Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Wagtail delight

In the period since my last post, I have been busy ringing (and entering data!) but the numbers ringed haven't topped the heights of August. However, quality has been in evidence.
We are well into peak migration time for our summer breeders. Some species are largely gone already, whilst some are still in full flow and Blackcap migration seems to have peaked already but will continue for a little while yet.
At Sandy Smith Nature Reserve (SSNR) I've caught a couple of late Reed Warblers (12/09/14), a late Sedge Warbler (13/09/14) and 15 Blackcaps so far in September. Favoured natural food for Blackcaps are the purple Elderberries which have been in abundance in my ringing area - though it was noted the other day that the berries are wilting & dying (perhaps because of age, perhaps continued heat!). 10 Chiffchaffs have accompanied the tit flocks so far in September and just 1 Whitethroat has made an appearance (compared to 3 in 2013, 0 in 2012, 4 in 2011 and 4 in 2010).
And then there's the quality:

Above & Below: A juvenile Yellow Wagtail.

A flock of Yellow Wagtails were in amongst the sheep and cattle on SSNR. A roost session produced just the 1 bird - the first of this species ringed here. The site list is now up to 50 species ringed, with one other species - Mute Swan - ringed elsewhere.
The main species missing from the ringing list  at SSNR (because they haven't been targeted and might prove more difficult to catch) are Skylark, Woodpigeon, Snipe, Swallow, Stonechat and Whinchat.

The following day, in my usual ringing area, a surprise in the nets (it wasn't seen beforehand) was:

Above: A juvenile Spotted Flycatcher (3rd ringed on site following singles in 2011 & 2013).

On Monday 22nd, on a walk around the reserve, a large number of Meadow Pipits were observed (50+), as were a number of Skylarks but best of all - 2 Stonechats in the mist (they were gone by lunch time). I later observed a fox at quite a distance, hunting for food in broad daylight.

My other site - Priory Country Park (PCP) - has been producing good numbers too now that the CES restrictions are lifted. In September, of the migrants, we've ringed 3 more Reed Warblers, 36 Blackcap, 18 Chiffchaff and 2 Willow Warblers. Of the birds coming to the feeding station, 42 have been new Blue Tits and 37 of the Great Tit variety whilst 11 have been Chaffinches. Our first two juvenile Bullfinches of the year were ringed too - surprising that we didn't ring any juveniles during the CES season.

I have commented previously that it has been a good year for Goldcrest - 6 juveniles have been ringed this month so far at PCP (making 10 for the year).

It won't be long now until we are graced with species that migrate to our country to spend winter with us (some may already be here). I personally look forward to Lesser Redpoll and Siskin migration most. Lets hope for favourable weather to bring them to our shores!

I hope to run another ringing session at Priory on Sunday 28th September - with a demonstration for the Guided Bird Walk - meeting 9am at the visitor centre.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The last two weekends...

Since my last post, I have made 2 ringing visits to Priory Country Park and 2 to Sandy Smith Nature Reserve.
The visits to Priory Country Park have been the last two of the Constant Effort Survey season. All 12 visits were made again this year for the 4th year in a row. Each one of the 12 visits can be compared to the corresponding visit on previous years allowing us to monitor breeding success and abundance by taking standardised population 'samples'.
The final CES totals for 2014 are:
Woodpigeon 2 (0)
Green Woodpecker 3 (2)
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 (0)
Wren 19 (14)
Dunnock 21 (13)
Robin 22 (13)
Blackbird 24 (15)
Song Thrush 7 (0)
Reed Warbler 10 (0)
Whitethroat 15 (8)
Garden Warbler 26 (6)
Blackcap 104 (8)
Chiffchaff 16 (4)
Goldcrest 4 (0)
Long-Tailed Tit 2 (1)
Blue Tit 23 (3)
Great Tit 13 (6)
Treecreeper 2 (0)
Magpie 2 (0)
Chaffinch 2 (0)
Goldfinch 4 (1)
Bullfinch 4 (2)
A total of 326 new birds and 89 retraps (415 total handlings) of 22 species. N.B. Totals include an extra visit (April pre-CES), extra nets on all visits and some 'after official hours' captures.
Blackcap (as is usual for this site) had most captures and it seems as though this was a good year for them. Disappointing was the lack of Bullfinch juveniles (none were ringed). A control Chiffchaff early in the season was a highlight as were 3 new and 2 recaptured Green Woodpeckers (involving 4 birds and including 2 juveniles) - usually one a year is what we might expect. 2 juvenile Magpies were unusual for CES and Goldcrests seem to have had a good year (benefitting from higher survival rates due to a very mild winter).
Away from Priory Country Park, the 2 visits to Sandy Smith Nature Reserve were particularly productive with 130 captures on 24th and 151 on 31st August!
There were some notables amongst the catches:

Above: A juvenile Green Woodpecker - the first juvenile to be ringed here

Above: A Chiffchaff - this one was a little reluctant to leave my hand after being set free, allowing me a unique photograph opportunity. It soon flew off strongly when gently encouraged to do so.

Above: The Mute Swans in this photograph were both ringed, but only one was colour ringed (the top one) thus allowing me to read the ring no. This bird was ringed on The Embankment in Bedford last year. It represents the first Mute Swan in the database for SSNR. Until the other one is colour ringed, I probably won't get a good enough sight of the metal ring to read it.

Other notables were:

Treecreeper - a recapture at 344 days setting a new longevity record for the site (90 days previously).

Blackcap - a British ringed control was caught on 31st August. It'll be nice to find out where this (a juvenile) came from.

Reed Warbler - 3 juveniles represent the first 3 juveniles ringed on site (the only other records of this species being 2 adults in previous years. I don't think they breed on site so these must be passage migrants.

Kingfisher - a single bird became the 3rd juvenile of the year (an adult was also ringed earlier in the year).

As the session on 31/08/14 was my largest for the site - here are the details:

Mute Swan 0 (1)
Kingfisher 1 (0)
Wren 2 (1)
Dunnock 4 (3)
Robin 0 (1)
Blackbird 1 (0)
Song Thrush 1 (0)
Reed Warbler 2 (0)
Whitethroat 2 (0)
Blackcap 11 (9)
Chiffchaff 4 (0)
Willow Warbler 4 (0)
Goldcrest 1 (0)
Long Tailed TIt 11 (3)
Blue Tit 21 (22)
Great Tit 15 (25)
Treecreeper 0 (1)
Chaffinch 0 (1)
Goldfinch 4 (0) - the first at this site all year (despite the food I put out)

I suspect September is going to be a very good month as passage migration continues. Watch this space!