Sunday, 31 May 2015

Holme Pierrepont, Saturday 30 May

Sue, Tom and I paid a visit to the Grange end of Holme Pierrepont on Saturday. There was a triathlon event on at the NWSC over the weekend but from the website it looked like Saturday would be the easier day to get in and park. The weather forecast also suggested that Sunday would be a washout and for once it was correct. However, on arrival at the usual car park there were attendants refusing entry but we noticed the old ‘B’ car park was open for spectators and was free to park so we headed for there.

On site the vegetation, away from the reedbeds, had gone wild and locating the guys and poles took quite a while but all were found eventually. Then we got to the reedbed nets and all was not well. To cut a long story short 5 poles had been taken and smashed. We found the remains of them and you may be able to see them in the following photographs. We found a large well constructed shelter and enormous hole in the the sandy area that has attracted campers in the past. The construction and hole was no small effort and I did think it was the work of adults, but looking through the rubbish left Tom found the cans were all pop not alcohol and so it may well have been kids.

We decided to limit the number of nets erected both for practical reasons and lack of poles but the sunny and breezy conditions meant the nets, particularly the couple we did put up in the reeds, were affected by the conditions.

The total catch was 21 (13 new/8 retrap) made up of: Blackbird 1/1, Dunnock 2/0, Wren 0/1, Robin 1/1, Blackcap 0/1, Garden Warbler 1/0, Sedge Warbler 2/1, Cetti’s Warbler 1/0, Chiffchaff 1/0, Willow Warbler 0/2, Blue Tit 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 4/0.

The retraps were all relatively recent, the oldest being from last year. Interestingly not a single Reed Warbler was caught and the reedbeds were very quiet. When we finished we hid the remaining poles somewhere else...


Egrets and herons

Success yesterday with the Little Egrets. We ringed another 35 chicks at our Nottinghamshire heronry and most were fitted with colour rings. The Grey Herons had fared less well since our last monitoring visit with several large chicks succumbing to the unspring-like cold and wet weather we're having.


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Attenborough CES, Session 3, Sunday 24 May

The third CES visit of the season was carried out on Sunday. The forecast was not good and it started to rain as we were putting up the first net but it lasted only five minutes leaving calm and overcast conditions for the rest of the session.

The team this week was Gary, Duncan, Tom, Linda and myself. Another decent catch but still not many warblers, although we did get the first Cetti’s of the year.

Total catch was 45 (25 new/20 retrap) made up of: Blackbird 2/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Dunnock 1/4, Wren 3/0, Robin 2/0, Blackcap 4/1, Reed Warbler 1/2, Cetti’s Warbler 1/0, Chiffchaff 1/4, Blue Tit 1/0, Great Tit 2/3, Long-tailed Tit 3/3, Bullfinch 1/1, Greenfinch 2/0, Treecreeper 0/2.

The retraps were all relatively recent, the oldest being a Reed Warbler from 2013.


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Barn Owl update

I’ve just spent the last 3 days checking Barn Owl boxes in east Lincs. It looks like a much later season than last year when birds had complete clutches by early April. This year maybe half had started laying or had complete clutches, some were just paired up and I suspect other regular sites have yet to be used. However, a 12 year old retrap male was a nice find. Anyway, based on this, I’m not going to be checking local boxes until the first half of June. 
The lateness is most likely down to be down to lack of food:
  • lots of reports of birds hunting in the daytime
  • some breeding females being underweight
  • no voles to be found in sort of owl box as yet

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Tawnys again

I ringed what will almost certainly be my final Tawny Owl chick of the year tonight. That makes a grand total of three this season... It wasn't the fattest chick either and there was no food cached in the box. Interestingly, the box is part of a double-decker arrangement. It's at the top of a pole which has another box below. In most years, both boxes are occupied by something and I have had kestrels in the top and Tawny Owls in the bottom at the same time before. When I first checked this year there was a Jackdaw nest in the bottom box. Subsequent checks revealed an adult Jackdaw carcass in the Tawny's nest and a clutch of cold Jackdaw eggs below. One can only guess the story...


Monday, 18 May 2015

Attenborough CES, Session 2, Sunday 17 May

The weather forecast was OK for Sunday so we met at 06.00. The team was Alex, Duncan, Libby, Sue and myself along with Dave Ward for his second session with us and Chris Grocock from Charnwood RG.

All the CES nets were quickly put up and we had a steady catch throughout the morning. The wind did increase as the morning went on but we did not think it affected the catch of 40 birds (32 new/8 retrap) made up of: Chiffchaff 2/2, Wren 5/0, Treecreeper 3/2, Long-tailed Tit 1/1, Blackcap 4/1, Goldfinch 2/0, Bullfinch 3/0, Blue Tit 3/0, Robin 2/1, Great Tit 1/0, Garden Warbler, Dunnock 3/1 and Song Thrush 1/0.

Weather permitting the 3rd CES will be next Sunday 24 May.


Bullfinch (Alex Phillips)

Monday, 11 May 2015

Attenborough CES, Session 1, Sunday 10 May

The first CES visit of the season was carried out on Sunday after being rained off last weekend. Good weather, good catch and a good team of Gary, Alex, Duncan, Nick, Tom and myself along with Dave Ward who came along to see what it was all about. Not as many warblers in the catch as I would have hoped for and no returning birds from previous years, but we did catch the first 3Js of the season in 6 Long-tailed tits, along with parents. A Kingfisher was also caught to add to the diversity and we ringed two Tawny Owl chicks in one of the boxes. Total catch in the CES nets was 52 (45 new/7 retrap) made up of: Kingfisher 1/0, Blackbird 2/0, Dunnock 5/0, Wren 2/1, Robin 3/0, Blackcap 4/0, Chiffchaff 4/0, Blue Tit 5/0, Great Tit 10/2, Long-tailed Tit 7/2, Bullfinch 3/0, Treecreeper 1/2.


Kingfisher (top two N. Humphreys, bottom A. Phillips)

Blackcap (A. Phillips)

Tawny Owl (top N. Humphreys, bottom A. Phillips)

Monday, 4 May 2015

Tawny Owls

The story so far appears to be a poor year for Tawny Owls. Personally, in the 12 boxes checked so far I've had just one family with just two chicks and there was no food cached in the box. It'll be interesting to see what theories emerge in the weeks to come as to why this might be.