Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Checking Barn Owl boxes in the Vale of Belvoir

I went back to 17 boxes last Friday, where adults had been hanging round previously or they'd been early breeders. It proved well worthwhile with 3 broods of Barn Owls (11 chicks) ringed and several to go back to ring in late September.

They highlighted the very mixed season with a couple of genuine second broods and some second breeding attempts (with new chicks sat beside dead first broods and where females must have re-laid within two weeks of her first chicks dying).

This really is a summer of 2 halves.


Monday, 27 August 2012

Reed Warbler with suspended moult

When we visited Holme Pierrepont on 12 August we caught an adult Reed Warbler which appeared to have retained some innermost secondaries on each wing from the previous year. We have not encountered this before but would be interested to hear from anyone who has.

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 26 August

Despite the inevitable predictions of armageddon weather over the August bank holiday weekend, conditions were pretty much perfect and an excellent team of 9 members gathered for a good steady morning's ringing.

The site didn't seem particularly noisy or overrun with birds, but we managed 81, with the majority being migrant warblers. Totals as follows (new/retrap): Whitethroat 13/0, Lesser Whitethroat 8/0, Blackcap 11/0, Garden Warbler 5/0, Willow Warbler 13/0, Chiffchaff 1/0, Reed Warbler 5/0, Robin 2/0, Wren 4/1, Dunnock 6/0, Great Tit 2/1, Blue Tit 4/0, Bullfinch 2/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Reed Bunting 1/0.

Willow Warblers put in a particularly good showing in marked contrast to Chiffchaff with only a singleton caught. Sylvias helped make up the bulk of the catch whereas resident birds, notably tits, were a little thin on the ground. In fact there only seemed to be one substantial tit flock moving about the site. Perhaps the only other notable sighting was a flock of at least 200 Goldfinches feeding on the thick stands of thistle and knapweed. In contrast to previous years, such vegetation is particularly lush and the standing water everywhere a constant reminder of the damp season we've had.

One Willow Warbler showed intriguing plumage. A young bird that had apparently completed post-juv moult, it showed stark contrast between olive-green mantle and greyish wing coverts. It seems unlikely that it had retained all these coverts but we were left scratching our heads for a reason why it should look like this.

Insects were fairly uninspiring with a couple of Migrant Hawkers, a few Common Blue Damselflies and the odd Common Darter. A couple each of Meadow Brown, Large White and Speckled Wood were the only butterflies seen. Blackberries, however, were beginning to ripen in force...


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 19 August

We ran another session on the Grange side of the Holme Pierrepont site on Sunday. The team consisted of Gary, Steve, Nick, Duncan and I. Good to see Duncan out again after his mishap on the Shiants. The weather was perfect, broken cloud with no breeze. As we erected the nets the site again seemed very quiet first thing but at least all our poles were still in place so the nets went up quickly.

Catching was brisk early on despite the quietness, with the majority of the birds coming from the nets near the tape. The catch rate did diminish as the temperature started to rise but we were still kept busy all morning. We ended with 75 birds including 11 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Wren 1/2, Robin 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Sedge Warbler 2/1, Reed Warbler 17/1, Lesser Whitethroat 2/0, Whitethroat 1/0, Garden Warbler 1/0, Blackcap 14/2, Willow Warbler 6/1, Chiffchaff 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 7/2, Blue Tit 4/0, Great Tit 2/2, Bullfinch 1/0, Reed Bunting 1/0.

I raised the question last week 'have the adult Reed Warblers already moved out?'; well this week all 18 birds caught were juvs so I guess the answer is yes. The only retrap Reed Warbler was a bird from last week so I guess the majority of the birds we caught were juvs moving through.


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Recent Recoveries

Just a couple - a Gery Heron ringed as a chick at Attenborough was found 3 weeks later a couple of kilometres away having been possibly taken by a fox and a Blackcap ringed as a youngster in September 2010 at Holme Pierrepont was caught in May of this year by Sorby Breck RG in Derbyshire.

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 12 August

We ran a session on the Grange side of the Holme Pierrepont site on Sunday. The team consisted of Gary, Jim, Steve, Ewan (on a visit from Aberdeen, nice to see him again) and I. The weather was good, bright with only a little breeze but the site again seemed very quiet first thing. The net erecting took longer than it should as we spent quite a while looking for some of the poles, before resigning ourselves to the fact that another 3 had been pinched.

Catching was fairly steady right up to the time we took down but again there were no flocks of birds moving through. A Sparrowhawk was a nice find in the bottom shelf of one of the nets, no Ian around to ring it so Steve got another one. Although we had 19 Reed Warblers it was a lot less than the last visit to the Grange and the two retraps were both juvs; have the adults moved out?

We ended with 64 birds including 8 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Sparrowhawk 1/0, Wren 1/1, Robin 2/0, Sedge Warbler 2/0, Reed Warbler 17/2, Garden Warbler 1/0, Blackcap 11/0, Willow Warbler 8/2, Chiffchaff 2/0, Blue Tit 1/2, Great Tit 1/0, Bullfinch 7/1, Reed Bunting 2/0.


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 5 August

We decided to run a session from the A52 side of the Holme Pierrepont site because of another major event being held at the Water Sports Centre. The team consisted of Gary, Jim, Nabegh and me - 3 trainers and a trainee who had travelled from Syria - but no local trainees!. The weather was excellent, overcast with only a little breeze but the site seemed very quiet first thing. The site had dried out a little but not enough to make it possible to wear walking boots instead of wellies. Catching was steady right up to the time we took down but other than a small Long-tailed Tit flock there were no flocks of birds moving through and the 3 Long-tailed Tits we caught were all adults. A Kingfisher was a nice surprise along with 16 Willow Warblers. We ended with 65 birds including 7 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Kingfisher 1/0, Wren 1/1, Dunnock 2/0, Robin 3/0, Blackbird 2/1, Sedge Warbler 1/0, Reed Warbler 6/1, Lesser Whitethroat 4/1, Whitethroat 2/0, Garden Warbler 2/0, Blackcap 8/0, Willow Warbler 14/2, Chiffchaff 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 2/1, Blue Tit 2/0, Great Tit 3/0, Greenfinch 1/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Bullfinch 2/0.


 A young Lesser Whitethroat showing fault bars in wings and tail (GHG)

 Jim with a very relaxed Kingfisher (GHG)