Saturday, 24 April 2010

24th April 2010 - Heron Ringing 3 and Seven Warblers

The third visit to the Heronry at Warnham LNR proved very productive, although this time Jake, Kevin and I were joined by visiting ringers Louise, Gary, Liz and Andy and most importantly Max, the essential tree climber, from Absolute Arboriculture.In total, we visited seven nests, with another one predated, one unused (but seems to have been unused as an adult perch by the amount of poo), one with four very small young and an unhatched egg and four other occupied nests with 3, 3, 2 and 2 chicks ringed (above and below with Kevin).
Meanwhile, Wes was ringing at the Capel reserve and managed to catch 23 new birds involving as highlights an impressive seven species of warbler, a Jay and three Nightingales (two being retraps). But most amazingly he did not catch a single tit!!! (Photos to follow)

Birds ringed:
Grey Heron - 10 nestlings
Robin - 2
Reed Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 5
Blackcap - 4
Garden Warbler - 2
Chiffchaff - 1
Willow Warbler - 3
Song Thrush - 1
Jay - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Reed Bunting - 1
Nightingale - 1 (2)

Friday, 23 April 2010

23rd April 2010 - Dunno Pulli

A pair of Dunnock have decided to take up residence in a gorse bush in the heathland garden at Warnham LNR and eventually the nest was found (thanks Wes) and today we ringed the three chicks (below).
Also present here today was a Garden Warbler, a Willow Warbler, c20 House Martin, a Sand Martin, 5 Swift, 1 Common Tern and a Nightingale. I also spent about an hour following a pair of Marsh Tit, hoping to find their nest, to no avail, but I did have some cracking views of various forms of display and mating.

Also, the first of the Grey Heron chicks has left the nest, but unfortunately we couldn't see the colour ring as the bird was half buried in a bundle of foliage as its first attempt to use its wings. Will give updates as and when we see or get reports of the colour rings.

Birds ringed:
Dunnock - 3 nestlings

Thursday, 22 April 2010

22th April 2010 - Reedbed First and Neighbour Ringing 3

Today, Jake and I did a first trial session in the reedbed at Warnham LNR, which is only accessible in the summer months, although an increase of vegetation growth is still needed to optimise the habitat after the management work done this winter. It was fairly successful though for just two hours with 12 birds caught including seven new. Although ringing three new Blackcaps was good the highlight was a retrap Long-tailed Tit ringed on 23rd Sep 2006 as an unaged bird caught and paired up with an autumn 2009 ringed bird - a bit of a Sugar-daddy!

Other birds seen on site today included a Garden Warbler, a Whitethroat, a Nightingale and completely unexpectedly an overflying Whimbrel (a new species for this site).

I also checked the second Robin nest in my neighbours garden when I got home and four more chicks were ringed.

Below are a couple of pictures of the first Harvest Mice that were released today as part of the reintroduction breeding program at Chesworth Farm - they are wicked! Thanks to Paul Marten for the photos and the opportunity to take part in this very rewarding project.
Birds ringed:
Blackcap - 3
Robin - 4 nestlings
Wren - 2
Blackbird - 2
Great Tit - (1)
Blue Tit - (1)
Long-tailed Tit - (2)
Dunnock - (1)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

21st April 2010 - Woodies

Jake has been keeping track of about 10 different Woodpigeon nests at Southwater CP over the last month and all bar one has been predated and today that one with two chicks was ready for ringing and should be old enough that they don't get predated (chicks above).
Also, an update on the 'crab claw' from the Grey Heron pellet, which has turned out to be from a Signal Crayfish. That horrible introduced one that has been wrecking river banks and is endangering the native Crayfish! Apparently there are populations in nearby Crawley and into Surrey. They have never been recorded at Warnham LNR before, but sounds like a survey could be called for! Also from yesterday at Chesworth Farm, an extra Whitethroat photo (above) and the left wing of one of the Starling that had a very obvious white feather (below) taken by Louise.
Birds ringed:
Woodpigeon - 2 nestlings

Monday, 19 April 2010

19th April 2010 - Whitethroats!!

Considering it is April and the bright sunshine exposing the nets this mornings session at Chesworth Farm was packed with birds keeping Louise, Eddie and myself very busy. In total we caught a new record of 20 species involving 89 birds including 27 new ones.
New bird highlights included the first three Whitethroat of the year (above and below), three Chiffchaff (all females with brood patches), a Goldcrest with a brood patch (first ever confirmed breeding of this species at the site), 2 male House Sparrow, 4 male Starling (including one bird with the sixth primary on the left wing being white), a Song Thrush and a Woodpigeon. Four of which Louise hadn't seen in the hand before, so a good learning experience for her.
The highlights of the retraps included the 1st year male Yellowhammer from last month, a Blackbird ringed in Nov 2007, seven House Sparrow, two Blackcap ringed here in 2009.

Also, we received four recoveries through today as follows:

L080596 - 1st year Lesser Redpoll - ringed at Leechool and Owlbeech Woods on 4th Dec 2009 - recaught at West Horsley, Surrey on 15th Feb 2010 - 26km away.

X969241 - 1st year Lesser Redpoll - ringed at the Capel Reserve on 7th Nov 2009 - recaught st South Stoke, Oxfordshire on 15th and 20th Feb 2010 - 71km away.

X638881 - juvenile Reed Bunting - ringed at Chesworth Farm on 29th Jun 2009 - recaught at Icklesham, Sussex on 11th Jan 2010 - 72km away.

But the best recovery was an nternational one, as follows:

X969370 - 1st year female Blackcap - ringed at Chesworth Farm on 2nd Oct 2009 - found dead after hitting a window at Biarritz, South France on 24th Oct 2009 - 848km away. (map below)
Birds ringed:
Blue Tit - 1 (15)
Whitethroat - 3
Robin - 1 (4)
Great Tit - 3 (18)
Goldfinch - 3
Chaffinch - 2 (4)
Goldcrest - 1
Chiffchaff - 3
House Sparrow - 2 (7)
Greenfinch - 2 (2)
Starling -4
Song Thrush - 1
Woodpigeon - 1
Blackbird (2)
Yellowhammer - (1)
Blackcap - (2)
Dunnock - (4)
Great Spotted Woodpecker - (1)
Reed Bunting - (1)
Long-tailed Tit - (2)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

17th April 2010 - Heron Ringing 2

Gary, myself and Jake set out again this morning to pay our second visit to the Heronry at Warnham LNR, but were joined by assistants Eddie and Matt and two other ringers John and Janet.

It was another successful morning with 12 new birds being ringed from five nests, including two birds from a nest that had not been noticed before! So far this year, of the 24 nesting trees that have been identified over the last two years, one nest is in a leaning tree which is too dangerous to climb but very active with at least 3 young, three trees have no nest, one nest is unused, two nests have been fully predated and 22 birds ringed from eight nests, meaning that there are still nine more nests to do! Gary managed to film the last nest that we ringed today see below:

During the morning the Heronry was visited twice by up to two Buzzard and a couple of Crows that were circling over and certainly looking for a potential meal. I am sure that once the chicks get to a certain size they are too much of a challenge, but I would have thought that the eggs would be fairly prone to corvids and even squirrels! The video above shows what we have noticed doing this that the chicks at different ages have different techniques for dealing with predators. The smallest preferring to huddle down, pretending not to exist while the bigger ones going for the more aggressive approach!

Another interesting thing has been the food that the odd chick has coughed up. There have been a couple of Goldfish (seemingly the most popular diet) and a Perch last week, while this week we had a Common Frog and the first two regurgitated pellets (below). The pellets which are the collection of indigestible materials which the birds bring up to expel just like owls and other birds of prey.
The obvious contents of which were quite exciting - the small one seemed to be the whole remains of a Great Diving Beetle, while the large one was quite varied with an obvious crab claw on top. Considering that the Heronry is, at closest, 31km from the coast as the crow (or Heron) flies is this as far as the parents will travel to find food for the young? It would be great to get these analysed to see what species remains are present.

Birds ringed:
Grey Heron - 12

Thursday, 15 April 2010

15th April 2010 - Oldest Tit on the Block

Three hours ringing at Warnham LNR in breezy conditions was fairly productive catching 13 birds of which seven were new. The highlight though was the same retrap Coal Tit (below) that was last caught on 20th April 2009 and originally ringed as an immature on 2nd December 2004. This is the same day as the Blue Tit that I caught ten days ago, obviously feeling out done!! The years do seem to have taken there toll though, as the right wing was a combination of missing, badly grown and patchy feathers. Also two new female Blackcap, a new Chiffchaff, two high brood patch Greenfinchs and a retrap Blackbird originally ringed in 2007.
As I finished the session Jake arrived and we checked out a Blackbird nest that we had been watching and found the four young ready for rings. Interestingly, the female of this brood is a very obvious continental bird breeding with the above retrap male and there is also a breeding pair at Chesworth are both continental birds. I can only assume that these are birds that have stayed after the influx seen here over the winter.

Birds ringed:
Blackcap - 2
Great Tit - 1
Chiffchaff - 1
Greenfinch - 2
Blackbird - 5 (1)
Reed Bunting - (1)
Wren - (1)
Coal Tit - (1)
Blue Tit - (1)
Robin - (1)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

13th April 2010 - Neighbour Ringing 2

Two more nests ringed today. As I got home, I thought I would check the Robin and Blackbird nests (in neighbours gardens) and they were both ready for ringing. Unfortunately, the Robins weren't fairing too well with just three chicks in the nest of which one had been dead a day or two. I would assume that early nests can be prone to lack of food and especially with the cold weather that has ensued over the last few days.

Birds ringed:
Blackbird - 4
Robin - 2

Monday, 12 April 2010

12th April 2010 - A Session Like No Other

A very strange morning ringing at Chesworth Farm today, with a missed bag of species caught and interestingly not a single warbler, although conditions weren't the best being quite windy which limited Jake, Eddie and I to only half the normal nets.
Of the 59 birds caught 18 were new, starting with the first Magpie ever caught at this site, a first year bird (above), another Woodpigeon, a male Reed Bunting and a continental female Blackbird with a large brood patch. But the best result was catching ten House Sparrows (below). This is the most ever caught here in one session and four of which were retraps ringed in Jun 2009, Nov 2009, and two in Feb 2010.
The only other notable retraps were a Great Tit ringed in Nov 2007, a Blue Tit in Oct 2007 and a Blue Tit in Dec 2008.

Sightings included a lot of nesting activity and my first Hobby of the year.

Birds ringed:
Robin - 1 (1)
Great Tit - 2 (17)
Chaffinch - 5
Reed Bunting - 1
House Sparrow - 6 (4)
Blackbird - 1 (1)
Magpie - 1
Woodpigeon - 1
Blue Tit - (17)
Bullfinch - (1)

Sunday, 11 April 2010

10th and 11th April 2010 - Warblers and Nests

Wes had a short morning of ringing at the Capel Reserve yesterday catching 15 new birds with highlights of four Blackcap, three Chiffchaff, a Bullfinch and the first Willow Warbler of the year. Also on site was a singing Nightingale.

Whilst today, I did a spell at home which didn't last long as the wind got up fairly quickly and only caught three new birds, a Great Tit, a Greenfinch and my first spring Blackcap for this site.

I spent most of the afternoon looking for nests and was quite successful, although following the theme of the earlier Blackbird nest, mostly in neighbours gardens! In my garden, I have two tit boxes and two Robin boxes which are all unused, a House Sparrow terrace which has Blue Tits building and a pair of Great Tits building in a gap above the landing window! Whilst elsewhere, a Robin nest with very young chicks in next doors Lleylandii hedge, a Robin nest with five eggs in a Lleylandii hedge two doors down, a pair of Greenfinch building in a Lleylandii hedge next door, a Goldfinch pair nesting at the top of 30ft Lleylandii tree next door and another Greenfinch pair building in a Lleylandii hedge just down the lane. There seems to be another running theme! Also, not Lleylandii orientated, a Blackbird sitting on a nest in a hawthorn hedge three doors down, Jackdaws building in an Ash tree and a pair of Great Tit building in a letterbox down the lane. There are also at least two pairs of Linnets nesting somewhere at the end of the road, but no luck finding a nest yet, same with the pair of Mistle Thrush!

Birds ringed:
Blackcap - 5
Chiffchaff - 3
Bullfinch - 1
Willow Warbler - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Dunnock - 2
Blackbird - 1
Robin - 1
Great Tit - 1
Greenfinch - 2

Saturday, 10 April 2010

10th April 2010 - Heron Ringing and Dove

Today saw the start of my new colour-ringing project for Grey Heron. With the invaluable help of tree climber Gary Collier, Jake, Sue and I made the first visit to the Heronry at Warnham LNR which is mainly in a 40ft high Cypress Pine plantation. Of the 20 nests identified, one had been predated (Buzzard, Crow, Magpie, Squirrel?), a few were still at egg stage, some had newly hatched chicks (below), but three nests were ringable.
The three nests that were ringed all held four young of which all bar two birds were ringed. The two that weren't ringed were just too far away for Gary to reach. A great start for the new program which hopes to pick up some insight into the dispersal and longevity of these amazing birds. The colour-ringing scheme involves a metal BTO ring on the leg above the ankle and an orange colour ring with a black three digit code on the left leg above the knee (below). As these birds spend a lot of time in the water having the ring above the knee will mean that they are far more visible. Any sightings of these birds can be sent to sam.bayley(AT)
After an enjoyable morning of Heron ringing, to celebrate I did the best thing and put the nets up in the garden at home, catching nine new birds! As I was putting the nets up I noticed a bundle of feathers to one side and on closer inspection it turned out to be a Collared Dove (below) that had fallen prey to a Sparrowhawk (though had been disturbed before it could finish its meal). I was also upset to find that it was the bird that I had caught and ringed in the garden just 20 days ago!
Birds ringed:
Grey Heron - 10
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 2
Greenfinch - 4
Song Thrush - 1

Friday, 9 April 2010

8th and 9th April 2010 - Leechpool and Southwater

A couple of impromptu sessions led to a meagre 20 birds being caught including 8 retraps.

Highlights at Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods, with Alex, were three new Chiffchaffs and a retrap pair of Long-tailed Tit that we then managed to follow back to their nest! Also caught a female Robin with a full brood patch. Sightings included a pair of Crossbill feeding two newly fledged young, a Willow Warbler, at least two pairs of Yellowhammer and a few Siskin and Redpoll.

Highlights at Southwater CP, with Jake, were a new Chiffchaff and a new female Blackcap. Sightings included a Redpoll, a Willow Warbler and at least 4 singing Blackcap.

Birds ringed:
Robin - 3 (1)
Blackcap - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Dunno - (1)
Great Tit - (3)
Chiffchaff - 4 (1)
Wren - 3
Long-tailed Tit - (2)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

6th April 2010 - Blue Tit News

I have realised that the latest Blue Tit recovery yesterday isn't a control but a retrap from the previous ringers at the site, and R991140 was ringed in the feeding station here on 2nd December 2004 as a 1st year bird. So making this bird just shy of six years old pretty good for a small bird!

Monday, 5 April 2010

5th April 2010 - Another Blue Tit Control

Jake and I did a morning at Warnham LNR before work and as it was the Easter holidays, young Alex Glossop came along and showed off his bird skills. We caught 31 birds of 12 species of which 16 were new. This included four Great Spotted Woodpeckers, being three 1st year birds ringed in 2009 and a new 1st year with a very interesting plumage (below), which was heavily sun bleached! Note the normally coloured new coverts compared to the buff fringing everywhere else especially the back of the crown, flight feathers, tail and mantle. Primary feather 6 has a very clear mark of where primary 7 overlaps it shading the higher part of the feather.
Other highlights included new Treecreeper, two Chiffchaff, Song Thrush and Reed Bunting, while other retraps included a 2009 Chiffchaff and two 2006 Great Tits.

But amazingly, the second control for the site came in the form of another Blue Tit this one an adult male and seemingly quite an old one R991140. So both controls here have been Blue Tits for which I will post details as soon as I get them.

Birds ringed: (retraps in brackets)
Reed Bunting - 1
Robin - 1 (1)
Great Tit - 3 (3)
Blue Tit - 2 (3)
Chaffinch - 1
Chiffchaff - 2 (1)
Treecreeper - 1
Greenfinch - 3
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1 (3)
Song Thrush - 1
Wren - (3)
Goldfinch - (1)

Friday, 2 April 2010

2nd April 2010 - Southwater Eleven

An impromptu session at Southwater CP this morning produced 11 new birds with Jake joining me slightly later. The catch involved not a single retrap (unusual for here) but highlights included two Blackcap, two Chiffchaff (below) and a new bird for the site, a Treecreeper.
Eight of the birds showed breeding signs, the exceptions being the Treecreeper, Robin and a heavily fatty (migrant) female Blackcap. The other Blackcap, a 1st year male, was quite interesting, showing a small bit of fat, CP and what seemed to be the early stage of a brood patch! Male Blackcaps can exhibit some brood patch, but unusual this early in the season. Maybe it is a wintering bird that has found a female and started early!

Jake and I also managed to cut a ride in a section of reedbed that should hopefully be good for Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting roost in the winter. Fingers crossed!

Birds ringed:
Blue Tit - 1
Robin - 1
Great Tit - 2
Blackcap - 2
Wren - 1
Chiffchaff - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Treecreeper - 1

Thursday, 1 April 2010

March Monthly Totals

Reed Bunting - 11
Dunnock - 11
Great Tit - 37
Goldfinch - 48
Blue Tit - 107
Robin - 7
Chaffinch - 32
Redpoll - 1
Coal Tit - 1
Yellowhammer - 3
Blackcap - 1
Wren - 7
Long-tailed Tit - 11
Chiffchaff - 13
Treecreeper - 2
House Sparrow - 7
Greenfinch - 41
Nuthatch - 2
Blackbird - 8
Starling - 7
Song Thrush - 5
Redwing - 4
Mute Swan - 2
Mallard - 4
Woodpigeon - 2
Kingfisher - 1
Collared Dove - 1
Jay - 1
Magpie - 1
Sparrowhawk - 1
Moorhen - 1

30th March and 1st April 2010 - Mallard and Redpoll

Forgot to mention that Jake and I made a quick excursion to Horsham Park Pond on 30th March and Jake managed to catch an adult male Mallard within seconds. This seems to be the case with this site, you know within the first minute whether you are likely to catch something!
Today, I was joined by a potentially new member of the team Louise Greenwood, a trainee from just over the border. We spent a morning ringing at Warnham LNR, catching just six new birds, with the highlight being a Redpoll (above with Louise), which is the first that I have caught outside the winter months and the first Louise had seen in the hand. Also caught were three retrap Chiffchaff (two from 2008 and one from 2009) and three retrap female Dunnocks with well developed brood patches (BP3). Other sightings included a male Blackcap singing, three Swallows that were nearly caught but just avoided the net and my first House Martin of the year.
Birds ringed:
Blue Tit - 2
Goldfinch - 2
Redpoll - 1
Greenfinch - 1