Monday 24 February 2014

Brackenhurst, Saturday 22 February

Certainly picked the right day to ring at Brack this weekend as it's blowing a hoolie outside right now. Saturday was more spring like weather, being dry and pretty calm in between the occasional blustery spells. It was nice to hear the Little Owl calling as Alex, Duncan, Gary Pete S and I wandered down to the feeders at first light.

As with Granby, earlier in the week, the Yellowhammers showed up and made up nearly half the catch of 70 birds. The birds turned up regularly through the morning, and it was nice to again have Song Thrush and Greenfinch in the hand. We catch so few of these nowadays.

Oldest retraps were a Great Tit and two Yellowhammers from the 2010/11 winter period. 

Totals for individual species ringed/retrapped (41/29) were: Goldcrest 0/1, Song Thrush 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Dunnock 0/4, Blue Tit 8/3, Great Tit 5/6, Chaffinch 3/3, Greenfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 22-12.


Adult male Yellowhammer ringed as juv 23/10/2010 and not caught since, until yesterday. (GHG)

1st winter  Song Thrush, with 7 unmoulted greater coverts. (GHG)

Friday 21 February 2014

Granby, Wednesday 19 February

Despite the mild temperature, Duncan, Gary and I experienced a decent ringing session at Granby on Wednesday. By that I mean what you might expect in a normalish winter. We processed 67 birds of 11 species in a steady flow through the morning and had time to talk about what we do with some passing dog walkers. Blue and Great Tit and Yellowhammer all took a quarter share of the catch, and it was nice to get amongst the latter for the first time this winter at the site. The weather was, I guess, what you'd call typical April with bright sunshine interspersed with showers. Apart from the Yellowhammers, best birds were the Song Thrush and the five year old male Reed Bunting who had his latest missus in tow.

Oldest retraps were:

2008/09 - male Reed Bunting
2010/11 - two Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit
2011/12 - Great Tit

Totals for individual species ringed/retrapped (38/29): Song Thrush 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Wren 0/1, Dunnock 1/0, Robin 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 1/1, Blue Tit 7/9, Great Tit 5/11, Chaffinch 5/4, Reed Bunting 1/1, Yellowhammer 16/1.


 No wind in the willows (JL)

 Scrapes to encourage Cinquefoil growth for Grizzled Skippers (JL)

Recent Recoveries

An Egyptian Goose which was ringed at Attenborough in November 2009 was sighted by a ringer in the field at the same site in November 2013.

A Cormorant ringed as a chick at Attenborough in June 2013 was found dead at Foston, Derbyshire in January 2014.

A young Reed Warbler ringed at Holme Pierrepont in August 2013 was controlled 9 days later in Charente-Maritime, France having traveled 784km. Remarkably, a young Whitethroat ringed at Holme Pierrepont in August 2013 was also controlled at the same site in Charente-Maritime, France 24 days later.

One of the Tree Sparrows which I ringed in Keyworth in May 2013 was controlled at Wanlip, Leicestershire later in November 2013.

Another of my Lesser Redpolls from Langar ringed in March 2013 was controlled in Darnall, South Yorkshire in November 2013. Interestingly this bird was ringed on the same day as a Lesser Redpoll which has been controlled at Icklesham, also in November. It appears the birds have travelled in opposite directions.


National Nest Box Week

Duncan and I did the final owl nest box jobs today, putting up and replacing boxes in the east of the county. It was mere coincidence that it's National Nest Box Week, as diaries, rain and wind had prevented earlier attempts to get out 'n about to do this. Twas nice to be out in the fine April weather (sun & hail).

Fingers crossed for better owling this year.


 Restoring a Barn Owl box that had come down near Swinderby (JL)
 Little Owl box near Elston (DH)
 Little Owl box near Elston (JL)
 Replacing a Tawny Owl box near Scarrington (DH)

Monday 17 February 2014

NRS training courses in April/May

A message from Hazel Evans, Nest Record Scheme Secretary:

I thought you might like to know that we've just published this year's programme of nest recording courses, which are taking place at Norfolk, Surrey, Cornwall and County Armagh in April and May.

Nest recording courses are run to help BTO volunteers improve their nest-finding and monitoring skills and they are ideal for both new recorders and those wishing to broaden the range of species they monitor. A course involves going out into the field with an experienced tutor and learning techniques for finding nests of various species in different habitats, while of course following the Code of Conduct. As well as being an opportunity to gain experience and confidence in the field, attending a course is also a great way to meet and get to know other nest recorders.

If you're interested in attending one of this year's courses or if you know someone who might be keen, please visit for more details.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Brackenhurst, Monday 10 February

With windy weather stopping us ringing the last couple of weeks, and Atlantic storms reaching all the way to Nottinghamshire over the weekend, it was nice to get an all too brief window of calm weather on Monday morning. The group took advantage of this and a decent sized team consisting of Jim, Gary, Liz, Geoff, Duncan and myself met at Brackenhurst and headed down to see what was about, joined by Rebecca on another research session looking at feather mites on Yellowhammers for her dissertation project.

The site seemed quiet, with only a Robin singing in the darkness as we erected the nets, and didn't get particularly busy all morning, although large flocks of Fieldfare and Starling were feeding on the fields surrounding the ringing station. Other sightings included 2 Buzzards sat atop some pylons, and a Raven cronking somewhere in the distance.

We set nets in Orwin's to try and beckon down some more Redwing, and although one bird complied on the first net round, the nets were to remain empty for the remainder of the day. We couldn't even tempt a nearby Green Woodpecker in with some taped calls.

The nets in the feeding station were also quiet, with numbers of Chaffinch building through the morning, but little else of note. Another House Sparrow was caught, perhaps showing that they are using this as a regular feeding area now. The most notable thing was a lack of Yellowhammers, which meant Rebecca had a quiet morning, with only two caught, leaving us scratching our heads as to where they all might be.

The total catch was 39 birds, of which 25 were retraps, and are as follows (new/retrap) - Redwing 1/0, Wren 1/1, Dunnock 0/3, Robin 1/0, Blue Tit 1/4, Great Tit 5/4, House Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 4/11, Yellowhammer 0/2.