Friday, 27 December 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

The group produced this document a while ago to give to new recruits and other interested people. I've now added an extra page for it as you can see on the bar above.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Recent Recoveries

Just two recoveries just in. The first was one of the few Barn Owl chicks ringed this year which met its end after 65 days having travelled 17km from Halam to Alverton. This is pretty standard stuff. The second recovery is something a little more out of the ordinary, being a Brambling ringed by Mick P near Bestwood on Christmas Eve 2010. This bird was trapped in Norway on 24 September this year over 1000 days later and over 2000km away. Happy Christmas Mick!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Brackenhurst, Sunday 15 December

Thankfully the forecast was wrong in the right way and we were greeted with calm weather when we got to Brack just before dawn today. It was cool and frost formed with the sunrise temperature dip. The wind picked up later and it started to rain as we got back to the vehicles. This week our team was Alex, Gary, Ian, Tom and myself. We processed 58 individual birds, and with the 'soft' weather at the moment I would have taken that beforehand. Also, Orwin's caught zero birds, probably because this numpty forgot the sound lure.

The majority of the birds were retraps, but we had two new species for the winter in Wren and Tree Sparrow. From the retraps, the Great Spotted Woodpecker was the best, being ringed as an adult in 2008, and there were also Chaffinches from 2009 and 2010, two Great Tits and a Robin from 2010.

Totals for individual species ringed/retrapped (25/33): Great Spotted Woodpecker 0/1, Blue Tit 6/5, Great Tit 3/13, Wren 1/0, Robin 0/5, Dunnock 0/1, Tree Sparrow 2/0, Chaffinch 2/7, Yellowhammer 11/3.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Recent Recoveries

There's been a very interesting record of a Black-headed Gull which was ringed at Attenborough back in December 1989 which turned up in Copenhagen, Denmark, in April 2000 and had it's ring read by an observer in the field by sight!

A Cormorant ringed as a chick at Attenborough in June 2013 was present at Carsington Water in Derbyshire a month later where the bird's colour ring was read.

A Tawny Owl ringed as a chick at Averham Park in April 2012 was killed by a vehicle at the same site in August 2012.
A Reed Warbler ringed in Maine-et-Loire, France, in August 2009 was controlled at Holme Pierrepont in June 2013. Another ringed in Spain in August 2007 was also controlled at HPP in August 2013.

A Tree Sparrow ringed at Attenborough in December 2011 was found dead at West Torrington, Lincolnshire in September 2013 having travelled a distance of 78km.

A Lesser Redpoll ringed at Bestwood in November 2011 was controlled at Aros Moss, Argyll and Bute in May 2013 having travelled a distance of 395km.

And then there's the usual stack of Barn Owl records as follows:

A chick ringed at Girton in July 2009 was controlled at Collingham in August 2013.
A chick ringed at Auckley, South Yorkshire, in July 2006 was controlled at Caunton in August 2013.
Another ringed at Crowland, Peterborough, in May 2013 was controlled at Radcliffe on Trent in June 2013.
A chick ringed at Plungar in June 2011 was controlled at Westwoodside, North Lincolnshire in August 2013, having travelled a distance of 63km.
A chick ringed at Cotgrave in June 2007 was killed by a vehicle at Cropwell Butler in August 2013.
A chick ringed at Fiskerton in June 2009 was controlled at Hawton in August 2013.
A chick ringed at Muston in July 2012 was controlled at Sutton in September 2013.
A chick ringed at Trowell in July 2012 was controlled at Moorgreen in July 2013.
A chick ringed at Elton in July 2012 was controlled at Tithby in July 2013.
A chick ringed at Collingham in July 2011 was controlled at Newark in August 2013.
A chick ringed at Shelton in September 2013 was found dead at nearby Thoroton in October 2013.


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Brackenhurst, Sunday 8 December

Another marvellous dawn met us at Brackenhurst this Sunday, but this time we also had a yellow card from the shepherd which meant increasing blustery south-westerly winds. Our ringing team grew again, and included (left to right in pic) Gary, Duncan, Pete S, Kev, Chris (from Tring RG), Liz, Emma, Tom, Sue and myself (behind the camera...).

It being 8 degrees warmer and more blowy than previously, conditions did not make for quite such a good catch. However, we still managed 73 birds, which were split equally between being ringed and unringed.

Orwin's was sheltered from the wind and the 'magic' sound lure brought in another 10 Redwing. It's very nice to catch more than just the odd one, and a have a look at the moult on first winter and adult individuals. The bird below had several old greater coverts as well as fault bars in the remiges and rectrices.

The Blue and Great Tits kept coming, but the mild, windy weather attracted fewer Chaffinches and Yellowhammers. However, 'star bird' was a first winter male Brambling. Note the old alula and primary coverts.

(All photos by JL)

Totals for individual species ringed/retrapped (37/36): Goldcrest 1/0, Blue Tit 4/6, Great Tit 4/16, Dunnock 3/1, Blackbird 0/1, Redwing 10/0, Robin 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 3/4, Brambling 1/0, Chaffinch 3/2, Yellowhammer 7/6.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Brackenhurst, Sunday 1 December

Weatherman, he say: mild overnight with northerly winds 5-8 mph, but when Kev, Gary, Pete S, Emma, Duncan, Rebecca and I got to the Brack feeders this morning just before dawn, it was calm and very frosty. It turned into a bright and sunny day and it was great to be out ringing in good company.

The overnight cold maybe made the birds keener and we managed to process 98 birds with a nice mix of 12 species. Great Tit, Chaffinch and Yellowhammer were the main species caught, but nine Redwing were an excellent bonus, all attracted to a new sound lure (we've only ringed 16 in the last 5 winters). It's the norm to catch Long-tailed Tits in flocks, with the calling netted birds pulling the others. However, we caught four single birds today and one of them had originally been ringed five years and five days ago!

As we walked down to the ringing site, it was obvious there were a fair few thrushes roosting in the hedges, and we also heard a Tawny Owl calling.

Totals for individual species ringed/retrapped (58/40): Great Spotted Woodpecker 0/1, Blue Tit 1/5, Great Tit 5/10, Dunnock 2/6, Blackbird 4/0, Redwing 9/0, Robin 2/2, Long-tailed Tit 2/2, Chaffinch 14/6, Goldfinch 4/0, Bullfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 14/8.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Brackenhurst, Saturday 23 November

A whole gaggle of group members turned up at Brackenhurst for the first session of the winter at the feeding site. Regulars included Kev, Gary, Pete S, Duncan and myself, plus ringer Liz White who has moved into the area recently and student Rebecca Culling who's looking at the preponderance of feather mites in relation to brightness in Yellowhammers.

The morning was milder than expected, and after an early breeze was quite calm and slightly overcast; just the job for mist netting and we had a decent session with 71 birds of eight species processed.

After the cold spring, a lower than usual number of tits caught was not unexpected. Seven out of ten Great Tits were aged as adults indicating poor breeding success. You would expect juvenile birds to outnumber adults at this time of year. Chaffinches dominated the catch, accounting for about a third of the total. Besides retraps from last winter, we also caught Chaffinches from 2009 and 2010 and Yellowhammers from 2010 and 2011.

Winter thrushes were thin on the ground, but Gary did pick out a Peregrine giving the Wood Pigeons a fright and a Little Owl was calling at dawn.

Totals for individual species ringed/retrapped (53/18) were: Goldcrest 1/0, Dunnock 3/2, Robin 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 6/2, Blue Tit 5/0, Great Tit 4/6, Chaffinch 22/3, Yellowhammer 9/5.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Ian's Little Owl boxes

This Autumn, the talented construction students at Brooksby Melton College, where I work, built me ten Little Owl nest boxes for a small project around Cropwell Butler where I live. I'd like to find out more about Little Owl preferences, dispersal and breeding success and I am hoping this is a good place to start.

The boxes are based on the Bob Sheppard dimensions which I am led to believe is one of the designs which Little Owls will take to more readily. In fact, as they are known to nest in anything from hay stacks to rabbit burrows it'll be interesting to see what occupancy rates I get with a concentrated effort.

This weekend I erected the last of the boxes around the cow and sheep fields which surround the village, along hedgerows and mainly in mature apple, ash and oak trees. After doing so, I have a fresh appreciation for the hard work that goes into projects like this and a bigger respect for the dedicated conservationists who conduct large scale and long term schemes.

The other evening I was out with my lamp hoping to find Woodcock and ended up catching a young Little Owl which was a pleasant surprise and definitely shows that they are present in the areas where I erected the boxes. Here's hoping for a mild winter and a good breeding season next year.


Saturday, 9 November 2013

Rushcliffe Community Partnership Awards

On Thursday 7 November, Kev, Jim, Duncan and I attended the Rushcliffe Community Partnership Awards 2013 on behalf of SNRG. We had been nominated for an award in the Protecting and Enhancing our Environment category by Gordon Dyne.

We were up against strong opposition and there were 12 other nominees. The award was presented to another very devoted and worthy group, the Friends of Sharphill Wood, but we are still very proud to have been nominated.

However, it's lucky we did not leave in a cob after that though, because for the very last award, the Mayor's special award, the Mayor, Cllr Brian Buschman, had shortlisted us for his own award. We didn't win it, but it was very nice to finish joint second! We received a certificate and memento as recognition of this nomination.

It was a very prestigious event with lots of worthy volunteers receiving recognition for their tireless and selfless efforts in all areas of community volunteering.

Fingers crossed for next year.

Mick P


Monday, 4 November 2013

Common Redpoll at Bestwood

I caught a Common Redpoll at Bestwood today. It was in the net with 2 Lesser Redpolls so it really stuck out. It had a wing length of 75mm and weighed 11.8g. The only other birds caught were a Tree Sparrow (with a primary moult score of 48), a Reed Bunting, a Blackbird and a retrap Great Tit.

Mick P

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Barn Owls - a final encore?

A single Barn Owl chick ringed near Bottesford today concludes the 2013 breeding season monitoring. There had been 4 chicks there a month ago. It'll need a large slice of good fortune to make it through to breed in 2014. Let's hope for a kind winter and better times with the owls in 2014.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Barn Owls - Autumn Update

We managed to ring another eight barn owl chicks on Saturday. As seems to be the norm, seven of these were ringed at Normanton, nr Bottesford, which is a hot spot for late broods. The Indian summer is being kind to them and the BOs are finding enough food at the moment. This is unusual as late breeders tend to have very small clutches and or fail entirely once the autumn gales and rain kick in. Last year I ringed 88 pullus, with seven of those ringed in September. So far this year I've ringed 38 pullus, but 27 of them have been ringed since 1st September and there's still one more brood to hopefully ring in November!


Attenborough Ringing Demo, Sunday 6 October

We had a good turn out of ringers for the demo at Attenborough on Sunday on a glorious morning with a light westerly breeze. Unfortunately we had very few birds and not very many visitors. The total catch was just 9 new birds comprising 3 Blue Tits, 1 Great Tit, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Robin 1 Tree Sparrow and 2 Dunnocks. Despite the lack of birds and visitors it was nice to have time to catch up with people and have a chat. Thanks to Jim, Mick P, Alex, Sue, Kate and Sophie for helping out and as usual many thanks to the staff at the visitor centre for keeping us fed and watered throughout.


Monday, 30 September 2013

Recent Recoveries

This time we have a number of reports, mainly of Barn Owls, which were ringed as chicks and controlled at nest boxes during June 2013:

From Costock in August 2008 to Hickling Pastures
From Caunton in June 2009 to Kirklington
From Plumtree in June 2009 to Costock
From Bingham in July 2010 to Plungar
From Screveton in July 2011 to Screveton
From Screveton in July 2011 to Shelton
From Shelford in May 2012 to Claypool, Lincolnshire
From Upper Broughton in July 2012 to Cotgrave
From Aslockton in September 2012 to Upper Broughton
From Collingham in June 2011 to Girton

In addition to the Barn Owls, we also have some other findings:

A Kestrel ringed as a chick at Shelton in June 2012 was found dead in a cattle trough at Scarrington in March 2012.

A House Sparrow ringed at Hucknall in December 2011 was discovered dead in a Hucknall nest box in May 2013.

A Tree Sparrow ringed at Bestwood in March 2012 was also found dead in a nest box at Bestwood in April 2013.

A young Blackcap ringed at Holme Pierrepont in August 2012 was controlled at Cambridge in June 2013.

A young Waxwing ringed at Manchester in February 2013 was captured again in April at Clifton.

A young Garden Warbler ringed at Wraysbury Gravel Pits, Windsor and Maidenhead in August 2011 was captured again at Attenborough in June 2013.

A Reed Warbler ringed at Pitsford Reservoir, Northampton in July 2012 was captured at Holme Pierrepont in June 2013.


Monday, 23 September 2013

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 23 September

Kev, Gary, Duncan, Tom, Alex, Sue and I spent most of the final session of the season sun-bathing on an unusually warm and still September morning. The site didn't feel particularly busy with birds and it may be that many summer migrants have left. A few small flocks comprised mainly Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, with a sprinkling of Blue and Long-tailed Tits, but there were no enormous flocks.

The total number of birds trapped was 24 (18 new/6 retrap), comprising: Robin: 4/2, Blue Tit: 2/1, Blackbird: 1/1, Dunnock: 2/1, Wren: 0/1, Chiffchaff: 3/0, Blackcap: 4/0, Whitethroat: 1/0, Reed Warbler: 1/0. The oldest retrap was the Blackbird at 3 years.

Chiffchaff (Pete Leonard)

It's been an odd season and despite the lack of gales and floods that we've become accustomed to, many species don't appear to have had a particularly good year. But as always, it is difficult to gauge this sort of thing until a much broader data set is available.

Away from the nets, Meadow Pipit passage was regular throughout the morning and a handful of Swallows were the only hirundines. A couple of Buzzards soared over and Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers were all around. Snipe bombed over on a couple of occasions and wildfowl numbers are already building with good rafts of Tufted Duck and Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall and Wigeon all present in small numbers. Butterflies included Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Speckled Wood and what were probably a couple of Small Coppers whizzing by. Good numbers of hawker dragonflies were most likely Migrant Hawkers. And just as we were leaving we watched a Hobby circling near the A52.


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 15 September

Alex, Duncan, Gary, Sue, Tom and I made a visit to the Grange side of Holme Pierrepont on Sunday. The weather forecast was not good but we started in sunny and calm conditions. Unfortunately this soon deteriorated with the wind picking up and rain showers starting, by mid morning we decided to call it a day. The site was very quiet and we only managed a catch of 12 including 2 retraps. They included just 5 warblers, 2 Blackcaps, and single Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler. Overhead there were many House Martins and a couple of Jay's dropped in near the nets - but not near enough.


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

It's all over now... or is it?

I thought of this headline before Pete did his. (Great minds think alike - ed.) Ruth, Emma and meself went back to several Barn Owl boxes over the weekend (where birds had been present, on eggs etc back in the summer) to see what they were up to. Until then, only a paltry 12 chicks had been ringed on my rings, but by Sunday we'd added another 18! Surprisingly, this included broods of 4 & 7 in boxes c1km apart on the Smite, and the females had swapped boxes since last year. Makes you wonder if there's an alpha male providing for both of them. It was the first time I'd seen a brood of 7 and there are only 3 records ever of broods of 8 fledging. Chicks we have ringed have mostly been in clusters at Barkestone, Halam, Flintham, Normanton & Shelton, for reasons I'm not sure why.

Though the factors affecting the Barn Owls probably include:
  • 2012 started off as a promising short-tailed vole year, but the wet and cold summer/autumn hit them hard and very few were found cached.
  • Barn owls bred well to start with in 2012, but the poor weather and food availability hit them hard with lots of chick stage failures. Some boxes had the same female fail twice and in others two different females failed, and chick weights were low.
  • The poor weather continued into the autumn & winter/spring which caused very poor first winter survival. To maybe show this, in 2012 I processed 19 first summer barn owls, this year it was 5. In 2011 & 2012, I ringed c80 pulli. Not hellishly scientific, but a crude measure showing a 75% drop in first winter survival between 2011-12 and 2012-13.
  • The winter extended well into spring this year. The BTO had 3-4 times the usual recovery rate of dead Barn Owls and these, unusually, were mainly experienced adults who, for lack of food, left their territories and got killed on the roadside. In a good year they would have been on eggs by April.
  • Birds that survived to breed in 2013, either tried early on and mostly failed or appear to have delayed and are having some success now.
These late breeders, and I potentially still have 2 broods to ring in October, will need a good autumn to fledge this weekend's young and for them to find their feet.

Sorry if this sounds pessimistic! A mild winter (please) and a good vole year will allow the Barn Owls to come back from this very poor year for them.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

A late goal in extra time

I had to cut down my boxes this year due to lack of time. I realised this would mean I ringed fewer owls, but that's just how it had to be. However, I didn't think my total would ever be this low. Today I ringed my first and probably only brood of Barn Owls of the season in Colston Bassett. A fairly healthy brood of four. I'm sure Jim will be reporting more soon, but it seems as if the small number of successful pairs have been very late breeders this year. Earlier in the season I ringed two broods of Little Owls but I didn't get any Tawnys this year - and that's out of 60 boxes checked! Let's hope for a kinder winter and a better crop in 2014.


Monday, 2 September 2013

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 1 September

Alex, Duncan, Gary, Sue, Tom and I made another visit to the A52 side of Holme Pierrepont on Sunday. It was good that we were also joined by Nabegh and great to see he has made it out of Syria again. He flies back out to the Middle East later this week but thankfully to Jordan where he is hoping to stay for a while.

We had deliberately left no poles on site at the Grange end this year and only a few at the ‘safest’ net rides at the A52 end - but we still found that two had been taken when we went to erect the nets. There was a bit of a breeze to start with and the forecast was for it to increase, and so it did, stronger than we expected. We still managed a decent catch of 46 including 6 retraps - the oldest being a 3 year old Blackbird. As usual the catch was made up mostly of warblers. However, there were no Sedge Warblers and only two Reed Warblers. Overhead a few hirundines were passing through and a Hobby passed by quite low as we sat at the base.


Saturday, 31 August 2013

Fulmar recovery

It may sound odd for a land-locked ringing group, but we've just received details of a Fulmar that was ringed by the group as an adult in July 1988. The bird was ringed by Mick T at a cliff top site on a day that 29 Fulmars were ringed (mostly pulli but 4 adults were fleyg netted). It was towards the end of a week that Gary, Mick T, Chris, Garry Barker and Kev spent ringing seabirds around the top of Scotland. They did another 13 the next day including 4 more adults. They ringed at various sites including mist-netting at the Loch of Mey where a variety of waders and gulls were caught, including a Great Black-backed! They also managed to round up a brood of Shoveler. The Fulmar in question was caught a mere 5km from the original site but a whopping 25 years later. However, the longevity record for this species is 40yrs, so let's hope someone visits the area in about 2029....

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Recent Recoveries

A young Waxwing ringed in Norway in October 2012 was controlled at Clifton in February 2013.

A Grey Heron ringed as a chick at Attenborough Nature Reserve in April 2013 was found dead near Loddington, Kettering, Northamptonshire in July 2013, an interesting movement for a young bird.

A Barn Owl ringed as a chick at Langar in June 2012 was hit by a lorry near the same site in February 2013.

 A Great Tit which was ringed as a youngster at Granby in November 2010 was discovered dead in a nearby nest box in April 2013. Another Great Tit which was ringed as a youngster at Granby in March 2009 was discovered dead in a nearby nest box in February 2013.

 A Common Tern ringed as a chick at Attenborough Nature Reserve in July 2011 was found dead (possibly predated) at Nottingham City Airport, Tollerton in July 2013.


Monday, 19 August 2013

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 18 August

I joined Kev, Gary, Duncan and Alex for my first session at HPP in quite some time and was amazed at how parts of the site had grown up. In fact when I went for a wander, paths that had been clear on my last visit were not just impassable, the were invisible with thick shrouds of brambles blocking my way.

Nevertheless, the main trapping areas were productive on this pleasant, sunny morning and the first couple of rounds were busy before the sun and wind slowed everything to a halt. We processed 56 birds, 10 of which were retraps. These were all relatively recent other than the Spanish Reed Warbler which we've now caught in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and which was originally ringed in Spain on 18/08/07 as a youngster.

Totals as follows (new/retrap): Long-tailed Tit 0/2, Wren 0/1, Reed Warbler 17/2, Blackcap 14/2, Garden Warbler 3/1, Bullfinch 0/2, Chiffchaff 2/0, Willow Warbler 4/0, Reed Bunting 1/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Robin 2/0, Blackbird 2/0.

Also seen were Yellow Wagtail, several Common Terns, a trickle of Sand Martins and Swallows overhead (but no Swifts...), a couple of Gadwall, 3 Sparrowhawks (including a pair sparring high in the air) and a couple of Jays. Butterflies were present in reasonable numbers, particularly Peacocks and Small Whites, and Brown Hawkers and Common Darters were the most common dragonflies seen.


The Spanish Reed Warbler that is something of an old friend now. (PML)

It's a battle to get to any point at which you can look over the water now, so thick are the reeds. I wonder how long it'll take for the entire pit to cover?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 11 August

Duncan, Alex, Gary and I ran a session at the A52 end of Holme Pierrepont on Sunday. We also had Sue Lakeman along with us, Sue wanted to see what ringing involved and contacted us via Lynda Milner. The morning started sunny with a slight breeze but again the wind soon got up and started to affect the nets.

We had a particularly hectic couple of net rounds and then it all went quiet as the wind increased. We ended on 76 birds including 4 recently ringed retraps. 70 of the birds were caught by 10:00am! About two thirds of the birds were warblers including 11 Blackcaps and 11 Reed Warblers, it was nice to get 3 Lesser Whitethroats as well.

To end the morning we caught a partial albino Blackbird, no need for colour rings to spot this one in the field!


Monday, 5 August 2013

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 4 August

Duncan, Gary and I ran another session at the Grange end of Holme Pierrepont on Sunday. The morning started calm and bright but the wind soon got up and started to affect the nets, one net we took down early because it was billowing. Despite the conditions we caught steadily, although a couple of nets were unusually unproductive.

We ended on 56 birds including 10 retraps, the highlight was a juvenile Cetti's Warbler. The other birds were mostly warblers including 6 Garden Warblers but there were no Whitethroat caught in the nets and of the 16 Reed Warblers caught only 2 were adults - have they left early? We did recapture the French-ringed Reed Warbler we had found earlier in the summer, but other than that, the retraps were all recent birds.

To end the morning we ringed a brood of 3 Whitethroats in a nest that David found a couple of weeks ago; so there were some adults still around!

Overhead there were a few hirundines and Swifts moving through, a Buzzard went over and Gary thought he saw a couple of Sandwich Terns.


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 28 July

Alex, Tom, Duncan, Gary and I got another session in at the Grange end of Holme Pierrepont on Sunday. There was a stiff breeze from the start, so we were not hopeful of matching last weeks catch. The breeze also prevented us from erecting a couple of nets. The first round produced a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a decent mix of other birds but it quickly dropped off and we ended on 33 birds including 7 retraps


Monday, 22 July 2013

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 21 July

Alex, Tom, David, Samantha, Gary and I managed to get another session in at the Grange end of Holme Pierrepont on Sunday. There was an event on at the Water Sports Centre but no one was on the gate when we got there so we parked in the usual car park. The weather conditions were not as good as last week, there was a slight breeze and occasional drizzle, which became more persistent just before we finished.

However, the birds were not put off by the breeze or drizzle and we had a 'new' best catch of the year ending on 110 birds including 17 retraps. The numbers caught kept us busy all morning, we would no doubt have been even busier but the resident campers again made us restrict the net rides we used. It was mostly the usual species caught but we did miss out on Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat and the Willow Warblers were in much reduced numbers since the previous week. Lots of juveniles again generally but a catch of 14 Long-tailed Tits contained only 6 juvs! The best of the retraps were a Reed Warbler and a Blue Tit from 2009. To end the session David was rewarded with his first Cetti's Warbler.


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Big Box Update

Now up to 9 Barn Owl pulli ringed this year, with 6 of those from Flintham including this healthy brood of four. Around here and by Bottesford they are having some breeding success, whereas north of the Trent is looking very poor for them. By this stage last year, I'd ringed 58 Barn Owl pulli!

Two well grown female Barn Owl pulli near Bottesford.

Kestrels seem to be having a very late, but average breeding season with last year's total of 40 pulli ringed just passed. This brood seemed to be asynchronous which is not the norm.

Harder to say how the Little Owls are doing. They've been reported to be doing okay in Lincs (mainly in boxes), but I've a brood of two and three broods of one to ring, plus a failure at egg stage which suggests they're not having a great season in south Notts. This is one of the singleton broods at Brackenhurst.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 14 July

Alex, Duncan, Gary and I managed to get a session in at the Grange end of Holme Pierrepont on Sunday in what could only be described as absolutely perfect netting conditions. The birds seemed to respond to the conditions and we had our best catch of the year ending on 88 birds including 13 retraps, just before the cloud burned off and the sun came out. It was the usual species caught including all the usual warblers and lots of juveniles this time. The best of the retraps was a Robin from 2009.


Recent Recoveries

A Magpie chick ringed at Toton in May 2012 was found dead in Long Eaton in May 2013.
A Barn Owl chick ringed at Normanton in August 2012 was found dead in a water trough near Wysall in May 2013.
A young Waxwing ringed at Clifton in January 2013 was found dead with a companion at Stockport in April 2013, looks to have been a road casualty.
A young House Sparrow ringed at Hucknall in July 2012 was found dead at the same site in June 2013.
A young Coal Tit ringed at Hucknall in February 2013 suffered the same fate and was discovered in May 2013.
On a more positive note, however, a Barn Owl chick ringed at Muston in August 2012 was discovered with a broken wing at Sutton Bonington in April 2013 and was rehabilitated and released later in July 2013.


Monday, 15 July 2013

Brack Kestrel note published

For those of you who don't subscribe to British Birds, the following note appeared recently.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 7 July

Duncan, Tom, Gary and I made the first summer visit to Holme Pierrepont, planning to ring at the Grange end, on what was predicted to be the hottest day of the year. However, there was a triathlon event on at the water sports centre and as expected we were not allowed entry to the car park, so we went round to the A52 side to run a session there. We expected to finish a little early because of the temperature and the catch dropping off but despite very calm conditions the catch never picked up enough to drop off! We ended with just 28 birds including 1 retrap, a Chaffinch from 2010. The usual other species were caught, just not many of them. Sightings included 3 Green Woodpeckers and 2 Jay but a surprising lack of hirundines or Swifts.


Sunday, 7 July 2013

House Sparrows

Having been ringing in my garden for over a year now, one of the things I find interesting is the comings and goings of certain species.

in July 2012 I was mainly catching Starlings and Goldfinches, yet this year I have had the pleasure of catching House Sparrows as the dominant species at my feeders.

I am very much looking forward to (hopefully) recapturing some ringed birds in the future and also trying to sex some of the young birds as they go through their post juvenile moult.

As with many species this spring I have noticed some very weak feathers and fault barring in the tail feathers which one might attribute to occasional periods of cold and windy weather whilst the birds were in the nest.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Attenborough CES Visit 6, Sunday 30 June

Gary, Duncan, Tom, Alex and I made the sixth and final CES visit of the season on Sunday. The weather was good and completely different to what we had to endure on visit five. Unfortunately the better weather did not encourage birds to fly into the nets and we finished with just 28 birds including 6 retraps. No particular retraps of note, but 8 Bullfinch in the catch will probably ensure that this species is the only one on the CES with increased numbers over previous years. Again the 'missing' birds were juvs, this week only 40% were juveniles. I hope that Holme Pierrepont will prove better in future weeks but based on reports from around the country of poor catches I'm not that optimistic!



Last night Ian and I visited three Kestrel boxes in which females had been incubating a few weeks ago. Happily, we found ringable chicks in all three and all of a similar size. This was particularly gratifying in light of the poor season being experienced by Tawny and Barn Owls and I had half expected the Kestrels to suffer a similar fate.However, some clues to their survival were scattered around each box in the form of small feathers (see pic below). Prey items identified included Blackbird, Chaffinch and Goldfinch whilst many others remained unidentified. A few small scraps of fur were present, but clearly Kestrels are relying heavily on birds this year rather than small mammals, which we know are in short supply after the hard winter. Some of the chicks felt a little thin, so I hope this diet continues to sustain them...


Sunday, 30 June 2013


I've not posted much on this subject this year, because there isn't much to post. As we're hearing in so many places, the season is turning out to be a bit of a shocker. I haven't ringed any Tawny Owl chicks in 2013 and I have only found one pair of Barn Owls incubating so far and I've checked more than half my boxes, including most of my 'bankers'.

My Kestrels seem to be doing a little better and I should have a few broods to ring in the next few days. It will be interesting to see if there are any signs of what they've been eating. 

And I've doubled my Little Owl average - with two broods ringed. But best of all, I caught the mother in the second box and she was ringed. It turned out she'd been one of the chicks Ian & I had ringed in a nearby box in 2012. I wonder if being raised in a nest box encourages you to breed in one?


Attenborough Terns

Duncan and I visited Attenborough NR on Thursday morning to check out the Common Tern platforms and ring any chicks that were ready. Things started well on the Conneries platform with 11 chicks ringed, no chicks flying and 19 eggs still being incubated and no dead chicks. On to the Main Pond platform, 10 chicks ringed, no chicks flying and 9 eggs still being incubated but there were 5 dead chicks. On the 3rd platform on the Beeston Pond we ringed 5 chicks, no chicks were flying, 8 eggs were still being incubated and there were 3 dead chicks. A lot better year than 2012.

We plan a return visit in about 2 weeks when the remaining 36 eggs should have hatched. Many thanks to Graham Bowden of the Notts Wildlife Trust for his skilled boat driving and his assistant Chloe who I
think enjoyed the trip judging by the smile on her face.


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

More nesting pics

A selection of Ian's photos from this rather disappointing season.

 Blackbird nest
 Nestling Blue Tit
 Reed Bunting nest
Nestling Swallow
Nestling Tree Sparrow

Sunday, 23 June 2013

SNRG - The Movie!

The following short film was made for the Attenborough Nature Centre to give a flavour of the ringing carried out on the reserve. It was made by Fearon Cassidy and Crow Crag Productions and was funded by the University of Nottingham Enrichment Fund.

Attenborough CES Visit 5, Saturday 22 June

Gary, Duncan, Pete S and I made the 5th CES visit on the last day of the period 5 visit window - but only just. The forecast was poor so I was somewhat surprised we made it to the site rather than calling it off because it was raining. We erected the nets in a brisk wind with ominous skies above, it took a while as the vegetation had grown fast since our last visit and clearing that along with searching in vain for two poles ate into the time. It seems that even a private and gated site with a moat is still not a safe enough place to leave our poles!

Not surprisingly the rain started as we were finishing putting up the last net but it only lasted a short time, whisked on by the brisk wind. After that, other than the odd bit of drizzle, we remained dry until we went to take down at the end of the session. Then the heavens opened and we got soaked and had to put away 10 very soggy nets - they are still drying now!

The catch was poor but I think the weather conditions on the day were only partly to blame. We ended on 20 birds including 6 retraps. The 'missing' birds were juvs, of the passerines caught only 44% were juvs, at this time of year I would normally expect the ratio of juvs to adults to be much higher. The best birds were a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Reed Warbler ringed originally in 2007.


Monday, 17 June 2013

Clifton Grove Little Owls

Rob Hoare is a dedicated patch-watcher and excellent wildlife photographer. Since the mid 1990s he has been closely monitoring the birds in the Clifton Grove area of the Trent Valley.

Recently Rob has erected some nest boxes to help the local Little Owls as many of the mature trees in the area have fallen and natural nest sites are now rather scarce.

This spring he was pleased to find an adult bird on small young and kindly invited me to ring the chicks this weekend.

It'll be interesting to see how the boxes (and indeed the owls) perform over the coming years, hopefully we can understand them better and get an idea of breeding success and survival rates.


 Photographs courtesy of Rob Hoare and Jan Hennig