Monday, 31 August 2015

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 30 September

Gary, Duncan, Alex and I made another visit to the Blott’s end of Holme Pierrepont on Sunday. I had been looking at the forecasts for the previous few days but the only thing they all agreed on was that Sunday was not going to be windy, other than that they were all over the place regarding sun and rain. As it turned out all three forecasts I looked at for the last time on Saturday evening got it wrong, apart for the wind speed. We enjoyed mostly overcast skies with virtually no wind and the catch reflected that. The first round produced about 30 birds and catching continued to be good all morning.

We ended on 116 birds including 8 retraps. The species totals were (new/retrap): Dunnock 2/0, Robin 2/0, Blackbird 2/1, Song Thrush 1/0, Blackcap 43/3, Garden Warbler 6/0, Whitethroat 12/1, Lesser Whitethroat 3/0, Reed Warbler 7/0, Chiffchaff 7/1, Willow Warbler 4/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 1/0, Goldfinch 13/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Bullfinch 1/2, Reed Bunting 2/0.

The oldest retrap was a Blackbird from 2012. Overhead was fairly quiet but as we were busy with all the birds we caught we might have missed some movement. We did comment that we did not see a hirundine all morning. The large flock of Goldfinch were still on site and just before we finished we changed one of the mp3 players to Goldfinch calls, quite a way from the main feeding site of the flock but still managed to pull in 12 of the 13 birds shown above.


Monday, 24 August 2015

Holme Pierrepont, Saturday 22 August

Gary, Sue, Alex and I made another visit to the Blott’s end of Holme Pierrepont today. Our decision to go to that end of the site was made for us when we could not get into the car park at the water sports centre. The forecast was for a dry morning with little wind and cloudy but as usual they got it wrong! By the time we had set the first net line it had started to rain, fortunately it stopped fairly quickly and we continued to put up nets. After the first round the clouds disappeared and the sun came out and stayed out. Fortunately the forecast did get the low wind strength correct, so 1 out of 3!

Catching started quite well and continued to be pretty good all morning. We ended on 69 birds including 6 retraps. The species totals were (new/retrap) Dunnock 2/1, Wren 4/1, Robin 0/1, Song Thrush 1/0, Blackcap 21/1, Garden Warbler 6/0, Whitethroat 3/1, Lesser Whitethroat 1/0, Reed Warbler 5/0, Chiffchaff 12/1, Willow Warbler 1/0, Blue Tit 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 2/0, Greenfinch 1/0, Bullfinch 1/0. The retraps were all recently ringed birds.

Overhead was also fairly quiet with a Buzzard, a few Yellow Wagtails and few hirundines. There was also a flock of 100+ Goldfinch on site that we decided would have been a little too testing to have a go for, but maybe next time with, hopefully, a bigger team.


 Lesser Whitethroat (Sue Lakeman)

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre, Wednesday 19 August

What a difference a week makes, along with full sun and a fair breeze – result, a less than exciting catch at the golf course this morning. On Monday I tried to pick the best day to go using 3 wildly different and rapidly changing weather forecasts, turns out Monday was the best day! Gary, Duncan and I set the line of eight 18m nets and we had two mixed warbler recordings playing. Catching started quietly and never really picked up. We finished on 38 birds including 5 retraps, 26 of the birds were warblers. The species totals (new/retrap): Wren 3/0, Blackbird 5/1, Blackcap 11/0, Garden Warbler 4/2, Whitethroat 3/0, Chiffchaff 1/2, Willow Warbler 3/0, Bullfinch 3/0.


Monday, 17 August 2015

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 16 August

Gary, Duncan and I made another visit to the Blott’s end of Holme Pierrepont, we decided on that end of the site after news on the internet suggested there was quite a warbler movement on this weekend and that site would possibly be better than the Grange end. Unfortunately there was no cloud cover but at least there was no breeze. The site sounded very quiet to start and so it proved. As we approached midday interest had only been raised by the capture of another Sparrowhawk and Green Woodpecker – but we had only caught 35 birds!

We decided to take the nets down but that took a little longer than planned as the nets contained a surprise catch of 28 more birds, boosting the total for the session to 63, including 9 retraps, much more respectable.

The species totals were (new/retrap) Sparrowhawk 1/0, Green Woodpecker 1/0, Dunnock 0/1, Wren 2/0, Robin 2/0, Blackbird 1/0, Blackcap 14/2, Garden Warbler 1/0, Whitethroat 10/0, Reed Warbler 1/0, Chiffchaff 3/1, Willow Warbler 3/1, Blue Tit 2/1, Great Tit 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 2/3, Greenfinch 1/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Goldfinch 5/0, Bullfinch 2/0, Reed Bunting 1/0.

The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit from 2007. Overhead was also quiet with a Buzzard and Yellow Wagtail noted but few hirundines and no Swifts. We also had a Kestrel perched on top of one of the mist net poles.


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre, Tuesday 11 August

Having tried and failed to get another visit in to Ramsdale last week Jim and I got there this morning. The weather was calm with variable cloud and we set a line of eight 18m nets and had two mixed warbler recordings playing.

The first round was busy with just under 30 birds, the second was busier with 52 birds and no spare bags. At this point the processing had to speed up so we stopped doing weights. Catching remained good until about 1300 when it dropped dramatically.

We finished on 151 birds including 4 retraps, 99 of the birds were warblers. It was good to catch the first Tree Pipit the group has had since 2012 and the first Jim and I have seen in a net for many years, the Siskin was a 3J and I can’t remember us having caught a 3J before.

The species totals (new/retrap): Dunnock 3/0, Wren 2/0, Tree Pipit 1/0, Robin 6/1, Blackbird 3/0, Blackcap 22/1, Garden Warbler 13/0, Whitethroat 13/1, Lesser Whitethroat 1/1, Chiffchaff 27/0, Willow Warbler 20/0, Blue Tit 11/0, Great Tit 2/0, Greenfinch 6/0, Goldfinch 13/0, Siskin 1/0, Bullfinch 3/0.

Not surprisingly, with so many birds caught we had little time for bird watching but we did note Nuthatch and Green Woodpecker. A great session and good to be out ringing passerines with Jim again.


the net ride hanging with warblers (J. Lennon)
 young Chiffchaff with typical central tail feather moult
(J. Lennon)
 juvenile Whitethroat with prominent fault bar in tail
(J. Lennon)
young Tree Pipit (note short hind claw)
 (J. Lennon)
  young Siskin with 2 old greater coverts (J. Lennon)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Recent recoveries

The first recovery from the Attenborough Sand Martin hide colony has been reported. A bird ringed as a nestling there on 16 June this year was controlled 130km south in Kent at Shorne Marshes. Hopefully we will start to see more recoveries of these birds as more move south, after a pretty successful second year of monitoring.

Several Barn Owls have been recovered during various box-checking excursions around the East Midlands:
  • a bird controlled at Halam near Southwell on 15 June had originally been ringed the year before as a chick in nearby Edingley by North Notts RG
  • another was controlled in Bottesford in June, having been ringed in 2011 in Brandon, Lincolnshire by another group
  • a bird controlled in Kinoulton on 22 June was originally ringed in Gonalston in 2010
  • a bird controlled in Kirklington on 21 June was originally ringed 6 years ago, nearby in Upper Hexgreave, near Southwell

There has also been some decent controls of some of our more common passerines.

A Greenfinch (not that common!) was controlled at Bestwood on 29 June, and had originally been ringed at Stanford Reservoir in Northamptonshire in October last year.

A Blackcap which had also been ringed at Stanford reservoir in September last year was controlled by us at Holme Pierrepont on 26 April this year. The same day we also controlled another Blackcap, which had also been ringed in September last year, at a site near Warrington.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Holme Pierrepont, Saturday 8 August

The forecast was for overcast skies slowly burning off and little or no wind, so Gary, Sue and I made another visit to the Blott’s end of Holme Pierrepont hoping for another good catch like we had last weekend. It did start overcast but by the time we had got the last net up the sun was out in force but at least there was no wind. Catching was steady until late morning when the breeze picked up and the thistle heads started to turn the nets white!

We still had a decent catch of 65 including 7 retraps. The species totals were (new/retrap) Dunnock 0/1, Robin 3/1, Blackbird 1/0, Blackcap 7/0, Garden Warbler 4/0, Whitethroat 4/1, Reed Warbler 8/0, Sedge Warbler 1/0, Chiffchaff 6/0, Willow Warbler 8/4, Blue Tit 9/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Goldfinch 5/0, Bullfinch 1/0. The oldest retrap was a Dunnock from 2011. The Blackbird we caught was a 3J and is the first juvenile Blackbird caught this summer at any of the main netting sites!

Sue stayed on after we finished ringing and in a 15 minute butterfly stroll around Skylarks she recorded 7 species including brimstone, plus good views of Grey Heron, a Jay and a fly-by, by the Red Arrows! I guess England won at cricket!


 Photos by Sue Lakeman

Hobbies, Thurs 6 August

As we approach the end of a very disappointing season for owls and kestrels, it was good to find two healthy Hobby chicks to ring in the Vale of Belvoir. Interestingly they were in the same nest as last year and the structure seemed to have grown.

Mick P climbed expertly as ever and with a bit of an audience. As well as Jim and myself, my family came along and so did some friends who happen to be the local farming family.

As soon as Mick removed the first chick from the nest and it screeched, both parents appeared and began to circle. We ringed and processed them swiftly and one was considerably larger (and noisier) than the other and we guessed it might be a female and the smaller (quieter) bird a male.

As Mick pulled the chicks up we began watching the beautiful adults again and suddenly a third adult appeared close by. One of the local adults began to pursue it and then a fourth adult appeared! Presumably this was a neighbouring pair that had heard the calls and come to investigate; once again hinting at how these elusive birds are probably more common than we realise.


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 2 August

It would have been hard to beat the conditions this morning - overcast, still and warm, but not hot. If this didn't produce a decent catch, then we might as well have hung up our pliers. Fortunately it did. A team of Kev, Gary, Alex, Duncan, Sue, Tom and I finished on 123 birds (111 new/12 retrap) comprising:

Sparrowhawk 1/0, Green Woodpecker 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Dunnock 3/3, Wren 8/1, Robin 5/0, Blackcap 23/1, Garden Warbler 6/1, Whitethroat 8/0, Lesser Whitethroat 4/0, Reed Warbler 22/1, Cetti’s Warbler 1/0, Chiffchaff 8/1, Willow Warbler 12/2, Blue Tit 4/0, Great Tit 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 0/1, Reed Bunting 2/1.

As can be seen, warblers made up the majority of the catch and they have clearly done all right somewhere, if not at the other end of this site. The oldest retrap was a Willow Warbler from 2011 and it was good to pull in a good number of Reed Warblers, a species that has been thin on the ground in the last few sessions.

The site did feel reasonably busy with feeding flocks moving throughout, although Long-tailed Tits were few. There were a couple of flocks of Goldfinches about and quite a bit of Wood Pigeon movement overhead. Two Hobbies circled together but hirundines were scarce.

As the day warmed up the insects got going and Common Blue Damselfly, Brown Hawker and Black-tailed Skimmer were all around. 13 species of butterfly were noted too including Small and Essex Skipper, Small Copper, Comma, Common Blue and good numbers of Peacocks.


juvenile Green Woodpecker

 A mix of brown juvenile and grey adult feathers on a male Sparrowhawk indicating a bird born last year.

 juvenile Willow Warbler

The scrape created on the old Blotts pit of Skylarks Nature Reserve.

(All photos PML)