Friday, 31 December 2010

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Flintham Nuthatches

Ewan and I tried for thrushes in an orchard in Flintham on Wednesday. There had previously been masses of Fieldfare, Redwing & Blackbirds feeding feverishly on the fallen apples, and there had also been a Waxwing feeding on apples nearby on Monday. It turned out that the breaking mild weather got the better of us in this respect. However, all was not lost. I pointed out an overhead Nuthatch to Ewan, as they've only just reached Grampian in the last year. He remembered that they were supposed to come to tape; so we gave it a go. Within 30 minutes we'd caught three of them; so ringing ticks all round. New species for Jenny & Ewan and an adult tick for me. The remainder of our 35 bird catch comprised mainly Long-tailed Tits and Blackbirds.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Rushcliffe Country Park, Christmas Eve

We decided on a later start and an early finish to give the birds chance to feed. There seemed to be plenty of birds around generally but each catch was relatively small and we ended on 38 birds of which 24 were retraps. Again most of the birds were tits, only 1 Chaffinch and 5 Yellowhammers were caught, the rest were mainly Robins and Dunnocks. We did have two 4 year old birds, a Blue Tit and a Blackbird - the Blackbird had not been recaptured there before today.

Orchard ringing at North Wheatley - Monday 27 December

Four group members (Jim, Gary, Mick P & Meisha) joined the North Notts Ringing Group on Monday, to ring Fieldfare in an orchard in North Wheatley. We processed 92 birds, roughly half of which were the target species. The rest were mainly Blackbirds and other interesting captures included a Little Owl, two female Sparrowhawks (including an adult female, something you don't often see in the hand) and a Mistle Thrush. Meisha came away with 3 more ringing ticks (Fieldfare, Little Owl and Sparrowhawk) and Gary came away with a few scars courtesy of the Little Owl. Despite the cold and the snow showers, a great time was had by all.
Jim & Gary

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Brackenhurst, Thursday 23 December

A much better catch of 62 birds processed (after the recent 11 bird session). The morning was dominated by Yellowhammers (30) and Robins (18), with nine of the former colour ringed. However, tits & finches were notable by their absence, with only one new Chaffinch ringed. For the record, birds processed were (new/retrap): Blackbird 2/0; Dunnock 0/7; Robin 5/13; Chaffinch 1/0; Yellowhammer 25/5; Reed Bunting 2/0.

With 72% of the Robins being retraps, it shows how short of food they must be and shows the importance of maintaining supplementary feeding when food is short supply. It's obvious the harsh weather is affecting the birds in a big way in that they're doing a combination of the following: moved further to find food locally e.g. the tits may have moved to garden peanut feeders; left the area entirely e.g. thrushes & finches; succumbed to starvation & the cold; going to known food sources. On the latter point, we had several older bird retraps who, being more experienced, seem to know where to go for food.

It was pretty quiet bird wise with a single Brambling first thing, the odd Fieldfare & Redwing, a Great Tit holding territory and one Blue Tit heard. However, Orwins had a few Siskin & Goldfinch in the alders. A Cormorant flew over and both Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were hanging about.

Lastly - the first Brack lamb of the season was born today!


Monday, 20 December 2010

Granby, Sunday 19 December

Although the arctic climate has not delivered snow to the East Midlands in the same quantities as elsewhere, the temperature has remained well below zero so we decided to give the birds a chance to have breakfast and we met at 9:00.

It turned out to be a beautiful morning, and despite the late start we managed 50 birds in the sunshine and still packed up soon after 12. However, variety was not on the menu and generally not many birds were flying about.

Scores were (retrap + new): Great Tit 3+4, Blue Tit 4+9, Yellowhammer 12 new, Chaffinch 6+1, Willow Tit 1 retrap, Dunnock 2+5 (3 of the retraps were 2-4 yo, perhaps suggesting adults go to surefire food source in harsh weather) and 1 new Tree Sparrow. Best was probably an elderly female Chaffinch, first caught nearly six years ago.

Also noted were about 25 Lapwing, a few large flocks of Wood Pigeon, a few small flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings and the odd Skylark. Lastly, one Lesser Spotted Ringer in winter plumage. NB - contrast in the upper lip is not indicative of a first year. Quite the opposite in fact.


Sunday, 19 December 2010

Waxwing update

So far, despite quite a bit of recce work and a few flocks found, none of the group has managed to catch any more..... yet. If you do find, or hear of any in the Nottingham area, let one of us know asap. It's vital to get in quick before berries are stripped and the birds move on.

Friday, 17 December 2010


Here's the bird - just the one so far...

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Chasing Waxwings...

Well we spent a couple of hours looking for them this morning around the locations where Mick had seen them and/or been reported on NBW. The berries were finished on the rowan on the sheltered housing where Mick had got permission on Chewton Rd, but they'd not touched 3 rowans just along the road (maybe because there was no roost tree for them to swoop down from?). We looked round Smithurst Rd and also found half stripped trees nr Church St, Eastwood, but still no birds. Our last shot was pretty much the Nuthall/Watnall area and bingo we found c120 birds in a high treetop. The Waxies were going down to two feeding sites that we could see: a front garden sorbus (c20 birds) via a 10m high tree in a roadside garden & an apple tree in the school caretaker's garden. A chance chat with one of the neighbours (who enquired if we were twitchers) led to him contacting the garden sorbus owner who consented to us netting in her garden. Meanwhile we'd been allowed to put up a net in the caretaker's garden. On Jenny's advice we then hung on for the hoped pre-roost feed. This just about materialised with 3 birds by the roadside net and the one bird flew in to it; making Mick a happy fella, plus the apples bought in 2 blackbirds.

Trying again tomorrow so hopefully more news and pics to com...


Monday, 13 December 2010


Many have you have heard about Chris's Bittern already, caught beside the Trent near Clifton Grove. It's now been photographed post-ringing on the Holme Pit by Robert Hoare and many more images are on his great blog here:
And here's a taster. It's hard to miss the ring!

2011 Ringing Courses

The dates for the 2011 ringing courses are now confirmed. Please see: Given they're very popular and were over subscribed last year, it's worth giving them some serious thought now, discussing it with your trainer and get an early application in!
(PS if you don't know the login & password for the ringers' pages just email me - Pete)

Brackenhurst, Sunday 12 December

Unlike Pete last weekend, we did manage to colour ring all the Yellowhammers we caught. But that was partly because there were only 2. In fact we only cuaght 11 birds in total and only two retrap tits in the last round. Whether this was to do with the sudden thaw, or something to do with the bait we're using, who knows?

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 12 December

A relatively quiet day with only 44 birds caught including 29 retraps. Nothing surprising turned up, the best birds being 4 each of Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting plus a Blue Tit ringed 5 years ago.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

BTO rebrands itself...

Bound to spark a bit of lively debate. Say goodbye to the gannet flying over the stormy line-graph sea and say hallo to...

More here:

And here:

Bonsai boxes

I've recently been making model Barn Owl nest boxes for use in talks by the Galloway Nature & Heritage Trust.  These ones are half size and, ironically, took me longer than the full size boxes to make.  However, they look just the right size for the Pygmy Owl introduction project I was planning  . . . .

Cold weather movements

Sustained periods of cold weather always result in a few interesting observations. This morning there were two Curlew on the grass outside my classroom window in Bingham. Goodness knows where they had come from, but they must have been pretty desperate.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 5 December

The first round produced about twenty birds, all were checked to see that their weights were ok. Surprisingly all were fine including the Goldcrest we caught later in the morning that weighed in at over 5 grams. We finished on 58 birds, 28 of which were retraps, Chaffinch being the most numerous species caught with a total of 10 birds. Yellowhammers are increasing with 5 caught, including a bird from last winter. A Siskin was also caught along with 7 Goldfinch, other than that it was generally business as usual but good to see that all the birds we caught seemed to be coping well with the cold.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Brackenhurst, Sunday 5 December

The day may have begun with negotiating the ice-rink back roads at Brack, but we were also greeted by a couple of hungry Barn Owls flying around in the mist. The temperature remained below zero, but being distinctly warmer than the previous week we decided to put up the 3 feeding station nets.

The first round produced 20 birds immediately and the first thing we did was check a few weights to establish the condition of the birds. The result? All in rude health and even our first little female Blue Tit weighed in at over 10g which was a relief. However, one must wonder whether the weaker birds have simply all perished by now after such sustained cold weather.

The sky quickly cleared and although a dazzling sun rose, it held little heat. Nevertheless, we checked the nets at very regular intervals and pulled birds out in threes and fours. Yellowhammer proved most numerous with 12 new and 1 retrap caught. And in joint second place were Robin and Dunnock with 9 of each trapped, including 7 retrap Dunnocks. This species is perhaps benefiting more than we realise from the feeding station.

Tits were remarkable by their absence (2 retrap Blue, 2 retrap Great) and Chaffinches also seemed scarce (we only trapped 3 new birds). However we did catch a single Tree Sparrow and we finished on 42 birds processed.

In general birds were thin on the ground. A few small flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings were around and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker called. However, many regulars were not recorded such as the Marsh Tits. Richard and Oscar were lucky enough to flush a single Woodcock. We also welcomed Carol and Emma Hollier from Southwell who came to watch.