Sunday, 9 October 2011

700 UP! - a new record

Last weekend, as we tucked into my wife’s traditional Sunday roast of Scottish Angus beef, Yorkshire puddings and all the usual trimmings, Masai Mick and I mulled over the ringing successes of last month.  It was the 2nd October and we were 21 Blackcaps short of 700 – an amazing total given that last year’s total of 263 was then an all time record and that, in just over a week ago, we were ringing our 500th for the year.

With the weather forecast getting worse towards the end of the forthcoming week we decided that we would go to Stanford on Monday (a day that I am not usually available).  We ringed 59 new birds (15 retraps) – 9 Meadow Pipits, 10 Chiffchaffs and 11 Blackcaps.

So, needing 10 Blackcaps for the all elusive total, Wednesday saw us setting a reduced number of nets in those rides that were actually sheltered from the strong breeze.  When the rain came just a few hours later we had already taken down and were packing up.  We controlled a juvenile Blue Tit (L263891) and the total for the day? 22 new birds (8 retraps) which included 7 Tree Sparrows, 2 Chiffs and NINE Blackcaps.  Were we going to end the year on 699? 

With the Met Office forecasting wind and rain for Saturday morning, we came close to cancelling the session but with two new prospective trainees wanting to come along to see what we get up to, we decided to go ahead.  And so it was that at 0530 hrs we were joined by Ed, Dawn and Debbie from our usual crew and met Emma and Simon for their first ringing experience day.  We waited for over an hour for the drizzle to stop and tentatively erected a reduced number of nets close to our base.  We needn’t have worried, the breeze settled down and there was no further rain.
We caught a House Sparrow – a rare bird for Stanford with only two ever having been ringed before (the first in 1977 and the second in 1994). We also retrapped the Grasshopper Warbler ringed last week and caught two Tree Sparrows with identically elongated upper mandibles. The 56 new birds (plus 10 retraps) comprised predominantly of 12 Tree Sparrows, 7 Dunnocks, 9 Chiffs, 10 Long-tailed Tits, a Lesser Redpoll and TWO Blackcaps – we did it!  Annual total for this species at this one site almost in the middle of the country - 701.

3rd ever House Sparrow at Stanford
one of two Tree Sparrows with elongated upper mandible
Emma getting to grips with a Tresp

The totals for the week are 137 new birds and 33 retraps (including a control)

The week's totals

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