brack today!

Some recent recoveries

It's good to see several interesting passerine recoveries in the latest batch. A Reed Warbler ringed in Marston, Lincs, on 12-8-07 was caught at Holme Pierrepont on 5-7-09, a Chiffchaff ringed at Spurn in April of last year turned up at HPP in August, a Siskin ringed in Cumbria in April 2006 found itself in Clifton on Valentine's Day last year and perhaps most impressive of all, a Wren ringed at Attenborough in June 2004 finally met its fate in the jaws of a local cat last October. It was ringed as a 5 so must have been over 6 years old. The BTO record is 6yrs 8 months. Pity that moggy didn't leave it one more season...

Spring pics from Inge

I'm in London for a few days for a work meeting. After snow for weeks and weeks in Stockholm, seeing green grass was something that took a while to get used to! There are signs of spring everywhere: squirrels chasing each other, coots fighting, wee flowers blooming. I bet I will have to wait at least until mid April for equivalent action up North....

Monday, 15 February 2010

Brackenhurst, Sun 14 Feb

Not quite so busy this week, in terms of both birds and people. However, we had a pleasant morning with a steady flow of birds and it was good to catch up with Jim, back from Bardsey for just a few days. At about 1100h the wind started to get up. The nets were down soon after that and by 1200h we were heading home but the rain was moving in so we'd timed things well.
We finished on 44 birds, just over half of which were Yellowhammers. However, of 23, only 4 were retraps today. Six Blackbirds was still above average and today's highlight was a Treecreeper - well done Archie (now fully branded with his early birthday present) for identifying this without hesitation, despite never seeing one in the hand before!
We also welcomed Archie's younger brother Oscar and a colleague of mine, Belinda, who came to see what on earth made me get up in the wee hours at the weekend.
Most of the usuals were seen or heard such as Great-spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch and Marsh Tit and there were still good numbers of Fieldfares flying about, but only the odd Redwing.

Attenborough Ringing Demo, Sun 14 Feb

A still morning bode well for the exposed peninsular that is the site of the Attenborough Nature Centre and our ringing demo. We had the net set for 1030h ready for the first wave of visitors at 1100h. The first catch produced 8 birds, from then on we caught steadily in small numbers which was just about right to entertain a large number of visitors throughout the event. The species range was small but managed to produce a lot of excitement in adults as well as the children. Tim's challenge for the kids to identify the birds we had caught resulted in many answers but I must admit there was no way I could turn the Tree Sparrow he had into a Toucan as one of them did. So a worthwhile exercise finished around 14.30 with a catch of 23 birds, 15 of which were Tree Sparrows and included 1 retrap that was ringed as a pullus at the Nature Centre in July by Meisha. Thanks go to the staff at the Nature Centre for keeping us well fed and watered as usual.

RCP, Sun 14 Feb

We caught 67 birds today, 36 of which were new and the remaining 31 retraps. Of these, 31 were Reed Buntings (22 new, 9 retraps).
Mick T

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Gary's garden drama....

I put a net up in the garden today but took it down as it was too windy. Then a female Sparrowhawk caught a ringed adult male Blackbird but could not fly over the fence as it was too heavy. So it stayed in the garden for over half an hour while it plucked and ate it. In the last photo you can make out the leg and the ring on the ground. The Sparrowhawk finally flew off carrying what was left of the Blackbird plus the two legs - so no recovery!

SNRG Clothing

The next order has come in and I feel like I should be on the way to open a market stall. Will contact those who ordered stuff soon.

TV stars

Andrew, Louise and I had a short session in Andrew's Garden on Friday. Our aim, as usual, was to catch and colour-ring House Sparrows. We also had the possibility of East Midlands Today coming to film us, but in the end they only interviewed Andrew and Louise about nestboxes. (I haven't managed to find this on iplayer - has anyone else?)

Anyway, it was a quiet day, breezy, but luckily the showers were short and light so we were able to keep going. We put up 2 nets in Andrew's back garden, so naturally all the birds went round to the front and in total we caught 2 Long-tailed Tits, 5 Dunnocks, 2 Blue Tits, 1 Great Tit and one 1 Chaffinch but not a single House Sparrow! We are going to have to revise our plan of attack...
Mick P

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Brack - Sun 7 Feb

Plenty of initials in the book today - good to have so many of the RCP crowd join us for the morning and nice to see two groups of interested Brack students through the morning. The weather was mild and still, but teetered on the verge of wet, luckily just holding off enough for us to keep ringing.
The first round produced 23 Yellowhammers, only one of which was a retrap - and nothing else! And in total we caught 37 Yellowhammers through the morning and with such a big team we were able to colour-ring all of them. Our final tally was 76 by noon including a few more Chaffinch again after a notable absence in the last couple of sessions. Of interest were a Blue Tit with 3 old greater coverts and a Great Tit with two. Both species tend to moult all and so these were unusual. We also caught a female Great Tit with particularly washed out plumage tones.
Other things included a single Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Long-tailed Tit and we spent some time looking at the recently published aging and sexing criteria for Yellowhammers and not always finding it matched what we saw! However, we shall keep looking at this in this in the hope of finding a few more helpful pointers.
There were not many other things flying about and a single Meadow Pipit, half a dozen Bullfinch and a handful of Fieldfare and Redwing were the only birds of note. The Funky Welly Award went to Louise.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

RCP - Sun 31 Jan

It was pretty slow again on Sunday with 43 birds caught but only 17 were unringed. Many of the usual species for this time of year were either not caught or very few were caught such as Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Yellowhammer. The best bird was a young male Sparrowhawk that did a splendid job turning Duncan's hands a bright shade of red.