Friday, 1 October 2021

Our bird in Belgium - September 2021

 Details came in of a Lessser Redpoll, we ringed at Chobham in October 2020, was captured twenty days later in Hainaut, Belgium; 300km ESE. Weighing just 12 grammes it still amazes the distances these small birds travel.

Young male Lesser Redpoll in hand
Male Lesser Redpoll

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Dave Harris - September 2021

Sadly, we lost Dave Harris this September. While the members' newsletter is the appropriate place for tributes, I feel I can share a memory of Dave Harris of my own with this blog.

Dave and I spent a week ringing together in The Lebanon, back in 2005. On the plane journey to Beirut we discussed the trip ahead and the birds we hoped to see.

Whilst we were all delighted to handle new species, there was special joy in the group whenever Dave Harris got one as, given his considerable experience, this didn't happen as frequently as it did for the rest of us.

When handling Rock Sparrows and Syrian Serins, new to Dave (and obviously to the rest of us too), his broad experience helped us figure out these novel species – and his beaming smile just reminded us all how special these birds were.

Above all, I’ll remember Dave as one of the country’s gentleman naturalists, delivering valuable insights, respectful to all and always showing enjoyment for what we do.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Warblers & Pipistrelles - July 2021

A quiet month with only 150 birds ringed at three sites. There were no pulli this month though the bulk of the catch was juveniles.

Reed Warblers topped the list with 27 followed by Blackcap at 26 and Chiffchaff at 20. The lower level of activity nationally in the last 18 months is reflected in the absence of controls from other groups though hopefully, this will increase with juvenile dispersal.

We’ll take consolation from a Nathusius’ Pipistrelle ringed by the bat group at Bedfont Lakes in 2016 and killed by a cat close to the tripoint of Russia, Estonia, and Latvia in July – some five years since ringing and a movement of 2018km, a British Bat record.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

A decade of Black-headed Gulls - June 2021

While CES sessions continued in June, let's focus on our Black-headed Gull ringing programme. A boat trip at Bedfont gave access to eleven pairs and twenty chicks were ringed by a two-person team.

Rather timely, a report came in about a gull we ringed as a chick, at this site, in 2010 (ten years and nine months ago) being sighted at Bagshot Lea in March. Black-headed Gulls have been recorded as living past thirty so we hope this individual will be spotted again. But it's great to see the birds we ring again and this one, more so, given the decade that has passed.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Routine bird ringing just around the corner? May 2021

A busier month than April, with 289 birds ringed. While training is still restriced due to social distances, more experienced members of the group were able to get out and run some projects.

May's total includes 27 boxling Blue Tits and good numbers of newly-fledged juveniles. Blue Tit were top species on 62, but House Sparrow and Reed Warbler did well at 30, with Blackcap at 29. Patience secured a Carrion Crow in the Windsor garden – a rarely ringed species for the group.

Reports suggest that the cold spring delayed the caterpillar hatch and failed Blue Tit nests have been noted. No controls were reported this month but there was a sighting of a near 13-year old Black-headed Gull breeding at Bedfont that was ringed at Bedfont.

It was good to see good numbers at our sites and the return of our warblers. With training, one can identify some indivduals as hatching last year. The below Blackcap, was such a bird of 2020, identifed using characterics such as an unmoulted outer greater covert.

Knowing the survival rates of each species tells us much about how species are coping with the pressures, both of breeding in Britain and wintering in Africa.