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.