Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Daneshill Landfill Site with NNRG, Monday 27 February

Due to the success of last week's gull cannon-netting session at Daneshill, it was decided to give it another go yesterday. Twelve of last weeks 14 returned, together with another eight folks! All the hi-viz apparel hurt the eyes. With the site sussed now we had had the cannons set by 9ish, and fired for the first catch around 11 and took about 150 small and 30 large gulls. These were processed by early afternoon and we got set to fire again, this time taking c150 gulls with big gulls forming a better percentage of the catch. Two of the Black-headed Gulls were Danish colour-ringed birds from the same project (which we've contacted for original ringing details). Most of the big gulls were immatures, so there was plenty of musing over ID & ageing with these complex taxa. There's also a write-up of the session here:

Again most of the Black-headed Gulls had RED darvics fitted, all the Common Gulls ORANGE and the Great Black-backed Gulls YELLOW ones. Total catch for the day was: Black-headed Gull 280 new & 2 controls, Common Gull 6 new, Herring Gull 17, Greater Black-backed Gull 30.


Monday, 27 February 2012

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 28 February

Gary, Steve, Nick and I made another visit to RCP yesterday - but the catch keeps going down!. We finished on only 22 birds, 11 of which were retraps. However, one was a control, and I believe the first ever control the group has had of a Yellowhammer - ring number L203943. The best of the retraps was a Reed Bunting from 2006. A Moorhen added another non-passerine to the list. The full capture list was (new/retrap): Dunnock 1/1, Chaffinch 2/2, Blue Tit 0/2, Yellowhammer 1/2, Great Tit 0/2, Blackbird 1/0, Robin 1/0, Reed Bunting 2/3, Goldfinch 1/0, Moorhen 1/0.


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Granby, Saturday 25 February

Duncan, Ruth & myself did visit 13 of the winter to Granby yesterday. Weather was frosty early on, stayed mainly cloudy with the breeze building up later. Overall, quite pleasant and topped up my 'farmers' tan. The spring-like weather had the Skylarks & Dunnocks singing aplenty, and we were treated to three Buzzards drifting by.

As per the last visit visit, the mild weather inevitably shaped the make-up and size of the catch, with 70 birds processed. Great & Blue Tits made up three-fifths of the catch, and about a third of them were new birds. Highlights included: two pairs of paired up Long-tailed Tits, our fifth Treecreeper this winter, and the oldest Blue Tit (T513715) that's been handled at the site at 5y 9m 5d which has now been caught 14 times! The only other retrap of note was another Blue Tit from 2008.

Full catch numbers were 35/35 (new/retrap): Dunnock 0/1, Robin 1/0, Blackbird 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 3/1, Blue Tit 3/11, Great Tit 9/19, Treecreeper 1/0, Chaffinch 11/2, Tree Sparrow 0/1, Yellowhammer 6/0.


 A fairly typical first winter female Yellowhammer (5F) with dark bases to the crown feathers and with well worn tertials and pointed tail. (JL)

 A young male Chaffinch (5M) providing an excellent opportunity to compare adult-type tertials (replaced on left wing - black with a well defined pink-orange fringe) with juvenile tertials (retained on right wing - brown with worn buffy fringe). (JL)

Congratulations Ruth!

Now officially a C Permit holder. Birds of Chesterfield prepare to meet thy ringer...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Daneshill Landfill Site with NNRG, Monday 20 February

A bang on gull cannon netting session today at Daneshill Landfill Site nr Retford. Duncan, Mick & myself wore our North Notts RG hard hats, rigger boots & high-viz jackets (a bit YMCA I know), for the first ever gull cannon session in Nottinghamshire. The team of 14 was also made up of ringers from Sorby Breck RG & Essex.

The site has quite a small tipping area, but there was just enough room to set a net away from the refuse trucks, and the spiky driver very obligingly spread a nice lot of domestic waste in front of the net. The gulls were mad for it, and once a jiggler was set up to keep the small gulls out of the safety zone, a quick catch was taken of 235 gulls. Species totals were: Greater Black-backed Gull - 23; Herring Gull - 28, plus a first winter control from Russia (only been about 20 of those apparently); Common Gull - 5, Black-headed Gull - 176, plus two controls (one British & the other Sweden). Several of the Herring Gulls were the Scandinavian sub-species argentatus, and another bird was a probable 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull (pictures taken for verification).

Most of the big gulls had yellow darvics and some of the Black-headed Gulls had red darvics fitted to their left legs, so please look out for them.

Considering it was a new ringing site, a new team and Jez Blackburn's fourth time out cannon netting the gulls, the session went blindingly well, which says an awful lot about Jez and the way everyone else mucked in.


Monday, 20 February 2012

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 20 February

Yet another poor catch at RCP. We finished on only 25 birds, 14 of which were retraps. The best of the retraps being a Yellowhammer from 2006 - which we also caught last week! The full capture list was (new/retrap): Dunnock 0/1, Chaffinch 0/1, Blue Tit 1/1, Yellowhammer 4/6, Great Tit 2/0, Blackbird 2/1, Robin 0/2, Reed Bunting 1/0, Lesser Redpoll 0/1, Goldfinch 0/1, Woodpigeon 1/0.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Dunham-on-Trent, Sunday 19 February

Mick and I wore our North Notts RG hats today, and went cannon-netting Wigeon near the Trent at Dunham. Adrian & Jez Blackburn fired at first light before the Greylags pushed the less than expected Wigeon off the bait in the catching area. Catch was two Greylag Geese, 24 Wigeon (two retraps) and one Carrion Crow. Four of the Wigeon were fitted with wing tags which should help to find out more about their winter movements. We caught about half the Wigeon present, which is a good ratio, but there had been 100 plus when we were setting the nets yesterday.

 6M Wigeon being fitted with it's wing tag.(JL)

The less glamorous side of ringing - cleaning the brash out of the cannon nets when putting them away. (JL)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Holme Pierrepont, Friday 17 February

Jim, Duncan & I had a go at netting Reed Buntings at roost on Friday night. This is an easy way of catching a good number of birds as long as it's not windy and the birds are roosting in the right spot. Unfortunately it was windy and most of the birds were roosting elsewhere. However, we caught six birds: 4 new female Reed Buntings, a single retrap adult male (from two yrs ago) and a retrap Wren.

Nevertheless, we had a very pleasant evening, with quite a few birds around - at least 500 Wigeon, several Gadwall and Teal, the odd Common Snipe and single Woodcock and Shelduck.


Friday, 17 February 2012

Ian's pale Buzzard

Ian Kerton is a ringer in our area and he's been catching a few Fieldfares in his back garden in the cold weather. At one point some birds that were in the net proved a good lure for a local Buzzard which Ian then managed to pounce on. For anyone in the Cropwell Bishop area, it is a well known individual as it is so distinctively pale.


This was recently posted in the Nest Record Scheme forum:

"A couple of interesting figures I've just pulled out for the next Nest Record News: over 300 new recorders have started sending in records since 2008 and these recorders alone have submitted over 7,000 nest records so far for the 2011 season (overall total 37,252 records).

I think that's fantastic news and it makes me all the more pleased to announce that four more nest finding training courses are available this summer. Details are now on the web:

The courses are aimed at both new and established ringers/recorders wanting to improve their nest finding skills. If you know anyone who might like to attend a course, please pass the message on.

A big thanks to recorders Richard Castell, Tony Davis and David Oliver for agreeing to tutor the courses once more.

Carl Barimore
Nest Record Scheme"

Granby, Thursday 16 February

 A young male Greenfinch - an increasingly rare find in the nets. (PML)

Duncan, Pete and myself made visit 12 of the winter to Granby today. Weather was mild for a change, overcast and a little breezy (but not at the feeders). Bird sightings wise, it was fairly quiet with singleton Linnet, Buzzard and Siskin overhead, about 80 Fieldfare and a dozen or so Skylarks, one or two of which were starting to sing a little.

The mild weather inevitably led a much smaller catch of 65 birds compared to the 150 odd in the snow previously; with Chaffinches and Yellowhammers well down. More than half the birds were retraps, with only one bird, a four year old Blackbird, being ringed earlier than the winter of 2010/11. There were a lot of new tits to ring, and they are maybe moving about more now as they look to take up territories. Probably the highlight of a quiet morning was ringing our fourth Treecreeper of the winter; nae bad considering we've only ringed seven here previously.

Full catch numbers were 30/35 (new/retrap): Dunnock 3/1, Robin 2/3, Blackbird 1/2, Blue Tit 5/9, Great Tit 8/13, Greenfinch 0/1, Chaffinch 2/2, Yellowhammer 5/4, Reed Bunting 2/0.

 Probably the start of a case of viral papilloma - a disease which results in odd deformities of the foot in several species, and regularly in Chaffinches as here. Such birds are released unringed. (PML)

 An interesting case of a growth bar indicating that an individual must be an adult. The feather weaknesses on this Yellowhammer's outer primaries were the same on both wings and the staggered pattern shows that they were grown in sequence and not all together as you'd see on a young bird. (PML)

Monday, 13 February 2012

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 12 February

We had another poor catch at RCP despite a week of freezing weather and perfect netting conditions on the morning. We finished on 39 birds, 25 of which were retraps. The best of the retraps were a Bullfinch and Yellowhammer from 2006. The full capture list was (new/retrap): Chaffinch 0/1, Blue Tit 0/2, Yellowhammer 4/7, Great Tit 1/8, Blackbird 4/0, Robin 1/3, Reed Bunting 2/2, Bullfinch 0/1, Goldfinch 3/1.


Friday, 10 February 2012

NNRG update

Seeing as there seems to be considerable overlap in the membership of our two groups now, take a look at the latest NNRG session which made the Demog Blog...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Granby, Sunday 5 February

A decent catch (MIB) 

Duncan, Ian and myself made the eleventh winter visit to Granby yesterday. The snow-covered ground made for (as Pete predicted), a record-breaking morning and it proved so. The cold, calm and overcast weather and covered ground all made for ideal ringing at the Granby feeders. I'd been out in the week to fix up the vandalised hoppers and stick more apples on the hawthorn spikes (only stabbed meself the once). However, none of the apples were left on the Sunday and I imagine the local badgers were on a sugar rush. Birdwise, there were a few thrushes about, c15 Skylarks flew over when the sun broke through and there was also a solitary Lapwing, as well as small flocks of Yellowhammers heading towards the feeders.

5F Fieldfare (MIB)
The apples may have worked in that we caught the first Fieldfare of the winter (ninth for the site) and another Song Thrush (sixth for the site), and eight Blackbirds (one was ringed four years ago). There was an upsurge in Great Tits, but with only two of the 24 captures unringed this time. The oldest of them being four years old. Blue Tit T513715 made her fifth appearance of the winter and the twelfth in all since being ringed nearby as a nestling on 20 May 2006. The Chaffinches were on the upswing this time with 35 birds processed. The best of the 13 Chaffinch retraps was P888368, which had been ringed at Granby as a juvenile on 20/01/2002, and had only been re-caught once in between. At just over 10 years old, it's not far off the Britain and Ireland longevity record of 11y 7m 21d set in 1990. As we now expect in such conditions, there were plenty of Yellowhammers early on with 25 of the 44 birds handled being extracted on the first two net rounds. The oldest Yellowhammer had been ringed five years previously. The Reed Bunting catch of 15 birds equalled last winters best ever day total. One of the retraps was from three years ago, which is a record for the site. Half the Reed Buntings ever ringed at Granby have been caught there in the last 12 months. It's encouraging that there are more about, and chimes with their 26% increase in the East Midlands over the last 15 years reported by the BTO's Breeding Bird Survey. As is often the case the more interesting retraps appeared later in the day. The more experienced birds seems to head for likely food sauces when the weather's hard. Oh, and we almost had a female Sparrowhawk, but it escaped the net just before Ian could get to it!

adult Song Thrush (MIB)
Full catch numbers were 81/70 (new/retrap): Wren 0/1, Dunnock 1/2, Robin 2/7, Blackbird 6/2, Fieldfare 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Blue Tit 2/8, Great Tit 2/21, Chaffinch 22/13, Yellowhammer 33/11, Reed Bunting 11/4.

Reed Bunting (MIB)

I won't be going to Granby this weekend as have visitors. However, a visit there mid-week, the HPP Reed Bunting roost and orchard thrushes near Retford are all in the offing this week. Please contact me if interested in any of these.

adult male Blackbird (MIB)

Monday, 6 February 2012

Rushcliffe Country Park, Sunday 5 February

The snow fall on Saturday helped keep expectations of a good catch high but despite it being a better catch than last week it was far from good. Gary brought along some kit to catch non-passerines around the lake again and set off to try that whilst Nick and I set the nets around the feeders. Unfortunately all the birds on the lake were clustered in the middle on the only patch of water not frozen and could not be tempted away from it. The catching rate at the feeders was disappointingly low despite the perfect weather conditions and we finished on 50 birds, 34 of which were retraps. The best of the retraps were a Chaffinch from 2006 and a Blackbird and Robin from 2007. The full capture list was (new/retrap): Chaffinch 1/4, Blue Tit 1/3, Yellowhammer 3/3, Dunnock 0/5, Great Tit 1/3, Blackbird 4/4, Robin 5/12, Redwing 1/0.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Holme Pierrepont waders

I've been joining Chris for more evening sessions at Holme Pierrepont since Christmas in an attempt to catch some waders, in particular one of our target species; the Common Snipe. Obviously so many factors can dictate the number of birds which are present at any one time, from year to year. For example - weather conditions, availability of food and good quality feeding habitat, influx of birds from overseas, not to mention human disturbance.

It seems that the Snipe don't really want to play the game this winter, at each session we have put up fair numbers of birds in the darkness as we walk around the A52 pit, but only a handful seem to be going in the nets. It appears that overall the number of Snipe present this winter seems to be at a low, and when I think back to how rock-hard the fields at Holme Pierrepont have been until quite recently, it's difficult not to guess why.

However, as most of us know, with ringing of this type, it's not always about quantity, but quality. A retrap Redshank which we caught at a recent session was initially ringed back in January 2010 and Chris also told me about the retrap Jack Snipe which he caught earlier this week, which turned out to be a bird ringed last winter at Holme Pierrepont. Also, it is always great to get experience of new birds and to study Woodcock and Lapwing in the hand over the past few weeks has been excellent.

So although a lot of effort goes into work like this, often with only a small number of birds caught, capturing valuable information about them and the importance of sites like Holme Pierrepont as wintering grounds for these species, somehow makes it more than worthwhile. Well, it does to night-time nerds like myself and Chris anyway!