Monday, 3 July 2017

A tale of two (Constant Effort) sites - May 2017

May saw the start of the Constant Effort season with three visits at both Bedfont and Wraysbury, but there were differing fortunes at the two sites.

Bedfont reported numbers well up to their 5-year averages for new and retrap birds whereas Wraysbury was well down on expectations e.g. new warblers were only 79 against a projected 121.

Total new birds ringed for the month was 318 of which 123 were full-grown. The 195 pulli were from Tythebarns, Surrey and Woolley Firs. Woolley Firs had Nuthatch, a new species for the boxes there.

Several fledgelings were captured by the month end – Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Wren and Blue Tit at Bedfont with Wraysbury adding Blackcap and Chiffchaff. So an interesting start to the season and all the more reason to support forthcoming CES sessions to see how it develops.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Migrants return from Africa and our winter visitors are back in Scotland - April 2017

A good showing of migrants along with more site visits gave a monthly total of 236 of 35 species.

Highlights were a Snipe, 2 Woodlark (doubling the Group adult total), a Tree Pipit, 4 Dartford Warblers and 30 Lesser Redpolls; all from Chobham.

Top species was Blackcap on 34, the Redpoll on 30 and Chiffchaff on 28; 12 Sedge Warblers were noteworthy. Although there were no new Lesser Whitethroat ringed there were at least 3 returning birds at Bedfont and Wraysbury – which also saw a Willow Warbler returning nearly six years after ringing.

Other controls came as Siskin and Lesser Redpoll returned to their breeding areas in the Scottish Highlands with good results for Tythebarns and Iver Heath.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Poor weather diminishes ringing sessions - March 2017

Another month of minimal activity with only 55 new birds ringed. Woolley Firs had the most sessions and birds, including 8 Meadow Pipit, a Redwing, Blackcap and Firecrest whilst Chobham produced 2 Dartford Warblers.

Totals ringed in the first quarter of 2017 are, at 276, barely better than half the usual 400-500. 2016 was exceptional at 631 - helped by 188 Siskins and 140 Blue Tits. Siskins have been scare this year and the poor Blue Tit breeding season of last summer is made clear at our feeding station sites.

Black-headed Gulls surprise in Heston - February 2017

A quiet month for ringing with only 65 birds of 16 species ringed. Two adult Black-headed Gulls were unusual in the Heston garden; there were also two Ring-necked Parakeets, a Redwing and two Yellowhammers to add to the winter totals.

Woolley Firs had a Redwing retrap a year after ringing and details came in for the Belgian continental Coal Tit from March 2016.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Yellowhammers doing well - January 2017

A fairly slow start to the year with low catches per session at those sites that opened nets. 156 new birds were ringed, with top place being taken by Dunnock on 27, just ahead of Blue Tit on 26.

5F Fieldfare (A V Kingston)
The 22 species included several that are hard to come by, with a Fieldfare at Tythebarns a good catch, and 16 Redwing in total.

Fieldfare - heavy wear to tail tips, compared to adults, indicate this bird hatched in 2016.

Birds in their first year put less energy into building feather strength favouring as quick as possible exit from their nests where they are vulnerable to predators.

Among 96 ringed at Woolley Firs there were together with the site's first Bullfinch and a magnificent 10 Yellowhammers.

A novel recovery headed our retraps this month. A ring placed on a Barn Owl at a nest in September 1987 was found by a metal detectorist at the end of 2016! The ring hadn't travelled far and the bird had long since perished so there is little to add to the story - but we don't get many of these.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

December 2016 - a month of bunting, finches and Redwing

A good month with at least 502 new birds to round the year off, especially as the top species was Redwing with 173.

Finch species featured highly with 22 Goldfinch; 15 Linnet at Woolley Firs, and small numbers of Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Lesser Redpoll at other sites.

Woolley Firs had 12 Yellowhammer and 19 Reed Bunting; with a Firecrest from the woods. Blackcap were at Bedfont, Woolley Fir and Iver Heath and Chiffchaff were 4 at Bedfont and one at Wraysbury.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

November 2016 - Redpoll at Chobham Common

221 new birds were ringed in November with most activity at Chobham Common. 70% (154) were Lesser Redpoll but the balance did include some nice species – the first Common Redpoll for over three years, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, 3 Dartfords and 7 Redwing at Chobham, a Firecrest at Bedfont, a Cetti’s Warbler and 4 Chiffchaff at Stanwellmoor and 2 Lesser Redpoll at Tythebarns.

More recoveries details of redpolls at Chobham were received and there was a very rapid return for a Chiffchaff from Wraysbury – close to the south coast just 21 hours after ringing.

Common Redpoll are noticeably larger than Lessers and with a proportion of white that looks like its been "washed" into their plumage.

Common Redpoll (Andrew Kingston)
Broad head of Common Redpoll (Andrew Kingston)
Rump of Common Redpoll (Andrew Kington)