Monday, 28 February 2011

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sun 27 Feb

A glorious spring-like morning greeted us as we arrived at the Park. The nets were quickly erected and we started to catch a few birds but then the clouds came over and the rain started, forcing us to take the nets down early. We ended with 18 caught of which 11 were retraps. New/retraps: Yellowhammer 1/9, Reed Bunting 2/1, Loong-tailed Tit 3/1, Goldfinch 1/0. A nice selection of retrap Yellowhammers, the oldest being a bird ringed in 2007.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Granby, Sunday 27 Feb

It was a short, sharp session - blue skies and flat calm for the first couple of hours and naturally a lack of birds to go with it. Like us, I suppose they were just loafing around enjoying the sun. Then, as it clouded over, the temperature dropped and the wind started to pick up a little a few more birds started to arrive at the feeders.
Totals (lowish, partly for weather reasons - see below) were 31 birds processed (27 new / 4 retrap), broken down as follows: Blackbird 1/0, Dunnock 2/1, Robin 0/1, Great Tit 10/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Reed Bunting 4/0, Yellowhammer 7/2. The Great Tit totals were intriguing and these were all first winter birds. By contrast, Blue Tits were virtually absent. And retraps were also thin on the ground - though we may have missed some due to packing up early. Reed Buntings are definitely doing well. We have only caught 28 in the previous 9 winters, and 4 equals the best one day capture ever.  
Of the several Yellowhammers we caught, this adult male was particularly handsome and with a young male trapped at the same time and a few minutes to spare we had a chance to make some comparisons (click on pic to enlarge).

It was generally quiet round and about, with only a couple of Fieldfares, no Redwings, very few Chaffinches and no more than a handful of Tree Sparrows. A couple of Song Thrushes were noisy and a small flock of Lapwings were on a field. Just after 10 o'clock, the wind picked up further and the rain started and with a great team effort we were packed up and ready to go in about 12 minutes. But not before we caught one final bird and a very intriguing one too.

As some of you may remember, Duncan and I spotted this individual a few weeks back and it was great to see it close up. It's a leucistic male Reed Bunting and if you look closely the shadow of its normal plumage can be seen. Partial leucism is not that uncommon, but it's pretty rare to see such extensive example as this, partly because such obvius birds are quickly picked out by predators.

Chasing Brambling

After reading the Group`s Blog, John and Anne Wilson, local ornithologists and BTO members, made contact with us via the local BTO Rep. They have been getting several Brambling in their bird-friendly garden and wondered if the Group would be interested in having an opportunity to study these beautiful birds. As I lived nearby, I was more than keen to attempt to catch some of these before they leave our shores.

On Thursday morning I put up a 6m net. Unfortunately none of the 6 or 7 Brambling in the trees adjacent to their garden came to the feeders. We did however catch 10 birds including a stunning male Lesser Redpoll.

Many thanks to John and Anne.

Mick P

Friday, 25 February 2011

Cropwell Little Owls

Some pics Ian has taken of his local birds which seem to be paired up.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Tim Birkhead Lecture

Inge has just sent through this link which folk might be interested in:

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 20 Feb

Despite near perfect conditions for netting there were very few birds about and we ended with just 10 caught of which 7 were retraps. New/retraps: Yellowhammer 2/3, Reed Bunting 0/2, Dunnock 0/1, Blackbird 1/1.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Brackenhurst, Wednesday 16 February

I must admit I'd forgotten this date was down for a ringing demonstration with the NTU students. However, in the event we'd picked a good day with cloudy, calm weather, and the students generously hauled themselves out of bed to come and see what we were up to. As it was only Andrew, Duncan and meself we just focused on the three feeder nets, which was enough as we'd processed 99 birds by early afternoon. It was like business as usual, bird wise, in that most of the tits were retraps, nearly half the captures were Yellowhammers, and Blackbirds and Chaffinches made a reappearance. Probably the highlight for the watchers was the new Great Spotted Woodpecker. There were three of them flying around, drumming and squabbling and another escaped the net. Plenty of birds were singing and it felt springlike for a while. Total captures were 99 (42 new / 57 retraps): Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Blackbird 2/3, Dunnock 2/8, Wren 1/0, Robin 1/3, Great Tit 3/11, Blue Tit 4/8, Chaffinch 5/1, Reed Bunting 1/1, Yellowhammer 23/21. For lack of time, we only managed to colour ring five Yellowhammers.

Attenborough Ringing Demo, Sunday 13 Feb

The weather forecast for Sunday was not looking good and Steve rang me at 0900 to check if it was worth making the trip. I told him not to bother as the wind was strong and it had just started to rain here, it looked like there was little chance of catching any birds. I decided to make the short trip to the visitor centre at 10.00 and met Sara and Mick T. The rain had stopped but the wind was still strong, we decided to put up a couple of nets and hope for the best. Just as we finished putting the nets up the rain started again and continued to stop and start all the time we were there, thankfully the wind blew the clouds over quickly and we never got any heavy rain. The weather also took it's toll on the number of people attending the event and hence our demo but we persevered until 14:00 and got the nets down just before the serious rain started. As expected with the poor conditions the catch was limited but, surprisingly, we ended with 19 birds (15 new / 4 retraps). The full count was Robin 1/0, Chaffinch 2/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Tree Sparrow 5/3, Dunnock 1/0, Great Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 1/1, Greenfinch 1/0. Of the retraps the most interesting was Tree Sparrow ringed as a pullus at the Centre in 2009. Thanks as usual to the staff at the Visitor Centre for keeping us fed and watered.

Monday, 14 February 2011

NNRG Ringing Course @ Brack, Sun 13 Feb

Our sibling group up in the north of the county ran a ringing course last week for 4 days from Thursday to Sunday. By all accounts it was a great success with good weather and good catches. On the last day of the course Brack was one of the venues and three participants, Carol, Chris & Mike, came along to get experience of ringing farmland birds.  We had planned to put up 17 nets, but a combination of the weather and manpower meant we only managed 11.  However, despite this we managed a respectable 57 birds, and Yellowhammers made up two-fifths of the catch.  Yet again most of the tits were caught away from the feeders in the Orwin's nets.  The total catch was (new/retrap):  Dunnock 1/0, Wren 1/0, Robin 0/1, Marsh Tit 0/1, Great Tit 5/5, Blue Tit 4/3, Long-tailed Tit 2/6, Chaffinch 2/1, Reed Bunting 2/0, Yellowhammer 16/7. We also had time to colour-ring several of the Yellowhammers, another new experience for come course members.

Rushcliffe CP, Sun 13 Feb

With not a peanut in sight and only one seed hopper recently filled, hopes were not high of a good catch, and so it turned out to be. Only 23 birds caught of these 9 were new birds and 14 retraps. 3 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tit and one each of Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch and Coal tit.

Granby, Tues 8 Feb

With impending ringing demonstrations at Brackenhurst and the North Notts RG ringing course at the weekend, Duncan and I made the best of a gap in the weather last Tuesday to have a session at the Granby feeders. We managed 49 birds after a quiet start. With the calm and cold weather, I expected a few mores. Two-thirds of the catch was tits, with 26 of the birds being caught after midday. Yellowhammers weren't much in evidence, with only two ringed, but nice to see there are still Wrens around. Retrap highlights were a six year old a Dunnock and Great Tit. The total catch was (new retrap): Dunnock 2/2, Wren 1/0, Robin 2/0, Great Tit 11/8, Blue Tit 4/9, Tree Sparrow 4/0, Chaffinch 2/1, Reed Bunting 1/0, Yellowhammer 2/0.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Recent recoveries

Of a dozen or so Barn Owl recoveries, most were local birds found after a year or two. However, one bird moved 69km into Lincs and we also controlled 2 NNRG birds (one from 2005) and a Birklands RG bird. Two Kestrels were recovered after two years, both locally, but a Black-headed Gull ringed as a chick at Attenborough flew 115km to Manchester where the ring was read in the field after only 3 months. Of three Greenfinch recoveries, 2 were local, but one of Mick P's from Hucknall turned up at Gibraltar Point two months after ringing. Lastly, the control Willow Warbler we caught at HPP last year had been ringed the previous season at Wanlip Gravel Pits in Leics.

Brack, Sunday 6 Feb

It was (as any meteorologist would tell you) blowing a hoolie this morning and there was not a hope of getting any nets up. However, it was good to have a chance to wander around the site and also very encouraging to see large numbers of birds still coming into the feeding station. At one point the adjacent hedgerow was dripping with Yellowhammers and a quick count reached a minimum of 110 birds. Shame they were all fluffed up and hiding their colour-rings.

Wader news

Always good to catch up with Chris at the AGM, the group's elusive lone sniper. And in fact much of his news concerned snipe this time as he has recently retrapped 4 Common Snipe that he ringed last winter and of 4 Jack Snipe ringed last year, he has already retrapped one. No more Bitterns yet though...

AGM, Saturday 5 Feb

It was an impressive turn out to the group's 40th Anniversary AGM. The business was swiftly dealt with and then we could launch into the even more impressive buffet. We had a quick slide show and a quiz, but most importantly it was a chance to catch up with other group members, some of whom barely meet from one AGM to the next!
Back row (left to right): Ruth, Tim, Gary, Chris, David, Mick T, Jim, Kev, Mick P, Ian, Duncan
Front row (left to right): Pete, Howard, Stephen, Meisha, Sara, Libby