Friday, 29 May 2020

Holme Pierrepont, Thursday 28 May

We are back to mist-netting in a very limited way at some sites. The current restrictions remain frustrating for many ringers and especially trainees, but at least things are moving in the right direction and hopefully it won't be too long before we can resume more normal operations.

Gary and I held the first session at the Skylarks end of Holme Pierrepont once we'd been given the go-ahead from the Notts Wildlife Trust. It's too far into the breeding season to cut back vegetation along net rides, but luckily very little clearing was required as the high floodwaters over the winter had killed off quite a few patches of brambles and such like. So it was a pleasant surprise to be able to put several nets up quickly.

As expected, we finished a little early due to the sun and heat, but not before processing over 50 birds including 5 Willow Warbler pulli. Interesting that people have been reporting a bad year for Blue and Great Tits as we did not catch any. The only tits we did catch were a party of about 8 Long-tailed Tits which were all adults, so possibly failed breeders. Juvenile Robins dominated the catch but we had a few warblers including returning retrap Lesser Whitethroats and Reed Warblers. A new Kingfisher was a nice surprise and we also caught a juvenile Blackcap that had been fledged long enough to lose a tail feather and half grow a replacement already!

Other interesting birds around were a low flying Bittern and a Hobby overhead.


Owl box checking, Thursday 28 May

Did my first few owl box checks in the Vale of Belvoir today. Out of 14 boxes checked, 5 contained breeding Barn Owls, 1 had a roosting Barn Owl, 4 held Stock Doves, one had two Little Owl chicks and 3 were empty. So all in all a fairly productive day. Fingers crossed it continues like that and although the land is desperate for rain, let's hope we aren't completely washed out in June like last year.


Monday, 18 May 2020

Garden CES at Sibthorpe

With the Covid-19 ‘lockdown’ affecting bird ringers the same as everyone else, we were only allowed to ring in our gardens until a few days ago. With this in mind, the BTO thought it might put idle hands to work and try Constant Effort Site ringing in ringers' gardens, there’s more about the CES methodology here - the main difference is that under Garden CES food can be put out for the birds.

I have completed two six hour timed ringing sessions so far:

8 May 2020, CES 1
Birds handled (new/re-encounter 14/13): Blackbird 5/3; Chaffinch 1/-; Dunnock –/4; Greenfinch 4/1; House Sparrow 1/3; Reed Bunting 1/-; Robin –/2; Starling 1/-; Whitethroat 1/-.

15 May 2020, CES 2
Birds handled (new/re-encounter 12/10): Blackbird 1/4; Blue Tit 1/1, Chaffinch 3/-; Dunnock 1/1; Goldfinch 2/1; Greenfinch 2/-; House Sparrow -/2; Robin 1/-; Starling 1/1.

That’s 49 adult birds so far, which suggests I should make the minimum of 200 bird handlings over the 12 CES sessions. We suspected breeding Blackbirds were commuting to our feeders from around the village and with 13 different adults so far this seems to be the case. The Reed Bunting was unexpected, though they do breed in the wet ditches nearby, and the Whitethroat had a break from singing 12 hours a day across the road from us.

Images of the Whitethroat and an interesting Greenfinch for folk to muse over . . . . .


Friday, 15 May 2020

A slow return to normality?

A landowner contacted me last Monday to ask if I was going to come to ring the three Tawny Owl chicks in his nest box but I had to explain that it was not possible because we were only allowed to ring on our own property during the lockdown. But a slight lifting of Covid-19 restrictions this week and subsequent revision of ringing restrictions by the BTO yesterday meant I could venture out at last.

I headed straight to that site, about 14 miles away but still my longest journey in two months. Walking to the box with the landowner and keeping two metres apart was a new regime to get used to but we got to the box OK, only to find two of the chicks had already left, so just one to ring. No food stashed in the box but feathers from a juvenile Blackbird were evident. Unless anyone else beat me out this morning after yesterday's lockdown easing this was will be the first ring the group has used outside a garden since 22 March.

Let's hope we can all get back to something like the normal we were used to as soon as possible.