Sunday, 14 September 2014

That was a week That was!!!

Well what an awesome week we have had. It's the best week we have ever had for new birds ringed and controls. In total we ringed 684 and controlled 5, what a great week! It started on Monday the 8th with me getting there at stupid o'clock to get nets up and sound lures on. Bang on first light Blackcaps were everywhere then the second round being a mixture of Blackcap and Chiffchaff. These two species predominated all morning with a smattering of other warblers to provide a bit of variation to the proceedings. The best bird of the day was caught on the 9 o'clock round in the form of a NORTHERN WILLOW WARBLER the third for the site. I was later informed by the county recorder that this was only the third record for Northants all being recorded by us at Stanford Res. On packing up I totalled up to find I had rung 210 birds and had a Blackcap control, the main species being Blackcap with 149 ringed and Chiffchaff with 32. The next day saw me up and at the res again at silly o'clock for the same to happen, this time I had a slightly smaller catch with 168 being rung again the main species being Blackcap with 98 and Chiffchaff 38. Today also saw the start of the Meadow Pipit season with a dozen being caught, but the highlight of the day was a cracking first year male REDSTART together with 2 Blackcap and a Chiffchaff control.
Male Redstart
After two early mornings on the trot I gave Wednesday a miss and waited for Thursday, possibly a bit of a mistake as Thursday produced another stunning day with 190 birds ringed and a Willow Warbler control. Again Blackcaps 111 and Chiffchaff 39 stealing the show. The wind got up spoiling the Meadow Pipit catch limiting it to only 5 birds but you cannot have everything or can you?? as I managed to bag a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, not a common bird in these parts.
Spotted Flycatcher
Adam and Dave decided to have a moth night on Friday so they got there early and erected the nets for the following day catching a few birds in the process. With the full team available and the good fortune I have had during the week spirits were high in anticipation of a great catch and as sods law would have it the main attraction failed to turn up on cue. The first round only produced 9 birds instead of the hoped for 100+. However, things picked up and we rallied to 100 new and 30 retraps. The team were a little deflated at the lack of anticipated numbers but another Northern Willow Warbler (presumably the 4th for northants) and the second for the week lifted spirits as most of the team had never seen one before.

'Northern' Willow Warbler
Again, Blackcap 50 and Chiffchaff 29 stole the show. We have now ringed 900 Blackcap and 227 Chiffchaff this month, awesome for a truly inland site. We are as far from the sea as you can get in any direction. Hopefully next week will be as good.
Canary-shouldered Thorn - S Watts

''All hail the alien invasion''

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Saturday 6th September

Dave, Simon and I met at the gate at 05:00 to find that Mick had already arrived over an hour earlier and had erected several nets in an attempt to repeat the fantastic Blackcap catches from during the week. Adam joined us and so we split into two groups. Mick and I ringed from Church to Berries and added a 60ft and 40ft net in the field next to the rail track. We had a spectacular first round and had to commandeer Simon to help out with processing. Overall our half of the group totalled 150 new birds and 12 retraps. This included 94 Blackcaps, 28 Chiff Chaffs, 9 Willow Warbler and the capture of 2 more Lesser Whitethroats which has pushed us over the record. From our totals, we caught 1 Robin and 1 Chaffinch which were the only resident birds captured, all others were migrant warblers. Adams group caught 62 new and 26 retraps including a new Garden Warbler and 10 Chiff Chaffs. Todays Blackcap total was 113. Another excellent day's ringing at SRG!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The day to beat all days.

Well the plan was to meet at the track gate at 5 as usual. But on my arrival at 4.45 I saw headlights coming up the track from the direction of the reservoir, it was Mick he'd got up early and erected half of the number of nets. Mick went off to meet Vivien at the groups headquarters The White Hart at South Kilworth. Viv was joining us for the day to be assessed for her C permit. Mick, Viv and Adam arrived back at the gate and we set off to erect the remaining nets. All nets were erected by 0600 so we had a quick coffee before setting off for the first round. Myself and Adam went one way and Mick and Viv went the other.On returning to the ringing area Adam and myself started processing our 30 or 40 birds. After a while we began to wonder where Mick and Viv had got too, when in the distance I saw Mick running ( that's a sight to behold. One I don't think I will ever see again, or should I say don't want to see again ha ha). He had run out of bird bags and came back to the cars to use ours. Mick went back to help Viv and on their return they were ladened down with birds. Myself and Viv set about ringing and even Adam had to forego his cup of tea to ring.The first round had produced over 100 new Blackcaps several Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs, but no Garden Warblers. We only needed 2 more this season to break the record for the group and reach 100 new birds. The second round again produced a large number of Blackcaps, Reed Warblers, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff and one solitary Garden Warbler (we had equaled the record). The next round produced more Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroats and the 100th Garden Warbler ( a new record for the site). We continued with more net rounds, but fortunately there were fewer birds as the day progressed and the sun lit the nets like a beacons and we had time to have refreshments. By 1300 we had taken down all the nets and sat tallying our mornings ringing experience. We sat exhausted but what a fantastic mornings ringing, we had processed 331 birds of which 298 were new birds. Of that total  Blackcap 216 (6) , Reed Warbler 10, Whitethroat 18, Sedge Warbler 5, Garden Warbler 2, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Willow Warbler 8 and Chiffchaff 18. Never has such a large number of birds been processed or Blackcaps ringed in one session in the history of the group.
What a awesome day. Time for a well deserved pint at the headquarters.

The trouble with technology.......

At the ripe old age of.....shall we say....over 50, Mick has a little trouble with new technology. When out successfully catching Tree Pipits at Stanford two weeks ago he did manage to take a photograph of one he caught but trying to upload it onto the Blog got a little too complicated.
So here is Micks photo of one of a pair of Tree Pipits, the first to be ringed at Stanford since 1976!
Tree Pipit - MJT

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saturday 30th August

At 05:00, Dave, Mick and I met at the rail track. It was blowing a hoolie, but we decided to see if any areas were sheltered enough to get a few nets up. We managed to put up 9 nets and although each round was rather poor in numbers, over the day we did scrape together 31 new and 34 retraps including a retrap Kingfisher, 14 new Blackcaps and 5 Reed Warblers. It seems that the Whitethroats are mostly gone now as we caught only 3 all day.

We spent the morning getting to know Peter who joined us at 07:00 and is a prospective new trainee. Simon joined us a little later and so we ended up with almost a full team. To finish off the morning nicely as we were locking the gate, a Camberwell Beauty crossed the rail track.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Blackcaps in the Mist

Not being sure if I was going to go out or not I didn't set the alarm as the weather forecast was for early morning rain but in the end I woke up anyway so I decided to get up and go. What a great decision! Although it was raining when I left for the reservoir at 04:15, by the time I got there 20 minutes later it had turned into that fine miserly rain with a bit of mist. I erected the nets and switched the audio lures on and sat waiting to do the first round of the nets about 30 minutes after dawn. As the title suggests the first round was lots of Blackcaps a couple of Garden Warblers and Lesser Whitethroat mixed in with the usual fare. Whilst doing the round of nets I noticed a number of Swallows hanging around so i switched one of the Lures to Swallow and hey presto I caught 22 Swallow with two Sand Martins (a new species for the year). This second round also produced more Blackcaps and by the end of the morning I had caught a respectable 36 birds, 31 being new. By 10:00 it tailed off rapidly leaving me on 97 new birds and 33 retraps, not a bad morning considering I wasn't planing to go out -- Mick

Monday, 25 August 2014

Garden session

The weather forecast for today was heavy rain and 40mph winds. Well, at 07:00 this morning it was calm in Corby with no rain so I opened my 30' net and turned on a lure to try and catch some warblers. Firstly I set the lure for Whitethroat which worked well when I caught one within minutes. After a couple of non-warbler rounds I changed it to Blackcap and Chiffchaff but first I had to change the batteries which were in the garage. When I returned a couple of minutes later there were six birds in the net which included a Blackcap and my first Lesser Whitethroat ringed in the garden. I have heard Lesser Whitethroats singing in scrub behind my garage for a few years so I knew it would only be a matter of time before I caught one.
Lesser Whitethroat