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!

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 Mick...now 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.

Mick

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.