Monday, 24 October 2011

5,000 Up, Control Tresp and more

With the absence of a ringing blog for the last two weeks you might think that we have not been busy at Stanford.  Far from it, we have had several ringing sessions there resulting in 600 birds being processed but yours truly has been tardy in writing them up so here is a quick resume to get us back on track.

Thursday13th October

Masai Mick, Webmaster and I arrived pre-dawn to a damp, dull, still and overcast Stanford.  The dampness in the air quickly went but the overcast conditions remained all morning and were in fact ideal ringing conditions.  We managed 137 new birds (and 30 retraps).  The new birds of note were 3 Blackcaps, 23 Tree Sparrows, 14 Lesser Redpolls and 17 Reed Bunting.
We also controlled a colour ringed Tree Sparrow TR27180

Control TR 27180
Control TR 27180
Lesser Redpoll

Friday 14th

The two Micks had a good session with 83 new (9 retraps), ringing our first Redwings (4) of the year, another Blackcap, 7 Tree Sparrows, 29 Greenfinches, 4 Lesser Redpolls, 5 Reed Buntings and a Yellowhammer (our fourth this year of a species that is now all too infrequent at this site)

Saturday 15th

A cold morning with a touch of ground frost meant that some of the new trainees experienced their first cold conditions such that the conversation quickly turned to hot water bottles, hand warmers and other such devices – I am sure trainees used to be made of sterner stuff!  A good morning’s ringing with 95 new birds which included 2 Redwing, 2 Goldcrests, 14 Tree Sparrows, 35 Greenfinches, 5 Lesser Redpolls, 4 Reed Buntings and another Yellowhammer (and 25 retraps)

Cold Trainee # 1
Cold Trainee # 2

male Goldcrest

Monday 17th

The two Micks had a reasonable session as Masai Mick recalls:

Ringing on Monday was quite subdued with only 68 birds caught, of these 54 were new ringed.  But it was also a day of celebration as we hit a significant total of 5000 new ringed birds for the year (at Stanford) and of these roughly half have been warblers, so come on you ringers around the country get catching them.  Recently we have been catching good numbers of Greenfinch and Goldfinch with some Lesser Redpoll interspersed, which is not a very usual occurrence for us.  Redwing and Fieldfare have just turned up over the last week or so and we are hoping to emulate last year’s sterling efforts with another 800+ thrushes this year, weather willing and an understanding wife!!!!

Thursday 20th

Another 54 new birds today (12 retraps) included a single Redwing, 8 Tree Sparrows, 6 Greenfinches, 16 Lesser Redpoll and surprisingly two Pied Wagtails - the three ringed this year are the first at Stanford since 1993.

Pied Wagtail

male Lesser Redpoll
another fine male

Saturday 22nd

68 new birds (23 retraps) were more of the same really, but never boring – 1 Redwing, another Blackcap (that’s 706 this year), 13 Tree Sparrows, 22 Greenfinch, 6 Goldfinch, 1 Linnet, 2 Reed Buntings (making 280 this year), and 8 Lesser Redpolls.
One of the Redpolls was a “Goldenpoll” and is described by Mike Alibone on his blog here

The totals for the period: 

13th to 22nd October Totals

Monday, 17 October 2011

Money for your Ringing Group

Anyone who keeps an eye on our website will know we've created an Easyfundraising account through which everyone can raise funds for Stanford Ringing Group from their own personal internet shopping (if you would like to help us and haven't yet done so then please use the Easyfundraising and Easysearch links on our website).

We've raised £100 in 10 weeks with very little effort.

If you want to raise money from Easyfundraising for your own Ringing Group then use this link -

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

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Smash and Grab

September Smash and October Grab

Adam joined Mick, Mike and me at Stanford on Friday for the final session of September and having broken through the 1,000 new birds target on Wednesday we continued in the same vein on this last day of the month which turned out to be the hottest September day on record.  Even before dawn the still air was very warm and the first few hours of the morning were reminiscent of our spring ringing sessions in Cyprus as the temperature gradually increased and we sought the shade of the Land Rover that is our usual ringing base.

We added 51 new Blackcaps and 15 new Chiffchaffs to our already incredible totals for these two species.  A total of 109 birds were processed as shown below.

30th September Ringing Totals

One bird, not mentioned in previous September blogs, was the Siskin ringed last Monday – only the fifth that we have ever ringed at Stanford.

We finished the month with a mind-blowing total of 1,179 new birds, which can be seen on our main web site by following this link September Totals

Saturday 1st of October, with Masai Mick given time off to attend his son’s wedding and Mike off to his bolt hole in Wales, it was up to Adam and myself to see if any more Blackcaps were still about.  In this task we were accompanied by Ed, Debbie and Dawn.  As on the previous few days the birds dried up after the first two or three hours but we managed a creditable 86 new birds to kick start the October figures.   Yet more Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs with a few Meadow Pipits, a Lesser Redpoll and yet another late Grasshopper Warbler enlivened the morning.

Lesser Redpoll

Another late Grasshopper Warbler

The day’s birds were

1st October Ringing Totals
 Debbie with Chiffchaff

The Reservoir is now drier than it was in the drought of 1990 and possibly as low as it was in 1977.  The photo below (taken from the feeder net ride) shows Blowers Lodge Bay which is normally under a good six foot of water with the bird watching hide (on the left of the picture) now sticking out on a grassy foreshore.