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Posts Tagged ‘woolley firs’

…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

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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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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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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!)

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Meadow pipit

Redwing

Redwing

 

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Redwing

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Saturday 19th January

Woolley Firs again for a snow-covered session.  Just Carl and myself  for this one, arriving on site for 0800 we quickly set up 3 nets, a 20ft, 30ft and 40ft around the feeders, the hope was that the cold snowy weather would bring the birds to the feeders.

A reasonable catch of 14 birds was recorded, mostly re-traps with just 3 new. I processed all 14.

Bluti (Blue tit) x 7
Coati (Coal tit) x 1
Greti (Great tit) x 3
Nutha (Nuthatch) x 2
Robin x 1

Sunday 20th January

I decided to set up my hide in the garden and take advantage of the concentration of birds due to the snowy conditions and all the seed and fruit I’d put out.

Plenty of the usual suspects, Blue, Great Long-tailed and Coal tit, Robins, Dunnocks, Wren, Chaffinch, at least 8 Blackbirds and a real treat a couple of Fieldfare, a winter migrant from Northern Europe, this is indicative of the tough conditions the birds are facing at this time.

Chaffinch

Chaffinch

Fieldfare 04

Fieldfare

Fieldfare 03

Fieldfare

Fieldfare 01

Fieldfare

Fieldfare 02

Fieldfare

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Chobham Common Sunday 6th January

A team had been successful on the common on Saturday 5th trying to catch Dartford Warbler with a 6M ringed, whilst there flocks of finches had been seen including Redpoll and Goldfinch along with a flock of Reed Bunting so a planned trip to Woolley Firs on Sunday was cancelled in favour of a return to Chobham.

It was a foggy start to the morning with heavy moisture in the air. We split into 2 groups and set up our nets in 2 locations. After a few rounds without any birds it was decided to set one more net up in an area where 2 Stonechat had been spotted.

The fog continued throughout the morning and didn’t clear until midday, there were birds flying about most of the morning but not to the same levels as the previous day, the weather having a major effect on movement. It was turning out to be quite a disappointing morning after many net rounds without any birds. At 1130 it was decided to do a final round and then take-down, we’d checked one set of nets and still no birds, while the second set of nets was being checked I went over to check the Stonechat net and was happy to see 2 birds, a Wren and a Stonechat, at least this was going to make all the effort worth while. On my return to base my happy level was elevated even more, another 25 birds had flown into the second set of nets!

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Stonechat

My processed list for the day:

Goldc (Goldcrest)             1
Lesre (Lesser Redpoll)   3
Reebu (Reed Bunting)   2

 

Woolley Firs Saturday 12th January

The weather forecast wasn’t reporting ideal conditions for Saturday but we had bird box maintenance and GPS’ing to do if the weather did indeed turn out to be wet. As it happened very little in the way of rain turned up and we had no interruptions to our ringing.

Just 3 of us for this session saw us met at 0730. Just 2 30ft nets were put up near the feeders, we still had the weather reports in mind and didn’t want to over do the nets.

It was a slow to start numbers wise but the quality was not to bad, the first bird of the day was a Siskin followed by a Blackbird, Coal tit and Blue tit. A Mistle Thrush was spotted atop a tree so it was decided to try to lure it to the net by playing a tape lure, we had little success to begin with but about 10am our patience paid off and we managed to catch it. A double first for me with both an extraction and a ringing process.

We were reduced to just 2 at 1030 having caught just 2 more birds, Coal tit and Blue tit, we decided to call it a day at 1130 and headed off to the nets to take down, this however was put on hold with the discovery of 13 Long tailed tits in our second net.

So by the end of the session we had a total of 22 birds processed.

Mistle Thrush

Mistle Thrush

My processed list for the day:

Blabi (Blackbird)              1
Bluti (Blue tit)                 2
Coati (Coal tit)               1
Lotti (Long-tailed Tit)     12
Misth (Mistle Thrush)     1

We managed a little box maintenance, moving a tit box from high up in one tree to a more accessible position in another and GPSing a few others.

We retired to the pub for a well-earned meal and a pint.

Great start to the year!

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…over at Woolley Firs.

Friday evening Gavin and I decided having looked at the weather forecast again to try to ring for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon. I arrived at Woolley Firs at 1330.

The weather stayed fine for most of the day with nice blue skies with the odd gust of wind. A shower hit mid afternoon but soon past.

There were plenty of birds around but unfortunately not many wanted to fly into our nets. We managed to catch 4 birds in total, 2 Blue tits, a Robin but the highlight was a Collared Dove, we saw 2 fly into the net but one bounced out, this was a first for Gavin and had we caught the second I would have had a first too!

We packed up at 1730 and I left shortly afterwards, a little sad as Gavin is now leaving for pastures new. A big thanks to Gav and good luck with the new job. Hope to ring with you again soon.

Processed by me

  1. Bluti (Blue tit) x 2
  2. Robin x 1

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