Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Tuesday 22nd April

Dave and I met at the reservoir at 05:30 this morning. It had rained during the journey from Corby but as Dave and his son Angus arrived 5 minutes behind me the rained had stopped. We drove down the railtrack, shared out the nets and went our seperate ways. By the time we had both made it back to the our base on the railtrack the rain had started again so there was no time for tea just yet. Off we went to quickly extract any birds from the nets. A few Willow Warblers and Blackcaps were the only captures and judging by the look of the sky we were wondering if we would be dodging the rain all morning and perhaps yesterday would have been the better choice of the two days. As it turned out the rain quickly stopped and fortunately stayed away for the remainder of the morning. Cloudy skies and little or no breeze made excellent conditions but most birds are still singing on territory and not a lot was moving around apart from the usual Tits at the feeders and the occasional vist from a very vocal Great Spotted Woodpecker. However, there was a Grasshopper Warbler singing again in the same area as it was on Saturday and another Lesser Whitethroat was ringed, the third this year already! A brief walk to the point revealed two Reed Warblers singing in the phragmites patch, again the first seen or heard this year. Overall it was a fairly pleasant morning with 40+ birds processed. Now it's time for me to head off to work. Well, ringing doesn't pay for itself does it?

Sunday, 20 April 2014

More spring arrivals....

After finishing my nighshift I arrived home to make up my flask and packed lunch, loaded the car and drove straight to the reservoir where the team of Dawn, David and Simon had already arrived at 05:30. I arrived at 08:15 to be greeted by a chilly easterly breeze that seemed to cut right through the three layers of clothing that I was wearing. Good numbers of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers were once again the main catch. Linnets and Tree Sparrows were also noted in good numbers but the latter still showed no signs of breeding just yet. New spring arrivals included a Grasshopper Warbler that was heard reeling whilst the nets were erected, a singing Whitethroat and an Osprey flew over heading east at 09:00. Around 150 Sand Martins & 50 House Martins were feeding in Blowers Lodge bay. 50+ birds were processed throughout the day included Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Willow Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Reed Bunting. Adam.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Slow but steady start

Our habitat management in the Blowers Lodge Bay area has finished and ringing has now started on a regular basis with our first Saturday ringing session of the year beginning yesterday. Between scrub-bashing sessions we have been able to get out to set some nets up during the week when the weather has permitted and we have already ringed good numbers of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and one or two Blackcaps. Yesterday morning we had the opportunity to get plenty of nets up but the wind soon got up which greatly reduced the number of birds caught. However, the first Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat were welcome additions to the days total which included a few more Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. When things were quiet between net rounds, Dave and I took the opportunity to check our owl boxes in Game Wood to see if any Tawnies had taken up residence. Things weren't looking good with squirrel dreys in five boxes, although a pair of Jackdaws have started a nest in their 'regular' box. On checking the final box Dave netted a Tawny Owl trying to escape. The picture below shows the owls primary and secondary feathers to be uniform and all of the same generation which confirms the age code as 8 (hatched three or more years ago).
Adult wing (Simon Watts)
She had a fully developed brood patch and on inspection of the box there were four eggs found. She was already ringed and on arriving home I checked on our database to find that she was ringed in 2012 in her 2nd year, in the same wood and again with a brood patch. So this female has been hanging around the area for a few years now and made at least two attempts to raise her young. Last year there were no attempts by Tawny Owls due to Squirrel and Hornets getting in the boxes first so this winter we have ejected the Squirrels before they have had a chance to settle in, giving the Owls a fighting chance this year.
Adult female Tawny Owl (Simon Watts)
So the season of spring arrivals is upon us and our CES project in Blowers Lodge Bay starts in May. Lets hope we have a good year and the birds have an even better one!