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The usual team was a bit short on bodies so we managed to persuade Mike from the West Wilts group to join us on what we hoped was going to be a productive morning.

The morning started off pretty slowly but then picked up and stayed busy until well after 0900.

Warbler's started appearing in big numbers and it was soon obvious that good numbers of Sedge Warbler's were on the move and numbers of Willow  Warbler and Garden Warbler usually found in smaller number on the site were also around in much higher numbers than usual. With warbler migration now well under way it was also not a suprise that we caught a control Willow Warbler, our 5th warbler control for this site this year.

The bonus net in chat valley again produced the goods with 2 Stonechat's and 4 Whinchat's as well as a few Sedge Warbler's moving through the lusher vegetation on the valley floor. We also caught our first Tree Pipit's of the year and another couple of Grasshopper Warbler.

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A noticable absentee was Lesser Whitethroat which has either not started moving or has had a pretty poor breeding season since numbers of this site are down a good 85% from their peak of a few years ago.

One of the additional nets also got us a rather nice juvenile Spotted Flycatcher, our first of the year. GD, PD, AB, MH

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159 new, 30 retrap

Tree Pipit 3, Wren 7, Dunnock 1, Robin 1(1), Whinchat 4, Stonechat 2, Blackbird 4(1), Song Thrush 1, Grasshopper Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 21, Reed Warbler 6, Whitethroat 27(5), Garden Warbler 11(4), Blackcap 23(8), Chiffchaff 4(3), Willow Warbler 22(2), Goldcrest 1, Long Tailed Tit 3, Blue Tit 2(2), Great Tit 2(1), Chaffinch 1, Goldfinch 2(2), Linnet 1, Bullfinch 4(1), Yellowhammer 2, Reed Bunting 1

This was the first session here in a long time that we have been able to get on site at the weekend due to the poor weather this summer. This meant that we could get the productive extra nets up on the live fire atrillery range that we're not allowed to use during the week.

All seemed fairly quite the first 2 net rounds with not too many bird around but high quality with an adult and juvenile Grasshopper Warbler together in one net and a very young Redstart that had yet to start it's post juvenile moult and so had probably come from an elisive nearby nest and a very young Stonechat.

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After that it all got rather busy. We started catching a few Reed and Sedge Warbler's which isn't bad for a patch of hawthorn scrub on chalk downland as well as a decent number of Garden Warbler's. In fact, we caught goo numbers of all the common warblers including 22 new Willow Warbler's.

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We also managed to catch one of our local Nightingale's that was in pristine new plumage, the only female that turned up on site this year from this terminally declining population that had failed to fledge any young which must have been predated just before they were due to leave the nest.

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We had our usual bonus net at the bottom of what we call 'chat valley' and this got us 4 juvenile Whinchat's which was followed by an indecisive 10 minutes trying to sex them.

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In the end we caught a highly productive 150 new, 29 retraps. GD, PD, OF, AB

Swallow 11pulli, Song Thrush 2(2), Blackbird 1(2), Wren 9(1), Dunnock 1(1), Robin 5(2), Nightingale (1), Redstart 1, Stonechat 1, Whinchat 2, Grasshopper Warbler 2, Reed Warbler 4, Sedge Warbler 7, Garden Warbler 9(1), Blackcap 23(6), Whitethroat 22 (4), Lesser Whitethroat 1(1), Willow Warbler 22(2), Chiffchaff 9(2), Goldcrest 2, Long Tailed Tit 1, Blue Tit 1, Great Tit 1(1), Bullfinch 7(3), Linnet 3, Reed Bunting 1, Yellowhammer 2

 
Things have been a bit busy this week and so I haven't been able to sit down long enough to do an update. It started with going out to see if one of our woodland ringing sites has Nightjar. I got there in good time and set a rather cunning dog-leg net set amongst low emergent growth and sat back and waited. At 22:10 the male flew up and started churring so I quickly put the music playing and after two passes where he saw the net, he then went in. The female came out, pretty much proving breeding. Nightjars bred at this site many years ago and so after an eleven year gap it is great to get them back again.
 
Nightjar
 
We are near the end of second brood Tree Sparrows and we have ringed  181 in the last eight days but we have also had time to do some intensive monitoring of the Swallows at a stables complex. We started by ringing a few broods and then we set some tiny home-made nets across stable door-ways and we caught 7 adults. Two of them were retraps from last year and one of these was ringed at Marlborough STW showing that they forage at least 2.5km a way from the nest site.
 
swallow male
 
This time of year is when Yellow Wagtails start flocking up but they seem to be a bit late and the incessant windy conditions are making setting nets in such open countryside impossible. I saw the forecast for a calm night and went to a site that I haven't tried before but where I have been seeing 10-15 wagtails. I quickly set a mix of two shelf nets ranging from 3m to 18m long. This site is amazing, there were at least 20 Corn Buntings singing and Yellow Wagtails were all over the place. In this sort of catching you don't catch many but the quality is high and we ringed 3 Yellow Wagtails, 2  Linnets, 2 Swallows and a bonus adult female Whinchat that must have been on passage. MP
 
ywag
 
whinchat

After a successful CES session last weekend we were able to get an addiotnal visit in this week since the turnover of birds at our site this time of year is huge. We set all the standard CES nets plus one addional net at the bottom of valley that we refer to as Chat Valley.

Chat Valley lived up to its name as it produced our first Whinchat of the year early on along with a juvenile Stonechat later in the morning.

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The morning was again dominated by juvenile warblers with Blackcap's and Whitethroat's particularly abundant. One of the Blackcap's was extremely pale, paler than a Garden Warbler would be with just a hint on a brown cap.

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Later on we caught a juvenile Redstart that may or may not have been a locally fledged bird, and early on we caught a singing male Grasshopper Warbler that has certainly not been here on any previous visit so is likely to be a failed breeder from elsewhere. PD, GD. OF

77 new, 27 retrap

Stock Dove 1 pulli, Wren 10(3), Dunnock 2, Robin 3(2), Redstart 1, Whinchat 1, Stonechat 1, Blackbird 2(2), Song Thrush 4(1), Grasshopper Warbler 1, Whitethroat 15(3), Garden Warbler 4(2), Blackcap 18(9), Chiffchaff 4(1), Willow Warbler 1, Blue Tit 6(2), Great Tit 1(1), Linnet 1, Bullfinch 1(1)

SALISBURY PLAIN (centre)

On a day that there were only two of us available to do the CES it turned out to be the most productive ringing session of the year so far with 170 birds processed from the fourteen 60ft CES nets and the three additional 60’s on the other side of the fence in the artillery live firing range.

Juvenile warbler’s were the main feature of the morning with every one of the commoner warbler species represented including our first 3J Lesser Whitethroat’s of the year which as a species seem to have been lagging behind everything else. Garden Warbler’s were around in particularly good numbers with 9 new (2 adults, 7 juveniles) along with 4 retraps so this species seems to be doing very well at this site.

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A surprise catch was in the form of another new Nightingale, a 5M which was half way through its moult. This bird is not one of our locals so has obviously dropped in from another location. The only other sign of our local birds was one giving the croaking call in its usual territory but nothing was heard from the pair that seemed to be breeding so it now looks like 4 years of failed breeding for this doomed population.

Other than that, lots of Tit’s and lots of tangled 3J Wren’s kept us busy giving us 124 new and 46 retraps. GD/PD

Swallow 9 pulli, Wren 8(1), Dunnock 4(2), Robin 4, Nightingale 1, Blackbird 3(5), Song Thrush 1(4), Lesser Whitethroat 3(1), Whitethroat 12(8), Garden Warbler 9(4), Blackcap 20(5), Chiffchaff 12(2), Willow Warbler 4(1), Goldcrest 1, Blue Tit 14, Great Tit 10, Chaffinch (1), Goldfinch (1), Linnet 5(2), Bullfinch 2(9), Yellowhammer 2 

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SWINDON STW

I was joined by Simon, Anna and my brother Andy expecting a busy session. The weather was flat calm but surprisingly cold after the recent hot weather. The day started quite quietly but thankfully Net 6 once again produced the goods and we were treated to three Lesser Whitethroats and this species seems to be having a good year on site. Blackcap dominated the catch and we controlled one that was ringed elsewhere. We also retrapped the first Reed Warbler that Simon ringed as a nestling last year.
 
A Magpie contributed to the totals much to the delight of Anna and Simon who have a soft spot for them, rather surprisingly this was our first Magpie of the year. MP, SW, AF, AP
 
111 new, 29 retraps
 
Blackcap 20 (5), Reed Warbler 7 (7), Sedge Warbler 2 (1), Whitethroat 8, Lesser Whitethroat 3, Chiffchaff 11 (3), Willow Warbler 2, Goldcrest 1, Goldfinch 3, Greenfinch 3 (1), Dunnock 11 (3), Wren 9 (1), Robin 7 (1), Song Thrush 2 (1), Blackbird 1 (1), Blue Tit 12 (3), Great Tit 8 (2), Magpie 1
 
Paul W has put a big effort in helping me recently and this week the second brood Tree Sparrows have hit top form. Over the two sessions we ringed 151 nestling Tree Sparrows. Spotted Flycatchers are declining and we do not ring their nestlings every year but on 1st we ringed three broods totalling 10 nestlings which means 15 for the year and a record for us, I think this increase is not a real increase but more a reflection of our improved connections across the county. One of the Spotted Flycatcher nests was on a window ledge of a bathroom and so we ringed them in the bathroom which is a first for me.
 
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On Thursday I helped out with a farm walk with the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area and at the BBQ  afterwards I put up Tree Sparrow nest box number 1000 with the help of the landowners daughter.
 
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We have also ringed the following other nestlings: Linnet 10, Swallow 10, Pied Wagtail 4, Kestrel 2, Collared Dove, Stock Dove.
 
The nest recording efforts of the group have been superb this year and we will once again be among the major contributors of nest records to the BTOs Nest Record Scheme. MP, PW
 
With the weather forecast all over the place we opted to try to complete CES 6 and we got away with it despite some brief showers mid morning. I was joined by Paul W, Simon and Noah so we only set the CES nets and a couple of extra nets.
 
Two Green Sandpipers were a pleasure to see back on site, feeding along the muddy margins of the lagoons. The male Cettis Warbler was notable by his absence, so he has either died, given up or found a partner but I suspect the latter is the least likely.
 
We were kept pretty busy all morning as the site abounded with juvenile warblers, dominated by Chiffchaffs, Blackaps and Whitethroats. Years ago, when I trained, we used to catch large tit flocks at most sites but I haven't seen this spectacle (away from feeders) for years and today was the nearest I have seen to those 'good old days' as we ringed 19 Great Tits, 18 Blue Tits and 8 Long Tailed Tits and these in turn were joined by 3 Treecreepers which is a site record in itself. A juvenile Kingfisher was a good addition to the CES totals and Simon was especially pleased to see the first returning nestling Reed Warbler from last year. The oldest bird of the day was a six year old Dunnock.
 
We took it in turns to scribe and Noah decided that the usual BTO codes weren't good enough and so invented a few of his own which was entertaining but sadly we had to make him get back in line.
 
125 new and 36 retraps was remarkably similar to the same session last year. At the end of the session Simon took Paul off to ring a nestling Cuckoo which is the first ringed on site and sadly the only one we have this year. MP, SW, PW, NW
 
cuckoo
 
Kingfisher 1, Treecreeper 3, Goldcrest 1, Lesser Whitethroat 2 (2), Whitethroat 14 (2), Blackcap 15 (2), Chiffchaff 19, Reed Warbler 3 (9), Sedge Warbler 4 (5), Dunnock 9 (7), Robin 2 (4), Blackbird 0 (2), Song Thrush 0 (1), Wren 2, Greenfinch 4 (1), Goldfinch 1, Great Tit 19, Blue Tit 18, Long Tailed Tit 
 
I was joined by Paul W and special guest for the day, Adam Cross who now lives in New Zealand but is back visiting his parents. Adam is a C ringer and a thoroughly nice bloke and proved to be great company for the day. When I take people around the downs it reminds me of the phenomenal scale of the Tree Sparrow Project and also how lucky I am to spend my life up on the downs. Adam was quite blown away by the huge number of Corn Buntings, frequent Yellow Wagtail sightings and seeing several Grey Partridges and of course Tree Sparrows everywhere.
 
We started the day with a quick two-hour mist netting session trying to add a couple more Tree Sparrows to our Retrapping Adults for Survival Project. We were pretty successful, catching eight Tree Sparrows including one ringed as a nestling 5km north. We caught 35 birds in the short session and then had to bring it to a close to ensure that we could get round the nest boxes.
 
56 Tree Sparrow nestlings ringed is a reasonable effort along with 22 Swallow nestlings. We are monitoring 30 pairs of Swallow this year which is our best ever effort. A good bit of team work enabled us to find a Pied Wagtail nest. I then showed the chaps a Linnet nest that I found a few weeks ago and then I showed them how to cold search for natural nests and would you believe it, they found our first ever Yellowhammer nest on the downs which is absolutely fantastic.
 
Yammer nest
 
13 hours later I finally got home, but what an excellent day of high value conservation work. MP, PW, AC
 
Tree Sparrow 5 (3) + 56 nestlings, House Sparrow 10, Goldfinch 5, Chaffinch 4, Greenfinch 4, Whitethroat 2, Dunnock 1, Blackbird 1, Swallow - 22 nestlings, Kestrel - 1 nestling
 
11wt

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