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22nd August 2013 - Salisbury Plain (centre)

After the success of Tuesday's session we were joined again by Rob and Mike who were hoping to ring some more nice species.

However, once on site we had a slight issue with the weather. The overnight rain that was supposed to have cleared by mid-night was still coming down as the back edge of the weather front moved over us. Thankfully it had passed by 0600 but since there had also been rain further to the north of us the number of migrants was very much down compared to the last few visits. 

The first net round produced the best bird of the day, a Nightjar. I've not caught many of these and whenever I do there's always a trainee out with me that needs Nightjar for a ringing tick. As I was out today with 3 experienced 'A' permit holders I decided I was due a good bird so happily ringed it.

Even though migrants were down we still managed another 15 Willow Warblers and 24 Whitethroats with a good mix of other warblers. Interestingly, We only caught one Sedge Warbler today compared to 20 and 13 from the last two visits so it looks like the peak for this species may have passed. GD/PD/RT/MH

94 new, 10 retrap

Nightjar 1, Tree Pipit 1, Wren 2, Dunnock 3(1), Robin 4(1), Redstart 2, Whinchat 1, Blackbird (2), Song Thrush 3, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 2, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Whitethroat 24, Garden Warbler 7(2), Blackcap 18(2), Chiffchaff 5(1), Willow Warbler 15(1), Blue Tit 1, Bullfinch 1, Yellowhammer 1

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20th August 2013 - Salisbury Plain (centre)

As I have the whole week off of work it was bonus session time on my Salisbury Plain site and were even joined by my old trainer Rob and Mike from the West Wilts group.

The hope was to catch a lot more migrant warblers and some other interesting migrants and we weren't dissapointed. The Whinchat net provided yet another 2 new Whinchats and also caught a stray Tree Pipit later no. Sedge Warblers were once again in numbers far higher than would be expected for a site many miles away from the nearest reedbed. We managed 5 Tree Pipits most of which came in to tape lures, the best day total for the year so far. We also caught two very recently fledged Grasshopper Warblers along with the adult we've been catching since April which was much nicer than catching migrants since these ones are home grown.  A shed load of new Whitethroats and Willow Warblers went some way to making up the poor numbers caught during the spring and yes, we caught yet anoth Redstart.

A good morning with 127 new and 13 retraps. GD/PD/RT/MH

Swallow 4, Tree Pipit 5, Wren 4, Dunnock (2), Robin 5, Redstart 1, Whinchat 2, Blackbird 1, Song Thrush 1, Grasshopper Warbler 3(1), Sedge Warbler 13, Reed Warbler 6, Whitethroat 36(1), Garden Warbler 8, Blackcap 9(4), Chiffchaff 1(3), Willow Warbler 18(1), Coal Tit 1, Blue Tit 1, Linnet 4, Bullfinch 2, Yellowhammer 2

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19th August 2013 - Swindon STW

 
I met up with Matt and Welsh Paul at the works in the afternoon for a crafty go at a Swallow roost later in the evening. Beforehand though we put  a few finishing touches to the new duck trap. After negotiating a nettle bed we maneuvered it into position on one of the centre lagoons. Paul cursed the nettles and mud in a language Matt and I found difficult to understand. It will be good to see if the new trap pays dividends. The late afternoon and early evening were clear, and the first Swallows, House Martins and the odd Swifts started milling around. We set a crafty dog-leg in the reed bed and got the Swallow tape playing to set the ball rolling. Matt pointed out some Water Vole droppings at the edge of the reed. Evidence that they're using the site which is good. Paul was attempting to remedy a twist in one of the nets. From the stream of expletives issuing from deep in the reeds he wasn't enjoying the experience. Matt and I briefly toyed with the idea of offering assistance, but shrugged and continued discussing the finer points of reed bed management. After more expletives-in a language that probably hasn't been spoken in Britain since the Iron Age-the nets were ready. The first round caught us the odd Reed and Sedge Warbler with the Swallows showing increasing interest, but none in the nets. The second round brought no Swallows, but did deliver one of my favourite raptors of all time! A corking young male Sparrowhawk! A cracking piece of kit in my opinion. A first extraction tick for me, and a ringing tick for Paul. Our final round in the gathering gloom produced 22 Swallows with 2 Goldfinch as a bonus, which we haven't ringed on site for awhile. We processed the Swallows on site, and Matt roosted them overnight for release in the morning to resume their epic journey. Good luck to them.
 
All agreed what a good little evening session it was. Matt and I also agreed that it might be an idea to recruit a translator for the team, so we can communicate with Paul better. Isn't it.   MP/SW/PA
 
 
Swallow 22, Goldfinch 2, Whitethroat 2, Sedge Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 4(2), Sparrowhawk 1
 
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17th August 2013 - Swindon STW

 
Another shocking early start for Paul and I as we set nets specifically for the Green Sandpipers that evaded us last week. We also put up a cunning two-shelf wader net on a lagoon. We met Gavin and Ian from Oxford at the gate at 430 and then we were joined by Simon shortly after. We only put up 8 passerine nets just in case the predicted bad weather came in. The wader nets only produced 1 Black Headed Gull but there were hardly any gulls around and the two Green Sandpipers present showed their aerial skills as they once again evaded our nets. Today was looking like a day of near misses as we had a Little Ringed Plover skim past a net and then Gavin spotted a juvenile Cuckoo that we set a net for and failed. Then Paul came to the rescue and a bit of cunning work encouraged a juvenile Green Sandpiper into the two-shelf net.
 
It was good to see a couple of Garden Warblers and at long last a juvenile Blackbird, our first of the year.
 
 MP/SW/PA/GH
 
Reed Warbler 7 (1), Sedge Warbler 3, Blackcap 16 (4), Whitethroat 6, Garden Warbler 2, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Bullfinch 1 (1), Chiffchaff 5 (3), Willow Warbler 1, Dunnock 2, Blue Tit 3, Great Tit 5, Long Tailed Tit 8 (2), Wren 1, Robin (1), Greenfinch 1 (1), Blackbird 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Woodpigeon 3, Black Headed Gull 1
 
gsand

17th August 2013 - Salisbury Plain (centre)

With Olly sleeping through his alarm, or not setting it properly, or deciding to sleep off his ringing visit to Icklesham, it was left to just my Dad and myself to get things done. After ringing 172 birds last week it looked odds on that we'd be quite busy again but just as we turned off the road onto the range track we hit thick fog which is always a killer to catching big numbers. However, we were suprised to flush 3 Wheatears off the track at the bottom of the valley where we have been catching all our recent Whinchats. Sadly we didn't get any of them but did manage another Whinchat and 2 Stonechats.

While still putting up the nets we caught 2 Sedge Warblers while it was still pretty dark which was just the start of an interesting morning's migration for this species. By 9 o'clock when the predicted high winds hit we had caught 20 which isn't far off our years average catch for this species at this site. Other highlights were another Tree Pipit, 2 Grasshopper Warblers and even 2 Lesser Whitethroats managed to make an appearance which has now crept us into double figures for the species this year, down from an average of 40 a few years ago. We also caught another Redstart which we have now caught on 8 consecutive visits to this site.

In all, 113 new and 10 retraps was a fair return for th morning. It would have been more if Olly had got out of bed. GD/PD

Swallow 4, Tree Pipit 1, Meadow Pipit 1, Wren 2(2), Dunnock 2(1), Robin 5(1), Redstart 1, Whinchat 1, Stonechat 2, Blackbird 2, Song Thrush 1, Grasshopper Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 20, Reed Warbler 3, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Whitethroat 21(1), Garden Warbler 3(1), Blackcap 16(2), Chiffchaff 3(1), Willow Warbler 15, Goldcrest 1, Chaffinch 2, Goldfinch 1, Bullfinch 1(1), Yellowhammer 1

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10th August 2013 - Salisbury Plain

With extra friends joining us this morning in the form of Gary, Louise and Louise's Mum the pressure was on to catch some nice birds and get good numbers. Thankfully in terms of numbers this was the largest catch of the year so far and the number of quality birds was astonishing.

After the success of the bonus 'Whinchat' net from the other week we put it up again and managed a massive 6 Whinchats on the first net round. First bird of the morning however was a retrap Nightingale that we'd been trying to catch all year. It turned out it was originally ringed in 2010 and has been caught each year since. Soon after we caught our first new Nightingale of the year which was something of a relief and only 4 months overdue.

More Grasshopper Warblers and Redstarts followed and once things warmed up a bit the Tree Pipits started turning up but it was the common warbler species that were most numerous. With 25 new Willow Warblers and 47 new Whitethroats post breeding dispersal prior to migration is well underway. This was shown in the 8 Sedge Warblers caught, impressive for a chalk downland site. The one obvious species misisng from todays catch was however Lesser Whitethroat. While not common at this site we would normally expect to catch 5 or so each session this time of year. It appears that this species population has been massively reduced after last years non-breeding season.

In all we ringed 172 new birds and processed 13 retraps. An impressive total but fits well with the average catch on this site for the time of year. GD/PD/OF

Sparrowhawk 1, Green Woodpecker 1, Swallow 1, Tree Pipit 4, Wren 6(2), Dunnock 10, Robin 4, Nightingale 1(1), Redstart 2, Whinchat 7, Blackbird 1, Song Thrush 1(1), Grasshopper Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 8, Whitethroat 47(2), Garden Warbler 7(1), Blackcap 28(2), Chiffchaff 5(2), Willow Warbler 25(1), Blue Tit 1(1), Chaffinch 2, Goldfinch 1, Linnet 2, Bullfinch 1, Yellowhammer 3, Reed Bunting 1

Whinchat study group

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10th August 2013 - Swindon STW

 
Today was a training masterclass with Gavin out for his first ringing session, Ian from Oxford visiting working to become a trainer and three of our group trainees Simon, Paul and Sarah. An 03:45 start enabled us to get four wader nets up at the tanks in search of gulls or Green Sandpipers. 12 nets up for passerines provided a steady stream of birds with Chiffchaff and Blackaps in strong evidence. Star nets of the day proved to be the wader nets, we normally take these down at dawn but today we opted to leave them open for a few more rounds and they provided some great surprises and some really interesting handling experiences with another 6 Black Headed Gulls, 2 Jackdaws, a Starling that made Pauls day, a Crow and for me best of all two Stock Doves as we very rarely catch them.
 
The total of 99 new and 19 retraps was pretty respectable but still we haven’t ringed a single juvenile Blackbird yet this summer which is alarming. MP/PA/SW/SR/IL/GH
 
Chiffchaff 15 (5), Willow Warbler 4, Blackcap 13 (2), Whitethroat 7, Garden Warbler 2, Reed Warbler 9 (5), Sedge Warbler 1, Wren 6, Robin 8 (1), Dunnock 6 (1), Blue Tit 7 (2) ,Great Tit 4, Long Tailed Tit 2 (3), Bullfinch 1, Black Headed Gull 6, Carrion Crow 1, Jackdaw 2, Woodpigeon 1, Stock Dove 2, Starling 1
 
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5th August 2013 - Marlborough Downs

 
Today it was grey, then sunny, then it rained, then it was sunny, then it went grey, then it rained, then it went purple, then it was sunny. Then I went home.
 
In between all of this high quality weather I checked Tree Sparrow boxes for 4 hours and ringed another few broods; Normally the last eggs are laid on about 28th July but I am still finding newly laid clutches so the darn things are not letting me off the hook. Farmers have started harvesting rape and winter barley but had to stop as the rain flattened their crops. An early harvest brings the Tree Sparrow nestling season to an early close but this year looks like going the distance.
 
As the weather cleared I gave Paul the usual short notice and we met up at a small sewage works on the edge of the downs that has a thriving Tree Sparrow colony but also can be productive for Swallows. We are testing to see if we can catch Tree Sparrows in summer so this was the ideal opportunity. 3 adult Tree Sparrows were ringed along with 3 juveniles ringed as nestlings this summer but the House Sparrow that infiltrated our site wasn’t quite so welcome. Swallows were zipping around all over the place but cunningly evaded our nets until roost time when 18 popped in at the end along with a bonus Sedge Warbler, quite an unusual bird on the downs. All in all, quite a worthwhile little evening. MP/PA
 
Swallow 18, Tree Sparrow 3 (3), Goldfinch 2, Whitethroat 3, Sedge Warbler 1, House Sparrow 1
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