wos slogan

 
It has been quite a frustrating few months with bad weather at weekends and then good weather during the week.
 
This is a very exposed site and the birds can be very difficult to catch in such an open environment and at this site they behave much more warily than other similar sites. We tried a different net set but as the results show, this still was not the solution.
 
The total of 29 new and 11 retraps is very low for this site when you consider there were over 100 Tree Sparrows, 200 Yellowhammers and 200 Linnets present. MP, GH
 
Linnet 11, Yellowhammer 8 (1), Chaffinch 2 (1), Greenfinch 3, Tree Sparrow 4 (8), Blue Tit 1, Reed Bunting 0 (1)
 
This site in the Thames Valley has experienced a crash in numbers of birds and I cannot put my finger on the precise reason but there have been a number of changes in habitat and one or a combination of these has had a dramatic effect. The biggest impact has been on the Tree Sparrows and though we record them on each visit, their numbers are now very low and they appear to be on their way to a local extinction, despite our efforts. The start of the day was very cold but it then warmed up to be a lovely day and with spring migrants arriving across the country it was lovely to catch a couple of Chiffchaffs.
 
It was just Biff and I for most of the session but Noah then joined us to ring a few birds before we went to plant about 150 trees at Marlborough STW in the afternoon
 
The morning total of 60 new and 26 retraps is pretty modest by this sites standards but at least good numbers of Yellowhammer persist. MP, AM, NW
 
Chiffchaff 2, Yellowhammer 36 (1), Reed Bunting 1 (1), Chaffinch 6 (1), Bullfinch 1 (3), Robin 1 (2), Dunnock 7 (7), Blue Tit 1 (2), Great Tit 4 (1), Song Thrush 1 (1), Blackbird 0 (3), Goldcrest 0 (2), Wren 0 (1), House Sparrow 0 (1)
 
What finer way to spend your birthday than ring Tree Sparrows at one of the biggest Tree Sparrow sites on the Marlborough Downs. This site is an expansive garden with lots of feeders. The aim of today was to fit more Tree Sparrows with PIT tags to enable us to identify the individuals using each box and to learn more about pair relationships. We were pretty successful fitting PIT tags to 19 birds. The retrap Tree Sparrows mostly originated from the same site but the furthest movement was of 9km and the oldest bird was two years old. All of these retrap histories build up the picture that enables us to target our conservation efforts for Tree Sparrows.
 
Crab map 17.3.17
 
Surprise of the day was a Mistle Thrush which as it turns out is the first adult Mistle Thrush we have ringed since 2004. Mistle Thrushes frequent open parkland and so generally are associated with sites that are not good for ringing which is why we do not catch them. Gary was the lucky chap to ring this bird because none of the more experienced team members were present. After this initial work we then spent the rest of the day refurbishing and putting up nest boxes across the downs. MP, GH
 
Tree Sparrow 4 (17), House Sparrow 5 (2), Mistle Thrush 1, Song Thrush 1, Stock Dove 1, Chaffinch 7 (4), Goldfinch 14, Greenfinch 2, Dunnock 6 (1), Robin 2 (2), Wren 4, Blackbird 2 (1), Goldcrest 1 (1), Blue Tit 1 (2), Great Tit 2 (1)
 
Whilst doing some other work one evening I noticed a reasonable Linnet roost of 50 plus going into some brambles. I told the team and they were keen to target them as we do not ring that many Linnets and people wanted to brush up their id skills.
 
A roost catch is great as it doesn't take that long and the results can be very good compared with the effort put in, and so tonight proved. 17 Linnets and then a control Reed Bunting was a fantastic return for two hours effort. MP, AF, NW, GH
 
Linnet 17, Reed Bunting 2 (1), Long Tailed Tit (1), Chifchaff 1, Dunnock  1Wren (1)
 
I have spent a lot of effort trying to catch waders at night in the past couple of winters. I have learnt an awful lot about the methods involved but there is still so much to learn. I have focused my efforts on the Salisbury Plain and the Marlborough Downs and our catches are low but the species we catch would not be caught by other methods. I have also found some Kestrels roosting in barns and have ringed a couple of them.
 
Highlights have been 2 Grey Partridge and a Lapwing but the most amazing record was of two Golden Plovers that were both caught in the same field as they were caught and ringed in, in January 2016. Not only is this amazing site fidelity but the chances of catching the same two birds a winter apart and not catching any other of the 200 birds is incredible.
 
WP 20170215 18 47 04 Rich
 
WP 20170215 20 26 44 Pro
 
WP 20170221 23 26 36 Pro 2
 
WP 20170221 23 41 39 Pro 2
 
We are working with Forest Enterprise and one of our aims is to try to find Willow Tits in Savernake Forest. We have been walking around searching for them and another method is to set up feeding stations to see if they will come to the feeders. These are the early days of our work here and we have not found Willow Tit but we did catch a fine cast of woodland species including 6 more Marsh Tits, they do seem to be quite common in woodlands across the county. MP, SW
 
Blue Tit 21, Coal Tit 19, Great Tit 8, Marsh Tit 6, Nuthatch 4, Treecreeper 1, Chaffinch 6, Lesser Redpoll 6, Robin 3, Woodpigeon 1
 
It was just Simon and I for this session.
 
This site used to be a superb farmland bird site but a solar farm has been installed on what was once an arable field. The hedgerows are superb but the habitat loss is still obvious and has affected the numbers of farmland birds. The solar farm company has to date not fully fulfilled its obligations and our monitoring shows that the numbers of birds are down, we are speaking with the landowner and we are now feeding more supplementary food to get the birds through this winter and then we hope that the planning obligations are met to help the birds going forward.
 
Our net set today was around two feeding stations in a copse surrounded by arable farmland and high quality farmland. The sparrows are happy to come into the copse but the other farmland birds stay out. As it was just the two of us we enjoyed a lovely session ringing at a leisurely pace but at the back of our minds we both knew that we should be catching more Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers and that sowed a seed in my mind.
 
The farmer feeds a group of feral cats to keep the rats down but Tree Sparrows are intolerant of cats and so a few years ago we moved the feeders and this seems to have worked as a flock of about 30 Tree Sparrows was present which is a good number for this site. MP, SW
 
Tree Sparrow 4 (3), House Sparrow 2, Reed Bunting 14 (1), Yellowhammer 12 (1), Chaffinch 32 (1), Linnet 3, Dunnock 8 (2), Robin 3 (1), Blue Tit 2 (1), Great Tit 8 (1), Goldcrest 2
 
A landowner who owns a woodland that is a Site of Special Scientific Interest has asked me to help them survey their woodland to assist them manage their wood because it is currently classed as being in Unfavourable condition. The strange thing with this site is that nothing has changed on site and Natural England are not specific about what the site was notified for and what needs to be done to bring it back to 'condition'.
 
I have promised to do some butterfly surveys in the summer but my main focus will be the birds. The great thing is that this is a wholly private estate and all the staff including the game keeper are fully on board to the point where the estate has funded the feed and the rings and the keeper is now filling the feeders in the winter. On the way in, we bumped into the deer stalker and whereas I find some deer stalkers particularly difficult, this chap was fantastic and we had a great chat and I ended up giving him a little ringing demo.
 
To be honest I didn't expect a lot from this session, but it did pleasantly surprise me. I was joined by Anna and Noah and we set up short nets around two feeding stations which would give us a fair sample of the birds of the wood. 80 birds was a pretty decent catch and shows that the site isn't too bad and strengthened by the presence of four Marsh Tits. Seven Goldcrests was pretty good as was seeing three Woodcock that roost in the wood undisturbed by dog walkers.
 
We will definitely be doing some more monitoring here and it feels worthwhile, helping an engaged landowner to try to turn their woodland into favourable condition. MP, AF, NW
 
Marsh Tit 4, Blue Tit 23, Coal Tit 14, Great Tit 19, Long Tailed Tit 3, Chaffinch 3, Goldcrest 7, Nuthatch 2, Treecreeper 1, Robin 3, Magpie 1

Information about WOS

Wiltshire Ornithological Society was formed on November 30th, 1974, and has grown in recent years to more than 500 members.

Our mission is to encourage and pursue the study, recording and conservation of birds in Wiltshire

Read More

Portraits

Crane_Slimbridge_Neil_Cowley.jpg

Latest News

08 June 2017
In early June, three peregrine chicks were rescued from a nest in Shro...
10 April 2017
New Incumbents At the WOS AGM on 5th April, Matt Prior was elected as...
Spacer

Home  | Contact WOS
Copyright © 2017 Wiltshire Ornithological Society. Registered Charity no 271033. Site by Mindvision