Thursday, 27 June 2013

Summer at last

With the first real day of summer the reservoir burst into life with tits calling everywhere and the first real flush of juveniles in evidence. Dave and I met at the gate at 04:15 with no wind at all (the first time this year) so off we trotted down the old rail track to the res to get the nets erected at the CES site, better to get it done early than struggle for decent weather later on. With the nets erected we settled down for a good mornings ringing (we hoped). The morning progressed at a decent rate with 119 birds processed, this being the first 100+ day of the year.

What a great morning we had with the best bird being a Jay. We do not catch many of this species as we are mainly a scrub habitat and Jays are mainly Woodland species. We also had a great morning for Willow Warblers with 15 new birds and a retrap from a nest of young we ringed earlier in the month. Whitethroats reaching double figures, were not far behind.

With this start hopefully this breeding season will be a lot better than the last. Here's hoping!!!!


Sunday, 2 June 2013

Early start and a late finish

On Saturday the group members welcomed Micks safe return from his annual ringing trip to Longpoint Bird Observatory in Canada. Joining Dave, Ed, Paul and myself, we all arrived at the gate at 04:30. Well nearly all of us! I was held up due to a car accident that had closed the main route through to Stanford which meant taking an unplanned diversion through unknown territory. This wouldn't normally be a problem but I was carrying all the groups nets and ringing kit! As it turned out, I was only a few minutes late and soon caught them up just as Mick was heading off down the railtrack to open the gate to the reservoir.
On Sunday 26th May, Dave and I experienced near perfect conditions for mist-netting. This weekend we were greeted by a chilly north-westerly which made ringing difficult at the north end of the reservoir. We were hoping that we would get some shelter from a tall tree line near the point but as it turned out some nets were still prone to the breeze coming from across the water. At the opposite end of the reservoir, the feeding station nets and a few others were looking good but once again there were hardly any birds around this area.
A Sedge Warbler extracted from the nets on the first round was found to be a BTO control. This species seems to be all around the reservoir this year and is already one of our most numerous warblers along with Common Whitethroat.
Whilst the trainees were busily ringing, Mick was eyeing up a Reed Bunting carrying food for its young. When it disappeared into the undergrowth he was out of his seat and located it easily when it
re-emerged. Three small young were promptly ringed by one of the trainees. Three hours later Mick had found another Reed Bunting with five young and these were also ringed. We never had the opportunity last year to ring Reed Bunting Pulli due to the adverse weather conditions so two broods ringed already this year is a bonus.
The Willow Warbler chicks in front of the bench were still on the small side for ringing so they were left for another few days along with a second brood, again found by Mick!
As the day went on the sun came out and the breeze calmed down but by then it was time to take the nets down and check the nest boxes in the nearby wood.

Wren - 0/2
Dunnock - 1/0
Blackbird - 1/6
Song Thrush - 1/0
Sedge Warbler - 4/8
Reed Warbler - 2/0
Lesser Whitethroat - 1/0
Whitethroat - 3/3
Garden Warbler - 0/8
Blackcap - 1/0
Chiffchaff - 2/1
Willow Warbler - 1/3
Blue Tit - 0/2
Tree Sparrow - 1/0
Chaffinch - 0/3
Bullfinch - 1/1
Reed Bunting - 0/2

Some interesting retraps were a 7yr old Blackbird, 3 yr old Whitethroat, 4 yr old Garden Warbler and 6 yr old Chaffinch.

Nestboxes are experiencing a mixed success. So far, Blue Tits are averaging 8.5 chicks ringed per box whilst Great Tits are only averaging 6.25 per box. Some broods, although alive, were found to be cold to the touch. Whilst ringing nestbox pulli, we would expect to see some adults waiting to gain access to the box to feed their young. This year we stood at many boxes where there were no adults around which would indicate that they are travelling further distances to find food.
Tawny Owls have failed to breed again this year. Perhaps the result of Grey Squirrels or food availability or both. Jackdaws have occupied three boxes. One of these attempts failed due to predation but the other two had young at FS (feathers short) stage and all  five young were ringed. Stock Doves are still incubating in one box.

Pulli ringed:
Blue Tit - 103
Great Tit - 50
Reed Bunting - 8
Jackdaw - 5

It was an early start and a late finish so well done to everyone involved!

PS......We have to do it all again next week!