Wednesday, 31 December 2014

December come and gone

Wow, what happened to December, it's felt like I've turned my back and it has gone. A combination of bad weather and other things on meant we only got 7 ringing sessions in this month compared with the usual 13-14, however we managed to catch 380 birds of 19 species. The last couple of days we have been out targeting Buntings as a male Lapland Bunting was seen on Sunday afternoon by two friends of ours, (one up from Cornwall). Unfortunately we never located the bird but that's not to say it's not sat in the field some where. We did manage a creditable 31 Yellowhammer and 17 Reed Buntings as fair compensation though. You would not believe it but we have also been targeting the feeding station over these two days as well as we were only 4 Blue Tits away from a new annual record total. The first day we managed only 3 new Blue Tits but one escaped through a hole in the bag and yesterday no new Tits at all, would you believe it? Sods law in action only 2 new Blue Tits in 2 days with zillions of retraps. Redwings have been at the top of the list this month with a further 222 caught and still no controls. Oh well there's always next year !!!! With very few Fieldfare about this year we have found it difficult to catch any at all so I suppose the 5 we managed wasn't to bad. So that's about it for this year, lets all hope for another great bird filled year. A very happy New Year to all our readers. Mick

Sunday, 14 December 2014

10,000 birds!

Saturday's ringing session saw us surpass 10,000 birds this year, a total never reached in all the history of our group. Hoping to catch lots of Thrushes again, Mick, Simon, Mel, Ed, Jo and I met up at 05:30. The nets were up before dawn as usual. The first round was quiet and a little later in the morning a hoar frost kept the numbers low. That said, a late flurry of Redwing meant that we scraped through with 32 new and 20 retraps.  The 21 Redwing captured throughout the morning brought the total for the month up to 195 and to 409 for the year.

As our members are spread out over a few counties, the simplest way for us to have a Christmas get together is to meet up for a ringing session then head off to our local headquarters for dinner and a pint. One of our former members Ed had joined us for the day and it was great to catch up but we missed Dave who has been ill and Adam who had to work. Mick's wife Denise brightened up the dinner with stories about we know he is far softer than he pretends to be!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

6th and 9th December

With everybody either shopping or not available on Saturday it was down to Mel and myself to wave the flag at Stanford this week and what a flag it was. With nets set before dawn we were hoping for a decent catch of Thrushes as the temp was -2.5c. The first round produced a brilliant 75 Redwing but a descending hoar frost then just about put the mockers on the rest of the morning. Fortunately the temperature did rise enough to melt the frost and allow us to catch a few more birds and we ended up with 95 new plus 3 retraps. Of these, 86 were Redwing - our best single day catch since 2010.

A late decision to go out ringing today meant nobody was available to help so off I went at silly o'clock to get the nets up before dawn. Mission accomplished it was soon time for the first net round. I was hoping for a good catch of Redwing again and I was not disappointed with 55 in the first round. Brilliant !!!! The rest of the morning continued with a steady trickle of birds. By 11 o'clock the wind had got up and was quite strong so I decided to take the nets down and ring the last few birds. After packing the kit away I sat and had a coffee and was pleasantly surprised to find I had caught 92 new plus 16 retraps and what's more, I had managed to catch another 87 Redwing. The last bird of the day was a new Kingfisher taking us to 19 for the year.


Saturday, 6 December 2014

November review

Well November has been a bit up and down to say the least with only 9 ringing sessions undertaken this month due to other commitments, December could be the same we will just have to wait and see. However, we did manage to have our second best ever November total of 487 birds ringed. When we have been able to go out a lot of effort has been put in by the team to achieve this number of birds. When you look at our best November total of 559, this was achieved with 5 more sessions so well done to all those who took part this month. Although we have caught a decent number of Redwing (168) they have not been about in any number at all, coupled with a pathetic 3 Fieldfare. However a further 38 Blackbird is not too bad for our site. On the warbler front we managed a single Blackcap and 4 Chiffchaff together with an unprecedented 3 Cettis Warbler, this is more than any previous annual total. Hopefully they will stay to breed at long last. A further 93 Tree Sparrow this month brought us to over 600 for the year but the most concerning thing is no Lesser Redpoll at all. Where are they?. If they are still on their breeding grounds then lets hope they don't get caught out with a prolonged cold spell with snow. Finally, this month we went through 7000 new birds for the year and what a great effort from the team. As ever, you can view our ringing totals and more by going onto our web site by typing in Stanford Ringing Group and following the various links.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Latvian 'Love-song' versus Spanish 'Serenade'

About a week ago we were kindly sent a Redwing track from Fernando Gavilan in sunny Spain. We have nicknamed this track as the Spanish Serenade. Today was the first trial.
Well we met at the rail track normal time 5.30. Unfortunately Dawn and Simon couldn't make it this morning so I though it would be a small group of Mick, Adam, Jo and myself. Angus my lad had decided he would come along and help, however when we got to the gate, Mel was already there and and Jamie joined us a while later.
We trundled on down the track and split into 2 groups to erect the nets. Mick and Mel went one way and the rest of us the other. We alternated the Latvian Love-song and Spanish Serenade at each net ride.With the nets up we all returned to base and waited for light. After a coffee and a natter we were off on the net round. The first couple of nets had a Redwing a piece. But when we turned the corner to the line of 3x60', the nets were sagging with Redwing. Brilliant! We extracted all the birds from those nets and 4 other rides before returning to the vehicle to process the birds. On our return Mick and Mel were back and had already started processing their birds. The first bird a retrap Cetti's. Wonderful !
For the first round we had got about 45 birds of which about 25 were Redwing. The second round didn't provide as many birds but did provide Jo with a new bird. Another new Cetti's, fantastic. This is the forth new Cetti's this year and beats our old annual record of 2. This bird was a male and the earlier retrap was a female so we have our fingers crossed that they stay at Stanford and breed next season. The nets along our side of the Reservoir didn't catch another Redwing all morning so the MP3's were changed to Redpoll, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. Jo had to swan off early about 10.30 using some lame excuse about going to see old girlfriends. Ha Ha  Where is the commitment from trainees these days?
Well the next round provided a bird that Dawn has been hankering after for the last three years. A Sparrowhawk.
This was a young male. I put a ring on its leg with some assistance from Mel holding the talons. So Dawn to stop me dealing with all these  wonderful birds you're going to have to change your job, and come ringing at Stanford.
All  in all we rallied round and got a total of 37 Redwing, which is our best daily number this year. Was it down to the Spanish Serenade? Well I think its a bit early to say. We will keep trying it and will see how our annual numbers fair. Thank you Fernando.  So totals for today 59 New birds, 20 retraps of which included 37 Redwing (1) 6 Blackbirds, 2 Cetti's (1), 2 Treecreepers (1) and the Sparrowhawk.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Saturday 22nd November

My apologies for the tardiness of the blog for yesterday's session, but it was my birthday so that's a decent excuse. This gave the group much fodder for mockery in guessing my age. 50 was mentioned on more than one occasion...!

It was a foggy start which merged into a grey day and quite low numbers for each round. This wasn't a complete waste though as it meant there was time for Jo to practise erecting nets in daylight - a welcome change from trying to see how this is done by the speedy hands of an A ringer in the poor light of their head torch.

Some highlights of the day were 25 Redwing, 6 Blackbirds, 2 Starling, 6 Tree Sparrows and 5 Reed Bunting. We were joined by Ian for several hours who went with everyone to the pub afterwards while I sloped off to be treated to a night out.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Skiving Work

As we hadn't managed to get out with Adam on Tuesday Mick and myself decided to go out ringing today. We both gave our excuses to work colleagues and customers as to why we couldn't work today and met at the railtrack as normal at 5.30.
We decided to put a decent number of nets up in an attempt to catch Redwing and Fieldfare. By the time we had erected all the nets it was dawn. We did manage to get a quick coffee in before starting the first round. Mick went one way I went the other. All MP3 players were warbler-ling out the Latvian lovesong in an attempt to attract the Redwing. My first net only 2 Redwing, disappointing. However by the time I had visited all my nets I had about 15 Redwing a Fieldfare several Reed Buntings and Blackbirds about 25 birds in total. On return to the vehicles Mick was already processing the birds from his nets, also about 25 birds.
With all the birds processed we were off again round the nets. No time for coffee. Again I caught several Redwing, but not as many birds in total as the last round. MP3's were changed from Redwing to calls of Redpoll, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. In the last net before the vehicles I extracted a retrap female Green Woodpecker which was very nice as I hadn't processed a Green Woodpecker before. Dawn always beats me to the good birds. Mind you if she had been there today I would have let her deal with this bird as it decided to claw my hands to pieces!
So after a couple more rounds we took the nets down about 1pm and had a tally up.
112 birds of which 73 were new and 39 retraps. Excellent mornings ringing. The highlights were 26 Redwing, 14 Tree Sparrows, 11 Reed Bunting, a Coal Tit (which is unusual for our site), the Fieldfare and of course the retrap Green Woodpecker.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Saturday 15th November

We all met at the gate at 05:30 yesterday. Jo's colleague Jamie joined us for the day to gain some knowledge about the ringing process. We split up to erect the nets - Dave, Jo and I put up the nets on the left side of the res while Mick took Jamie with him to put up the nets on the right. We finished first so I joined Mick to help him put up the last net down on the rail track. Unfortunately I was having a clumsy day and in truth was more of a hindrance than a help but hey - it's the thought that counts, right?

Over the course of the morning, we caught over 100 birds; 85 new and 37 retraps. We had lots of larger birds with 15 Redwing and 12 Blackbirds. Highlights of the smaller species were 18 Tree Sparrows, 13 Long Tailed Tits and 8 Reed Buntings.

Adam was working nights but he usually still turns up albeit a little later in the morning. We didn't see him yesterday - did you nod off in the chair with a cup of tea Adam?

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

WET and WINDY ......October review

After the staggeringly brilliant September, October turned into a bit of a damp squib, with wind and rain a plenty curtailing many of our ringing sessions. So to achieve our second best monthly total of 858 for October was a great effort. The warbler totals dropped off dramatically from what we had in September but we still had 5 species with the latest dates being Reed Warbler 18th, Willow Warbler caught 15th retrapped 18th, Blackcap 23rd, Chiffchaff 25th and finally our first Cetti's Warbler of the year also on the 25th. The most notable totals for the month were a staggering 41 Wrens, where are they all coming from? The usual movement of tits through the area produced 96 Blue Tits plus 2 controls and 59 Great Tit, Tree Sparrows numbered 84 pushing the annual total to over 500. We also managed 207 Greenfinch and 82 Goldfinch both being good totals for the month. As of yet we have not caught many Thrushes or Lesser Redpoll so hopefully November will turn up trumps. For a full account of our ringing totals for the month and more please go to our Web Page and enjoy. Mick

Sunday, 2 November 2014

A Damp Start

Yesterday we met the normal time 5.30 at the track gate, it was raining and breezy. There was just the 4 of us ,Adam, Dawn ,Simon and myself. Mick had got the weekend off to attend a friends wedding, (not a bad excuse I suppose). Anyway we trundled on down the track to the site. Meanwhile the weather was slowly getting worse. We ended up waiting about 3/4 hour before the rain stopped and we started erecting the nets. With the dawn beginning to break we thought that we had missed most of the thrushes. However we persevered with the Latvian love song. So the first round provided us with about 30 birds of which 5 were Redwings, and an assortment of other species including Yellowhammers, Chiffchaff's and Reed Buntings. I continued my light hearted barricking of Dawn for 'ringing all the good birds' bearing in mind she had ringed the Cetti's and Green Woodpecker last Saturday. After possessing all but one of the birds. Dawn handed me the last bird saying this ones for you. I dipped my hand into the bag felt around got hold of the bird, thought 'small' what could it be? It had to be something Dawn had ringed otherwise she won't have given me the bird. Ha Ha.
Surely not. Yep the second Cetti's Warbler of the year and equaling the the groups annual record. This is only the 10th Cetti's ringed at Stanford in nearly 40 years. Fantastic!! Even though I did have to eat a bit of humble pie to Dawn!

The threat of rain cleared and it became very sunny with the wind increasing and change direction to start to cut across the water and straight into the nets.  The rest of the day we rallied round and got to a respectful total of 111 birds of which 76 were new. 10 Greenfinch, 4 Goldfinch, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Yellowhammer,10 Redwing, 2 Blackbird, 19 Tree Sparrows, 10 Reed Bunting and an assortment of tits including retrap Coal and Willow Tits. 

Adam tried out a new trap in the field for |Meadow Pipits but was unsuccessful.
Finally Simon and myself met a birder who reported to us that he had seen a Slavonian Grebe on Friday in the bay area. So eyes our eyes peeled on the water for the rest of the morning, but unfortunately with no sightings.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Saturday 25th October

What a fantastic day's ringing we had yesterday! We met on the railtrack at 06:00. A real treat - it means getting up only an hour earlier than I would for work. On the downside, it felt like the session was very short.

We put Latvian love song on all the nets for the first round which unfortunately produced lots of empty nets. The tapes were changed to Goldfinch and Greenfinch and the numbers soon picked up. We managed a very respectable 99 birds over the day including  9 Greenfinch, 8 Reed Bunting, 3 Yellowhammer, 3 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush and 1 Chiffchaff.

We also captured 2 new species for the year which meant two ringing ticks for me - Cetti's Warbler and Green Woodpecker. This was fantastic as I've been wishing for a Green Woodpecker for the 3.5 years I've been with the group and it was the first time I had ever seen a Cetti's so that was also a lifer for me - a very exciting day!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Windy Monday

Well I got a text later yesterday from Mick suggesting we went ringing in the morning. I thought he must be mad, its going to be far to windy for ringing. Anyway I agreed to meet him at 06.00 hrs on the old rail track as normal. To my surprise when we got to the site it was breezy but not too bad. So we erected nets that had a slight protection from the wind by the large hedge which runs the length of the track.We set the MP3 players on the Latvian love song and waited. On the first net round half of the nets were empty and I wondered if we had made a mistake in coming out. However by the next round we had changed some of the MP3's to Goldfinch and Greenfinch and a 20' through the hedge to Yellowhammer, things started to improve.At one point I was sitting having a well deserved cup of coffee when Mick shouted 'OH NO'!!!! . He had seen a large flock of Starlings fly straight towards the small net through the hedge. So we quickly went to check it before they managed to damaged the net.
Fortunately we had only caught the one. Then came the problem of ageing and sexing it. Where was our expert Starling ringer (Dawn ) when you needed her??? Out came Svensson. By the end of the day we had had a really successful day of 119 new birds and 15 retraps. The bulk of the numbers were made up of 41 Greenfich, 23 Goldfinch and 11 Yellowhammers, but we did catch 2 Blackcaps and 2 Chiffchaffs together with 8 Redwing which was nice. A very good decision by Mick with the text. Thanks

Friday, 10 October 2014

Friday 10th October

Mick and I met up at 05:30 on the rail track this morning - I might be getting used to all this one-to-one training I've been getting recently! It was a nice steady session bringing in a total of 77 new birds and 15 retraps including 18 Greenfinch, 12 Chiffchaff, 8 Blackcap and 6 Goldfinch. Just before first light a fox was seen crossing the rail track twice which was a highlight for me because despite living in a rural location, foxes are rarely seen.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sunday 5th October

The weather forecast for yesterday was dreadful and completely accurate for once. We decided to meet today instead but the change of plan meant a small turn-out with only Mick, Adam and myself attending. It's actually quite nice to be the only C ringer with two A ringers for support! It was frosty and as it got lighter, thick fog rolled in. It looked like we might not have a good morning. The fog soon burned off however and although the numbers were not vast, they held steady for three rounds before tailing off. We achieved 84 new birds and 24 retraps including a late Reed Warbler, 11 Chiffchaffs, 7 Goldcrest, 6 Greenfinches and a Yellowhammer. Sightings throughout the morning include 60+ Skylarks flying overhead and more than 60 Meadow Pipits were seen moving through although we only captured 3 of them. After topping up the feeders it was time to slope off to our headquarters for a pint.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

CAN I HAVE A REST NOW----- September review

Well what a staggeringly fantastic month it's been for sheer numbers of birds pouring through Stanford Res. We have been out ringing on site 18 times this month and caught and processed some 2793 birds of 36 species, ringing 2488 of them !!!! To put this in perspective we have only had 7 better ANNUAL totals than this month in 39 years of ringing on site. Little did we know how the month was going to pan out, when on the 1st I went out and only ringed 30 birds (lowest catch). The following day we were back out with a visiting ringer for company, hoping for a better day. Well it went well beyond our wildest dreams with 298 birds ringed mostly Blackcap (highest catch) and that is by and large how its continued all month. Blackcaps have been beyond belief, we have caught a staggering 1291 birds this month bringing the annual total to 1627, more than doubling our previous best of 710 in 2011. Another real success story has been Chiffchaff with sheer numbers just going through the roof. We have ringed 507 this month which has outstripped our previous best annual total of 388 by miles we are currently on 663 for the year. Apart from the high numbers we have had a little bit of quality as well in the form of 2 Redstart, a Spotted Flycatcher and finally, 2 Northern Willow Warblers (there have only been 4 records for the county and all at Stanford). We have also had a record month for controls with 5 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler. So we will sit back and wait to see where they have come from and give us an insight into the origins of this fantastic movement. To see a comprehensive list of this months totals and everything about Stanford then go to our Web Site. Just type in Stanford Ringing Group and browse ---- Mick

Friday, 26 September 2014

Over and Out ( Part Two )

Another great weeks ringing has been had at Stanford Reservoir with another 310 birds ringed (this is getting expensive) mostly Blackcap 132, and Chiffchaff 72. We also had a smattering of other late warblers which included Reed Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. What a great year we have had for the latter, my favourite breeding Warbler with over 80 now being caught and ringed on site. I have had 2 ringing highlights this week one at the beginning when I caught a Redstart the 2nd this year. They are not a common bird in these parts so its always nice to catch one and later in the week a Coal Tit !!! Yes I know your thinking a Coal Tit, well again all we catch on site is a handful a year so its always a pleasure to catch one. I also managed to catch yet another Blackcap control, this brings it to 5 for the month for this species together with a Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. This is our best ever month for controls and we still have 2-3 ringing sessions left. Anyway that's it for me again till next week as this weekend I'm off to my friends in Cambs so the wife can go on Hen party while I go ringing at my friends farmland site. Good Luck to Adam, Dave and the rest of the team at good old Stanny, catch something to make me envious. --- MICK
Redstart - MJ Townsend

Saturday, 20 September 2014

20th September 2014

Perfect ringing conditions greeted us at Stanford this morning. There was very little wind and visiblity was low for the best part of the day which meant no nasty sunshine to light the nets up. We all arrived at 05:00 and started to erect the nets, minus Mick, who was attending a friends stag night. The movement in the Willows in the net rides suggested that we could be in for a good catch today so tape lures were set for Blackcap and a mix of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest thrown in for good measure. The first round was a meagre catch of just 17 birds of mainly the target species of Blackcap. The second round was far better with 69 birds and predominantly Chiffchaff and Blackcap along with a Lesser Whitethroat, two Sedge Warbler and three Goldcrests. Northants bird county recorder Mike Alibone joined us in time to observe these being processed and was treated to close-ups of a juvenile male Sparrowhawk and a Great Spotted Woodpecker caught on a later net round. The Meadow Pipits didn't really settle in today as there were horse riders using the railtrack for a charity ride although one was caught on the final net round....a Pipit, not a horse! Altogther it was a good day with 93 new birds and 33 retraps processed and there's no sign of things slowing down just yet.
Juvenile male Sparrowhawk - P Maguire

A bit of Farmland ringing

Well I didn't have time to go to Stanford Friday morning as I only had a few hours spare. So I decided I would try ringing at a local farm to me, some 50 miles east of Stanford. All the nets were up by 5.30 with tape lures sounding.Well what a difference. Great Tits, Robins and Dunnocks. By 0800 I was beginning  to think about packing up as the wind was increasing and the mist had turned to a light rain. I then caught 3 Yellowhammers which improved the morning. On the last but one round I caught a young Little Owl (ringing tick) which made it all worthwhile.In total I ringed 24 new birds mostly Robins and Dunnocks and 1 retrap.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Over and Out

Well a new week began on Tuesday for me at Stanford with another great catch in the early morning calm before the wind started to increase at about 09:30. I had a catch of 151 new birds consisting of the usual culprits for this time of year, Blackcap with another 94, Chiffchaff with 24 and Meadow Pipit with 12. It really was just a standard day with nothing too exciting to tell you about. The following day I was out with Adam and all change. It was a windy day right from the off with nothing to recommend it at all. It didn't look or feel very promising right from the start so I wasn't disappointed with the small catch of 79 new compared with recent catches of 150 plus, but never mind we ended up with a few milestones during the day with our 1000th Blackcap for the month, the 3000th warbler ringed this year and finally our 5000th bird ringed for the year, so overall not a bad day!!!!! I am having the MOT done on the car on Thursday and then off to a Stag-do over the weekend so that's the end of my ringing now till next week so I am leaving it all up to Adam, Dave and the rest of the team till I return. Happy ringing!!!!! Mick.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

That was a week That was!!!

Well what an awesome week we have had. It's the best week we have ever had for new birds ringed and controls. In total we ringed 684 and controlled 5, what a great week! It started on Monday the 8th with me getting there at stupid o'clock to get nets up and sound lures on. Bang on first light Blackcaps were everywhere then the second round being a mixture of Blackcap and Chiffchaff. These two species predominated all morning with a smattering of other warblers to provide a bit of variation to the proceedings. The best bird of the day was caught on the 9 o'clock round in the form of a NORTHERN WILLOW WARBLER the third for the site. I was later informed by the county recorder that this was only the third record for Northants all being recorded by us at Stanford Res. On packing up I totalled up to find I had rung 210 birds and had a Blackcap control, the main species being Blackcap with 149 ringed and Chiffchaff with 32. The next day saw me up and at the res again at silly o'clock for the same to happen, this time I had a slightly smaller catch with 168 being rung again the main species being Blackcap with 98 and Chiffchaff 38. Today also saw the start of the Meadow Pipit season with a dozen being caught, but the highlight of the day was a cracking first year male REDSTART together with 2 Blackcap and a Chiffchaff control.
Male Redstart
After two early mornings on the trot I gave Wednesday a miss and waited for Thursday, possibly a bit of a mistake as Thursday produced another stunning day with 190 birds ringed and a Willow Warbler control. Again Blackcaps 111 and Chiffchaff 39 stealing the show. The wind got up spoiling the Meadow Pipit catch limiting it to only 5 birds but you cannot have everything or can you?? as I managed to bag a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, not a common bird in these parts.
Spotted Flycatcher
Adam and Dave decided to have a moth night on Friday so they got there early and erected the nets for the following day catching a few birds in the process. With the full team available and the good fortune I have had during the week spirits were high in anticipation of a great catch and as sods law would have it the main attraction failed to turn up on cue. The first round only produced 9 birds instead of the hoped for 100+. However, things picked up and we rallied to 100 new and 30 retraps. The team were a little deflated at the lack of anticipated numbers but another Northern Willow Warbler (presumably the 4th for northants) and the second for the week lifted spirits as most of the team had never seen one before.

'Northern' Willow Warbler
Again, Blackcap 50 and Chiffchaff 29 stole the show. We have now ringed 900 Blackcap and 227 Chiffchaff this month, awesome for a truly inland site. We are as far from the sea as you can get in any direction. Hopefully next week will be as good.
Canary-shouldered Thorn - S Watts

''All hail the alien invasion''

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Saturday 6th September

Dave, Simon and I met at the gate at 05:00 to find that Mick had already arrived over an hour earlier and had erected several nets in an attempt to repeat the fantastic Blackcap catches from during the week. Adam joined us and so we split into two groups. Mick and I ringed from Church to Berries and added a 60ft and 40ft net in the field next to the rail track. We had a spectacular first round and had to commandeer Simon to help out with processing. Overall our half of the group totalled 150 new birds and 12 retraps. This included 94 Blackcaps, 28 Chiff Chaffs, 9 Willow Warbler and the capture of 2 more Lesser Whitethroats which has pushed us over the record. From our totals, we caught 1 Robin and 1 Chaffinch which were the only resident birds captured, all others were migrant warblers. Adams group caught 62 new and 26 retraps including a new Garden Warbler and 10 Chiff Chaffs. Todays Blackcap total was 113. Another excellent day's ringing at SRG!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The day to beat all days.

Well the plan was to meet at the track gate at 5 as usual. But on my arrival at 4.45 I saw headlights coming up the track from the direction of the reservoir, it was Mick he'd got up early and erected half of the number of nets. Mick went off to meet Vivien at the groups headquarters The White Hart at South Kilworth. Viv was joining us for the day to be assessed for her C permit. Mick, Viv and Adam arrived back at the gate and we set off to erect the remaining nets. All nets were erected by 0600 so we had a quick coffee before setting off for the first round. Myself and Adam went one way and Mick and Viv went the other.On returning to the ringing area Adam and myself started processing our 30 or 40 birds. After a while we began to wonder where Mick and Viv had got too, when in the distance I saw Mick running ( that's a sight to behold. One I don't think I will ever see again, or should I say don't want to see again ha ha). He had run out of bird bags and came back to the cars to use ours. Mick went back to help Viv and on their return they were ladened down with birds. Myself and Viv set about ringing and even Adam had to forego his cup of tea to ring.The first round had produced over 100 new Blackcaps several Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs, but no Garden Warblers. We only needed 2 more this season to break the record for the group and reach 100 new birds. The second round again produced a large number of Blackcaps, Reed Warblers, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff and one solitary Garden Warbler (we had equaled the record). The next round produced more Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroats and the 100th Garden Warbler ( a new record for the site). We continued with more net rounds, but fortunately there were fewer birds as the day progressed and the sun lit the nets like a beacons and we had time to have refreshments. By 1300 we had taken down all the nets and sat tallying our mornings ringing experience. We sat exhausted but what a fantastic mornings ringing, we had processed 331 birds of which 298 were new birds. Of that total  Blackcap 216 (6) , Reed Warbler 10, Whitethroat 18, Sedge Warbler 5, Garden Warbler 2, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Willow Warbler 8 and Chiffchaff 18. Never has such a large number of birds been processed or Blackcaps ringed in one session in the history of the group.
What a awesome day. Time for a well deserved pint at the headquarters.

The trouble with technology.......

At the ripe old age of.....shall we say....over 50, Mick has a little trouble with new technology. When out successfully catching Tree Pipits at Stanford two weeks ago he did manage to take a photograph of one he caught but trying to upload it onto the Blog got a little too complicated.
So here is Micks photo of one of a pair of Tree Pipits, the first to be ringed at Stanford since 1976!
Tree Pipit - MJT

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saturday 30th August

At 05:00, Dave, Mick and I met at the rail track. It was blowing a hoolie, but we decided to see if any areas were sheltered enough to get a few nets up. We managed to put up 9 nets and although each round was rather poor in numbers, over the day we did scrape together 31 new and 34 retraps including a retrap Kingfisher, 14 new Blackcaps and 5 Reed Warblers. It seems that the Whitethroats are mostly gone now as we caught only 3 all day.

We spent the morning getting to know Peter who joined us at 07:00 and is a prospective new trainee. Simon joined us a little later and so we ended up with almost a full team. To finish off the morning nicely as we were locking the gate, a Camberwell Beauty crossed the rail track.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Blackcaps in the Mist

Not being sure if I was going to go out or not I didn't set the alarm as the weather forecast was for early morning rain but in the end I woke up anyway so I decided to get up and go. What a great decision! Although it was raining when I left for the reservoir at 04:15, by the time I got there 20 minutes later it had turned into that fine miserly rain with a bit of mist. I erected the nets and switched the audio lures on and sat waiting to do the first round of the nets about 30 minutes after dawn. As the title suggests the first round was lots of Blackcaps a couple of Garden Warblers and Lesser Whitethroat mixed in with the usual fare. Whilst doing the round of nets I noticed a number of Swallows hanging around so i switched one of the Lures to Swallow and hey presto I caught 22 Swallow with two Sand Martins (a new species for the year). This second round also produced more Blackcaps and by the end of the morning I had caught a respectable 36 birds, 31 being new. By 10:00 it tailed off rapidly leaving me on 97 new birds and 33 retraps, not a bad morning considering I wasn't planing to go out -- Mick

Monday, 25 August 2014

Garden session

The weather forecast for today was heavy rain and 40mph winds. Well, at 07:00 this morning it was calm in Corby with no rain so I opened my 30' net and turned on a lure to try and catch some warblers. Firstly I set the lure for Whitethroat which worked well when I caught one within minutes. After a couple of non-warbler rounds I changed it to Blackcap and Chiffchaff but first I had to change the batteries which were in the garage. When I returned a couple of minutes later there were six birds in the net which included a Blackcap and my first Lesser Whitethroat ringed in the garden. I have heard Lesser Whitethroats singing in scrub behind my garage for a few years so I knew it would only be a matter of time before I caught one.
Lesser Whitethroat

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Saturday 23rd August

We had a good turn out this morning with me, Mel, Mick, Simon and Dave meeting on the railtrack at 05:00 and Adam joining us a little later on. It was quite cool to begin with and the first round was low in numbers. Over the course of the morning we achieved 53 new and 41 retraps, with highlights being one 3J House Martin, 11 Blackcap and 10 Whitethroat. No Tree Pipits caught today but we did have one more Garden Warbler which means that we are crawling towards the record, only 4 more to go! Other points of interest this morning - a flock of 11 Ravens went over during an early coffee break and by the feeders was a Clouded Yellow butterfly.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Just like the buses

Inspired by Peter Alkers exploits up north with passing Tree Pipits I thought I would give it a go down here in Northamptonshire, not that we get any down here on a regular basis any more but low and behold I had success. As I said just like the buses we caught one way back in 1976 then no more till this week when I have caught 2 on consecutive days. What a result !!! This week I have also caught 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, this brings us to 11 for the year the first time we have ever reached double figures and also a Kingfisher that brings us to 15 for the year which is a joint record, so all in all not a bad week despite the weather. On the warbler front we are edging ever closer to a couple of records. Lesser Whitethroat has reached 67 for the year, all we need is another 9 birds and Garden Warbler is currently sitting on 95, a tantalising 5 away. Overall we have not done too bad this year up to now with some 1400 warblers ringed to date so come on you ringers down South..... start catching a few of our birds!!!! Mick

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Saturday 16/08

With just me, Dave and Mick attending, we had a small team to do the CES this morning . It was much colder than we have been used to recently and unfortunately, while the area that we process the birds is very central to the whole of the CES, it is most definitely not a sun trap!

The first round produced good numbers but as usual this dropped off for subsequent rounds. Over the course of the morning we caught a very respectable total of 61 new and 49 retraps. Of those 100 birds, highlights were 12 Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 3 juvenile Swallows. After refilling the feeding station, we sloped off to our headquarters  - The White Hart at South Kilworth - for refreshment.

Monday, 4 August 2014

July review

Well what a month July has been. We have had our best month ever for birds captured with some 1659 birds of which 1075 were new. This is only the third time we have achieved 1000+ birds ringed in a month, well done to all group members and visiting ringers. Its fair to say that this year we have had a very successful breeding season with lots of fledged young about, this is illustrated quite well by our Blackbird total this month. Usually we ring less than 10 during July but this year we have caught 33, a staggering increase with us doing nothing different than in previous years. The last time we achieved anything like that was way back in 1978 when 37 were ringed. The most ringed species this month have been Whitethroat with 174 ringed, Tree Sparrow with 156 and Blackcap with 118. Good numbers were also achieved for Reed Bunting 77, Garden Warbler 48 and Lesser Whitethroat with 26. The only species for concern at the moment is Sedge Warbler with much smaller numbers being caught than usual. This is possibly due to a smaller breeding stock due to reduced numbers returning in the spring. For a fuller look at what we have caught during the month please go onto our web page and click the statistics page and then the relevant month.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Never believe the weatherman!

This morning's forecast was for rain, rain and more rain. We decided to meet up anyway at the rail track at 04:30 to see if we could dodge the showers. There was a decent turn out - myself, Mick, Craig, Dave and Simon. We put up nets from Feeders to Berries and two 30 ft nets on the rail track. The first round did not bring in high numbers at all but over the course of the morning, we managed to catch 59 new and 30 retraps. Highlights of the day were 4 Lesser Whitethroat and 15 Tree Sparrow. We checked the Linnet nest for pulli but found the adult still incubating eggs so moved on to the stables and Park Farm to check Swallow nests resulting in 16 pulli ringed. It just goes to show that you shouldn't put too much faith in the weatherman!

Monday, 21 July 2014

July 13th - 20th

We managed to get 3 ringing sessions in this week. Firstly on the 15th Adam and I ringed from just past the Water Tower up to the Orchard area, managing to catch 74 birds of which 51 were new. The highlight of the day being 2 Kingfishers, this brings the years catch to 9, the best since 12 were caught in 1981. The next ringing effort was again by Adam and myself doing CES 8 on Thursday 17th. What a day with 150 birds handled, 92 being new. The catch was dominated by young birds proving how good a breeding season it's being for them. Warblers, as ever at our site were at the forefront of things all morning. A truly great morning with great birds! Of interest, we had 3 good retraps, one being the nearly bird. First we caught a Reed Bunting that was originally ringed way back in August 2009 as an adult male, secondly we caught a Chaffinch, also ringed as an adult male but this time it was ringed in September 2009 so both birds are now getting quite old. Finally we caught the nearly bird, it was definitely a record for us but not quite a national record. The bird was a long distant migrant which probably goes to Ghana each winter a truly epic journey. It was first caught on the 2nd July 2005 as a breeding adult female it was a Garden Warbler, hopefully it will return next year to claim its record. The bird that currently holds the record is a few months older than ours but was ringed as a juvenile so our bird is technically older than the record holder. So, with Saturday being a wash out we went out ringing yesterday, I was joined by Jess this time as the rest of the group could not make it. We had another good day with 116 captures 86 being new. Sundays catch was dominated by Whitethroats and Blackcap that are now coming to sound lures. We also caught a new species for the year, a House Sparrow.... not very exciting you would think but we have ringed less than 10 in the 39 years we have been at Stanford. Epic !!! Mick

Sunday, 13 July 2014

A warblerfest

July has picked up where June left off with many species successfully raising young. Warblers have shown a significant rise with sylvia warblers heading towards record numbers compared to previous years. Garden Warblers, Blackcaps and Whitethroats just seem to be everywhere with good numbers been trapped on each visit. So far we have been out five times this month and processed 738 birds including 459 new birds ringed. Ist - 89 birds processed, 3rd - 88, 6th - 199, 7th - 137, 9th - 64, 12th - 161. Over 200 new Tree Sparrows have been ringed so far this year, 60 of those have been ringed this month, with lots of juveniles being trapped at the feeding station. Reed Buntings are also having a successful year with 42 juveniles ringed this month and bringing the annual total to 83. So the breeding season is now in full swing and there are still around 6 weeks still to go. Once the adults finish breeding they will go through a full body and wing moult. Warblers such as Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff all moult in this country before their migration. However, Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers carry out their moult on arrival of their wintering grounds in West Africa. On the other hand Garden Warblers are a bit of an enigma when it comes to moult. Some adults can show signs of wing feather renewal in the UK but others will moult in their winter quarters. At Stanford we don't see many Garden Warblers in wing-moult but on the 6th we caught this adult that clearly shows a suspended moult strategy with all of the secondaries renewed and the inner two primaries have both been dropped.

Adult Garden Warbler in suspended wing-moult - July 6th

Sunday, 29 June 2014

More visitors

After last Saturdays visitors we had more this week in the form of a recently moved ringer of ours returning from deepest Lincolnshire to do a bit of ringing with us and two guys from the South Leicestershire Owl Group, Paul and Jon. It was nice to see Ed again and catch up with what he has been getting up to. The weather forecast was not great for Saturday morning but we decided to give it a go anyway and hoped we would miss the predicted showers. As I drove to the reservoir I was hoping I had made the right decision as it was heavily overcast with some thick patches of mist, anyway we all assembled at 04:30 to erect the nets. With some 22 nets up we were hoping for another good morning ringing the same area as last Saturday. We were not to be disappointed, with a great mornings ringing again we managed to process 194 birds of 27 species. Today we managed to catch the first Grasshopper Warbler of the year, an adult in breeding condition. What a day with 9 species of warbler caught together, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Woodpigeon and another juvenile Kingfisher. Although it was a bit hectic at times everybody had a good mornings ringing with Paul and Jon seeing many species in the hand for the first time and also their first experience of Mist netting, we hope they enjoyed themselves!! The most numerous species caught today were Garden Warbler 21, Blackcap 20, Whitethroat 18 and Chiffchaff 17. We also caught an impressive 6 Lesser Whitethroat making a total of 13 over the last 3 visits. At 11:00 it started to drizzle so the nets were taken down and kit packed away. We then went to the stables to ring 2 broods of Swallows and then off to our headquarters at the White Hart in South Kilworth to discuss the day and have a well earned drink. - Mick

Friday, 27 June 2014

Exploding June

After Saturdays great effort I was looking forward to this weeks CES session. So on Monday I met Dawn bright and early to do the CES. What a day we had with 96 new birds ringed and a further 36 retraps made for a great days ringing. Although we caught nothing of note their were lots of juvenile birds about with the most ringed being 16 Blackcap followed by 12 Tree Sparrow and 11 Chiffchaff. On Thursday I decided to ring in the area just past the dam up to the orchard. I arrived at 04:30 to erect the nets and started catching straight away. This heralded the best days ringing we have ever had in this particular area with again 96 birds ringed and 36 retraps of which most were juveniles. Again the most ringed species was Blackcap with 15 followed by Chaffinch on 11 and Willow Warbler on 10. I also had a first for me, not a first ringed as we have done a number over the years but a first in a Mist Net!!!!! CARRION CROW what a turn up! Anyway with 322 birds ringed and 116 birds retrapped I think you will agree June has certainly exploded with juvenile birds. Mick.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Visiting Ringers

Saturday dawned to a bright and calm morning and with a 04:30 start things looked good and all we needed were the birds to play the game, and play they did with some 184 birds processed. With Adam having a late start due to working a night shift we were glad to see a group of visiting ringers. Jesse is working up here till mid September and is a C ringer with the Rye Bay Ringing group so we hope she will become a regular during here time up here, while Jed Andrews brought over 2 Spanish ringers, Juan and Jose to have their permits upgraded to 'A'. Anyway we ended up with a much bigger team than usual, with people scattering along the side of the Reservoir the nets were soon in place. A quick cup of coffee and we were off extracting the first wave of birds about 65 in all. What a start but with the number of people ringing we soon had the birds cleared and off we went for round two which was a little disappointing but not to worry it was still early morning with plenty of time to catch. After ringing at Rye Bay for the last 4 years Jesse got a ringing tick much to our surprise in the shape of a Tree Sparrow, later on she got to ring some pulli as well, well done Jesse! Meanwhile the two Spaniards were making a great impression with everybody with their knowledge and good humour, I wish they could stay and join the group !!!! Anyway I digress, Adam turned up about 10:00 with bag in hand, in it was a new bird for Juan a Stock Dove not bad at all. Adam had also been to do the brood of Kestrels on the far bank , a large and feisty brood of 3. In the meantime the Spaniards were treated to 3 Lesser Whitethroat, a species that is not encountered back home as they migrate through Italy. A juvenile Coal Tit was a decent bird for us as we only ring very small numbers here, then just at the end of the day we hit a Long Tailed Tit flock catching 20 birds, they seem to have had a good year this year I counted 56 going through the garden the other day. Blackcap is another species on the up with 20 birds caught mainly juvenile, long may it last with CES visit 6 this coming week. Mick

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Yesterday, after seeing the weather forecast, we decided that we would not be ringing today and therefore would meet at the later time of 09:00 and check some of the larger nest boxes which should now have Stock Doves starting to take up residence. On arrival at the rail track gate the skies were clear and no wind! We'd fallen for it again! We had promised ourselves that we would ignore forecasts as they invariably turn out incorrect. With new guy posts, a sledgehammer and a roll of guy cord in hand we walked around to the orchard to ensure the rides were equipped for tomorrows CES session. Well, the weatherman can be happy with his forecast, albeit a little later than predicted, as the heavens opened and we got drenched within 30 mins. After a soggy walk back to the cars and a cuppa we had eventually dried off but it still continued to rain and when 12pm came we gave up any chance of checking the nest boxes.
The skies did manage to clear up by 2pm as Ian Bartlett ventured out and very kindly sent in these images.
Cuckoo - I Bartlett

Spotted Flycatcher - I Bartlett

Mute Swan and cygnets - I Bartlett

Common Terns - I Bartlett

Saturday, 24 May 2014

CES No3 23rd May 2014

We met on the railtrack at 04.45 for our third CES session for the group.The weather was fine but a little breezy, although light showers were forecast. All the nets were erected by 06.00. We had an excellent start to the session. On the very first net round we caught a new juvenile Kingfisher, Simon was extremely pleased. The day continued with the next 2 rounds providing us with retrap male and female Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

3 Male Kingfisher (SCW)
5 Male Great Spot (SCW) 

Soon it was time to take down the nets starting at the far 'Apple' ride which consisted of 3x60' nets. Simon and myself had taken down the first 2 nets and were about to start on the third, when what we initially thought was a bird of prey enter the partially collapsed net. On closure inspection we were delighted to see a female Cuckoo. Fantastic a ringing tick for me and the first Cuckoo ringed at Stanford for over 11years. By the end of the session we had dealt with 48 retraps, 31 new birds, and the rain had held off. A very enjoyable day was had by all concerned.

5 Female Cuckoo (SCW)
5 Female Cuckoo (SCW)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Nest box inspection part 2

The weather forecast for the weekend was wet and windy so we had already decided to call off any mist-netting a few days earlier. As it happens the rain stayed away but boy was it windy! We arranged to meet at the later time of 08:00 and start checking the nest boxes in the shelter of the woods. On the previous inspection there were quite a few female tits sitting on eggs so now two weeks later we expected to be ringing our first tit pulli. Blue Tit clutch sizes of 2 x 8, 2 x 11 and 2 x 12 were average with just one dead clutch of eight. Great Tit broods of 1 x 8, 3 x 10 and 1 x 11 were also typical although one clutch of 1 x 3 included five dead eggs. Seven more nests held young that were too small to ring and a further twelve nests were still in the incubation period. From a total of 57 tit boxes thirty-three have had nesting attempts made, a further six have been occupied by Bumble Bees and eighteen have been left unoccupied or have not advance from nest building. So overall things are looking slightly better than 2013 where we recorded twenty-seven occupied boxes and theres still time for the odd late attempt of replaced clutch by Great Tits. We checked on a brood of Tree Sparrows that were too small to ring on Monday and they were found to be ready. Although once again it doesn't look like they are quite ready to colonise Stanford just yet with just one nest found so far. The residents of our larger boxes are doing well with two more Tawny owlets ringed. This brings the total to three pulli this year so far and a vast improvement on 2013 when no nesting attempts were made in the whole of the resevoir area. Jackdaws are still in their incubation period and some adults were noted flying from boxes where we know there are eggs from the last inspection. It doesn't matter how quietly you approach a box occupied by Jackdaws, they always hear the russle of a jacket or snapping of a twig and vacate the box before the ladder touches the tree. So overall it looks like our nestbox species have got off to a pretty good start. All we need to do now is check the boxes on the other side of the reservoir and start looking for some more warbler and finch nests to boost the numbers for the nest recording scheme. Adam

Monday, 5 May 2014

First pulli ringed

I met Dave and Simon at the railtrack gate at 05:00 and once again the weather conditions were perfect. We decided yesterday that we would set our nets up from the feeding station to the point on the east side of the reservoir. A Grasshopper Warbler has been singing in this area for a few weeks now and it was reported again yesterday but unfortunately it managed to evade our nets. The first round of the nets produced 29 birds including 8 Whitethroats, 4 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Sedge Warbler and 1 Garden Warbler. Dawn arrived at 07:00 to assist with the ringing which gave me an opportunity to inspect some of the tit boxes and larger boxes later on. The next two rounds included 4 Sedge Warblers, 6 Tree Sparrows and a couple more Garden Warblers. Half of the Tree Sparrows were females and showed good brood patches so we were hopeful of finding some of our nestboxes with pulli ready to be ringed. As it turned out there was only one box occupied by Tree Sparrows which had 5 young too small to be ringed. There seemed to be more occupation from Wood Mice, Hornets and bees than birds so where are the Tree Sparrows nesting? I checked the larger boxes with slightly more success. A Tawny Owl flew from the first box and on inspection one chick with feathers just emerging sat looking up at me. Dawn was the lucky ringer who received an excercise in applying larger rings which she carried out very well. One of our pole boxes succombed to the winter winds by being blown from its mount but the other pole box was found to contain 3 warm Stock Dove eggs. Our ringing total of 26 new and 45 retraps was a good effort by all involved and it was 2:30pm when Dave and I drove down the railtrack. I checked a couple more large boxes at the inflow end. One contained a cold Tawny Owl egg and the other held two cold Stock Dove eggs. I hadn't previously checked these so there's no telling how long they have been there but both unfortunately look like they have been deserted. I'll give them another couple of weeks to see if there are any developments with these two nests. So the first pulli of the year has been ringed and hopefully there are plenty more to come in the next few weeks.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

CES No' 1 - 3rd May

Our first CES session got under way with an early frost and near perfect conditions to ease us in gently. Last year was our first attempt at the CES project so there is only one other year to compare with this years data. With 18 new and 31 retraps yesterday it was almost identical in captures as 2013 when we trapped 17 new and 34 retraps in the same area on the 4th May. The first Garden Warbler and Reed Warbler were trapped and another two Lesser Whitethroats were welcome additions to the five already ringed in April. There are lots of Blackcap, Whitethroat and Reed Buntings singing so there's hope for a good breeding season. On Monday we shall set up our nets on the opposite side of the bay to see what the numbers are like. A Grasshopper Warbler has been heard singing for a couple of weeks in this area and Reed Warblers are singing in the point reedbed. I'll let you know how we get on tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Tuesday 22nd April

Dave and I met at the reservoir at 05:30 this morning. It had rained during the journey from Corby but as Dave and his son Angus arrived 5 minutes behind me the rained had stopped. We drove down the railtrack, shared out the nets and went our seperate ways. By the time we had both made it back to the our base on the railtrack the rain had started again so there was no time for tea just yet. Off we went to quickly extract any birds from the nets. A few Willow Warblers and Blackcaps were the only captures and judging by the look of the sky we were wondering if we would be dodging the rain all morning and perhaps yesterday would have been the better choice of the two days. As it turned out the rain quickly stopped and fortunately stayed away for the remainder of the morning. Cloudy skies and little or no breeze made excellent conditions but most birds are still singing on territory and not a lot was moving around apart from the usual Tits at the feeders and the occasional vist from a very vocal Great Spotted Woodpecker. However, there was a Grasshopper Warbler singing again in the same area as it was on Saturday and another Lesser Whitethroat was ringed, the third this year already! A brief walk to the point revealed two Reed Warblers singing in the phragmites patch, again the first seen or heard this year. Overall it was a fairly pleasant morning with 40+ birds processed. Now it's time for me to head off to work. Well, ringing doesn't pay for itself does it?

Sunday, 20 April 2014

More spring arrivals....

After finishing my nighshift I arrived home to make up my flask and packed lunch, loaded the car and drove straight to the reservoir where the team of Dawn, David and Simon had already arrived at 05:30. I arrived at 08:15 to be greeted by a chilly easterly breeze that seemed to cut right through the three layers of clothing that I was wearing. Good numbers of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers were once again the main catch. Linnets and Tree Sparrows were also noted in good numbers but the latter still showed no signs of breeding just yet. New spring arrivals included a Grasshopper Warbler that was heard reeling whilst the nets were erected, a singing Whitethroat and an Osprey flew over heading east at 09:00. Around 150 Sand Martins & 50 House Martins were feeding in Blowers Lodge bay. 50+ birds were processed throughout the day included Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Willow Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Reed Bunting. Adam.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Slow but steady start

Our habitat management in the Blowers Lodge Bay area has finished and ringing has now started on a regular basis with our first Saturday ringing session of the year beginning yesterday. Between scrub-bashing sessions we have been able to get out to set some nets up during the week when the weather has permitted and we have already ringed good numbers of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and one or two Blackcaps. Yesterday morning we had the opportunity to get plenty of nets up but the wind soon got up which greatly reduced the number of birds caught. However, the first Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat were welcome additions to the days total which included a few more Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. When things were quiet between net rounds, Dave and I took the opportunity to check our owl boxes in Game Wood to see if any Tawnies had taken up residence. Things weren't looking good with squirrel dreys in five boxes, although a pair of Jackdaws have started a nest in their 'regular' box. On checking the final box Dave netted a Tawny Owl trying to escape. The picture below shows the owls primary and secondary feathers to be uniform and all of the same generation which confirms the age code as 8 (hatched three or more years ago).
Adult wing (Simon Watts)
She had a fully developed brood patch and on inspection of the box there were four eggs found. She was already ringed and on arriving home I checked on our database to find that she was ringed in 2012 in her 2nd year, in the same wood and again with a brood patch. So this female has been hanging around the area for a few years now and made at least two attempts to raise her young. Last year there were no attempts by Tawny Owls due to Squirrel and Hornets getting in the boxes first so this winter we have ejected the Squirrels before they have had a chance to settle in, giving the Owls a fighting chance this year.
Adult female Tawny Owl (Simon Watts)
So the season of spring arrivals is upon us and our CES project in Blowers Lodge Bay starts in May. Lets hope we have a good year and the birds have an even better one!


Monday, 10 March 2014

2013 Annual Report

The Stanford Ringing Group 2013 Annual Report is now available. To read, click on the link below -

SRG Annual Report 2013 (PDF - 503kb)

Saturday, 8 February 2014

More Wind and Rain

Ok, we have had enough now. If it's not windy it's raining and if its not raining its windy. Will we ever get out again ????. Fortunately this time of year we mainly do our scrub clearance program with the occasional ringing sessions during the week. During January we managed three ringing sessions, none of which were particularly productive, with only 50 birds ringed all month. With reports of Brambling and Nuthatch on the top road under the Beech trees we made two attempts but to no avail. The final session was down on the reservoir by the feeders and fortunately it was quite a calm day with the best of the catch being 7 Redwing and 5 Lesser Redpoll. Hopefully the weather will change soon or we will all sink without trace. Mick