WELCOME TO THE SORBY BRECK RINGING GROUP BLOG
The 'Blog' will include interesting anecdotes and photos to illustrate the groups ringing activities throughout the year. We hope you enjoy them.
Saturday morning dawned beautiful, crisp and clear, if a little cold and I looked forward to a ringing session at 70 Acres Wood with fellow ringers. 70 acres is a big site and we set up in two separate ringing teams to try and catch the target birds, Redpoll. The site is rich in Birch and Alder and has relatively large flocks of these tree-feeding finches. However, the numbers were a little lower than expected this morning and ringing was slow, with my group just managing to reach double figures (although the other group fared better and ~40 birds were ringed in total). The ringing of two Jays made it all worthwhile though, a retrapped adult and a new juvenile. The juvenile could have caught us out as it had a very adult tail, but it only had 9 (10 faint) bars on its outermost GC and the carpal covert appeared to be a retained feather, being a duller, more sullied blue on each wing (see picture below). Sean
Jay (Photo courtesy of David Atkinson)
As I mentioned last week, I thought I might attempt to ring at the Redwing roost on Saturday. We set up our nets in the afternoon, but the Redwing did not materialise. However, I was amply compensated as we managed to ring a Fieldfare, which was a new bird for me. Eleanor.
Stuart and I had a very quiet morning and were just about to call it a day when a male Sparrowhawk obligingly flew into the net, ending proceedings very nicely. We set up in the dark, and disturbed the roost at the bottom of the site which has grown to some size, judging by the number (and noise) of Redwing that flew off in the dark. It really did sound like there are some sizeable numbers there. I think that may be next weekend's ringing! Eleanor.
Maintaining our collaborations with local Ringing Groups, Mick from South Notts ringing group joined me at Williamthorpe nature reserve recently to see how we go about catching Snipe, so he could then put this into practise on his own site.
So, on Tuesday 1st December, Mick set up some nets on his Roll's Royce site and was duly rewarded with a couple of Snipe.
Snipe are notoriously tricky to age, especially at this time of year, and we have been using a variety of features, including those published in the wader guide and the recently cited contrast in the humeral coverts. As an extra feature, we are looking at the shape and patterning on the secondaries, notably the shape of the tips and the width of the white tips.
I have included 2 photographs of Snipe wings below and would be interested to receive feedback from ringers on the features of the secondaries mentioned, also taking into account other ageing features visible. Given the limitaions of the just seeing a photo and not the bird in the hand, what age do people think these birds are? Please use the e-mail address for feedback: email@example.com
The Jackdaw below was ringed by Mark Jeffery at Bakewell Sewage Farm. We don't catch many Jackdaws as a group, so this was a nice bird for Mark who started ringing earlier this year.
After several reports of Cetti's Warbler sightings around our area, it was not that much of a surprise when this cracking 3 female was found in a mist net at Blackburn Meadows this morning. Kevin.
As indicated above, it has probably been a very good year for Cetti's if the rush of recent sightings in the area is anything to go by. The note from John Cranfield of Stanford Ringing Group, near Leicester, reiterates this.
I was interested to see your Cetti's on the web. We caught our first ever at Stanford in 2005, then singles again in 2006 and 2007. Amazingly, this year we have ringed two and last week we had a control which was ringed as a 4F in Wiltshire in April. It appears that it is a good year for them.
October has seen an impressive passage of Redwings at our upland sites with the Meadow Pipit triangle at Ramsley being replaced by a Redwing triangle. Provided ringing starts before dawn Redwings feature well. 17 has been our best morning with over 80 ringed so far. Fingers crossed for recoveries as their movements continue through the winter. Geoff
Large numbers of Greenfinch are still present in the Sheffield area with another 37 being caught at Tankersley to the North of the city today. Being set amongst farmland, the majority of the birds caught were finches, with good numbers of goldfinch being ringed as well. The site also does well for Yellowhammer, with 7 birds ringed today. Pride of place for the morning though, goes to the first bird ringed, a Little Owl. It just shows that the early starts are worth it. And finally, a surprise bird with the finch flocks was a Reed Bunting, which in the presence of a visiting ringer from Castleford was checked carefully....but that's another story.
Earlier this month, we featured a Common Snipe caught at Blackburn Meadows NR. Another early start yielded its close relative, the Jack Snipe, only the second caught at the site. The ageing characteristics were intermediate beween those mentioned in the wader guide and the bird was aged as a 2. Although the mild weather means that the Snipe are not present in large numbers yet, Redwings were calling overhead as we set up in the dark and two Water Rails were heard calling. The winter visitors are arriving in force!
A ringing session this morning on our moorland site at Ramsley produced good numbers of birds, about 150 in total, with a large proportion of Greenfinches. Greenfinches seem to be around in large numbers as 20 were caught at another group site on the same morning. This is probably a result of the exceptional berry crop this Autumn. However, the highlight of the morning was a male Crossbill which was obviously associating with the Greenfinch. This provided one of our more senior (but young at heart) ringers with a new species to ring. It will be interesting to see if this is a one off, or if more of this species are around as well.
With October heralding the arrival of these handsome winter visitors, we thought it was worth giving this bird a re-entry on the blog. In August 2007, Geoff and I were on the lookout for a new woodland ringing site in the Upper Derwent Valley. We chose an area well off the beaten track and in a quiet area of the forest. The site was in an area of mixed woodland and being situated in a valley, there was a stream nearby. After erecting a bird table and two feeders, we were ready to start ringing. The first time out, we put a couple of nets at right angles to each other with the feeders in the middle and a brisk ringing session followed with the usual mix of woodland birds - Chaffinches, Coal Tits and Goldcrests and a few other common species.
However, by mid-November the site had proved to be well chosen as we had ringed over 500 birds including a Great Grey Shrike and 2 Firecrests.
Starting them young (04/10/2009)
The photo below shows a picture of 9 year old Ruby (the one on the right!). She had a very enjoyable morning ringing and was particularly adept at handling the birds for someone so young. Our youngest ringer and star in the making perhaps.
Ringing on Ramsley MoorThe Meadow Pipit ringing on Ramsley Moor has gone well this year, with more than 450 birds ringed. An article comparing this year's season to the 'Redpoll Year' in 2008 will appear in November, but the photos below (taken by Heather) show some of the ageing characteristics for Meadow Pipits. An article published earlier on the site with details on how to distinguish Tree Pipits and Meadow Pipits can be found by following this link:
The photo above shows a juvenile wing with a contrast between the pale edged juvenile outer greater coverts and the moulted inner ones with a warm brown edge.
This is the wing of an adult bird with all the outer greater coverts edged a warm brown. The bird is still moulting its flight feathers with a moulting Secondary showing clearly on the photograph.
This is a young bird that has replaced its central tail feathers.
Another shot of a juvenile bird, this time clearly showing signs of post juvenile moult on its head.
Due to the status of these rare breeding birds, no details of the nest can be given, and the chicks are now safely fledged. However, the delightful photograph below, shows why these charming birds should be protected from persecution.
Trapped at Ramsley today, this juvenile male Reed Bunting had a very unusual tail as the grey waxy sheaths that usually surround the bases of all feathers whilst they are growing seem to have continued to grow with the feathers (see photo below). The tail, which acts as a rudder, will be less effective in steering the bird and may well affect its survival. Ive seen this once before, in Cambridgeshire in September 2005, involving two Carrion Crows which had only two inches of feather vane functioning at the ends of their primaries, and the wings appeared grey from a distance. One managed to fly as high as twelve feet but the other was in difficulty and ran and flopped about. Perhaps some of you have also seen this before. Will todays bird survive?
(Photo courtesy of Paul Hooper)
Not a lot of text for this one, just some photos to illustrate that group members and close colleagues have ringed 3 of the European crake species this year. Will the autumn bring a Sora?
Little Crake - ringed in Cyprus, April 2009
Baillon's Crake - ringed in France, August 2009
Spotted Crake - ringed in France, August 2009
I thought it was time for another none bird picture - well not quite as there is a bird, an immature House Martin, but the subject of the picture is a flatfly. The size of the insect compared with the bird is clear to see. Most trainee ringers are shocked to catch their first Swifts or House Martins covered with them. These blood sucking flies belong to the family Hippoboscidae which are parasitic upon mammals or birds. Each species in the family has a flattened body with well developed claws to cling. The family are viviparous. The female hatches a single egg within her body and the larva develops there until full grown. The well developed larva is extruded and pupates resembling a smooth rounded berry or seed rather than an insect pupa. This wonderful flightless beast is Stenepteryx hirundinis. Another species Crataerhina pallida is sometimes found on House Martins but the Swift is its true host. These are even bigger. To put it into context, it would be the equivalent of having headlice the size of a small pizza. Makes your hair crawl - literally!!
Meadow Pipits are starting to collect on the moorland fringe at Ramsley
Pools prior to longer movements. Today we ringed 30 along with 2 Tree
Pipits. Bryn ringed his first Sparrowhawk after countless near misses.
He is still smiling!
Thursday 27th of August was a landmark day - the date of our last visit to the CES site at Blackburn Meadows. The season has been a good one for juvenile birds and the site is excellent for most species of common warblers, but as it has been ringed continuously for the last 4 years, new birds in the net are a bit of a rarity. So it was a pleasant surprise to get 2 new species to ring on the last CES day.
The day really brought 3 new species to the site, at least for myself and Kevin, because as we were putting up our first net through the reeds, an owl species swooped low over our heads. If we had been ready 10 minutes earlier, this might have been the first in a hat-trick of new species for the CES. Although we were unsure whether it was a Tawny or a Long-Eared Owl (it was 5am and pitch dark) neither species had been seen by us before at the site.
This good start was followed, as mentioned above, by 2 new birds which we were able to ring. The first was a juvenile Swallow, maybe a bird from the small roost that uses the reed bed at Blackburn Meadows. However, pride of place for the morning and possibly the season, went to a juvenile Pied Flycatcher.
The photo below is possibly a case of 'only a mother could love these'. The two larger Barn Owl chicks were ringed but the smaller ones were left for a few more days until they were ready. Harry, featured anonymously in the photo below, has done exceptionally well with Swallow pulli again this year. At the time of writing, he is a few short of 1000 birds and still has 15 nests to check. This tremendous effort is a valuable contribution towards studying the migration of this talismanic symbol of Summer, and to monitoring its fortunes as the climate continues to change. Well done Harry!
The photograph below shows an adult female rook ringed at a feeding area laid out by the owner, Dr Karen Hinckley. This was about 20ft away from the house. The bird was likely to have been incubating eggs or feeding young at the rookery 70 to 100 yds away, which contained between 20 and 30 active nests.
Photo courtesy of C. Briggs
Ringing at Haddon (05/08/2009)
Photo courtesy of Geoff Mawson
Not the best photos of a Grasshopper Warbler, but this yellow-looking specimen is a special one, as it is the tenth new bird ringed at Bondhay this year. We have caught twelve so far, two of which are retraps. Thanks, Eleanor.
Most of the photographs of birds on our blog show pictures of birds in the hand, just after they have been ringed. These are excellent close up shots, but do not show the birds in their natural habitat. Thanks to group member Alan Heeley, a very accomplished wildlife photographer, the picture below is of a Kingfisher ringed at Palterton, Derbyshire, two days previously by Geoff Mawson. The composition of the photograph is excellent and shows the bird in all its natural glory.
An interesting week saw a run of slightly unusual birds, at least from a ringing perspective. The week has produced a different highlight each day including another Redstart, a Mistle Thrush, a Kingfisher, three Grasshopper Warblers, a Magpie and finally a hybrid Swallow x House Martin. With numbers of birds being caught also increasing daily, now really is the time to be out and about. The juvenile Mistle Thrush, ringed at Williamthorpe, is pictured below. Thanks to Heather for the photograph.
With the Constant Effort Site season in full swing, more and more young birds are beginning to feature in our visit totals. Willow Warbler adults are in full moult after what looks like a more successful breeding season with their numbers greater than Chiffchaff. Saturday's visit produced a sign of a wider post juvenile dispersal. It came in the form of a juvenile Redstart, an unusual bird for Williamthorpe. The Redstart was also ringed so its details will provide ringers with some idea of its ringing and breeding locality.
Regular visitors to the blog will know that we have a strong association with raptor species, with the group having been involved in ringing a number of Peregrine nests this year. The following article describes our involvment with two more species of these magnificent birds.
With our successful Goshawk nests having fledged it is time to feature this impressive raptor. We do appreciate the major role Severn Trent play in supporting these birds and our activities. The Nestwatch Scheme in the Peak does bring together the important land owners such as Severn Trent, Forrest Enterprise and the National Trust, who work in partnership with raptor experts. This species does suffer persecution in Derbyshire and part of our routine within this partnership is to take down feathers from the chicks for DNA analysis. Studies so far show that all Goshawks in our area originate from three separate females. Use of this DNA has also helped to bring a conviction against someone for taking chicks from one of the nests we monitor. Its been a hectic Goshawk season made easier because of the actions of Richard Dale in coordinating our efforts and seeing young Goshawks hunting through the woodlands.
Kestrels, although much more common, are no less impressive. A number of Kestrel boxes were erected during the winter months in the hope of increasing the number of chicks ringed by our group. Only a few have been used but with over 30 young Kestrels ringed the project has been agreed an initial success. Derbyshire Countryside Services have again been proactive in providing sites and assistance. Our thanks to Jim, Alan and Aiden for their help. The recoveries section of our website shows how widely these small raptors disperse from our area. Geoff.
In 2008 Richard and I began a nest box scheme at Hagg Farm, near Ladybower reservoir. There were already a considerable number of boxes there from various studies over the years, but we hoped for some more occupants for the 12 new boxes we had erected. We were well pleased with the 28 Pied Flycatcher pulli we ringed last year but were even more hopeful with a further 10 boxes put up this year in February.
At the beginning of the 2009 breeding season we had 38 boxes erected and mapped and look forward to some good ringing. Unfortunately, things have not been as successful as we had hoped! Only 6 boxes have been used by Pied Flycatchers with only 16 young ringed. Two of the boxes contained broods which had not managed to fledge, when we returned to ring them. We also managed to ring 34 Blue Tits and 3 Coal Tits, but again one box of Blue Tits we visited had dead pulli.inside.
Hopefully we shall manage to get the number of boxes up to 50 for 2010 and keep our fingers crossed that the scheme is more successful than this year's. It would be very interesting to know the box occupancy rate by Pied Flycatchers for other nest box schemes, both in the Sorby Breck Ringing area and further afield, and to know if anyone else has experienced boxes full of dead young this year. Please contact us to send us your thoughts.
It seems to have been a good year for Wood Warblers locally, with birds singing in a good number of locations, and several birds being ringed by group members. Members of the group who work at the University of Sheffield are also carrying out a colour ringing study on this species. The majority of records are from deciduous woodland; prime habitat for this exquisite Phylloscopus Warbler. The bird pictured below, however, was ringed in a conifer plantation in the Derwent Valley. A productive morning included a good number of Siskins as well.
Photograph courtesy of David Hodkinson
An early morning session at Ringinglow produced a nice selection of birds, despite the weather being a little windier than forecast. Birds included Willow Warbler, Bullfinch and Siskin, with juveniles of several species, including Coal Tit. The star bird of the morning, however, was a female Jay, this being the second to be ringed at the site in recent months.
Owls and Raptors
Little Owl (May 09)
Barn Owl (May 09)
Common Buzzard (May 09)
Golden Eagle (May 09)
The groups involvement with these beautiful birds continued in a different vein today, with the ringing and release of an adult bird that had been trapped in pigeon netting a few days earlier. The close co-operation of 2 ringing groups helped to return this Peregrine to the building (and territory) where it had been found. With the pigeon netting which had entangled the bird now removed, the Peregrine was ringed and released none the worse for its experiences.
Sorby Breck Ringing Group coordinated the release of the bird but, as already mentioned, this success story would not have been possible without the help of others. John Cranfield of the local Stanford Ringing Group provided advice to the company who owned the building on how to establish nest ledges. This should help to encourage breeding in subsequent years. Lee Butler, a falconer, saw the bird of prey that he had rescued, free to hunt in its territory again.
I would like to thank everyone who helped with this rescue.
The bird is ringed
The bird has a hood on to prevent stress
Ready to go!
Peregrine Falcons are stunning birds and a few pairs nest in suitable habitat in the Derbyshire and South Yorkshire region. These are monitored by dedicated individuals and where possible are ringed by the group to study the birds and track their fortunes. Dave Atkinson and I were pleased to have the opportunity to be involved in ringing 3 chicks at a limestone quarry in Derbyshire.
The nest was on a sheer face of the quarry but our climber, Dave Frost, made a difficult descent look ridiculously easy!
When ringing raptors at the nest, it is important to minimise disturbance and the operation needs to be well planned. From starting the climb to being on our way was only a matter of 15 minutes. The chicks were lowered down to the quarry floor by Dave Frost, where they were quickly ringed with a BTO metal ring and an orange colour ring with a 3 digit number . The colour ringing enables the birds to be identified without recapture as the numbers are visible with binoculars or a telescope. These particular colour rings will identify the birds to the Derbyshire region.
Rings are fitted to one of the male chicks (top) and the female
There were 3 chicks in the nest, and although they were still downy, they were now starting to be recognisable as Peregrine Falcons. There were 2 males and a female. A sample of down was removed from each bird and was sent away for DNA analysis. This enables each bird to be identified individually by its DNA profile, information which has been used to successfully prosecute in instances where chicks have been taken from the nest.
The female chick
Dave Atkinson, Geoff and myself would like to express our sincere thanks to Dave Frost and 'Mouse' (the climbers), Mick Lacey and the quarry owner, without whose efforts none of this would be possible. Thanks also to Dave Atkinson for the photographs.
Our particular thanks go to the quarry owner for his support in enabling a rare breeding bird to have a secure nesting site.
Further information regarding Peregrines in Derbyshire can be found by visiting the Derby Cathedral Peregrine website (see link below). There is a short video of the birds being ringed.Derby Cathedral Peregrines
A camera shy swan or an exhibitionist White Stork?
An interesting photograph below shows a White Stork (escape) standing
in front of a Mute Swan which had been colour ringed by Dan - Y131 as
can clearly be seen in the attached photo, which was on 28th March 2009
at Ossett Sewage Farm.
Ringing at Normanton Springs (28/05/2009)
After an early and breezy start, a morning ringing at Normanton Springs proved to be a fruitful couple of hours. All in all, I had a nice mix of species with the highlight of the morning being a Grasshopper Warbler (with another one reeling). A party of 15 Long Tailed Tits that grew to 21 around me certainly boosted the morning's numbers; the flock contained 18 juvenile birds. I also ringed a juvenile Robin (see below).
I'm feeling no small sense of satisfaction at ringing three Grasshopper
Warblers at Bondhay this morning. Other good birds included 6 Whitethroat
(two of which were returning from last year) a Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Willow
Warblers and a Bullfinch. Yesterday, I did two Lapwing. Stuart found the
first and then just as we were going to call it a day, I found another.
Smiles all round. I haven't taken any shots of birds recently so I thought
I'd send you something different - a Dingy Skipper taken this afternoon
near Whitwell. Can't imagine why it got its name.
(Photo courtesy of Eleanor Wilkins)
Friday 8th May proved to be a successful day for seeing and ringing young birds. I started the day off well by ringing two young Mistle Thrushes that had nested in the quad at school. The nest was only about 8 feet high in a conifer and although in full view of over 300 children who ate their dinner in the dining room overlooking the quad, not one child had noticed the parent birds going in to feed the young!
Jim Alder then showed me the Blue Tits that had decided to use one of the bird feeders as a nest box. He was about to give it a good clean out with a stick the other week when he saw the nest being built in the bottom. There are now at least 9 healthy young Blue Tits demanding to be fed!
(Photos Courtesy of Dave Atkinson)
A trip to Kevin's new site at Woodhouse Tip produced a good mix of Warblers and this stunning female Green Woodpecker.
(Photo courtesy of Kevin Bower)
A pair of Brambling were the pick of the bunch in a pleasant morning's ringing at Ringinglow. The majority of the 32 birds processed were finches, with Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Chaffinch present in good number. Unusually, we had to wait until the last 2 birds of the day to ring a Coal Tit.
Dippers are now back on territory in the Derbyshire Dales, but they are
still at an eary stage of nest building.
(Photo courtesy of Paul Hooper)
I have had frog spawn in my garden pond since the 1st March, and on a pleasantly warm day I also recorded a 16-spot Ladybird and a Buff-tailed Bumblebee in the garden. However, for myself and Kevin, a ringing session at Blackburn Meadows Nature Reserve produced a real sign of Spring, our first Chiffchaff. One was also ringed at Renishaw Park on the same day by Bryn.
After reading the article on dazzling Woodcock in the recent issue of the Ringers' Bulletin, I was keen to have a go myself and have been researching the subject for the past few months. So earlier this week, Bryn and I went out in the evening to a site where we had seen Woodcock flying about and had flushed them when ringing in the morning. When we arrived at the site, we were disappointed to find that the fields were being grazed by cows, and although we could see eyes shining back, we weren't sure whether they were Woodcock or Rabbits. However, we set about to do a bit of ringing and had only just set up when we were lucky enough to catch and ring a Woodcock. The photos below are courtesy of Bryn.
The following link will take you to a short film about ringing Ravens on Millstone Edge. The film illustrates how climbers and conservationists can work together to protect rare nesting birds, Ravens having raised chicks successfully at the site for several years. Thanks to John Atkin and Flo Richardson of Sorby Breck Ringing Group, Henry Falkard of the British Mountaineering Council, Tim Melling of the RSPB, Amelia for her expertise in converting and uploading the film, and to anyone else who helped to make the film possible. Although not taken this year (the film was made in 2007) the Raven pulli are normally ringed in mid-March.
Below are a couple of photographs of a Jack Snipe and a Common Snipe. Well worth the 4.30 am start! Williamthorpe is proving to be an important site for these two Snipe species, both for overwintering and as a stop over. More details can be found about this in the article 'Ringing Jack Snipe and Common Snipe at Williamthorpe' (see our articles section)
Photos courtesy of Paul Hooper
I remember thinking, meet at 6am, Bryn, in February? Well the first bird showed how wise that was, a superb first-winter Long-eared Owl.
The morning continued to be extremely productive with 30 Lesser Redpoll, our target species, ringed in various plumages. A total of 90 birds were ringed in all. How about 5.30 next week Bryn? Geoff.
(Photos courtesy of Martin Garner, Bryn Roberts and Sean Ashton)
I'm sure that many bird watchers have been enjoying the winter influx of Waxwings. These are charismatic birds who are not particularly shy, and their habit of frequenting supermarket car parks to feed on the berry trees, means that good views can be had. Some ringing groups are involved in colour ringing studies of Waxwings, and the bird below was spotted at Morrison's Supermarket at Catcliffe on 9th February by Mike Smethurst (a non-ringer but a keen leg-checker). The bird turns out to have been ringed by Grampian RG at Allenvale Cemetery, Aberdeen on 11th November 2008 (417km, 90 days). If you spot a flock of Waxwings, please keep a look out for any ringed birds and report any sightings on line at the following link:
The Importance of Water Treatment Plants to Birds (08/02/2009)
The title sums up a snow covered February
when the outside temperature on my car dashboard registered -7°C.
Bakewell Sewage Farm was busy with Pied and Grey Wagtails. The "few"
Meadow pipits totalled 20 ringed by the end of the morning, with a male
Stonechat, 2 Redwing, a Kestrel, 16 Blackbirds, 13 Pied wagtails, 4 Grey
Wagtails and 13 Robins amongst the 89 birds processed. We had a busy morning
ringing a total of fifteen species, all present at the site because of
the invertebrate food available on a cold snow covered morning. Sewage
Farms are such important sites for birds when the weather conditions are
at their worse. All the birds were a good weight showing that they were
able to feed well in this habitat. Thanks to Bryn for the photos.
The decision to dig my car out of the drive and meet Kevin at Blackburn Meadows for a few hours ringing was made completely worthwhile, when we caught and ringed two Water Rail, a male and a female. The size difference between the two was enormous with the male being almost 50% heavier than the female. This brings the number of Water Rail ringed at the nature reserve to three this winter. Included below are photographs of both birds, although as you might expect the female was more photogenic!
Female Water Rail
Male Water Rail
Other birds caught included Lesser Redpoll, Reed Bunting and a striking male Bullfinch. This was easily aged as a juvenile by the clear 'step' in the greater coverts, the outer unmoulted feathers having brown tips and the new feathers being ash grey in colour.
Sean and Kevin
Having booked a days holiday, with an eye on ringing, I was disappointed not to be able to get the car out of the drive. Suitably housebound, but not deterred, I decided to put a net up in the garden to see what the cold weather might bring. The answer was a Blue Tit in the first 2 hours; birds were flitting around but the mist net must have stood out like a Belisha beacon against the snow as they were staying well clear. I had just put my shoes on to go and take down, when a pigeon landed on my shed roof and then straight into the net. The irony of catching a Feral Pigeon, which I would be unable to ring, was not lost on me. However, as I approached the net I realised that it was in fact a Stock Dove (a new bird if I don't count the squab ringed with Harry last year). I took the net down afterwards, and was rewarded with a handsome fieldfare feeding on the apples I had put out. The Stock Dove also returned later to feed, so I look forward to more regular visits. Sean.
A new Ringing Site at Tinsley (29/01/2009)
Bryn has been working alongside the Rangers at 70 Acre Hill near Tinsley Golf Course to establish it as a Group site when he moves on to 'C' status later this year. Working with Claire Skelton from Countryside Services, permission was granted for the first ringing to take place today (29th. January 2009). We didn't really know what to expect but the two feeders were being emptied and Bryn had recorded Lesser Redpoll on his recent visits. We put up three nets alongside the feed area and hoped for the best. Two hours later we had ringed 73 birds, pride of place being 43 Lesser Redpoll and 2 Common Redpoll. The photographs show the latter species. We also caught an oddly plumaged Lesser Redpoll, infact the last bird ringed. It would seem that the white feathers around its eyes were associated with a previous eye infection. It certainly looked unusual! Thanks Bryn.
A Dutch Grey Wagtail (24/01/2009)
I picked up Martin Dalimar, Clemens Kupper and Millie (Emily) Mockford and we arrived at Treeton Sewage works at about 7.15 am. The weather was slightly overcast and calm and we quickly put up 10 nets, the majority on the beds and the rest around the perimeter in the bushes. After about 2 hours and 1 bird, we decided it would be wise to move some of the nets around one of the beds that the wagtails were favouring; there were plenty of both grey and pied on the beds but they were wise to the main run of nets. Well its nice when a plan works because we caught 21 wagtails and a Meadow Pipit before a breeze got up and we had to pack up at lunchtime. The star bird of the morning though was a grey wagtail, Millie read me the ring number and I said our rings only have one letter at the beginning of the sequence so I asked her to repeat it and lo and behold we had a bird from Arnhem Holland, oh and a ringing tick for Millie!
It's worth adding that the national ringing scheme report for 2007 listed the "first ever" Dutch ringed Grey Wagtail. It was recovered in Sussex!
I ringed at Doe Lea yesterday but surprisingly, as it was freezing cold, only processed 15 birds. I've included a couple of pictures taken on the 1st in my garden. The Sparrowhawk ringed last January was caught again. It hit the net a couple of hours before it returned to try and take a goldfinch out of the net, which I had also caught.