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With the summer migrants now long gone I thought it was time to catch up with the team totals which are correct up to the end of October.

The 2 group CES totals were down on last years numbers with warbler species seemingly having only an average breeding season in Wiltshire. However, the totals of migrants caught on our Salisbury Plain sites remained very high so breeding must have been good elsewhere which continues to prove that this area must be the best inland migration hot-spot in the country.

Along with everyone else we've been catching Goldcrest's in large numbers during the last month and one team managed to catch a Norwegian ringed Goldcrest last weekend which is pretty good going since we're at least 200 miles away from the east coast migration points.  It also looks like Lesser Redpoll's are on the move in big numbers after last years no show. Winter thrushes seem to be a bit slow coming in but we've managed a few Fieldfare and around 100 Redwing so far for the Autumn and are hoping for a lot more.

 

Full Grown

Pulli

Retraps

Totals

   

Full Grown

Pulli

Retraps

Totals

Eurasian Teal

1

0

0

1

 

Redwing

122

0

1

123

Sparrowhawk

5

0

0

5

 

Mistle Thrush

1

4

0

5

Kestrel

1

7

0

8

 

Cetti's Warbler

1

0

5

6

Hobby

1

0

0

1

 

Grasshopper Warbler

27

0

0

27

Grey Partridge

1

0

0

1

 

Sedge Warbler

224

5

41

270

Water Rail

1

0

0

1

 

Reed Warbler

235

82

142

459

Moorhen

3

0

0

3

 

Lesser Whitethroat

74

0

16

90

Coot

1

0

0

1

 

Whitethroat

567

0

88

655

Jack Snipe

1

0

0

1

 

Garden Warbler

156

0

52

208

Snipe

4

0

0

4

 

Blackcap

3387

2

271

3660

Woodcock

1

0

0

1

 

Chiffchaff

1335

0

116

1451

Green Sandpiper

1

0

0

1

 

Willow Warbler

270

0

60

330

Stock Dove

2

9

0

11

 

Goldcrest

412

0

57

469

Woodpigeon

23

5

6

34

 

Firecrest

4

0

0

4

Collared Dove

2

1

0

3

 

Spotted Flycatcher

13

19

0

32

Cuckoo

0

1

0

1

 

Long-tailed Tit

143

0

85

228

Barn Owl

3

0

0

3

 

Marsh Tit

10

13

13

36

Little Owl

4

10

1

15

 

Willow Tit

1

7

1

9

Tawny Owl

2

1

1

4

 

Coal Tit

94

0

42

136

Nightjar

2

0

0

2

 

Blue Tit

625

154

430

1209

Kingfisher

5

0

2

7

 

Great Tit

473

97

272

842

Green Woodpecker

2

0

6

8

 

Nuthatch

9

7

5

21

Great Spotted Woodpecker

21

0

18

39

 

Treecreeper

32

0

13

45

Skylark

1

3

0

4

 

Jay

4

0

1

5

Sand Martin

9

0

1

10

 

Magpie

2

0

0

2

Swallow

698

208

4

910

 

Jackdaw

6

3

0

9

House Martin

136

0

10

146

 

Rook

1

30

0

31

Tree Pipit

29

0

1

30

 

Carrion Crow

0

4

0

4

Meadow Pipit

403

0

2

405

 

Starling

11

0

0

11

Yellow Wagtail

7

0

0

7

 

House Sparrow

81

2

19

102

Grey Wagtail

10

5

1

16

 

Tree Sparrow

139

1381

184

1704

Pied/White Wagtail

179

23

7

209

 

Chaffinch

466

0

82

548

Wren

341

0

91

432

 

Brambling

2

0

0

2

Dunnock

385

4

206

595

 

Greenfinch

215

0

44

259

Robin

431

9

159

599

 

Goldfinch

241

0

80

321

Nightingale

3

0

9

12

 

Siskin

1

0

0

1

Redstart

29

0

2

31

 

Linnet

158

13

6

177

Whinchat

45

0

0

45

 

Lesser Redpoll

112

0

2

114

Stonechat

12

0

0

12

 

Bullfinch

152

0

93

245

Wheatear

2

0

0

2

 

Yellowhammer

588

0

74

662

Ring Ouzel

6

0

0

6

 

Reed Bunting

198

0

86

284

Blackbird

201

10

106

317

 

Corn Bunting

14

0

1

15

Fieldfare

8

0

0

8

           

Song Thrush

146

3

40

189

 

Total:

13774

2122

3055

18951

I fancied a little session on my own for a change and I wanted to target Redwings and Goldcrests. I don't normally ring on the Salisbury Plain at this time of year but thought as I was on my own that I would give it a bash. It was a completely windless day though it was quite foggy. I wanted to experiment with Skylark and that net came up trumps with two ringed. Skylarks are a very common bird but there are only a hundred or so ringed each year so I would like to see how we can up the national totals, over the past 15 years we have ringed 51 but I would like to ring that number each year.

1Skylark

I put up a set of three nets for Redwings and that produced 18 Redwings, a Fieldfare and a Song Thrush and that is about as many thrushes as I saw all morning. This shows just how effective the recording is that we use, especially when nets are sited in the correct location.

I set three nets for crests and ringed a pretty creditable 36 with two retraps from previous weeks and then one with a very shiny slightly larger ring. As soon as you see this you know you have a foreign control and this one turned out to be from Norway. There has been a big movement of Goldcrests through Scandinavia and this bird is a real life example of that migration. I emailed my friend Nigel who I trained and now rings in Norway but we were not that lucky and it wasn't one that he had ringed which is a shame. Even so, it is our second international control of Goldcrest with the other bird being one from Sweden.

 Nor Gold

This tracks of this part of the Salisbury Plain are open to the public and the clientele are a bit different to other places so in addition to the usual dog walkers and cyclists, I also saw three teams of dog sleds pulled by huskies and today the army were pretty active and there were several tanks driving around.

All in all this was a very pleasing little session at a time of year when many ringers are scratching around in woodlands for a few Blue Tits. MP

Skylark 2, Goldcrest 36 (3), Wren 6, Robin 5, Blackbird 1, Fieldfare 1, Song Thrush 1, Redwing 18, Long Tailed Tit 3, Marsh Tit 1, Coal Tit 2 (1), Blue Tit 9 (1), Great Tit 3, Treecreeper 1 (1), Chaffinch 2, Bullfinch 4

After a few recent sessions at this site I decided to give it a full days effort. Having caught a good few Redwing and over 50 Lesser Redpoll this month I was hoping for more of the same.

Redpolls seem to have bounced back after last years total absence on this site when I didn't even hear or see one flying over all winter. They were certainly bird of the day with 51 ringed. I also managed a single Siskin which will be my one and only for a year  here since this is a location with no conifers.

There were good numbers of Reed Bunting in the tiny reedbed with 17 caught during the day, all new birds.

The number of Redwing caught first things in the morning and the evening roost was rather low but it is still early in the season so there's plenty of time to get more.

Great Spotted Woodpecker 2(1), Wren 1, Dunnock 2, Robin 1, Blackbird 1, Redwing 16, Blackcap 1, Goldcrest 4(1), Blue Tit 8(12), Great Tit 5(12), Chaffinch 9(1), Greenfinch 16, Goldfinch 2(1), Siskin 1, Lesser Redpoll 51, Bullfinch 1, Reed Bunting 17

 sis

red1

SALISBURY PLAIN (CENTRE)

While I'm visiting friends near Bergen, Norway for a weeks ringing (Barred Warbler the highlight so far) it was left to my Dad, Olly and Mike from the West Wilts group to get an October session in on this site.

There were still good numbers of Blackcap and Chiffchaff around as there always are in early October but with a big 84 Meadow Pipit's caught, including an unsual occurance of a retrap from last week there were obviously still plenty passing through on passage. Another 9 new Goldcrest's means that we've now ringed over 150 in the last month so at least this species appears to have had a good breeding season.

This could now well be the last session at this site this year depending on the weather. As it stands this site has given us 3562 new birds this year including 1322 Blackcap, 81 Garden Warbler, 256 Whitethroat, 538 Chiffchaff, 137 Willow Warbler, 67 Sedge Warbler, 103 Swallow, 236 Meadow Pipit and 26 Whinchat. An awesome total but over 1000 birds down on last years massive haul.

239 new, 11 retraps (PD, OF, MH)

Meadow Pipit 83(1), Blackbird 1(1), Song Thrush 4(1), Wren 1(1), Dunnock 3(2), Robin 6(1), Blackcap 62(5), Chiffchaff 52, Goldcrest 9(3), Blue Tit 1(2), Great Tit 2, Long Tailed Tit 12(2), Yellowhammer 3

As a result of no photos being taken on the day I make no excuses for adding a photo of the Barred Warbler caught at Herdlavaer, Norway, the 4th of the year caught at this site.

DSCF3207-001

SAVERNAKE

We were joined by my mate Malcolm who rings raptors in South Africa and his much better half Charlotte from Canada who is also a raptor and owl specialist. We were also delighted to be joined by Paul Aubrey who has recently moved to Wales and it was lovely to have Paul back again for the day. This private site in the Savernake area is one of the last remaining strongholds for the rapidly declining Willow Tit and even at this site they are now declining because of changes of habitat management.
 
We maintain several feeding stations at this site and they tend to attract a wide variety of species. Malcolm started ringing in the UK many years ago but Charlotte has never ringed here so she was able to ring all of the common woodland species such as Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Marsh Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker. We tried a couple of tape lures and duly ringed a couple of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, and then the Goldcrests kicked in and they really were in good numbers with a total of 77 ringed which is one of our best days for them. Whilst we were a bit disappointed that we only caught two Willow Tits, the total of 13 Marsh Tits shows that this species is doing pretty well and we retrapped three from 2014 and two from 2012.
 
Paul got the privilege to ring that little woodland jewel, the Firecrest which was a first for him as after a few good years we haven't done very well with them recently. We had tried for Tawny Owl but they weren't playing but a Jay must have taken umbrage to the call and Charlotte had the 'fun' of taking it out of the net. Charlotte is well used to handling large and dangerous birds such as Snowy Owls but this Jay was certainly a lively fellow and gave her a couple of small trophy wounds.
 
Coal Tits are having a good year and we duly ringed 60 and we retrapped one that was ringed at the same site as a nestling in 2014.. Willow Tits were notable by their absence but towards the end of the morning we retrapped one from last year and then Charlotte was lucky enough to ring one.
 
This really was a fantastic mornings ringing and a really good team effort ensured that everyone got a good chance to look at a wide range of species. 237 new and 24 retraps shows just how rich this woodland is for birds and thankfully our large and high quality team ensured all went smoothly. MP, AM, AF, PW, PA, MW, CE
 
Firecrest 1, Willow Tit 1 (1), Marsh Tit 8 (5), Coal Tit 60 (6), Great Tit 30 (6), Blue Tit 19 (3), Long Tailed Tit 3 (1), Nuthatch 2, Treecreeper 7, Jay 1, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Blackcap 7, Chiffchaff 4,, Goldcrest 77, Dunnock 2, Robin 7 (1), Wren 5, Chaffinch 2 (1)
 
Firecrestb
I was devoid of a team today and so my brother came out to help me. We only had a conservative net set and it proved a correct decision as when dawn broke the nets filled with over 120 birds in the first round. We were concerned that we may be overwhelmed but birds stopped moving immediately and we quickly caught up and then towards the end of the morning another wave of birds passed through. By this time of year a lot of our summering birds have already gone south and the catch is dominated by Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps that will have bred further north and east. We do however get the odd lingering bird and today we were delighted to see what will probably be our last Lesser Whitethroat of the year. We also processed a control Blackcap ie one that was ringed elsewhere. MP, AP
 
Blackcap 148 (1), Chiffchaff 34 (1), Reed Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Goldcrest 3, Bullfinch 1, Robin 3 (1), Wren 2, Dunnock 8, Great Tit 2, Blue Tit 0 (2), Song Thrush 3
 
lwt1

SALISBURY PLAIN (CENTRE) SATURDAY 19th

After some pretty dismal catches on my Salisbury Plain site this Autumn with catches down as much as 70% on the 10 year average the site decided to make up for it all in one go. The day started with thick fog but this was at ground level only as all the stars were on view so this may have helped drop the birds in on the lures we had playing. Soon after dawn it got really foggy again but all the birds seemed to be in the area and just moving around. 

Catching remained steady all morning until 1100 when the sun finally broke through upon which all bird movement ceased. The morning finished with 428 new, 4 retraps and one control including Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Tree Pipit, 40 Meadow Pipit, 4 Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 252 Blackcap, 96 Chiffchaff. The team was rather limited in number but coped well with the lack of a proper coffee break.

DSCF3186-001

Several of the Blackcap's had the head pattern on the bird in the photo. When the crown feathers were raised and examined it turned out that only the tips were brown.

DSCF3187-001

SALISBURY PLAIN (CENTRE) SUNDAY 20th

After the massive catch yesterday we were again a team limited in numbers as there were now only 2 of us rather than the 4 we did have the day before. This rather limited the number of nets we could have up so had to settle for just 9 nets rather than the usual 18 including 3 nets set for Meadow Pipits.

The morning was once again extemely foggy only this time it was not just at ground level and gave the nets a good soaking. Bird numbers were however still pretty good but it was Meadow Pipit that was top bird of the day with 58 ringed.

Weekend totals 595 new, 13 retraps, 2 controls: Sparrowhawk 1, Swallow 1, Meadow Pipit 98, Tree Pipit 2, Wren 3, Dunnock 4, Robin 8, Blackbird 2(2), Song Thrush 2, Sedge Warbler 2, Whitethroat 4, Garden Warbler 1, Blackcap 305(10, 2 controls), Chiffchaff 138, Goldcrest 10(3), Spotted Flycatcher 1, Long Tailed Tit 2, Blue Tit 1, Great Tit 3, Goldfinch 2, Chaffinch 1, Greenfinch 1, Linnet 1, Yellowhammer 1

SALISBURY PLAIN (EAST) SUNDAY 20th

Since coming back from holiday I haven't had time to update this page. August and September are the busiest time for migration as our summering warblers return to warmer climes. We have ringed our site on the Salisbury Plain three times and we have ringed 844 birds in those sessions. This may seem a lot to some but I have a lot of experience with managing large catches of birds worldwide and we have a team that is becoming very good, along with the bonus of Noahs father who is a superb scribe and that really does make all the difference. This still enables us to maintain the highest possible standards of bird welfare and with large teams we still find time to study the finer points of bird ageing that less experienced folk may miss.
 
The highlights of these sessions are totals including 391 Blackcaps, 120 Chiffchaffs, 107 Meadow Pipits, 45 Swallows, 29 Whitethroats, 20 Sedge Warblers, 6 Willow Warblers, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers, 2 Tree Pipits, 7 Whinchats, 3 Stonechats, 4 Redstarts, 1 Wheatear, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Sand Martins, 1 House Martin, 1 Corn Bunting, 1 Lesser Redpoll and  3 Yellow Wagtails.
 
wheatear1
 
whinchat1
 
The moulting juvenile Corn Bunting was the first that I have handled in active moult and I cannot write words to describe my interest and delight in studying this bird. Last week we heard a Redpoll fly over and luckily it popped straight into one of our nets. As expected, it proved to be a Lesser Redpoll and not only was it the first since November 2014 but it was also the earliest one that I have ever caught in the autumn. There have been clouds of Siskins moving south caused by a failure of the nut crop further north and the redpoll must have got caught up with them.
 
We have been joined on a couple of occasions by Tim Ridgers-Steer from south Wiltshire who has marvelled at the birds that pass through the site and I think that Tim has gained a lot of experience that he will take back to his home ringing sites. Today we were treated to a rarity in the form of Jack who has been rather intermittent this year.
 
We get on very well with our neighbours and in the last three weeks we have forged good working relationships with a second local farmer and the manager of a local shoot. It is a long drive to the plain and we were privileged to stay over in the farmers house tonight to save on journey time which is enormously helpful.
 
This has been a great team effort as can be seen from the list of participants and I am delighted with how everyone has contributed and improved through the Autumn.
MP, NW, TW, AM, AF, PW, SW, JN, T R-S
 
Redpoll1
 
Yelwag male1

For the final CES session we had a bit of a personnel crisis as we were down to just 3 of us which included a trainee and as I wanted to put up the most productive non-CES nets on the site for the last time before the Blackcap season starts I hoped that we weren't going to be inundated with too many birds. As it was it turned out to be yet another session that fell way below average for an August visit.

Things started out looking fairly good as all 18 nets were up well before daylight which gave us a chance to listen to what was calling. There were quite a few Tawny Owl's, a Barn Owl and a Nightingale giving its craoking alarm call right by the cars. As we waited for daylight a Nightjar flew low over the scrub and managed to cunningly avoid the nets.

The first net round showed that since our last visit last weekend the make-up of warbler species had changed somewhat. Willow, Sedge and Whitethroat we still around but in much reduced numbers but to counter this Blackcap number had gone through the roof.

Frustratingly we could hear several Redstart's calling which during the early net rounds stayed well away from the nets but by the end we managed to catch 2 young females.

It was Blackcap's that somewhat stole the show as we ended up with 74 new along with a few retraps and yet another control.

The session ended with 157 new and 8 retraps but this was 110 fewer birds than the corresponding visit last year so either this years breeding season has been way less productive that last years or the migrants have just slipped us by this year. GD, OF, AB

Swallow 1, Tree Pipit 8, Wren 1(1), Dunnock 1, Robin 7(2), Redstart 2, Blackbird 1, Song Thrush 3, Sedge Warbler 7, Reed Warbler 4, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat 12(1), Garden Warbler 2, Blackcap 74(4), Chiffchaff 15, Willow Warbler 5, Goldcrest 2, Blue Tit 1, Goldfinch 1, Linnet 2, Bullfinch 4, Yellowhammer 1, Reed Bunting 2

DSCF3163

With only two of us available to run the CES session we were lucky to be able to get one of Matt's young trainees Noah to join along with his parents who were happy to do the scribing which helped us speed things along.

I had arrived on site super early 2 hours before daylight to set some nets for migrant Nightjar's but none appeared for the second session running.

The first net round produced a record 9 Whinchat's out of the 'chat' net and this was followed up with 7 new tree Pipit's along with one retrap from last week, the fist retrap of this species we're ever caught at this site.

DSCF3132

Good numbers of the common warbler species were the main feature of the morning but we still only got one Lesser Whitethroat, no Redstart's and the only Grasshopper Warbler was one that sang briefly at dawn but avoided the nets. Normally we would be catching good numbers of all these species but this year they are virtually absent.

The best bird of the morning came from the chat net in the form of a Wheatear which is something we only average one of every other year.

DSCF3137

A reasonably busy morning with 166 new and 21 retraps was a good morning but well below average for the time of year. GD, PD, NW

Stock Dove 1 pulli, Green Woodpecker (1), Swallow 6 pulli, Tree Pipit 7(1), Wren 3(1), Dunnock 3(1), Robin 10, Whinchat 10, Wheatear 1, Blackbird 5(1), Sedge Warbler 9, Reed Warbler 3, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Whitethroat 38(4), Garden Warbler 11(3), Blackcap 23(4), Chiffchaff 6(1), Willow Warbler 18(1), Blue Tit 1(1), Great Tit 2, Bullfincg 4(2), Yellowhammer 2, Reed Warbler 2


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