So I’ve decide to keep track of my wildlife adventures again for the coming year, so here goes…


Goose roundups  – 3rd

A trip out to Richmond Park to meet up with Phil Belman and help with the annual roundups. Each year we are seeing less birds on the pond and this year was no different, we caught c30 of only 40 birds present.

Canada Geese - Richmond Park

Canada Geese – Richmond Park


A late invite to ring Marsh Harriers by Swale Ringing Group in Kent was an opportunity not to be missed. A hastily reshuffle of workload allowed me to head to Kent with Paul. This visit was the ‘mop-up’ round, to ring juveniles that had either been to small or not hatched on the previous visit. Unfortunately for Paul and myself, of the 4 nests checked none had any surviving young. We did get to see some of the fledged birds flying above and it was still great to meet with new ringers and learn about a magnificent bird.

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CES 7 – 9th

Far from perfect weather conditions (something we’ve come to expect this year!) but within ringing guidelines had us out at Wraysbury again for CES 7. A team of 5 processed a total of 48 birds, 41 new and 7 recaptures, Chiffchaff led the way with 12 processed followed by Blackcap on 6.

CES 9 – 30th am

Having missed CES 8, I was eager to get out and catch some birds. Better weather conditions than my last CES visit but still far from what we’d expect for this time of year and not what had been forecast the previous evening, at least the wind was not as bad as our previous visits but a north westerly did keep it cooler than we’d like. A team of 6 were out to support the CES cause.

74 birds processed in total with a 60/14 new/retrap split. Chiffchaff was the most numerous ringed with 21 followed by Whitethroat and Garden Warbler with 7 each.

Chobham Common – 30th pm

Woodlark had been spotted on the common so Carl and I decided to have a go at catching some using my spring trap baited with mealworm. We trekked over to the area in question but unfortunately couldn’t see or hear any, however there were plenty of Stonechat about so we set for them and were able to catch 2 birds, both juvenile.

Juvenile Stonechat

Juvenile Stonechat





A busy month with our Constant Effort Site (CES) & Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) schemes ramping up.

RAS – 5th

First up for the month was a trip out to Berkshire where Carl, Paul and myself spent the morning in and around Marlow checking a few boxes of various owl species, Little, Tawny and Barn. Our first box, a Tawny, we found a single owlet, we estimated it to be 14 days old, we checked the leg size to make sure before putting a ring on.

Tawny owl pulli

We knew what to expect in the next box to be checked, the owner has a camera mounted in the box and monitors it on the lounge tv. A female with 2 owlets

There were 3 boxes at the next location, Little owl, Barn owl and Kestrel. The Little owl was sitting with 2 chicks, the Kestrel was sitting on 4 eggs, we will return in 14-18 days to check the progress and the Barn owl box was empty.

Little owl having unique numbered ring attached

Little owl having unique numbered ring attached

CES 5 – 18th

Andrew, Carl, Paul and I  managed to work in a session in between  the periods of bad weather June as thrown up. A rather modest 31/9 new/retrap  was the final total of the day with a male Bullfinch the highlight.

Ageing a male Bullfinch

We didn’t quite manage the whole 6 hours with rain once again causing an earlier take down than planned.

RAS – 19th

Berkshire again with Paul and more first round box checking, highlight of the day was a broad of 3 Barn owl pulli aged 35d, 32d & 29d, all old enough to ring. Two more boxes had females sitting tight on very young chicks of only 2 -6 days and possibly eggs, we will return in due course to ring the pulli.

3 ringed Barn owl pulli settled back in box

3 ringed Barn owl pulli settled back in box

RAS – 22nd

A busy, and possible a record breaking day in Berkshire with 20 boxes checked and 10 birds processed; 3 new BO, 3 retrap BO and 2 BO chicks, one of the retraps proved to be a very special bird indeed, a female first ringed 14 years and 11 months ago and sitting on eggs, the oldest known UK Barn owl was 15 years and 3 months, this means our female is probably the oldest know breeding UK Barn owl!  A return visit to the Kestrel box we visited on the 5th revealed 3 Kestrel chicks and 1 unhatched egg, 2 of the chicks were old enough to ring with the third still a few days away.

Breeding female, 14 years 11 months!

A very special Barn owl, a breeding female, 14 years 11 months old!

A new catching net specially designed for the Kestrel boxes was deployed today, alas the adult bird was not in the box.


The long walk back after checking a Kestrel box

The long walk back after checking a Kestrel box


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New catching net for our Kestrel boxes


CES6 – 26th

Andrew, Paul, Andy B and I again managed to dodge bad weather days and complete CES 6 on Sunday, a relatively slow morning was made somewhat busier around 1130 when a mixed flock, mostly Long-tailed tits (19) 31 birds in all, found our nets, this boosted the catch to 73 birds, 12 species, processed for the day. Highlights of the day was a new Great spotted woodpecker and 3 retrap Sedge warblers.

RAS – 30th

Coming to the end of our first checks with just a few boxes left to mop up. Paul will now collate all the data taken so far and work out our second round visits, our initial finding are not as we would hope, it seems the run of continued wet weather we’ve had throughout June is hampering the females reaching breeding weight with some already giving up and moving onto their moult cycle, moving into July we’re all hoping for a big improvement in the weather to enable the adults which have managed to lay eggs or have young already to hunt and continue feeding their young.


… in May

The first CES of the season was carried out on Saturday 7th May by CHR, KDT, PMW, SR,SM & HD. A calm, dry day with broken cloud cover.

A very busy morning with 75  birds processed from the CES nets and a further 8 from an additional non CES net.


CES 02, was carried out on Sunday 15th May by KDT, PMW & SM. Light winds and scattered cloud cover made for a very pleasant morning.

A steady flow of birds kept the team busy for the majority of the morning, with a variety of warbler species and plenty of thrushes processed. A total of 51 birds processed with a 23/28 new/retrap split.

Highlights of the session; a male and female Bullfinch and 2 juvenile Robins, our first youngsters of the CES season.


CES 03, with the weather looking unsettled towards the end of the CES period it was decided to take advantage of the low wind speeds forecast for Thursday 28th May rather than chance the weekend weather changing for the worse. A team of 4, AVK, KDT, PMW & EW made it out.

Quite a chill in the air first thing with a light NNE breeze and not really warming up until 10am, overcast early on clearing to scattered cloud mid morning.

A 21/14 new/retrap split for the session, highlight of the day, a new 4F Kingfisher.

4F Kingfisher

4F Kingfisher

Saturday 28th May, back to Wraysbury but a different area for a non CES session, another team of 4, CHR, KDT, SR & KF in attendance, Carl wanted to see what we might catch with an earlier start, so all but myself (blah) arrived on site for 04:00, I turned up at 05:30 to find the earlier start had netted 8 birds, it was quite cool early on so this may well have accounted for the lack of early movement.

A fairly quiet morning with a 10/12 new/retrap split. Highlight of the day was a Great tit with all the attributes one would expect to see in a male only for it to have female sex parts!

Other activities included tit box monitoring in the wood on the farm.


in Berkshire for a day checking Tawny owl boxes with Carl & Paul. A pleasant day with 12 boxes checked, a single Male found for the second time roosting in the same box.

Male Tawny owl

Male Tawny owl

…to be completely wrong! The wind speeds were higher than predicted and there was rain, not predicted! The morning wasn’t a complete wash-out and we were able to do some ride maintenance, trimming and clipping ready for the 2016 CES. I was back home by 8am.



…on the 17th April. A clear bright morning with a light WNW breeze.

A modest 31 birds processed with a 14/17 new/retrap split and a good number of species caught including:

  • 8 Blackcap
  • 2 Willow warbler
  • 1  Whitethroat
  • 1 Lesser Whitethroat
  • 1 Sedge warbler
  • 1 Chiffchaff
  • 3 Song thrush
  • 6 Dunnock
  • 5 Long-tailed tit
  • 2 Robin
  • 1 Blue tit


Although I felt as rough as a badger’s… I still forced myself up and out and managed to get over to Woolley Firs on Saturday, the not-so-early start of 7am a welcome incentive.

Another two part day planned, ringing first thing if the weather permitted, followed by the final box checks before the breeding season really kicks on. A few boxes still needed a spring clean and a few more removals/relocations needed to be carried out.

The weather did it’s usual, with the possible predicted winds not arriving, but instead, a short period of rain, not predicted! This hampered us slightly with the nets furled for the duration, on the whole a productive morning with 47 birds processed.

30 Blue tit, 8 Great tit, 4 Coal tit, and singles of Dunnock, Robin, Treecreeper, Chaffinch and Long-tailed tit.


…At last…

…enabling us to venture out and put some nets up.

Woolley Firs was the destination Saturday morning, ringing and bird box relocation planned. A foggy journey along the M25 had me taking extra care with visibility badly compromised.

By the time I arrived nets were already set up in the fields, some full height nets along the hedge line and some single panels in the field for Skylarks. The first couple of hours proved to be quite slow with only 10 birds caught; a single Chaffinch, 3 Blue tits, 2 Blackbirds, a Goldcrest and 3 Yellowhammer


Male Yellowhammer

Alas the Skylark nets didn’t attract any birds.  Around 10am we decided to move our focus from the fields to the feeders located near the trust buildings, this proved very productive with a further 57 birds processed, 45 Blue tits, 9 Great tit, 2 Coal tits and a single Chaffinch. One of the retrap Blue tits was one of our chicks ringed last summer.


With a steady flow of birds finding our nets we carried on ringing until 2pm at which point we set down and prepared for the second part of the day’s activities, relocating 4 tit boxes, the boxes in question had produced hardly any young during the previous few seasons, either undesirable location or predation. We moved them to an area recently cleared by the trust.

We left site about 3pm satisfied with the days efforts. The journey home was delay free, probably down to the Rugby at Twickenham.