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I was supposed to be going away this weekend and hadn't planned on ringing but things worked out differently and so I thought that I would do a quiet little session at Swindon STW and maybe have a little go for Teal and Snipe along with a few passerine nets.
 
The wader nets worked instantly with 2 Snipe and a Teal gracing them, I love catching these species because they are characteristic species of the site and what we manage the wetlands for. I heard the first Water Rail of the winter, we will catch up with that one in a few weeks time.
 
I only put up six nets in two sets of a four and a two and it soon became apparent that there had been a fall of Chiffchaffs as they were moving all round the site in huge numbers. I ended up ringing 105 Chiffchaffs but I reckon there were at least 250 on site, they were absolutely everywhere. Our second Cettis Warbler of the Autumn was nice but it was another first year female so we now need a male to turn up.
 
With yet another catch of just over 200 birds this takes my September total past the 2000 mark which we have only ever done once before but falls short of our record September of 2015 when we ringed over 2300 birds. It isn't all bout numbers but by ringing this number of birds we generate recoveries so we can see where our birds are coming from and going to. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs have relatively high recovery rates and we are starting to receive the details of our recoveries from this summer and it is amazing how we share some birds with certain ringing sites and at some point we will plot some of the movements for you folks. MP
 
Teal 1 (1), Snipe 2, Cettis Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 105, Blackcap 87, Goldcrest 2, Wren 2, Long Tailed Tit 1, Reed Bunting 1, Song Thrush 1
 
Teal retrap

 

It was only Noah, his dad and me today so we only set 6 nets as I wasn't feeling 100% so I wanted to be conservative but we were kept really quite busy although the catch was totally dominated by Blackcaps and our cunning little two-shelf dog-leg failed to catch the hoped-for Grey Wagtails.
 
Late on we ringed a Reed Warbler that was still in post juvenile moult and will really struggle to make it to the wintering grounds. There were at least four Green Sandpipers bashing around and Teal numbers are increasing and I can't wait to try for them soon.
 
A couple of the team are nearing their C permit and they are being held up by the requirement to ring birds that take large rings. The reason for this is two-fold, in that the ringer needs to be able to fit the more difficult larger ring sizes and also to ensure that the ringer is capable of handling a larger and potentially dangerous bird safely for the welfare of both the ringer and the bird. To this end, we have set up a whoosh net area and are keeping it baited to entice Moorhens, Coots, duck or gulls in. We set the net and kept checking on it and right at the end a Moorhen went into the area and I fired and we caught it, a new bird for Noah and a very good bit of experience as Moorhens can be very feisty and their claws are very sharp. MP, NW, TW
 
Moorhen 1, Blackcap 141 (1), Chiffchaff 21, Reed Warbler 1, Dunnock 3 (1), Robin 0 (3), Blue Tit 4, Blackbird 1, Cettis Warbler 0 (1)
 
WP 20170924 12 19 03 Rich 2

 

With a week of southerlies I was not expecting a large catch and now we are into late September any migrant that is not a Chiffchaff or a Blackcap is notable. I set the same net set as last week quite confident that our team of three would be fine and so it proved.
 
The first net round did provide the usual flurry of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps but also two Grasshopper Warblers that most unusually were caught in the top shelves of the nets. The interest didn't stop there as we ringed a couple of Stonechats, then a Whinchat and then a huge male Corn Bunting weighing in at 51 grams. An adult male Starling was a complete surprise as they are hard to catch in mist nets and they rarely go through our bushes.
 
WP 20170923 09 55 22 Rich 2
 
With the wind fixed stubbornly from the south there was very little passage of Meadow Pipits or hirundines overhead and we only caught a few Meadow Pipits. Singles of Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler were most welcome and I will be surprised if we catch all three species again this year. A control Chiffchaff was good as was a Goldcrest that we originally ringed last Autumn.
 
We were pretty satisfied with our efforts and everything was going well and we were nicely ahead of the game taking nets down in a timely organised manner and then the wind got up. As we got to the last net, we saw that a branch that I had guyed a pole to had snapped and all three nets in a row had fallen into a line of thorn bushes. It looked devastating but in fact with all three of us working together we managed to extract the nets without damage after 30 minutes. MP, PW, NP
 
Starling 1, Corn Bunting 1, Whinchat 1, Stonechat 4, Grasshopper Warbler 2, Reed Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Whitethroat 1, Blackcap 59, Chiffchaff 57 (1), Goldcrest 4 (1), Meadow Pipit 15, Goldfinch 9, Linnet 2, Reed Bunting 5, Yellowhammer 1, Robin 2, Dunnock 5, Wren 1, Great Tit 1, Blue Tit 5 (1)

 

After westerlies all week, it was interesting to see the wind switch round to the north and the skies to clear, at this time of year that means one thing, a big rush of migrants. Graham had ringed lots of Meadow Pipits the day before so we put up a Meadow Pipit triangle for the first time this year, the good thing with Meadow Pipits is that they start gaining momentum just as  we have got through the early morning rush of Blackcaps.
 
The day started well with a Tawny Owl just as I was opening the nets. We had a strong team out today and I knew we would be able to safely manage any potential catch but today did push the team a little but I have to say that I was totally impressed with how good this team have become.
 
Tawny
 
We ringed a lovely array of warblers and those Salisbury Plain specialities of Whinchat, Stonechat and Redstart and we even retrapped a Stonechat that we originally ringed at the start of August.
 
We always hope for control warblers and we did get two Blackcaps that had been ringed elsewhere.
 
On the Salisbury Plain there is always an early morning rush and then it quietens down so by 9am we are normally sat around drinking tea and eating cake but today just as it started quietening down the Meadow Pipits started going in the nets to keep us nicely occupied. As I walked along one net I looked down and saw a striking supercilium and knew immediately it was a Firecrest, a very rare catch for us and my favourite bird apart from Tree Sparrows.
 
A bit later, Swallows started moving but we rarely catch them and then House Martins came gliding in and they were getting lower and lower. I have often tried playing a call for them but it always proves to be the surest way to scare off every House Martin in the vicinity but I remember back to days on the coast where House Martins responded brilliantly. Today I played the call in the usual speculative manner and the martins immediately started descending towards me, we quickly put the player by the net and we caught 57 in very quick time but then one got out of the net, alarm called and they all disappeared as quickly as they came. This is the first time they have ever responded for me in Wiltshire and so the team had the rare pleasure of ringing a good number of these beautiful little birds and their amazing 'furry' feet. Best of all was that one was already ringed, control House Martins are very rare so we wait with eager anticipation as to the origins of this bird.
 
Houma control
 
As I drove off the plain I was struck by just how many Meadow Pipits and Swallows were present across the whole of the area, they must really have been held up somewhere north all week. Sometimes 'The Plain' just amazes me with how good it is for birds and today was obviously just one of those special days. MP, AF, NW, AM, NP, TW
 
Tawny Owl 1, House Martin 56 (1), Swallow 8, Meadow Pipit 56, Firecrest 1, Redstart 1, Whinchat 2, Stonechat 2 (1), Blackcap 200, Garden Warbler 3, Whitethroat 7, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Sedge Warbler 6, Reed Warbler 3, Blackbird 1, Robin 3 (2), Dunnock 1, Blue Tit 1, Greenfinch 1, Goldfinch 4, Bullfinch 1, Reed Bunting 10 (1)

 

I was watching the weather like a hawk all week because there were spells of westerlies sweeping in carrying rain and then calm dry spells and it looked like today could be a gap in the weather.
 
As this is a private site I can set the nets the night before and the forecast for the evening was calm with the occasional brief shower so I was considering trying a Swallow roost. I played the tape for an hour but nothing appeared so I stopped it. I then set about putting the nets up and half way through I heard a dull, rather ominous 'whoom' sound, I looked up one minute and saw blue sky, the next minute I looked up and there it was, just about the heaviest rain storm I have been in, I was soaked to the skin in seconds, the rain drops were verging on hail, they were huge cold and hurt my head.
 
I woke up in the morning to a clear sky and zero wind which is perfect. We weren't the strongest team today so we had to limit the net set to a simple circuit of ten nets with no wader nets or bonus sets. This didn't matter too much as we were kept nicely occupied all morning with a steady stream of birds. We were joined by Steve Birt as scribe for the morning, Steve is a good scribe and good company and it is always a pleasure to have him join us. Highlight of the morning was a juvenile Cettis Warbler, this is a typical autumn appearance of a dispersing juvenile but sadly it is the first one that we have ringed this year. Without ringing we would not have known of the presence of this bird.
 
Cettis
 
We ringed a decent selection of warblers and it was particularly nice to still catch Garden Warblers, I always think that any Garden Warbler after 10th September is notable. With no retrap warblers it appears that all of the summer visitors from the site have moved on and so we are now only seeing migrants. MP, PW, SW, TL, SB
 
Cettis Warbler 1, Blackcap 113, Whitethroat 4, Garden Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 8, Reed Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 20, Willow Warbler 2, Robin 7 (2), Bullfinch 1, Blue Tit 4 (1), Great Tit 3, Long Tailed Tit 2, Wren 3, Dunnock 6, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1

 

Today we had a team build with my team from work at Swindon STW working with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust on managing the habitats on site. Simon and I did a little ringing demo beforehand and we were delighted to be joined by Ellie Jones who is the Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts Field Officer and also is a trainee ringer.
 
We only set a few nets and because of the continued westerly winds the session was pretty limited in number and variety but folk seemed to enjoy it. Ellie then led the work party teaching us how to use scythes and I have to say, though I am a committed brush cutter user, the scythes were very effective and I would definitely use one again. The task was to clear an area of reed canary grass that we manage to attract Snipe during the winter and the team did a great job getting the area just right. MP, SW, TL:, EJ
 
Blackcap 51, Whitethroat 3, Garden Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 4, Reed Warbler 5, Chiffchaff 4 (1), Wren 1, Robin 2 (2), Song Thrush 1, Bullfinch 1 (1)
 
Sprawk

 

Today we had a team build with my team from work at Swindon STW working with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust on managing the habitats on site. Simon and I did a little ringing demo beforehand and we were delighted to be joined by Ellie Jones who is the Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts Field Officer and also is a trainee ringer.
 
We only set a few nets and because of the continued westerly winds the session was pretty limited in number and variety but folk seemed to enjoy it. Ellie then led the work party teaching us how to use scythes and I have to say, though I am a committed brush cutter user, the scythes were very effective and I would definitely use one again. The task was to clear an area of reed canary grass that we manage to attract Snipe during the winter and the team did a great job getting the area just right. MP, SW, TL:, EJ
 
Blackcap 51, Whitethroat 3, Garden Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 4, Reed Warbler 5, Chiffchaff 4 (1), Wren 1, Robin 2 (2), Song Thrush 1, Bullfinch 1 (1)

 

We had a really good team assembled today, well prepared for another stunning day on the Salisbury Plain. The number of Blackcaps has increased considerably and we were very busy early morning. Sedge Warblers had increased from last week but we only ringed one each of Grasshopper Warbler and Reed Warbler. It was frustrating hearing Tree Pipits going over but they did not respond at all to the playback lures. We did well for Whinchats today and 4 ringed was good but we then caught an adult male with colour rings so we presumed that it had been ringed on SPTA West but we have found out that it was actually ringed as a breeding male in June 134km away in Somerset which is a remarkable movement and certainly teaches us that the Whinchats on the plain can come from anywhere. MP, PW, NW, TW, NP, TL
 
Whinchat cr
 
Corbu
 
Whinchat 4 (1), Redstart 2, Meadow Pipit 2, Blackcap 196, Whitethroat 15 (2), Garden Warbler 3, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 45, Reed Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 10, Willow Warbler 3, Goldfinch 4, Linnet 3, Reed Bunting 5, Yellowhammer 2, Corn Bunting 1, Long Tailed Tit 0 (2), Robin 3

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