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Posts Tagged ‘skylarks’

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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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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…on the farm.

With a new pair of binoculars hanging from my neck I was eager to get into the field and give them a go. I’d just stepped into the first field and was delighted to spot a Kestrel sitting in a tree scanning for a meal, I watched for a while enjoying the better quality of my new glass before going  for the camera for a shot, unfortunately the light was poor and I wasn’t able to get a shot worth posting.

I was out for about 4 hours and apart from the usual suspects and the Kestrel I spotted Skylarks, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Little Owl (I spent a good hour watching a tree that’s had a Little Owl nest for the past 2 years and was pleased to spot this years possible incumbent) and watched briefly a courting pair of pheasant.

The only half decent shots I managed where of a Horse Chestnut budding.

Horse Chestnut

Horse Chestnut

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