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Posts Tagged ‘epsom’

The long planned ringing demonstration at BBOWT Woolley Firs took place on Saturday 13th February, however the weather let us down again and we were not able to open any nets due to the persistent rain.

We’d planned to net the fields beforehand, 0600, hoping for some winter thrushes, the weather on arrival was dry with a borderline wind speed, but we were able to use the hedgerow to protect the nets and any birds we caught. We only managed to catch 8 birds in total, 6 Redwing and 2 Song thrush before the rain started.

Although still raining we decide to set up a 30′ net next to the feeders, the net was furled (rolled up and unable to catch any birds) but ready and in place should the rain stop. Alas the rain didn’t stop. At 0900 Carl slipped off to do a pre-planned radio interview for BBC Radio Berkshire. By 0930 the activity centre was buzzing with people, unable to show any birds being ringed Carl decided to go and explain what ringing was all about. It was obvious the rain was set for the day so at 1030 we packed up and headed home.

On Sunday I was over on LBF farm, in the wood repairing three tit boxes which had been damaged by the squirrels last summer, all three had the entrance hole enlarged. All are now set for this year’s breeding season, 11 tit boxes, a Treecreeper wedge, Kestrel box and a Tawny owl box.

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The weather continues to be dominated by the wind with storms rolling in off the Atlantic on a regular basis, this in turn is dominating my ringing activities with very few opportunities to get out this month. My only session held in the garden on the 21st, with 15 birds processed including a small flock of 10 Long-tailed tits.

The 30th saw me over in the counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire with Carl, Paul and Sarah continuing our work as members of the Bisham Barn Owl Group (BBOG) checking & cleaning out nest boxes ready for this years breeding. Owls will often use boxes outside of the breeding season to roost in, especially when the weather turns colder, so there’s always the possibility of us catching birds during these rounds, alas we didn’t find any BO’s this time.

Following on from the last two seasons of monitoring, ringing and nest recording, this year we are starting a RAS scheme (Retrapping Adults for Survival) one of only 4 such schemes being carried out in the UK this year. More information on RAS here.

We also have Tawny Owl, Little Owl & Kestrel boxes in place and we caught this Little Owl roosting in one.

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

Little Owl

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year, here’s to a nature filled 12 months!

The blog posts drifted off towards the end of last year mostly due to a lack of ringing activity, the relentless windy weather the main cause and frustration.

After a promising early catch of Lesser Redpoll in October/early November, 165 caught in just 3 sessions on Chobham Common before the aforementioned wind took hold and put paid to my ringing for the remainder of the year.

Redpoll001

Lesser Redpoll – Chobham Common

 

I was able to get out over the Christmas break to put up a Kestrel & Tawny owl box over on the farm (thanks to my mate Dave for holding the ladder!).

Kestrel Box

Kestrel Box

Kestrel Box

Kestrel Box

Tawny Box

Tawny Box

Tawny Box

Tawny Box

 

Some equipment maintenance was also carried out, re-soldering of speaker wires, net repairs etc. all ready for this year’s ringing activities (should the wind finally die down!)

 

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Thankfully activity levels in May picked up after an extremely slow April.

After a short break in Poole (8th – 11th) visiting family and with the windy weather abating a little, I finally got to ring some birds, 3 Blue tit pulli from one of my garden boxes, I had checked the box on the 7th and found a brood of 8, unfortunately the weather had been rather cold, wet and windy over the weekend and by the 12th there was only 3 pulli left.

On the 14th I was over at Woolley Firs (WF) to give support to Carl who was giving a presentation on bird ringing and our involvement at WF to the members of the Wildlife Trust, this proved to be very popular and provoked plenty of interest and questions.

Woolley Firs Presentation

Carl, Woolley Firs Presentation

On the 16th I was back at WF again checking boxes with Carl, Paul & Roger, initial findings suggest this season’s productivity is below last year.

On the 17th this female barn owl was found to be incubating a clutch of 5 eggs in a box at another one of our Berkshire locations.

Barn owl

Barn owl

The following day (18th) I was on my own patch checking boxes in the woods on Langley Bottom Farm (LBF).

I was happy to see the 3 ringed garden box birds fledge on the 19th, a relief really knowing how difficult it had been for the hardworking parents during the horrible weather.

The pulli ringing ramped up on the 23rd on LBF with 29 birds ringed from 3 boxes, one box with 12 pulli turned out to be the largest brood of the year in the wood.

In the woods on LBF

In the woods on LBF

Wraysbury CES 3 was held on the 28th, again there was a worry the wind would cause issue and we would have a weather affected session, however the predicted gusts didn’t reach the suggested speeds and we did manage to complete the session. 42 birds processed with a 21 new/21 retrap split.

Wraysbury team

Wraysbury team

The final birding activity on the 28th saw me once again in the woods on LBF with a further 28 pulli ringed from 4 boxes. There is just one brood left to ring.

So all-in-all an excellent month. Next up, more owl boxes to check and a trip to the Isle of May.

 

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Our netting attempts are being badly affected by the winds this month, with many planned sessions having to be cancelled at the last minute. We seem to be in a bit of a cycle at the moment with the wind speed rising at the weekends.

March 7th

A return visit to Fifield and Touchen End with Carl & Paul, adding 2 Kestrel boxes, 1 Little owl box, 1 Barn owl box and a replacement Tawny owl box for one that had been fitted in 2013 and disintegrated in 2014 (not one of ours I might add!). A pleasant dry day with plenty of sunshine. A visit to our ‘local’ in the area for a spot of food and a pint.

March 14th/15th 

Planned session on Chobham Common cancelled.

March 21st/22nd

Planned weekend session on Chobham Common cancelled but Monday 23rd did show a little more promise with wind speeds down to 8mph with 11mph gusts, just within our margins. I had a days leave booked and with a few ringers eager to get out managed to persuade 4 of them to join me.

We met at 0615 hrs with a plan to catch Meadow pipits if they were about; Dartford Warbler, quite a few territories have been identified so far this year, and Stonechat which also seem to be on the Common in fairly good numbers. We set up our nets for the Meadow pipits and identified a couple of areas for the Dartford’s, a male and female Stonechat were also spotted along with a Whinchat so a net was deployed for them too.

It stayed calm for a while but a slight breeze was detected about 0930 hrs gradually building over the next hour or so, by 1030 hrs the nets were looking obvious. To say it was a slow morning would be rather understating it, we managed to catch just one bird, a male Reed bunting.

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Saturday 7th February

A trip over to the farm to catch Skylark, the weather was against me with the winds up enough to make my nets very visible to the keen-eyed Skyla’s with the inevitable result, no Skylarks! I did put up a 30′ across the hedgerow and caught a few of the usual suspects. Highlight of the day, this Leucistic Great tit.

IMG_0050

Leucistic Great tit

IMG_0049

Leucistic Great tit

 

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Boxing Day

Having checked the weather for the Christmas period I noted that boxing day was the only day the wind was predicted to be calm and the promise of a frost. I decided to try a session over on Tadworth Meadows.

I enlisted the help of my mate Dave and set a 0700 hrs start. We set a line of single panels, 45’/60’/60 for the Skylark and we put a 30′ 4 panel net across the hedge that dissects Tadworth Meadow.

The Skylarks were not really flying about the field, probably conserving energy, and only took to flight if flushed. All was not lost with a single bird eventually ending up in the net. The 30′ was a little more productive with 8 birds caught; 5 x Blue tit, 2 x Great tit and a single Blackbird.

We set down at 1000 hrs and headed home for a cuppa.

New Years Eve

I was intending to have another go for the Skylark, but having had a chat with Carl was persuaded to go over to Woolley Firs and try for Yellowhammer and Redwing.

We arrived at 0700 hrs to frost covered fields and a light freezing fog. We split into 2 teams of 2 to set-up.

It was a quiet morning bird wise with just 19 birds processed, we did however catch a Yellowhammer and Redwing.

Redwing

Redwing

 

I left early at 1000.

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