Sunday, 1 May 2016

Saturday 30th April

Another ringing session at Stanford Reservoir on Saturday to get into the swing of things before the CES season is upon us. David & Angus, Dawn, Peter, Pete and myself met at a not too unreasonable time of 06:00 and erected 13 nets to the sound of at least three reeling Grasshopper Warblers. This species hasn't bred at Stanford for three years and along with Cetti's Warbler, their reintroduction has been the main focus of our winter habitat management program since. It's too early to say but perhaps all our hard work has finally paid off. The first net round produced just thirteen birds including a retrap Grasshopper Warbler and a male Cetti's with Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat also in attendance. The second net round included a retrap female Cetti's and a Lesser Whitethroat followed by another retrap Grasshopper Warbler. Before the day was finished we managed yet another Grasshopper Warbler, this time a new one and the fourth this spring! As luck would have it, Jo turned up just in time to ring this one, she had never seen this species in the two years she has been with us so it shows how uncommon they really have become in recent years. A total of 17 new and 21 retraps was a fair result for late April and left us time to erect some Treecreeper nestboxes that Pete kindly made. We checked some large boxes too which resulted in an adult and a single pulli Stock Dove being ringed. Another box included an adult Stock Dove carcass under a squirrels drey. We have suspected that squirrels have been killing adult Stock Doves whilst on their nests for many years and this was proof of that. Consequently, we evict Grey Squirrels wherever and whenever we can. Two female Tawny Owls were still incubating and a Jackdaw had laid three eggs in another. We also checked a few tit boxes on our way around and found one Blue Tit sitting with many others still eggs covered. One Tree Sparrow nest checked last week had advanced from nest-lined to two eggs. Not a bad start but there's still a long way to go.
Robin with white primary and secondary feathers. Photo by D Sheffield

Monday, 25 April 2016

Annual Report

Hi All

Well I'm back from sunny Cyprus, with a few tales to tell (but that's for a later post).

Just a reminder that the groups annual report is out so just click on the link below.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Boys (and Girls) are Back in Town!

A trainee writes: After three months hard labour scrub bashing, it has been great to get back out ringing. Following some intriguing sightings on the reservoir it can now be confirmed, the warblers are back! Mick and Dave are still lounging around the pool in Cyprus, so Adam, Dawn, Peter, Stuart, Max and Pete met up on Saturday 23rd at 0600. Although rather fresh (i.e cold and windy), it was a beautiful sunny morning. We split into two groups, Team Dawn went down the track and started from Safari ride, Team Adam started from Berry ride and we met up at the feeders. As we were putting up the nets, both teams heard singing grasshopper warblers, a scarce species, and one which had not been heard on the res last year. If you don’t know this song, it is an unmistakeable insect like reeling, which is just as well, as they do skulk in the scrub for most of the time. The first round actually yielded up one of these beauties, and in fact we ended up with a total of three new birds! Stonking! Although totals for the day were modest, 20 new and 27 retraps, it was really exciting to see some old friends: Cetti’s, Sedge and Reed Warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were ringed, all new for this year. Across the res we could hear a male Cuckoo calling, so we are hoping to ring at least one this year! Next week we are starting the CES, so we are back to some serious ringing over a glorious (weather permitting) summer! Peter N.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Near but not near enough

Recently we were informed of a Kingfisher recovery. The bird had travelled a magnificent 68km north into Nottinghamshire. This is the furthest any of our Kingfishers have moved so you can imagine my suprise when I read of a Kingfisher on the BTO Demog blog site that had been ringed in Germany, 12km from the Polish border, then flew into a window in Market Harborough just 15km short of our site at Stanford !!! Oh well, better luck next time!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Sponsored Birdwatch

Merry Christmas to all our readers and fellow bird ringers and I hope you all have a happy new year. As many of us know feeding wild birds can be an expensive hobby and like numerous other ringing groups we like to keep our feathered friends supplied with a variety of seeds, peanuts and other foods to help them through the year. As our group is now almost totally self-funded we have struggled more this year than any other year to find the funds to cover the costs of birdfood, rings and other equipment. Over the last two months Stanford Ringing Group members have been asking relatives, friends and work colleagues to sponsor them on a birdwatching day at the reservoir which would involve counting all species seen during a 4 hour walk around the perimeter. The money raised will be used to help towards the funding of the feeding station which costs us approximately £400 per year and greatly helps our wintering resident species such as Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer.
So today Mick and Dave arrived early to erect some nets for a short ringing session and Peter, Jo and myself got there a little later to walk off the Christmas turkey and carry out our sponsored walk. The morning got off to a great start with 2 Short-eared Owls at the inlet end with Barn Owl, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Green Woodpecker all putting in an appearance within the first half hour. Whilst driving down the railtrack I followed a male Merlin up to the ringing base where Mick and Dave had just completed the first round of the nets. Two Cetti's Warblers extracted from the nets were added to the list as were Snipe, Woodcock and Tawny Owl (heard) whilst the nets were being erected. After a quick refreshment break Peter, Jo and myself set off on our walk around the reservoir leaving Mick and Dave to carry on with ringing and recording species around the bay. Apart from the usual species we added Goosander, Buzzard, Stock Dove and Goldcrest to the list to give us an impressive total of 65 species seen. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those that kindly sponsored us and those that continue to support the ringing group as without your support it would not be possible for us to continue our work year after year.
The final species list was Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Pheasant, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Merlin, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Woodcock, Snipe, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Short-eared Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Skylark, Cetti's Warbler, Wren, Treecreeper, Starling, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Robin, Dunnock, Tree Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting.


Sunday, 29 November 2015

November Review

What a dire month we have had with only 356 birds ringed, our worst total since 2011. The weather conditions have been terrible all month with wind and rain badly affecting what we could do. In fact we were only out on 7 dates all month (9 in 2014) and one of those was rain affected, with the nets up it started to rain (not forecast) at dawn so down they came again. The result :- wet kit, wet birds and I was soaked as well.... not a great day!!!!  Of the 356 birds ringed Redwing was the most abundant with 170 followed by Goldfinch on 40 and Tree Sparrow on 30. All the rest were in much reduced numbers to what I would have expected for the time of year. For example during the corresponding month last year we caught 38 Blackbird - 26 this year, 24 Blue Tit - 7 this year , 93 Tree Sparrow - 30 this year and finally 41 Reed Bunting to 12 this year, a concerning downward trend. It will be interesting to see by the years end if things even themselves out at all.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Outrageous October

Well what a great October we have had at Stanford. A record number caught with 1387 ringed for the month pushing our yearly total to just over 7000 new for the site and 4000 of those being Warblers. The month started well and continued on from September with excellent numbers of both Blackcap and Chiffchaff so when you compare the totals with last year when we had record numbers for the year you can appreciate how good this year has been. Last year during October we caught 37 Blackcap and 48 Chiffchaff, this year we caught 186 and 225 respectively so you can see what a jump in numbers there has been this year. For those of you who are regular viewers of this site you will remember me banging on about how many Goldcrests we have caught over the previous 2 months, well this month went crazy with 129 birds ringed taking us to just over 200 for the year. Not many you may think but when you compare it with our previous highest total of 76 you can see where we are coming from. Mid month we hit a real purple patch for us and it all started on the 9th when on the second round of the morning I caught a Siberian Chiffchaff, one of the brown looking ones as opposed to the more familiar grey ones, this was the 2nd one caught at Stanford and on the next round I caught a first year female Firecrest, the 5th caught at Stanford. What was a great days ringing and quite unexpected, was followed on the 12th with a Yellow-browed Warbler and an Asian Lesser Whitethroat. (see accounts on articles page on the Web site). Then to round things off I caught another female Firecrest on the 20th, a day that I caught 19 new Goldcrests on site..... a record in itself. By the 16th we had started to catch winter Thrushes and by the end of the month we had good numbers for this time of year, 15 Song Thrush, 17 Blackbird , 2 Fieldfare and 181 Redwing. Last year the corresponding figures were 14, 7, 0 and 20 so you can see a significant increase over last year. Of the Tits, Lotti's were up by almost two thirds but Blue and Great Tits were down by about one third. Tree Sparrows have crept up again with 82 ringed this month, a big improvement on the last two months. Then we come to Finches and Buntings, they are continuing their topsy-turvy year with some species down in numbers whilst others go up. Chaffinch and Bullfinch are similar to last year albeit very low numbers. Greenfinch are down a third, Goldfinch by half and Yellowhammer are non existent compared to last years 35. Reed Bunting have continued a worrying trend of low numbers this year with a paltry 9 birds ringed. The one high point has been the welcome return of Lesser Redpoll with 134 ringed during the month and a single Siskin, our 3rd of the year and another record.