What a week this has been for weather - if we have not got wet we have got blown away and if we haven’t got blown away we have got wet and, added to that, the early mornings have been a bit on the chilly side. The conditions in fact have been more like November rather than summer. Still we did manage three reasonably successful sessions this week:
With heavy rain forecast from 0700hrs it was never going to be a great day for ringing. Despite previously arranging to meet at 0430 hrs, Adam, Mick and I decided individually to arrive slightly earlier than that in order to erect the nets earlier than planned to give us a slightly longer ringing session such that by the time Dawn arrived (the trainee one that is, not the solar one) several nets were already up. We took the nets down at 0800 hrs just before the rain started. With four Stock Dove pulli ringed after the nets were taken down, the combined total of 41 new birds and 31 retraps for the session was a lot less than we would be expecting at Stanford for this time of year when we would anticipate 100+ new birds ringed each session.
Intrepid Adam decided to have one last ringing session in the main reed bed on his last free day before towing his caravan and family to the Wirral and then onto York – you have been warned – keep a safe distance! However, half way to Stanford he decided that the wind and heavy rain was just going to be too much and he was forced to turn round and head back home.
Despite the breezy conditions with the occasional shower Masai Mick and I had a reasonable catch of 130 birds (70 new and 60 retraps) which included our second Kingfisher of the year. We were also fortunate to see a hawking Hobby and a Peregrine – the latter would have gone over our heads unseen if it was not for the noise made by the group of Common Terns mobbing it.
Today were joined by Webmaster Mike, who was a surprised by a Badger no more than six feet away from him as it ambled through the hedge onto the reserve. A catch of 64 new birds with 38 retraps was an acceptable tally for the area between the Draw-off Tower and the “Orchard” with the highlight for us being the trapping of a Pied Wagtail. Nothing special you might say – well it is for us as it is the first one ringed at Stanford since June 1983. Eighteen years is a long time! Although still regular at the Reservoir, they no longer breed – their breeding site was lost when outbuildings used by the on site manager, Bob Smith, were demolished after his retirement and vacation of the cottage. House Sparrows were also lost as a breeding species at this time and Swallows were similarly affected although a single pair has been successful in some years by nesting under the bridge over the outflow stream.
At the end of a difficult week we have managed 175 new birds and 129 retraps with encouraging warbler numbers of:
Sedge 28 (21) Reed 10 (5) Whitethroat 25 (20) Garden 4 (11)
Blackcap 14 (16) Chiffchaff 7 (1) Willow Warbler 11 (3)
Whilst these species seem to be having a good year, Lesser Whitethroats appear not to be faring as well.
Two Treecreepers this week brought our tally of juveniles for the year to 13.
Tree Sparrow and Reed Buntings were enhanced by 14 (13) and 28 (11) respectively.