Saturday 9 June 2018


We were out in the national forest yesterday morning in a well planned effort to ring Black-headed Gull & tern chicks. Four of us set off in a small motorized craft. Huge thanks to the Forestry Commission and rangers, without whom this would have been impossible.

Moving around the island carefully & methodically we used up the 100 E rings we had in no time at all! Despite our best efforts to match rings to the number of chicks estimated from the shoreline, there were still a number of ringable age that we had to leave. We also located and ringed 6 Common Terns.

Newly hatched Black-headed Gull chick (the egg to the right was in the process of hatching). At this age and size however this was too small to ring but lovely to see nonetheless.

Common Tern chick.

Saturday 12 May 2018

It was all Yellow

When the drizzle came earlier I was expecting Swifts and hirundines galore. Well, there were lots of hirundines but none coming low enough to catch and as for Swifts were concerned ... none, which was a surprise this far in to May.

I did however catch a Pied Wagtail and two Yellow Wagtails (male and female). The female was just beginning to develop a brood patch, so I expect she will be breeding in the crop fields to the east where several pairs nest each year, supported by the relatively abundant insect life found around the filter beds. Nine Yellow Wags were on ste this evening.

Saturday 21 April 2018

Much binding in the marsh

First visit of the year to our reed-bed site. Excellent numbers of Reed Bunting both on site and ringed, along with first Reed Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Cetti's Warblers.

Sunday 18 February 2018

Three Amigos

Andy has been working with Forestry Commission in the National Forest for some time now. This has included general conservation work but also bird ringing. Two of the fields at one site are superb in the winter for Snipe and related species, so it was time to organize a mist net session to catch and ring the visiting waders.

Waders generally have superb eyesight, so there is little point trying to catch in fixed nets during daylight. The team therefore assembled yesterday afternoon with a view to setting nets and then catching just after dusk. Once we were happy the conditions were right, we set off to encourage any birds on the ground in to the nets and quickly extracted three species. From left to right above (which is also smallest to largest): Jack Snipe, Snipe and Woodcock. Remarkably this is the second time we have managed the same feat at this particular site.

Update 19th Feb. I also posted the above image on Twitter; it has already received over 36,000 views! The power of social media; just wish I'd written something profound, perhaps about the plight of waders and habitat loss.

Thursday 12 October 2017

'Stockamsel' Blackbirds

We ringed two apparent continental Blackbirds this morning and the word 'stockamsel' came to mind (see below).

Not only is it a bit of nostalgia but from Clare College, Cambridge some light on the subject. Evidently the expression 'stockamsel' was first coined by Johann Andreas Naumann he of (naumanni) Lesser Kestrel and Naumann'sThrush fame. It relates to young males resembling well marked females. This is a dark billed first year male with white fringed breast feathers creating a clearly visible 'scaly' effect. Ageing as a first year would be easy anyway - note the brown 'juvenile' feathers in the wing and the odd one in the body (e.g. just behind the ear coverts). 

We also ringed quite a few newly arrived Goldcrests, a female Blackcap and this rather lovely Treecreeper (note the long stiff pointy tail which they use like a third limb pushed against the tree as they work the bark). 

Tuesday 28 February 2017

Gold and Emerald

An interesting control (that's a bird ringed by us but found by someone else) a Goldfinch ringed by Chris at Stanton Under BardonLeicestershire 17-Dec-2015 and re-trapped by a fellow ringer on the Emerald Isle last week 23-Feb-2017 Coolcush, near DungannonTyrone. Details ..... Duration: 434 days Distance: 409 km Direction: 300deg (WNW) 

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.