Wednesday, 31 December 2014

December come and gone

Wow, what happened to December, it's felt like I've turned my back and it has gone. A combination of bad weather and other things on meant we only got 7 ringing sessions in this month compared with the usual 13-14, however we managed to catch 380 birds of 19 species. The last couple of days we have been out targeting Buntings as a male Lapland Bunting was seen on Sunday afternoon by two friends of ours, (one up from Cornwall). Unfortunately we never located the bird but that's not to say it's not sat in the field some where. We did manage a creditable 31 Yellowhammer and 17 Reed Buntings as fair compensation though. You would not believe it but we have also been targeting the feeding station over these two days as well as we were only 4 Blue Tits away from a new annual record total. The first day we managed only 3 new Blue Tits but one escaped through a hole in the bag and yesterday no new Tits at all, would you believe it? Sods law in action only 2 new Blue Tits in 2 days with zillions of retraps. Redwings have been at the top of the list this month with a further 222 caught and still no controls. Oh well there's always next year !!!! With very few Fieldfare about this year we have found it difficult to catch any at all so I suppose the 5 we managed wasn't to bad. So that's about it for this year, lets all hope for another great bird filled year. A very happy New Year to all our readers. Mick

Sunday, 14 December 2014

10,000 birds!

Saturday's ringing session saw us surpass 10,000 birds this year, a total never reached in all the history of our group. Hoping to catch lots of Thrushes again, Mick, Simon, Mel, Ed, Jo and I met up at 05:30. The nets were up before dawn as usual. The first round was quiet and a little later in the morning a hoar frost kept the numbers low. That said, a late flurry of Redwing meant that we scraped through with 32 new and 20 retraps.  The 21 Redwing captured throughout the morning brought the total for the month up to 195 and to 409 for the year.

As our members are spread out over a few counties, the simplest way for us to have a Christmas get together is to meet up for a ringing session then head off to our local headquarters for dinner and a pint. One of our former members Ed had joined us for the day and it was great to catch up but we missed Dave who has been ill and Adam who had to work. Mick's wife Denise brightened up the dinner with stories about we know he is far softer than he pretends to be!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

6th and 9th December

With everybody either shopping or not available on Saturday it was down to Mel and myself to wave the flag at Stanford this week and what a flag it was. With nets set before dawn we were hoping for a decent catch of Thrushes as the temp was -2.5c. The first round produced a brilliant 75 Redwing but a descending hoar frost then just about put the mockers on the rest of the morning. Fortunately the temperature did rise enough to melt the frost and allow us to catch a few more birds and we ended up with 95 new plus 3 retraps. Of these, 86 were Redwing - our best single day catch since 2010.

A late decision to go out ringing today meant nobody was available to help so off I went at silly o'clock to get the nets up before dawn. Mission accomplished it was soon time for the first net round. I was hoping for a good catch of Redwing again and I was not disappointed with 55 in the first round. Brilliant !!!! The rest of the morning continued with a steady trickle of birds. By 11 o'clock the wind had got up and was quite strong so I decided to take the nets down and ring the last few birds. After packing the kit away I sat and had a coffee and was pleasantly surprised to find I had caught 92 new plus 16 retraps and what's more, I had managed to catch another 87 Redwing. The last bird of the day was a new Kingfisher taking us to 19 for the year.


Saturday, 6 December 2014

November review

Well November has been a bit up and down to say the least with only 9 ringing sessions undertaken this month due to other commitments, December could be the same we will just have to wait and see. However, we did manage to have our second best ever November total of 487 birds ringed. When we have been able to go out a lot of effort has been put in by the team to achieve this number of birds. When you look at our best November total of 559, this was achieved with 5 more sessions so well done to all those who took part this month. Although we have caught a decent number of Redwing (168) they have not been about in any number at all, coupled with a pathetic 3 Fieldfare. However a further 38 Blackbird is not too bad for our site. On the warbler front we managed a single Blackcap and 4 Chiffchaff together with an unprecedented 3 Cettis Warbler, this is more than any previous annual total. Hopefully they will stay to breed at long last. A further 93 Tree Sparrow this month brought us to over 600 for the year but the most concerning thing is no Lesser Redpoll at all. Where are they?. If they are still on their breeding grounds then lets hope they don't get caught out with a prolonged cold spell with snow. Finally, this month we went through 7000 new birds for the year and what a great effort from the team. As ever, you can view our ringing totals and more by going onto our web site by typing in Stanford Ringing Group and following the various links.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Latvian 'Love-song' versus Spanish 'Serenade'

About a week ago we were kindly sent a Redwing track from Fernando Gavilan in sunny Spain. We have nicknamed this track as the Spanish Serenade. Today was the first trial.
Well we met at the rail track normal time 5.30. Unfortunately Dawn and Simon couldn't make it this morning so I though it would be a small group of Mick, Adam, Jo and myself. Angus my lad had decided he would come along and help, however when we got to the gate, Mel was already there and and Jamie joined us a while later.
We trundled on down the track and split into 2 groups to erect the nets. Mick and Mel went one way and the rest of us the other. We alternated the Latvian Love-song and Spanish Serenade at each net ride.With the nets up we all returned to base and waited for light. After a coffee and a natter we were off on the net round. The first couple of nets had a Redwing a piece. But when we turned the corner to the line of 3x60', the nets were sagging with Redwing. Brilliant! We extracted all the birds from those nets and 4 other rides before returning to the vehicle to process the birds. On our return Mick and Mel were back and had already started processing their birds. The first bird a retrap Cetti's. Wonderful !
For the first round we had got about 45 birds of which about 25 were Redwing. The second round didn't provide as many birds but did provide Jo with a new bird. Another new Cetti's, fantastic. This is the forth new Cetti's this year and beats our old annual record of 2. This bird was a male and the earlier retrap was a female so we have our fingers crossed that they stay at Stanford and breed next season. The nets along our side of the Reservoir didn't catch another Redwing all morning so the MP3's were changed to Redpoll, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. Jo had to swan off early about 10.30 using some lame excuse about going to see old girlfriends. Ha Ha  Where is the commitment from trainees these days?
Well the next round provided a bird that Dawn has been hankering after for the last three years. A Sparrowhawk.
This was a young male. I put a ring on its leg with some assistance from Mel holding the talons. So Dawn to stop me dealing with all these  wonderful birds you're going to have to change your job, and come ringing at Stanford.
All  in all we rallied round and got a total of 37 Redwing, which is our best daily number this year. Was it down to the Spanish Serenade? Well I think its a bit early to say. We will keep trying it and will see how our annual numbers fair. Thank you Fernando.  So totals for today 59 New birds, 20 retraps of which included 37 Redwing (1) 6 Blackbirds, 2 Cetti's (1), 2 Treecreepers (1) and the Sparrowhawk.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Saturday 22nd November

My apologies for the tardiness of the blog for yesterday's session, but it was my birthday so that's a decent excuse. This gave the group much fodder for mockery in guessing my age. 50 was mentioned on more than one occasion...!

It was a foggy start which merged into a grey day and quite low numbers for each round. This wasn't a complete waste though as it meant there was time for Jo to practise erecting nets in daylight - a welcome change from trying to see how this is done by the speedy hands of an A ringer in the poor light of their head torch.

Some highlights of the day were 25 Redwing, 6 Blackbirds, 2 Starling, 6 Tree Sparrows and 5 Reed Bunting. We were joined by Ian for several hours who went with everyone to the pub afterwards while I sloped off to be treated to a night out.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Skiving Work

As we hadn't managed to get out with Adam on Tuesday Mick and myself decided to go out ringing today. We both gave our excuses to work colleagues and customers as to why we couldn't work today and met at the railtrack as normal at 5.30.
We decided to put a decent number of nets up in an attempt to catch Redwing and Fieldfare. By the time we had erected all the nets it was dawn. We did manage to get a quick coffee in before starting the first round. Mick went one way I went the other. All MP3 players were warbler-ling out the Latvian lovesong in an attempt to attract the Redwing. My first net only 2 Redwing, disappointing. However by the time I had visited all my nets I had about 15 Redwing a Fieldfare several Reed Buntings and Blackbirds about 25 birds in total. On return to the vehicles Mick was already processing the birds from his nets, also about 25 birds.
With all the birds processed we were off again round the nets. No time for coffee. Again I caught several Redwing, but not as many birds in total as the last round. MP3's were changed from Redwing to calls of Redpoll, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. In the last net before the vehicles I extracted a retrap female Green Woodpecker which was very nice as I hadn't processed a Green Woodpecker before. Dawn always beats me to the good birds. Mind you if she had been there today I would have let her deal with this bird as it decided to claw my hands to pieces!
So after a couple more rounds we took the nets down about 1pm and had a tally up.
112 birds of which 73 were new and 39 retraps. Excellent mornings ringing. The highlights were 26 Redwing, 14 Tree Sparrows, 11 Reed Bunting, a Coal Tit (which is unusual for our site), the Fieldfare and of course the retrap Green Woodpecker.