Saturday, 31 October 2015

More winter

A full team turned out to see near perfect ringing conditions this morning. 72 new birds and 31 retraps of 20 species was a fair result when there are still not many winter thrushes coming through but we still managed 2 Fieldfares (first of the year), 24 Redwings, 2 Song Thrushes and 7 Blackbirds. Eleven more Goldcrests pushed the annual total over 200 which is a fantastic achievement and a new female Siskin which is only the 8th to be ringed at Stanford. Siskins are fairly common migrants but we just can't seem to encourage them into our nets.
A retrapped Cetti's Warbler and Willow Tit were also nice additions to the days total.
Siskin by AG Homer

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Crests of a wave!

The wave of crests and other ''Sibes'' filling the skies of the British Isles will not have gone unnoticed this autumn with most if not all coastal observatories reporting higher than average numbers of Goldcrests, Firecrests, Yellow-browed Warblers and other delights from the east landing in their nets.
In 2014 we achieved an annual total of 76 Goldcrests which was a record for our site at Stanford Reservoir. In that year we had ringed only 9 before the beginning of October but there are signs that the local crests have had a productive breeding season in 2015. 34 juveniles were ringed before the beginning of October which boosted our total of this species so early in the season it was hard not to notice the sudden increase.
By the time we have equalled our previous years record it was only the first day of October and we knew that those arriving from the north would soon be here.
Although we never catch numbers in the hundreds like the observatories experience, we did receive a steady flow of crests with the biggest catch being 19 on the 20th October which was joined by the second Firecrest of the year after the first was ringed on the 9th.
As we approached a landmark total of 7000 new birds ringed for 2015 it was only fitting that this would turn out to be a Goldcrest in what could be the best autumn migration movement of this species seen for a long time and currently ringed 191 so far this year.
Of course we couldn't miss out on some other ''Eastern Delights'' of our own could we?
On the 12th October we ringed a Yellow-browed Warbler, the second for Stanford after a 5 year wait and the last bird of the same day also saw an 'Eastern Lesser Whitethroat' ringed.
We eagerly await the results of a DNA test and hope to provide some answers to the questions raised of this ones origin.
7000th bird for 2015
'Eastern' Lesser Whitethroat?
Yellow-browed Warbler

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Super September

After last years extraordinary September little did we think that this year would be as good. How wrong we were !!! Although we didn't have the spectacular catches of last year we had good numbers every time we went out and ended up with 2401 new birds compared with 2488 last year.
Of the birds caught this year 2015 of them were warblers with Blackcap being the top species again with 1183 ringed, just over 100 less than last year. Chiffchaff, the other classic September migrant increased in numbers this year to 592 from last years 507. I think you will agree it's a great result from both species reflecting what was probably another good breeding season. As for the other warblers they all returned similar numbers to last year other than Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler which both doubled in number. As for the rest of the species we caught they were broadly in line with last year,  there were however some notable exceptions. Meadow Pipits have just not turned up at all with a dismal 22 ringed, Tree Sparrow was also well down for the second month running to 36 from last years 66 and finally Reed Buntings are continuing their abysmal year with a paltry 13 caught. However, on the plus side Goldfinch have doubled to 50 and we have had a welcome return of Lesser Redpoll with our best ever September catch of 32. I have to mention that we have had an exceptional movement (for us) of Redstart, we have caught an amazing 9 birds this month!
To put it in perspective, in the previous 39 years we have ringed 19 birds so to do 9 this month with others seen and not caught represents a brilliant effort. Finally, a Whinchat, the first since 1981, rounded off what I do have to say was a staggering months effort.