Sunday, 14 August 2011

Wader Trip

Having had very little experience with waders, I have over the years tried to go on a few trips to increase my ability, but to date I have only experienced 1 Redshank, 1 Curlew, 2 Snipe and a Common Sandpiper!  The last two species of which I actually ringed locally by chance and the first two where the result of a long weekend targeting waders in the Wash.

So when Gary asked if I wanted to join him on Friday going wader ringing with the Swale Ringing Group on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent I jumped at the chance, although wasn't expecting much after my last few experiences!  So Gary, Helen and myself drove over to north Kent to meet up with the other eight people who were taking part and then split into three groups to man the different pools that were being worked on the marsh.

The wind was stronger than had been predicted and looking at the billowing nets I feared another negative evening.  Although the setting was great as we waited for high tide, lying on the edge of the marsh waiting to see movement in the net under a balmy, partly moonlit night with the only noises being the various groups of waders and the faint sound of music from a wedding reception nearby! 

At about 11.30pm (an hour and a half before high tide), we caught our first bird - a Grey Plover (below top - in amazing summer plumage), which was shortly followed by two more and a retrap Greenshank (below bottom).
definitely 'Black-bellied Plover'
By just before 1am we had caught 11 birds which included three more Grey Plover, three Bar-tailed Godwit (below top and middle) and two Whimbrel (below bottom)! What a fantastic hour and a half.

standing before take-off
When we got back together with the two other groups we had caught nearly half the birds, but the other groups had caught a couple of other species in the form of a retrap Redshank and four Dunlin (below).
So, in total 24 birds were caught of which two were retraps and I got to ring and experience five new species.  A big thank you to Gary for inviting me and to Rod and the rest of the Swale Ringing Group for providing such a great evening.  I did not mind at all that I had done a full days work and then didn't get home until just after 4 in the morning!!  Well worth it!

My First Lot of 'A' Permit Ringing

Realistically no different to 'C' permit ringing with the exception that I am responsible for all my own ringing data and submissions to BTO and am solely responsible for all birds and ringers that ring with me.  I also have to purchase my own rings of which my first installment has just cost me just over £600!  Hopefully this will last me at least six months, but I doubt it!!!

In just over a week I have made two visits to Warnham LNR and a single visit to Leith Hill with a bit of Swallow ringing in the middle.

Warnham reedbed produced 67 new birds of 15 species including ten Willow Warbler, six Long-tailed Tit (first I have caught since June!), a Treecreeper, nine Reed Warbler, two Bullfinch, six Blackcap, a Whitethroat and the highlight being a Lesser Whitethroat (below - only the third caught here since 2005).  Just a single retrap from both days which was the seven year old Reed Warbler again.
Not generally thought of as a reedbed species, but the six Greenfinch (juvenile below) which were also caught that are part of a group which has started using a group of willows as a post-breeding roost.
At Leith Hill, the heathland is still producing large numbers of new Siskins, with another 20 new from this weeks session along with three Chaffinch, a Nuthatch (first for site), two Coal Tit, four Chiffchaff and seven Goldcrest as highlights.  All of the sexable Siskins fell in line with the dark spot on the tail measurements as well as the six retraps which were previously unsexable, so looking good so far!

Two Swallow nests were ringed at one of my neighbours stables which held four and two chicks.

Birds ringed:

Reed Warbler - 9
Blackcap - 7
Blue Tit - 12
Robin - 7
Bullfinch - 2
Whitethroat - 1
Dunnock - 3
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Great Tit - 8
Siskin - 20
Chaffinch - 3
Coal Tit - 2
Swallow - 6 nestlings
Wren - 3
Willow Warbler - 11
Chiffchaff - 7
Treecreeper - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 6
Goldcrest - 7
Greenfinch - 6
Nuthatch - 2
Blackbird - 1

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Two Ringing Demos and Five New Species

A really busy fortnight of ringing which started with an early morning and late afternoon session at home on 22nd which although totalled 52 new birds only involved six species.  Although the vast majority was Blue Tits and Great Tits, the highlights were two Treecreepers and an adult male Spotted Flycatcher (below top)! After having not seen them in my garden for a couple of weeks I thought that they had gone, but was I wrong!  This then tempted me to make a renewed effort to search for a nest and stepping into the adjacent tree line was all it took as the female then started to scold me and I quickly found the nest in a seven foot high fork in a Field Maple with three ringable chicks (below bottom).  Later in this week I also ringed a new nest of Song Thrush with three chicks.

The 24th was the first ringing demonstration of the fortnight which was for the Friends of Warnham LNR and was very successful catching 19 different species.  This began with a Grasshopper Warbler (below top and with Jake) which was only the second record for the reserve after one was caught here in July 2008.  Other highlights included two Garden Warbler, two Bullfinch, two Willow Warbler, a Goldcrest, a Nuthatch, three juvenile Magpies (below middle with Gary) and a juvenile Moorhen that I managed to catch by hand right at the very end (below bottom).  Another session here this week was fairly quiet, but I did manage to catch four Willow Warblers, seven Reed Warblers, a very newly fledged family of Chiffchaff and a Sedge Warbler.

A big thank you to ringers Gary and Jake who assisted me with the demo and afterwards Gary and I visited one of my regular Swallow nesting sites and ringed nine chicks from two nests.

Leith Hill on the other hand, also had two sessions up on the heath and included another 27 new Siskin, four Willow Warbler, three Coal Tit, two Great Spotted Woodpecker and two Goldcrest.  The second of which was yesterday and was a ringing demonstration for the National Trust volunteers here which was very well received, especially the bacon butty after the early start!  Whilst at my office up here the late arriving Swallows were finally ready to ring and had five chicks.

And to top it all off I made one of my fairly regular visits to Cheshire to see family and stopped in for a bit of ringing with Dave Riley at Woolston Eyes in Warrington and finally managed to ring my first Willow Tit (below) for which they are doing a colour ringing scheme.

So five new species for the Horsham/Dorking ringing year - Spotted Flycatcher, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Moorhen and Magpie. And a new bird for me - Willow Tit.

Birds ringed:
Blue Tit - 43
Great Tit - 36
Spotted Flycatcher - 1 + 3 nestlings
Blackcap - 12
Robin - 9
Garden Warbler - 2
Reed Warbler - 13
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Chaffinch - 2
Bullfinch - 2
Dunnock - 2
Sedge Warbler - 1
Swallow - 14 nestlings
Siskin - 27
Coal Tit - 3
Whitethroat - 1
Treecreeper - 2
Wren - 8
Chiffchaff - 10 + 4 nestlings
Willow Warbler - 10
Goldcrest - 3
Greenfinch - 7
Nuthatch - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2
Song Thrush - 2 + 3 nestlings
Magpie - 3
Moorhen - 1 nestling