Sunday 20 September 2020

Early September ringing sessions

Skylarks end of Holme Pierrepont, Wednesday 2 September

The weather was good with very little breeze and the catching rate was brisk to start but slowed down from mid-morning. It was just Gary and myself and we finished with a catch of 103 including 6 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Robin 2/2, Dunnock 1/0, Wren 2/0, Willow Warbler 6/0, Chiffchaff 23/0, Blackcap 36/0, Garden Warbler 1/0, Reed Warbler 13/0, Cetti’s Warbler 1/1, Goldcrest 2/0, Blue Tit 2/1, Great Tit 5/0, Long-tailed Tit 0/1, Greenfinch 1/0, Reed Bunting 1/1. The retraps were all recent birds. It was nice to catch another juvenile Cetti’s and and retrap adult from early June. The bulk of the warblers have now passed through other than Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Reed Warblers.

Skylarks end of Holme Pierrepont, Sunday 6 September

The weather was bright with sunny spells and a generally light breeze and catching was steady throughout. The team was Gary, Duncan and me and we finished with a catch of 84 including 8 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 0/1, Song Thrush 1/0, Robin 1/1, Dunnock 1/0, Willow Warbler 2/0, Chiffchaff 21/1, Blackcap 25/0, Whitethroat 1/0, Lesser Whitethroat 1/0, Reed Warbler 10/2, Sedge Warbler 1/0, Goldcrest 1/1, Treecreeper 1/0, Blue Tit 3/0, Great Tit 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 1/1, Bullfinch 2/1, Goldfinch 1/0, Greenfinch 1/0, Reed Bunting 1/0. The retraps were all recent birds. The Sedge Warbler was only the third individual caught this year, the worst total ever that I can remember.

Skylarks end of Holme Pierrepont, Thursday 10 September

The weather was calm with variable cloud cover and the odd sunny break and catching was steady throughout. The team was Gary, Duncan and me and we finished with a catch of 108 including 22 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Robin 1/1, Dunnock 2/0, Wren 2/1, Willow Warbler 0/1, Chiffchaff 15/5, Blackcap 38/4, Whitethroat 2/0, Lesser Whitethroat 0/1, Reed Warbler 11/1, Cetti’s Warbler 2/1, Goldcrest 1/2, Blue Tit 3/1, Great Tit 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 3/3, Lesser Redpoll 1/0, Greenfinch 1/0, Chaffinch 1/1, Reed Bunting 1/0. The oldest retrap was a Blue Tit from 2019. The Lesser Redpoll was the earliest record in September in at least 25 years.

Ramsdale, Tuesday 15 September

Duncan, Mick P, Gary and me today. The weather was dead calm all morning but with full sun all the time and the temperature rapidly rising to the mid-twenties, resulting in a fairly low catch with limited species. However a Spotted Flycatcher was nice first thing and also a Sparrowhawk later in the morning. We put up the new line of nets and four of the old line and finished with a catch of 49 including 11 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Sparrowhawk 1/0, Blackbird 4/1, Wren 3/0, Robin 2/1, Dunnock 1/0, Blackcap 12/1, Whitethroat 1/0, Chiffchaff 17/0, Spotted Flycatcher 1/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Bullfinch 3/0. The retraps were all recent birds.

Skylarks end of Holme Pierrepont, Wednesday 16 September

The weather was calm with variable cloud cover to start but thick cloud and a brisk breeze picked up by 09:00 slowing things down. The team was Gary, Duncan and me and we finished with a catch of 66 including 11 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Song Thrush 1/0 Robin 2/1, Dunnock 6/0, Willow Warbler 1/0, Chiffchaff 9/1, Blackcap 15/0, Reed Warbler 9/1, Cetti’s Warbler 1/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Blue Tit 0/1, Great Tit 2/2, Long-tailed Tit 7/4, Greenfinch 0/1, Reed Bunting 1/0. The Long-tailed Tits were caught as a few singles plus a flock of 7, the biggest flock caught this year since May! The oldest retrap was a Great Tit from 2017, we also retrapped a Greenfinch ringed earlier this year across the river by Tom in his garden. The warblers are all moving south now and the later moving Reed Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were showing in much reduced numbers since last weeks visit.


Redpoll  at Holme Pierrepont, Spotted Flycatcher and Sparrowhawk at Ramsdale (K. Hemsley)

Saturday 19 September 2020

Owl boxes

I decided to check a few boxes today, just in case any birds had decided to have another breeding attempt. Predictably, a couple of boxes held Stock Doves, but in both the chicks were dead perhaps suggesting their season hasn't been much better than the owls... 

The last box I checked had a pair of roosting adult Barn Owls and whilst it's impossible to prove if they were the ones that raised the single chick I ringed in the same box back in June, there's a good chance and it was satisfying because they had evaded capture on both previous visits this year. Both were old birds, and the male particularly so, being a bird I'd ringed nearby in May 2010 and not encountered again until today. He was a very white bird with a notably long wing of 311!


Recent(ish) recoveries – owls & kestrels

Deserving their own post, these species, and primarily Barn Owl, make up the largest proportion of our recoveries. We ring a lot of chicks and they often retrapped by ringers or they meet their end where they are readily found beside the road.

Most Barn Owl recoveries involve birds ringed as chicks which are found dead within a year or so, usually less than 20km from where they hatched. A few that do not fall into this category are detailed here.

Longer local recoveries received included birds found after 2yrs (1), 3 yrs (5), 4 yrs (2), 5yrs (2), 6yrs (3) and 9yrs.

Those moving further afield included two chicks from Lincs, one found a year later 29km from where it was ringed and another 36km away after 6 years. One of our chicks moved 22km into Lincs in 174 days and another chick moved 36km within Notts after 3 yrs. A chick from Leics had travelled 40km into Notts after 2 years and 1 chick ringed in Elston in July 2019 was found dead in Bedfordshire in May 2020, some 115km away.

A Tawny Owl chick ringed at Holme Pierrepont in May 2019 was found wounded by a railway in Clipstone 21km to the north in June 2020.

Of the three Kestrel recoveries received, one was local and another old - a chick ringed near Kinoulton in 2011 became a road casualty near Hoby, Leics over 9 years later. The third was also of interest – a chick ringed in June this year was found beside a Heathrow runway a couple of months after fledging having travelled 181km. The finder, Mark Pauline, takes up the story:

“I had come on shift at Heathrow airport at around 06:45 and was asked to carry out an inspection on our southern runway at about 06:50 as soon as I came on shift. We have a piece of equipment called a FOD radar which monitors are runway surface and detects objects that should not be present on the runway surface itself. This particular morning the radar had activated and it shows us an image of what it has detected and it happened to be your Kestrel to which I went onto the runway to retrieve. The bird was whole with a very minor injury and it looked to me as though the kestrel had been jet blasted from an aircraft which does happen if hovering near to the runway edge over the grass areas. For information we do have quite a population of kestrels on the airfield at the moment.”

Jim’s response was as follows:

“I've read up on juvenile kestrel dispersal, and late fledging females are more likely to disperse further afield, and this bird fits that scenario on both counts. This is often driven by poor food supply, and we have very few small mammals breeding this year after the extreme winter floods - in Nottinghamshire - and hence poor breeding from the owls and kestrels. Your photos indicate female. Even so, this movement of 181 km is way beyond the median of 50 km for chick dispersal in their first winter. One fears this will become less unusual with climatic events increasing.”

That catches us up with recoveries from over the past nine months or so.


 Kestrel recovered from Heathrow runway (Mark Pauline)

Friday 18 September 2020

Recent(ish) recoveries – non-passerines

The group have received a number of recoveries of non-passerines throughout the year, fairly typical fare, but always interesting as we don’t tend to ring as many as we do songbirds. The plus side on this front, is that it is often easier to get recoveries of these birds as field observations are easier with bigger birds. Barn Owls make up the bulk of what we receive and these will be covered in a separate post.

A familiar sight in our inbox has been the Black-headed Gull, ringed as a chick at Attenborough in 2019, seen on numerous occasions by multiple observers at the Lough, in Cork. Many sightings were reported to us of this bird from January through to May. It may have then moved on to breed, but it will be interesting to see if it returns to winter at the same site again.

A Common Gull, colour ringed as a chick in Norway in 2016, spent the latter part of the winter at Trent Bridge, being seen by Tom in February, along with a couple of other observers.

Tom’s Trent Bridge gull outings usually come with a few Canada Geese thrown in, and there are still many residing there that have been ringed as part of the Nottingham University colour ringing project at their campus in Lenton. Recent sightings include a bird from 2010, and several from 2016-2018. Another was seen at Colwick park, ringed in 2018.

A couple of Swans ringed at Rushcliffe were seen at Attenborough in January. One ringed in 2015, the other in 2018.

The Attenborough Cormorant colony continues to provide decent recoveries. A bird ringed in 2018 has was seen in February on the River Stour in Essex. Another, ringed in 2016 was seen in August, roosting on the Clwyd in Rhyl. This bird is one of the most well travelled of the SNRG ringed cormorants, having been seen in Essex, Kent, The Wirral and Suffolk, and now Wales.


Monday 14 September 2020

Colwick Garden Ringing, Sunday 13 September

I’ve been having semi-regular sessions in the garden since about July, after the usual summer hiatus when the garden goes a bit quiet and so I just let the birds get on with raising their young. Having new parental responsibilities of my own means that squeezing in the odd session here and there is very precious indeed.

Young tits, Greenfinches a few other bits and bobs made up the midsummer sessions, and since the end of August, Goldfinch have dominated once again, with the sunflower feeders going down at a rate of knots. Today I caught 26 new Goldfinches, mostly juveniles in various stages of moult. A few Chiffchaffs usually appear in September and I was lucky enough to have the nets up today when one piped up, which was quickly lured down, a ringing tick for the garden, contributing to a good total of 37 birds in a couple of hours.

Aside from numerous 3Js early in the season, the absence of young Blue and Great tits has been notable in the last few sessions. A quick look reveals that I have caught 35 BLUTI so far this year, which is far less than my yearly totals for both 2018 and 2019, further evidence that these species have had a poor year. A positive is that Greenfinch seem to be doing well, with plenty caught in the spring, and a few juveniles appearing in the garden in the last few weeks.


 Chiffchaff (T. Shields)


Saturday 12 September 2020

Recent(ish) recoveries – passerines

We’ve not posted a recovery round up for a while, so we’re going to attempt a bit of a catching up. Below are a few highlights of the passerine recoveries we’ve received since the beginning of the year.

A Sand Martin ringed as a chick at Bagworth Heath in Leicestershire on 14 Aug 2018 was trapped at the Attenborough colony on 16 Jun 2020. A second chick ringed at the same locality on 20 May 2019 was trapped on 7 Jul 2020, and on the same day a bird was caught that had been ringed as a chick in Rutland on 23 May 2019. Bizarrely, we’ve also had a few Sand Martin recoveries through from the mid-1980s, thanks to some historic data having been entered into the system! The six records are all exchanges between Attenborough and other sites in Notts.

A Reed Warbler ringed at Holme Pierrepont on 21 Aug 2019 was caught by a ringer in France 19 days later 851km due south. Another bird, ringed 4 days later, was trapped in Wiltshire on 31 Aug 2020. An individual which had been ringed on its first southward migration at Titchfield Haven on 21 Sep 2019, was caught at Holme Pierrepont as a breeding female on 22 Jul 2020. On the same day, another bird was trapped that had been ringed at Rutland Water on 19 Jun 2019 as an adult. A young bird ringed on 19 Aug 2020 was caught in Gloucestershire 14 days later. At almost 3 years, the longest of the batch was a bird ringed at HPP on 13 Aug 2017 and caught at Pitsford Reservoir, Northants , on 30 Jul 2020.

A Sedge Warbler ringed at Hazelford Island on 17 Jul 2019 was caught by a ringer in France 26 days later 404km to the SSE.

A young Blue Tit ringed at Sutton Bonington on 10 Nov 2019 was trapped at Charnwood Lodge on 7 March 2020 having travelled 12km. Considering this bird may have undergone some dispersal already, it is a little beyond the median distance travelled by a first year bird by March (2km).


Monday 7 September 2020

Late August ringing sessions

Skylarks end of Holme Pierrepont, Wednesday 19 August

The weather was good with very little breeze and the catching was steady but rain moved in just as we were about to take down. Gary and I finished with a catch of 81 including 17 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Robin 1/0, Dunnock 3/0, Willow Warbler 2/1, Chiffchaff 14/9, Blackcap 17/1, Garden Warbler 2/0, Whitethroat 7/0, Lesser Whitethroat 3/0, Reed Warbler 8/3, Blue Tit 3/1, Great Tit 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 0/1, Bullfinch 1/1. The oldest retrap was a Willow Warbler from 2015.

Skylarks end of Holme Pierrepont, Monday 24 August

The weather forecast was for overcast conditions with breeze picking up from the west – they lied, bright sun and breeze picking up from the south! Just me on this session so only a few nets in positions best protected from a forecasted westerly breeze. The sun and southerly breeze forced a slightly earlier finish but a reasonable catch of 33 including 3 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Robin 2/0, Wren 1/0, Cetti’s Warbler 1/0, Willow Warbler 3/0, Chiffchaff 5/1, Blackcap 8/0, Garden Warbler 3/0, Whitethroat 0/1, Lesser Whitethroat 3/0, Reed Warbler 3/1, Great Tit 1/0. The retraps were all recent birds but it was nice to catch a juvenile Cetti’s after so many visits with none evident.

Ramsdale, Sunday 31 August

Just Duncan and me today. The weather was dead calm all morning with a period of full sun mid-morning. We put up the most of the new line of nets and three of the old line and finished with a catch of 66 including 11 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 3/0, Dunnock 0/1, Blackcap 9/0, Whitethroat 2/0, Chiffchaff 19/5, Willow Warbler 3/0, Great Tit 1/1, Blue Tit 6/3, Goldcrest 1/1, Bullfinch 5/0, Goldfinch 6/0. The oldest retrap was a Goldcrest from last year.


Lesser Whitethroat & Ramsdale nets (K. Hemsley)