Monday, 26 January 2015

Kingston, Sunday 25 January

Not sure where to start really, first session at Kingston late last year was excellent but each session since then has been poor with this last session being memorable for all the wrong reasons. Gary, Sue, Tom, Alex and I met at the site and quickly had the nets set. The bait in the feeders had gone down more in the last week than in any other week but the site seemed quiet. The first round produced only one bird and it didn't get better. We called it a day about 1100 having had just 3 birds, all new, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Song Thrush and a Blackbird. Not sure where we go from here other than to keep it baited and hope it improves.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

2013 SNRG Report

The group's 2013 Report is now available as a pdf. For details of how to obtain one, please see the 'Reports' page (tab at the top).

Friday, 23 January 2015

Granby, Friday 23 January

Sunday's forecast and commitments elsewhere, meant Gary and I gave Granby a go today. We had the three Cs, calm, cold and clear weather, though the breeze did build up without any appreciable impact on the catching. A Tawny Owl flew across the bonnet as we drove up to the lengthsman hut.

The 3Cs gave up good conditions for catching 'keen' birds, and we processed 102 individuals. Pleasingly, Yellowhammers made up nearly a third; our best total of the winter so far. As often happens after Christmas, there was an influx of new tits amongst the retraps.

The majority of the retraps were from last winter, bar Blackbird and Yellowhammer from 2012/13, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Robin (2) and Yellowhammer (2) from 2011/12 and Blue Tit and Great Tit from 2010/11.

Total captures were (new/retrap) 102 (59/43): Blackbird 3/1, Blue Tit 9/12, Chaffinch 10/5, Dunnock 2/1, Great Tit 6/12, Robin 3/3, Tree Sparrow 5/0, Wren 0/1, Yellowhammer 21/8.


Monday, 19 January 2015

Brackenhurst, Sunday 18 January

Sunday was almost perfect catching conditions, being dry, bright and frosty. Myself, I would have a slight breeze as I think birds, like Yellowhammers, are more likely to move about. However, after all the high winds this winter I'm not complaining! I was hoping for more Yellowhammers, but we only managed a single retrap. Puzzling as they just weren't about today. Also, just the one Chaffinch was surprising. The cold did bring in more Blackbirds & Robins. Eight retraps of the latter is quite unusual, and maybe shows how reliant they are on known supplementary feeding sites in freezing weather. We thought we'd ringed all the resident Long-tailed Tits, but not so as a flock of 9 unringed birds were processed. Overall, we processed 52 birds with the majority being retraps.

The majority of the retraps were from last winter, bar 2012/13 - Robin (2); 2010/11 - Robin. Captures were (new/retraps) 54(25/29): Blackbird 3/4, Blue Tit 3/3, Chaffinch 0/1, Dunnock 1/2, Goldcrest 1/1, Great Tit 5/8, Long-tailed Tit 9/0, Redwing 2/0, Robin 0/8, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Wren 0/1, Yellowhammer 0/1.


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Recent Recoveries

Just two recoveries to report on. Firstly a Black-headed Gull ringed as a chick on the island at Attenborough in June 2010 has had its ring read in the field near Manchester. Secondly, a Cormorant ringed (and colour-ringed) at the same site in May last year was spotted alive and well at Ynyslas, near Aberystwyth in Wales in December.


Monday, 5 January 2015

Kingston, Sunday 4 January

What a difference a few metres above sea level can make. Whilst Jim and his team were apparently in clear conditions and catching birds at Brack, Gary and I were in freezing fog in the bottom of the valley close to where the Soar flows into the Trent. Almost as soon as the nets went up they turned white and froze. Apart from a couple of birds that must have entered the nets in the few minutes before they turned into a white wall we caught nothing. Just before 1100 we decided no thaw was imminent so we ‘folded’ the nets up and went home. I then spread the nets out on newspaper in the house and turned them frequently over the afternoon whilst they thawed and dried.


Sunday, 4 January 2015

Brackenhurst, Sunday 4 January

The plan was an early start at Brackenhurst today, but this was somewhat hampered by me returning home to fetch my rings. Still it was a chance to give the skidpan roads near there another go. It certainly made up for my early morning lack of caffeine! This meant we lost an hour's ringing time at the best time of the day. My apologies to Duncan, Lorna & Tom.

Still, for all that, we had ourselves a busy morning with 114 birds processed. We had two initial rounds of 35-40 birds then it settled down. The clear, calm and cold weather (no self-respecting male monkey would have been out in it) made good safe catching conditions for a lot of hungry birds. We had our first decent Yellowhammer catch of the winter with 33 birds. On mornings like this you expect to ring more new birds and this was true for all species, and in particular for Blackbird, Blue Tit, Chaffinch & Yellowhammer. However, the ringed 'veterans' tend to turn up on cold days, and we had Blackbirds from 2012/13(2); Blue Tits from 2010/11 and 2012/13(2); Robins from 2010/11 and 2012/13(3); Yellowhammers from 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13. We also controlled a Tree Sparrow ringed as a pullus - not a common event!

Captures were (new/retraps) 114 (75/39): Blackbird 9/3, Blue Tit 6/6, Chaffinch 13/3, Dunnock 2/2, Fieldfare 2/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Great Tit 4/10, Redwing 2/0, Robin 4/5, Tree Sparrow 7/1, Yellowhammer 24/9.

Thanks to Lorna Griffiths for all the photos


Herons & Cormorants at Attenborough, Sunday 21 December 2014

Duncan, Mick and I made a late check of the 2014 Grey Heron and Cormorant nests at Attenborough Nature Reserve. One of the wardens, Alex Gilham, drove us around in the Trust boat. We knew at least 23 heron nests had been used for breeding attempts, and wanted to see whether they'd been successful or not. On account of high water levels we could not check all nests, and of those we checked 18 looked to have been successful as there were no signs of dead chicks. We only found one ring, which suggests that unlike last year the majority of pulli got away from their nests.

The overall impression is that, despite some early clutch failures, the Attenborough Grey Herons had a reasonably successful breeding season in 2014. With Mick being out of action, we did not get into the heronry until early May and only some of these chicks were ringed, with 14 Grey Heron pulli being fitted with BTO metal rings and of those only eight getting colour rings. By May, most of the Cormorant pulli are too big to ring safely and we only managed a brood of three. One of them though (CVA) has been see four times already - three times in Yorkshire at RSPB Old Moor, Rotherham and Orgreave, and on the Ceredigion coast on 12 December.


Movements of Cormorant CVA (map prepared by M. Pearson)

All photos by Alex Gilham

Friday, 2 January 2015

Flintham, 28-30 December 2014

Every winter or so the weather is spot on for orchard thrush ringing. It needs to be freezing, preferably with snow on the ground as well as calm so that the nets aren't too visible. The harder weather makes birds 'tamer' as they search for food and grounded apples are top if the list!

The last few days of December ticked all the boxes so Ewan and I set up nets in an orchard at Flintham late in the afternoon on the 28th. Straight away we caught an adult female Sparrowhawk as the sun was setting.

With David, Sam and Tom variously involved, over the next two mornings we went on to catch and ring 95 thrushes of four species (mainly Fieldfare and Blackbird), but also species I don't catch regularly like Coal Tit, Mistle Thrush (my first in 15 years!) and Starling.

The total number of birds ringed was 105(all new), broken down as: Blackbird 30, Chaffinch 1, Coal Tit 1, Fieldfare 59, Long-tailed Tit 1, Mistle Thrush 1, Redwing 5, Robin 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Starling 2, Wood Pigeon 2.


Fieldfare (Tom Shields)

 Fieldfare (Samantha Franks)

 orchard ringing (Samantha Franks)
Mistle Thrush (Samantha Franks)

Granby, Friday 26 December

Ewan, Emma and I took advantage of a drop in the wind to have a morning at the Granby feeders on Boxing Day. We managed 57 birds, two-thirds of which were tits and nearly all those were retraps. It was surprising not to catch any Yellowhammers at this time of year at all.

Capture totals were (new/retraps) 57(22/25): Blue Tit 3/17, Chaffinch 6/2, Dunnock 2/1, Great Tit 1/12, Long-tailed Tit 4/0, Redwing 2/0, Robin 0/2, Tree Sparrow 4/0, Wren 0/1.

Most of the retraps were from this and last winter, but we did have a 2010/11 Blue Tit, 2011/12 Great Tit & Chaffinch and a 2012/13 Great Tit.