Thursday 18 June 2020

Ramsdale Park Gof Club, Sunday 14 June

The first visit of this strange year was made to Ramsdale on Sunday by Duncan, Gary, Mick P and me. The rides needed quite a few overhanging spurs of blackberry and hawthorn cutting back but no major clearance as we were using the site into November last year. It was a very misty start to the day but with only a slight breeze. The sun broke through just before we took down and it became very warm.

The catch rate was steady throughout the morning and we ended with a total of 46 including 4 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 0/1, Dunnock 1/1, Wren 0/1, Robin 3/0, Blackcap 4/0, Garden Warbler 1/0, Lesser Whitethroat 4/0, Chiffchaff 9/1, Blue Tit 13/0, Great Tit 2/0, Linnet 5/0.

The oldest retrap was a Chiffchaff from 2018. Most of the resident species caught were juveniles and the migrants mainly adults with a few juveniles. Nice to get a few Linnets again at the only site we regularly catch them.


 male Linnet (K. Hemsley)

Friday 12 June 2020

Holme Pierrepont, Tuesday 9 June

The second visit of the year was made to the Skylarks end of Holme Pierrepont on Tuesday by Duncan, Gary and me. Perfect weather conditions, overcast and still. We put up all the usual nets and caught steadily all morning. The Willow Warbler chicks in the nest we found near the base on the last visit had gone, hopefully fledged successfully.

We ended with 76 birds caught including 9 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Song Thrush 1/0, Robin 7/0, Dunnock 1/2, Wren 4/0, Blackcap 7/0, Garden Warbler 2/0, Whitethroat 0/1, Cetti’s Warbler 1/0, Reed Warbler 2/1, Chiffchaff 18/0, Willow Warbler 5/3, Blue Tit 9/0, Great Tit 7/1, Goldfinch 2/1, Greenfinch 1/0.

The Goldfinch retrap was originally ringed last year in Tom’s garden on the other side of the river. The oldest retrap was a Willow Warbler from 2016. The Bittern was seen again overhead and was not popular with the nesting gulls! The photograph shows the state the net rides after they had spent such a long time under water during the winter floods. Now a layer of dry mud covers the ground and seems to have killed some of the bramble and supressed growth of other vegetation, leaving the rides nice and open for us.


Monday 1 June 2020

Box-checking in the Vale, 30/31 May

Finished my first round of Barn Owl and Kestrel box checks over the weekend and the second half wasn't quite as productive as the first with several boxes down. Nevertheless, it looks like I have seven Barn Owl broods to return to but just two of Kestrel.

A bonus came when a friend with a private box sent me a photo of a large Tawny Owl chick looking out of the entrance hole. Knowing that this was not only late in the season, but also that these chicks were likely to start branching at any time, I popped round immediately and ringed a healthy brood of three good-sized Tawnys - almost certainly the only ones I'll ring this year having missed the main season due to lockdown. Later that night, the owner wandered out to watch the sunset and took the marvellous photo below showing one chick starting to explore!

The pie chart shows the breakdown of my box occupancy this year.


 Barn Owl
 Kestrel clutch
 Stock Doves
 'branching' Tawny Owl chick

Update from the east of the county

I completed the third CES session in our Sibthorpe garden on Monday 25 May. Totals below. The only juvenile birds were House Sparrow and Starling. Potter traps are a much more effective way of trapping the latter though and the same is also true of our Blackbirds. Since 1st April, I’ve had 27 individual adults in the garden (20 of which were male). I think with the dry ground, they are having to commute to our deli with its fat balls etc as well as the softer ground by the septic tank.

Birds handled (new/re-encounter 17/7): Blackbird 4/2; Blue Tit -/1, Goldfinch 4/1; Great Tit –/1; Greenfinch 2/1; House Sparrow 3/1; Starling 4/-.

Box-wise, I’ve now checked c50 with Elaine. We try to do no more than 12 per day as all the ladder work in down to me, but it still seems to fill the day. This has included nearly all of the Trust’s boxes.

Priority has been the Tawny Owl boxes and other boxes in their vicinity. Re Tawnies, I’ve now ringed 5 single chicks and found a female on eggs on 20 May to go back to. Only missed one breeding attempt for sure at Fox Covert NR where it looks like they fledged successfully. A banker box had a roosting adult escape 19 May and I wonder if it was a pre-laying bird?

The Little Owls at Brackenhurst had failed due to bees/wasps – one stung me on the chin, but we have chicks to ring at Flintham.

Barn owls – only found one breeding so far, and missing from Flintham Estate - and other local sites - but their kestrels are breeding for 17th year running. I have not found any small mammals cached in any of the owl boxes, which explains low occupancy and does not bode well for the Barn Owl and Kestrel breeding season.

In north Notts, Adrian Blackburn has checked c15 of his best BO boxes and found occupancy 50% down with some holding underweight non-breeders.

Jim Lennon