Thursday, 26 January 2017


Group member Louise Gentle and her colleagues recently had a letter published about the Peregrines in Nottingham in the Journal of Raptor Research. it is reproduced below. Click on each page for a better view.

Recent ringing at Brackenhurst


Jim, Duncan, Simon, Lorna, Erin and myself put 2 mist nets up near Home Farm at Brack in the hope of trapping House Sparrows to PIT tag. The PIT tags are integrated into plastic leg rings, very similar to colour rings, that are positioned on the left leg of the bird. Once the tag is in place the birds identity can be recognised by electronic ‘readers’ which can be positioned at bird feeders or in nest boxes. As part of a long-term project monitoring House Sparrows at Nottingham Trent University we are hoping to monitor them coming to bird feeders to look at aspects of feeding ecology such as frequency and timing of visits in relation to environmental conditions, and dominance interactions. They are notoriously difficult to trap in mist nets (unless they live in Jim’s back garden!) and even harder to re-trap, but hopefully we will PIT tag enough to give us an insight into their behaviour.

We ended up catching 6 House Sparrows and a lot of tits – not too bad really! Numbers (new/retrap) were: Dunnock 3/1, Robin 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 7/0, Blue Tit 19/1, Great Tit 10/1 and House Sparrow 5/1. The highlight was the retrapped House Sparrow that was originally ringed as a nestling about 30 metres away in 2013.


Jim, Kev, Gary, Duncan and myself put nets up at Brackenhurst down by the feeders. Although the feeders were empty when we arrived, lots of birds had been spotted feeding at the site the afternoon before. It was another very cold morning, so a good catch was made. Numbers (new/retrap) were: Dunnock 0/1, Robin 2/2, Blackbird 0/1, Blue Tit 3/2, Great Tit 3/2, House Sparrow 5/0, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 1/2 and Yellowhammer 18/4 (which always seem to appear in larger numbers after Christmas). The highlight was a Yellowhammer ringed as an adult in 2013.


Another cold morning - Jim, Esther and I put 3 mists nets up near Home Farm to try to trap more House Sparrows. We had a slightly later start of 9am but this doesn’t seem to affect the House Sparrow catch as they appear to have a lie-in until then anyway! We had another good catch of tits, and didn’t do too badly with the sparrows either – slowly does it! Numbers (new/retrap) were: Dunnock 2/3, Robin 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 4/6, Blue Tit 9/7, Great Tit 1/1 and House Sparrow 8/1. The highlight was a Blue Tit that was ringed as a juvenile bird at the ringing site in 2010!

House Sparrow with PIT tag (L. Gentle)

Monday, 23 January 2017

Recent Recoveries

Only one Barn Owl this time - a female bird that was ringed in 2010 in Girton. She has been retrapped 6 times now, either at Girton (though in a different box to the original ringing site), or over the river in Sutton-on-Trent, which was the case this time round when North Notts RG recaptured her on 22 June last year.

Two Canada Geese from the Nottingham University research project have been found by Tom, still going strong. N66 and 28N were both found by the river at Trent Bridge on 18 September 2016. Both had been ringed as adults in July the same year.

Also at Trent Bridge amongst the many Black-headed gulls, were a couple of ringed birds, seen on 31 December. The first, J8TN, is the returning Norwegian bird that has been noted 3 times now since the winter of 2014/15. It was ringed in Norway in 2013 as an adult. The other bird had its metal ring read in the field, and was originally ringed as a chick at Thorne Moor, South Yorks in 2002, so will be celebrating its 15th birthday this year!

Some Passerine recoveries have come in too:

A Robin, ringed in Jim's Sibthorpe garden in December last year, was found dead in the village, having been killed by a cat, on 4 January.

A Reed Bunting, ringed by Ian Blackmore in Cropwell Butler in 2014, has been retrapped by ringer Ian Kirton in Cropwell Bishop, in December.

Three Lesser Redpoll were controlled at Bestwood in November. Of two caught on 8th, one had been ringed the previous month at Clumber and the other in Brandon, Suffolk back in March. The third bird, controlled on the 15th, had been ringed just 15 days previously, at Bevercotes Mine in the north of the county.

Finally, a Chiffchaff, ringed as a juvenile at Ramsdale Golf club in July 2015, has been recaptured by French ringers in the south-west of the country in Messange, in October last year (see map).


 Chiffchaff movement (map prepared by M. Pearson)

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 22 January

Alex, Gary and I netted the feeding site this morning. We were joined by Edward Winfield who came along to see what ringing was all about. It was –3 Celsius when we got to the site and only +2C when we left, so a cold and mostly overcast morning with the breeze picking up a little about 0930 to add to the wind chill!

We put up the usual nets plus an additional net near the Pheasant feeder at the other end of the field. Catching was steady throughout and better than recent visits but still no large numbers despite the freezing conditions.

We ended with 42 birds including 21 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/1, Dunnock 2/9, Robin 6/4, Great Tit 0/2, Blue Tit 1/2, Goldcrest 0/1, Goldfinch 6/0, Chaffinch 1/2, Yellowhammer 3/0, House Sparrow 1/0. The oldest retraps were from last winter.


 House Sparrow (A. Phillips)

Monday, 9 January 2017

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 8 January

Sue, Duncan, Gary and I netted the feeding site this morning. The sky was mostly overcast and there was no breeze at all, it was about 5 degrees when we started and 10 degrees when we left. There seemed few birds about and the first net round produced no birds at all (apart from a Fieldfare that jumped out of the net as we approached). An ominous sign and strange as the seed in the feeders had gone down quite a bit since I topped them up only 5 days earlier. Strangely the catching rate started to pick up in the second half of the morning with 13 of only 17 birds caught being after 1000.

The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Robin 0/1, Great Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Greenfinch 2/0, Goldfinch 9/0, Chaffinch 2/0, House Sparrow 1/0. The retrap was from the last visit and the House Sparrow a new species for the feeding site.

There were quite a few birds visiting a pheasant feeder at the other end of the field, maybe because this did not have nets set next to it – but it will have on the next visit!

There were plenty of Yellowhammer, Fieldfare and Redwing around but the best sighting of the morning was a pair of Grey Partridge that spent some time in the field quite close to our base.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Grey Heron sighting

A bird ringed as a chick at Attenborough on 10 June 2013 has been seen in Dovedale, Staffs, on 5 December 2016. The same bird was also seen at Carsington Water, Derbs in April 2015. This is now the oldest reported bird from the project.

 Sightings of Grey Heron 1507012 (map prepared by M. Pearson)

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Brackenhurst, Wednesday 28 December

As often happens there was a cold snap betwixt Christmas and New Year. Duncan, Kev, Tom and I took advantage of this on the 28th. It was still and frosty when we arrived before dawn and freezing fog came down at nine, but soon to be replaced by bright sunshine ‘til we left.

The first net round produced about 30 birds; mainly Redwing and Yellowhammer. The latter formed nearly half of the catch with the oldest retrap being a bird from just over six years ago; this Yellowhammer had not been caught between times. The old birds often show up at the feeders in cold weather, and we also had Yellowhammers from 2013 (2), 2014 and 2015 (2). The oldest bird retrapped was a Chaffinch from 2009. As with Yellowhammers, Robins are apt to show up at the feeders in cold weather and we processed 10 birds with retraps from 2013, 2014 and 2015. Its almost like the older, more experienced birds know where to look for food when its cold!

The total number of birds processed was 87 (54 new/33 retrap), comprising: Dunnock 0/1; Robin 5/5; Blackbird 3/1; Fieldfare 1/0; Redwing 7/0; Blue Tit 2/6; Great Tit 1/8; Treecreeper 0/1; Chaffinch 5/1; Yellowhammer 30/10.


  A frosty dawn at Brack (Tom Shields)