Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The first six months

After having our 2nd best start to the year last year with 1400 birds ringed by the end of June we were hoping for a similar start this year so by achieving a total of 1391 we have done really well when you
consider the incessant wind we have had to endure from the North. This has made things quite difficult for us as our site is quite exposed when the wind is from this direction. However we have persevered and
achieved better results than it felt. Surprisingly we caught exactly the same number of species as last year with 39 although 9 of these were different to last year. It's been a real funny year with most species being caught in smaller numbers than last year, some of which are really unexplainable. Wren and Robin have been caught in similar numbers but Dunnocks are down from 43 last year to 24 this year. The Tits are a bit up and down with Blue Tit up from 231 to 294 and Great Tits remaining static whist Long tailed tits are down from 42 to 25. Tree sparrows have increased dramatically from 141 to 234 .... a brilliant increase in numbers!
Apart from Chaffinch, all finches have shown a dramatic decrease in numbers with Bullfinch and Linnet being the worst with a 75% decrease. The warblers are all over the place with Reed and Sedge showing big
increases while Lesser Whitethroat ,Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow warbler showing the opposite with big decreases. Whitethroat and Garden warbler numbers look stable. This year has also seen a new breeding species for the reservoir with up to 3 breeding female Cetti's Warblers caught since May and three 1j's caught over the last 2 weeks, so overall not to bad a start to the year.


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Moth Night 2

Last Friday evening Adam and myself went over to the Leicestershire side of the Reservoir to carry out a moth night. The second of the year. We got there about 18.30 and decided to set the nets in the reedbed ready for Saturdays ringing. Mick and Peter were due to come at 4.30 the next morning to try some new rides in the paddock area again on the Leicestershire side. Dawn had been ringing on Friday with Jed Andrews and chasing Egyptian Geese and was unable to come out with the group. Jo had decided a wedding was far more important than ringing (ha ha), so there was only going to be the 4 of us in the morning.
After setting the nets we set up the moth trap far enough away from the vehicles so it didn't disturb our sleep.Then we returned to the nets, extracted the birds furled the nets and processed the birds. Most were Reed Warblers as you would expect.After finishing with the birds we went to check the moth trap and to top up the generator. It was still very light so there were not many moths around. We left it running and returned to base for a well deserved beer and sleep.
Up early at 4.15 we went and unfurled the nets before returning to base and Adam produced from the back of his car bacon, rolls and surprise surprise he had remembered the frying pan. Fantastic. We quickly checked the moth trap to find out that the generator had stopped working sometime in the night. Another problem for Adam to sort out.
Mick and Peter arrived at 4.30 and set up their nets.We had 2 bases not in view of each other. So myself and Adam carried on as normal ringing extracting etc. About mid morning both our phones rang we were busy extracting birds so ignored them. As we got back to base they went again. It was Mick. Adam answered. Mick was apparently dancing around cheering like a kid. He had caught a French ringed Sedge Warbler.
Mick really is such a jammy git, if there are controls to be had on the site you can guarantee that Mick will process 90% of them.
Any way we carried on ringing and then check the moth trap. Unfortunately there was only a few in there.
Drinker 2, Straw Dot 2,Burnished Brass 2, Brown Rustic 2, Plain Golden Y and Marbled Minor 2.

By 11.00 we had packed up the nets and were check the reedbed for nests and pulli.. Although we only found one nest with pulli we did find several with eggs.

All in all a very successful ringing session returning with 46 new and 38 retraps, mostly Reed and Sedge Warblers although we did catch young Kingfisher which is always nice.

Mick had just about finished when we drove round to him and his totals were also very good 

Blackbird 1 /0  Dunnock 1/1  wren  3/0  robin 2/0  Reewa 4/5   sedwa  4/5   white  4/3  leswh  1/0   black  7/0   garwa  4/0   Goldf  2/1   bluti   3/0    linnet  1/0  treec  2/0    tresp  1/0  reebu  4/1    

Totals   44 new 15 retrap  1 control

And to top it off Mick had worked out how to use the camera on his phone and had taken this wonderful picture of this Dragonfly. Any suggestion for names?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Moth Night

Adam and myself decided to have a Moth night in the car park at the end of the reservoir  near the dam. A chance to have a few beers and bacon rolls. I had packed the bacon and rolls and Adam was due to bring a frying pan. We got there about 18.45 on the Friday evening, my lad Angus had decided to come and help. We put some nets up from the car park  towards the old hide. Mick turned up and watched as he had shorts on and didn't want to scratch his delicate legs on the brambles. We put some more nets at the back of the dam and one across the wear. As the wind was forecast to get to 20mph by 8 in the morning we didn't want to put too many nets up. We carried out a couple of net rounds before furling the nets at dusk.
We then concentrated on setting up the moth trap and settling down to see what we could catch. The temperature dropped quite alot and there were not many moths around. We retired to our various beds about 11, knowing we needed to be up by 4 to unfurl the nets. I set off one way to sort the nets, Adam the other. As I unfurled the nets all I could think about was my forth coming bacon roll.
On returning to base I started to get the bacon sorted and asked Adam for the frying pan only to learn that he had forgotten it. DISASTER, no bacon rolls, so I have to settle for a coffee, (not quite the same).
We totaled 51 moths of which we had 14 species including Poplar Hawk Moth and Chocolate Tip.

Polar Hawk Moth

The wind got up at 8 but we continued ringing until about 10.30. In total we had 24 new birds and 25 retraps, the highlights being 5 new / 6 retrap Reed Warbler and 4 new and 1 retrap Linnet.

Common Terns

While we were ringing at the dam end, Mick, Jo and Peter had started at the rail track end at 4.30 that morning.
They seriously suffered from wind and only had a few nets up.
Totals from Railtrack end were 9 new including 6 Tree Sparrows and 7 retraps including a Great Stopped Woodpecker.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Third CES session.

Well Mick has returned from Canda although the wind has not changed direction the number of birds have slightly increased. The whole group managed to make the 4.30 start and greeted Mick back from Canada. We spilt the group in two and Adam, Dawn and Peter went off checking all the nest boxes and ringing the pulli. Jo, Mick and myself carried out the CES. In between net rounds Mick showed Jo and myself his holiday snaps. Jo was quite impressed with Mick in his budgie smugglers, lol, but more impressed with the fantastic photographs of some of the birds he had processed while he was at Long Point. It's still very quiet at the reservoir but at the end of the session we had ringed 17 new birds and processed 40 re traps including the resident male Cetti's. Adam, Dawn and Peter returned with a total of 143 pulli ringed and a re trap adult Swallow.

Sunday, 24 May 2015


Although ringing has started at Stanford the number of new birds arriving has been very small. We feel this is probably due to the constant North Easterly winds.Our summer visitors are just not here in numbers yet. Our  best news is that we have a pair of Cetti's Warblers resident at the reservoir. We carried out our second CES session last Saturday and only managed to ring 6 new birds and processed 31 retraps. This was the lowest CES return in the 3yrs of running the project. We put this down to the strong winds last Saturday. So this Saturday the forecast was excellent for ringing and we decided the have another go at the CES. Unfortunately there was still very little bird movement or numbers and as a result our numbers were even lower with 9 new birds and 25 retraps. However what was encouraging was what appears to be at least 3 cuckoos at the reservoir. To Adams delight after struggling to the res from working nights he was rewarded with being able to ring a female Cuckoo, something he has been waiting for, for the last 15yrs. To add to the delight Peter (our new trainee) was able to process an adult male Sparrowhawk one we had ringed as an adult in 2012.

Mick returns from his ringing at Long Point Bird Observatory this week, so hopefully the wind will change direction and our number of birds will increase.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Swallow in Congo

We received a recovery note from the BTO on Thursday.
An adult Swallow ringed at Stanford Reservoir, Northants in May 2012 was ''freshly dead and intentionally taken'' in September 2014, so we are assuming that it was a light snack for a hungry hunter!
This is our furthest recovery of any species in the 40 year history of the ringing group, travelling a distance of 7129km to the far reaches of Congo in Africa and beats our previous record of a Blackcap that made it's way 2327km to Morocco.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Ringing at Last

After what seems to have been an eternity, at last the group has started ringing again on a Saturday morning. The scrub clearing which we have been doing for the last three months is vitally important for the returning warblers, but its great to get back ringing. Listening to the Chiff's singing reminds us that its spring and the start of what we hope will be another fantastic year at Stanford. This year as well as our CES site we now have a RAS approved for Tree Sparrows.
Last Wednesday myself, Dawn, Mel, Mick and my lad Angus met at the railtrack gate at 6am. It was a bit breezy but the weather forecast was for the wind to drop so we erected 11 nets and waited for the first round. While setting one of the nets Dawn and myself heard a Cetti's singing. This was fantastic because a couple had been seen during the winter on the reservoir.
Time for a quick coffee before Mick and Mel went one way and Dawn and myself the other. In the first nets we checked was the Cetti's (brilliant), a retrap male from the end of last year. We all have our fingers crossed that we will get Cetti's breeding this year which will be a first for the reservoir. We returned to the base and between us I think we had about 20 birds, including several Chiffchaffs and Tree Sparrows. We continued during the morning with a mixture of Tree Sparrows, Tits, Chiffs and a retrap Great Spotted Woodpecker. During one of our coffee breaks Dawn and Mel were talking and Mel asked Dawn what bird would she love to ring. she immediately said a Jay. The reasoning behind this was because Jay is a bird that has alluded Dawn. She has been with the group over 4yrs and has unfortunately managed to be missing on the days we actually catch one (which is not very often as we only ring if we're lucky a couple a year).
On the next round Mel returned with a smile on his face and presented Dawn with what was obvious a large bird in the bag. Dawns hand delved into the bag and ours ears heard the predicted yell of pain but she persevered and produced a Jay out of the bag.Her little face lit up, but no tears this time.
I was really pleased for her,  but now I have to think of another bird she has yet to ring that we catch at the site, so I can wind her up. Hmmmm I think Sparrowhawk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
By the end of the day we had caught a respectful 62 birds which included 10 new Chiffs and 10 Tree Sparrows which takes us to over 60 already this year.

The first Saturday ringing session at the res and only Adam, myself and Angus could make it. We met at 6am at the railtrack as normal and trundled down to our base area. The wind was predicted to be about 8mph but it was a lot stronger than that. We decided that 'well we're here we may aswell put some nets up' and see what if anything we could catch. While setting the nets it started to drizzle but unfortunately didn't come to anything. Well the first round we processed about 20 birds which bearing in mind the weather conditions was very good. We caught our first Linnet of the year which is encouraging. Although  we heard the Chiffs singing there was very little movement and as a result we only caught 2 retaps. The Tree Sparrow numbers were still high with 14 retraps and another 9 new birds. There had obviously been an influx of Chaffinchs as we caught 3 retraps and 3new birds.  We packed away by 1pm and had respectable total of 66 birds including 46 retraps and 20 new birds. We had sightings of several Fieldfare flying north and Lapwing displaying in a nearby field.
Its good to be out ringing!