A record of my adventures of birds and bird ringing

Thursday, 30 December 2010

First catch

By yesterday the snow had finally melted enough to make a catch feasible, and after a week of feeding the birds were very familiar with the feeder!

Nets were up by 7.15, and by 8.15 I had started catching.

Suprisingly almost all of the birds had entered the net on their way to the feeders (I had though they would go in on the way from the feeders to the bushes as the net was far less visible that way) so I think they were quite used to flying in for a morning snack.

All in all we caught 24 birds, including a Chaffinch, two Coal Tits, and many great/blue tits.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Update.. finally!

It's been a while since I've posted but there's been not much to post about.

Since moving here I've tried to get in touch with the local ringing group, but havent had much luck. I have also been scared of approaching the landlord about permission to ring in the garden because I'm not technically a tennant. The situation is also complicated by the fact that the garden is overlooked by a boarding house which is occupied most of the time by school kids. In addition to having no car (and so being unable to find myself another site), this has ment I havent been able to ring on my own for a while.

But I plucked up the courage to ask and I have permission to put up a net. I really wish I'd done this earlier! I put feeders out today, and although I'm not planning to catch whilst the snow lasts, it should give the birds some time to find the food.

In other news, the Christmas WWRG trip has been cancelled, which is very disappointing. I would have loved to spend Christmas catching waders. Still, I might be able to spend Christmas morning catching passerines instead now!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

All things change

I think this summer can reliably be called 'the summer of no internet'. I've moved into a new house (after spending a few weeks dashing between friends and the Wash for some cannon netting) and am currently using the library computers whilst we wait to get a line installed (yes, there are still houses without phone lines!)

In the meantime I'm exploring the park behind our house for possible net rides, but it's all mature woodland and open grassland, and doesnt look very hopeful. There are sections of less mature woodland but it's very densely packed and not net suitable. Ah well - I might still find something. I've contacted the local ringing group and am waiting to hear back from them, so hopefully I'll be able to do some ringing soon.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Zoology blackbird

When I walked past the nest this morning I could hear peeping noises coming from within - the chicks have hatched! I tried to put my camera over the lip of the nest so I could take a photo and count the chicks/eggs, but the bush was a little bit too dense, and who should arrive back right at that moment in a flurry of wings but the female! She landed on the outside of the bush where her nest was, so we retreated and left her to care for her chicks.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

New BLABI nest!

Imagine my glee when I got a phone call from my friend a few days ago, telling me that one of her friends had discovered a blackbird nest in, of all things, a bike basket!

This evening I went along to have a look - and to drop off some nest recording cards and hopefully get some more people recording :). The pair have set up their nest in an abandoned bike's basket, and are really very tame (the female didnt seem bothered even though we were within touching distance of her and her newly-hatched chicks). So here's hoping the chicks fledge safely and that some more people get interested in recording these things..

And that I might be able to ring the chicks (I couldnt find a licensed ringer in time for the last brood).

Mrs Blackbird, not at all fussed about us being there.

Thanks to Sarah and Margot for finding and showing me the nest!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

More nests...

The blackbird chicks have fledged and I have found another nest - this one in a far more public position.

Outside my department is a small square of green with a tree and a few bushes. There is a pair of blackbirds which have just finished building their nest there, in full view of any passers-by (if you know which bush to look at). Approaching the nest does not seem to disturb the female at all - she just sits tight - I guess she's used to people! The nest also has an astonishing amount of plastic in it (photos to follow).

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Blackbirds hatched!

A check on the nest yesterday evening revealed that 3 of the 4 eggs had in fact hatched!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Chifchaff now wears a ring...

His singing sounds so much better to my ears!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Chiffchaff and the Black Pheasant

Sounds a little like a fairy tale, doesnt it?!

Well, the black pheasant decided to amble past our living room window yesterday when I was working, and me and a friend watched it for about 5 seconds before simultaneously scrambling for our cameras. Unfortunately by the time we'd got them and turned them on, the pheasant had vanished.

There has been a Chiffchaff singing in the orchard for a few days now (well, I suppose it could be a few different ones moving through). It woke me up this morning, bright and early, so I've just put up a net in the hope that I can catch it (funny though, that I've been hearing it all day but now I've got a net up I cant hear it at all!).

Time for a net round!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Todays nest attempts and a picture of the nest from last time

Having heard the Tawnys call at one another for over a week now (and having scrutinised the Schedule 1 list to make absolutely sure they weren't on there) I thought I'd go and see if there was in fact anything nesting in the Tawny owl box in the orchard.

View of the box from below

Inside the box

As you can see, there isnt anything in there at the moment. They could be using a hole in a tree somewhere nearby (we have lots of old half rotten trees around), or I guess they could just have not started nesting yet!

And here, as promised, is the picture of the nest which I found a few days ago. Is anyone able to confirm the species?

In other news there is a dead pigeon (no ring) right next to the dead pheasant. Something has developed a taste for them! I only hope it doesnt eat the rather spectacular black pheasant (who evades my camera at every move).

Friday, 9 April 2010

Finding nests

I went out for a thorougly damp nest finding session with Vince (one of the Cambridge nesters) about a week ago. The weather was thoroughly miserable - cold, rainy, windy, you name it - and we didnt find many nests (one, in fact).

We did see two Grebes performing the first few stages of courtship (where one of them mimics the other) which was lovely to watch, and saw them fishing. And there was a Coot which swam all the way across the lake to disappear into the reeds with a short, slimy, weed-covered stick.

More recently I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and go for a good nest search in college gardens. After getting VERY bramble scratched, I found an old Bullfinch nest, an old (what I assume is) Robin nest (it could have been Dunnock or some other small passerine, I dont really know), and, my most exciting find, a new and active Blackbird nest with four eggs!

At least, when I compared it to picture on the web it looked like a blackbird nest, but I have yet to see the blackbird on it. I'm leaving it alone for a few days so I dont disturb them too much, but I will observe from a distance now I know where it is.

Whilst searching I also found 2 predated bright blue eggs with speckles - I'm still not sure what species these are from (I REALLY need a nest/egg guide), and a freshly dead pheasant, from what looked like a fox. We also found half of its tail feathers on the other side of the orchard - looks like it may have been chased a fair bit!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Potter trap and Nest recording

Yesterday, after several weeks of baiting my potter trap with tasty things, I actually set it. Less than 10 mins later the Robin who is always lurking around the trap triggered it.

I'd ringed him last year on the 5th of March as an adult, but he has a greater covert pattern that looks like he was an age 5 (born last year). This makes me more nervous about ageing Robins! I reset the trap and caught him again, but the blackbird who also uses it didnt come close enough.

Robin with 4 OGCs that look juvvy.

On Sunday I went along to Wicken Fen for a spot of ringing and a meeting/practical about nest recording. Nothing special on the ringing front but the nest recording people were phenomenal! They spotted things I swear were invisible.

Since then I've been on brief forays into the orchard, no nests found yet but I have seen some Lottis with nesting material - so they are nesting somewhere nearby.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Control Blue tit!

I went ringing on Saturday morning at college - lots and lots of birds! Here's some pics of the best..

A dunnock with a rather bizarre hair-do

A very nice Bullfinch

A pair of Blue Tits which I'd caught together in May last year, next to one another once again in the net (the one on the left wouldnt stop biting my finger, for even a second!)

But the best bird of the day was my first control - Blue tit number X652526. Unfortunately no photo available as it was the last net round and I was in a hurry to get the nets down in time to get to my lecture. I'll update this when I know where it came from...

Below is a picture of one of my nets, just as I was about to take down - it had just started snowing and the snow was hanging really prettily in the net.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The problem with term..

9am lectures 6 days a week do not a good ringer make.

Saturday lectures are looking like they might be abandonded in favour of some gull/wader ringing, but this still doesnt leave me much time to catch on my own site - and there's some very attractive fieldfares flying around!

Monday, 4 January 2010

A dreadfully late update on ringing over the past 2 months

WWRG special sanderling catch

On 5th November we took a small catch of mixed waders, mainly sanderling. We looked at the retraps caught and selected 6 which were present over a previous winter, and to these birds we added a geolocater. The geolocater contains a light sensor, which records time of sunrise and sunset, allowing us to calculate the birds position when we (hopefully) recatch them and download the data next year. They sit on a small harness around the birds back and are practically invisible in the field. These will enable us to see if such a set up works well on small waders, and hence if they can be employed on Spoon-billed Sandpipers in the near future. We were filmed by Countryfile and a radio crew (for 'World on the Move').


In late November I went out to Pitsea rubbish tip with North Thames Gull Group, to catch some gulls. Despite the trip being off, and on, and on, and off with the weather, we made a reasonable catch of mixed gulls. The large proportion of which proceeded to bite and scratch the team members!

Highlights include one of the tip workers, who came over to look at the gulls and the ringing process, offering his knuckles to one of the Herring Gulls. I dont think he'll be doing that again soon.

BTO Conference

Was fantastic, saw lots of people I knew and had heard about but never actually met. Learnt a bit about birds and failed miserably at the 'bird bums wot I have known' round of the quiz!

Ringing in college

Reasonably successful, earlier on in term I had a few mornings with over 10 birds, including several Redwing. Later on the going was tougher - a morning with 1 blue tit being the low point.

Ringing at Roudsea

Part of the reason for me going home over Christmas was that my trainer (Jim) was definately going to be home and we could actaully do some ringing together! We went out to his pet site, Roudsea Woods, where he has a RAS on Marsh tits and Great tits, and caught a lot of retraps. Everything was hungry and the feeder was really busy, which meant that we caught around 35 birds. I took my boyfriend (who is a trainnee) along and he got to handle his first Marsh tit, but no woodpeckers appeared for him to extract..