Monday 23 August 2010

Holme Pierrepont, Sun 22 August

Despite the unsettled weather over the last few days, we fluked a beautiful morning and had another cracking morning's ringing. The vast majority of birds were in the first 2 or 3 rounds, and we finished on 114 birds processed.
Off this total, 102 birds were new and 12 retraps. However, even more notable was the fact that 93 were migrant warblers (like this adult Whitethroat - note the pale eye, a juv has a much darker eye).

Blackcaps may have headed up the league table with 37 caught, but the bird of the day was without question Lesser Whitethroat, of which we caught 14.
It was great to handle so many of these little beauties and we noticed considerable variation, with some juvenile birds being particularly white on the forehead and crown. Many juvs had a single old greater covert and one individual had three:
And one had a striking fault bar:
Note also the lack of white on the second outermost tail feather and the rather dirty white outer tail feather - both features of young birds.

The rest of the league table looked like this:

Whitethroat = 12
Reed Warbler = 12
Chiffchaff  = 9
Garden Warbler = 5
Willow Warbler = 3
Sedge Warbler = 1

An increasing number of birds were carrying fat reserves and this Chiffchaff had two particularly obvious old greater coverts.
We hardly had time to look at anything else, but overhead were Yellow Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Buzzard and a couple of Sparrowhawks. Insects included Migrant and Brown Hawkers, Brimstone and Common Blue.


Ridiculous, but amusing

Thursday 19 August 2010

Several good terns...

...deserve some pics. Here are a couple from Jim's recent outings with Jenny & Ewan.

House Martins again

Some more pics of Jim' rescued House Martins a bit closer to fledging:

Monday 16 August 2010

Attenborough ringing demo

Dave, Mick and I went to do a ringing demo at the Attenborough Nature Centre as part of the Centre's 5th birthday celebrations. The first net check produced a Wren, after that it went quiet for a while.............quite a long while. We then had a rush on with two Tree Sparrows caught together and then it went quiet again. For anyone not so good at maths the grand total for 5 hours of netting was 3 birds (two of them retraps). We had plenty of people wanting to see birds but unfortunately we could not oblige for most of the day. As usual the staff of the Centre kept us well fed and watered, just a pity about the lack of birds.

Sunday 15 August 2010


The advantages of Scottish ringers in the family...

Holme Pierrepont, Sun 15 Aug

The morning began with a flurry of activity and by about 8am we had caught 44 birds. After that things quietened down almost as quickly and soon after 11am we took down, having processed 65 birds (55 new and 10 retrap).

And not only did the first round produce good numbers, but also a nice surprise in the form of an adult Grasshopper Warbler. This was our first for the year and the first Autumn bird for a while. We can only speculate whether it was a local bird or a migrant.
We also caught a very young Wood Pigeon, right above the mixed warbler tape. What a handsome bird...
Well, a ringing tick is a ringing tick I suppose. But out of these two I think I know who was more impressed.

The rest of the catch was a good mixture of migrants and residents with Sedge Warblers particularly obvious (7 caught) and a couple of Bullfinches must have only just left the nest. Not much of interest seemed to be flying around but we did see a single Curlew.


Wednesday 11 August 2010

Kestrel EL79274: This was your life!

Despite ringing c80 pullus annually in recent years, we get (unlike Barn Owls) very few recoveries or controls. So, knowing the life history of EL79274 is unusual. It goes like this:
  • 14 June 2007 - She was ringed by Pete as a female pullus in box B397 near Newton, and was part of a clutch of six. Over the last seven seasons, 27 Kestrel chicks have being ringed in this Barn Owl pole box. The landowners hope for BOs very year, but are somewhat mollified that theirs is one of our best Kestrel nest boxes.
  • 18 June 2008 - I caught her in the nest box on small chicks in box K377. A movement of 12 km and probably, our first live Kestrel recovery in a long while. She fledged two chicks that year.
  • 2009 - Box K377 had a female Kestrel come off five eggs, but four addled eggs were found later.
  • 9 June 2010 - Libby and I found her long dead on five eggs. Cause of death unknown.
A sad end, but nice to have a full story of the life of one of 'our' birds.


Is it me or are there more juvvie Starlings around than usual? While checking back on the new House Martin nest, I couldn't but help notice the massed Starlings on the adjacent rooftop. They're a great sp to readily observe the progress of their post juvenile moult. Anyone spotted any roost sites?

House Martin Rescue

A month ago I had an urgent call from someone in the village to say that their House Martin nest, together with its chicks, had fallen down with the strong winds that morning. A quick inspection revealed three apparently healthy chicks, but a smashed nest. Advice is that the adults will go back to the nest if replaced in 24 hours. So, what to do? The house owner had an old plastic colander which I popped home with. I cut it in half and made an entrance slot. Elaine then tacked some hessian sacking on the inside and outside surfaces. I popped back with it, added some old nest material, screwed it to the soffit board and posted the ringed chicks back in the new nest box. This all took 35 minutes. Necessity is the mother of invention etc.

Apparently, as soon as I left the adults were back to the chicks and they fledged okay 7-10 days later. But, they're still thought to be roosting in the box and the adults are probably sitting again. You can see in the pic where the adults have added mud to the entrance hole.


Sunday 8 August 2010

Holme Pierrepont, Sun 8 Aug

Already apprehensive, we arrived on site knowing that the Nottingham triathlon was taking place and sure enough, we weren't allowed into the car park, but we were directed to a temporary car park that was even closer to the ringing site and told we were welcome to park there, however, it was already full and knowing how these events can descend into chaos we opted for plan B and headed round to the other site.

Unfortunately this meant we were starting from scratch as no net sites had been opened up and there were no poles or guys ready. Furthermore, the sun was already starting to burn fiercely, so our expectations were not particularly high. But to the team's credit, we had 12 nets up in just over an hour and birds pouring in before we'd even returned to base. In the end we caught 125 birds by lunchtime, only 4 of which were retraps!

The vast majority (84) were new warblers of all common species except Sedge. Perhaps most notable was the number of Garden Warblers (12) several of which already had fat scores of 4 and 5 and of all of them were stained with blackberry juice.This species in notoriously unpredictable when it comes to moult and we discussed one adult bird at length trying to determine what moult code to use. It had replaced 2 tail feathers and 4 tertials but had no other signs of active moult. I've settled on 'O' but I've thrown it out to the ringers' forum and we'll have 5 different 'right' answers by next week I expect...

Other birds of interest were and retrap Willow Tit and a Kingfisher - Libby's new favourite.
Away from the nets, at least 2 Curlews were around and a single Crossbill flew over calling among a small group of Greenfinches. There was a trickle of hirundines and good numbers of Black-headed Gulls. Common Blues and Peacocks were both particularly noticeable and the usual Brown Hawkers.


Saturday 7 August 2010

Farewell Tina!

Well it seems like migration season has kicked off  - for ringers, anyway. Firstly congratulations to Tina for landing a job with the RSPB - in Perth! Tina has been ringing with us for while now and many of you will have read her research on Yellowhammers - see here:

We wish her the very best of luck and no doubt you'll be joining up with Jenny and Ewan for the odd bit of ringing?

Thursday 5 August 2010

Farewell Rory

Just heard from Rory who has now moved away, but don't feel sorry for him, here's part of his message:

"I have now moved to the Outer Hebrides (Benbecula) so am loving the birding up here at the moment. I saw my first Corncrake yesterday as it happens! But unfortunately I won't be ringing in Notts any longer. I would like to say however, that I thoroughly enjoyed ringing with SNRG and as such have expanded my knowledge greatly (and also shown how limited it is!). So thanks to all for that.

Do you know of any trainers which currently ring on the islands? I am desperate to continue and get my license but havent seen anybody on the BTO website."

If anyone reading this blog can help Rory, let us know please! In the meantime, best of luck Rory. We're not jealous at all...

Monday 2 August 2010

Holme Pierrepont, Sun 1 Aug

Conditions were pretty perfect this morning - overcast and still, and although it seemed very quiet and birdless as we put the nets up, they soon appeared and we finished on 87, about a fifth of which were retraps. Resident species seemed a little thin on the ground and migrant warblers made up the majority of the catch. Among several Willow Warblers caught was a control.
And we caught both adults (above) and beautiful yellow-bellied juveniles (below) which were useful to compare.
 Many of the adults were in full moult as you would expect now and one Garden Warbler was particularly scruffy. In fact we wondered if the baldness on the head might have been caused by something else.
Slightly different was a very young Treecreeper that can't have fledged too far away, still with a very short bill.
Away from the nets, Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls were very noticeable and the odd House Martin overhead was about it in the sky. Perhaps most noteworthy were large numbers of Mistle Thrushes in their typical late summer flocks - one of which comprised over 20 birds. The lack of sun perhaps kept numbers of butterflies and dragonflies low, but we did find a particularly friendly Speckled Wood, modelled below by our very own Gary.

Good luck Nabegh!

Nabegh recently returned to Syria, but we hope he'll be back to visit one day! Nabegh has been a very active and committed trainee in the last couple of years - he's never been afraid of hard work and and has made great progress. We hope he finds some ringing to get involved in over there (a few Bald Ibis perhaps...?) and we wish him all the very best.