Monday, 29 November 2010

Sunday at Gary's

When I picked Meisha up at 06.20 as planned the temperature was only -8. By the time we got to Brack it was -10 so after a short discussion it was decided not to put nets up and return home to the warm. After a bit, Meisha and I put a single net up in the back garden and had a slow catch during the morning with the thought in mind that captured bird could be kept warm in the house while being processed. We finished on about 20 birds for the day at the MEA ringing station.

After I had taken Meisha home I caught a Blackcap - the first for the station as was a Wren ringed by Meisha, she also had 2 new ringing ticks House Sparrow and Starling.


Brackenhurst, Sunday 28 November

What with it being -11.5 C at Gonalston just before dawn, we decided not to disturb the feeding station and so abandoned this session. Pete will try again next weekend...

Granby, Saturday 27 November

Duncan and I set forth for Granby on Saturday expecting northerly winds and no snow, but as you now know we got little wind and a couple of inches of snow. For various reasons we did not start ringing until 09:00 am, but still managed 64 birds. However, with more folks it would have been more like a hundred. The evidence of a good tit breeding season was there again with 24 Blue Tits (18 retraps) and 14 retrap Great Tits. The first Greenfinches of the winter appeared, with eight new birds ringed. Other highlights included a second winter male Sparrowhawk, which brushed my leg as it went in the net (!) and the first Tree Sparrow of the season.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Recent recoveries

Amongst a selection of recoveries just received are about 10 relatively local Barn Owl records including three after 3 years and one after 5 years. A Blackcap ringed in August last year at HPP was found in Lincs this spring and a Pied Flycatcher from Wales last year was trapped at Portland Bill this spring.

Unusual redpoll

This striking Lesser Redpoll has been caught twice in Derbyshire. More remarkably though, it was ringed by Bryn Roberts in 2009 as a 5 with only two white greater coverts and then the photo was taken by Geoff Mawson when it was retrapped it this year. I had never realised that leucism could be progressive like this. Anyone care to comment? Thanks to Jim & Jack Street for passing it on.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Brackenhurst, Sunday 21 November

It was a blustery and surprisingly bracing morning at Brack. Birds weren't exactly falling out of the trees, but we caught enough to keep us happy and finished on 38, 27 of which were retraps - a fairly similar scenario to Granby and RCP. Great and Blue Tits made up the bulk, but we also caught Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch and Bullfinch. Of four Yellowhammers trapped, 3 were retraps and all were adults. A single Goldcrest was a new one for Andrew.

Also around were several Siskins, and although a tape lured them to within a few feet of the nets, they never actually went in. Large numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings circulated, occasionally flushed by both Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. Ian kicked a Woodcock out of Orwin's but before the nets were up and single Redpoll and Mistle Thrush flew over.

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 21 November

It was good to have Nabegh out ringing with us again at RCP, he is back for a two week visit. The morning produced another steady catch but numbers were down on the last two visits with only 44 birds caught, 27 of these were retraps! Of these only 1 was of particular interest, a Yellowhammer originally caught in the spring of 2009. This was interesting as it is the earliest date we have ever caught the species at the site, they do not normally appear until into December. With the early date of the first Reed Bunting last week could this mean that natural food sources are scarce this winter? The best birds of the morning were 3 Siskin caught together.


Granby, Saturday 20 November

The second visit to Granby was again Tree Sparrow & Yellowhammer free ringing wise. Though this time the latter were roosting at the feeding site, and both were heard overhead. Anyway, we managed 38 birds of just six species. Blue and Great Tit dominated with 11 new Blue Tits; which must be some sort of record. Otherwise it was mainly Chaffinches. Highlight birds were four year old retrap Blue & Great Tits. Snow & cold later in the week should bring in more birds to the feeding stations.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Brackenhurst, Sunday 14 November

We had 37 birds, which included 16 from Orwin's, and 20 retraps. Highlights were: juv male Sparrowhawk, 10 Dunnock (2 new only); first Tree Sparrow & Greenfinch of the winter; tape luring 3 Goldfinch in Orwin's where we caught most of the tits! Oh, and everyone had a larf when I inadvertently let the Magpie escape!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 14 November

A frosty start greeted us as we arrived at the park. Surprisingly the first net round produced only a few birds and each catch throughout the morning remained steady. The result was a total of 58 birds netted, half of them retraps. Nothing unusual caught but 3 Reed Bunting at the site in mid November is the earliest date in the last 3 years. One of the Reed Buntings was a retrap from 2007, it has also been caught in 2008 and 2009. Four more birds were caught by hand giving a new species to some of the trainees, 3 Mute Swan and a Coot.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 7 November

The first session of the winter at RCP produced a reasonable catch of 49 birds starting with a 25 bird first round including 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Blackcap and 2 Coal Tits. We have only ever caught 5 Coal Tits previously at the park and the last was three years ago. (I've noticed them in several unusaul places recently - perhaps they've had a good breeding season? Pete).

Most of the birds caught were Blue & Great Tits and Chaffinches - no buntings and the only other finch species caught were a Greenfinch and 2 Goldfinches. Of the 49 birds 12 were retraps including a Blue Tit ringed 26/05/03 and caught most years since except for 2009.

Siskins were heard going over and a large flock of Pink-footed Geese, maybe the same birds that flew over Granby!?


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Granby, Sunday 7 November

I'd forgotten my rule about Granby - that you should always wear one more layer than you think you need. It was pretty fresh out there first thing, but Jim, Duncan & I had a very pleasant first session of the season.

The bait had only been out a few days (and we'd already suffered some vandalism of the hoppers!) so our catch of 38 birds wasn't bad really. Amongst these were 10 Long-tailed Tits, a Willow Tit and 2 Goldcrests. Having not ringed there last winter, any retrap instantly became a little more interesting and we caught a Blue Tit and a Long-tailed Tit from 3 and 2 years ago respectively.

Sightings included about 50 Skylarks in loose flocks, several Meadow Pipits, several hundred Redwings and Fieldfares, about 8 Brambling, 25 Golden Plover and 170 Pink-footed Geese heading south-east. Amazingly, we did not see or hear a single Yellowhammer or Tree Sparrow. One particularly odd bird seen was a leucistic male Reed Bunting - a very pale buff bird with only the shadow of the head pattern and almost white flight feathers.
Jim charms a Goldcrest.
 Duncan holds his finger out hoping to do the same, but they've all headed back to Norway looking for somewhere warmer than Granby.

Gib blog

Many of you have visited Gibraltar Point Bird Observatory if not to ring, to go birding. Mick Briggs has now set up a blog for the obs which may whet your appetite for a few weekend jaunts:

Brackenhurst, Saturday 6 Nov

We had 50 birds processed on our second visit to Brack today, with about 10 of those coming from the Orwins nets. Quite a few retraps from the first visit two weeks ago, including the two Coal Tits. Other birds were two Marsh Tits (one was two year old retrap), Redwing (it liked the Fieldfare tape!) and four Yellowhammers (all colour-ringed). All the Yellowhammers caught so far have been adults (six), which though it's early days makes me wonder if they've had a poor breeding season.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Recent recoveries

Amongst a recent batch of recoveries were a handful of local birds such as Kestrel, Black-headed Gull Yellowhammer and a Tawny Owl found after 3 years. Also there were Barn Owls found 3 and 4 years after being ringed as chicks and one which moved to Leicestershire after a year and two others which moved to Yorkshire and Lincolnshire after 3 years. A young Blackcap ringed at HPP was found the following year, also in Lincolnshire.

As Kev has noted, we have had some strange recoveries before (such as birds that have been caught in lobster pots) but the Robin ringed by Mick P in Arnold is the first we've had to be run over by a lawnmower!

It's not often we ring Moorhens, let alone get them recovered, so a bird ringed at Attenborough in 1997 and recovered in Rufford this year, is impressive. Only the leg bone and ring were found so it's not clear how long the bird had survived, though an interesting extra detail is that it trns out the recovery was submitted by my wife's second cousin!

However, all these are eclipsed by a Chaffinch ringed as a 3M at Granby on New Year's Eve 2008 and recovered in Norway in August of this year! (See map below.) Furthermore, it was released after hitting a window, so keep your fingers crossed that it returns to Notts this year!

Tim and his celebrity ducklings....

Many of you may have spotted this in the media already, but here a a few more links to the unseasonal brood of ducklings at Attenborough which hatched on Monday 1st November and proked another media frenzy for Tim...

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

More on Moorhens...

I managed to catch an adult moorhen this morning at Arnot Hill Park which completes the progression through the birds moult as adults undergo a complete post-breeding moult finishing in October/November. The underparts are then ash-grey, fringed white, especially on the belly.

The head, chin and nape are ash-grey and the mantle and back olivaceous-brown with a sheen to the feathers. The iris is deep crimson, they have a red band on the tibia and the 9th primary is broad and rounded (moorhen have 10 plus 1 vestigal primary feathers).

The most obvious difference of course is the red and yellow bill. This bird couldn't be sexed on its wing length of 176mm.
Mick P

Monday, 1 November 2010

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 31 October

We caught 54 birds in total, including 31 retraps. Other than 3 Redwings and 5 Blackbirds most of the birds caught were tits. Highlight of the morning was when Chris came over from his haunts on the main lake having caught a Jack Snipe, which Duncan was lucky enough to ring.
Also around were 4 Brambling, the odd Siskin and Redpoll, 2 Jays, 2 Sparrowhawks, loads of Redwing and a Green Woodpecker.
Gary & Kev