Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Sponsored Birdwatch

Merry Christmas to all our readers and fellow bird ringers and I hope you all have a happy new year. As many of us know feeding wild birds can be an expensive hobby and like numerous other ringing groups we like to keep our feathered friends supplied with a variety of seeds, peanuts and other foods to help them through the year. As our group is now almost totally self-funded we have struggled more this year than any other year to find the funds to cover the costs of birdfood, rings and other equipment. Over the last two months Stanford Ringing Group members have been asking relatives, friends and work colleagues to sponsor them on a birdwatching day at the reservoir which would involve counting all species seen during a 4 hour walk around the perimeter. The money raised will be used to help towards the funding of the feeding station which costs us approximately £400 per year and greatly helps our wintering resident species such as Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer.
So today Mick and Dave arrived early to erect some nets for a short ringing session and Peter, Jo and myself got there a little later to walk off the Christmas turkey and carry out our sponsored walk. The morning got off to a great start with 2 Short-eared Owls at the inlet end with Barn Owl, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Green Woodpecker all putting in an appearance within the first half hour. Whilst driving down the railtrack I followed a male Merlin up to the ringing base where Mick and Dave had just completed the first round of the nets. Two Cetti's Warblers extracted from the nets were added to the list as were Snipe, Woodcock and Tawny Owl (heard) whilst the nets were being erected. After a quick refreshment break Peter, Jo and myself set off on our walk around the reservoir leaving Mick and Dave to carry on with ringing and recording species around the bay. Apart from the usual species we added Goosander, Buzzard, Stock Dove and Goldcrest to the list to give us an impressive total of 65 species seen. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those that kindly sponsored us and those that continue to support the ringing group as without your support it would not be possible for us to continue our work year after year.
The final species list was Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Pheasant, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Merlin, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Woodcock, Snipe, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Short-eared Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Skylark, Cetti's Warbler, Wren, Treecreeper, Starling, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Robin, Dunnock, Tree Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting.


Sunday, 29 November 2015

November Review

What a dire month we have had with only 356 birds ringed, our worst total since 2011. The weather conditions have been terrible all month with wind and rain badly affecting what we could do. In fact we were only out on 7 dates all month (9 in 2014) and one of those was rain affected, with the nets up it started to rain (not forecast) at dawn so down they came again. The result :- wet kit, wet birds and I was soaked as well.... not a great day!!!!  Of the 356 birds ringed Redwing was the most abundant with 170 followed by Goldfinch on 40 and Tree Sparrow on 30. All the rest were in much reduced numbers to what I would have expected for the time of year. For example during the corresponding month last year we caught 38 Blackbird - 26 this year, 24 Blue Tit - 7 this year , 93 Tree Sparrow - 30 this year and finally 41 Reed Bunting to 12 this year, a concerning downward trend. It will be interesting to see by the years end if things even themselves out at all.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Outrageous October

Well what a great October we have had at Stanford. A record number caught with 1387 ringed for the month pushing our yearly total to just over 7000 new for the site and 4000 of those being Warblers. The month started well and continued on from September with excellent numbers of both Blackcap and Chiffchaff so when you compare the totals with last year when we had record numbers for the year you can appreciate how good this year has been. Last year during October we caught 37 Blackcap and 48 Chiffchaff, this year we caught 186 and 225 respectively so you can see what a jump in numbers there has been this year. For those of you who are regular viewers of this site you will remember me banging on about how many Goldcrests we have caught over the previous 2 months, well this month went crazy with 129 birds ringed taking us to just over 200 for the year. Not many you may think but when you compare it with our previous highest total of 76 you can see where we are coming from. Mid month we hit a real purple patch for us and it all started on the 9th when on the second round of the morning I caught a Siberian Chiffchaff, one of the brown looking ones as opposed to the more familiar grey ones, this was the 2nd one caught at Stanford and on the next round I caught a first year female Firecrest, the 5th caught at Stanford. What was a great days ringing and quite unexpected, was followed on the 12th with a Yellow-browed Warbler and an Asian Lesser Whitethroat. (see accounts on articles page on the Web site). Then to round things off I caught another female Firecrest on the 20th, a day that I caught 19 new Goldcrests on site..... a record in itself. By the 16th we had started to catch winter Thrushes and by the end of the month we had good numbers for this time of year, 15 Song Thrush, 17 Blackbird , 2 Fieldfare and 181 Redwing. Last year the corresponding figures were 14, 7, 0 and 20 so you can see a significant increase over last year. Of the Tits, Lotti's were up by almost two thirds but Blue and Great Tits were down by about one third. Tree Sparrows have crept up again with 82 ringed this month, a big improvement on the last two months. Then we come to Finches and Buntings, they are continuing their topsy-turvy year with some species down in numbers whilst others go up. Chaffinch and Bullfinch are similar to last year albeit very low numbers. Greenfinch are down a third, Goldfinch by half and Yellowhammer are non existent compared to last years 35. Reed Bunting have continued a worrying trend of low numbers this year with a paltry 9 birds ringed. The one high point has been the welcome return of Lesser Redpoll with 134 ringed during the month and a single Siskin, our 3rd of the year and another record.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

More winter

A full team turned out to see near perfect ringing conditions this morning. 72 new birds and 31 retraps of 20 species was a fair result when there are still not many winter thrushes coming through but we still managed 2 Fieldfares (first of the year), 24 Redwings, 2 Song Thrushes and 7 Blackbirds. Eleven more Goldcrests pushed the annual total over 200 which is a fantastic achievement and a new female Siskin which is only the 8th to be ringed at Stanford. Siskins are fairly common migrants but we just can't seem to encourage them into our nets.
A retrapped Cetti's Warbler and Willow Tit were also nice additions to the days total.
Siskin by AG Homer

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Crests of a wave!

The wave of crests and other ''Sibes'' filling the skies of the British Isles will not have gone unnoticed this autumn with most if not all coastal observatories reporting higher than average numbers of Goldcrests, Firecrests, Yellow-browed Warblers and other delights from the east landing in their nets.
In 2014 we achieved an annual total of 76 Goldcrests which was a record for our site at Stanford Reservoir. In that year we had ringed only 9 before the beginning of October but there are signs that the local crests have had a productive breeding season in 2015. 34 juveniles were ringed before the beginning of October which boosted our total of this species so early in the season it was hard not to notice the sudden increase.
By the time we have equalled our previous years record it was only the first day of October and we knew that those arriving from the north would soon be here.
Although we never catch numbers in the hundreds like the observatories experience, we did receive a steady flow of crests with the biggest catch being 19 on the 20th October which was joined by the second Firecrest of the year after the first was ringed on the 9th.
As we approached a landmark total of 7000 new birds ringed for 2015 it was only fitting that this would turn out to be a Goldcrest in what could be the best autumn migration movement of this species seen for a long time and currently ringed 191 so far this year.
Of course we couldn't miss out on some other ''Eastern Delights'' of our own could we?
On the 12th October we ringed a Yellow-browed Warbler, the second for Stanford after a 5 year wait and the last bird of the same day also saw an 'Eastern Lesser Whitethroat' ringed.
We eagerly await the results of a DNA test and hope to provide some answers to the questions raised of this ones origin.
7000th bird for 2015
'Eastern' Lesser Whitethroat?
Yellow-browed Warbler

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Super September

After last years extraordinary September little did we think that this year would be as good. How wrong we were !!! Although we didn't have the spectacular catches of last year we had good numbers every time we went out and ended up with 2401 new birds compared with 2488 last year.
Of the birds caught this year 2015 of them were warblers with Blackcap being the top species again with 1183 ringed, just over 100 less than last year. Chiffchaff, the other classic September migrant increased in numbers this year to 592 from last years 507. I think you will agree it's a great result from both species reflecting what was probably another good breeding season. As for the other warblers they all returned similar numbers to last year other than Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler which both doubled in number. As for the rest of the species we caught they were broadly in line with last year,  there were however some notable exceptions. Meadow Pipits have just not turned up at all with a dismal 22 ringed, Tree Sparrow was also well down for the second month running to 36 from last years 66 and finally Reed Buntings are continuing their abysmal year with a paltry 13 caught. However, on the plus side Goldfinch have doubled to 50 and we have had a welcome return of Lesser Redpoll with our best ever September catch of 32. I have to mention that we have had an exceptional movement (for us) of Redstart, we have caught an amazing 9 birds this month!
To put it in perspective, in the previous 39 years we have ringed 19 birds so to do 9 this month with others seen and not caught represents a brilliant effort. Finally, a Whinchat, the first since 1981, rounded off what I do have to say was a staggering months effort.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Minding your P's and Q's

Our group was given another lie-in on Saturday morning courtesy of Mick who again arrived at the res early to erect nets and get the tape lures on before sunrise. Simon - a former trainee - visited us again this week to complete filming our activities. Happily, there was plenty to record because when the fog lifted, the captures rose sharply. Dave, Peter and I carried out the ringing while Mel and Mick did continuous net rounds keeping us with such a constant supply of birds that it was after 10:00 before we were able to grab a coffee and a bite to eat.

Simon was in need of some audio for his film - us giving the data to the scribe. As a group, we do enjoy a bit of banter between birds and when he began recording, minding our P's and Q's was rather a challenge! There was a collective sigh of relief when he had filmed enough and we could talk normally once more, lol.

Hats off to Adam and Dave for staying awake...Adam came out a little later after finishing night shift and Dave had pulled an all-nighter too, though in a much more pleasant way after a night's ringing with the Wash Waders. As well as Simon, local birder Ian popped in for a while. They couldn't have picked a better day to join us. We captured 186 new birds including 47 Chiffchaff, 10 Lesser Redpoll, 7 Meadow Pipit, one each of Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat followed by an assortment of more usual species. The top scorer of the day was 93 Blackcap including a Portuguese control, our first from this country. The day was concluded with the usual trip to the White Hart.

Portuguese ring

Monday, 21 September 2015

Micks Week

Well the Autumn migration continues and you have to admire Mick's commitment. He continues to arrive at Stanny in the early hours to erect the nets in the dark and to get the sound lures on. This week, due too the weather and other personal events, Mick only managed to get to the reservoir 5 of the 7 days. Ha ha.  We continue to catch good numbers of Blackcap and Chiffchaff. The totals for this week were; Tues (57), Thurs (112), Fri (132), Sat (206) and Sun (144).
Mick was on his own on Tuesday and Thursday. He had spent all last week texting me and light-heartedly winding me up about the Redstarts. Fortunately last Saturday we caught one and I was able to ring on it. So I thought at least there will be some rest from the text. Oh no! This week he's at it again and Thursday he surpassed himself. In the 30' net though the hedge on the railtrack he caught a young Whinchat. This is only the second Whinchat ever caught at Stanny, the first being in May 1981, 34 years ago. so a fantastic result .
On Friday Peter managed to get out and help Mick. On Saturday myself, Dawn, Peter and Mel arrived at 0615 and trundled down the track and met up with Mick, who again had arrived early and already put the nets up. As soon as I saw Mick  I accused  him of making up the story of the Whinchat but he assured me he had photos.  Indeed he had, but unfortunately I can't attach them at the minute because Mick is such a technophobe that he doesn't know how to email them across to me.( He has to get the services of a young girl to do it for him) As soon as I get them I'll attach them to this post.
Dawn was in fine form and relayed stories from her holiday in Majorca and in particular Albufera Nature Reserve.
With 4 of us ringing we managed to keep on top of the number of birds, the total for Saturday were:
Blackcap (122), Chifchaff (57), Reed Warbler (6) ,Sedge Warbler (2), Meadow Pipit (2) and singles of Lesser Whitethroat ,Whitethroat, and Garden Warbler.
The track where we base ourselves got a bit busy with hundreds of horses participating in a local charity horse ride, organised by the wife of one of our old ringers (Ed).
By 12.30 we had the nets down and en route to our HQ at the White Hart. It was definitely Micks week because not only had he caught the Whinchat, he won the draw in the pub and took home a BBQ pack of meat.
On Sunday just Mick and Adam went out and again got good numbers of Blackcap and Chiffchaff.
Late yesterday there was a sighting of a Wryneck, close to Stanny, so today Adam and Mick where out looking for it but were unsuccessful.
What a pretty bird.
Just to prove he did catch one.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

What a start to September?

Well this week the migration has been in full swing and so has Mick. Unbelievably he has been out before dawn to set all the nets on every day this week other than Saturday. And that was only because it was raining. Because of either work commitments or people swanning off on holiday (Dawn), Mick has been out to Stanny on his own Monday to Friday. What a week he has had, each day having a respectable number of new birds.  Monday (159), Tuesday (110), Wednesday (55), Thursday (79) and Friday (113).  In that 516 birds were 5 new Redstart. These birds are not common visitors to Stanford and we are very lucky if we catch 1 a year, so 5 in 1 week is incredible.  He also caught a migrating Grasshopper Warbler which is a new species for us for the year. Unfortunately numbers of this species have been reducing over the last few years.
Saturday was a wash out and it was decided not to attempt any ringing. So ringing was planned for Sunday. The weather forecast was perfect with a clear night and very little wind. Mick had noticed that on these type of nights the number of migrating birds were high.
With Dawn still sunning herself, Adam going out on the razz the night before and Jo with family commitments the team was Mick, Peter and myself. At least that was 2 more than had been there for the rest of the week. To make it even better Mick volunteered to get all the nets up before dawn and myself and Peter trundled up at 06.15. Fantastic a lie in.
Boy did we need it!!!!! We met up with Mick. No time for coffee, off we went on a net round.
Mick had put 13 nets up and by the time we had reached halfway we knew it was going to be a brilliant day. Myself and Peter returned to the vehicles and started processing the birds. Mick continued extracting birds from the remaining nets. On Micks return to the vehicles he presented me with a single bird bag stating 'this is for you'. With excitement I placed my hand in the bag and took hold of a young female Redstart. The 6th of the week !!!!! I was really pleased because I had never seen a Redstart in the hand before and certainly never ringed one. Mick knew this and all week he had been texting me stating that he had caught a new Redstart and on one day even caught 2! He'll have to think of another bird to try and wind me up with now.
The day continued in this manner. Mick was extracting and Peter and myself ringing. Very little time for coffee!!! By the end of the session we had ringed 237 new birds and had had 6 retraps one of which was the Grasshopper Warbler from earlier in the week. The birds to note were 50 Chiffchaff and 123 Blackcap., but we also had good numbers of other species
Sedge Warblers (3). Reed Warblers(9). Lesser Whitethroat (3). Whitethroat (6). Garden Warbler (3). Willow Warbler (6) Goldcrest (4) and of course 1 Redstart.
All in all a  --------------------------SUPER SUNDAY AT STANNY

For those that are interested the groups annual report for 2014 is now published, and can be seen on our website.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Magnificent August

After a dismal July, August has been truly magnificent at Stanford Res. After last years record August of 833 we were hoping to get somewhere near that this year, instead we just smashed it with a 50% increase to 1233 birds ringed from 15 visits with all Warbler species showing a healthy increase. 33 species were ringed during the month, 8 of which showed a small decrease. Chaffinch with a 60% and Reed Bunting 45% being the worst. On the bright side all the warblers showed a healthy increase in numbers of between 34% and 60% except for Willow Warbler which was still up 12%. Lesser Whitethroat numbers were amazing with 64 caught this month, that's more than in most years!, together with Blackcap up from 93 in 2014 to 202 possibly due to an increase in breeding numbers after last years good breeding season. We also managed to catch a Tree pipit during the month which is only our 4th in 40 years and finally at the end of the month we caught a Pied Flycatcher, the first ever to be caught at Stanford. So all things considered we have had an excellent month, we hope it continues. Mick

Monday, 3 August 2015

July-----------A difficult month

Well what can we say really ? The weather during the month has been terrible here at Stanford with what feels like continuous wind varying from strong to very strong. This severally effected both the number of times we were able to get out [11 compared with 14 in 2014] and what nets we could put up/area we ringed thus reducing the catch.

 This month we have ringed a total of 706 birds of 30 species compared with 1073 of 33 species last year[2014] of these only 4 species showed an increase in numbers they being Kingfisher from 3 to 4 , Blue Tit from 32 to 35 Reed Warbler 59 to 74 and finally Blackcap 118 to 135 all the rest showed a decline the most dramatic being Tree Sparrow 156 to 28 Whitethroat 174 to 118 Reed Bunting 77 to 24 and finally although only small numbers are involved  I think it is still significant Linnet down from 13 to only 1 !!! In fact when I look at all the Finch and Bunting numbers they all show a significant decline, this can be for a number of reasons.
1. Smaller adult numbers. 
2. The fact we ringed 360 fewer birds this month.
3. Due to the generally cold weather birds are breeding later / failed to breed successfully.
 Hopefully its just a late breeding season and things will pick up in August. 
We have been trying a new area this summer on the Leicestershire side of the Reservoir. It was formally a field  that had sheep grazing it but some years ago the sheep were taken out and the field was left to go wild. I think we have been ignoring a good area as the catches in this area have been really good with 4 catches of 90+ birds and a French control of a Sedge Warbler. Hopefully this will continue throughout the rest of the year, finally we have just had a good Chiffchaff recovery a bird that was ringed in April last year and caught in Portugal on December 30th.


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The first six months

After having our 2nd best start to the year last year with 1400 birds ringed by the end of June we were hoping for a similar start this year so by achieving a total of 1391 we have done really well when you
consider the incessant wind we have had to endure from the North. This has made things quite difficult for us as our site is quite exposed when the wind is from this direction. However we have persevered and
achieved better results than it felt. Surprisingly we caught exactly the same number of species as last year with 39 although 9 of these were different to last year. It's been a real funny year with most species being caught in smaller numbers than last year, some of which are really unexplainable. Wren and Robin have been caught in similar numbers but Dunnocks are down from 43 last year to 24 this year. The Tits are a bit up and down with Blue Tit up from 231 to 294 and Great Tits remaining static whist Long tailed tits are down from 42 to 25. Tree sparrows have increased dramatically from 141 to 234 .... a brilliant increase in numbers!
Apart from Chaffinch, all finches have shown a dramatic decrease in numbers with Bullfinch and Linnet being the worst with a 75% decrease. The warblers are all over the place with Reed and Sedge showing big
increases while Lesser Whitethroat ,Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow warbler showing the opposite with big decreases. Whitethroat and Garden warbler numbers look stable. This year has also seen a new breeding species for the reservoir with up to 3 breeding female Cetti's Warblers caught since May and three 1j's caught over the last 2 weeks, so overall not to bad a start to the year.


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Moth Night 2

Last Friday evening Adam and myself went over to the Leicestershire side of the Reservoir to carry out a moth night. The second of the year. We got there about 18.30 and decided to set the nets in the reedbed ready for Saturdays ringing. Mick and Peter were due to come at 4.30 the next morning to try some new rides in the paddock area again on the Leicestershire side. Dawn had been ringing on Friday with Jed Andrews and chasing Egyptian Geese and was unable to come out with the group. Jo had decided a wedding was far more important than ringing (ha ha), so there was only going to be the 4 of us in the morning.
After setting the nets we set up the moth trap far enough away from the vehicles so it didn't disturb our sleep.Then we returned to the nets, extracted the birds furled the nets and processed the birds. Most were Reed Warblers as you would expect.After finishing with the birds we went to check the moth trap and to top up the generator. It was still very light so there were not many moths around. We left it running and returned to base for a well deserved beer and sleep.
Up early at 4.15 we went and unfurled the nets before returning to base and Adam produced from the back of his car bacon, rolls and surprise surprise he had remembered the frying pan. Fantastic. We quickly checked the moth trap to find out that the generator had stopped working sometime in the night. Another problem for Adam to sort out.
Mick and Peter arrived at 4.30 and set up their nets.We had 2 bases not in view of each other. So myself and Adam carried on as normal ringing extracting etc. About mid morning both our phones rang we were busy extracting birds so ignored them. As we got back to base they went again. It was Mick. Adam answered. Mick was apparently dancing around cheering like a kid. He had caught a French ringed Sedge Warbler.
Mick really is such a jammy git, if there are controls to be had on the site you can guarantee that Mick will process 90% of them.
Any way we carried on ringing and then check the moth trap. Unfortunately there was only a few in there.
Drinker 2, Straw Dot 2,Burnished Brass 2, Brown Rustic 2, Plain Golden Y and Marbled Minor 2.

By 11.00 we had packed up the nets and were check the reedbed for nests and pulli.. Although we only found one nest with pulli we did find several with eggs.

All in all a very successful ringing session returning with 46 new and 38 retraps, mostly Reed and Sedge Warblers although we did catch young Kingfisher which is always nice.

Mick had just about finished when we drove round to him and his totals were also very good 

Blackbird 1 /0  Dunnock 1/1  wren  3/0  robin 2/0  Reewa 4/5   sedwa  4/5   white  4/3  leswh  1/0   black  7/0   garwa  4/0   Goldf  2/1   bluti   3/0    linnet  1/0  treec  2/0    tresp  1/0  reebu  4/1    

Totals   44 new 15 retrap  1 control

And to top it off Mick had worked out how to use the camera on his phone and had taken this wonderful picture of this Dragonfly. Any suggestion for names?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Moth Night

Adam and myself decided to have a Moth night in the car park at the end of the reservoir  near the dam. A chance to have a few beers and bacon rolls. I had packed the bacon and rolls and Adam was due to bring a frying pan. We got there about 18.45 on the Friday evening, my lad Angus had decided to come and help. We put some nets up from the car park  towards the old hide. Mick turned up and watched as he had shorts on and didn't want to scratch his delicate legs on the brambles. We put some more nets at the back of the dam and one across the wear. As the wind was forecast to get to 20mph by 8 in the morning we didn't want to put too many nets up. We carried out a couple of net rounds before furling the nets at dusk.
We then concentrated on setting up the moth trap and settling down to see what we could catch. The temperature dropped quite alot and there were not many moths around. We retired to our various beds about 11, knowing we needed to be up by 4 to unfurl the nets. I set off one way to sort the nets, Adam the other. As I unfurled the nets all I could think about was my forth coming bacon roll.
On returning to base I started to get the bacon sorted and asked Adam for the frying pan only to learn that he had forgotten it. DISASTER, no bacon rolls, so I have to settle for a coffee, (not quite the same).
We totaled 51 moths of which we had 14 species including Poplar Hawk Moth and Chocolate Tip.

Polar Hawk Moth

The wind got up at 8 but we continued ringing until about 10.30. In total we had 24 new birds and 25 retraps, the highlights being 5 new / 6 retrap Reed Warbler and 4 new and 1 retrap Linnet.

Common Terns

While we were ringing at the dam end, Mick, Jo and Peter had started at the rail track end at 4.30 that morning.
They seriously suffered from wind and only had a few nets up.
Totals from Railtrack end were 9 new including 6 Tree Sparrows and 7 retraps including a Great Stopped Woodpecker.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Third CES session.

Well Mick has returned from Canda although the wind has not changed direction the number of birds have slightly increased. The whole group managed to make the 4.30 start and greeted Mick back from Canada. We spilt the group in two and Adam, Dawn and Peter went off checking all the nest boxes and ringing the pulli. Jo, Mick and myself carried out the CES. In between net rounds Mick showed Jo and myself his holiday snaps. Jo was quite impressed with Mick in his budgie smugglers, lol, but more impressed with the fantastic photographs of some of the birds he had processed while he was at Long Point. It's still very quiet at the reservoir but at the end of the session we had ringed 17 new birds and processed 40 re traps including the resident male Cetti's. Adam, Dawn and Peter returned with a total of 143 pulli ringed and a re trap adult Swallow.

Sunday, 24 May 2015


Although ringing has started at Stanford the number of new birds arriving has been very small. We feel this is probably due to the constant North Easterly winds.Our summer visitors are just not here in numbers yet. Our  best news is that we have a pair of Cetti's Warblers resident at the reservoir. We carried out our second CES session last Saturday and only managed to ring 6 new birds and processed 31 retraps. This was the lowest CES return in the 3yrs of running the project. We put this down to the strong winds last Saturday. So this Saturday the forecast was excellent for ringing and we decided the have another go at the CES. Unfortunately there was still very little bird movement or numbers and as a result our numbers were even lower with 9 new birds and 25 retraps. However what was encouraging was what appears to be at least 3 cuckoos at the reservoir. To Adams delight after struggling to the res from working nights he was rewarded with being able to ring a female Cuckoo, something he has been waiting for, for the last 15yrs. To add to the delight Peter (our new trainee) was able to process an adult male Sparrowhawk one we had ringed as an adult in 2012.

Mick returns from his ringing at Long Point Bird Observatory this week, so hopefully the wind will change direction and our number of birds will increase.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Swallow in Congo

We received a recovery note from the BTO on Thursday.
An adult Swallow ringed at Stanford Reservoir, Northants in May 2012 was ''freshly dead and intentionally taken'' in September 2014, so we are assuming that it was a light snack for a hungry hunter!
This is our furthest recovery of any species in the 40 year history of the ringing group, travelling a distance of 7129km to the far reaches of Congo in Africa and beats our previous record of a Blackcap that made it's way 2327km to Morocco.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Ringing at Last

After what seems to have been an eternity, at last the group has started ringing again on a Saturday morning. The scrub clearing which we have been doing for the last three months is vitally important for the returning warblers, but its great to get back ringing. Listening to the Chiff's singing reminds us that its spring and the start of what we hope will be another fantastic year at Stanford. This year as well as our CES site we now have a RAS approved for Tree Sparrows.
Last Wednesday myself, Dawn, Mel, Mick and my lad Angus met at the railtrack gate at 6am. It was a bit breezy but the weather forecast was for the wind to drop so we erected 11 nets and waited for the first round. While setting one of the nets Dawn and myself heard a Cetti's singing. This was fantastic because a couple had been seen during the winter on the reservoir.
Time for a quick coffee before Mick and Mel went one way and Dawn and myself the other. In the first nets we checked was the Cetti's (brilliant), a retrap male from the end of last year. We all have our fingers crossed that we will get Cetti's breeding this year which will be a first for the reservoir. We returned to the base and between us I think we had about 20 birds, including several Chiffchaffs and Tree Sparrows. We continued during the morning with a mixture of Tree Sparrows, Tits, Chiffs and a retrap Great Spotted Woodpecker. During one of our coffee breaks Dawn and Mel were talking and Mel asked Dawn what bird would she love to ring. she immediately said a Jay. The reasoning behind this was because Jay is a bird that has alluded Dawn. She has been with the group over 4yrs and has unfortunately managed to be missing on the days we actually catch one (which is not very often as we only ring if we're lucky a couple a year).
On the next round Mel returned with a smile on his face and presented Dawn with what was obvious a large bird in the bag. Dawns hand delved into the bag and ours ears heard the predicted yell of pain but she persevered and produced a Jay out of the bag.Her little face lit up, but no tears this time.
I was really pleased for her,  but now I have to think of another bird she has yet to ring that we catch at the site, so I can wind her up. Hmmmm I think Sparrowhawk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
By the end of the day we had caught a respectful 62 birds which included 10 new Chiffs and 10 Tree Sparrows which takes us to over 60 already this year.

The first Saturday ringing session at the res and only Adam, myself and Angus could make it. We met at 6am at the railtrack as normal and trundled down to our base area. The wind was predicted to be about 8mph but it was a lot stronger than that. We decided that 'well we're here we may aswell put some nets up' and see what if anything we could catch. While setting the nets it started to drizzle but unfortunately didn't come to anything. Well the first round we processed about 20 birds which bearing in mind the weather conditions was very good. We caught our first Linnet of the year which is encouraging. Although  we heard the Chiffs singing there was very little movement and as a result we only caught 2 retaps. The Tree Sparrow numbers were still high with 14 retraps and another 9 new birds. There had obviously been an influx of Chaffinchs as we caught 3 retraps and 3new birds.  We packed away by 1pm and had respectable total of 66 birds including 46 retraps and 20 new birds. We had sightings of several Fieldfare flying north and Lapwing displaying in a nearby field.
Its good to be out ringing!