Monday, 3 August 2015

July-----------A difficult month

Well what can we say really ? The weather during the month has been terrible here at Stanford with what feels like continuous wind varying from strong to very strong. This severally effected both the number of times we were able to get out [11 compared with 14 in 2014] and what nets we could put up/area we ringed thus reducing the catch.

 This month we have ringed a total of 706 birds of 30 species compared with 1073 of 33 species last year[2014] of these only 4 species showed an increase in numbers they being Kingfisher from 3 to 4 , Blue Tit from 32 to 35 Reed Warbler 59 to 74 and finally Blackcap 118 to 135 all the rest showed a decline the most dramatic being Tree Sparrow 156 to 28 Whitethroat 174 to 118 Reed Bunting 77 to 24 and finally although only small numbers are involved  I think it is still significant Linnet down from 13 to only 1 !!! In fact when I look at all the Finch and Bunting numbers they all show a significant decline, this can be for a number of reasons.
1. Smaller adult numbers. 
2. The fact we ringed 360 fewer birds this month.
3. Due to the generally cold weather birds are breeding later / failed to breed successfully.
 Hopefully its just a late breeding season and things will pick up in August. 
We have been trying a new area this summer on the Leicestershire side of the Reservoir. It was formally a field  that had sheep grazing it but some years ago the sheep were taken out and the field was left to go wild. I think we have been ignoring a good area as the catches in this area have been really good with 4 catches of 90+ birds and a French control of a Sedge Warbler. Hopefully this will continue throughout the rest of the year, finally we have just had a good Chiffchaff recovery a bird that was ringed in April last year and caught in Portugal on December 30th.


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.