Archive for February, 2012

…courtesy of Sam, fellow RRG ringer.

Having neglected to pack my camera I was happy to see Sam had his. Thanks to Sam for the Photographs.

First image shows fresh waste on the site with plenty of gulls checking it out for food. Image two shows gulls having been netted, gulls are very rugged birds and are more than able to handle the net.

My first gull – Black Headed, I’m really very happy!

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…for an appointment with the ringers from the North Thames Gull Group (NTGG) and hoped for gulls.

The NTGG study gulls on landfill sites in and around Essex. See link for more information http://www.ntgg.org.uk/index.shtml

I arrived on site at the arranged 0700 with a little apprehension having not handled gulls before and met up with two other trainee ringers from the RRG.  We were given a run through of what would be happening and what we would be expected to do along with a few do’s and dont’s by the team leader Paul, health and safety was also explained due to fact there was some huge bulldozers and refuge trucks rolling about.

It was fascinating to see Cannon netting in action (go to the NTGG site for further info) and quite a different way of catching birds to what I’m used to, a tremendous amount of skill and patience is required to catch gulls safely baring in mind explosives are used to launch the nets. The team carried out two catches, the first catch total was 450 gulls and the second catch total was 244 gulls along with 42 Starling across both catches.

I was able to add 4 species to my species list yesterday, Black Headed gull, Herring gull, Lesser Black-backed gull and Greater Black-backed gull. It was difficult to keep track of the numbers ringed, I know I did one each Lbbgu (Lesser Black-backed) and Gbbgu (Greater Black-backed gull) c15 Hergu (Herring gull) and c25 Blhgu (Black Headed gull) along with 6 Starl (Starling). It took me a while to get used to the larger rings that the bigger gulls take and I had a couple of overlaps to begin with but managed to get the technique with help from the regular ringers.

I left site at 1450 arriving home at 1540 and headed straight for a bath!

I had a great day and learned loads, a big thanks to Paul and his team and I hope to do it again in the future.


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…500th bird processed on Saturday and then 2 new species ringed on Sunday.

Saturdays session was over at Wraysbury, the mercury was reading -8°c when I got in the car to leave however by the time I arrived on site it had warmed to -4°c!

Nine of us turned out for the session (which was not bad considering how cold it was) 2 trainers, 2 ‘A’ ringers and the rest being trainee’s.

We split into 3 teams and set about putting the nets up. Once We’d set up we didn’t have to wait too long before the birds started to catch, we started off with a few Robins and Blackbird and on the second or third net round a Fieldfare which was not to much of a surprise as we had noted after the first few net rounds that there was a flock of Fieldfare gathering just along the track from our processing position. The flock started to build in number with more and more birds ‘dropping in’ from above, we where hoping a few more of them would find our nets and by the end of the session a few more had indeed found our nets, a group session record of 24!


  1. Robin x4
  2. Blabi (Blackbird) x 3
  3. Field (Fieldfare) x 2

Sunday I was up early again (madness you’re thinking!) I had been invited over to Woolley Firs by Gavin, a fellow ringer and all round nice guy, this location is Gavins ‘patch’ run by the Wildlife Trust and consists of farmland,woodland and an apple orchard.

When I arrived (0745) Gavin was already hard at work setting up so I quickly parked up and joined in. Initially we set up in 2 locations, firstly a 60ft along one of the hedgerows in a field placing apple underneath as we were targeting Redwing/Fieldfare and secondly, in the same field but along an adjacent hedgerow a 60ft/20ft dog-leg with some seeders to attract smaller passerines, tits, finches etc. This set of nets proved to be the most productive and we caught a fare few, the other set however didn’t catch anything the Fieldfare proved to smart managing to avoid the nets but still manage to eat the apples! We decided to relocate this net to a different field and try and catch some House Sparrows that we had seen. We ended up with just one Sparrow but I was more than happy as I got to ring it and it was a species first! Gavin decided to set one more 60ft up in the wooded area to try and catch Redwing, again we caught one and another species first for me.


  1. Blabi (Blackbird) x 1
  2. Bluti (Blue tit) x 10
  3. Grefi (Greenfinch) x 3
  4. Housp (House Sparrow)  x1 species first
  5. Redwi (Redwing) x 1 species first
  6. Robin x 1

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…took place at Wraysbury.

Meeting at 0730 in -4°c temperatures is not every 0nes ideal start to Saturday morning but when the chance of catching Fieldfare and Redwings is a possibility it certainly appeals to ringers. The team today was 7 strong with 2 trainers and 5 trainees.

The best catch of the year so far gave us a grand total of 21 birds with a good variety including Fieldfare, Redwing, Greenfinch along with some of the usual suspects Blue tit, Great tit & Robins. The weather was cold throughout the morning with clear sunny skies, the wind was forecast to pick up around 0900 but stayed off until midday when the temperature did dip.

I was able to process 7 birds in total and also add a few more extractions to the list too. Included in my 7 was a species first (noted below).

  1. Robin x 2
  2. Field (Fieldfare) x 1 species first
  3. Grefi (Greenfinch ) x 1
  4. Greti (Great tit)  x 1
  5. Bluti (Blue tit) x 1
  6. Goldf (Goldfinch) x 1

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