Thursday, 30 January 2014

Granby, Thursday 30 January

Ruth, Jim, Duncan and I met this morning to attempt only the second session at Granby this winter, with previous attempts being hindered by the poor weather we've been struggling with during the last few weeks. As we got on site and put the nets up, it felt strangely mild, not the fridge-like experience I have been told to expect at this site. The morning began with a distinct lack of birds in the area, which was reflected in the poor first net round, but by the time we checked the nets the second time, the tits seemed to have woken up and we had a reasonable catch. This wasn't to last however, and as we processed the last few birds of the round, light snow started to fall. As we did our third net round the snow came in heavier and we decided to close the nets, and with conditions not improving, we soon took down before the rain set in as we left the site. Jim's Landrover had a close shave with the muddy track down to the feeding site, but we managed to get it out with a bit of digging and manpower!

The total catch was 30 birds of which 12 were retraps, and are as follows (new/retrap) - Blackbird 1/0, Robin 0/1, Wren 1/0, Blue Tit 2/4, Great Tit 8/5, Chaffinch 1/0 and Yellowhammer 5/2.

The best retraps were a Blue Tit ringed in November 2010 as a 3, and a Great Tit, which was also ringed as a 3 in November 2011.


 (All pics by Ruth Walker)

Nest Record Scheme Training Day, Saturday 18th January

On the 18th of January, the group were kindly visited by Dave Leech of the BTO, to give us an insight into the Nest Record Scheme (NRS) and how the BTO use the data which is received by hundreds of volunteers across the country each year. We met at Rushcliffe Country Park and a good turnout consisting of Gary, Kev, Jim, Alex, Sue, Howard, Duncan and I sat down to hear what Dave had to say.

Some of the group are inexperienced in the world of nest recording, so it was interesting for us to get a good introduction to the scheme and how it works. Rather than tell us the actual methods of finding nests, normally reserved for training courses, Dave focused more on the science behind nest recording, giving us some good examples of the sort of things that have been discovered from the scheme, from phenological studies, to the studies of bird populations and causes for various successes and declines. It was interesting to learn how nest recording is being used as a conservation tool, and I think it may have encouraged some of the newer group members to actually get out there and start getting some nest records for the Group in the coming year.

For the more experienced members of the group, the second half of the day was focused on submitting nest records to IPMR, and although some group members are familiar with this practice, some extra tips and tricks were demonstrated by Dave and hopefully will help the group develop in terms of improving the quality and quantity of our nest records. I presume a lot of previous 'nesting' activity has been focused on ringing, but I think the message Dave wanted to get across was the importance of filling out full nest record cards and submitting these along with the ringing data. Ringing obviously gives us a lot of information about breeding activity and success, but having full information about all stages of the nesting process, from hatching dates to ring a pullus ready to fledge, as well as the nests that fail, all provide the BTO with some good solid data which can be used to help their research.

Many thanks to Jim for organising the event for us and to Rushcliffe Country Park for providing the venue, and not least to Dave Leech for giving up one of his Saturdays to come to a rainy Nottingham to spread the word.

Here's to a nest-filled 2014!


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Recent Recoveries

A first year female Reed Bunting ringed at Rushcliffe Country Park in Dec 2010 has been caught by friend of SNRG Garry Barker of Charnwood RG in Leicestershire in Nov 2013.

Then one of Ian's Lesser Redpolls from March 2013 in Langar was caught in Nov 2013 at Icklesham, 248km away on the south coast.

Finally, a Blackbird ringed in May 1988 in Clifton was recovered 2 years later in 1990 at the same site. Quite why this has taken so long to reach us is anyone's guess!


Monday, 20 January 2014

Brackenhurst, Sunday 19 January

It's never a sign of a good ringing session, when you're sarnies are gone by 9 and you go home with an empty flask. Alex, Gary, Rebecca and I had a quiet morning at Brack. We put up nets in the dark, in light drizzle which soon cleared. No real dawn as it was dark and overcast, and quite still. Ideal netting conditions you'd think, but the almost warm temperature made it otherwise.

We processed 47 birds steadily through the morning, comprising only seven species, of which about a third were Yellowhammer. The oldest retraps were a 2009 Blue Tit and a 2010 Yellowhammer. Elsewhere a Tawny was calling first thing, lots of winter thrushes and the resident Buzzard annoying the corvids.

Totals for individual species ringed/retrapped (20/27): Dunnock 0/3, Robin 1/2, Blackbird 0/1, Blue Tit 2/3, Great Tit 6/7, Chaffinch 3/2, Yellowhammer 8/9.


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

2012 SNRG Report

At last, it's done and ready. The group's 2012 Report is a chunky one, now available as a pdf. For details of how to obtain one, please see the new 'Reports' page (tab at the top).


I caught this 5F Blackcap this morning; a first for the garden. It was a good weight too at 19.3g.

Mick P

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Ringing this weekend at Brackenhurst & Granby, 11/12 January

 Frosty dawn and Granby (JL)

A rare occurrence this winter, mist-netting two days in a row. As weather looked set fare, we ringed both Brack and Granby this weekend. Both sessions had 50 odd birds. After the 100 last weekend at Brack, I would have expected more. Particularly Yellowhammers at Granby, but only starting to bait there last month may have impacted on their attendance at the feeders. Nearly all the Group attended one of the sessions. We finished both promptly at midday; Brack because of the westerly winds building up and at Granby because the birds dropped right off.

It highlights the decline of some UK species, when the star birds caught are Greenfinch and Song Thrush. One time Greenfinch would have been one of the most common birds ringed by the Group. Times change.

Of the retraps, the most notable were a Brack Blue Tit from 2008, Granby had Great and Blue Tits that were both ringed on 16/11/2008 and Dunnocks from 2010 and 2011. The oldest bird was a seven year old Blue Tit at Granby (UK longevity record is nine years).

Brackenhurst totals for individual species ringed/retrapped (23/33): Dunnock 0/2, Robin 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Redwing 1/0, Goldcrest 0/1, Blue Tit 3/10, Great Tit 2/7, Greenfinch 1/0, Tree Sparrow 5/0, Chaffinch 2/1, Yellowhammer 7/12.

Granby totals for individual species ringed/retrapped (40/14): Wren 2/1, Dunnock 3/4, Robin 1/2, Song Thrush 1/0, Blue Tit 15/3, Great Tit 9/4, Chaffinch 7/0, Yellowhammer 2/0.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Brackenhurst, Sunday 5 January

A good morning at the Brack feeders with 101 birds handled. Finally the weather settled for a while and we had ourselves a bright and calm day with plenty of birds about. Our number included Gary, Kev, Emma, Sue, myself and my old Dunstable mate Mick Dunne. We finished at midday in anticipation of the forecast rains which did not arrive 'til evening.

Yellowhammers are now appearing in decent numbers and made up two-fifths of the catch. The feeder nets had an odd new species, with five male House Sparrows ringed! Tits and Chaffinch numbers were maybe lower than expected, but the sound lure in Orwin's attracted Redwing again. We only seem to catch Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrest when the Redwing are singing in their Latvian dialect.

Totals for individual species ringed/retrapped (68/33): Wren 0/1, Dunnock 1/1, Robin 0/2, Redwing 4/0, Goldcrest 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 3/10, Blue Tit 0/5, Great Tit 1/2, Treecreeper 1/0, House Sparrow 5/0, Tree Sparrow 11/0, Chaffinch 5/5, Yellowhammer 35/7.


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Winter Warmer

Today, Jim and I, assisted by Graham and Ian of Attenborough Nature Reserve, spent a long, hard day checking the heron and cormorant nests at Attenborough. All the 33 heron and 17 cormorant nests were checked, and the surrounding vegetation cleared to improve access. The latter should pay dividends later in the season by speeding up our checks.

Checks of the heron nests resulted in four of last year's colour rings being recovered from chicks that failed to fledge; that's six overall now. Out of 27 heron chicks colour-ringed last year, that's not too bad I guess. It looked like the gales had taken their toll on the heron nests, as eight were showing signs of collapse or had disappeared completely. Checks of the cormorant nests revealed only 1 un-ringed dead chick. 15 were colour ringed last year. Of the 17 numbered nests, four had disappeared completely.

So where are all the colour-ringed herons and cormorants? Please keep an eye out and report any sightings as these provide us with the most important data.

With the winter being mild so far, we half expected to find herons on eggs, but no new nesting activity was witnessed during today's checks.

Mick P.