Monday, 29 December 2014

Kingston on Soar, Sunday 28 December

A freezing, snow-covered scene appeared before Alex, Gary and I as dawn broke at Kingston. We thought the cold weather would hopefully pull in a few more birds to the feeders. The first net round produced a few birds but not as many as expected, catching then continued with just a few birds each round. We thought we would have had a bigger catch given the perfect conditions but we did get a nice variety with another new Jay and 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. The morning ended with a total of 28 birds made up of (new/retrap): Robin 2/0, Chaffinch 6/1, Blue Tit 0/1, Great Tit 1/5, Coal Tit 1/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Dunnock 1/0, Blackbird 2/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Redwing 1/0, Great Spotted Woodpecker 3/0, Jay 1/0.


Sunday, 28 December 2014

Recent Recoveries

A couple of recoveries of some of our ringed birds have come in;

A Reed Warbler ringed at Holme Pierrepont in August this year was soon the move and was controlled by ringers in Hampshire ten days later.

And an unfortunate Barn Owl is the first of this year's young birds to be reported to us as a road casualty, after being ringed in Clifton wood in June. It met its end near Bingham, so hadn't travelled far.

And we have controlled a few birds too;

A Barn Owl ringed as a chick by Birklands RG near Newark sewage works in May this year, was controlled nearby in Hockerwood, Southwell in August. Another Birklands Barn Owl chick, ringed in July 2013 in Caunton, was controlled close by in Kirklington this October.

Two Sorby Breck birds reported by us were a Mute Swan, colour-ringed in Markeaton, Derbys, in August 2010 which was resighted at Attenborough in May this year. Then a Reed Warbler, ringed at Williamthorpe, Derbys, in August 2012, was controlled at Holme Pierrepont in July this year.

And finally we controlled a Chiffchaff in September this year at Holme Pierrepont which had been ringed as a youngster in August 2013, near Ripon in North Yorkshire.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Kingston on Soar, Saturday 13 December

A beautiful winter's morning broke as we set nets for the first time at the new Kingston on Soar feeding site. We put up just 2 x 6m and 2 x 9m nets and made a base a short distance away. The first net round produced a good catch and the next and again the next. We were pleasantly surprised by the numbers caught, to have been perfect it would have needed a bigger range of species. But the team of Sue, Tom, Alex, Alistair, Gary and I were happy enough with the final total of 72 all new birds (I’m sure that the next visit will include a good number of retraps!).

The total comprised: Treecreeper 1, Long-tailed Tit 11, Robin 2, Chaffinch 15, Blue Tit 20, Great Tit 16, Goldfinch 3, Dunnock 1, Blackbird 1 and Jay 2.

It was surprising number of tits in this farmland site, especially as there were no peanuts or other such favourite food of tits but as the winter goes on the site will hopefully pull in more farmland species. The two Jays were unexpected and managed to bring a little blood to the fingers of Tom and Sue! We were also joined for the session by potential new trainee, Jack.


(Alex Phillips x 3)

(Gary Goddard x 3)

A bit of group history...

SNRG has its roots in the Fairham Ornithological Society. Its founder, Humphrey Dobinson, has written the following letter to anyone with an interest in the early days of the group. (Click on the letter for a larger view.)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Granby, Sunday 7 December

Saturday would have been the better day to have gone out this weekend, but I wanted to show the Notts Biodiversity Action Group 'scrub-bashing' party what we do. About 20 of them were out to cut re-growth from last winter and do more clearance work on the Bingham side. This is all to encourage the Grizzled Skippers to move along the line from the Bingham Linear Park, where it is close to its northern limit in the UK.

Weather wise, it was windy with a mix of sun, cloud and showers; bit like April really! This affected the catch as not many birds were moving around (particularly Yellowhammers). I suspect they lie low as beating against the wind would burn a lot of calories. Nevertheless we managed 41 birds, which was dominated by tits & Chaffinches. The majority of the retraps were from last winter, bar a Chaffinch from 2012/13, Great Tit and Yellowhammer from 2011/12 and a Blackbird from 2008/09.

Captures were (new/retraps) 41(18/23): Blackbird 0/1, Blue Tit 6/8, Chaffinch 10/2, Dunnock 0/2, Great Tit 0/8, Redwing 1/0, Robin 0/1, Yellowhammer 1/1.


Monday, 8 December 2014

Recent Recoveries

The interesting recoveries continue, as a first winter female Chaffinch ringed at Brackenhurst in March 2010 was seen knocking about the Netherlands in October this year. That's a movement of 361km, 4.5 years after ringing. The ring was read in the field, which is quite an achievement considering the size of an A-ring and demonstrates the importance of placing the ring so it can be read in the field, no matter what size it is!

And a Tawny Owl that was ringed as a chick in Plungar 9 years ago, in May 2005, was picked up sick or injured in nearby Orston in November this year. See the earlier blog post for further information

Other recoveries are as follows -

4 ill-fated Barn Owls first:
  • a bird originally ringed as a pullus in June this year in Upper Broughton was found dead 8km away in a building in Wymeswold 4 months later
  • a bird ringed in June this year as a pullus in Moorgreen, was killed on the roads around Lincoln 5 months later having travelled over 50km
  • one ringed in Shelton this June as a pullus was found just 4km away in Hawksworth in August, having been partially eaten
  • and another June bird, ringed as a pullus in Muston, Leics, was found dead 3 months later, 31km away in Beeston, another road casualty
Then a Tawny Owl that was ringed as a pullus in May this year was found dead in nearby Norwell Woodhouse, in October.

Birds we have controlled are as follows:

A Barn Owl originally ringed as a chick by North Notts RG in Edingley in June 2013 was found dead 10km away in Caunton in February this year.

A Little Owl ringed in June 2013 as a chick in Hoby, Leics, was controlled by us in Tithby, 17km away in May this year.

And a Kestrel ringed in July 2011 as a pullus by Sorby Breck in Pilsley, Derbyshire, was found without its head in an owl box in Lowdham, in June this year, having travelled, one way or another, 30km from its birthplace.


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Monday, 1 December 2014


Today I retrapped a Treecreeper which was originally ringed in January 2013 and aged as a first winter bird (age code 5). According to the Identification Guide to European Passerines by Lars Svensson there is a “difference in the size and shape of the pale tip on the outermost long (3rd) primary covert, adults having smaller and more rounded tips, young birds larger and on average more drop-shaped or wedge-shaped pale tips”. However he does recommend more testing of this method.

Today's bird supports this aging method. Below is a juvenile bird for comparison.

Mick P

 juvenile Treecreeper wing (M. Pearson)

adult Treecreeper wing, age confirmed through ringing (M. Pearson)

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Brackenhurst, Sunday 30 November

A fine, bright sunrise met us this morning at Brackenhurst to herald in St Andrew's Day. We were nine (I thought about holding the AGM!) and included Alex, David Roberts, Duncan, Gary, a resurgent Libby, Nick, Sue, Tom and myself. The weather stayed bright and dry and backed up to a north easterly breeze as forecast. When will it get cold enough for all the trees to shed their leaves? I think we have enough leaf extracting experience now.

Catching was slow at the feeders, but nice to have the first four Yellowhammers of the winter. The weather needs to get harder to bring them in greater numbers. Orwin's again produced a large tit flock with 26 birds in one net round. This included 14 retrapped Long-tailed Tits of which half were from the last two winters. A small sample, but maybe indicative of higher survival rates with very recent milder winters. All the other retraps are from the same time frame.

Captures were (new/retraps) 81(39/42): Blackbird 1/0, Blue Tit 5/5, Chaffinch 9/2, Dunnock 1/1, Goldcrest 0/1, Greater Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Great Tit 6/17, Long-tailed Tit 0/14, Redwing 7/0, Robin 2/2, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Wren 2/0, Yellowhammer 4/0.


Great Spotted Woodpecker (Alex Phillips)

Goldcrest (Libby Welbourn) 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Tawny Owl recovery

Back in 2005, Jim ringed a brood of 5 Tawny Owls in a box in Plungar - still the only brood of 5 he's ringed. One of these chicks has just been found sick in Orston and handed into a Bingham vet 9 years later!

 The original brood in 2005 (JL)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Recent Recoveries

We have had some more birds controlled by others over the past few months, as well as a number controlled by SNRG members.

A couple of non-barn owls first: a cormorant which was ringed as a chick in April last year was reported from its colour rings at Priory Water near Melton Mowbray in October this year. The colour rings must be distinctive as it has also been sighted at Cossington a couple of times in March and September.

A Sand Martin, ringed as an adult in May this year near Ratcliffe-on-Soar was controlled by us at Newthorpe a month later.

And 7 individual Barn Owls:

One ringed in Bunny as a chick in July 2011 was found dead as a road casualty in nearby Wymeswold this October.

A bird ringed as a chick in Collingham in August 2012 was retrapped by North Notts RG in Sutton-on-Trent 2 years later in August 2014.

North Notts controlled another bird in Sutton-on-Trent that was ringed by SNRG, just over the river in Girton as an adult in September 2010. They retrapped it twice, once in June this year and again in August.

Barn Owls we have controlled include -

A bird in Muston in May this year, which was ringed as a chick in Lincolnshire in June 2011.

Another May bird in Muston which had travelled all the way from Suffolk where it was ringed as a chick in August 2013. Normal barn owl recoveries are local birds, but this one is from 136km away, quite a good distance for this species

A bird controlled in June in Girton, had originally been ringed as a chick in near Peterborough in June the previous year.

...and a bird originally ringed in Ruskington Fen Lincolnshire, in September 2013 as a chick, was controlled in Long Clawson in May this year.


Monday, 17 November 2014

Brackenhurst, Sunday 16 November

The forecast held good, being overcast, calm and damp through the morning. Apart from a round of 24 birds in the Orwin's nets, it was pretty quiet with little activity around the feeders. Personally, I think when its really calm birds are less inclined to move about in order to conserve energy. Still we managed to handle 47 birds, which just about kept our team of Kev, Linda, Sue, Gary, Alastair, Emma, Alex and me engaged.

The highlight would be a juvenile Magpie, the first for Brack since we started ringing there in 2008 and an unusual mist net capture. In between times we looked for a lost ram!

The sound lure only attracted two Redwing this time, but probably also accounted for the five 'continental' type Blackbirds. Later we tried a 'crest' lure and this maybe attracted the zephyr of 13 Long-tailed Tits, five of which were ringed last winter.

Captures were (new/retraps) 47 (28/19): Blackbird 5/0, Blue Tit 3/2, Chaffinch 1/1, Dunnock 1/0, Goldcrest 0/1, Great Tit 1/9, Long-tailed Tit 8/5, Magpie 1/0, Redwing 2/0, Tree Sparrow 4/1, Treecreeper 2/0.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Granby, Sunday 8 November

Another first winter visit; this time it was Granby. Our team was myself, Gary, Kev, Alex and Alister Feather from Birklands RG. The weather was calmer than forecast, but rain was expected late morning. In the event, the rain came early and we packed up around 09:30. Despite this we processed 50 birds. Surprisingly, what with the mild weather, we caught 23 birds before we'd got the nets fully open! Species were the usual suspects, but it was good for folks to get their eye in with the 18 Chaffinches we processed. All the retraps had been ringed last winter, bar a Dunnock from 2011. One of the Great Tits had been ringed by Ian in the summer as a pullus in one of the Granby nest boxes.

Captures were (new/retraps) 50 (40/10): Blue Tit 9/4, Chaffinch 17/1, Dunnock 3/1, Great Tit 6/4, Robin 3/0, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Wren 1/0.


Brackenhurst, Saturday 1 November

The forecast held and we managed our first visit to Brack this winter. Our team was Gary, Linda and myself. Though breezy, the nets were reasonably well sheltered, but what with that and the mild autumn, many leaves had to be extracted! The initial visit of the winter is always interesting in seeing the how breeding season has gone for the more common resident species. We set nets at the feeders and in Orwin's where we played a Redwing sound lure.

Overall, we processed 69 birds. About half were tits. As you might expect all the new Great Tits were birds of the year and retraps were from last winter. It looks like they've had a good year. Nine Tree Sparrows was a good total for here, and all appeared to be juvenile types and two of them were still in wing moult, but as we get no retraps one can't be definitive. Orwin's was productive with a charm of Goldfinches in one net and the lure pulling in eight Redwing.

Captures were (new/retraps) 69 (64/5): Blue Tit 10/0, Chaffinch 7/0, Dunnock 1/0, Goldcrest 2/0, Goldfinch 5/0, Great Tit 21/4, Long-tailed Tit 0/1, Redwing 8/0, Robin 1/0, Tree Sparrow 9/0, Wren 1/0.


Rushcliffe Community Awards 2014

On Wednesday 12 November, Jim and I, attended the Rushcliffe Community Awards 2014 on behalf of SNRG. We had been nominated again for an award in the Protecting and Enhancing our Environment category by Gordon Dyne.

Unfortunately we did not win, the top award was presented to Gotham Nature Reserve Trust, but we did receive a certificate again in recognition of our work.

Thanks go to Gordon for nominating the group.


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Baiting up and clearing rides

Granby is open for business and ready for season 14 mist-netting in a couple of weeks. Thanks to Ewan Weston and Mike Lennon for big help in getting it ready for the winter last Saturday. However, Brackenhurst beckons this weekend.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Attenborough Sand Martins

There are now a couple of videos on the Attenborough website documenting the Sand Martins that the group has been helping with:

Monday, 13 October 2014

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 12 October

A very foggy autumnal morning greeted Duncan, Alex, Nick, Gary and I when we met at Holme Pierrepont. The temperature gauge on the car went down to 4 degrees celsius on the journey to the site. This was going to be the closing session for the season at the Grange end of the site and as such the likelihood of a good catch was not thought to be high.

We set all the usual nets except for one which still had a tent erected in the ride, still apparently unoccupied. With no wind and few birds calling a warbler tape was set in the hope of catching any remaining migrants and we retired to the base.

A couple of the nets seemed to be catching the moisture in the fog and frequently needed shaking dry. From the first round catching was brisk and only really fell off towards the middle of the day as the fog lifted and the sun lit up the nets. We ended with a very good total of 69 birds including 26 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Robin 3/3, Wren 4/4, Dunnock 4/1, Blackbird 1/2, Blackcap 1/0, Cetti’s Warbler 1/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Treecreeper 1/1, Long-tailed Tit 10/4, Blue Tit 4/8, Great Tit 3/2, Bullfinch 3/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Reed Bunting 6/1.

We only managed to catch the one migrant warbler, a Blackcap, and that was as we were taking the nets down and the tape was off! The oldest retraps were a Blackbird and Blue Tit from 2012.

Overhead was pretty quiet, a few Jays were around and a Grey Wagtail but no winter thrushes as yet. At the end of the session all the poles and guys were removed and the site closed down, I guess the next big visit well be early next year to do some vegetation clearance.


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Recent Recoveries

Only a few recoveries have been dribbling in of late, but the latest one is a little more remarkable than the usual ones we get.

A Snipe, which was ringed at Holme Pierrepont in December 2011 was shot 994 days later on the 16th of September this year, having travelled to Ringkøbing in western Denmark. Interestingly, this bird was also retrapped between these dates at Holme Pierrepont in March 2013, so has a bit of history with the group!

In other news:

A Jackdaw ringed as a nestling in Normanton in June 2013 was shot in the same area almost a year later.

A Male bullfinch was found dead in July this year, having hit a window in Hucknall, after being ringed 3km away in Bestwood in 2011.

And a Barn Owl that was ringed as a nestling in Eaton in 2012 was found dead in the same area in September this year.


Long-eared Owl nest baskets

Don Pritchett and myself spent a pleasant couple of hours roaming a thicket in the Vale of Belvoir in the late sun yesterday afternoon putting up the LEO nest baskets he'd made from various garden centre products. LEOs are regularly seen here in the winter, so fingers crossed...

 (LEO's view from the nest!)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Holme Pierrepont, Tuesday 30 September

Duncan, Jim, Gary and I made a final visit to the Skylarks end of Holme Pierrepont on Tuesday. Another fine, clear morning with very little breeze, we erected most of the usual nets and set 4 tapes playing. At this time of year we do not expect to catch many birds as the warblers have generally moved out. There were a couple of Chiffchaffs singing but other than that the site seemed relatively quiet.

However catching started at a brisk pace before the breeze got up a little and the sun rose high in the sky. We caught only two species of migratory warblers but these were in good (and surprising) numbers. We finished with 70 birds including 7 retraps and a control, made up of (new/retraps and controls): Robin 5/2, Wren 3/0, Dunnock 1/1, Blackcap 13/0, Chiffchaff 12/1, Cetti’s Warbler 0/1, Goldcrest 2/0, Treecreeper 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 8/3, Blue Tit 5/0, Great Tit 1/0, Bullfinch 2/0, Chaffinch 2/0, Goldfinch 6/0, Reed Bunting 1/0.

The oldest retraps were the Cetti’s Warbler and one of the Robins that were both from 2012, we also had a control Chiffchaff. Overhead passed a few Skylark, a Swallow, two Buzzard and a couple of Jays. At the end of the session we removed all of the poles and guys, effectively closing this site for the winter.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Help the Notts Mammal Atlas

A provisional mammal atlas for Nottinghamshire has been produced by the county recorder, Michael Walker. The atlas is a collation of all the mammal records currently held in Nottinghamshire and can be viewed or downloaded here:

There are a large number of gaps in the data and the aim of its provisional publication is to encourage people to record and submit mammal records, including widespread and common species. Details of how to do so are included on the pdf.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Notts BTO Conference

The BTO are holding a regional conference in Nottinghamshire in November. Click here for details.

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 21 September

Duncan, Pete and I made a visit to the Grange end of Holme Pierrepont today. A fine, clear morning with very little breeze, we got 7 nets up quickly and then found 2 tents erected, one at the end of one of our usual net rides so we made do with just a couple more nets. As the morning went on, we decided there was either no one inside the tents or they were out for the count.

The site seemed relatively quiet (apart from the singing Cetti’s) but the first few catches were quite good before the breeze got up a little and the sun rose high in the sky. The warblers seem to be mostly gone but it was surprising to get only one Blackcap after the numbers caught in previous weeks.

We finished with 51 birds including 4 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Robin 2/1, Wren 2/1, Dunnock 2/0, Reed Warbler 5/0, Whitethroat 1/0, Blackcap 1/0, Chiffchaff 5/0, Long-tailed Tit 9/1, Blue Tit 2/0, Great Tit 1/1, Bullfinch 4/0, Reed Bunting 12/0. The retraps were all from the this year except the Great Tit which was from 2013.

Overhead passed a few Skylark and Meadow Pipit, two Ravens, two Buzzards, a couple of Grey Wagtails but no hirundines. A few Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall were on the water along with a family of Little Grebes and a Snipe was flushed from the reeds.


 The back pit still has water cover throughout (just) despite the dry summer, though in most places it is only a few inches deep.

 Five years ago this path had little more than the odd scrubby willow beside it and some group members remember when it was the grassy shoreline of the gravel pit.

 A young Whitethroat having almost completed its post-juvenile moult. The replaced covert is more chestnut than the adjacent juvenile feathers. (All photos PML)

Thursday, 18 September 2014


On Tuesday 16 September I joined Jamie Dunning and Steve Christmas at their moorland site near Manchester to assist in their project to colour-ring Twite.

They, along with a local bird enthusiast, have been baiting the site in an attempt to whoosh net the birds. A previous session resulted in 3 Twite being colour-ringed, today we managed to colour-ring 15 and also to ring 3 Linnet.

As they are generally a moorland and coastal bird it is unlikely that we will spot any colour-ringed birds in Nottinghamshire but please keep a look out whenever in suitable habitat.

For more information please contact Jamie

Mick P

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


Kev, Mick T, Duncan and I went to Rushcliffe Country Park today and lured in a family of swans with some bread. We managed to ring 4 young birds.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Holme Pierrepont, Saturday 13 September

Tom, Alex, Duncan and I made a visit to the new Skylarks end of Holme Pierrepont on Saturday. With a much reduced team compared to our last visit and overcast and relatively calm conditions, we only erected 8 nets, we did not want to get caught out with a massive catch again! It started well with good numbers on the first few net rounds but then catches quickly dropped off.

We finished with 59 birds including 6 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 2/0, Robin 3/3, Sedge Warbler 1/0, Reed Warbler 3/0, Whitethroat 3/0, Blackcap 22/0, Chiffchaff 13/1, Willow Warbler 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 0/1, Chaffinch 0/1, Goldfinch 3/0, Reed Bunting 2/0.

The retraps were all from the previous visit except the Long-tailed Tit which was from 2012. Interestingly the 12m net that caught about 25% of the birds on the last visit had just 1 retrap Robin this visit! Overhead passed a small number of hirundines, two Raven and a couple of Snipe.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Cormorant news

Though we only managed to ring 3 Cormorant chicks this year, ' CVA' has already been seen at two sites in South Yorkshire: Rother Valley Country Park on 05/07/14 and Orgreave Lakes on 04/09/14 - both about 50km away. Thanks to Alan Bateman for the photograph.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Vale Barn Owl News

Friends of SNRG, The Vale of Belvoir Barn Owl Conservation Group are presenting a conservation evening on Friday 12th December 2014 at Waltham Village Hall. Professor Ian Newton, OBE, FRS, Vice President of the RSPB and recent past Chairman of the BTO will be giving a talk on the Sparrowhawk. Three other talks are on bat detectors, Lincolnshire and Vale of Belvoir Peregrines and the ecological benefits of maintaining the Grantham canal. There will also be a number of conservation related information stands. Cost only £6. for full details see the new VBOC blog:

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Holme Pierrepont Ringing Demo photos

Many thanks to Geoff Prett for sending us these photos from our Ringing Demo.