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Posts Tagged ‘ringing’

…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

DSC01041

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.

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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.

 

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Our group (Bisham Barn Owl Group) is now featured in this report.

http://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/State-of-the-UK-Barn-Owl-population-2015.pdf

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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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With this year’s CES (C4) done and dusted we now turn our attentions to other areas of Wraysbury and other sites in general.

Sunday 6th September

Still at Wraysbury but in a different area to our CES, C6, a total of 45 birds were caught with a 34 new/11 retrap split.

Saturday 19th September

Wraysbury C6 again, slightly better numbers than the previous week with a total of 71 birds caught and a 54 new/17 retrap split. The first Meadow pipits of the autumn for the site being the highlight of the session, 10 new birds caught in total and all this hatched this year.

Saturday 26th September

Another visit to Wraysbury C6. Numbers down from previous visit with a 51 new/6 retrap split. Still plenty of Blackcaps on site with 24 caught, all hatched this year and a few more Meadow pipits also all young birds.

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Sunday 5th July

Myself and 2 others spent a day with Phil Belman ringing geese over in south-west London.  We started the day with a roundup in Richmond Park on Pens Pond.  A quick count was made and we determined c75 Canada geese on the pond, Pens Pond is dissected by a track and all the geese were on the ‘wrong’ side, this meant we would have to coax them over the track and into the water opposite. The usual location was chosen for the pen and lead-in nets and we set up. We always have to put a boat onto the pond for the roundup and Phil set about inflating the dirigible. The roundup didn’t at all go to plan, two reasons, firstly, there was a hole in a fence we thought secure and secondly, there was a Mute swan with cygnets on the side of the pond we were trying to corral the Canada’s,  and the swan was very aggressive, flying at the Canada’s and scattering them. We eventually managed to corral c35. With the main catch of the day complete we headed off to locations in Chiswick, Moseley & Walton on Thames for some hand catching.

Measuring the wing length of an Egyptian goose

Measuring the wing length of an Egyptian goose

 

Wednesday 8th July

Another trip to Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire for another round of Barn owl box checking, a further 10 owlets and a single adult ringed, with a box containing 3 healthy chicks being the highlight.

Barn owl owlets

Barn owl owlets

 

Monday 13th July

Another trip over to south-west London, Wimbledon Park our destination for another goose round-up. We would have liked to have visited sooner but a certain popular tennis tournament had delayed us by a week! The access to the pond is via a golf course which over the Wimbledon fortnight is turned into a car park and staging area, so there was quite a lot of cleanup activity going on. A count of c100 geese was noted and we got to work setting up the pen and lead-in nets. Once all the netting was in place we all got into our position while Phil once again took to the water in the dirigible. Everything was going well, with the flock slowly moving in the required direction, Phil had managed to elicit the help of a couple of club canoeists, the geese were just starting to exit the pond heading towards the pen when the sight and sound of a grass cutter suddenly filled the air and spooked them, chaos ensued and the geese scattered, Phil and the canoeists were overwhelmed as the flock disintegrated. To me, it seemed like a deliberate attempt to scupper our roundup, subsequently I learned that the head groundsman had previously been reported for shooting the geese, I guess he’s not a big fan! So no birds caught. After we had packed the net away we headed around to the other side of the pond to try some hand catching, a single Mute swan was the result.

Mute swan

Mute swan being weighed

 

 

 

 

 

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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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April came and went in a flash with the wind keeping my ringing pliers firmly tucked away and no birds in the hand! The only birding activities of any note; building a bird box for Paul, Spotted Flycatcher design, a twitching day along the river Wey with Carl (which was very enjoyable) and first check of my boxes over in the wood.

River Wey day

River Wey day

River Wey day

River Wey day

River Wey day

River Wey day

 

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14th – Demonstration at Woolley Firs

We were over at Woolley Firs on Saturday 14th giving a ringing demonstration for the Wildlife trust. We set the nets and our ringing station up in the usual positions and created a semi-circle of various bird boxes for the public to stand behind, this gave us space to carry out our normal ringing procedures without the birds or ourselves getting overwhelmed.

We managed a respectable 55 birds processed, mostly Great tits 22 new/12 retraps and Blue tits 5 new/9 retraps , Dunnocks 3 new, Coal tit 1 new/1 retrap and singles of Long-tailed tit and Firecrest both new birds.  Carl did a great job keeping a very eager public engaged whilst the ringing process was taking place. It was really satisfying to see faces light up and huge smiles break out when someone got to hold and release a bird for the first time, it always takes me back to a frosty morning on Chobham Common and my very own first bird in the hand. The crowd dispersed at 11am and the feedback from Carl was very positive, it seems everyone enjoyed what they’d seen and heard.

Unfortunately for our visitors the highlight of the day came too late, on the last net round of the day Carl came back with a lovely Firecrest, and as you can see – an absolute cracker!

All in all the demonstration was a success and we all had a great morning, we headed off to the pub for a well-earned pint and lunch.

Firecrest

Firecrest

A further write-up can be found here on the Runnymede Ringing Group pages

15th – The farm

On Sunday I was on the farm adding 7 more nest boxes to my scheme, 6 more tit boxes and a Treecreeper box, this brings the total up to 12. Last year I ringed 24 pulli from 5 boxes so with the additional boxes added this season I would be hoping for a few more, fingers crossed!

After a few different builds and material choices I have now settled on this design, the main changes have been the materials, I now use 21mm gravel boards, purchased from Farm Fencing, a big thanks to them for the great deal they give me, I use old truck wheel inner-tubes for the roof hinges, recycled and donated for free from Tadworth Tyres, a big thanks to them too and a mixture of screw and nails for the construction, an extra coat of wildlife friendly preservative on the roof and we’re good to go!

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New design tit box


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A much better use of a golf trolley!


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Treecreeper box

 

All the boxes get GPS’d and added to my Googlemaps when I get home, obviously this is really helpful come the summer when the wood is transformed from winter bare branches to lush summer foliage.

Bring on the breeding season!

 

 

 

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with another early visit to Woolley Firs looking to catch more Redwing, a 0600 hrs start saw 4 of us in the fields setting up in the dark. The weather forecasters haven’t exactly been on top form of recent so we took a slight chance that the wind wouldn’t be as forecast. However it was and this had a big impact on our catch with only 10 birds caught, but at least we did catch a 5 Redwing! Also caught; Yellowhammer, Jay, Great tit, Blue tit and Long-tailed tit. However, I missed most of the action though due to the quick onset of a headache shortly after set-up which had me in the car popping pills (headache remedy pills!).  I was in two minds whether to go home but thought it best to let my pounding head subside first. I didn’t really want to leave because we had plans to ring Tawny and Barn owls later in the day.

Yellowhammer carefully being ringed

Yellowhammer carefully being ringed

 

Jay

Jay

 

 

The wind continued to cause issue, most of all making the nets very visible to the birds, the decision was made to set-down around 1045 hrs after a couple of rounds without birds. I was able to help with take down as my headache was finally easing, which was a relief as this meant I would be ok to ring the owls.

We left site and headed for a cafe for a spot to eat before heading over to Bisham wood and the owls, a very tasty full English was consumed which helped banish the remnant of the headache.

Over the past two years a few members of our ringing group have been taking part in the reinstating of an owl project in some of the woods in and around Berkshire. Initially we had to establish the locations of the boxes and gps them, once this was done we had to clear the boxes out, removing multiple layers of nests or old squirrel dreys, then remove the boxes we considered to be surplus to requirements and relocate in new locations. Many of the boxes have been in place for 10 years so there was also plenty of repairs to do.

So our first port of call for the owls was Bisham Wood,  a couple of Tawny owls had been seen roosting in one of the boxes the previous week and we had high hopes they would still be using the same box, it turned out that they had moved residence but fortunately only along to the next box. We carefully retrieved the Owls and checked to see if they had been ringed before, they both hadn’t so we ringed them. A thorough examination of the wing feathers had us determine they were both adult bird with both having 3 generations of feathers, a wing length was recorded and a weight taken and a few photographs of the open wing for the records before we released them back into the wood.

Tawny Owl

Tawny Owl

The second location, Little Marlow, where we hoped to ring a couple of Barn owls, was just a short 10 minute trip from Bisham wood, a private family house with a Barn owl box in a tree in the garden. A camera was installed in this box so we where able to confirm the owls where in residence with a quick phone call before setting off. This box had had a breeding pair in the summer who had managed to fledge 5 from a brood of 6, which is a very good outcome for Barn owls, the young birds had all been ringed before they’d fledged. Now the box was being used as a roost possibly by the breeding pair. Again we carefully retrieved the birds and ringed them. These two did indeed turn out to be an adult male and female.

Barn Owl

Barn Owls

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

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