Saturday, 30 July 2011

The most significant tit caught in Portugal this year???

After arriving at Salreu in time to catch the end of the Ciencia Viva session on Thursday, during which ~20 Willow Warblers and just under ten Sedge Warblers were ringed out of a total of seventy birds, we headed to Coimbra with The Mothership, Moxey and Paulo. Moxey and the Mothership had to head to Santo André the next day and Tineke opted for a deserved lie-in and so it was myself and Paulo that completed the ringing session at Paul do Madriz.

Paul do Madriz - 29th July 2011

Both of us managed to forget our headlamps, adding a little challenge to getting the nets up at a leisurely 5am - being much further south than the UK has other advantages. By the time that dawn was approaching, we were already in the café having our breakfast.

After a sweltering night, it was good to be out in the fresh air, although the coldest that it got was about 18 degrees - I wouldn't be complaining about that in December! The ringing session was reasonably uneventful, with a handful of Melodious Warblers, Reed Warblers and Willow Warblers breaking up the Robins and Blackcaps. Late on, an early Whitethroat put in an appearance.

Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta) from above

Juvenile Melodious Warbler

Blackbird - 2 (2)
Song Thrush - 1 (1)
Robin - 9 (5)
Blackcap - 7 (3)
Reed Warbler - 3 (3)
Melodious Warbler - 5
Whitethroat - 1
Willow Warbler - 3
Blue Tit - 4 (2)
Sardinian Warbler - 1
Greenfinch - 1

TOTAL: 39 (13)

Paul do Taipal - 30th July 2011

After trying to evade the heat, catch up on some kip and mix some new tunes (Reed & Sedge Warbler mix) on Audacity (a fantastic program for manipulating and mixing bird calls), we woke up bright an early (4:30am) to head to Taipal. Again it was just myself and Paulo and we had the nets up in no time! Paulo really is the man for efficient mist net erection!

This mornings ringing session was also to be a Geocaching event - with Geocachers from all over coming to see what ringing was all about - hosted by Scirpaceus (Paulo) with assistance from Scouse Ringer. Over the course of the morning, we had a good number of visitors, most of whom were completely oblivious to the significance of the juvenile Penduline Tit that I brought back from Line 1.

This Penduline Tit is particularly important. Two years ago, Paulo caught an adult bird in August that was undergoing moult, as Penduline Tit is a winter visitor to Portugal, this was particularly strange and suggested that the bird had remained in Portugal and potentially bred. The fact that we caught a juvenile in July, suggests that this bird is at, or very close to it's natal site.

Juvenile Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus)

When we returned to base, Paulo got the breeding bird atlas out and there was only couple of confirmed sightings in Portugal during the summer, all south of the Tejo, with one confirmed breeding pair, near the Spanish border on the Guadiana. That makes this Penduline Tit the first juvenile bird caught in July, in the north of the country. Awesome!

We caught a decent number of birds during the morning, so whilst Paulo demonstrated the ringing side of things, I kept things ticking over with processing and net rounds etc. In the end it was a belter of a morning, with some real significance!!!

Scirpaceus and fellow 'cachers

Savi's Warbler (Locustella luscinioides)

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Reed Warbler - 27 (7)
Sedge Warbler - 4
Penduline Tit - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 2 (1)
Swallow - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Blackbird - 1
Waxbill - 4
G.Reed Warbler - 1
House Sparrow - 5
Kingfisher - 7 (4)
Savi's Warbler - (1)

TOTAL: 54 (13)

In a few hours we will return to Taipal with a bigger team to put up 1km of mist net. We will complete a Swallow roost tonight and a big reed bed session in the morning. A Portuguese Record may just be broken.......

I'm not sure if I will get a chance to blog tomorrow as I will have to head to Santo André to take up my post as Chief Donkey, helping Moxey to run the ringing for the month of August...

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Ciencia Viva, Paul do Coura & Spanish controls!

Veiga da S.Simao – 26th July 2011

Following Monday’s ringing session, we were to be joined by some interested members of the public as part of the Ciencia Viva program that is designed to put members of the public that are interested in science in touch with the people that ‘do’ science. Whilst my Portuguese was not good enough to lead the session, I was co-organising with Tó and we were over-subscribed (the usual limit is 10, we managed 16 participants!).

The day got off to a cracking start, recording Nightjar on site, one bird flying near Linha Atricapilla as we were putting the first nets up. The wind didn’t ‘wake up’ as early as it had on the previous day, nor was it as intense, so after a plentiful first net round, we were expecting slightly better than what we had in the later rounds. The first Bullfinch for the site was caught early on, a juvenile, suggesting that they had bred locally, as the bird had likely fledged in the previous days, it was ringed immediately and released.

Following on from Monday’s high totals of Sardinian Warbler, we added another six to the totals, mostly juveniles, as well as another seven Blackcaps, again mainly juveniles against a backdrop of singing individuals. The Atricapilla line picked up the first Kingfisher to be caught on site, although they have been present on every visit since October. The Igreja line also contributed two Nightingales, again, firsts for the site, both birds were juveniles.

By the time the participants arrived, we had a good number of birds ready to be ringed and this is where myself and Tó had to demonstrate the process of ringing the birds, explaining why it was done, how it was done, the scientific objectives and how the birds were caught. We took the participants around the nets, to show them the process of mist netting and how we extract the birds from the net. We were able to give good views of Red-rumped Swallow, Sand Martin and Kingfisher as we walked around the site, for most, this was the first sightings of some of these species.

After two hours, the session came to an end and we took down the nets, with a solitary Blackbird the only bird caught as the temperature started to rise.

Bullfinch - 1
Reed Warbler - 2
Melodious Warbler - 1
Blue Tit - 2
Sardinian Warbler - 6 (1)
Blackcap - 7
Robin - 5 (1)
Blackbird - 4 (1)
Kingfisher - 1
Nightingale - 2
Great Tit - 1
Coal Tit - 5
Fan-tailed Warbler - 1
House Sparrow - 1
Greenfinch - 2

TOTAL: 42 (3)

Paul do Coura – 27th July 2011

This morning we headed in the direction of Caminha, where the Coura River meets the Minho River (the river that divides Portugal from Spain), to a site known as Paul do Coura (Coura Marsh). We had already cleared the net lines on Monday so all we needed to do was to turn up and put up the nets. With two lines totalling 87m of nets, we had expectations of a reasonable session, but there was always the anticipation of the unknown. With the knowledge that there is a group of Spanish ringers a few Km up the coast, there was always the possibility of a foreign control….or two!

Before we had even finished putting up Linha 2, we already had five Reed Warblers in the first net…a promising start. So after we had ringed the initial catch, we spent breakfast, as we so often do, speculating as to what we might catch. Having handled two Paddyfield Warblers in the past, Tó was keen to make it three, I would have preferred a Clamorous Reed Warbler, or even a Basra, but let’s be realistic, it wasn’t going to happen!

Adult Reed Warbler with a 7 of fat

After the first two net rounds, we had already ringed forty birds, mainly Reed Warblers, with the odd titmice and Waxbill, but the second net round brought me back from Linha 2 with a smile on my face, a Spanish Reed Warbler. Bom anilhagem!


The final net round, when we were taking the nets down, presented us with a slight problem. The tide had started to come in, leaving the gulleys that carve up the ‘marsh’ a lot wetter. Time for long jump tryouts! We managed to vault the gulleys without getting wet to take down Linha 2, bringing back a Great Reed Warbler, a species in decline in Portugal, amongst some more Reed Warblers. Linha 1 brought another surprise, less than one meter away from the far end of the net was another Reed Warbler with a Spanish ring, this time ringed on the opposite leg, so at least a different ringer, if not a different site!

By the time we were all packed away, the temperature was hitting 32 degrees and we all had pretty big smiles on our faces! Tó will ring here again at the start of September and the start of October to generate some data for the Portuguese migration atlas and dependent on water levels, we may return in late October when I will be back for more ringing shenanigans!

Reed Warbler - 43 (2 Spanish controls)
Great Reed Warbler - 1
Cetti’s Warbler - 1
Willow Warbler - 4
Great Tit - 1
Waxbill - 3
Greenfinch - 1
Wren - 1
Blue Tit - 2

TOTAL: 57 (2)

Details of the two Spanish Reed Warblers:

2N10428 ICONA MADRID - Acrocephalus scirpaceus - adult

N935971 ICONA MADRID - Acrocephalus scirpaceus - adult

If you have ringed these birds, please contact us!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Veiga da S.Simao

VEIGA DA S.SIMAO – 25th July 2011

Having arrived late into Vianna do Castelo from Porto, we hit the hay pretty quickly to get a few hours kip before heading out to the site at 5am. We only operated three net lines, ‘Linha Atricapilla’ (2x15m), ‘Linha Collybita’ (12m+18m) and ‘Linha Igreja’ (2x18m+15m) all of which had been used in the February and April ringing sessions. We were joined by Pedro Correia a local birdwatcher who is looking to get into ringing and despite a couple of inquisitive locals, he had the benefit of the knowledge of both myself and Tó…some would say that isn’t a whole lot of benefit!!!

The first net round was completed an hour after the nets were opened and followed each hour thereafter – this is standard operating procedure for the ringing sessions at this site. Straight away we were into the Blackcaps and Sardinian Warblers, mainly juveniles but also a few adult birds that were ringed in February and had obviously bred here.

Fan-tailed Warbler (Cisticola juncidis)

The Atricapilla line turned up the first surprise of the morning, with a juvenile Pied Flycatcher! The nearest known breeding location, to my knowledge, is in the interior of Portugal near the border with Spain so it was quite a surprise to have a juvenile already in this part of Portugal. It is possible that there is a small breeding population somewhere local that was, so far, unknown.

Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)

The second surprise came in the second net round and although we have caught some Willow Warblers in Santo André (we had a Dutch ringed bird on the 4th August in 2010), we were still surprised to catch a young bird this early. The nearest breeding population, from a quick glance in the latest Collins, appears to be northern France.

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta)

The wind picked up at about 10am and became quite strong so by 11am the nets came down and we prepared the rides for tomorrow’s Ciencia Viva ringing demonstration. We are fully booked and even have a waiting list!

As we were taking the nets down, there was a group of eight White Stork at the far end of the site, according to Tó this is quite unusual for this area. Down in the Mondego Valley and the Alentejo, where I spend the majority of my time in Portugal, there are many Storks breeding with a lot remaining all year round, however here in the Minho region, they have only just recently started to breed, with three known nesting attempts this year.

Sardinian Warbler - 11 (1)
Blackcap - 6 (4)
Willow Warbler - 1
Pied Flycatcher - 1
Robin - 3
L.T.Tit - 2
Coal Tit - 3
Great Tit - 4
Blackbird - 3 (1)
Blue Tit - 2
Wren - 4
Melodious Warbler - 1
Fan-tailed Warbler - 1
House Sparrow - 5

TOTAL: 48 (6)

After taking on some much needed liquid refreshment, this afternoon we headed to Paul do Coura, a small and fragmented reed bed close to Caminha at the mouth of the Coura River. We made two net lines into the reeds, enough for a total of six nets and this is where we will ring on Wednesday. White we were opening the lines we saw Reed Warbler, Savi’s Warbler and Fan-tailed Warbler so we are hopeful of a decent session to assess the viability of something more long-term at this site. The close proximity to Spain and a Spanish ringing site (<10km) leaves us speculating of the possibility of a control!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Rimrose Review - taking a break (kinda)!

This is just a quick update with totals from the second half of this week, more than anything, and it has certainly been a frantic one! I've tried to fit in as many sessions in, on Rimrose, as possible before I head to Portugal (in a few hours) as well as finishing off the Barn Owls with Moxey.


I headed to Brook Vale, straight from school, and I was later joined by Moxey. I only bothered with the feeding station line and six nets in two lines in the reed bed.

Juvenile Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

Chiffchaff - 5
Wren - 1
Reed Warbler - 4 (2)
Sedge Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 1
Blue Tit - (1)

TOTAL: 12 (3)

Juvenile Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)


We headed out to make the final visit to the last two farms on our circuit. The first box had been abandoned with four eggs (we had expected that this had happened on our initial visit) however the second farm had, so far, successful reared two young. I have now passed my How-to-handle-climbing-a-ladder-precariously-positioned-over-a-combined-harvester proficiency test.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)


The early finish at school dangled the temptations of a few sneaky pints on the Wirral however, I learnt from last year that a 12pm start leads to a 2am '' and that would just be a waste. So I headed down to Fulwood to meet Steve and using the new line in the reeds plus an additional single and two nets by the canal, we had a decent return on our efforts.

Juvenile Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)

Whitethroat - 6
Blackcap - 5
Robin - 3
Dunnock - 3
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 5 (2)
Reed Bunting - 1
Blackbird - 1
Magpie - 1

TOTAL: 26 (2)

The catch included a controlled Reed Warbler - V926066 - if this is one of yours, get in touch!

Blackcap taking advantage of the many ripe blackberries


We returned to Fulwood for an early session, adding two nets by the canal to the nets we had set on Friday. We also managed to get a line of three double panels up, which we moved around until the public started to turn up, that managed to catch a decent number of Whitethroat.

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeninclus)

Wren - 2
Willow Warbler - 1
Whitethroat - 7 (2)
Robin - 3
Dunnock - 6 (1)
Blackcap - 4 (2)
Sedge Warbler - 2 (1)
Reed Warbler - 6 (1)
Reed Bunting - 3
Linnet - 1
Chaffinch - 1
Blackbird - 1

TOTAL: 37 (7)

Another controlled Reed Warbler was caught in the reeds - X061113 - if this is one of yours, get in touch!

Juvenile Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)


I met Steve at 3:30am this morning at Brook Vale, but when we arrived, it was clear that the wind was too strong and out of a potential twelve nets to go up, only two would have been sheltered enough to have been operable. Instead we did a bit of a site walk around so Steve knows what needs to be ready when I get back from Portugal - to get stuck into some more migrants.

This afternoon I head to Portugal with Tineke, we'll have three ringing sessions in the Minho region before heading to Coimbra to meet up with Moxey and do some ringing in the Mondego Valley before heading home, to Lagoa de Santo André to meet up with the family and complete my 26th year of migration monitoring!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Miserable Weather!

As Saturday morning was a non-starter on Rimrose, I headed to the sewage farm on my own to see if I could wrangle some more House Martins. We don't do much ringing at the sewage farm after June as the Swifts are not as concentrated and the weather conditions are rarely favourable for catching Swifts.

Upon arrival at the plant, there were fewer than fifty mixed Swallow and House Martin and they were rarely low enough to be caught and pretty mobile around the site too. Instead I decided to focus on other passerines that we don't get as much of an opportunity to ring here. With one 9m double panel, a 15m and a 9m full size, I managed to get a reasonable selection of warblers and residents.

The wilder grassland between a section of filter beds was teeming with activity, despite the on/off drizzle and occasional downpour. The double panel in the grass quickly picked up three Whitethroat, a Sedge Warbler and a Reed Bunting, before it had to be taken down due to a heavy shower. The other two nets were more sheltered in the willow scrub and could remain closed during downpours and contributed the bulk of the birds. So, after two very moist hours on site, I left with another 21 birds ringed.

Willow Warbler - 4
Whitethroat - 4
Dunnock - 2
Robin - 2
Reed Bunting - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Blue Tit - 1
Blackcap - 1
Blackbird - 1
Wren - 1


On Saturday evening, I met with Steve at a new site that he is scoping out at Kings Moss near Billinge. As the site is not too far from Steve's house, the plan is to set up a feeding station that he can monitor before starting some ringing sessions in October, once migration at Rimrose slows down.

Wildflower meadow

The site is a decent size and hosts a variety of habitats, largely funded through different conservation initiatives and a good range of species have been recorded there. On Saturday we had good numbers of Phylloscopus warblers, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Goldfinch. Recently Steve has seen Grey Partridge, Skylark and Yellow Wagtail on his frequent visits.

Kings Moss looks like an exciting site based on my initial observations and a good place for Steve to 'look after' during the week. It's encouraging to see an area that is clearly benefiting from responsible and progressive management and it will give us an opportunity to look closer at species such as Yellowhammer, Linnet and Tree Sparrow that have been in population decline for a number of years.

Two new trainees

Sunday was a complete wash out. Is this really mid-July? Anyway, an IPMR session and a bunch of school work kept me occupied instead! ...........Lesson planning or ringing?

This evening I met up with Steve and Natasha at Fulwood for a brief ringing session in the reeds. With four nets (three in the new line) we managed a steady catch rate of the two species that we were particularly there for, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler. The wind speed increased dramatically from when I left work on the Wirral and this rendered the top pocket of the net largely useless, but most birds were caught low (they're not soft these birds!).

Sedge Warbler - 3
Reed Warbler - 6 (1)

TOTAL: 9 (1)

I will most likely head to Brook Vale after work tomorrow for a session in the reeds. Every opportunity to ring will be taken between now and Sunday evening (when I fly off to Portugal) to catch as many migrants as possible as they wont be here when I get back!!!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A bit more from Rimrose

I've managed to get a total of three sessions in on Rimrose this week (Monday's session you can read about here) concentrating on ringing the reed beds at Brook Vale and Fulwood.


Steve met myself and Tineke at Fulwood and we put nets up near the 'old' site that we used last winter and despite the wind, we managed a few more Reed Warblers, as well as picking up a family party of Blue Tit, all juveniles, on the fringe of the reed bed.

Part of the reed bed at Fulwood

The wind was a constant menace, but the reeds sheltered the nets low down, which is where all Reed Warblers were caught. As we were taking the nets down, we picked up a Whitethroat as well as our second control Reed Warbler in a week. If X499683 is one of yours, let us know!

Wren - (1)
Whitethroat - 1
Blue Tit - 5
Great Tit - 1
Reed Warbler - 3 (2)
Dunnock - 1
House Sparrow - 1

TOTAL: 12 (3)


I had the joy of meeting my new Yr7 form (all boys) on Wednesday and this had to be followed up by an induction evening for the parents in the evening. The conditions were good, however there was no ringing to be had until Thursday when myself and Tineke headed to Brook Vale. We put the two lines up, one in the reeds and one through the feeding station - there hasn't been much activity at the feeding station, but the line does still pick up it's share of warblers and in Thursday's case, Moorhen - the first of the year.

The reed bed line contributed the majority of the Reed Warblers, including a couple of adults with the remainder being juveniles. We now have two lines cleared in the reed bed which we will hopefully ring another couple of times before I head off to Portugal. The plan is then for Steve to maintain the site, ready for the early September sessions - what are trainees for?

Juvenile Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

Chiffchaff - 1
Reed Warbler - 5 (1)
Dunnock - (1)
Blackbird - 2 (1)
Moorhen - 1

TOTAL: 9 (3)


I had been keeping an eager eye on the weather all day at work, hoping that the rain would hold off long enough that we could get an evening session in at Fulwood. Arriving on site before 5pm, I headed straight for the reeds, opening up a new main line but then the rain started and after finishing the line, we had to pack up.

New line at Fulwood

This morning I headed out at 7am to see if there was any chance of ringing anywhere, but the weather, as forecasted was well against us - so much so that we'll be lucky to get a session in anywhere. I'm meeting Steve at a potential new site this evening to meet the landowner and we'll take things from there!

Moody skies rolling in from Liverpool Bay at Crosby Marina

Monday, 11 July 2011

This week on Rimrose

It's been a busy week here in North Liverpool but I have managed to get out to Rimrose each of the last five days, ringing on four of them. There is an abundance of fledglings on the wing now and the wild grasslands at Fulwood have provided excellent cover for birds such as Whitethroat, Reed Bunting and Grasshopper Warbler. Most of the Sedge Warblers have now fledged and Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat have been on the wing for quite a while now.


On Thursday I had a post-work session with Tineke at Fulwood, netting in the reed bed and willow carr - the early downpour got us soaked to the bone, but the birds sparked up afterwards and we made a decent catch for the number of nets that we had up. Almost all of the birds were adults however, suggesting that most of the Reed Warblers were yet to fledge.

As we were taking down, we had caught another dragonfly (last week it had been a Broad-bodied Chaser) and this week I successfully extracted it and later identified it as a Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) and managed to get some decent(ish) photo's.

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis)

Reed Warbler - 8 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 2
Blue Tit - 1

TOTAL: 12 (1)


A Friday evening visit to Brook Vale with Canela provided an opportunity to take a better look at the reed bed and it's recovery from the fire earlier this year, I was also able to replenish the feeders that were no likely taking a hammering as a result of the Magpies.

On Saturday, Seamus and Ian from the Fylde Ringing Group were finally able to get down and visit (Seamus is assessing me for my Trainers Emdorsement). The breeze was much stronger than I would have liked, but some of the nets were sheltered enough to put up and after a slow start, we were soon pulling in the warblers. There was a good spread of warblers with an unusual non-breeding female Willow Warbler undergoing a heavy primary moult, as well as the usual high numbers of Blackcap, some Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff.

Unfortunately we were not able to catch a Bullfinch for Ian (who had never ringed one - they are pretty uncommon on the Fylde), but he did get a ringing tick, a Magpie, caught late on (Magpies are regarded as pretty-bloody-common on the Fylde).

Ian Gardner (obscured face due to his Witness Protection) and his Magpie

I enjoy ringing with other ringers, especially those with as much experience as Seamus, it's always a learning process but it isn't always about the birds. We discussed Blackberries at great length:

One of many ripening Blackberries

We were collectively alarmed that there are so many ripening Blackberries this early in the summer and wonder what effect it will have on migrant Sylvia warblers this migration. At Fulwood and Brook Vale we have large areas of mixed elder and blackberry that provides an awesome supply of food for these migrants. My concern is that the crop will be early this year and could leave some birds caught short and having to compete for food with other species or individuals reducing their feeding time. Time will tell.

Wren - 2
Willow Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 1 (1)
Blackcap - 16 (2)
Robin - 2 (1)
Whitethroat - 7
Dunnock - 2 (2)
Greenfinch - 2
Blackbird - 4 (1)
Magpie - 1

TOTAL: 38 (7)


Following a night out in Port Sunlight with work colleagues, my decision to drive and not drink paid dividends, although it did leave me slightly moist! I arrived at Brook Vale an hour later that I had planned, in time to get drenched in a one hour rain storm. I was soaked through pretty quickly so I put the nets up regardless, leaving them closed. By 6am, the rain had moved off and the birds started moving.

I was flying solo for this mission as no-one was available to help, so I was restricted to netting within the reserve, however, this allowed me to get some nets up in the reed bed and this worked well.

The bird of the day would have to be this Reed Warbler:

Is this your Reed Warbler?

L912509 - Reed Warbler - Adult

This control Reed Warbler is the second in two years at Brook Vale and if it is one of yours, please let me know!!!

Aside from the reedbed, the rest of the nets produced small volumes of decent quality birds such as Blackcap adn Whitethroat, the first Sedge Warbler at the site for the year was also caught.

Wren - 1
Chiffchaff - 3 (1)
Willow Warbler - 2
Blue Tit - 1
Blackcap - 4
Whitethroat - 2
Reed Warbler - 8 (3)
Sedge Warbler - 1
Great Tit - (1)
Dunnock - 2 (1)
Robin - 2
Greenfinch - 1
Blackbird - 2
Magpie - 1

TOTAL: 30 (6)


This evening I headed straight from work to Fulwood and later I was joined by Moxey. I put up three nets in the reed bed, but I wasn't hugely successful. Another two Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler were added to the totals for the year and an evening in the fresh air and the sounds of a vibrant reed bed are enough to shake away the stresses of a busy day in a High School!

Sedge Warbler - 2 (1)
Reed Warbler - 2 (3)

TOTAL: 4 (4)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

British Sedge Warblers to Santo André

In just over two weeks time, I'll be heading back to Portugal to complete my annual summer trip to Portugal to operate the ringing station at Lagoa de Santo André (this will be my 26th year and Moxey's 34th). There will be a couple of stops in the North first, a couple of ringing demonstrations and the much anticipated 'Taipal 1Km - an epic contest between the PADA Ringing Group and migrant warblers). This brings me quite nicely to tonights post.

In 2010, we had a record August for Sedge Warblers that included a number of foreign controls, six of them being British Sedge. It has taken a little while, but we now have the original ringing details for five of the Sedge:

V733483 ringed as a 3J on 3/9/2009 at Stanford Reservoir, Northants controlled at Sto. Andre 18/08/2010

L014529 ringed at Icklesham on 26/7/2010 as a 3J controlled at Sto. Andre on 26/08/2010

X064073 ringed as a 3 on 23/08/2008 at Oxmoor Wood, near Runcorn, Cheshire controlled at Santo André on 26/08/2010

X680412 ringed 23 /07/2009 Kirkton of Buchan, Grampian as a 3 controlled at Santo André on28/08/2010

L017832 ringed at Icklesham 12/08/2010 as a 3 controlled at Santo André on 29/08/2010

The forecast for the weekend doesn't look promising but I've got my fingers crossed!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Sunday at Brook Vale

Another early start on Sunday with Neil and Steve this time and with Brook Vale the location. It had been almost three weeks since the last session so, like the day before, we were hoping for a decent catch made up mostly of juvenile birds and that's what we got!

The forecast, like the day before, was spot on - by the time we had recovered from the shock of not one, but two correct forecasts, we had all of the nets up, five in the dell and the rest in the reserve. From the first net round, we were pulling in the Blackcaps, Dunnocks and Wrens - almost exclusively juveniles, as you would expect at this time of year.

Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)

As the morning progressed, a small group of juvenile Chiffchaff were caught in the middle of the reed bed, almost as bizarre as the Blackcap we caught in the same net later on. We started filling the feeders at Brook Vale a week or so ago and this started to pull in the young titmice, as well as three Greenfinches. Over in the dell, three House Sparrows put in an appearance along with the only two Whitethroat of the day.

The morning turned out to be a pretty warm one, so the catch rate soon dwindled, but by that point, we had caught a significant number of birds, the highest total at Brook Vale so far this year. As we were packing up, three young Magpies were caught in the feeding station nets.


Wren - 7
L.T.Tit - 1
Chiffchaff - 6 (1)
Blackcap - 18 (2)
Robin - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 8 (4)
Great Tit - 8 (1)
Blue Tit - 5
Whitethroat - 2
Linnet - 1
Reed Warbler - 1 (2)
House Sparrow - 3
Greenfinch - 3
Song Thrush - 1 (1)
Blackbird - 7 (1)
Magpie - 3

TOTAL: 75 (12)

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Finally some youngsters!

After catching and ringing the first juvenile Blackcap and Whitethroats of the year four weeks ago, we've hardly had a sniff of a youngster since. Given that weather has curtailed any opportunity for mist netting the last two weekends, it was with anticipation that me and Tineke headed to Fulwood this morning. Steve had done an excellent job last night, cleaning up the net rides ready for todays session, even though he couldn't make it himself - that's a well trained trainee right there!

We started off with the usual nets by the side of the canal, two single 15m, a dog-legged 15 + 12m, a single 9m and then a further 15m further down the towpath. All the net locations are quite nicely contained within a fenced off area of the park, with an abundance of nettles and bramble to deter anyone but the most ambitious of ringers! We also put two single nets in the reed bed, getting soaked in the process, to try and catch some of the fledged Reed Warblers that have been knocking around.

Juvenile Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)

By the time we had finished putting up the nets, it was clear it was going to be a Blackcap day, with eight in the space of five minutes. The first net round brought in a further twelve, all juveniles, and a young Grasshopper Warbler flew in whilst I was at the net. This was only the second Gropper to be caught at the site, and the first of three today, including one adult male.

Juvenile Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)

Whitethroats also joined in the party, a number of juveniles also caught, although from observing most of the adults frantically zipping about in the meadow, there are still plenty of birds yet to fledge. The activity of the canalside made up for the disappointment of the reed bed with only one retrap Sedge Warbler being caught.

Juvenile Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)

Juvenile Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

Moxey wasn't present this morning until about 9:45 because he was due to head out onto the Ribble Marsh at Banks with Ron Jackson to survey the tern colony, however this had to be postponed until the afternoon, so he was able to join us for the last couple of hours.

Overall, a very successful morning, bringing us to an annual total of 136 Blackcaps!!!

Wren - 3 (1)
Grasshopper Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 28 (2)
Whitethroat - 5
Dunnock - 6
Robin - 2
Chaffinch - 1
Linnet - 1
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 1 (1)
Greenfinch - 2
Blackbird - 3 (1)

TOTAL: 55 (6)