Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Sutton Bonington, Friday 25 March

A glorious sunny morning dawned as Duncan, Gary, Sue and I made a Good Friday visit to Sutton Bonington. There was a slight breeze and we started with the temperature at just 4 celsius, but it soon warmed up with the virtually cloudless sky. Catching was quite slow throughout the morning, the sun shining on the nets playing a large part in that.

We ended with a total of 22 birds including 14 retraps. The species totals were (new/retrap): Dunnock 1/1, Goldfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 3/6, Reed Bunting 1/1, Robin 0/3, Great Tit 2/1, Long-tailed Tit 0/2. The retraps were all recently ringed birds.

As at the last visit there were at least 3 Buzzards around (which did not impress the Lapwings in the field!) and a few small parties of Fieldfares passing overhead. No warblers yet but spring is definitely here as there was frog spawn in the pond and a toad walked past the ringing base.


 Toad (S. Lakeman)

Recent Recoveries

As usual, Barn Owls feature most heavily in the latest batch of recoveries, which have been coming in relatively slowly of late.

The first, a bird ringed as a youngster at the nest in Allington, July 2013, was found dead in Old Dalby, in February this year.

Another bird ringed at the nest in Hathern in June 2014, was killed on the roads, being found near Thrussington, also in February.

The last was an adult bird, ringed in June last year in Norwell Woodhouse. It was found dead as another road casualty, on the 18 March.

A Sparrowhawk, mist-netted at Granby in February 2015, was found dead in nearby Barnstone, this February.

One of the 2013 Attenborough Cormorant nestlings has had its colour ring read at Potteric Carr, Doncaster, on 12 March. This bird has also been seen twice at Lound in north Notts since it was ringed.

Finally, a brace of Blackbirds have been reported to us this March, within a day of one another, both taken by cats. One, a female, was found in Radcliffe-on-Trent, after being ringed as a juvenile at Holme Pierrepont in August 2013. The other, a male, was found in Beeston, after being ringed as a first year bird, in May 2015 at Attenborough. Perhaps these birds were heading into gardens to breed.


Attenborough, Tuesday 22 March

Myself, Mick, Pete and photographer, Ben Andrew, made our first visit to Attenborough on Tuesday to see how the breeding Cormorants and Grey Herons were doing. Ben is doing a photo essay on breeding inland Cormorants and wanted to see some ringed and their nests. We managed this and he went away happy and they may appear in BBC Wildlife one day.

Our impression with the herons is that numbers are down and it's a later breeding season than some years. Several nests had gone and a few new ones had appeared in the more sheltered eastern end of the reserve. Nevertheless, we ringed five heron nestlings and a brood of four cormorants. We plan to return in a few days when there should be more to do.


 (photo (c) Ben Andrew/Mick Pearson)

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Toton Blackcap, Saturday 26 March

Early last Saturday morning, the 19th, as I was loading the car ready for the trip to Wales I thought I heard a Blackcap give a short burst of song. I stopped what I was doing and listened but of course I did not hear it again, then the rest of the team arrived and I forgot all about it.

The following morning as I was sitting at home looking out of the patio window I saw a male Blackcap hop out of the conifers and onto a bird feeder containing sunflower hearts. I was a little surprised as the spring arrivals had certainly not made it to these parts yet. Later that morning when the sun was out the bird was in full song.

It was then seen regularly each day on the same feeder, I surmised that this was probably an overwintering bird that was putting on weight before heading towards central Europe for the summer. I do very little ringing in the garden but when I do I usually use traps rather than mist nets. I usually keep a couple of chardonnerets out and baited with mixed seed, almost like supplementary feeders - but not set for trapping. On Wednesday I added sunflower hearts to the feed tray in one of the traps and within a few minutes the Blackcap was in the trap feeding!

This morning the bird was still coming in to feed so I set the traps and soon caught it. As I picked the bird out of the trap I could feel it was no lightweight and when I weighed it topped the scales at 25.7g and on inspection it had a fat score of 5. I had a quick look at Blackcap weights on our IPMR system and of the 3518 weight records we have for Blackcaps in Nott’s this was the equal second highest weight recorded, the highest being 26.1g. This weight and the other 25.7g weight we have on our database were both recorded in the Autumn period, as have all weight records we have over 24g. So a nice capture and as I suspected it probably is an overwintering bird that is about to head into central Europe.


 (photo: Christine Hemsley)

Monday, 14 March 2016

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 13 March

Duncan, Gary and I made another visit to Sutton Bonington in very still conditions with variable cloud cover. Catching was steady throughout the morning, tending to be a bit better when the thicker cloud obscured the sun a little.

We ended with a total of 37 birds including 12 retraps. The only surprise was a Linnet, the first for the site. The species totals were (new/retrap): Dunnock 1/5, Goldfinch 3/0, Greenfinch 5/0, Linnet 1/0, Yellowhammer 6/1, Reed Bunting 2/2, Robin 1/3, Blackbird 1/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Great Tit 1/0, Wren 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 3/0. The retraps were all recently ringed birds.

There were at least 3 Buzzards around, a few small parties of Fieldfares passing overhead and Lapwings were in still in the field.


Thursday, 10 March 2016

2014 Report

The group's report for 2014 is now available. Please click on the 'Reports' tab at the top for details of how you can obtain a copy of this or previous reports.


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 6 March

Another decent day for mist-netting and Alex, Tom, Gary and I were joined by Mike Murray at Sutton Bonington. The bait had gone down considerably when I went to bait the site on the previous Wednesday and again today but unfortunately this was not reflected in the catch size. The first catch was relatively small and each catch subsequent to that was low with a total of just 28 birds including 7 retraps.

The species totals were (new/retrap): Dunnock 2/1, Chaffinch 2/0, Goldfinch 6/0, Greenfinch 4/0, Yellowhammer 2/0, Reed Bunting 1/0, Robin 1/2, Blackbird 1/1, Blue Tit 0/1, Great Tit 0/2, Song Thrush 2/0.

The retraps were all recently ringed birds. There were still few small parties of Fieldfares about and Lapwings were in the field.