Sunday, 5 June 2011

Big Catch Up!


After a long drive back on Wednesday night, having spent the day birdwatching at Radipole Lake in Weymouth and partaking in a spot of (unsuccessful) fishing on Chessil Beach, I decided to take a couple of hours sleep before heading out ringing.

Fulwood was the destination as it was easy to operate a couple of double panels on my own, catching breeding reed bed warblers on territory. It was a mild and overcast morning and an absolute belter to be out on - there was no-one around for hours, just me and the sounds of the Reed Warblers, the recently ringed Grasshopper Warbler reeling away and the hyperactive scratchings of the Whitethroats.

Female Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

By 10am, I was ready for a brew, so I headed to Moxey's having ringed the following:

Reed Warbler - 6
Whitethroat - 2
Sedge Warbler - 2 (1)
Reed Bunting - 1

TOTAL: 11 (1)


Tineke wasn't too pleased when I woke her on Friday morning at ten to three but she knew she had to pay-off the brownie points I had earned taking her down to Dorset. Off we went to Fulwood to net the side of the canal, only our third session in this area. I was hopeful that some of the early breeding warblers would have young on the wing, following the fledgling Blackcap and Whitethroat that we had the week before at Brook Vale.

Moxey joined us by 7am, but by this point, the sun was out and the temperature was rising quickly. Reminiscent of ringing in the reed beds in Portugal, activity tailed off by 9am.

The only birds of real interest were the Great-spotted Woodpecker - not sure what it was doing there! and catching our first juvenile Great Tits of the year. Only one of the Blackbirds was a young bird, so I would expect over the next week or so to see a big increase in the number of young birds.

Juvenile Great Tit (Parus Major)

Wren - 1
Willow Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - (1)
Blue Tit - (1)
Blackcap - 3 (3)
Whitethroat - 4 (3)
Linnet - 2
Dunnock - 3 (1)
Robin - 3 (1)
Great Tit - 4 (3)
Greenfinch - 2
Blackbird - 8 (1)
G.S.Woodpecker - 1

TOTAL: 32 (14)

Later on, one of my colleagues from school came all the way from Chester with his wife and three children to see some Barn Owls, Kestrels, Jackdaws and Stock Doves. They were in for an unprecedented treat, as two boxes had adult Barn Owls and one had an female Kestrel that was lifted off. The only species that we didn't get was the Stock Dove, with one nest falling to a predator.

Barn Owl (Tito alba)

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

We have a number of Kestrels and Barn Owls that should be ready in the next week or so, so it will be busy times here in SW Lancs!

Barn Owl - 2
Kestrel - 2 (1)
Jackdaw - 5

TOTAL: 9 (1)


I couldn't call on Tineke on Saturday, two 3am mornings on the bounce would probably have been pushing my luck! Instead, Neil was available, so I picked him up at 3am and off we went to Brook Vale. We operated the same nets in the dell and just the line and 'Cetti's Warbler net' within the reserve. We had all the nets open by 5am, slightly later than I had planned, alas, the Reed Warblers were already jumping into the net.

Catching four Reed Warblers in the first net round wasn't really a suprise to me, however, the fact that they were unringed did. This sort of contradicts my earlier theory, but does add some weight to the dual influx theory - that there are two main arrival events to their migration, birds arriving in late-April/early-May followed by an influx in the beginning of June.

Over at the dell, we continued to add to the totals of Linnet, Blackcap and Whitethroat with a total of eleven birds of these species being ringed. Robins are showing signs of a successful breeding season, with seven juveniles ringed, following on from eight the previous week.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) with a skin infection

The Jay caught at the feeding station line provided some entertainment when we handed it to Neil to ring - his second. Ringing Jays is so much easier when you keep the bird in the bird bag as long as possible - as Neil found out!

The reeds continue their regeneration, now supporting at least eight different Reed Warblers although there are at least one other unringed pair. Hopefully the reed bed will remain unburnt next year and the benefits will be seen, despite the act of vandalism.

Chiffchaff - 2 (1)
L.T.Tit - 5 (2)
Robin - 8
Reed Warbler - 4 (1)
Linnet - 3
Blackcap - 4 (1)
Whitethroat - 4 (2)
Dunnock - 2 (5)
Goldfinch - 1
Great Tit - 4
House Sparrow - 2
Song Thrush - 2
Blackbird - 1
Jay - 1

TOTAL: 43 (12)


This morning I met Moxey at the sewage farm, hopeful of breaking the 300 Swifts ringed, but as we arrived, there weren't very many birds around. The weather was much calmer than it has been recently (the wind was actually below 15mph!) and this made flicking much easier.

By 9am, the Swifts numbers started to increase and while Moxey monitored the three static nets, I concentrated on flicking. The static nets produced the majority of the hirundines that were all caught in the first two hours, including one control House Martin - L072510 - get in touch if this is your bird!!!

The Swifts weren't really playing ball today, sticking to the tops of the trees as much as they could and they weren't present in any significant numbers, maybe only about 200 birds present. As the temperatures started to rise, so did the Swifts, too high to flick and so we called it a day, three short of having ringed 300 Swifts this year.

I've had a number of people get in touch recently that were unfamiliar with flicking and today I was able to get some good footage of both myself and Moxey doing a bit of flicking, so when I get some time, I will try to put together a video.

Swift - 42 (3)
House Martin - 21 (6) + 1 control
Swallow - 6

TOTAL: 69 (10)


  1. Wow Pete you have been busy. Interesting thoughts about your Kestrels but they are definitely scarce around here at the mo. Are late broods anything to do with the cold and windy conditions in May that Merseyside shared with the Fylde?

  2. hola solo decirte que haces un buen trabajo enhorabuena y un saludo