Saturday, 24 November 2012

Large and Little

As I was driving into Sandy Smith Nature Reserve (SSNR) this morning a Buzzard (Large) was sat on a post nearby (the other week it was on a post next to the road) but a surprise came a little further on in the form of a bird of prey (Little) sat on a fence. It let me stop the car, roll down my window and even reverse my car to get a better camera angle without flying away. It was all of about 2/3 metres away.

Above: Merlin at Sandy Smith Nature Reserve today (24/11/12).

Given that this bird did't fly away as soon as the car came near, I had to check that it was ok. On exiting the car it did fly away so yes, it was ok and it was definitely not plastic! Not wanting to disturb it any more and wanting to get on with my ringing session before the rain arrived, I carried on.

Todays ringing session produced 40 birds of which 13 were new and 27 retraps as follows:

Great Spotted Woodpecker 0 (1) - a new longevity record for the site at 1 year, 348 days.
Wren 1 (1)
Robin 0 (1)
Goldcrest 1 (0)
Long Tailed Tit 0 (2) - one being a new longevity record for the site at 2 years, 80 days.
Coal Tit 0 (2)
Blue Tit 4 (11)
Great Tit 0 (9)
Treecreeper 2 (0)
Chaffinch 2 (0)
Goldfinch 1 (0)
Lesser Redpoll 2 (0)

Above: One of 2 Treecreepers ringed at SSNR today (the 2nd & 3rd ringed at this site).

That is now 5 new Goldcrests for SSNR this year (none previously) and 24 Lesser Redpolls (including this Autumn (35 this year).
A ringing session at SSNR on 11th November produced 37 new and 27 retraps:

Wren 6 (0)
Dunnock 0 (2)
Robin 0 (1)
Blackcap 1 (0) - the first winter record for this species at SSNR.
Goldcrest 2 (0)
Long Tailed Tit 9 (7)
Blue Tit 8 (7)
Great Tit 4 (9)
Chaffinch 4 (1)
Lesser Redpoll 3 (0)

The notable bird here being a winter record of Blackcap. Again, more Goldcrests and more Lesser Redpolls. I need 186 more captures to beat last years total number of handlings. I may get 2 or 3 more sessions but I am unlikely to make it - I'll try though!
On the weekend between the 2 catches above, I went to Gloucester to see family. On the Sunday (18th Nov) I managed a ringing session at my Dad's house in the Cotswolds:

Dunnock 3 (2)

Blackbird 1 (1)
Blackcap 1 (0) - A new species for this site
Goldcrest 4 (0) - A new species for this site
Long Tailed Tit 7 (0)
Coal Tit 1 (0)
Blue Tit 13 (5)
Great Tit 1 (0)
House Sparrow 4 (0)

Given that I don't ring this site very often at all (my last session there was last Christmas), most retraps are likely to produce a longevity record for the site.
The retrap male Blackbird was first ringed 2 years, 285 days before its later recapture. I assume this is one of a ringed pair my dad regularly reports as coming to feed on the scraps he is always putting out for the birds.
One of the retrap Blue Tits was first ringed 2 years and 327 days previously (now the oldest record for the site).

Above: Male Blackcap - a good winter record at my Dad's house in the Cotswolds. I have seen Blackcap maybe once or twice before at his house in 20 years.

As ususal, I hope to be able to share more bird ringing news soon! Wish me luck... and dry weather!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

From dawn till dusk

Normally, I'm up at the crack of dawn to ring birds when they're at their most active. Today, the weather forecast predicted rain so I stayed in doing chores. Having found the card reader, I can now take the photographs off my camera and show you some of the birds I've caught when I've been up early.

Above: A Lesser Redpoll ringed at Priory Country Park. This bird had been ringed by another ringer on another site somewhere in Britain. I will post the original ringing details of this bird when it comes through (it may take a while!). This came out of the nets shortly after dawn and the lucky people who came to the guided bird walk on 28th October got to see this bird.

I've had a successful time catching this species both at Priory CP and Sandy Smith NR, having doubled the previous ringing totals for this species at both sites.

Above: A Woodpigeon ringed at Priory Country Park in September.

Above: I renewed my friendship with this Green Woodpecker, also in September. My first retrapping of this species at over 1 year since it was first ringed by me.

Above: A Goldcrest - a new species for Sandy Smith Nature Reserve ringing list.

As the days are shorter, I've been staying out most of the day with my ringing which has worked out nicely on occasion, particularly in catching Goldfinches at Proiry CP.

Above: The spectacular sunset over Bedford from Wednesday 7th November. And no, I wasn't driving, or cycling when taking this photograph (I was sat in the passenger seat). There have been several good sunsets recently and this leads me nicely onto dusk.

Dusk is a time when birds go to roost and lately my thoughts have been turning towards catching birds coming to roost. Having done some chores and desperate to get out ringing, myself and Mike put 4 nets around the outside of a reedbed roost produced the following (retraps in brackets):

Wren 2 (1)
Great Tit 0 (2)
Goldcrest 2 (2)
Blue Tit 4 (5)
Long Tailed Tit 0 (4)
Chiffchaff 1 (0)
Reed Bunting 5 (0)

And lastly one special bird, a species I haven't ringed before.

Above: A Corn Bunting.

The Corn Bunting is the species depicted on the Ivel Ringing Group logo so it's about time we started catching them again!