Friday, 4 December 2020

Before The Rains...

After a hectic Autumn, things have quietened down at Stanford. In November, we only ringed 504 birds. The weather has been fairly grim. Our winter visitors have been scarce, with only 5 fieldfare, 177 Redwing and 25 Lesser Redpoll ringed. A brave foray into the paddock at the reservoir produced a grand total of 7 birds starting off with three re-trapped wrens, the expedition was partly mitigated by two new Treecreepers. 

However the retiree midweek ringers Mick and Peter N have had some luck. Our resident patch birder, Chris H reported a pair of Bearded Tits at the reservoir. On the first visit to the Leicestershire reedbed we were told that the birds had just flown off,  but on our second visit on the 16th, we were initially  rewarded with a nice female beardie:

The first ever ringed at Stanford! This was then followed by an even more pristine male:

Stonking! There had also been reports of Brambling amongst the Beech trees at the main entrance to the reservoir, so the midweekers decided to have a go at finding them. On the 20th we put up a line of three 60' nets under the trees while it was still dark and waited. At 1000 we thought our chances had gone, expecting to find Brambling early in the morning. However on the next round there was a very nice female in the last net:

This was then followed by an even nicer male. Two days later, Peter N was ringing again at the top road, when he found a really cracking male, which was ringed by Theo, a ringing tick for him:

This means that, despite all the obstacles, we have broken the previous annual  record for the number of species ringed, which stood at 63, with this year's total of  69! 

Best wishes for all ringers out there, let's hope for a peaceful and uneventful 2021 (and lots of birds).

Thanks to Chris and Theo for photos 

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Autumnal Morning at the Reservoir

The weather in Autumn has been fairly dreadful. Mick, Dawn and Peter N went to the res on 04/11/20, the day before lockdown II, to make the most of a reasonable forecast. We met up at 0530 and put up nets between Oak and Berries before dawn. Numbers were enough to keep us ticking over. General consensus was that it was a decent morning, despite poor numbers of Redwing and zero Fieldfare. To quote Mick, 'we want just one really good bird' to complete the day.

Peter N ambled down to Mick's ride at 0930 and found four Blue Tits surrounding a decidedly good bird, a nice male Firecrest!

We have had a total of 10 Firecrests since 1998, so it is very much a rarity for us, and always exciting, as well as being a ringing tick for Dawn. We finished the morning with some nice finches, including a control goldfinch. Excellent!

Totals are: Blackbird 2, Blackcap 1, Blue Tit 14, Cetti's Warbler 2, Chaffinch 1, Chiffchaff 2, Greenfinch 7, Goldcrest 7, Goldfinch 8, Lesser Redpoll 3, Redwing 2, Reed Bunting 2 Robin 2, Tree Sparrow 1, Wren 5, Yellowhammer 2

Thanks to Chris H for the photo.

Monday, 7 September 2020

What a Week!!!

This is a summary of the ringing at Stanford which took place between 27 August and 2nd September 2020. It was an extraordinary week. The centrepiece was our very own festival of 'Stanstock', modelled very much on Woodstock from 1969:


Not to be confused with:

Woodstock (or possibly the other way round)

For Stanstock, various group members comprising Dave, Theo, Kate, Stuart and Peter N camped out on the nights of 29 (nets up), 30, and the 31st of August, allowing ringing for three consecutive mornings. All nets were furled overnight and storm guyed. In addition, the group at large ringed on 27th August, and Mick, who clearly can't stop, ringed solo on the 2nd September.

It was only one evening at the White Hart, one Chinese takeaway and a fry up at base, plus beer, that kept us going. The weather was generally mild and (finally) with low winds. Over the week, we ringed a total of 1,595 new, 44 retraps and 3 controls. New birds were as follows:

Blackcap 651, Whitethroat 335, Willow Warbler 186, Sedge Warbler 112, Reed Warbler 85, Chiffchaff 67, Lesser Whitethroat 26, Robin 26, Garden Warbler 17, Grasshopper Warbler 15, Redstart 15, Blue Tit 15, Wren 6, Swallow 6, Great Tit 5, Chaffinch 5, Dunnock 4, Spotted Flycatcher 3, Goldcrest 3, Siskin 2 and single Tree Sparrow, Sand Martin, Lesser Redpoll, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, Whinchat, Buzzard and Wryneck!




The Wryneck is perhaps the most beautiful bird we have caught (subjective opinion), and this was only the second ringed at Stanford. If anything, the Buzzard is even more amazing; this is the only one we have ever ringed. Apparently Mick was on his own on the track, pondering life, when it just glided out of the woods directly into the nearest net, set across the track hedge. This was completely unprecedented and hasn't happened in 40 years of ringing (although there are some nets with buzzard sized holes in them)!

The three controls were all British: Sedge Warbler, Sand Martin (very unusual) and a Willow Warbler. We have ringed 59 species this year. The Stanford record is 63, so we are confident that we can equal this, and possibly beat it. Watch this space. 

Stanstock is likely to be an annual feature as the last week in August seems to be great for migration. To top it all off, friend of the SRG Simon Watts has an excellent film of one day of the proceedings, which can be found on:

Stanford Ringing Group is entirely self funding. We are registered with easyfundraising. This provides us with funds at no cost to the user, whilst shopping on the interweb; if readers would like to help us,  please use the link

Thanks also to Chris H and Theo for photos. 

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Half Year Round up

 Although it has been a rather truncated ringing year, we are now about half way through, with migration starting in earnest. So far (mid August) we have ringed 3,481 new birds, with 19 controls and 1,204 re-traps. We have now ringed 50 species, which means we are possibly on course to beat last year's total of 61 species, or even the record of 63 from 2018. 

Migration has now started and we are ringing some really nice birds. These include singleton  pied and spotted flycatcher, and tree pipit:

Pied Flycatcher 

A really pretty Tree Pipit (photos Chris Hubbard).

This has already been the best year for Lapwing (4), Lesser Spotted Wooodpecker (admittedly only one, but excellent bird), Garden Warbler (155 and still counting), Willow Warbler (397, ditto) and, strangely enough Magpie (2!).

Our other warblers are looking good too- it has been the second best year for Grasshopper Warbler (23) Sedge Warbler (411), Cetti's (18)- and of course these are still passing through the reservoir area. Other warblers included good numbers of Reed (318), Blackcap (302) and Chiffchaff (139). 

We still have September and October to look forward to, and they tend to be even better, so watch this space! Lots of early mornings ahead for the troops. 

Monday, 3 August 2020

Moth Night Mk 2

After the successful mothing evening the weekend before, Adam, Theo and I decided to camp out again the following Friday evening on the Northamptonshire side of the reservoir. It was a beautiful warm July evening but slightly windy, so we erected the nets but furled them ready for the morning. I set up the mammal traps along one of the rides and in the wood whilst Theo and Adam placed the moth traps in the field opposite the gate and close to the woodland as it seemed to be an ideal sheltered site that would attract woodland moth species.
Theo’s moth trap is a homemade Robinson trap which uses a garden trug with 2 pieces of perspex made to fit as the transparent lid and a 12in beer funnel for the moths to enter the trap. This then has a stand which rests in the funnel made from some spare perspex as the vanes and some thin copper to hold the vanes and bulb fitting together. It uses a 160w Self-Ballasted MV bulb so no need for an additional choke, these bulbs are very sensitive to water so must not get wet and a size 8 Cafetiere cup fits over it perfectly!

A night time walk with moth nets and a bat detector started our recording. Common Pipestrelle, Noctule / Leislers and Myotis spp were identified with the bat detector. The following morning a noctule bat was seen by the rest of the ringing team on arrival at the reservoir at 4.30am.
With 8 ringers on site we had enough people to form three teams. The mothing group stayed near the rail track, Peter, David and Stuart were stationed at the bench and Dawn and Mick at the Point.
For the next 6 hours Adam, Theo and I had a hectic time extracting and ringing birds, identifying moths and checking the small mammals traps; all of which were productive.
463 moths of 101 species were recorded.

 The combined bird ringing for the three teams totalled at 108 new and 85 retraps. Of note were a magpie which was a ringing tick for me and a cute 1J Sedge Warbler for Dawn.

The mammal traps caught 4 Bank voles, 3 Wood mice and a Common shrew that, unknown to me, found its way up the sleeve of my fleece and reappeared as I was trying to extract a blackbird from the nets. Wildlife recording is full of surprises.
Kate M