With a sudden change in the weather we at last managed to get to one of my favourite sites, Marlborough STW. I deliberately haven't put feeders up at the site to keep thhe numbers of birds lower. We put up a lovely set of nets around the site, mostly between the filter beds and also two between bushes. We were treated to a constant stream of Chiffchaffs and we ringed 14 in total which is our highest winter day total ever for any site. All of the Chiffchaffs looked like the standard European Colybita race apart from one that had some khaki but in my view any differences are purely clinal. Chiffchaffs are quite interesting to age and the photo of the wing below shows some of the ageing criteria.
I really like this site because we ring birds here that we otherwise wouldn't catch like wagtails and pipits and also the birds tend to show good site fidelity allowing us to learn more about ageing these species and also how they use the site and we get to ring in a heated building with fresh hot drinks constantly available. This is far and away our best site for Grey Wagtails and during the morning we ringed six of them. For some ringers any wagtail would be a star bird of the morning but we also ringed six Pied Wagtails and three White Wagtails, these are low numbers for the site but that is probably because the weather has been so mild.
The site is normally really good for Meadow Pipits but again numbers were low but a few do show winter site fidelity and we retrapped two that are two years old and another that is three years old. Most Meadow Pipits are ringed as migrants pouring through the country and so ringers rarely get the chance to handle adults year to year.
It was great to see Biff and Paul putting nets up on their own, showing how they are improving their skills. It was also great to see the 200 gorse bushes that Simon, Biff and I planted in November looking very perky. These were bought by Thames Water and we hope that they will help tiny insectivorous birds like Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs survive the winters. MP, SW, PW, AM
Chiffchaff 14, Goldcrest 10 (1), Meadow Pipit 10 (3), Grey Wagtail 6, Pied Wagtail 6, White Wagtail 3, Marsh Tit 1, Blue Tit 7 (1), Great Tit 1, Long Tailed Tit 4 (1), Wren 8 (1), Blackbird 1, Dunnock 1,, Robin 4