Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Three Gold Recoveries

Just had three recoveries back from the BTO of varying interest:

The first was an immature female Goldfinch L757075 which was ringed in my garden on 13th November 2010 and found dead 153 days later on 15th April 2011 just 2km away in Warnham (map below).
The next was an immature male Goldcrest DNK024 which was also ringed in my garden on the same day and was caught by ringers at the well known migration site Landguard Point, Felixstowe, Suffolk on 27th March 2011 - a distance of 149km (map below).  These dates would suggest that this was possibly a Scandinavian bird which had come to winter in Britain and was then caught whilst on spring migration going back, although the only way we will truly known would be if it was then caught in Norway or Sweden!  I can only hope.
The last recovery and by no means the least was another immature female Goldfinch, L132885, which I ringed at Chesworth Farm, Horsham on 15th March 2010 and was caught 654km away by a ringer on 24th April 2010 at Inch Island, Donegal, Ireland (map below)!  This is the fifth longest movement of a Goldfinch within Britain and Ireland, but by far the fastest of those five and the only one of those to have had to cross the sea.  Obviously must have been a spring migrant, but had it flown down from its birth place in Ireland to Sussex for the winter and was heading back or was it dispersing from birth place?  Difficult to know, but if it had flown any further it would have been heading out into the Atlantic - next stop Canada!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Another Busy Week

Two sessions on Leith Hill, two sessions at home, a morning doing the rounds of the Horsham Barn Owl boxes, another duck rescue at Horsham Hospital and a few more nests!  In total, 193 new birds ringed this week of 26 species.

Sunday at Leith Hill was ended early with only two hours of ringing due to the onset of rain and just four new Siskin were caught along with a handful of Great Tits and the first juvenile Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler of the year.  Whilst the session this morning had to close the nets early because of too many birds!  Siskins were everywhere, with 36 caught (22 new) along with three Blackcaps, two Whitethroat, a juvenile Treecreeper, a juvenile Goldcrest and two Willow Warbler being the highlights which mainly came in one check of the nets!
The two sessions at home were again dominated by tits, but a few highlights included my first juvenile Goldfinch (above) and Long-tailed Tit (below) of the year, another five juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker (making 19 for the year so far) and a Jay.  The extra surprise was the pair of Spotted Flycatchers that had taken up residence this week, hopefully they will breed which will be a first for my garden.  Fingers crossed!
A trip round the remaining Horsham Barn Owl boxes was very successful.  Being joined by Barrie and Graham we visited four boxes of which one was empty, one held three chicks and two had four chicks (photos below).  Which were all ringed as well as an adult male, whilst an adult female was retrapped that was originally ringed as a chick in nearby Lambs Green in 2005. 
Graham with his first Barn Owl

Barn Owl chick being weighed

Adult male Barn Owl
Whilst doing the owls, one barn also had a pair of Stock Dove nesting on a ledge which had two perfect sized chicks.  Whilst other nests done this week were five Pied Wagtail chicks at my Leith Hill office and ten Swallow chicks (below) from three nests local to home.
The last ringing of the week was a return to Horsham Hospital where Linda and I rescued another family of five Mallard ducklings and rehomed them onto Horsham Park pond next door!

Birds ringed:
Great Tit - 57
Siskin - 26
Blue Tit - 24
Robin - 3
Chaffinch - 4
Blackcap - 3
Whitethroat - 2
Swallow - 10 nestlings
Pied Wagtail - 5 nestlings
Goldfinch - 5
Dunnock - 2
Wren - 1
Chiffchaff - 3
Willow Warbler - 3
Treecreeper - 3
Goldcrest - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 4
Greenfinch - 8
House Sparrow - 1
Nuthatch - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 5
Song Thrush - 1
Mallard - 5 ducklings
Stock Dove - 2 nestlings
Jay - 1
Barn Owl - 1 + 11 nestlings

Sunday, 19 June 2011

19th June 2011 - More Youngsters and Two Recoveries

Rain restricted a lot of ringing this week, but the increase of juvenile birds on the scene kept numbers up.

A short session at Leith Hill on Sunday produced just 11 new birds including only four new Siskin, but I did find my first Whitethroat nest with five eggs (below).
A visit to a couple of neighbours houses on Monday produced two more ringed Swallow nests (chicks below).  Interestingly, one of these was a brand new nest and had been completely constructed of cow dung which must have been a substitute material for the lack of mud this spring.
I got a phone call from Linda Baker at Horsham Hospital this week asking for my help in relocating a family of Mallard that had bred in one of the courtyard gardens.  With no way out for the ducklings, Linda and her dad Eric have been providing a water feature and some extra food until big enough to fend for themselves.  So, the three of us caught up the seven ducklings which I then ringed and then Linda and Eric led the mother carrying the ducklings to Horsham Park pond which backs onto the hospital.
Linda with one of the ducklings
Before meeting Linda and Eric I had a quick stop at Coot Pond and very quickly managed to catch my first Canada Goose of the year (below).
Ringing at home over this week produced 111 new birds which were almost all juveniles and mainly consisted of Great Tits.  Highlights came in the form of a nest of Blackbird (2), a nest of Song Thrush (5) and from netting a juvenile Blackcap (below top), a juvenile and two adult male Whitethroat, two juvenile Treecreepers (below middle), four juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Collared Dove and an adult Starling (below bottom).  This Starling is only the second that I have caught at home since I began ringing here in 2008!
A couple of recoveries have come through, as follows:

Lesser Redpoll L080774 ringed on 14th December 2009 at Chesworth Farm, Horsham as a first year bird was controlled at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire on 13th March 2011 as an adult male, probably on its way back to Scandinavia.

Grey Heron A47 ringed on 9th April 2011 at Warnham LNR as a nestling within the Heronry and was sighted at Thorpe Park near Chertsey, Surrey on 12th June 2011.  This bird was last seen at Warnham LNR on 30th May 2011.  A quick movement of 40km over 13 days NW.

Birds ringed:
Great Tit - 64
Siskin - 4
Swallow - 9 nestlings
Robin - 6
Blue Tit - 12
Chaffinch - 2
Blackcap - 2
Whitethroat - 3
Dunnock - 1
Treecreeper - 2
Willow Warbler - 1
Greenfinch - 5
Blackbird - 3 + 2 nestlings
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 4
Starling - 1
Song Thrush - 2 + 5 nestlings
Canada Goose - 1
Mallard - 7 ducklings
Jackdaw - 1
Collared Dove - 1

Friday, 10 June 2011

9th June 2011 - Jars and Lots of Different Youngsters

This week began with an evening on Leith Hill trying to catch Nightjars with the help of colleagues Catherine, Matt and Graham.  After 30 minutes two birds had just missed the net, so we moved the net to a new location and resulted in a catch within just two minutes (below).  It is always an experience catching a Nightjar, but this one turned out to be even better than normal as it was the juvenile bird that I had caught at this site last year!  This is a great event to know that this bird was almost certainly born at Leith Hill last year, migrated off to Africa for the winter months and then has come back to the same area for its first breeding season.  Hopefully he will find a mate!
This week has also been full of youngsters as the first birds start leaving their nests.  A couple of sessions at Leith Hill produced another 19 new juvenile Siskin and newly fledged Garden Warbler (below top), Great Tit and Whitethroat (below bottom).

Three newly fledged Wrens (below top), a juvenile Nuthatch (below middle), a juvenile Blackbird and a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker (below bottom) and the first large juvenile tit flock catch.
Also around home I made a visit to a few nesting possibilities including Stock Doves (two chicks ringed - below top) and the first Swallow nestlings.  And at Leith Hill I found my first Wood Warbler nest (below bottom) which the chicks were too big to attempt to ring to the point the first one fledged whilst I sat back and watched for 15 minutes!
Pam Mears joined me on Tuesday afternoon to go to Warnham LNR to ring the two pairs of Common Tern chicks that were nesting on the artificial rafts with only about five days difference between the two families (below).

And I just had to mention the very territorial male Pheasant that has been on Leith Hill for the last month.  Whenever I am doing a ringing session it follows be as I check the net rides, pecking at my shoes, jumping at my legs and clucking constantly with its colourful neck feathers raised.  I have finally managed to get a decent video below:
Birds ringed:
Siskin - 19
Great Tit - 21
Garden Warbler - 1 + 2 nestlings
Dunnock - 1
Swallow - 5 nestlings
Whitethroat - 1 nestling
Blue Tit - 1
Willow Warbler - 1
Wren - 3 nestlings
House Sparrow - 1
Nuthatch - 1
Blackbird - 4
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Stock Dove  - 2 nestlings
Common Tern - 5 nestlings
Jackdaw - 1

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

1st June 2011 - Siskins and Firsts for Garden

31 birds ringed this week which started with a nest of four Robins at home which I had only just noticed on Friday (27th), which I quickly ringed before having to rush off to my brother's wedding!  Dressed in my tails it was probably the most presentable nest ringing ever done!  (Below - my brother's wife Abi with myself, best man Glen, Ben and Rob.)
This was followed on the Bank Holiday Monday with a netting session in the garden which resulted in just seven new birds, although did include a juvenile Dunnock, two juvenile Robins and my first ever warblers for May here - a Chiffchaff and a female Whitethroat!  The other two birds were also the first ever juvenile House Sparrows caught here in nearly three years (below)!
Then back to Leith Hill on Tuesday (31st) catching 20 new birds which included 16 juvenile Siskin.  As Siskin juveniles cannot be sexed on standard plumage I tried out the sexing criteria studied in Spain which looks at the size of the dark spot on the second outer tail feather.  This proved to have a huge variation in size from covering the whole feather (below top) to just the tip (below bottom).  With preliminary results showing that six were female and ten were male, but whether the British Siskins follow the same rule as the the Spanish is yet to be found out! Hopefully I will be able to catch these same birds again once they have undergone post juvenile moult and can be sexed on standard plumage as well to confirm these measurements.
Also caught was a juvenile Chaffinch which had an all adult tail (below), which had me fooled for a minute, and had presumably lost its tail at a very early stage and shows the importance of checking all ageing criteria.
Birds ringed:
Robin - 2 + 4 nestlings
Dunnock - 3
Whitethroat - 1
Siskin - 16
Blue Tit - 1
Chaffinch - 1
Chiffchaff - 1
House Sparrow - 2