Saturday, 29 November 2014

Latvian 'Love-song' versus Spanish 'Serenade'

About a week ago we were kindly sent a Redwing track from Fernando Gavilan in sunny Spain. We have nicknamed this track as the Spanish Serenade. Today was the first trial.
Well we met at the rail track normal time 5.30. Unfortunately Dawn and Simon couldn't make it this morning so I though it would be a small group of Mick, Adam, Jo and myself. Angus my lad had decided he would come along and help, however when we got to the gate, Mel was already there and and Jamie joined us a while later.
We trundled on down the track and split into 2 groups to erect the nets. Mick and Mel went one way and the rest of us the other. We alternated the Latvian Love-song and Spanish Serenade at each net ride.With the nets up we all returned to base and waited for light. After a coffee and a natter we were off on the net round. The first couple of nets had a Redwing a piece. But when we turned the corner to the line of 3x60', the nets were sagging with Redwing. Brilliant! We extracted all the birds from those nets and 4 other rides before returning to the vehicle to process the birds. On our return Mick and Mel were back and had already started processing their birds. The first bird a retrap Cetti's. Wonderful !
For the first round we had got about 45 birds of which about 25 were Redwing. The second round didn't provide as many birds but did provide Jo with a new bird. Another new Cetti's, fantastic. This is the forth new Cetti's this year and beats our old annual record of 2. This bird was a male and the earlier retrap was a female so we have our fingers crossed that they stay at Stanford and breed next season. The nets along our side of the Reservoir didn't catch another Redwing all morning so the MP3's were changed to Redpoll, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. Jo had to swan off early about 10.30 using some lame excuse about going to see old girlfriends. Ha Ha  Where is the commitment from trainees these days?
Well the next round provided a bird that Dawn has been hankering after for the last three years. A Sparrowhawk.
This was a young male. I put a ring on its leg with some assistance from Mel holding the talons. So Dawn to stop me dealing with all these  wonderful birds you're going to have to change your job, and come ringing at Stanford.
All  in all we rallied round and got a total of 37 Redwing, which is our best daily number this year. Was it down to the Spanish Serenade? Well I think its a bit early to say. We will keep trying it and will see how our annual numbers fair. Thank you Fernando.  So totals for today 59 New birds, 20 retraps of which included 37 Redwing (1) 6 Blackbirds, 2 Cetti's (1), 2 Treecreepers (1) and the Sparrowhawk.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Saturday 22nd November

My apologies for the tardiness of the blog for yesterday's session, but it was my birthday so that's a decent excuse. This gave the group much fodder for mockery in guessing my age. 50 was mentioned on more than one occasion...!

It was a foggy start which merged into a grey day and quite low numbers for each round. This wasn't a complete waste though as it meant there was time for Jo to practise erecting nets in daylight - a welcome change from trying to see how this is done by the speedy hands of an A ringer in the poor light of their head torch.

Some highlights of the day were 25 Redwing, 6 Blackbirds, 2 Starling, 6 Tree Sparrows and 5 Reed Bunting. We were joined by Ian for several hours who went with everyone to the pub afterwards while I sloped off to be treated to a night out.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Skiving Work

As we hadn't managed to get out with Adam on Tuesday Mick and myself decided to go out ringing today. We both gave our excuses to work colleagues and customers as to why we couldn't work today and met at the railtrack as normal at 5.30.
We decided to put a decent number of nets up in an attempt to catch Redwing and Fieldfare. By the time we had erected all the nets it was dawn. We did manage to get a quick coffee in before starting the first round. Mick went one way I went the other. All MP3 players were warbler-ling out the Latvian lovesong in an attempt to attract the Redwing. My first net only 2 Redwing, disappointing. However by the time I had visited all my nets I had about 15 Redwing a Fieldfare several Reed Buntings and Blackbirds about 25 birds in total. On return to the vehicles Mick was already processing the birds from his nets, also about 25 birds.
With all the birds processed we were off again round the nets. No time for coffee. Again I caught several Redwing, but not as many birds in total as the last round. MP3's were changed from Redwing to calls of Redpoll, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. In the last net before the vehicles I extracted a retrap female Green Woodpecker which was very nice as I hadn't processed a Green Woodpecker before. Dawn always beats me to the good birds. Mind you if she had been there today I would have let her deal with this bird as it decided to claw my hands to pieces!
So after a couple more rounds we took the nets down about 1pm and had a tally up.
112 birds of which 73 were new and 39 retraps. Excellent mornings ringing. The highlights were 26 Redwing, 14 Tree Sparrows, 11 Reed Bunting, a Coal Tit (which is unusual for our site), the Fieldfare and of course the retrap Green Woodpecker.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Saturday 15th November

We all met at the gate at 05:30 yesterday. Jo's colleague Jamie joined us for the day to gain some knowledge about the ringing process. We split up to erect the nets - Dave, Jo and I put up the nets on the left side of the res while Mick took Jamie with him to put up the nets on the right. We finished first so I joined Mick to help him put up the last net down on the rail track. Unfortunately I was having a clumsy day and in truth was more of a hindrance than a help but hey - it's the thought that counts, right?

Over the course of the morning, we caught over 100 birds; 85 new and 37 retraps. We had lots of larger birds with 15 Redwing and 12 Blackbirds. Highlights of the smaller species were 18 Tree Sparrows, 13 Long Tailed Tits and 8 Reed Buntings.

Adam was working nights but he usually still turns up albeit a little later in the morning. We didn't see him yesterday - did you nod off in the chair with a cup of tea Adam?

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

WET and WINDY ......October review

After the staggeringly brilliant September, October turned into a bit of a damp squib, with wind and rain a plenty curtailing many of our ringing sessions. So to achieve our second best monthly total of 858 for October was a great effort. The warbler totals dropped off dramatically from what we had in September but we still had 5 species with the latest dates being Reed Warbler 18th, Willow Warbler caught 15th retrapped 18th, Blackcap 23rd, Chiffchaff 25th and finally our first Cetti's Warbler of the year also on the 25th. The most notable totals for the month were a staggering 41 Wrens, where are they all coming from? The usual movement of tits through the area produced 96 Blue Tits plus 2 controls and 59 Great Tit, Tree Sparrows numbered 84 pushing the annual total to over 500. We also managed 207 Greenfinch and 82 Goldfinch both being good totals for the month. As of yet we have not caught many Thrushes or Lesser Redpoll so hopefully November will turn up trumps. For a full account of our ringing totals for the month and more please go to our Web Page and enjoy. Mick

Sunday, 2 November 2014

A Damp Start

Yesterday we met the normal time 5.30 at the track gate, it was raining and breezy. There was just the 4 of us ,Adam, Dawn ,Simon and myself. Mick had got the weekend off to attend a friends wedding, (not a bad excuse I suppose). Anyway we trundled on down the track to the site. Meanwhile the weather was slowly getting worse. We ended up waiting about 3/4 hour before the rain stopped and we started erecting the nets. With the dawn beginning to break we thought that we had missed most of the thrushes. However we persevered with the Latvian love song. So the first round provided us with about 30 birds of which 5 were Redwings, and an assortment of other species including Yellowhammers, Chiffchaff's and Reed Buntings. I continued my light hearted barricking of Dawn for 'ringing all the good birds' bearing in mind she had ringed the Cetti's and Green Woodpecker last Saturday. After possessing all but one of the birds. Dawn handed me the last bird saying this ones for you. I dipped my hand into the bag felt around got hold of the bird, thought 'small' what could it be? It had to be something Dawn had ringed otherwise she won't have given me the bird. Ha Ha.
Surely not. Yep the second Cetti's Warbler of the year and equaling the the groups annual record. This is only the 10th Cetti's ringed at Stanford in nearly 40 years. Fantastic!! Even though I did have to eat a bit of humble pie to Dawn!

The threat of rain cleared and it became very sunny with the wind increasing and change direction to start to cut across the water and straight into the nets.  The rest of the day we rallied round and got to a respectful total of 111 birds of which 76 were new. 10 Greenfinch, 4 Goldfinch, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Yellowhammer,10 Redwing, 2 Blackbird, 19 Tree Sparrows, 10 Reed Bunting and an assortment of tits including retrap Coal and Willow Tits. 

Adam tried out a new trap in the field for |Meadow Pipits but was unsuccessful.
Finally Simon and myself met a birder who reported to us that he had seen a Slavonian Grebe on Friday in the bay area. So eyes our eyes peeled on the water for the rest of the morning, but unfortunately with no sightings.