Monday, 31 December 2018

Brackenhurst, Sunday 30 December

The prolonged mild weather continued as Jim, Cliff, Tom & I met on a still, partially overcast morning. Birds were around, but fairly reluctant to come to bait or sound lures so we had a relaxing morning, brightened up with some festive refreshment.

Gangs of finches, buntings and thrushes teased us all morning and small flocks of tits and Goldcrests were in the hedgerows, but most steered clear of the nets. And with the exception of one round that produced a decent flock of Yellowhammers, we were catching birds in ones and twos.

We finished on 19 (12 new, 7 retrap) as follows: Blue Tit 1/1, Great Tit 4/3, Yellowhammer 7/1, Reed Bunting 0/2.

Other birds around included Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker, a single Woodcock flushed and 2 Golden Plover overhead. A number of birds were in song, presumably due to the mild weather.

Happy New Year to all!


Thursday, 27 December 2018

Brackenhurst, Friday 23 November

Already passed in to history, but Kev, Lewis and I had a decent morning’s ringing at Brack a month ago. Weather was good and we had unusually high numbers of birds in the nets for that time of year.

Highlights included:
- Probably our highest ever November total for Yellowhammer (30 processed). Hard to say why as some years we only handle >10 before Xmas.
- House Sparrow – often get a few prior to the turn of the year, but nine is a lot. We're guessing they come from the farm two fields away.
- Chaffinch – most of the males had wings >90 mm wing length. So most likely wintering migrants from Scandinavia?

Species totals (new/retrap) 66/19, total 85: Blackbird 3/0, Redwing 1/0, House Sparrow 9/0, Blue Tit 5/2, Great Tit 1/2, Long-tailed Tit 7/2, Dunnock 2/4, Robin 0/1, Chaffinch 15/1, Yellowhammer 23/7.

Oldest retraps were Blue Tit (2014), Great Tit (2015) and Yellowhammer (2016).


Toton, Christmas Eve

A perfect day for mist-netting was forecast for today so I was thinking about a trip to the golf club to try for some Redwing but unfortunately nobody was available. So I decided to try in the garden, most of you will know that I do very little ringing in the garden but recently Sparrowhawks have been using the birds on our feeders as their own local takeaway, so I thought perhaps if I caught them they might think again before returning!

The forecast turned out to be correct with not a breath of wind so before light I opened the net – tried unsuccessfully with an mp3 lure to bring Redwing in – and caught a few of the expected garden birds. Then a Blue Tit went in the net and just as I was thinking of going to get it out a blur from the left streaked in heading straight for the Blue Tit, veered off at the last minute and sat on top of the net pole. After cursing and stopping in my tracks the bird took off dropped round the back of the net and headed for the Blue Tit again, this time it went into the net and after swiftly getting out to the net I extracted this little lady:

Thanks to Christine for taking the pictures.

Oh, and the Blue Tit, a retrap from last winter, thankfully escaped the close attention of the Sparrowhawk unscathed.......and so did my fingers.

Happy Christmas to all.


SNRG on tour... Long-eared Owls in Scotland

And it gets better! Later on Ewan caught two Long-eared Owls in the garden and used UV light to help age them - different ages of feathers reflecting the light in different ways.


Monday, 24 December 2018

SNRG on tour... Short-eared Owl in Scotland

I've not managed to ring much during last few weeks, but I did get out onto the Ythan estuary grasslands three weeks ago when up in Scotland. We were targeting Long and Short-eared Owls and although several LEOs checked out the net, we didn't catch any. However, we did manage a single SEO. We were using large mesh net with both owl and mouse calls to attract the birds. Barn Owls are regarded as by-catch. Thanks to Ewan and Logan Johnson for the pictures.


Thursday, 20 December 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 16 December

Alex, Duncan, Mick T, Gary and I held another session at the feeders on a still and sunny morning to start with but the cloud and breeze increased later. Fairly quiet but we did try again in the field with the two shelf nets and an mp3 playing and managed to get another Linnet and Meadow Pipit.

We ended with a catch of 33 including 15 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Redwing 4/0, Blackbird 1/0, Robin 2/2, Meadow Pipit 1/0, Coal Tit 0/2, Blue Tit 1/8, Great Tit 1/0, Linnet 1/0, Chaffinch 2/0, Greenfinch 2/1, House Sparrow 2/0, Yellowhammer 1/2. The oldest retraps were two Robins from 2016.


 Coal Tits (male left, female right), K. Hemsley

Friday, 14 December 2018

BTO nestboxes Lennonised...

Nice to see the latest BTO nestbox recommendations for Tawnys is based on Jim's expert craftsmanship!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 9 December

Alice, Maria, Mick T, Gary and I risked it with the forecast again today but luckily the early rain soon stopped and thankfully the breeze was not as strong as predicted either, on another mild December morning. Very quiet again with a first round catch of zero but it did pick up as the morning went on and Yellowhammers are now coming to the feeders. We tried a four shelf net against the bushes with a sound lure playing to try for a few more of the resident Linnet flock. A pity that just after we put it up it was lit up by the sun as the clouds cleared and we caught just one. 
We ended with a catch of 28 including 11 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Redwing 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Robin 1/1, Blue Tit 2/6, Great Tit 0/3, Linnet 1/0, Chaffinch 2/1, Goldfinch 2/0, Greenfinch 2/0, House Sparrow 1/0, Yellowhammer 4/0. The oldest retrap was a Robin from 2016.

Recent Recoveries

An Attenborough Egyptian Goose, ringed in 2009, has had its ring read in the field at the reserve in November.

An old record has come in of a Kingfisher, ringed at Holme Pierrepont in 2008. It was seen over at Colwick park the next year, having part of its ring read in the field.

Two Blue Tits have recently been controlled at Mick Pearson's site near Bestwood, both originally ringed nearby by Birklands RG at Bestwood Country Park. One had been ringed in the nest in May 2017 and another was ringed as a first year bird in July.

A ring, found unattached to a bird, was found in Dunkirk in November. It had originally belonged to a Great Tit, ringed in Gary's garden in June.

A Goldfinch ringed in Jim's garden in January 2016 has been controlled by ringers at Thorpe Marsh in Doncaster in December this year. Another Goldfinch was controlled by Tom in his garden in Colwick in October, originally ringed at a site in Dunton, Bucks in November 2017.

Finally, some old 1980s records of Mute Swans seem to be pouring in, relating to birds having their rings read at Clumber Park, the majority of which were ringed by South Notts RG at Clumber throughout the 80s.


Monday, 3 December 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 2 December

Alex, Duncan, Gary and I along with Alice from Nottingham University managed to get a netting session in this morning even though it looked very iffy as I left home in pouring rain. It had almost stopped by the time I got on site and other than a few brief drizzle showers it stayed dry for the rest of the morning, although the wind was a bit too strong. It was unusually quiet at the feeders, the number of birds no doubt affected by the unusually warm temperature for a December day – at one point a Yellowhammer even started to sing!

We tried again with a couple of two shelf nets in the adjacent field and managed to bring quite a few Meadow Pipits to the nets and a growing flock of Linnets but the billowing nets were really too obvious an we caught just 1 of each species. We ended with a catch of 17 including 5 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Redwing 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Dunnock 0/1, Meadow Pipit 1/0, Blue Tit 3/2, Great Tit 0/2, Linnet 1/0, Greenfinch 3/0, House Sparrow 1/0, Reed Bunting 1/0. The oldest retrap was a Great Tit from 2017. Nice to get the first Greenfinch of the winter and yet another Great Spotted Woodpecker but other than that it was a very quiet day at the office.


Saturday, 1 December 2018

The End of an Era?

As many of you will know, I have been running a Pied Flycatcher nest box study near Llananno in Wales for a number of years. It actually started in early 1993 when Gary, Mick T, a few other ex-members and I knocked together about 60 boxes and took them to Wales to find some suitable trees and receptive land owners. We doubled the number of boxes the following year and they have all been monitored each summer since (except 2001 because of foot & mouth disease). Each spring we also went on a maintenance visit to get the boxes ready for the coming season. Twenty-five years ago it was a challenge to put up all the boxes and carry sacks of boxes around on the maintenance visits. Since then it seems there has either been some tectonic plate activity that has pushed the hills steeper or as I head further into my 60s my mind is fitter than my body – I would like to think it is the former but I really know it is the latter! Also operating the site from about 130 miles away always held a few challenges, not least correctly timing the visit to ring the chicks, but it got increasingly difficult to get a team together for the ringing visits never mind the maintenance visits. Taking all into account I have decided to call it a day and have located a ringer who lives about 10 miles from the boxes to take over for the 2019 season and beyond.

I enjoyed running the project; I think I must have travelled well over 15,000 miles just going to the boxes but feel it was well worth it. The woods the boxes were in had virtually no trees with natural holes so to create this new active nesting area for a red-listed species gave a great deal of satisfaction. Unfortunately the efforts have not stopped the decline of the Pied Flycatcher as the graph of occupancy rates shows but I think we did our bit to help.

The graph show occupancy rates of the boxes in each year (except 2001). A box was considered ‘occupied’ by Pied Flycatchers if it had got to at least the egg stage, it does not mean the box successfully fledged chicks. We ringed over 5000 Pied Flycatchers but many went unringed if we got our visit timing out so I guess probably over 7000 birds fledged from the boxes during the time we were running the project.

Apart from the data submitted to the BTO, data was also used by the University of Wales and is now being used by Bob Harris who has been asked by the Welsh Ornithological Society to prepare a paper on the current status of the Pied Flycatcher in Wales.

I would like to thank all the people that have helped over the years in visiting and box making and I hope the new custodian will see the birds thrive.


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 25 November

Tom, Mick T and I made the fourth visit of the winter to the feeding site today. The weather was near perfect but unfortunately the birds were there in only low numbers. The feeder nets were pretty quiet but at least not catching much in the way of leaves this week as the breeze was minimal and the trees nearly bare.

We put up a couple of 2-shelf nets in the field again with an mp3 lure playing, despite not many Meadow Pipits being around, and did manage to catch another three. We then switched to Linnet as a small flock had been around but the speaker charge was running low and we only caught a single bird before it was completely flat.

We ended with a catch of 33 including 15 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 0/1, Wren 1/0, Dunnock 2/0, Meadow Pipit 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 1/11, Great Tit 1/3, Chaffinch 4/0, Linnet 1/0, House Sparrow 3/0, Reed Bunting 1/0.

The oldest retrap was a Blue Tit from 2017. Looking at the catch of Blue Tits today it seems we have the majority of the population ringed now.


Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 18 November

Duncan, Alex, Mick T and I made the third visit of the winter to the feeding site today. The weather was better than last week in that it did not rain but the breeze was stronger than forecast so a plan to try for Meadow Pipit and Skylark on the field at the side of the feeders was put on hold to start with.

The feeder nets caught steadily all morning not just birds but each leaf falling seemed to be finding the nets again. Mid-morning the breeze seemed to drop a little so we put up a couple of 2-shelf nets with an mp3 lure playing, only to find the breeze pick up again – but we did get 3 Meadow Pipits.

As the breeze continued to pick up we took down after going through another heavy leaf extraction session. Another good catch of 1st winter Blue Tits was made, the data collected contributing to the national partial moult study – so far in just three visits we have caught more 1st winter Blue Tits than in any other complete winter at this site, it must have been a good breeding season.

Unfortunately our suspicions after the summer ringing sessions at Holme Pierrepont that Dunnocks, Robins and Wrens did not fare so well seem to be correct. So far at the feeders we have only caught a couple of Robins, one Dunnock and no Wrens, all of the birds caught being retrap adults from last winter!

We ended with a catch of 53 including 15 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 3/0, Redwing 1/0, Blackbird 2/0, Robin 0/2, Meadow Pipit 3/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 2/0, Blue Tit 7/11, Great Tit 5/1, Chaffinch 7/1, Goldfinch 1/0, House Sparrow 6/0. The oldest retrap was from 2015. Nice to get 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, that's 4 new birds in 3 visits and a Green the other week as well.


 Meadow Pipit (K. Hemsley)

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 11 November

Duncan, Lewis, Mick T, Gary and I made the second visit of the winter to the feeding site today. I chose Sunday as the weather forecast suggested it would be the best day of the weekend. No surprise again that they got that wrong, what a miserable morning it turned out to be. The rain started just as we got the last net up and continued on and off for the first half of the morning, once it did stop the wind got up blowing what seemed to be every leaf for miles into the nets making them look like brick walls. We tried unsuccessfully with an mp3 lure for thrushes and finches but there did seem to be plenty of birds around. In the unfavourable conditions we ended with a catch of 29 including 9 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Woodpigeon 1/0, Blue Tit 8/8, Great Tit 2/1, Chaffinch 4/0, House Sparrow 5/0. The oldest retrap was from 2017.


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Brackenhurst, Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 November

The first ringing visit of the winter season was made to NTU Brackenhurst last weekend. The team comprised Cliff Butterworth, Ewan Weston, Issie, Tom, Lewis and me.

On Saturday afternoon we cut the net rides in Orwin's and put up nets hoping for a thrush roost. Then we cleared the feeder nets, mainly with the next day in mind.We also tried an owl net in the new plantation in the sheep field after dark. Weather was mixed, and wind and autumn leaves intervened somewhat.

The results were:
  • thrush nets in Orwin's – four birds of three species caught (but we suspected our use of owl sound lures nearby had an affect!)
  • owl net – one Tawny Owl flew close to the net in the gloom 
  • feeders – 30+ birds caught, with oldest being a Great Tit from 2012 (it has been caught 15 times and seven times in November) 
  • leaves – it took Cliff and I at least an hour and a half to remove the blooming things (see picture) 
  • several Chaffinches were released unringed as they had papillomavirus
Birds of note away from the nets were Raven, Little Egret and Tawny Owl.

Ringing total: 40 birds (33 new/7 retrap), comprising: Blackbird 2/1, Fieldfare 1/0, Redwing 1/0, Goldcrest 4/0, Blue Tit 3/1, Great Tit 5/1, Robin 1/1, Wren 2/0, Dunnock 2/1, Chaffinch 10/1, Yellowhammer 2/1.

Jim Lennon

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 4 November

Alex, Mick T, Gary and I made the first visit of the winter to the feeding site today. A few of us had put the feeders up and baited the site a couple of weeks ago. Overcast skies but a stiff southerly breeze blowing today limited us to using only 3 small nets inside the copse. After we had set up the base we looked towards the copse and saw a Red Kite circling above it and then slowly drifting away.

We made the first round and found it very quiet, catching only one Wood Pigeon. Thankfully it picked up as the morning went on. We aren’t usually pleased to find a net full of Blue Tits but having decided to register this site for the Blue Tit national partial moult study they were a welcome find on the next round.

As the birds tailed off a little towards lunch time and a Lesser Redpoll escaped from the top shelf. On the penultimate round we left a Redpoll call mp3 playing and the last round produced 4 of them. We ended with a catch of 36 including 2 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Green Woodpecker 1/0, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Wood Pigeon 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Redwing 1/0, Dunnock 0/1, Blue Tit 18/1, Great Tit 1/0, Coal Tit 2/0, Chaffinch 3/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Lesser Redpoll 4/0. The retraps were both from 2017. A few Fieldfare passed overhead and there were a few Yellowhammer around.


Green Woodpecker (K. Hemsley)

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Recent Recoveries

To kick off, the Norwegian Black-headed Gull (J8TN) is back again for another winter at Trent Bridge (ringed as an adult in 2013). Another Black-headed Gull seen by Tom at Colwick in November last year was a Polish ringed bird, ringed as a chick at Pyzykona Reservoir in 2015.

Tom has also been checking the Canada Geese around the Meadows area for colour rings and on 6 October, 8 were noted (one with just a metal ring). They were all from the Nottingham University study, with birds from 2016 to 2018 and the oldest from 2009.

A Tawny Owl ringed at Bunny this May as a chick was found dead on the roads in nearby Bradmore on 20 October.

A Sand Martin from the Attenborough colony, ringed as a chick in July 2017 was retrapped at Lax Hill, Rutland in June this year.

A Reed Warbler, ringed at Holme Pierrepont on 15 July was retrapped by ringers in Littington, East Sussex a few weeks later in August, and another ringed at the same site on 21 July was retrapped at Ickelsham on 27 September. Also from Holme Pierrepont, a Garden Warbler ringed on 14 August was retrapped 12 days later at a site in Kent.

One of the few Blackcaps ringed at Brack in early spring this year was a control, it had been ringed at Retford Sewage works in August 2016.

A Blue Tit ringed as a chick by Birklands RG in 2017 was retrapped by Mick at Bestwood in September this year.

A starling from Alex's Garden, ringed at the end of April, met its fate at the hands (paws) of a cat in a nearby garden two weeks later.

Lastly, a Blackbird, ringed as a chick in Watnall in 2015 was found dead on the roads in Greasley in August this year


Sunday, 21 October 2018

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre, Wednesday 17 October

After a couple of attempts to go to this site were called off at the last minute because of the weather, Mick T and I finally made a visit to Ramsdale. We set the same 7 x 18m nets as we did on the last visit, in near perfect conditions. Two mp3 lures were set playing, one with mixed warblers and one with Redwing song. The catch on the first round was effectively repeated on the subsequent rounds, with the vast majority of birds being in the nets at the very top of the hill. The warbler calls attracted nothing, the only warbler caught was close to the Redwing mp3 (but we did hear a Chiffchaff calling as we finished!). The Redwing song worked well as usual and all the Redwings caught were around this mp3 player.

We ended with a catch which was steady throughout the morning, 32 Redwings were nice as few had been reported so far this month with the winds being predominantly from the west. We ended with a total catch 86 including 3 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 2/0, Song Thrush 2/0, Redwing 32/0, Dunnock 3/0, Robin 3/1, Blackcap 1/0, Goldcrest 3/0, Treecreeper 1/0, Blue Tit 7/0, Great Tit 7/0, Long-tailed Tit 6/2, Bullfinch 5/0, Lesser Redpoll 6/0, Greenfinch 5/0. The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit from 2015.


Saturday, 13 October 2018

Sibthorpe, Sunday 7 October

It's been a while since I last ringed in my Sibthorpe garden. In fact last session was 19 May! Issie Connell and I set the nets up last Sunday and we had us a busy morning with 108 birds processed.

It looks like the House Sparrows and Goldfinches are species that have bred fairly well in this strange weather year. They accounted for about a half and a quarter of the catch respectively. A pleasant surprise was an early winter Reed Bunting. Oldest birds were a 2015 female House Sparrow and two Goldfinches from 2016.

Species totals (new/retrap) 96/12, total 108, comprising: Dunnock 4/1, Blackbird 2/0, Blue Tit 5/0, House Sparrow 55/8, Goldfinch 29/2, Greenfinch 1/0, Reed Bunting 1/0.


Monday, 8 October 2018

Holme Pierrepont, Monday 8 October

Mick T, Gary and I went to the Grange end this morning with a view to closing the site down for the year and removing all the poles and guys at the end of the session. The conditions were breezy from the start with mainly overcast skies and we set a limited number of nets with two mp3s playing warbler calls initially. We kept seeing and hearing Jays so we tried changing one of the mp3s later to Jay but it failed to attract their attention!

Catching was slow and other than a few Chiffchaffs we only caught one other migratory warbler, a Blackcap. We ended with a total of 29 birds including 8 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Dunnock 1/0, Blackcap 1/0, Chiffchaff 6/0, Cetti’s Warbler 1/1, Blue Tit 2/3, Great Tit 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 5/4, Chaffinch 2/0, Reed Bunting 1/0. The retraps were all recent birds. Overhead passed a a small party of Redwing followed later by a small party of Fieldfares.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Holme Pierrepont, Grange - Saturday 22 September

The weather forecast for Sunday was terrible (oh how they got that wrong!) so Duncan, Mick T and I went to the Grange end on Saturday not expecting too much as most of the warblers had probably moved on. The conditions were calm with overcast skies and we set a limited number of nets with two warbler call mp3s playing. Catching was steady all morning but included quite a few Blue and Great Tits and for the first time in a few months warblers did not make up the majority of the catch.

There were still a few warblers in the catch though and we ended with a total of 51 birds including 18 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Wren 1/3, Dunnock 0/3, Blackcap 5/0, Chiffchaff 6/0, Reed Warbler 1/1, Goldcrest 1/1, Treecreeper 0/1, Blue Tit 13/2, Great Tit 1/4, Long-tailed Tit 1/2, Bullfinch 2/1, Reed Bunting 2/0.

The oldest retrap was a Dunnock from 2016. We did have an interesting juvenile Wren that was caught twice during the summer and now seems to be in full wing moult! Plenty of Swallows and House Martins overhead but no other summer visitors were noted.


Sunday, 16 September 2018

Holme Pierrepont, Blotts - Saturday 15 September

Carried out by Duncan, Gary and me. Still and clear to start but the breeze soon picked up. Decent first two rounds but then catching dropped dramatically and we took down a little early again. We removed all the poles today as this was likely to be the last session of the year at this site. We ended with a catch of 41 including 7 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Song Thrush 1/0, Wren 0/1, Robin 0/1, Dunnock 0/1, Blackcap 14/2, Chiffchaff 7/1, Willow Warbler 1/0, Reed Warbler 2/1, Blue Tit 1/0, Great Tit 5/0, Reed Bunting 3/0. The oldest retrap was a Blackcap from 2015.


Rushcliffe Country Park - Wednesday 12 September

Duncan, Gary, Mick T and me, along with Christine, Maureen, Chris the ranger and a number of other very welcome volunteer helpers assembled to catch the resident family of Swans. We caught all nine cygnets in one go, followed by the male and female shortly afterwards. A few photos appear on the ‘Friends of Rushcliffe Country Park’ Facebook page.


Holme Pierrepont, Blotts - Sunday 9 September

Carried out by Sue, Tom, Duncan, Mick T, Gary and me. It was really a bit too windy today and the catch was certainly reduced because of it. There were still plenty of warblers though and we ended with a total of 45 including 15 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Wren 1/1, Robin 0/1, Blackcap 14/1, Whitethroat 1/0, Lesser Whitethroat 1/0, Chiffchaff 8/5, Willow Warbler 2/0, Reed Warbler 1/0, Blue Tit 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 0/4, Bullfinch 1/2. The oldest retraps were 2 Long-tailed Tits from 2016.


Saturday, 8 September 2018

Holme Pierrepont, Grange - Wednesday 5 September

Carried out by Mick T, Duncan, Gary and me. Perfect still and overcast conditions, contrary again to the forecast but we didn’t complain this time. We ended with a catch of 62 including 14 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Wren 3/1, Robin 2/3, Cetti’s Warbler 1/1, Blackcap 7/1, Goldcrest 2/0, Chiffchaff 2/0, Willow Warbler 5/0, Reed Warbler 6/0, Sedge Warbler 9/0, Blue Tit 2/2, Great Tit 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 4/5, Bullfinch 1/1, Reed Bunting 2/0. The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit from 2016.


Holme Pierrepont, Blotts - Sunday 2 September

Carried out by Alex, Duncan, Mick T, Gary and me. The forecast of mainly overcast skies with a slight breeze was wrong, we had clear skies and a stiff breeze all morning which undoubtedly affected our catch. However, there were still plenty of warblers in the catch and we ended with a total of 51 including 7 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 2/0, Song Thrush 1/1, Wren 1/1, Robin 5/0, Cetti’s Warbler 1/0, Blackcap 18/2, Garden Warbler 1/0, Whitethroat 1/0, Lesser Whitethroat 2/0, Chiffchaff 3/0, Willow Warbler 1/0, Reed Warbler 4/1, Sedge Warbler 2/0, Blue Tit 0/1, Great Tit 1/1, Bullfinch 1/0. The retraps were all recently ringed birds.


 Cetti's Warbler, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler (K. Hemsley)

Saturday, 1 September 2018

August Ringing Round-up

The sessions came thick and fast. A few brief summaries below:

Holme Pierrepont - Blotts, 18/08/18 – Carried out by Sue, Tom, Gary and me. Plenty of warblers again, though the weather conditions keeping the catch down. Nice to get a few Long-tailed Tits at last. The retraps were all recently ringed birds.

Holme Pierrepont - Grange, 21/08/18 – Carried out by Mick T, Duncan and me. Perfectly still and overcast conditions so a little surprised the catch was not larger, but a good catch of Reed Warblers. The oldest retrap was a Goldcrest from 2016.

Holme Pierrepont - Blotts, 23/08/18 – An afternoon ringing demonstration at the NWT Skylarks Festival kept Jim, Mick T, Duncan, Trish and me surprisingly busy. The forecast was for quite windy conditions from lunchtime so we were wondering which nets we would be able to keep open. Luckily the wind did not really increase too much until late afternoon and we were hardly ever without a bird to show the many visitors. A rush at the end of the day as the previously mentioned scarce Long-tailed Tits arrived in force and along with other birds we ended with a net round of 40 or so. The oldest retraps were a Dunnock and a Long-tailed Tit from 2016.

Holme Pierrepont - Blotts, 27/08/18 – Carried out by Sue, Tom, Mick T, Gary and me. A bit too windy really and fewer birds to start but a last minute rush saw another 29 Long-tailed Tits find the nets, surprisingly with no retraps from the catch 4 days ago. Where have these birds been all summer? The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit from 2016.

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre, 30/08/2018 – The forecast was for perfect still and overcast conditions – well they got the still bit right but it was full sun from the start. Mick T, Gary and I started the usual line of nets further up the hill to counter the increasing vegetation height. It turned into a Blackcap day with a few other warblers mixed in but few resident birds again. The oldest retrap was a Blackcap from 2017.

Ringing totals in the table below.


Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Holme Pierrepont - Blotts, Tuesday 14 August

Mick T, Kev and I set 10 nets on a mild and relatively calm morning and we began catching birds before we'd finished setting up. We continued to catch and ring without a break until 10:00h when suddenly the sun kicked in and the temperature soared, after which we had no more than a trickle.

We finished on 109 captures, including 8 retraps, breaking down as follows (new/retrap): Song Thrush 1/0, Robin 2/1, Blackcap 28/1, Garden Warbler 11/2, Whitethroat 7/0, Goldcrest 3/0, Chiffchaff 5/2, Willow Warbler 9/0, Reed Warbler 14/0, Sedge Warbler 2/0, Blue Tit 6/0, Great Tit 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 3/1, Greenfinch 2/0.

The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit from 2013. The Long-tailed Tits caught today are the first we have had since June - they have been very scarce this summer and we wondered if the long, cold winter had affected them. We caught very few adult warblers and a good proportion of the juveniles were building up their fat reserves nicely, gorging on the abundant (and particularly delicious) blackberries.

A single Yellow Wagtail, a few hirundines and the occasional Swift were overhead and a young Great Spotted Woodpecker tried its luck on one of our bamboo poles. Speckled Woods and a few whites were the only butterflies and Southern Hawker was the most numerous dragonfly by some margin.


Willow Warbler - one of the few adult birds we trapped, typically with much less yellow on the underparts than most young birds (PML)

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre, Tuesday 7 August

Duncan and I set the usual 8 nets at this site and hoped the sun would not be too bright. Clouds did help for a while but once the sun came out fully the catch dried up. We ended with a total catch of 65 including 1 retrap, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Wren 2/0, Dunnock 1/0, Robin 2/0, Blackcap 27/1, Garden Warbler 6/0, Whitethroat 6/0, Lesser Whitethroat 1/0, Goldcrest 2/0, Chiffchaff 8/0, Willow Warbler 3/0, Blue Tit 3/0, Chaffinch 1/0. The retraps were all recently ringed birds. Plenty of birds about again and only the breeze stopped us having a bigger catch. The only retrap was a recently ringed bird.


Holme Pierrepont - Blotts, Sunday 5 August

Sue, Duncan, Mick T and I made another trip to this site setting 8 nets in good conditions. Another brisk start before the sun got too hot and the birds became scarcer. Lots of warblers again and we ended with a total catch of 119 including 11 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Wren 1/0, Dunnock 0/3, Robin 2/1, Blackcap 20/2, Garden Warbler 19/0, Whitethroat 9/1, Goldcrest 1/0, Chiffchaff 5/0, Willow Warbler 10/0, Reed Warbler 26/4, Sedge Warbler 2/0, Blue Tit 6/0, Great Tit 1/0, Greenfinch 2/0, Bullfinch 3/0. The retraps were all recently ringed birds. Plenty of birds about again and only the breeze stopped us having a bigger catch. The retraps of our birds were all recently ringed but we did catch a Reed Warbler wearing a Portuguese ring.


Thursday, 9 August 2018

Recent recoveries

Here's the latest batch of recoveries. This is the first round-up since February, as there hasn't really been a glut since then!

Most interesting recovery probably goes to the Long-eared Owl which was found dead on the roads near Long Bennington in March this year. It had been ringed as a chick back in 2005 at Hawton. This is particularly of interest as it is one of only a very few LEO ringed by the group.

An Attenborough Grey Heron has been re-sighted on the reserve in April this year, having been ringed there at the nest in 2015.

A Mute Swan, also noted at Attenborough in May, had been colour-ringed by Sorby Breck RG in August 2010 at Markeaton, near Derby.

A Tawny Owl, ringed at the nest as a chick at Hockerwood in 2017 was found dead in March this year in Northamptonshire, a decent movement for this species. It had been predated, reportedly by a Buzzard.

A Kestrel, ringed in Lambley as a chick in 2011 was found after it had been killed flying into a window in Gedling in April this year.

The Attenborough Sand Martin colony continues to be a source of recoveries, with 2 birds controlled on site on 12 June. They had both been ringed as youngsters at colonies in Rutland in 2017. Another bird ringed at the reserve as a chick in May 2017 was recovered on its return migration a couple of months later in Niovilles, near Zaragoza, Spain.

A Blue Tit (not a recoveries round-up regular!) controlled at Devon Farm in January, had originally been ringed at Hoby in September 2017. A female Chaffinch ringed at Devon Farm in 2016 was found dead in Burton Joyce in March.

The Bestwood to Edwinstowe Redpoll superhighway features again; another bird ringed at Mick's site in 2016 being controlled in Edwinstowe in February. (The ringer in Edwinstowe has recovered quite a few Bestwood birds to date!)

A Dunnock ringed at Ramsdale Gold Club in October last year was controlled by Birklands RG at nearby Bestwood Country Park in February. Birklands also controlled a SNRG-ringed Goldfinch at the same site in January. This bird had been ringed in Hucknall in 2012. Another Dunnock, ringed at Brack on October 2017, was found dead up the road by Simon in July, having been taken by a cat.

Also at Bestwood, a Tree sparrow controlled on site in July had come from the colony at Beckingham, ringed as a chick in 2017.

A Blackbird, ringed in West Bridgford in June 2017, met its fate in a nearby water butt in May.

A Bullfinch, ringed at Ramsdale in September 2017 was found dead in May in Ravenshead.


Monday, 30 July 2018

Late June & July ringing - a catch-up!

We have been doing plenty of ringing over the last few weeks but the amount of time spent in the field and so much more time entering this and other data into DemOn led to me getting a little behind with things. So here is the catch up:

Attenborough 20/06/18 – A visit to the tern platforms on Main Pond and Coneries along with the Cormorant colony by Pete S, Mick T, Mick P and me. It was quite a blustery day but we successfully ringed a few gulls and found plenty of terns nesting on the new platform. There were some Cormorant chicks at the right age to ring but they were flanked by nests containing very large chicks so we decided not to land and attempt to ring them.

Attenborough 28/06/18 – A mist netting session at the Sand Martin colony by Pete S, Phil and I resulted in another good catch in good conditions, the oldest retrap was a bird from 2016.

Attenborough CES Visit 6, 01/07/18 – A very hot day saw Tom, Gary and me complete the CES ringing for the year. Another poor catch in what has turned out to be a poor CES season altogether. The oldest retrap was a Dunnock from 2015.

Holme Pierrepont Grange 04/07/18 – Another hot day and Mick T and I set a few nets after clearing the rides, the vegetation had quickly filled some of them since our last visit. A busy morning with plenty of Blackcaps, the oldest retrap was a Reed Warbler from 2016.

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre 11/07/2018 – The hot weather continues and Mick T and I set the usual line of nets and the early morning cloud cover helps us to a reasonable catch but when the sun came out the catching dried up. Nice to get a few Linnets but generally low numbers of warblers for this site. The oldest retrap was a Blackcap from 2017.

Attenborough 12/07/18 – Another mist netting session at the Sand Martin colony by Pete S, Phil, Mick T and I was followed by a trip out in the boat to the tern platforms. A good catch of Sand Martins again with plenty of unringed juveniles that have obviously been hatched at another colony. The oldest retrap was a returning pullus from 2016. Unfortunately the terns on Church Pond and Coneries appeared to have been predated, possibly by Mink. The platforms on Main Pond were OK though and more gulls were ringed along with the first terns of the year. There were plenty of tern eggs still to hatch so another visit will be made in the coming weeks.

Holme Pierrepont Blotts 15/07/18 – The first session of the year at this end of Holme Pierrepont was made by Alex, Mick T, Gary and me. A bit of ride clearance was required along with some net re-siting meant we only got 8 nets up but we had a brisk start before the sun got too hot and we took down a bit earlier. Plenty of warblers as usual for this site and nice to get a Grasshopper Warbler. The oldest retrap was a Wren from 2016.

Holme Pierrepont Grange 19/07/18 – Duncan, Mick T and I set all the usual nets on a perfect morning for ringing. Warblers were there in good numbers and made up nearly 75% of the catch. Great to get 5 Cetti's and 40 Reed Warblers. The oldest retrap was a Reed Warbler from 2016.

Holme Pierrepont Blotts 22/07/18 – Another good morning for ringing and Sue, Alex, Mick T, Gary and I managed to get a couple more nets up than last time but were immediately inundated with birds including plenty of warblers. Nice catch of Garden Warblers and great to get a 1J Grasshopper Warbler proving they did breed on the site this year. The oldest retraps were a Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Great Spotted Woodpecker all from the 23/07/16. Interestingly the warblers were both ringed and retrapped as moulting adults with moult scores only 1 and 2 points different this year to 2016 - on the same weekend. So no effect of the late spring showing there!

Holme Pierrepont Grange 25/07/18 – Hot, hot, hot, but Duncan, Mick T and I had another session with the full compliment of nets, the heat forcing another slightly early finish. Good job there were plenty of warblers again otherwise we would have had a quiet day with resident birds making up less than 20% of the catch. The oldest retrap was a Reed Warbler from 2016.

Holme Pierrepont Blotts 30/07/18 – After we cancelled the weekend ringing because of the wind and rain, Mick T and I risked it this morning. The forecast the night before was for a good breeze quickly increasing with 50% chance of rain early on – well they got the rain right but not the breeze, it was flat calm. We set just two lines of nets with an eye on the forecast rain and set the MP3s playing. The rain started as we set out to do the first round and was steady enough to make us furl the nets, they stayed furled for over 1-1/2 hours until it stopped. Nice catch of Garden Warblers again and still plenty of Reed Warblers. The oldest retrap was a Dunnock from 2016. Nice view of a Hobby trying to catch a Swift over the nets, but the Swift managed to evade capture.

Totals are in the table below.


Thursday, 12 July 2018


I have been monitoring a Sparrowhawk nest in Hucknall for the last couple of weeks and have taken a few photos to record their development.

Mick P
 27 June
 29 June
 6 July
10 July
 10 July

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 24 June

Sue, Alex, Gary and I took advantage of the only weekend until August at Holme Pierrepont when there were no events planned. The site had not been disturbed by campers or anyone else by the looks of it and the rides needed a lot of attention before we could put the nets up. Full sun from the start but no wind and at last we found some birds.....and mosquitoes.

The birds were welcome but I can only ever remember one other year at Holme Pierrepont in the last forty when the mosquitoes were as bad, probably worse than they are at Attenborough. Despite the hot sun we had a good catch of 64 including 9 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 3/1, Robin 1/0, Dunnock 1/1, Reed Warbler 13/5, Chiffchaff 4/0, Blackcap 15/1, Garden Warbler 2/0, Blue Tit 3/0, Great Tit 4/0, Long-tailed Tit 7/0, Wren 1/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Reed Bunting 0/1. The oldest retraps were two Reed Warblers from 2012.


Attenborough CES, Visit 5 - Tuesday 19 June

The fifth CES visit of the season was carried out on Tuesday by Mick T and I. The weather was good, a bright morning with intermittent cloud cover and only a light breeze. We did have a delayed start after finding 3 willows each over 40 foot high had come down right across the net ride smashing a pole in the process. We had the sort of catch that has become the norm this year with a total of 24 including 7 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Robin 3/2, Dunnock 2/0, Chiffchaff 1/0, Blackcap 1/1, Great Tit 5/3, Wren 3/1, Reed Bunting 1/0. The oldest retrap was a Great Tit from 2014. Very few warblers and very few juveniles again.


Wales, Sunday 17 June

Tom, Mick P and I made what could possibly be the last trip to the boxes in Wales, 25 years after we first started the project there. It was a mostly cloudy and breezy day but at least it did not rain.
We could not get any local information about the state of the birds so I took a flyer based on information on Facebook. Unfortunately we were probably about 5 days too late. We ringed 48 birds, 43 Pied Flycatcher and 5 Redstart – all pulli except for 3 adult Pied Flycatcher. We also had 1 retrap Pied Flycatcher, an adult from last year.

We recorded 18 nests that appeared to have fledged, if we had gone earlier in the week we would probably have got well over 100 birds ringed.

I've looked at occupancy rates where Pied Flycatchers or Redstarts have got to at least the egg stage.
In the first year (1993) we had an occupancy rate of 70.3%. This rate has dropped generally over the years dropping below 50% for the first time in 2008. This year was the lowest rate ever at just 26.02%.

The pictures of birds were all taken using a NatureWatch camera costing £25, as shown recently on Spring Watch. The last couple of photos show the camera in position.


 Pied Flycatchers photographed remotely at a box (above) and pictures showing how the camera is set (below).

Saturday, 16 June 2018

SNRG in Norway

Many of you know the origins of the ringing group, but for those that do not please refer to the FAQ pages. Those of us whose group membership goes back to 1971 have kept in touch with the group's founder Humphrey Dobinson over the years by letters and emails. However, the last time anyone from the group visited him was when Gary and I dropped in to see him at his house in Swindon in the early 1980s, on our way to Slimbridge to make some swan darvics. Since then Humphrey and his wife Oddrun retired and went to live in Oddrun’s native Norway. Their two children Colin and Kristin had also moved there to work.

I bumped into ex-member Nigel Bosworth just before last Christmas and he suggested we should pay a visit with any other original members that we could contact and were able to make the trip. After consulting with Colin Dobinson we secretly set up a visit to see Oddrun and Humphrey and flew out on Friday 18 May. Four of us made the trip, Gary, Mick T, Nigel and myself.

In 1966 on 7 September, Humphrey took delivery of a new Bedford mini-bus (the Beddy), Humphrey would take us all over the country in this bird-watching and ringing. He spent countless out of school hours, supported all the way by Oddrun, passing on his ornithological knowledge to van-loads of eager pupils. If we called in at his house in Keyworth to do some garden ringing, Oddrun would often supply waffles for us to eat. Sadly such dedication in this way would not be possible to repeat these days as current laws would not allow it. Pupils now miss out as there are no doubt still teachers today that would be prepared to dedicate so much time in this way if they could. The Beddy became a symbol of the Fairham Ornithological Society and the ringing group, much of the ringing we did in those early days would not have been possible without it. It was sad to see the Beddy head south to Swindon with Humphrey and Oddrun in the early 1970s when Humphrey took up a new position at a school there. Humphrey started an ornithological society at his new school and trained some pupils to become ringers but deliberately kept it on a smaller scale than he did at Fairham School.

As time took its toll on the Beddy it was left in a garage in Swindon and stayed there rusting and the interior being damaged by mice for a long time. But a few years ago Colin had it restored to its former glory and now it too has a new home in Norway. According to Colin it cost a ridiculous amount of money to restore but over the years it had played such an important part in the Dobinson family lives that he just had to do it. A magnificent job he has done as well, we saw photos of the ‘before’ condition and have witnessed the ‘after’. Certain alterations had to be made to make it legal for use on 21st century Norwegian roads, such as removing some of the bench seats to allow the installation of a row of ‘proper’ seats with belts behind the front seats and new Norwegian number plates. (Incidentally the new plate is 66.09.07, not just a random number - see the start of paragraph 3!) As we expected Colin had also saved the old UK plates JNN 902D. The Beddy took us all on a trip down memory lane, literally as we went out for a spin. Not least was the memory of how uncomfortable those bench seats were, it made us wonder how we managed to travel so far on them all those years ago. As one of only 3 of its kind in Norway we saw heads turn as we passed, I commented that we were probably turning more heads with the Beddy than we would if we were passing in a shiny new Ferrari! We just felt there was one thing missing but that was soon rectified as Colin accepted a SNRG car sticker which is now displayed in one the rear door windows.

It was a fantastic trip enabling us to catch up with Oddrun and Humphrey and to see Colin and Kristin who were only children the last time we met. It was great to meet Colin's wife, Trude, and their children Hannah and Fredrik at their house for the great BBQ . We were made so very welcome by them all and would like to thank them for their wonderful hospitality. We must also thank them for arranging the fantastic weather, in the four days we were there we hardly saw a cloud in the sky and the temperature was in the 20s every day.


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Attenborough Sand Martins, Tuesday 12 June

A later start to mist-netting the Sand Martins at Attenborough after a delayed start to egg laying, but this morning Phil, Mick T and I had a good first session. Few birds are nesting in Face A again but Face B and C had plenty of birds and we caught 52 including 19 retraps and 2 controls. The oldest retrap was a pullus from 2016. We also caught 7 ringed juvs that had fledged from this colony and 2 unringed juvs obviously fledged from a different colony.


Treecreeper nest

I was contacted recently by ex-member Nigel Bosworth about a Treecreeper nest he had found in an unusual location on Barton Island in the River Trent at Attenborough. The nest was positioned between a temporary wall and a support post, part of the toilet block for the Sea Scouts who use the island as a camp. Normally the ringing of Treecreeper pulli is restricted due to possible nest damage being caused when trying to remove the chicks. I wondered about the possibility of ringing these chicks as access was easy. Having checked the manual and not finding the answer I consulted HQ, after a while having had no feedback against ringing them I went out in a boat with Nigel and ringed the 6 pulli - the first pulli Treecreepers the group have ever ringed. Below is some video footage of the nest taken by Nigel, to whom we owe our thanks!


Attenborough CES, Visit 4 - Sunday 10 June

The fourth CES visit of the season was carried out on Sunday by Sue, Mick T, Gary and me. The weather was perfect, a bright start but soon after cloud covered the sun and there was not a breath of wind. In a normal year with conditions like this we should have been on for a good catch. We did get the best catch for this years CES season but it only beat visit 2 by a single bird.

Total catch was 26 including 7 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Robin 3/2, Dunnock 0/2, Chiffchaff 1/0, Blackcap 1/1, Garden Warbler 1/0, Blue Tit 2/0, Great Tit 5/1, Wren 1/0, Bullfinch 4/1.

The oldest retrap was a Robin from 2016. So closing in on the middle of June and only 3 of today's catch were juveniles: 2 Robins and a Great Tit. The low numbers continue here and around the country. Of note this week was a Wren (the first of the year!) and a Garden Warbler, the first on a CES visit since 2015.

As the photos show there were plenty of invertebrates about to make up for the lack of birds, we also had a brown hawker in the net (successfully extracted) and a hornet which bit through a net strand and extracted itself (thankfully!).


photos by S. Lakeman

Monday, 11 June 2018


I ringed two Buzzard chicks on 7 June 2018 near Bestwood. You can see from the remains that they eat rats too!

Mick P

Monday, 4 June 2018

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre, Sunday 3 June

We held the first ringing session of the year at Ramsdale this morning. The weather was good with no wind and clear skies. The team consisted of Maria, Fiona, Sue, Tom, Gary, Duncan, Mick T and myself. We were hoping for a better catch than the last 3 CES visits we have made to Attenborough which had reflected reports of low numbers from around the country (the total catch in the first 3 visits to Attenborough was 63 compared to 115 for the same 3 visits last year).

The catch rate at Ramsdale was pretty much on a par with Attenborough, very slow throughout the morning. This first visit of the year was the worst numbers total of the last 3 years at this site. We ended with a total catch of (new/retrap) 22/4 made up of: Blackbird 1/1, Song Thrush 1/0, Dunnock 2/1, Wren 1/0, Robin 1/0, Garden Warbler 2/0, Whitethroat 2/0, Lesser Whitethroat 1/0, Chiffchaff 3/2, Willow Warbler 3/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Linnet 4/0. The oldest retrap was a Blackbird from our first visit to the site in July 2015.

Other than a visit made in December 2015 this is the only visit we have not caught a Blackcap here, although we did have our first Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler of the year. Numbers of resident species were low, with no Bullfinch this time at a site which is usually very good for this species. A few juvs were caught but only 19% of the total catch - it was 37% of the total last year. A Cuckoo was around first thing but managed to evade the nets!


 A Lesser Whitethroat (age code 5 - i.e. born in the previous year) that had replaced the two outermost tail feathers on the left

 (both pics S. Lakeman)


A pleasant surprise when checking Barn Owl boxes recently was this beauty. Apparently, they can breed away from water and are often found in Tawny boxes; almost being a nuisance! Can't find any guidance, but presume this is an adult female.