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We had a good little team out today for the next CES session. As is often the case the catch was dominated by Reed Warblers and Blackcaps. Reed Warblers always provide us with interesting information and today whilst not exceptional still proved interesting with four adults originally ringed on 2015 and four juveniles all ringed this year as nestlings on site. MP, SW, NW, TL
 
Reed Warbler 12 (10), Blackcap 22 (2), Whitethroat 4, Garden Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 4, Chiffchaff 6, Willow Warbler 3, Dunnock 3 (1), Robin 4 (3), Wren 8, Blackbird 3, Song Thrush 3, Blue Tit 2, Great Tit 2, Long Tailed Tit 1 (4), Treecreeper 1
 
We are right in the heart of the breeding season now and trying to time each site for it's Tree Sparrow Retrap Adults for Survival visit is really difficult. It was just Noah and me for this session and we set the nets along flight lines that we thought the sparrows would take from the boxes at first light and some others by some feeders. Typically in this situation at this time of year the feeders get swarms of young Tree Sparrows on them but this is great because we get to retrap some of the birds that we have ringed as nestlings. We caught 41 juvenile Tree Sparrows that comprised 23 retraps and 18 new so once again it shows just how many natural pairs there are. We caught 12 adults of which 3 were previously unringed, these birds contribute to the RAS and make this a very successful session. One Tree Sparrow proved to be just about the strangest one I have ever recorded; it was originally ringed in a huge wintering flock at a site 9km north, then it bred first brood at a site a further 3km north and was retrapped there on 8th July with a brood patch that was healing up. It has now appeared at this site a full 12km south, 14 days later but with a brood patch indicating that it is laying eggs again. The most probable explanation for this bizarre occurrence is that its partner had died and that it had moved until it came across another male that she then paired up with.
 
The adult retraps that had been originally ringed as nestlings included four from 2016, two from 2015 and one from 2014.
 
Surprise of the day were a pair of moulting Redstarts caught by a dung heap, it really never fails to amaze me what birds pass through the downs that I would not see if it weren't for ringing, we also ringed a Willow Warbler which will be a migrant passing through as they do not breed here. MP, NW
 
Tree Sparrow 41 (12), Redstart 2, Whitethroat 3, Willow Warbler 1, Great Tit 5, Blue Tit 1, Blackbird 4 (1), Robin 3, Wren 9, Linnet 1
 
WP 20170722 07 27 06 Rich 2

 

My ringing calendar was starting to get a bit jammed up with CES due and also Tree Sparrow RAS catches urgently needed so we decided to split the team to cover both options.
 
Gary joined me at the Tree Sparrow site which consists of feeders by a pond on the downs. The Tree Sparrows always provide such interesting information, today we ringed 22 and retrapped 22, it seems that despite the more nest boxes we put up, the split of unringed v ringed in our catches stays the same. We caught 36 juvenile Tree Sparrows, again with an exact 50/50 split of ringed v unringed. We caught a total of ten adults for the RAS project, of these, one was originally ringed 5km away last year.
 
The most interesting Tree Sparrows were four juveniles that we ringed as nestlings at an organic farm 2km away. This is a new site for us and it has opened up our eyes to organic farming because the breeding results have not been very good there and then to have four of the nestlings immediately disperse away tells me that organic farming may not always be beneficial to farmland birds.
 
Surprise of the day was the Garden Warbler that we caught as it flew through an area of stinging nettles, I don't think that I have ever seen one on the downs before. MP, GH
 
Tree  Sparrow 22 (22), House Sparrow 16, Greenfinch 2, Chaffinch 2, Goldfinch 3, Blackcap 4, Garden Warbler 1, Whitethroat 1, Chiffchaff 1, Swallow 1, Dunnock 5, Wren 1 (1), Blackbird 5, Great Tit 15, Blue Tit 3, Jackdaw 1

 

Anna led the CES session at the sewage works ably assisted by Paul, Noah and Terry. 101 birds processed during the morning was very respectable though it was still 10% down on last year. As ever, Reed Warblers provide the main interest in many sessions and they retrapped five ringed as nestlings this year and two ringed as adults in 2014.
 
The day total of 208 birds processed by the group is absolutely brilliant and we managed to successfully undertake two high value conservation ringing sessions. AF, NW, PW, TL
 
Reed Warbler 9 (10), Sedge Warbler 1 (2), Blackcap 9 (6), Whitethroat 10, Chiffchaff 11 (2), Willow Warbler 4, Wren 5 (1), Dunnock 8 (1), Robin 5 (6), Blue Tit 3 (1), Great Tit 2, Long Tailed Tit 1 (1), Bullfinch 1, Song Thrush 0 (2)

 

With the really good breeding season for Reed Warblers in the canal we were hoping that this session would give us lots of information about the Reed Warbler population along the canal, and so it proved. We ringed 20 new Reed Warblers of which 18 were adults and 2 were juveniles. The retraps included three of this years fledged nestlings, one ringed as a nestling last year, two ringed as nestlings in 2015 and one from 2014. We also had one that was ringed as a juvenile at nearby Swindon STW last July. These data show how important the site is for Reed Warblers and just how site faithful they are.
 
Once again we simply put a long line of nets adjacent to the towpath and the reeds to target the Reed Warblers.
 
I was joined by Gary, Jodie and Biff but we were also joined by two ladies who had seen me ringing the nestlings in the week and were keen to come and see us ringing the adults.
 
The day total of 134 really was superb and it was capped off with a lovely fresh juvenile Redstart that really cannot have nested that far away as it was so young. MP, AM, GH, JH
 
Redstart MH
 
Reed Warbler 20 (12), Sedge Warbler 5 (1), Blackcap 8, Whitethroat 7 (1), Chiffchaff 11, Willow Warbler 2, Goldcrest 1, Dunnock 8 (2), Wren 11 (1), Robin 4, Redstart 1, Blackbird 4, Song Thrush 3, Blue Tit 17, Great Tit 5, Long Tailed Tit 5, Treecreeper 1, Bullfinch 3 (1)

 

June is always a really busy time for us as Tree Sparrows have all three broods active and with by far the highest number of pairs we have ever had it is no wonder that we ringed 664 nestlings during the month. The Cuckoos along the canal fared quite well with four eggs laid but only two hatched but they both survived, were ringed and fledged successfully. The Reed Warblers did not suffer much at the success of the Cuckoos because we ringed an impressive 48 Reed Warbler nestlings in June.
 
Cuckoo chick
 
The undoubted June highlight was when I took a call from a farmer informing me of the presence of a Tawny Owl chick that he had seen sat low in a tree. I had reached the end of a long night ringing Tree Sparrows and it was just getting dusk and I almost decided not to bother to follow up on the call but I thought that seeing as the chap had taken the effort, I ought to put myself out. I arrived at the location and heard a call that I had not heard before, I then heard the adult owl flying in to feed the youngster. I got the ladder and climbed to the treetops and as I suspected it was indeed a lovely juvenile Long Eared Owl proving breeding which is the first locally that I have witnessed.
 
leo
 
As we tour the downs we come across nest recording opportunities and we ringed the following nestlings throughout the month with the 9 Spotted Flycatchers being a particular success.
 
 
Tree Sparrow 664, Swallow 52, Pied Wagtail 8, Barn Owl 16, Little Owl 6, Kestrel 9, Stock Dove 1, Reed Warbler 48, Spotted Flycatcher 9

 

We had a good team out today, including Jodie back from University. The Reed Warbler retraps included four ringed as nestlings on site and one originally ringed in 2014.
62 birds processed is okay for a spring catch but it is actually 22% down on the corresponding catch last year. MP, PW, GH, JH, TL
 
Reed Warbler 4 (5), Sedge Warbler 0 (1), Blackcap 13, Whitethroat 5 (1), Garden Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 5, Goldcrest 1, Great Tit 4, Dunnock 5 (2), Wren 6, Robin 5, Song Thrush 1, Blackbird 0 (1), Bullfinch 1, Goldfinch 1

 

With the team yet again severely depleted it was up to new trainee Terry and I to do this session at Purton Wood. Fortunately, we were joined by my brother so we get an experienced extractor plus a scribe for free. We were then joined by my sister in law and niece who came to see the birds. This site is quite busy with dog walkers and it always means that the locals get a free, drop in ringing demo and we were kept busy not only ringing the birds but talking about them with the locals.
 
This site has the densest population of breeding birds of our sites and todays results showed this with good numbers of Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler being ringed.
 
I saw a Barn Owl at dawn and so I checked the owl box out but sadly there were no signs of occupancy. I then made a good effort of clearing overhanging branches away from the vicinity of the front of the box to make it more attractive to owls in the future.
 
91 birds ringed is pretty impressive for a spring catch but the really strange thing is that we only retrapped three birds. MP, TL, AP
 
Blackcap 11 (1), Whitethroat 6, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Chiffchaff 13, Willow Warbler 4, Treecreeper 1, Robin 8 (1), Dunnock 4, Wren 5, Blue Tit 18, Great Tit 8, Long Tailed Tit 4 (1), Goldfinch 1, Bullfinch 6, Chaffinch 1

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Wiltshire Ornithological Society was formed on November 30th, 1974, and has grown in recent years to more than 500 members.

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