Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Back to Ringing!

Scrub bashing is now officially over and the breeding season is upon us. Since the 8th of April we have returned to our weekly Saturday ringing sessions. The first two have been quiet, but the southerly winds last week brought warmth and a nice selection of returning warblers.
On April 21st, Peter N and Dave met up at 0530 and put up nets from the feeders to the bench ride- half way along the poplars at Stanford reservoir. We were joined a little later by Mick. The first couple of rounds were quite productive and we welcomed back some old friends. These included Lesser Whitethroats (7), Willow Warblers (2), Chiffchaff (4) and one Reed and Sedge Warbler apiece. The fall of Lessers was particularly exciting, as we had a poor year for these in 2017. Still missing thus far are Cetti’s and Grasshopper Warblers, but there is plenty of time. 
Totals were 17 retraps, 30 new birds. A very promising start to the new season. 
Peter N
Lesser Whitethroat - P Norrie



Wednesday, 3 January 2018

End of a Fabulous Year

Peter N writes: The winter solstice has now passed, and we are into the new year, best wishes for 2018 to all our readers.
Adam, our group secretary, has now compiled the complete records for 2017, These will eventually be presented in the annual report, but here is a brief summary of what we have been up to. Over the year, we processed a total of 61 species comprising 9,874 birds. Of these, 7078 were new, 640 were pulli, and 2,156 were retraps. The commonest bird was the Blackcap (2083), but the rarest was Mick’s stonking Dusky Warbler; a once in a life time event (probably). Just staying with the Blackcaps, if we assume a weight of 18g per bird, that gives a figure of 37.5 kilos total weight- that’s a lot of avian biomass, northern Europe is clearly a productive place. I have been ringing with the group for three years now, and even as a novice have racked up a total of 6,112 birds, so many thanks to all who have guided and generally put up with me over the years.
The group also likes to travel and meet people. During the year we have had expeditions to Cyprus, Spurn and Skokholm. Recently I had an excellent experience ringing in Gambia for two weeks in November. I stayed at the Lemonfish Guesthouse in Kartong, and ringed at Kartong Bird Observatory with a group of fellow Brits. This is a fabulous place, and if you are travelling to the Gambia for a bit of winter sun, should be a must for anyone interested in birding. I ringed 60 new species, which was exciting but what was even more interesting (for me), was getting to ring a lot of waders in the flooded gardens nearby, including a lot of the birds that spend the summer in Europe, e.g. Common and Marsh Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and Turnstone. Not uncommon, but difficult to gain much experience with - especially if you live in the middle of England.

Dave is famously reticent about mention of the birds he has ringed abroad, but here are a couple of photos to remind me of warmer times, as we go about our annual scrub-bashing, to get the reservoir conservation work done in time for the return of our warblers:

Long-tailed Nightjar

Oriole Warbler