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This session was aimed at trying to catch adult Reed Warblers and with a flat calm, sunny morning it was just perfect. I monitor the nests along the canal and this year we have over 40 nesting attempts by Reed Warbler including four where Cuckoos have laid eggs. The canal is the best site in Swindon to see Cuckoo and the only site in the borough where they have been proven to breed.
 
We caught ten Reed Warblers during the morning of which four were retraps, one of them was ringed in June 213 as a breeding male and the other was ringed as a nestling in June 2015 both birds showing great site fidelity.
 
In spring, Cuckoos are an ever present sight and sound at this site. I watched the male the day before and based on my observations I set a net specifically for Cuckoo and placed a decoy behind the net and put a call on to lure our male down. The Cuckoo came down immediately and after two passes, he went into the net. Noah really didn't expect to be ringing such a magnificent bird this morning!
 
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We had set the nets along the canal towpath today to specifically target the Reed Warblers and although the diversity and number of birds was slightly down it was worth it to enable us to focus on the Reed Warblers and also the Cuckoo. We have a very good relationship with the local people here but we were still wondering how they would react walking alongside our nets. We were pleasantly surprised as everyone read the signs and we had lots of interesting conversations and it really feels like we are able to educate people a little about the birds and other wildlife that use the site. MP, NW, TL
 
Cuckoo 1, Reed Warbler 6 (4), Sedge Warbler 2 (2), Blackcap 8, Whitethroat 2, Chiffchaff 5 (1), Willow Warbler 0 (1), Great Tit 4, Blue Tit 10, Long Tailed Tit 1, Robin 9, Blackbird 4, Song Thrush 1 (1), Goldcrest 1, Wren 1, Dunnock 4 (1), Goldfinch 1, Bullfinch 1, Magpie 1
 
Once again we had a very small team out today and so once again we could not put up any extra nets which for me is a real shame as we lose the monitoring of the birds outside of the CES area, particularly the old Reed Warblers that nest around the bund area.
 
Juvenile birds are starting to disperse and there was a welcome increase in the number of Blue and Great Tits. Highlight of the day was a juvenile Coal Tit which is only the third ringed on site and Terry was the fortunate fellow to ring it, we ring lots at other sites but it is a really notable record for our 'home site'.
 
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Treecreeper and Kingfisher were other highlights for us as we do not ring many of them on site. I love retrapping the Reed Warblers because they show such great site fidelity and for a warbler they show great longevity, today we retrapped three from 2015 and two from 2014. MP, PW, TL
 
Kingfisher 1, Treecreeper 1, Blackcap 19 (1), Garden Warbler 1, Whitethroat 1 (3), Chiffchaff 10, Reed Warbler 1 (7), Sedge Warbler 0 (2), Goldcrest 1, Robin 2, Wren 1, Great Tit 9, Blue Tit 4, Coal Tit 1, Dunnock 3 (4), Greenfinch 2, Bullfinch 1
 
We are a bit depleted team-wise at the moment with Noah and Biff not able to come ringing at the moment due to exams. So it was left to Simon, Gary and me to complete this CES visit. This is my least favourite time of the year because we are tied to putting up the same CES nets, catches are small and we have to get up earlier than at any other time of the year. The bonus is that we do catch decent retraps from previous years and of course the CES data is of very high value.
 
The small team also means that we cannot put any extra nets up which restricts our monitoring of the other areas of the site which I personally find quite frustrating because there will be old retraps out there that we are not recording.
 
This session was fairly unremarkable except for three Cuckoos that we teasing us all morning as they chased each other around over the top of the nets. The best retrap was a Sedge Warbler originally ringed in 2014.
 
The morning total of 56 birds processed is again pretty disappointing and it looks like the weather in May has took its toll on local breeding success as this session is 25% down on the corresponding session last year. MP, SW, GH
 
Reed Warbler 2 (4), Sedge Warbler 2 (1), Blackcap 3, Garden Warbler 0 (1), Whitethroat 3, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Chiffchaff 1 (1), Blue Tit 8, Great Tit 7 (1), Long Tailed Tit 2 (1), Wren 0 (1), Dunnock 2 (3), Robin 2 (1), Blackbird 1 (1), Song Thrush 0 (1), Bullfinch 2 (1), Reed Bunting 1 (2)
 
Nest recording forms a major part of our work during the summer, obviously mainly focused on Tree Sparrows and we ringed 390 nestlings during the month. Occasionally we get Wrens nesting in our boxes, as open nests it is not possible to safely access most Wren nests but in boxes it is perfectly safe so we ringed two broods totalling 12 birds.
 
We also have some nest boxes on the Savernake estate mainly targeting the extremely scarce and local Willow Tit. In May we ringed a brood of 9 Willow Tits, two broods of Coal Tit totalling 17 nestlings, a brood of 7 Nuthatches.
 
Wilti fm
 
The Reed Warbler nest monitoring in the reed bed at Mouldon Hill Canal is going very well with 19 active nests and 4 nests with Cuckoo eggs in.
 
Cuckoo egg
 
The Mistle Thrushes in the wall successfully fledged 2 chicks which is a particularly noteworthy event because these are the first Mistle Thrush nestlings that we have ringed in 9 years. It isn't that they are scarce it's just that they do not nest where we go on our rounds of the downs.
 
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Owls are nesting early and sadly two of our Tawny Owl pairs failed but we did manage to ring one successful brood of 2 and we ringed a brood of 4 Little Owls. MP
 
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This was a very interesting session for Reed Warblers because we ringed 9 new birds, processed 3 controls i.e. ringed elsewhere and we retrapped 10 birds that we have previously ringed. These local or same site retraps can be very interesting, especially considering these birds have been to Africa and back each winter. The retraps included 4 from 2013, 1 from 2014 and 2 from 2015 but one of the 2015 birds was even higher value because it was ringed as a nestling in the reed bed at the canal at Mouldon Hill which is about 2km away.
 
The total of 47 birds processed is terrible compared with the same session last year when we processed 80 birds, the disparity seems to be in the number of resident species caught including Dunnock, Wren and Robin.
 
I then capped the day off with a nesting safari across the downs during which I ringed 34 Tree Sparrow and 11 Blue Tit nestlings. Nesting success is currently not very good, I guess because of the dry weather. MP, SW, TL
 
Reed Warbler 9 (10), Blackcap 5 (1), Whitethroat 1, Garden Warbler 1, Lesser Whitethroat 2 (1), Chiffchaff 0 (1), Willow Warbler 0 (1), Long Tailed Tit 0 (2), Wren 0 (1), Robin 1 (1), Dunnock 0 (1), Blackbird 1 (4), Greenfinch 4
 
We had a big team out  today, all enthused for a good spring CES catch and it turned out to be quite a decent catch for the time of year. This session last year saw us catch 52 birds and in this session we caught 72. The big difference between the two years is that last year we ringed one Long Tailed Tit and today we caught a superb 17. MP, AF, SW, PW, GH, TL
 
Reed Warbler 6 (1), Sedge Warbler 3, Blackcap 3 (4), Whitethroat 5 (1), Lesser Whitethroat 3, Garden Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1 (1), Long Tailed Tit 15 (2), Blue Tit 1 (1), Great Tit 1, Wren 0 (4), Dunnock 1 (5), Blackbird 2 (7), Greenfinch 2, Bullfinch 1, Reed Bunting 1
 
With Reed Warblers arriving in good numbers it was the right time to try our first session of the year at the canal. This site is under threat by the canal being dug out and eventually turned back to a navigable waterway which will devastate it from a breeding bird perspective. The main two species at this site are the Reed Warblers and the couple of pairs of Grasshopper Warbler. There were two male Grasshopper Warblers reeling and a good bit of work by Noah saw us catch and ring one, there are only a handful of pairs of Grasshopper Warblers breeding in the River Ray Parkway and they face an ever increasing threat by development and over-population. We did okay with Reed Warblers with seven ringed and two retrapped. One Reed Warbler was originally ringed at Swindon STW in the spring of 2015 and retrapped there last year,  the other one was ringed as a nestling in the canal in June 2015.
 
We retrapped a Willow Warbler that was ringed as a breeding male last year and another that was ringed at Purton Wood as a juvenile last summer. Both of the retrap Chiffchaffs were ringed last summer at Purton Wood, one as a breeding female and the other as a juvenile. The retrap rate of Whitethroats between sites is very low but we retrapped a female today that was originally ringed as a breeding female at Swindon STW last spring.
 
This was a very interesting session and shows just how important these last few remnants of good habitat are for birds. MP, AM, NW, GH
 
Reed Warbler 7 (2), Sedge Warbler 8, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Blackcap 7, Whitethroat 3 (1), Garden Warbler 2, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Chiffchaff 7 (2), Willow Warbler 5 (2), Goldcrest 2, Blackbird 2 (1), Song Thrush 3, Long Tailed Tit 3, Blue Tit 2 (1), Great Tit 6, Dunnock 7 (4), Robin 9, Wren 3, Bullfinch 4 (1), Chaffinch 1
 
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The 2017 CES season made a very inauspicious start from a team perspective as I was left to do it on my own. There had obviously been a passage of Sedge Warblers as I ringed 21 which is double the number of the corresponding session last year. A Kingfisher put in a very welcome appearance.
 
The best retraps were a Chiffchaff and a Reed Warbler from 2015. MP
 
Kingfisher 1, Blackcap 6 (2), Whitethroat 3, Chiffchaff 1 (1), Willow Warbler 3, Reed Warbler 1 (1), Sedge Warbler 21, Wren 3 (5), Robin 1 (1), Dunnock 0 (5), Blackbird 1 (1), Song Thrush 2, Goldfinch 1, Greenfinch 0 (1), Bullfinch 1 (2), Long Tailed Tit 1 (2), Reed Bunting 2
 
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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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