Monday, 30 April 2012

End of April Review

Today marks the end of April and in some respects, it has been a month to forget. Typified by strong winds and plenty of precipitation (nationally, it has been the wettest April for 100 years), we still managed to get in a few ringing sessions, ringing 256 birds, revisiting an old site at Hightown fields and starting to build up some warbler totals.

The top ten weigh in as follows:

1. Blue Tit - 270
2. Chaffinch - 153
3. Goldfinch -   152
4. Greenfinch - 110
5. Great Tit - 78
6. Yellowhammer - 63
7. Goldcrest - 47
= Robin - 47
9. Chiffchaff - 35
10. Dunnock - 31
(11. Blackcap - 26)

TOTAL: 1178 (April 256)

During the month of April we managed to add a few new species to our annual totals:
  • Lesser Redpoll
  • Linnet
  • Willow Warbler
  • Meadow Pipit
  • Jay
  • Wheatear
  • White Wagtail
  • Marsh Tit
The Marsh Tit is particularly significant, being only the third ringed by SWLRG in our history. Spring trapping efforts have yielded the four Wheatear and the White Wagtail, whilst most of the Willow Warblers have been ringed up at Kings Moss.

Looking ahead, May is traditionally the month where me and Moxey get into the sewage farm and start to catch the Swift and House Martin as they return from their winter travels. With ringing efforts starting to increase on Rimrose, we should also expect to catch our first Acrocephalus warblers and start to significantly increase our Sylvia's and if we're luck, a Locustella or two!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Marvelous Marsh Tit

With the weather situation this week being pretty dire, we were quite lucky to manage to squeeze a few hours in at Rimrose and kick off our summertime monitoring of Rimrose Valley in relative style. The weather this week has been pretty challenging for ringers, with strong winds and a lot of rain. This weather seems to have held up migration somewhat, whilst the male Willow Warblers and Blackcap have been back and singing for a few weeks now, the females seem to be yet to arrive in any numbers. With this difficult weather in the past two weeks, it remains to be seen whether these April showers have had any impact on the birds that are yet to arrive.

Meeting Charlie at 4:30, we managed to get all of the nets up within an hour and it wasn't long before we had caught the bird of the day. It was apparent from the outset that there had been a push of Blackcap into the area with many more males singing, yet with the number of birds we caught this morning, it would suggest that the are yet to establish any real territories.

The first net round was to be the most fruitful in terms of volume and variety. As Charlie was spreading the nets in the line, I nipped back to check the nets that we had put up first, extracting a Poecile tit. Having handled a Willow Tit the previous week up at Kings Moss, I immediately noticed that this individual was different and upon later inspection, we identified this bird as a Marsh Tit, the first that I have ringed and only the second that I have handled, the first being in Nottinghamshire many years ago. Moxey arrived shortly afterwards and he reckoned it was the first Marsh Tit for the group, but having checked the records, it is, in fact, the third that the group has ever ringed.

Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris)

Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris)

This is an unusual record given the scarcity of the this species in our area and it remains to be seen whether this adult bird is one of a pair.

A single Sedge Warbler was rattling away all morning from outside the reserve, evading our nets. With no evidence of any other Acro's, we await our first for the year. The Blackcap total meanwhile, was ticking over nicely, with loads of birds singing and a total of six females being caught. Interestingly, the three retraps were all ringed in 2010 and all male.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

By 9:30, the wind had got up just as a Willow Warbler arrived, singing away, right above the nets. Mallard have bred on the reserve this year, with four ducklings bobbing around on the main ditch but as of yet, there is no sign of the usual Moorhens being with offspring.

Chiffchaff -   6   (4)
Wren -   1   (2)
Reed Bunting -   1
Blackcap -    12   (3)
Robin -   2
Marsh Tit -   1
Linnet -   2
Dunnock -   1
Blackbird -   1   (2)

TOTAL:   27   (11)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

From Pillar to Post

Wet and windy. The two words that have summarised the weather in the past two weeks. Here in the good old North West, we've been predominantly experiencing northerly winds recently which has seemed to slow the influx of migrants into the region. Nevertheless, both Charlie and I have located at least three Grasshopper Warblers and a brief visit to Rimrose revealed Sedge Warbler singing, although the more plentiful Reed Warbler were not heard.

Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)

This time of year sends Moxey doing his annual heronry survey. The number of nests in one colony seem to be lower than in previous years, could the presence of a Buzzards nest in the same wood have something to do with this? Following his quick survey, Moxey popped into Ince to see what was around, it was pretty quiet, reflected in the total:

Chiffchaff -   2
Blackcap -   1
Wren -  1
Dunnock -  (1)
Goldcrest -   (1)

TOTAL:   4   (2)

The forecast for the rest of the week looks pretty grim so the outlook is doubtful for any post-work sessions for the rest of the week.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Troch 'n' Roll

Moxey headed back out to Hightown on Friday afternoon and managed to get another two Wheatear but the birds moved through pretty quickly and after a while, they had all pushed off. Later on, I met up with Moxey at Hightown, on the other side of the railway, to see if we could pick up any Linnets coming in to roost in the willows. The Linnet decided not to play ball, but we did ring a further eight birds, including two Willow Warblers, of which there were a significant number singing. The two trochilus that we caught were both males, side by side in the net, most likely they were squabbling over territory.

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

We also heard the first Grasshopper Warbler of the spring, reeling from the grasses whilst six Swallow flew over as we were packing up.

Willow Warbler -   2
Chiffchaff -   (1)
L.T.Tit -   3
Wheatear -   2
Wren -   1
Robin -   1
Blackbird -   1

TOTAL:   10   (1)

With the weekend forecast was one of blustery showers, we were keen to get a couple of ringing sessions in. Depleted in terms of manpower for various reasons, we had a choice of Rimrose or Kings Moss on Saturday morning so me and Charlie headed down the East Lancs Road once again to ring at the feeding stations. Arriving at 5am, we were rather moistened in a brief shower but the Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap were soon in full song.

Willow Tit (Parus montanus)

Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea cabaret)

We knew from the outset that the session wouldn't be a long one, the weather was forecast to get progressively worse and by 10am, the wind had got up and the showers began. The nets were quickly taken down and two, rather soggy scousers, trudged back down the hill, with the doubling of our annual Willow Warbler total and a couple more warblers to boot.

Chiffchaff -   1
Willow Warbler -   6
L.T.Tit -   (1)
Blue Tit -   (1)
Great Tit -   (2)
Lesser Redpoll -   1   (1)
Willow Tit -   (1)
Coal Tit -   (2)
Chaffinch -   1   (4)
Goldfinch -   1   (2)
Dunnock -   (2)
Blackcap -   2
Reed Bunting -   1
Greenfinch -   3
Blackbird -   1
Jay -   1

TOTAL:   18   (16)

With heavy rain showers and a blustery wind, this morning I opted to head into Liverpool to watch the giants wake up. This weekend has seen a massive street theatre event here in Liverpool, the biggest in the country's history, entitled Sea Odyssey.

The Giants wake up

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Spring Trappin'

Moxey picked up the mealworms and spring traps from my house while I was at work today and by the time I had finished teaching for the day, I had a text saying he'd caught the first Wheatear of the year, a young male, at Hightown Fields. Moxey had prior commitments from 5:30pm onwards, so I headed up to take over as there were about eleven Wheatear in the fields as well as a number of White Wagtails and a single Yellow Wagtail. By the time I arrived, Moxey had just picked up an alba Wag and as we looked out across the fields, we picked up the second Wheatear of the evening.

 White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba)
Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

With a decent number of Wheatear still around, I was hopeful of a couple more birds before I had to pack up and get back to do some school work, but a male Sparrowhawk put an end to those hopes. The Sparrowhawk stuck around for twenty minutes or so, even landing in the field, with the Wheatear remaining hidden for the duration. The only other observation of note was a flock of sixty Linnet building up for roost on the coastal side of the railway.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

More News from Portugal

I got an email through the other day from Tó, in Portugal. During the ringing sessions for Atlas das Aves Invernantes e Migradores de Portugal at Veiga da S.Simao at the begining of October, the team retrapped a Nightingale with a French ring. The details of this bird have now come through.
Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)

The bird was ringed as a juvenile on 16th August 2008 in Plaisance, France giving a total of 1142 days between captures and 775km between capture sites, although the bird will have been sub-Saharan three times in between then. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

End of Holiday Catch Up

It has been a been quite a busy end to my Spring Break but we've managed to squeeze in three ringing sessions and a trip to Wembley, so here's a breakdown.

On Thursday morning, I headed to Kings Moss with Tineke. As there were only two of us, we kept the netting to the feeding stations, but similar to our previous session, the activity was subdued earliest in the day.

 We finally found Charlie (and friend)

The nets at the edge of the field proved the most effective, even making a contribution towards the warbler total, picking up Chiffchaff and one of four Blackcap to be caught. As with the previous sessions and as a result of our feeding efforts, this line of nets also contributed the three Yellowhammer that we caught.

Pollenated Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

There are a number of plants starting to come out into flower now, including this non-native species - Green Alkanet. A lot of vegetation is really starting to grow up now which will provide excellent nesting habitat for the Phyllosc's and Bunting species.

 Green Alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens)

One of the feeding stations turned up an unexpected surprise (or two) in the form of a Meadow Pipit. These are the first Meadow Pipits to be ringed at the site and although we don't see large numbers of mipits at Kings Moss, we expect that there will be a few that breed at the site so Steve will add this to his list of species to locate nests of.

 Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

We packed up reasonably early as the wind started to get up and as we did so, we watched five Buzzards start to stack up on the thermals rising above the farmland. The behaviour of the finch species in particular suggested that the next session could be tried in an afternoon....

Thursday 12th April

L.T.Tit -   (1)
Chiffchaff -   2
Willow Warbler -   1
Yellowhammer -   3
Blackcap -   4
Great Tit -   1
Meadow Pipit -   2
Goldfinch -   1   (4)
Blue Tit -   (1)
Coal Tit -   (1)
Reed Bunting -   (3)
Chaffinch -   (1)
Greenfinch -   4
Jay -   (1)

TOTAL:   18   (12)

On Friday, I headed to Hightown with Moxey for a short session in the willow slack across the railway from the Woodhams. Arriving after dawn, we quickly popped a few nets up and then sat back to watch proceedings. It didn't take long for us to realise that there had been an influx of Willow Warbler overnight, with at least six singing in the vicinity. Despite the Willow Warblers being in full song, we didn't catch any but we did manage to pick up a decent number of Chiffchaff.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

After a while, the Blackcap began to sing and shortly afterwards, we caught a second-year male followed by a second-year female bringing our annual total into double figures. With one net in a dog-leg formation, we managed to take advantage of two scrapping Reed Bunting, obviously trying to establish a territory. In a few weeks time the site will be occupied with Sedge Warbler amongst others!

 Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Friday 13th April

Blackcap -   2
Chiffchaff -   4
Reed Bunting -   2
Robin -   2
Blue Tit -   1 (1)

TOTAL:   11 (1)

There was no ringing on Saturday, as me and Moxey had a trip down to Wembley to keep us occupied. Whilst football was the order of the day, we didn't let birds slip too far from conversation and with 420 miles of motorway between Liverpool and London, we noted only a single Kestrel on the whole journey and that was within 500m of the end of the M57!!!

 Scouse Ringer & Moxey - The Bearded Everton Supporters Club

This afternoon we managed to get another session in at Kings Moss, meeting Steve at 2pm, we gave it a four hour session but unfortunately, the wind was much stronger than anticipated. The breeze meant that we were unable to put the line up in the field and this meant we missed out on the majority of the field. From our vantage point, we counted upto twenty Yellowhammer and an equal number of Chaffinch feeding on the seed in the edge of the field. The behaviour of the birds suggested we would have a decent catch win some...just like FA Cup Semi Finals really!

We did manage another two Willow Warbler this afternoon, both caught in the same net and males with wing lengths of 70mm and 71mm respectively. At this early stage, birds are still arriving and with the males arriving before females, this is to be expected and by catching two in the same net, the birds don't appear to be on a territory and could well still be migrating.

 Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochillus)

A quick walk down to the pond to watch the Chiffchaff revealed a pair of Mallard and Moorhen on the pond and a Blue Tit prospecting one of the BOB boxes. The Marsh Marigold is in bloom in the margins but it remains to be seen how long the water will remain as the spring progresses.

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Sunday 15th April

Willow Warbler -   2
Goldfinch -   4   (3)
Yellowhammer -   1
Chafficnh -   2   (1)
Lesser Redpoll -   1
Dunnock -   (2)
Blue Tit -   (2)
Great Tit -   (3)
Greenfinch -   6   (3)
Jay -   1

TOTAL:   17   (11)

It's back to work for me tomorrow, although like all teachers, the work doesn't really stop during the holidays!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

News From Portugal

It's all quiet on the Northern Front this week - a combination of wind and rain has put a hold on any ringing plans although this has allowed me to do some maintenance at Fulwood, Brook Vale and Kings Moss. With nothing to report at home, I thought I would share two interesting pieces of news from my-home-away-from-Liverpool, Portugal.

I will start with my colleagues from the PADA Grupo de Anilhadores. Yesterday was the first PEEC (Constant Effort Project) session of the year at Paul do Taipal. As expected, the reed beds held Reed Warblers but no-one had expected a total of three that were caught to hold BTO rings! Speculation is rife that the Reed Warbler were held in a t-shirt that I sent over for Paulo Ferreira that he happened to be wearing that day!

 BTO-ringed Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) (PHOTO: Miguel Araújo)

The Stig - PJF (PHOTO: PADA)

The subsequent sessions at Madriz have revealed Chaffinch, Serin and Long-tailed Tit with active brood patches, which is similar to what I have found in the past week, catching Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Dunnock and Long-tailed Tit with brood patches, although no Serin! A massive well done to the team on the first of many foreign controls this summer!

The second piece of news relates to Paul da Coura - the ringing site where me and Tó completed a ringing session last July. You can read about that session here. We visited Paul da Coura in February when I was over but decided against a ringing session there as it was pretty quiet, but if we had, maybe we would have encountered this chap:

Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla) (PHOTO: Rafael Salvadores)

Tó forwarded the SPEA (Sociedad Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves) email with the news. The sighting, made by Rafael Salvadores, was made in some scrub close to the ringing site. The sighting has been submitted to the rarities committee.

Paul da Coura is one of a number of sites where we will be conducting Ciencia Viva: Biología no Verao sessions in the summer. The other sites are: Veiga da S.Simao, Figuiera da Foz and Paul do Taipal. Biologia no Verao is an opportunity for members of the public to get out and about to experience some scientific projects that are underway in Portugal during the summer. Members of APAA will be conducting ringing sessions all over the country providing an excellent opportunity to share findings and generate enthusiasm of ornithological research.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Ringing

Over the past few days we have managed to get two sessions in at Kings Moss with a decent amount of success. The weather has been kind to us on occasions this week allowing us to net to full capacity on the plantation and in the hedgerow which has provided fruitful, especially for finch and bunting species.

On Thursday, we caught three new species for the year, in the form of Linnet, Redpoll and Willow Warbler. The catch of Linnet has coincided with a significant increase in the numbers of Linnet building on the adjacent farmland. The Redpoll however, were unexpected as none had been heard during the ringing session in contrast to the Willow Warbler, the were singing in earnest all around us.

 Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)

Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea cabaret)

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Moxey has been rocking the bearded look lately, a look that I like to refer to as the Hobo Santa look. It was actually pretty cold on Thursday (minus two degrees on arrival) so Moxey was layered up and the belly isn't part of his new look. Occasionally Moxey does actually do some work....

Homo moxensis nativiteus

Thrusdays session continued our recent success with the Yellowhammers, our highest total of nineteen birds caught with fifteen of those being unringed birds. The 2012 total for Yellowhammer is now standing at fifty nine birds which has exceeded our expectations and can be considered one of the success stories of the year so far.

Thursday 5th April

Willow Warbler -   1
Chiffchaff -   1
Nuthatch -   1
Greenfinch -   6
Chaffinch -   9   (1)
Goldfinch -   14   (1)
Linnet -   2
Redpoll -   2
Bullfinch -   2
Reed Bunting -   1   (1)
Yellowhammer -   15   (4)
Great Tit -   1   (6)
Blue Tit -   4   (4)
Robin -   (1)
Dunnock -   (2)

TOTAL:   59   (20)

We wouldn't normally conduct a ringing session so soon after a previous one at this time of year, however Steve went up to Kings Moss on Friday night and reported large numbers of Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Linnet building up around the ringing sites. So with this news we headed up, once again, on Saturday morning to squeeze in another session.

Despite the reported numbers of the previous evening, we weren't as successful as Thrusday in terms of the number of birds ringed. We did however pick up another Blackcap, although at the sites I've been visiting in the last few years, there doesn't seem to many about.......yet.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

Male & Female Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Once again, finches made up the bulk of the catch from the feeding stations, this time Chaffinch being the more abundant species. A number of Chaffinch and Greenfinch are now starting to be caught with brood patches at stage two so I would expect to see the first juveniles on the wing by the end of the month.

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

Saturday 7th April

Wren -   1
L.T.Tit -   (1)
Blackcap -   1
Robin -   (1)
Dunnock -   1
Blue Tit -   3   (2)
Chaffinch -   7   (1)
Goldfinch -   4   (1)
Linnet -   1
Yellowhammer -   3   (6)
Reed Bunting -   2   (3)
Greenfinch -   6   (1)
Blackbird -   1   (1)

TOTAL:   30   (17)

With the number of birds on the site seeming to be higher in the afternoon/evenings, it will be worth conducting a session one afternoon next week, hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Friday, 6 April 2012

On the March!

March was mostly made up of ringing sessions at Kings Moss and Crosby Hall although towards the end of the month, we started operations at Brook Vale once again. The middle of March brought the first migrants of the year in the form of Chiffchaffs - by the end of the month, we had ringed 15. By the end of March, the first spring Blackcaps had also started to arrive with two ringed at Kings Moss and one at Brook Vale. Despite the first Willow Warblers of the year arriving in the last days of the month, there were none ringed in March.

In total, 327 birds were ringed in March, bringing the grand total for 2012 to 922 birds ringed which is a higher total than at this point last year. The species of particular interest at this point in the year is Yellowhammer. March saw a significant build up in their numbers at Kings Moss and the switch in feeding regime that we made in February seems to have paid off. Prior to 2012, the ringing group had only ringed 258 Yellowhammers so the progress we have made so far this year is quite a big deal. It remains to be seen how many of these birds will actually breed at Kings Moss, but Steve and Natasha are prepared to monitor the activity.

1. Blue Tit - 258
2. Chaffinch - 126
3. Goldfinch - 123
4. Greenfinch - 73
5. Great Tit - 72
6. Goldcrest - 44
7. Robin - 41
=. Yellowhammer - 41
9. Dunnock - 23
10. Coal Tit -   20

TOTAL: 922

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

From One To The Other

On Sunday morning I headed to Crosby Hall for a session in the woods and at the feeding station. With Charlie in Scotland, Steve doing the 'family thing' and Moxey arriving later, it was left to me (and Canela) to get the nets up. By the time Moxey arrived, we were also joined by Lisa Warvil from the Merseyside Ringing Group - Lisa is going to be doing some work with us during the breeding season.

Being 1st April, I couldn't resist the temptation to test the gulibility of some of our group. So I sent a text message:
Croatian-ringed Yellow-browed Warbler at Crosby Hall

Ian was the first to respond, followed by Charlie and Steve who all picked up on it straight away. Chris Bridge however, well, his response was a little more enthusiastic but was quickly followed by thanks for a good April Fools. Only Chris can answer whether he was initially taken in!

Moxey and Lisa didn't stick around long, leaving me (and Canela) to do the donkey work, not that there was really a whole lot to do. The Sun was out and most of the birds stayed away with the catch rate below our expectations. There were a couple of interesting retraps however, the first Chiffchaff of the year for the site was ringed here a year previously, as was the first Blackcap. These are the moments that I enjoy as a ringer, to retrap a bird in the knowledge that it has just spent the last seven months down in Southern Europe or North Africa.

 Returning Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

By the time Moxey returned later on, things had started to get pretty quiet so we made plans to pack up and reconvene at Brook Vale later on in the afternoon to get a few jobs done.

L.T.Tit -   1   (1)
Wren -   1
Chiffchaff -   2   (1)
Goldcrest -   3
Blackcap -   (1)
Goldfinch -   5
Chaffinch -   4   (7)
Blue Tit -   2   (1)
Great Tit -   1   (4)
Robin -   (3)
Greenfinch -   7   (2)
Nuthatch -   (1)
Song Thrush -   2

TOTAL:   28   (21)

Me and Moxey met up at Brook Vale for 4pm with the task of fence reinforcement and the relocation of some Elder saplings. We decided to put the feeding station line up as my top-up visits in the evenings have shown more productivity at the feeders.

We set about planting the Elder along a section of the fence that is pretty exposed from the path - we are hoping that the extra cover will prevent curious eyes from prying. We also harvested some barbed wire from a redundant fence outside the reserve and used it to fix some fencing. Brook Vale is now Fort Knox standard!!!

L.T.Tit -   2   (1)
Chiffchaff -   1
Greenfinch -   3
Chaffinch -   3
Great Tit -   1
Dunnock -   2   (1)

TOTAL:   12   (2)

Once more I was on my own on Monday morning, heading to Brook Vale to see what is moving through in terms of migrants. There wasn't a huge amount to report with a small number of Meadow Pipit, about twelve Siskin and three Redpoll flying over during the session. Despite my best attempts, I was unable to tempt any of the Linnets in the Dell down to the nets but other than that, things were pretty quiet.

Inside the reserve things were pretty quiet too, the feeding station didn't produce anything of note, but the first migrant Blackcap of the year was caught and a female Sparrowhawk managed to bounce its way out of the net before I could get to it.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) - first of many?
 Reed Bunting (Emberiza scheoniclus)

I did get a chance to speak to a couple of curious dog walkers during the morning as I was out and about. There is a growing concern amongst the Rimrose regulars about the plans that are currently beeing mooted about the road development plans that would run right down the middle of Rimrose Valley. I took the opportunity to direct these supporters to the Rimrose Ringers website, all about our work on Rimrose Valley.

Wren -   1   (3)
Chiffchaff -   (3)
L.T.Tit -   (2)
Dunnock -   1   (2)
Song Thrush -   (1)
Great Tit -   1   (1)
Blackbird -   (1)
Reed Bunting -   2
Blackcap -   1

TOTAL:   6   (13)

New growth

Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Blackcap Are Back

Steve met me and Moxey bright and early, at Kings Moss on a cool and cloudy Saturday to help set up the nets, although he wasn't able to stay for the session - a well trained trainee! Once the nets were set up, we walked around the site and from the outset, Blackcap and Willow Warbler were singing in earnest. From our brief walkaround before the first net round, we estimated at least five Willow Warbler and two Blackcap, following the arrival of Chiffchaffs a few weeks ago, the next warblers on the agenda are starting to arrive! Exciting times!

Once Steve had left, we completed the first net round and the field net line started off strongly with Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting but elsewhere it was pretty quiet. In fact, the ringing session was a bit of a slow burner with frequent net rounds yielding about ten birds each time. This suited us well - with less of us, we were spread more thin, so we took the outlying nets down by 10am.

Alan had managed to get some of the signs that I provided earlier in the week, put up on some boards at at least one of the entrance points. We encountered a total of nine dog walkers during the morning and of that, seven had their dogs off the lead and only two obeyed the restrictions. Without wanting to sound like a broken record, I kept quiet - only because birds aren't breeding yet and no-one was anywhere near the nets, but as we approach the breeding season, the impact that irresponsible dog walkers can have is significant.

 Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

The hedge and field nets were the most productive during the morning. For the past month we have been ground feeding in a set-aside strip adjacent to the main feeding station and this has greatly increased our Yellowhammer totals. Whilst catching Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Chaffinch are expected here, catching a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff in this line was, relatively, unexpected.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

Although we caught a Blackcap two weeks ago at Brook Vale, I doubt that it was a returning migrant. The two Blackcap we caught at Kings Moss however, were most likely to be migrants giving their body condition. Although we didn't catch any Willow Warblers, to hear them sing was encouraging and uplifting - let the floodgates open!

We had to pack up reasonably early because Moxey had a ticket for the match, subsequently watching Everton put two past West Brom. By the time we were all packed up, we'd ringed another forty-six birds with a decent total of finches in the mix and a few warblers to boot!

Chiffchaff -   3
Reed Bunting -   2
Blackcap -   2
Robin -   1   (1)
Chaffinch -   9   (3)
Goldfinch -   4   (1)
Blue Tit -   3   (3)
Great Tit -   (2)
Yellowhammer -   9   (1)
Bullfinch -   1   (1)
Dunnock -   (3)
Greenfinch -   10
Song Thrush -   1
Blackbird -   1
Jay -    (1)

TOTAL:   46   (17)