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)

October 2016 - Yellow-browed Warbler travels inland

A search for superlatives this month as a new species was added to the Group ringing list and we
achieved our highest ever October total.

Yellow-browed Warbler at a ringing research session
Yellow-browed Warbler, Surrey (Carl Hunter Roach)
Chobham was the centre of attention with ringing on three days, two of which saw teams operating in two areas. 605 of the monthly total of 1,218 came from this site, including our first Yellow-browed Warbler on 22nd.

The 31 species included 9 warblers and was led by Lesser Redpoll on 379, Chiffchaff on 197 and Goldcrest on 184. Redwing surprised on 70 but Meadow Pipit were a little below expectations at 57; mainly due to lack of birds and time to target them.

Latest dates for summer migrants were Sedge Warbler on 9th; Lesser Whitethroat on 12th and Reed Warbler on 14th. Ringing details for some controls have already come through and of special interest is a Goldcrest ringed in Yorkshire and caught the same day as the Yellow-browed, giving a good indication of how, and how quickly, it could have reached Chobham.

Sunday 16 October 2016

September 2016 - warbler migration across Berkshire and Surrey

946 birds of 32 species were ringed with migration monitoring at Wraysbury and Tythebarns contributing the most and slightly higher than the last monitoring in 2014 of 924.

Chiffchaff (307) and Blackcap (291) dominated ringing totals; Blackcap early in the month and Chiffchaff later. Reed Warbler switched from reeds (1) to scrub (14) habitat and was last caught at Bedfont on 24th; the last Sedge Warbler was on 7th and Lesser Whitethroat on 15th.

Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler were still present at the last monitoring session on 21st. Surprise catches were Kestrel at Tythebarns and Wraysbury, two Tree Pipits at Wraysbury and a total of 44 Dunnocks and 34 Robins.

August 2016 - the CES season comes to an end

764 new birds were ringed in August which is some way below the last three years when over 1,000 were done.

The CES programmes were completed at Bedfont and Wraysbury and several sessions were held at C6 at Wraysbury.  Good species were Nightjar and Dartford Warbler at Chobham, Sand Martin at Stanwellmoor, Swallow and Pied Wagtail at Wraysbury.

Every main site ringed at least one Willow Warbler giving a total of 56; the last time this total was reached was in 2010. Top species were Whitethroat 135; Blackcap 120 and Chiffchaff 110 although Blackcap seemed scarce everywhere except Wraysbury.

Half of the 74 Reed Warblers came from Bedfont where there was also a good showing of Sedge Warblers.

Thursday 18 August 2016

July 2016 - Barn Owl, Common Tern, Firecrest & House Martin breeding

Birds ringed in July totalled 625 (702 in 2015) with top species Blackcap on 175 (201), well ahead of Chiffchaff on 72 (43), Reed Warbler on 71 (55) and Garden Warbler also 71 (75).

Whitethroat fell to 59 (76) but the 10 warbler species totalled 475 birds (458). Blue Tits only made 13 (50), Great Tit 9 (21) and Lotti 7 (11) following very poor breeding.

The 35 species included 6 Nightjar, 9 House Martins, a Firecrest and a House Sparrow. Common Tern pulli return to the list with 3 at Bedfont and 3 Barn Owls were ringed at Woolley Firs.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

June 2016 - Fieldfare leg found at Tawny Owl nest

260 new birds of 24 species were ringed in June of which 41 were pulli. Last June, when three more sites held sessions, 319 birds were ringed but with an earlier fledging season only 18 pulli ringed.

CES sessions at Bedfont and Wraysbury are both running slightly above their 5-year mean indicating good over-winter survival of adults. As expected, Blue Tit was the most-ringed species with 45 (22 pulli) followed by Long-tailed Tit with 35 and Reed Warbler with 32.

Tythebarns provided a Stock Dove and 3 Jackdaws and Wraysbury some out-of-season Goldfinch. 

Some interesting recoveries were received including: a Fieldfare in Sweden (1,618 km from us) - its leg (and ring) found in a Tawny Owl nest site; a Reed Warbler, ringed 5 years ago at Bedfont recaptured at Frimley Station Lakes; and a Blackcap ringed near Wokingham 5 years and 9 months ago and recaptured near Wraysbury.

Saturday 11 June 2016

May 2016 - CES kicks-off

Collared Dove (E Page)
First an update to the April figures from 66 to 91 as a wandering email surfaced. Still low for the month but an improvement.

In May the start of CES and the possibility of pulli towards the end of the month heightened expectations but cold spells slowed migration and delayed breeding tits. The total of 298 new birds of 29 species included a modest 65 pulli Blue and Great Tits and featured some difficult-to-catch species such as Collared Dove, Magpie and Jackdaw.

Blackcap was top species on 32 with Reed Warbler on 30 and Starling at Wraysbury and Iver Heath totalling 27. 23 Garden Warbler and 22 Whitethroat were high numbers for May and a pair of Siskin at Iver Heath were in breeding condition on 3rd.

A Kingfisher at Wraysbury in May and another at Tythebarns Farm in April added colour to a couple of sessions.

Kingfisher (A Kingston)

Wednesday 8 June 2016

April 2016 - poor weather dominated

April is often a quiet month for numbers, especially if migration is slowed by weather conditions. The weather across April didn't avail itself for netting - a session at one site turned into a ride clearance session and netting opportunities were thin on the ground across the whole of the month - the result was a lowly total of 66 new birds; less than half that of April 2015.

Blackcap featured at most sites but Whitethroat and Chiffchaff were only at Bedfont and Wraysbury and Lesser Whitethroat, Garden and Willow Warbler only at Wraysbury. Top species for the month was Lesser Redpoll when a short visit to Chobham (another session curtailed by windy weather) resulted in 18 new birds, just beating Blackcap on 17.

Sunday 24 April 2016

The work in between sessions…

Sometimes the forecasters get it wrong and we arrive on site to gusts and showers. This morning was one of those times - as the rain fell we cancelled our plans for a bird ringing session and set to maintaining our rides ready for the start of the CES programme.

Trimming rides (Karl Tarratt, 2016)

Monday 18 April 2016

March 2016 - Continental Coal Tit visits Buckinghamshire

A total of 276 new birds in March, 120 of which were Siskin from the Iver Heath garden. With no warblers appearing by the month end, species range was limited but Meadow Pipit and 3 Yellowhammer were ringed at Woolley Firs and a single Dartford Warbler at Chobham.

Continental Coal Tit (C&D Lamsdell)
The plumage of a Coal Tit at Iver Heath on 7th was that of the continental race; conveniently it was also wearing a Belgian ring!

Monday 21 March 2016

February 2016 - Siskins and Little Owl among highlights

There were some late additions to January to boost the total to 186 new birds but February could only reach 164 of 20 species.

Sites struggled to ring 20 birds and it was left to the Iver Heath garden to supply the numbers with 68 Siskin and 20 Goldfinch topping the list. Six Redwing and a Yellowhammer featured at Woolley Firs and a house-caught Little Owl at Tythebarns was the first for 13 years.

January 2016 - Cetti's Warbler, Redwing & Firecrest among highlights

169 birds of 26 species were ringed, with Blue Tit and Great Tit making up 40% of that number.

There were some good species to have on the list in the first month of the year – a Redwing at Tythebarns and 14 at Woolley Firs, Cetti’s Warblers at Bedfont and Stanwellmoor; Blackcap in the Ealing garden; Chiffchaff at Bedfont and Wraysbury, 5 Yellowhammers at Woolley Firs and a Firecrest at Stanwellmoor.

A Willow Warbler, we ringed near Ripley, Surrey last August passed through Main-et-Loirem, France, 413km away only 10 days later.

Sunday 14 February 2016

BBC Radio Interview about Bird Ringing

I was interviewed this weekend on the Andrew Peach show on BBC Radio Berkshire while running a demonstration of bird ringing at a BBOWT site.

Listen: Interview about Bird Ringing at Woolley Firs, a BBOWT Nature Reserve

Friday 22 January 2016

December 2015

Six sites held sessions in December although some were fairly short and wind-affected.

219 new birds of 26 species were ringed with Blue Tit at 41 as top species. Second was Goldcrest at 31 showing that many from the October influx are still around.

Other interesting species was a Sparrowhawk at Stanwellmoor, 5 Great Spotted Woodpecker at Bedfont, 3 Meadow Pipit at Bedfont South Side and 9 Redwing from Wraysbury and Stanwellmoor.

Stanwellmoor also provided 3 Cetti’s Warbler and 3 Chiffchaff, with 10 from Bedfont, one of which had characteristics of Siberian.

Both sites provided Firecrest, the first ever for Stanwellmoor and Bedfont's third this winter. In the absence of Chobham visits, 3 Siskin, 7 Redpoll and 5 Reed Bunting are good totals.