Saturday, 29 December 2012

Brackenhurst, Thursday 27 December

It was nice to get in a decent session at Brack this morning - at the third time of asking in the last month. It was mild, calm and overcast at first, but there was a frost in Orwin's. A good sized team of Tina, Simon, Emma, Gary, Ewan, Duncan & myself, meant we could also put up nets in Orwin's.

The total catch of 71 birds of 12 species was spread across the morning til midday when we packed up. No Tree Sparrows this time, but they may have been put off by the first Sparrowhawk of the winter. Most of the Chaffinches were netted in Orwin's in response to the sound lure; something we'd not tried in the daytime before (thanks Ewan). All the retraps were from the last two winters bar two male Chaffinches, which would have been born no later than 2006. Also, a Blue Tit that was ringed in nestbox 89 on the estate this year was caught at both sites during the morning.

Totals were (new/retrap): Sparrowhawk 1/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Wren 1/0, Robin 0/2, Dunnock 1/1, Long-tailed Tit 0/10, Blue Tit 1/12, Great Tit 3/8, Chaffinch 18/4, Yellowhammer 5/1, Reed Bunting 1/0.

It was quiet on the bird front, but there was a flock of 100 Fieldfare knocking around and Ewan picked up some Waxwings passing overhead. Also, there were two deer that thankfully kept away from the nets.


 Emma holding the first bird she ever put a ring on. A pretty good start... (top Simon Taylor, bottom Gary Goddard)

A remarkable male Yellowhammer with virtually no dark markings on its head. (top Simon Taylor, bottom Gary Goddard)

A particularly fiery male Goldcrest. Females show only yellow in the crown. (Gary Goddard)

Monday, 24 December 2012

SNRG Christmas Party

We celebrated in style this Christmas Eve by gathering in the dark at Brackenhurst and standing around in a dark, muddy, rainy field until the sun didn't come up. Good biscuits, much needed coffee, a Woodcock flushed from Orwin's but no nets up...

Happy Christmas ringers everywhere!


PS this is what it's all about:

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Garden Ringing 2

Waxwings did not take a lot of finding this morning, they came to me. With over 40 in a tree near the back garden thought I had better get a net up.

The birds dropped onto the Honeysuckle and Pyracantha berries in the garden several times and I was lucky enough to catch just one, a new bird ringed in the garden.

By 3pm the flock had grown to over 100 birds sitting in the trees on Queen's drive just a short distance
from the garden and as Waxwings usually keep coming back to the same bushes to feed until all the berries have gone tomorrow could be an interesting day.


Garden Ringing

Spent quite a lot of the day looking for Waxwings with no joy. So put a net up in the garden as there were quite a few Blackirds on the berries, caught a Greenfinch and as I was taking it out of the net could hear Waxwings calling close by. Got my bins to have a look at them just across the road and then this hit the net and luckily stuck this time. That's the second I have caught in the garden.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Brackenhurst, Sunday 9 December

I suppose with a team of seven ringers one could have almost predicted a lack of birds at Brack today. We arrived in the dark to greater than predicted blustery winds and showers. Once the rain had passed we set the nets but the wind was clearly putting the birds off and was also increasing, so we called it a day at 09:00am.

Totals were (new/retraps): Robin 0/2, Blue Tit 0/1, Great Tit 0/1, Tree Sparrow 2/0, Chaffinch 1/0.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

Granby, Sunday 2 December

Another frosty morning at Granby, but the bright, calm weather took the edge off the cold for some of us. Trapping was steady through the morning, and then dropped off when it got brighter and we finished 12ish. Despite no longer using peanuts in the bait Great Tits, again, accounted for about two-fifths of the catch. We caught the first three Yellowhammers of the winter, and it was nice to see Redwing & Greenfinch in the hand again. However, the star bird had to be the Jay which is only the second for the site and the first since 2004!

The best of the retraps was a Chaffinch from 2006, Blue Tit from 2008 and a young Great Tit from an adjacent nest box.

Totals were (new/retraps): Robin 0/4, Dunnock 1/0, Blue Tit 4/5, Great Tit 1/18, Jay 1/0, Blackbird 2/0, Redwing 1/0, Greenfinch 1/0, Chaffinch 7/1, Yellowhammer 3/0.


 The Jay happened to be the first bird Peter has fitted a ring to. (photos x3 Simon Taylor)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


Mick P and I managed to open our Waxwing ringing account for the winter today.

I've been tracking them for the last 3 weeks and finally found some that I thought were worth netting, so after a quick phone call, Mick joined me and we gave it a go.

Despite the heavy rain at times we managed to catch 5 birds. That's a start for the winter, I will keep tracking them and have another go soon.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 2 December

Just Tom and myself made it to RCP on Sunday morning when the tempreature was minus 3.5 and there was a hard frost. A big thankyou to Mick T who had put the heater on in the hut for us and we waited for a few minutes in the warm for it to get light and went and set the usual nets.

First net round produced 19 birds but I knew it would get slower after that, however we did keep dragging ourselves out of the warm hut to check the nets.

We finished on 46 birds caught (21 new and 25 retrap) and did get the first Siskin and Coal Tit of the winter.

The catch was (new/retrap): Chaffinch 12/8, Reed Bunting 1/3, Great Tit 4/8, Blue Tit 2/4, Siskin 1/0, Coal Tit 1/0 and Robin 0/2.


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Brackenhurst, Saturday 24 November

A decent session yesterday morning at Brack in between the wet fronts that have been lashing down over the last few days. We started in the damp, frosty cold which brought the birds in to the feeders quickly and we had 35 birds on the first net round. The sun struggled to break through and even I felt chilled late morning. However, Duncan, Esther, Matt, Peter & I stuck it out. For a change, the rain forecast behaved and did not arrive til 2ish when we were away.

We had three or four very busy net rounds and then it rapidly quietened. This was in part because Duncan spotted a white ferret, and we then trailed it round the feeding site until someone from the veterinary unit came to collect their escapee. She seemed none the worse for her experience and I got to pick up my first ferret.

We processed 90 individual birds and more than half were tits. Again the tits were mainly adults with 70% of Great Tits & 54% of Blue Tits being adults. This points towards their having a poor breeding season as we'd expect juveniles to dominate catches in the early winter. However, maybe Tree Sparrows fared better this year as the 10 ringed yesterday was the best total for a single session at Brackenhurst. It was also good to catch the first Yellowhammers of the winter, including a retrap from 2009. The best of the other retraps was a Blue Tit from 2008 and a two 2009 Great Tits.

Totals were (new/retraps): Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Robin 1/1, Dunnock 2/1, Blue Tit 12/10, Great Tit 4/20, Treecreeper 1/0, Tree Sparrow 10/0, Chaffinch 14/1, Yellowhammer 11/1.

There were plenty of 'winter' thrushes about, and other sightings included a couple of Jays squabbling, Buzzard, Green Woodpecker & Little Owl. However, the Marsh Tits that used to be up 'n down the 'holloway' by where we process the birds are sorely missed.


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Lenton Waxwings

As the rain had finally stopped, I thought I would spend the morning checking the Waxwings at Lenton.

When I was there two days ago the flock was 80 strong and I had found the tree they were feeding in, it was surrounded by buildings (and building have windows). A Sparrowhawk had also found the tree and while I was watching it made an attack. I didn't see it catch a bird but did scatter them in all directions.

Mick P joined me and we went for a walk under the tree where we found the 3 dead birds. Two appeared to have hit windows and the third appeared to have been caught  by the Sparrowhawk and half plucked.

As birds were only dropping vertically into the tree we abandoned any thoughts of trying to net them.


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 18 November

Just Tom and myself made it to RCP on Sunday morning. There was a good frost but no wind and we did have a nice warm hut with a heater to process the birds in.

Despite all the effort by Mick T keeping the site baited the catch was very slow from first thing and after the 11.00am net round with only one bird in the nets we decided to take down.

We finished on just 21 birds caught, 9 new and 12 retraps, the catch was (new/retrap): Chaffinch 5/2, Great Tit 2/8, Blue Tit 1/0, Robin 1/1 and Dunnock 0/1.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Granby, Sunday 18 November

It was no surprise to be met with a hard frost this morning. How else do we expect to be welcomed to Granby? I can almost feel my toes as I type, but the first session of the season at the Granby Fridge Experience did not do anything to shake its polar reputation.

Jim, Duncan and I spent a while sorting out nets and guys in the twilight as thrushes trickled out of their roost sites and smaller birds started going into the nets before we'd finished. A promising start, but as is often the case with these early November sessions, it wasn't to last and we finished on 35 birds of 10 species, 11 of them retraps.

Totals as follows (new/retrap): Robin 4/0, Dunnock 0/1, Wren 2/0, Blackbird 1/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Blue Tit 2/1, Great Tit 2/9, Long-tailed Tit 1/0, Treecreeper 2/0, Chaffinch 9/0.

The morning was unquestionably beautiful with clear blue skies and almost no wind. Highlights in the hand were two Treecreepers, a Goldcrest and a retrap Great Tit from Dec 2007. Interesting to note that of the 11 Great Tits caught, only the 2 new birds were youngsters and the rest were retrap adults. One wonders if this will continue to be the case through the season, indicating a poor breeding season for the species.

Other sightings included single Jay, Heron and Cormorant overhead, 80 Lapwing, 200+ Fieldfare and 120+ Redwing, 3 Bullfinch, 10+ Linnet, a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 11 November

Libby, Duncan, Tom and myself met at 07.00 on Sunday morning for the first session of the winter at RCP. The weather was calm and bright, good conditions for netting but we knew if the wind got up we  would have problems with leaves.

We had a steady catch throughout the morning and finished on a total of 38 birds caught, 31 new and 7 retraps, but as the morning went on the wind did pick up and the nets started to fill with leaves, so time to take down.

The catch was (ringed/retrapped): Chaffinch 9/2, Great Tit 9/5, Dunnock 1/0, Robin 1/0, Blue Tit 4/0, Reed Bunting 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 5/0 and Greenfinch 1/0.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Brackenhurst, Friday 2 November

We had the first session of the winter at the Brackenhurst feeders. John Clark, Tina, Gary & myself made up the team. As we had a few folks we also set 4 nets in Orwin's plantation. Initially, we were quite sheltered from the south-westerly winds, but as the morning progressed and the wind turned round to the west it affected the nets and we got a fair bit of leaf extraction practice! We had a busy start with 20 birds (including the Long-tailed Tit flock) in the Orwin's nets first thing, then it was steady throughout the morning. The total catch of 82 birds was a good start to the winter.

We handled 28 Great Tits of which 70% were adults. This underlines our perception that they had a poor breeding season. This was easily the biggest ever single day catch of this species at the site. Another highlight was catching a Jay in Orwin's, which is a first for Brackenhurst. Of the 7 retraps, the most notable birds were a Blue Tit & Chaffinch which were both originally ringed on 9 February 2008 at the second ever ringing session at the site.

Overall, we processed 82 birds made up of (75 new/7 retraps): Wren 1/0, Dunnock 2/0, Robin 1/0, Blackbird 3/0, Goldcrest 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 12/0, Blue Tit 8/1, Great Tit 24/4, Jay 1/0, Tree Sparrow 5/0, Chaffinch 16/2.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Buzzard recovery

A Buzzard ringed as a chick near Costock in June 2009 was found dead near Sileby, Leics last month. Only 12km as teh Buzzard flies, but over 3 years later.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Israel, October 2012

Four of us made the trip to Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin this year, Chris and myself from SNRG, Chris’s brother Terry from the Isle of Arran, Scotland and Mike Jackson from the Lower Derwent Valley NNR, Yorkshire.

We collected the rings on Monday morning from our sponsor Kobi Meyrom and the only restriction put on us was not to ring any Little Egrets as Kobi had used over 2800 size G rings this year on Barn Owls and needed to save some for the start of the next breeding season. The largest brood he found was 11 chicks.

We set nets at the Kfar Ruppin ringing station and these nets were to remain in place during our stay but closed during the morning as conditions got too hot. First days catch was 86 birds ringed including 51 Palestine Sunbirds and a Desert Finch. Nets were closed about mid-day and after a short sleep the afternoon was spent shopping for food in the nearby town of Bet She’an.

Up at 04.30 Tuesday morning to be at the ringing station at first light 05.00 to open nets and add more nets. 82 birds ringed during the morning including 4 Tawny Pipits caught in the field behind the ringing station using a tape lure, 8 Bluethoats, a single Zitting Cisticola, a Masked Shrike and 3 Dead Sea Sparrows. The afternoon was spent looking for new ringing sites and touring around the fish ponds at the nearby Kibbutz of Tirat Zvi.

Wednesday morning was very much the same nets opened at 05.00 and a steady catch with 71 birds ringed, including 2 White-thoated Kingfishers, 9 Bluethroats a single Siberian Stonechat, 1 Savi's Warbler, 3 Dead Sea Sparrows and a Great Grey Shrike. Not a lot to do during the afternoon as it was too hot so Mike and Terry went a drive to the shop on the kibbutz and on the way back saw Chris walking along the road with a Black Stork under his arm, he had caught on his walk around the fish ponds. The stork was muddy as it had become entangled in the netting put out to protect the fish ponds so we cleaned it up and left in our bathroom for the night. Next morning it was full of energy and ready to go, the first thing it did was bite Chris as he got it from the bathroom. Mike ringed it and we let it go at the fish ponds at Tirat Zvi, it flew off strongly and joined other Black Storks none the worse for the night spent in our bathroom.

Thursday morning nets opened at 05.00 at the ringing station but it soon got too hot to catch birds and nets were closed early with 58 birds ringed including 2 Pied Kingfishers, 3 Clamorous Reed Warblers and an Indian Silverbill. We spent sometime during the afternoon cutting a net ride through the reeds over the canal where we caught a Pygmy Cormorant on our last visit..

Went for a drive to the fish ponds at Gesher, the water birds there were in the thousands, Great White Egrets, Black Storks, Spoonbills, Herons and Glossy Ibis, and hundreds of Black Kites.

We were a little concerned that daily ringing totals were dropping and we may have to move to another site to find more birds but we had a ringing demonstration to do the next day for staff from Kfar Ruppin and Tirat Zvi that work in tourism and conservation. Our fears were to be proved false.

Friday morning up at 04.30 and off to the ringing station nets opened by 05.00 plus the net set over the canal. Things soon started to pick up and by the time the demo started we were in full swing and we had some very nice birds to show them in exchange for the coffee and fresh dates they gave us. Chris came back from the canal net with a Little Bittern, 3 more White-throated Kingfishers and a Pied Kingfishers. 15 Bluethoats was our best daily total so far, our first Redstart, 2 more Savi’s Warblers, 31 Palestine Sunbirds and 4 more Indian Silverbills and a female Sparrowhawk that managed to get caught in the bottom shelf of a mist net. We finished the demo with 139 birds ringed so back to the kibbutz for a very late breakfast and an hour's sleep. In the afternoon we thought we would go for a drive around the fish ponds where Chris had caught the Black Stork to see if any other birds had become caught in the netting that is used to protect the ponds. We soon came across a tangled Black Kite and we could see it was still alive. Only one thing to do so Terry and I waded out into the pond armed with a knife and a large bird bag. We soon had it free and waded back to shore. The kite, none the worse for its ordeal of getting caught in the fish pond netting, was ringed by Mike and released. One wonders how many birds aren't lucky enough to be rescued in this way... Total for the day 140 birds ringed, our best day so far.

As the sun went down it was Shabbat the Jewish holy day so we would be a little restricted with what we could do for the next 24 hours. Tirat Zvi a holy kibbutz was closed with all the gates locked and roads blocked to it.

Saturday morning nets opened at the ringing station at first light and another good mornings ringing with 90 birds ringed including 2 White-throated Kingfishers, 2 Pied Kingfishers, 9 Bluethroats and our first Marsh Warbler, ringed by Mike. We had found a drained fish pond that was attracting a few waders so decided to net it in the evening and caught 3 Snipe and a Ringed Plover. Total birds ringed for the day was 94.

Sunday morning, back to the ringing station and nets opened by 05.00. In previous year's the ringing station produced very few birds after the first few days but this year things were very different with birds moving through day after day hence very few retraps, and very good catches of unringed birds. A total of 100 birds ring for the day including 5 Kingfishers, 2 White-throated Kingfishers, from the net over the canal, 19 Bluethroats and 1 Moustached Warbler ringed by Terry. Final total for the day was 100 birds ringed.

Monday morning and Kobi had asked to join him ringing at his site at Kibbutz Tirat Zvi so we were there just after 05.00 to help put nets up and had a steady catch during the morning until it got too hot but we did get breakfast brought to us at the ringing site by Sophie the head of tourism at the kibbutz and 3 of her assistants who stayed with us for the morning and had a great time handling birds for the first time and givern a talk by Kobi.

Bird caught included our second Whinchat, 2 Stonechats our second Marsh Warbler ringed by Terry, 2 White-throated Kingfishers and 21 Dead Sea Sparrows. We had seen a Little Bittern and a crake in the canal next to Kobi’s ringing site so decided to put a net up and try and catch them. The crake walked around the net and was never seen again but we did get the Little Bittern. Back to the drained fish pond in the evening to try and catch waders. Four nets set around the remaining water in the pond and we waited for the light to fade.

The catch was 1 Teal, 1 Night Heron, 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Stint, 1 Redshank and 12 Snipe. Total for the day 79 birds ringed.

Tuesday morning was spent back at the ringing station at Kfar Ruppin, we ringed 89 birds during the morning, including our first Laughing Dove and 2 Redstarts. At 11.00 we were back in the kibbutz setting nets for a ringing demonstration for the kindergarten children, think they all enjoyed seeing birds in the hand judging by the faces they were pulling.

After another tour of the fish ponds to check for trapped birds it was time for a couple of hours sleep, a shower and out for a meal in Bet She’an.

So to our last morning that was only going to be a short session as we had to take all the nets down pack and leave for the airport in Tel Aviv by midday. Ringed 41 birds including our third Stonechat and first Crested Lark.

We finished on 839 birds ringed of 52 species. Another great trip and all looking forward to going back next year. Photos and totals below...


1             TEAL
2             LITTLE BITTERN
1             NIGHT HERON
1             BLACK STORK
1             BLACK KITE
1             SPARROW HAWK
3             RINGED PLOVER
1             LITTLE STINT
1             REDSHANK
15           SNIPE
3             COLLARED DOVE
1             LAUGHING DOVE
11           KINGFISHER
6             PIED KINGFISHER
1             CRESTED LARK
1             SWALLOW
5             TAWNY PIPIT
85           BLUETHROAT
4             REDSTART
2             WHINCHAT
3             STONECHAT
11           BLACKBIRD
13           GRACEFUL PRINIA
21           BLACKCAP
1             SEDGE WARBLER
2             MARSH WARBLER
33           REED WARBLER
6             CETTI'S WARBLER
1             ZITTING  CISTICOLA
5             SAVI'S WARBLER
204         CHIFFCHAFF
83           WILLOW WARBLER
2             GREAT TIT
1             GREAT GREY SHRIKE
1             MASKED SHRIKE
1             HOUSE SPARROW
55           SPANISH SPARROW
37           DEAD SEA SPARROW
3             GREENFINCH
2             DESERT FINCH