Monday, 27 May 2013

CES session No' 3

Saturday was out of the question for our 3rd CES session due to a family wedding which left us without a trainer. With that in mind, our plan was to go for Bank holiday Monday. However, after checking the weather forecast on Saturday afternoon it was swiftly changed to Sunday which promised 7-8mph winds.
Dave and I were the only ringers available so we met at 04:30 and erected our CES nets in the usual places. The conditions were the best I've witnessed this year with absolute calm and birds singing everywhere. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeeling whilst the nearby net was erected and duely extracted on the second net round.
A variety of warblers were expected but numbers are still low for this time of year. Our first two CES sessions have resulted in 20 birds. We finished our day with 39 birds although only 13 of these contribute towards our CES survey.
With the nets down there was a spare hour to check some nestboxes before going home.
Adult tits are still sitting in most boxes and a few have small young or eggs hatching. I still think we are way behind last year. A brood of 10 Blue Tits were the only pulli ringed and Robins seem to have bred successfully with a 3J trapped and ringed.
Blackcap 2/1
Chaffinch 1/0
Chiffchaff 1/1
Dunnock 0/2
Garden Warbler 0/1
Grasshopper Warbler 1/0
Great Spotted Woodpecker 0/1
Great Tit 0/1
Linnet 1/0
Reed Warbler 3/0
Robin 1/0
Sedge Warbler 3/5
Song Thrush 0/1
Tree Sparrow 2/4
Whitethroat 2/4
Willow Warbler 0/1


Sunday, 19 May 2013


Our 2nd CES visit was held on a typically dismal, cold, and breezy mid May morning. With little bird movement, the catch was predictably low. Our birds preferring to sit on their nests, remain on territory, or just leave for somewhere warmer.

However, ringing spirits were somewhat uplifted when we caught a Kestrel in the bottom shelf of a mist net. The bird was a retrap, ringed as a juvenile by us last year.

Dawn with Kestrel number 1

But... if only we could catch one without a ring... Dawn tells the story -

"When Paul and Mike returned from their side of the CES, they had a retrap female Kestrel. This is the first raptor I have ever handled so I was very excited, to the point where I really didn’t mind the war-wound I received when it sunk it’s talons into my index finger! Imagine our happy surprise when the next net round produced a male Kestrel from another ride. This was a brand new bird and so now, Kestrel has been added to my ringing species list."

It's a miracle. Dawn with Kestrel number 2

These birds are only the 12th & 13th full grown Kestrels caught at Stanford Reservoir in 35 years, and it's the first time we've caught 2 in one day. We expect a hat-trick on CES visit 3...

Adult Male Kestrel

Friday, 10 May 2013

Top nesters

I just received the latest newsletter from Nest Record Scheme through the post this afternoon. As always, I turn straight to the list of Top Nesters to see how we compared with other recorders and groups in 2012.
Stanford RG has contributed records to the scheme for several years and each year we try to surpass our previous years total.
44,350 records have so far been submitted to the BTO for 2012, the highest since the scheme began in 1939.
129 recorders contributed 100 or more nest records and as usual the Farne Islands finished way out in front with a whopping 2,141 records....very impressive!
So how did we compare?
273 records and finishing a credible 40th!
Well done to all our nest finders and here's hoping for a successful breeding season in 2013.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Nest box Mayday!

Bank holiday Monday provided a chance to get out to the reservoir to inspect our nestboxes so Ed and I agreed to meet at 08:00 to take on the task of checking over 150 boxes of varying sizes and shapes.
It was a bright and calm morning and under normal circumstances, mist-netting would have been on the agenda. However, the breeding season has well and truely got underway and we don't have many days to dedicate to checking them.
Ladders at the ready, pliers, rings and notebook in the pocket, it was off into the nearby wood where we have over 50 Tit boxes. This time last year we witnessed hatching in numerous boxes but this year is looking far different. Twenty-four boxes were occupied which is a fairly good percentage but all were still in the early egg stage with 90% of these still having eggs covered, this would indicate that egg laying is still in process for most birds.
Larger boxes are having a mixed success with Tawny Owls looking like failing again for the second consecutive year, Jackdaws have taken up residence in three boxes and Stock Doves have got off to a good start with two pulli already ringed in one box and three further boxes hosting pairs.
Like the Tits, our new Tree Sparrow colony has been slow to get started with just one adult incubating five eggs.
Open nests included Long-tailed Tit although this has already been predated. Lined nests for both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Woodpigeon and Coot were also seen sitting on eggs.
It looks like I'll be making a few more inspections but I don't think I will be needing rings for at least another week or two.


Monday, 6 May 2013

First CES for Stanford RG

CES is a subject that the group has discussed on numerous occasions and probably goes back many years. There was talk of it every year but it never materialised. This year we finally decided we would give it our best shot and join the scheme.
CES or Constant Effort Site is the study of the birds in a certain area. We erect the same nets, in the same area, each summer, 12 times between May and August. This allows us to monitor the common species of Stanford Reservoirs case, Warblers, finches and Buntings.
So, Saturday 4th May was the big day. The net rides had all been prepared weeks before and the trainees were chomping at the bit!
A 5am start saw Ed, Dawn, David, Paul and myself meeting at the railtrack gate. A breeze was always on the cards after the previous nights forecast, however it was fairly sheltered in the main CES netting area.
Splitting into two teams, we erected nets from the Apple tree ride, through the Orchard and around to the feeding station. Only five net rides are standard for the CES area but the additional nets gave the trainees more species to handle and valuable practice at ageing and sexing.
Birds were segregated according to the net ride where they were caught which was fairly straight forward if you can remember which net ride you extracted the bird from! As it happens, things went very well with 51 birds being processed. Scattered showers came and went during the latter part of the session and the usual resident birds and common migrants were the order of the day.
Wren 1/1
Dunnock 2/0
Robin 1/1
Blackbird 0/3
Song Thrush 1/3
Sedge Warbler 2/3
Lesser Whitethroat 1/0
Common Whitethroat 3/5
Blackcap 1/0
Chiffchaff 1/0
Willow Warbler 0/6
Blue Tit 0/2
Great Tit 0/3
Tree Sparrow 0/1
Chaffinch 0/2
Linnet 2/0
Bullfinch 1/2
Reed Bunting 1/2

More warblers and a Wood Pig

The weather forecast for Thursday 2nd May was perfect......5mph winds and a day of sun. Well, the wind speed was ideal but a bit more cloud would have been better than sunshine as the nets become more visible when it's brighter. Anyway, as I was working in the afternoon and I had a morning free, I couldn't miss the opportunity of spending a few hours catching a few more passage migrants.
I was aware of the groups first ever CES session which was planned for Saturday so I stayed away from the CES area and concentrated on erecting my nets from the feeding station to the point. This long straight margin of grassland and Hawthorn scrub has always produced good numbers of warblers during past years and today proved to be no different.
Common & Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Sedge & Willow Warbler and this years first Reed Warbler. However, no Chiffchaffs or Reed Buntings were caught, unlike Linnets, which seemed to everywhere with pairs flying back and forth all morning
A Woodpigeon was a nice surprise in the first round although it was a pity there wasn't a trainee present to ring it as it isn't often they get the practice to apply large rings.
Whilst I sat on a bench between net rounds a Willow Warbler appeared within a few yards in front of me with a beak full of nesting material. It quickly dropped into the vegetation and popped up again a few seconds later and flew away. I waited a couple of minutes for it's return, this time after it descended into the long grass I got my chance to pinpoint it's exit point. I found the nest easily, about three quarters complete! I will be keeping my eye on it's progress!
It was an all round enjoyable morning with 65 birds of 17 species processed.
Woodpigeon 1/0
Wren 2/2
Dunnock 2/6
Blackbird 0/1
Song Thrush 0/2
Sedge Warbler 2/3
Reed Warbler 1/0
Lesser Whitethroat 3/0
Common Whitethroat 5/5
Blackcap 2/0
Willow Warbler 2/7
Blue Tit 2/5
Great Tit 0/4
Tree Sparrow 1/1
Chaffinch 1/0
Linnet 4/0
Bullfinch 1/0