Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Apologies to Lord Kitchener!


This was our second celebration of migration at Stanford Reservoir. The plan was to do some ringing every day in the last week of August, with a presence camping out each day; however in an almost exact repeat of last year, rain and wind made the first two days unproductive, so we concentrated on Tuesday through to the Bank Holiday. 

Despite it being cool and with a distinct lack of sunshine the group responded magnificently and we ringed a grand total of 1,795 birds. Highlights of the week included French Night, a Chinese Takeaway and the Sunday carvery (plus some nice birds). Those sleeping under the stars (well, in tents anyway) included Dawn, Peter, Dave, Stuart, Ewan Kate and Adam. Mick, our glorious leader came out every day, and most members of the group had the opportunity to do some ringing. Nets were concentrated in Blowers Bay, access via the railtrack, plus occasional nets at point when required. 

French Night (port and fromage courtesy of Chris Hubbard)

Full Tally of Birds









Willow Warbler




Sedge Warbler


 Reed Bunting


Lesser Whitethroat








Garden Warbler






 Great Tit


Blue Tit


 Spotted Flycatcher




 Stock Dove










Grasshopper Warbler


 Great Spotted Woodpecker


Long Tailed Tit




Tree Sparrow




A fabulous collection of birds, and a quite splendid time was had by all. To finish the blog, here are a few pictures of some of the more unusual birds:

A perennial favourite: a spanking male redstart

One of our two Whinchat

Wryneck- always lovely

Back to normal weekend ringing, but congratulations to Adam, our esteemed secretary who has taken retirement, and so we expect to see his craggy features with the elderly midweek ringing gentlemen. Congratulations also to our new trainee Ewan too, who although new to the world of ringing was there for every day of the festival!

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Mid Year Round Up

Time rushes on. We are now in mid July and despite some very mixed weather, ringing is starting to get busy. So far, we have ringed 38 species, with just over 1,000 new birds and over 500 recaptures. 

The mighty SRG at work: Dave, Ewan, Dawn and Adam

More of the team; Mick and Lucy taking a managerial role in proceedings.

On our last session (10/07/21), we ringed a total of 108 new birds plus 58 retraps. A little later than usual, we are starting to ring this year's juvenile birds, including Kingfisher, Chiffchaff, Grey wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting, plus a selection of warblers, including our first Cetti's. We are still waiting for our first juvenile Grasshopper warbler, fingers crossed!

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Back to Business

The BTO has confirmed that we can go ringing again, so not ones to let the grass grow under our feet, the SRG has already trundled forth thrice. Numbers have been quite good for the time of year, although unsurprisingly quite a lot of our birds have been re-traps of our resident species- we seem to have been specialising in Dunnocks and Blue Tits.

However, some of our migrants have returned, and we have been ringing good numbers of Chiffchaff, a couple of Blackcaps and Willow Warblers and a solitary Common Whitethroat. Two SRG records have been broken already for 2021! Firstly PMN trapped and ringed two Stonechats at the dam in February, which is an annual record for Stanford:

Secondly, on Saturday 10 April Dave extracted a lovely male Redstart from Safari, which is the earliest record for the site, two birds having been ringed historically on the 16th, in 1977 and 2002. Otherwise, these are almost exclusively an autumn species for us.

A most beautiful 5 male redstart! Excellent start to the year.

PS Our Bearded Tits have sadly moved on- no breeding records for this year.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Moth Report 2020


Theo, our trainee, has written up a summary of the moths which have been recorded during 2020. This includes the following weird and wonderful beasties:

Poplar Hawkmoth

Peppered Moth

Lunar Hornet Clearwing 

Buff Tip

The full report can be found on the SRG website in the Flora and Fauna section, or can be accessed directly from this link: SRG_moths_2020.pdf (stanfordrg.org.uk)

Sunday, 7 February 2021

From Russia with Love

We are still not able to ring at the reservoir, but our Sightings Officer Chris H, lives very near and still attends to his regular birding. Here is his account of a recent encounter: 

Saturday 6th February was a very still day. As I arrived at the reservoir for my daily walk the fog started to form and the whole place was very quickly covered in a dense blanket – not the best of conditions for checking for birds!

I headed off to the reedbed on the Leicestershire side of the reservoir. Having spent a short time there I made the decision to carry on despite the fog – after all the weather forecast was saying that it would clear by 10.30am.

As I made my way around past the dam there were some signs of the fog clearing. As I scanned through the ducks closest to me, I was drawn to a tightly bunched group of swans right in the middle of the reservoir although they were barely visible. My instinct told me that this was very unusual for the resident Mute Swans. As the fog began to clear further, I realised that I was looking at a sizeable group of ‘wild’ swans. They were either Whooper or Bewick’s, the latter being a very scarce visitor to the county these days. 

One of the key identification features to separate the two is the extent of yellow on the bill which is very obvious and extensive (beyond the nostrils) on Whooper Swan. I checked each bird in turn and soon concluded that I was looking at Bewick’s Swans – 18 in total.

Each year Bewick’s Swans undertake one of nature’s greatest migrations, flying thousands of miles from the breeding grounds in the far north of Russia to Western Europe. Sadly, not all make it and numbers have plummeted over the last 30 years dropping by a third in recent times, with fewer than 21,000 left. They’re under threat from illegal hunting, lead poisoning, loss of wetland habitat, predation, and colliding with man-made structures (e.g., powerlines).

What were these birds doing at Stanford? They may have already arrived in the UK earlier in the winter and could have been moving from the east coast to feeding grounds in the south west such as Slimbridge or vice versa. The fog may have interrupted their journey and they found safety until being able to continue. They could also be birds that were wintering in Europe and have been pushed this way due to the exceptionally cold weather currently. 

The birds were only visible to me for around 15 minutes but it was amazing sight to have that number of Bewick’s in one group, all showing well and calling to each other. It was quite a sight when they all took to the air and headed off.

The last records for the reservoir were both in 2019 – a group of 9 and 2 in November and December.

Chris Hubbard

Thursday, 21 January 2021

We Are Postponed

 Sadly, 2021 has started with another lockdown. So once again we are following BTO and government guidance, are unable to access the reservoir, and are limited to ringing at home. This means that scrub bashing is cancelled for this year. 2020 also had an early lockdown, but we did go on to have the best ever year at Stanford. For more details, our annual report is now available from our website at:  http://www.stanfordrg.org.uk/srgstats/2020-annrep.pdf 

This is a sad way to start the year, but we all hope to return to some sort of socially distanced ringing when the migrants return.

Anyway, no need to start the year on a gloomy note. Here are a couple of crackers from last year: 

We are certainly hoping this lovely male Beardie and his partner will stay around for the breeding season.

Nice Pied Flycatcher, only the second ever ringed at Stanford.

Who knows what the new year will bring? Best wishes to all who follow our exploits, stay safe and watch this space...

Peter N