Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Nice end to the day

Although a sunny day and very cold, the wind speed was ideal for a short session at the Sewerage Works, there were plenty of  birds about including several Chiffchaff, and wagtails a plenty feeding on the flies around the site. The short session ended with 28 birds with Goldcrest the most numerous on 10, Dunnock 4, Wren 6, Blackbird, Redwing, Pied Wagtail and just before packing up a Green Woodpecker was in the bottom shelf, a nice end to the session and the first to be captured for the site.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Watermead/Uganda Link Demo.

 An enjoyable day was spent on the 11th September supporting Dale and Charles with their Watermead CP / Uganda link.
 My old Africa map just helped to put some scale to the epic journeys that some of our African migrants make.
 Thanks to Jim Graham for putting together the display to highlight our conservation work with some of these summer visitors.
 Just like a mini Bird Fair.
 A Giraffe was a surprise sighting!
 Thanks to Joy and Mick for putting up the Gazebo.
Thanks also to Chris and Carol for their help on the day.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Limeys at Cropston.

Thanks to the efforts of Jim Graham and Steve Lister we have so far recorded five returning adults that were colour ringed in 2014. These are U01, U08, U23, U26 and U36. Steve also managed to read two metal rings of birds we rung in 2013, before we started colour ringing.
We have also recorded eight of this years juveniles, which are codes U70, U71, U73, U74, U80,U82, U84, and U86.
It would be great to receive records from other sites, so please check for Lime colour rings on any Common Terns.
Observations to Andy Smith at

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Limeys Return.

 Jim Graham alerted me to the Common Terns that are now regularly feeding at Cropston Reservoir.
 The terns rest on the railings and this allows the colour rings to be read.
 It was great to hear that Jim had seen two of the terns that we colour ringed in 2014. He reported seeing U01, amazingly the first Comte that we colour ringed at WCP on 11/06/2014, and U36 rung on the 23/06/2014.

 Today I managed to record another returning adult, U23
 and also three of this years juveniles, U73, U74 and U80.

 There was also this adult, with 2 plain yellow rings on the left leg. I am awaiting information on what scheme this bird belongs to.
We would welcome any information on our Limeys from Cropston or any locations. Email the details to

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Belgium Visitor!

 Amongst the 12 Reed Warblers caught at WCP was this Belgium rung bird.
 It is just possible to pick out BRU and SSELS on this rather worn and misshapen ring. It will be interesting to find out if this individual has bred previously in Belgium, or was rung on passage.

Common Terns Colour ringed.

 The rafts at WCP have again been successful, with 19 young terns rung last week.
 Each bird received a metal ring on the right leg and a lime green colour ring on the left leg.
 The codes for this years graduates are in black and  run from U67 to U86. ( U83 broke)
 Hopefully, some of these individuals will return to breed at WCP in  two years time.
Again, thanks to Dale Osborne for all his support.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Leaving the best until last !!

Had another excellent ringing session this morning in one of our reedbed sites.

The weather looked doubtful with the forecast on Friday night changing with the hour. But we decided it was worth the risk. Nets were open at first light and we managed a couple of net rounds before a heavy downpour. We had to close up for an hour until the rain passed - at usually the most productive time of the morning.

We still managed to catch plenty of birds, especially reed warblers. The great majority were males with the females, presumably, still of eggs or keeping young warm after the storm. 

Taking down the nets after a 7 hour stint produced a great end to the day. An adult male kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), while not uncommon it is always nice to catch such a handsome bird.

Kingfisher (A atthis) © Nigel Judson
Elsewhere, some members of the group have been busy nest recording. We have a long term study of a tree sparrow (Passer montanus) colony, where I have been ringing nearly 20 years. The first brood has already fledged and the second clutches of eggs are now being laid. The poor spring weather has meant that the first egg date estimates for the first brood are calculated at around 10 days later than the mean, so hopefully they will make up time. Three broods is not uncommon at this long established colony.
 Tree Sparrow (P. montanus) pullus © Nigel Judson


Sunday, 15 May 2016

Does anyone know D787769

This year we are trialing a CES site with a view to going live in 2017. It's something I've been wanting to do for sometime and we now have enough ringers that are interested and able to commit the time.

Yesterdays trial was a great success with a couple of highlights. The ring number above (D787769) was a control Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scripaceus) age 4. If anyone recognizes the ring number, please let me know. The recapture data will be submitted to the BTO in the usual way.

Another highlight was the first Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti) to be caught on the reserve, an adult male. It will be nice to catch a juvenile later in the year to prove breeding.

Cetti's Warbler,
© Nigel Judson

  The more common birds often bring up most surprises. Yesterday we caught two Treecreepers (Certhia familiaris) one with a brood patch, not only the first that we had caught on the reserve but the volunteer warden had only seen one on the reserve in the previous 20 years.

It was also nice to catch the first juvenile of the year. Not surprisingly a Robin.

Here are the totals, New/Retrap :-

Blackbird             0/1
Blackcap             2/0
Blue Tit                1/2
Cetti's Warbler     1/0
Chiffchaff              5/1
Great Tit               5/0
Long tailed Tit       4/0
Reed Bunting         5/0
Reed Warbler        5/2
Robin                    1/0
Sedge Warbler      3/0
Song Thrush          2/0
Treecreeper          2/0
Willow Warbler     1/0
Wren                     1/1

We also the checked the progress of a Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) colony. This year all the nest boxes are occupied except for two, that have been taken over by Bumble bees. The nests are at the hatching stage and I will ring the chicks when large enough. Each box will have two broods, sometimes three, in the season. At the end of the season all the data gathered will be submitted to the Nest Record Scheme of the BTO. At the same site swallows usually nest in the garage, this year we have three nests occupied with eggs in. 

Looks like a bumper year in Charnwood.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

A day on the reserve

Today a couple of us went to a local ringing site for the first ringing session of the year on the reserve. After a chilly start at first light the sun came through for a very pleasant morning. Catches are low this time of year before the juveniles are around, so 29 birds of 13 species was good.

Female Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla    
Four species of migrant warbler were caught including Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and a retrap Garden Warbler originally ringed in 2013. The final bird of the day was a male Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major

Monday, 25 April 2016

Tawny Owls

Yesterday afternoon a couple of us were out at the local Nature Reserve checking nest boxes. We have a small number of large boxes for Tawny Owls. This years appears to be a good year for Owls, with three nests. Two other boxes have Stock Dove nests and the last box is empty. One of the boxes usually contain a Mandarin nest. Although several pairs are in the wood, none are using the boxes.

Tawny Owl, (library image) © David T Hill

It is always wise to ring adult Owls in the daytime as they are usually more docile and easier to handle. At night they can be very protective of the nest site. Indeed, one famous bird photographer lost on eye when trying to photograph Tawny Owls at the nest.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Common Terns - heading home

The first returning Common Terns were reported in southern England today. 

We have been colour ringing chicks at Watermead Country Park Leicestershire since 2014 and the first of these birds are likely to be heading home this spring. 

Colour rings are Lime/ Pale Green with a black code and on the birds left leg. The codes UO1 to U37 were fitted on birds in 2014 and will hopefully be the ones returning this summer. The 2015 birds have codes U38 to U66 and these should start returning in 2017.

Please report any sightings through European colour-ring Birding

Friday, 4 March 2016

Ringing demonstration

On Saturday 20th February Chris and I ran a ringing demonstration at Charnwood Lodge as part of the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife - Wildlife Watch Family Event - Wildlife Experience - Up Close with...Birds.

A number of families pre-booked and came along. The kids were great; very enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

The Wildlife Trust web site has a great video taken by one of the parents when a Coal Tit was released. It just about sums up the joy of birds.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Siberian Chiffchaff

The last net round of the day at the sewerage works produced three 'Chiffchaffs' . These were the second, third and fourth of the afternoon and although the first two were typical olive/yellow and dull nominate collybita, the third was so pale and silvery it looked like a totally different species. A bit like the last few holes at The Open when the light is failing and the commentators say 'you can't tell from the TV but it's almost dark'; well, by the time I came to the pale Chiff it was, so forgive this underwhelming image taken without flash, to avoid false bleaching, but it doesn't capture just how dark it had got.

Monday, 11 January 2016

First outing of the year

With a window of opportunity for us to finally get out for our first session of 2016, Sunday was the day. Starting mid-afternoon with cold, dry conditions and a moderate breeze we ventured into the wood for some roost ringing. The feeders had been replenished a few days earlier, the usual tit species keeping us busy while we waited for darkness to fall.
Our last but one net round produced a nice Jay for our trainee Chris; but disappointingly the last round of the day didn't contain  the expected Blackbirds or Redwing, just 4 Chaffinch ended the day. Where had they all gone for the night?
Totals:-  14 new and 21 retraps, Blue Tit 6 (5),  Great Tit 2 (7), Coal Tit (6), Robin (1) Goldcrest 1 (1), Jay 1, Nuthatch (1), Chaffinch 4.