Posts Tagged ‘skylark’

…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.


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Although the wind speeds where far from ideal for netting Skylarks, the forecast of frost and clear skies early morning did tempt me out. I set the alarm for 5am so I would be able to get set-up before sunrise. I set my normal line of nets in the field along with a 30′ 4 panel across the hedge line.

Frosty Sunrise on Tadworth Meadows

Frosty Sunrise on Tadworth Meadows

It certainly was a lovely morning, crisp and fresh, the golden hour just after dawn is always a special time. Again there where plenty of Skylarks up and about with some of the males displaying their song-flight and parachuting techniques, already looking to impress the females, spring is definitely in the air. It turned out to be a very slow morning both with the Skylark nets and the 4 panel, the wind making the Skylark nets just a little too visible and very few birds in the 4 panel, with a total of 5 birds ringed, all Blue tit and all new.

Blue tit

Blue tit

The wind continued to gather speed and I ended up taking down at 9am, although it was slow on the bird front it was still great to be out and about on such a lovely morning. I was back home by 10am with a nice cup of tea in hand.

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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.




I left early at 1000.

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Having spotted c70 Redwing last week at Woolley Firs it was decided that we should have a go at catching some this weekend. This did mean a really early start as we needed to get the nets in place before first light. With a 0600 hrs meet time agreed and a 40 mile journey to site I set my alarm for 0420, I also factored in time to thaw the car as a -3°c frost had been forecast for Epsom Downs!

A small team of 4 arrived on site at the designated time and we set about setting up, splitting into 2 teams we soon had the nets in place.

The first round was key to our Redwing success and we weren’t disappointed with 9 caught. After we’d processed the initial catch we added some double panel nets in the hope of catching Skylark, a few had been spotted by the staff during the week.  Subsequent rounds throughout the morning didn’t yield any more Redwing, or Skylark for that matter but we did catch a good number of other thrushes, 11 Blackbird (a session record for the site beating the previous high by some margin) and a single Song thrush. Other species on the day; 4 Great tit, 3 Blue tit, a Robin, a flock of c20 Meadow pipits were seen in a tree near by late on, so with a quick change of bird call on the players we managed to encourage 6 to the nets, however the c20 Yellowhammer we also spotted couldn’t be tempted!

We ringed our last bird at 1230 hrs, bringing the total to 35, and proceeded to set down. With another successful session in the bag we retired to the local for a well earned meal and a pint.

Other birds of note spotted; Red Kite, Buzzard, Kestrel (sat atop one of the net poles!)


wf 027

Meadow pipit




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Woolley Firs again this week with ringing and bird box cleaning planned.

A damp and misty start meant leaving slightly earlier to allow for the slower journey to site.  A five strong team arrived on site for the 0715hrs start.

A quieter session than of late with 35 birds processed, we did put a percentage of this down to the empty feeders which usually are kept topped up. At 1030hrs myself and Roj started the task of checking and removing this years nest material from the 40 plus bird boxes we have in the nearby wood, the task took the best part of 2 hours with all but a couple completed. The next visit we’ll be moving some of the less productive boxes and repairing a few that need a little attention.

Birds spotted, c70 Redwing, 3 Mistle thrush, 11 Lapwing and 3 Skylark, Red Kite.

We left at 1345hrs and, pub, pint, chips, home, followed.

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Sunday 12th.

Over to my patch with our first session of the autumn on Langley Bottom Farm. I’ve already seen plenty of skylark on the fields so far this autumn which is encouraging.  Michael, the farmer,  will be leaving Tadworth Meadows in stubble for the winter which will leave more food available which in turn will help with survival rates.

It’s still early autumn and there’s plenty of food on the fields so the Skylark are still widely distributed, they are quite hard to catch as it is so we only deployed a couple of lines on net and crossed our fingers. After an hour or so it was becoming quite apparent that our luck was not in. We did catch a single male (sexed on wing length of 115) at 0730 but that proved to be our only bird of the session. We set down at 1000.

Another visit is planned for next month.

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Its turning out to be a right old busy year so far work wise, I seem to be spending more and more time in front of a monitor doing work and not doing fun. As a consequence the blog as suffered with a lack of post.

So in between the last post and this a few things have happened in my world, most importantly as far as I’m concerned is my ‘C’ permit upgrade, after 3 years, countless early mornings and over 1500 birds processed I’m now qualified to ring on my own.

Sessions since last post:

Woolley Firs 08/03/14

  • Bluti (Blue tit) 2
  • Greti (Great tit) 2
  • Grefi (Greenfinch) 2
  • Blabi (Blackbird) 1
  • Meapi (Meadow pipit) 3
  • Robin 1
  • Golfi (Goldfinch) 5
  • Skyla (Skylark) 1
  • Redwi (Redwing) 1

GMP 23/03/14

  • Bluti (Blue tit) 2
  • Chiff (Chiffchaff) 2
  • Sonth (Song Thrush) 1
  • Blabi (Blackbird) 1
  • Lotti (Long-tailed Tit) 1
  • Robin 1
  • Blaca (Blackcap) 1

Woolley Firs 29/03/14

  • Bluti (Blue tit) 1
  • Yelha (Yellowhammer) 1 – a new bird for me.




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Following two successful visits in the spring netting for Skylarks we where again back on the farm on Sunday. Carl, Marie & Jason joined me on Sunday morning for our first attempt of the autumn.

After a summer crop of linseed; Michael, the farmer has now planted a crop of winter barley, he sowed without ploughing in the residue stubble left from the linseed harvest, this will benefit the birds greatly throughout the winter, the new crop will also offer protection from the elements when the weather turns wintery. Michael has kindly allowed us to net on the planted field, we are able to use the tractor lines to move along the field and with careful foot placement maneuver between the crop lines.

Carefully setting up!

Carefully setting up!

The weather wasn’t too bad first thing; a light chilly northerly breeze prevailed with 90% cloud cover, this did deteriorate around 09:30 when a band of moist weather rolled over.

The catching success of the spring was not repeated with a single Meadow pipit the only bird of the session. Although we saw c80 Skylarks; with a few pairs displaying typical behaviour of ‘chasing’, none landed in the nets. A small flock of Meadow pipit were also observed.

We set down at 11:00.

We’ll return in a few weeks time.

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Saturday 13th April
A trip to Wraysbury to prepare the rides for the forthcoming CES season and put up a few nets to see what was about. Not a great number of birds caught but I did manage to process my first summer migrants of the year, 2 chiffchaff.
Saturday 20th April
Second visit to Tadworth Meadows south field on LBF with Skylark in mind again. Carl pulled into my drive under clear chilly skies at the agreed met time of 0400 hrs. A quick unpack of kit from the boot and a short 5 minute walk saw us in the middle of the field ready to set up. We decided on 3 lines of 2 nets and set up. We were ready and waiting by 0500 hrs, We didn’t see any birds on the wing until about 0600 hrs, it seems as though the birds had decided on a lie-in! At 0700 hrs and after plenty of marching around the field we finally caught 3 birds, unfortunately as we approached the net to extract 1 of the birds flew off. The 2 remaining birds turned out to be our total for the session.
Skylark on the farm

Skylark on the farm

We packed up at 0900 and headed back to my house.
Sunday 21st April
Windsor. A rather cold start with the need to de-ice the car before leaving home. A large team of 8 assembled at 0545 hrs ready for the final preparations for the CES which starts in May, this included hammering in the Willow stakes that we had chopped down forming the rides at BCA in the Willow plantation a couple of weeks ago, the replacing of the old guy ropes and some final reed flattening. We set nets up in the reed beds as we went, nets were also deployed in the wood area too.
There was very little wind early on and the early chill was lifted as the sun started to rise, by 0900 hrs it was fairly warm and very pleasant.
There was plenty of bird activity in the reeds and we could hear plenty of singing migrant Warblers including Sedge, Reed and Cettis. The first bird processed was a Wren caught in the wood. The first bird of the season extracted from the reed nets, which I did, was a ringed Reed Warbler, turns out we were old acquaintances having met last summer when I had attached the ring! To think this little 11g bird had flown to Africa from Windsor at the end of last summer and was now back in the same reed beds this spring ready to mate and raise its own offspring, truly amazing! A further 7 birds were processed throughout the rest of the morning including another amazing bird, a 7-year-old Reed Warbler first ringed in 2007 and subsequently re-captured every year since bar one, a fair few miles on the clock!
We set down around 1300 hrs having had a very productive morning. We left site and retired to the pub for a well-earned pint.
In bed at 6am!

In bed at 6am!

Prepped reed beds

Prepped reed beds

Taking down the mist nets

Taking down the mist nets

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Saturday part 1 saw us in the middle of a Willow plantation at a new site in Berkshire. Carl had been there midweek cutting a couple of rides through the Willow in readiness for a weekend session.

Clear early morning skies meant a cold start to the day with a definite need for the thermals, Carl, Marie and myself arrived on site at 0615 and set up 2 2×60′ nets in the 2 new rides.

Once the sun was up it did start to warm a little and we saw plenty of birds flying about but unfortunately only a single Jay managed to land in the net, the field is rather large so much longer rides are probably required.

We left site at 1100hrs.

Processed totals

Jay x 1

Saturday part 2 was a visit to Woolley Firs to number up our bird boxes, gps any that were missing from our map and record any activity in the boxes. This took the best part of 3 hours and we left site around 1430 hrs. There was good signs of nesting activity with a few of the boxes with fresh nesting materials.

Sunday was another first for us with a visit to my ‘patch’ and an attempt to catch some of the many Skylark in a field close to my home. Carl pulled into my driveway at 0515, another rather chilly start with cloudless skies.

We set 2 lines, line 1: 2 60′ singles & a 60′ double, line 2: 2 40′ doubles. We didn’t have to wait long before we had our first ever bird on the farm in a net, a beautiful Skylark. We stayed out on the field until 0830 and managed to catch a further 5 Skylarks which was a great way to start our ringing on the farm.

Processed totals

Skylark x 6

LBF Skyla 02


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