North Wilts Group

16th August 2016 - Salisbury Plain CES catch-up

I've managed to get way behind in reporting on my Salisbury Plain CES sessions so here goes with a brief write up if something interesting happened. In overall summary however bird numbers are way, way down on previous years with resident species such as thrushes, dunnocks and finches virtually absent from the site in the early sessions. Warbler number don't appear to be in so much trouble though.

Session 4 - 4th June  - Swallow 20 pulli, Wren 1(2), Dunnock 3(8), Robin 2(2), Nightingale 1, Blackbird 2(4), Song Thrush 2(1), Lesser Whitethroat 4(1), Whitethroat 8(6), Garden Warbler (6), Blackcap 6(3), Chiffchaff 2(3), Willow Warbler 1(3), Blue Tit (1), Great Tit 10 pulli (1), Chaffinch 1, Linnet 8, Bullfinch 2(7)

Bonus session - 12th June - Highlight of the morning was a female Nightjar with brood patch which was also found to be carrying an egg. We caught the bird at the ridiculously late time of 0730, 3 hours after daylight so don't know what had disturbed it. There are some small open patches in the scrub where the MOD have done some clearance work so it may be nesting in one of those. As we are only ever there in the early morning as its already getting daylight we've not heard the male calling. 

Nightjar 1, Wren (2), Dunnock 3(6), Robin 3(2), Blackbird 5(4), Song Thrush 1(1), Lesser Whitethroat 2(2), Whitethroat (8), Garden Warbler 1(2), Blackcap 2(2), Chiffchaff 2(5), Willow Warbler 1(3), Long Tailed Tit (1), Linnet (2)


Session 5 - 18th June - Swallow 7 pulli, Wren 3(2), Dunnock 6(3), Robin 4(1), Redstart 1, Blackvird 1(1), Song Thrush 3, Lesser Whitethroat 2(2), Whitethroat 7(1), Garden Warbler 4(6), Blackcap 3(2), Chiffchaff 7(6), Willow Warbler 1(1), Blue Tit 1, Great Tit 1, Starling 22, Chaffinch (3), Linnet 5(1), Bullfinch (1)


Session 6 - 23rd June - Wren 5(2), Dunnock 7(4), Robin 4, Redstart 1, Blackbird 1, Song Thrush 2(1), Lesser Whitethroat 2, Whitethroat 2, Garden Warbler (3), Blackcap 4(4), Chiffchaff 3(5), Willow Warbler 4(2), Long Tailed Tit 4(1), Blue Tit 3(2), Great Tit (1), Linnet 1, Bullfinch 1(4)

Session 7 - 4th July - Wren 5(3), Dunnock 6(1), Robin 6(3), Redstart 2, Stonechat 1, Blackbird 3(3), Song Thrush 1, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1(1), Whitethroat 15(5), Garden Warbler 3(2), Blackcap 14(6), Chiffchaff 6(4), Willow Warbler 8(2), Goldcrest 4, Long Tailed Tit 1, Blue Tit 4(2), Great Tit 6(1), Linnet 3(3), Yellowhammer 2


Session 8 - 18th July - Wren 6, Dunnock 5(2), Robin 11(3), Whinchat 2, Blackbird (3), Song Thrush 3, Whitethroat 21(6), Garden Warbler 3(1), Blackcap 30(5), Chiffchaff 11(5), Willow Warbler 2(1), Goldcrest 2(1), Coal Tit 2, Blue Tit 8(1), Linnet 3, Bullfinch (4), Yellowhammer 1

Bonus session - 23rd July - Bird numbers starting to increase as 3J's are now up and about in numbers. A good selection of warblers with big numbers of Blackcap's. A control Whinchat caught we have now learned was ringed about 10km to the east on the eastern edge of Salisbury Plain as a pulli.

Swallow 16 pulli, Wren 7, Dunnock (5), Robin (5), Whinchat 1(1 bto control), Blackbird 3, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 3, Reed Warbler 3, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Whitethroat 18(3), Garden Warbler 7(4), Blackcap 34(7), Chiffchaff 7(1), Willow Warbler 13(1), Goldcrest 3, Blue Tit 8(1), Great Tit 5(1), Chaffinch 2, Linnet 1, Bullfinch 1(1), Yellowhammer 1(1), Reed Bunting 1


Session 9 - 26th July - Numbers from the days catch may not have been impressive but we did get some very good birds including the first Tree Pipit of the year, a couple of Stonechat's in a bonus net, a couple of Redstart's and a rather nice Green Woodpecker. Star bird of the morning was a Wood Warbler, the first I've caught on my rings in 16 years. As always seems to be the case with 'good birds' on this site it was not in a CES net but in one of the bonus nets, a net that we've not had up since we caught the Nightjar in it earlier in the season.

Green Woodpecker 1, Tree Pipit 1, Wren 8(2), Dunnock 1(1), Robin 4(2), Redstart 2, Whinchat 1, Stonechat 2, Blackbird 2, Song Thrush 1(1), Grasshopper Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 3, Whitethroat 13(3), Garden Warbler 4, Blackcap 34(8), Wood Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 8(2), Willow Warbler 10, Blue Tit 2, Great Tit 2, Goldfinch 1, Linnet 5(2)





Bonus session - 30th July - A session all about one bird, a juvenile Nightingale and one species, Willow Warbler. After not having any birds on site until May we ended up with an unattached male on its usual territory and another male that attracted a female were were hoping they would breed sucessfully on the site for the first time since 2011. After hearing all the usual adult alarm calls we eventually heard fledged young calling one morning in late June and then nothing for a month so assumed they had been predated again until todays capture. Hopefully this is one of our birds and not one from a different population and hopefully it will make it back next year with any of its siblings that we didn't catch.

A catch of 45 Willow Warbler's was the highest day total for this species I've ever had so conditions must have been good for migration the night before although other migrant species numbers were all within normal totals.

Swallow 14 pulli, Wren 9, Dunnock 3(2), Robin 5(2), Nightingale 1, Blackbird 3, Song Thrush (1), Sedge Warbler 12, Reed Warbler 4, Whitethroat 26(5), Garden Warbler 10(2), Blackcap 13(6), Chiffchaff 3(1), Willow Warblet 44(1), Goldcrest 1(1), Long Tailed Tit (1), Blue Tit 5, Great Tit 1, Chaffinch 1, Goldfinch 1, Linnet 3, Bullfinch (1)


Session 10 - 6th August - A big Whitethroat total for the day, something that was also noted at several other CES sites in the south of England.

Stock Dove 2 pulli, Tree Pipit 2, Wren 6, Dunnock 1(1), Robin 7, Redstart 1, Whinchat 4, Blackbird 3, Song Thrush 1, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 17, Reed Warbler 7, Whitethroat 54(1), Garden Warbler 9(2), Blackcap 8(5), Chiffchaff 2(1), Willow Warbler 15(2), Long Tailed Tit 2, Blue Tit 2, Linnet 3(2), Bullfinch 1(1)

Session 11 - 14th August - Highlight was a Paris scheme control Sedge Warbler. Having caught a good number of foreign controls over the years this is actually the first French ringed bird I've caught. As the French scheme specially targets migrant Aquatic Warbler's which use a similar habitat on wetland sites on the west coast of France they catch a large number of Sedge. As I don't its probably why its only my first.

Swallow 8 pulli, Tree Pipit 2, Meadow Pipit 6, Wren 3(1), Robin 12(2), Redstart 1, Whinchat 11, Blackbird 5, Song Thrush 2, Grasshopper Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 23(1 & 1 Paris control), Reed Warbler 3, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Whitethroat 30(1), Garden Warbler 4(2), Blackcap 9(1), Chiffchaff 2(1), Willow Warbler 16, Goldcrest 1(2), Blue Tit 3, Goldfinch 1, Linnet 2, Bullfinch 6, Yellowhammer 3, Reed Bunting 1


24th July 2016 - Swindon STW CES session 9

We were a bit shy on team for CES visit 9 and so Simon and I were joined by one of his volunteers Michelle who scribed for us. This is very helpful to enable us to concentrate on ringing.
The session was extremely sedate and pretty unspectacular, the catch was a whopping 54% down on the same session last year and Blackcap faring especially badly being 67% down. It is unusual to see Blackcap faring so badly because they have enjoyed a seemingly inexorable rise in recent years. MP, SW
Reed Warbler 5 (3), Sedge Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 5 (5), Willow Warbler 1, Blackcap 8 (3),Whitethroat 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Blackbird 5, Song Thrush 2 (1), Robin 2 (1), Wren 5 (3), Dunnock 1 (4), Greenfinch 2, Bullfinch 1, Blue Tit 1, Reed Bunting 1

23rd July 2016 - Pewsey Downs, Tree Sparrow RAS

The forecast was for overcast and perfectly calm and so it was spot on to do my RAS session at this, the mightiest of Tree Sparrow sites, and also the smelliest.
The site has two feeders that have been draining consistently so I knew there would be good numbers of sparrows. I put a couple of nets up near these feeders and then another couple on a flight line where the birds fly as they leave their nest boxes.
Tree Sparrows get up later than most other birds and I had already surprisingly ringed Reed Warbler, a few Blackcaps, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler and then my world filled with Tree Sparrows. It was absolutely amazing just how many Tree Sparrows were present and I reckon that the flock exceeded 300. I ringed 33 new and 42 retrap Tree Sparrows, the retraps included 9 adults. I would go through all the movements but there are literally too many to describe here but I will say that I have learnt new things about how young Tree Sparrows disperse and knowledge gained from sessions like this will be transferred directly to new targeted conservation work for this species. The information gained from the adults is fantastic and the RAS is so successful I am absolutely delighted and we are compiling new knowledge into the species.
I had a flukey capture of two juvenile Yellow Wagtails that flew into a nets set across a hedgerow but I will take every Yellow Wagtail that I can get because they are so hard to catch at the best of times. The catch was a highly varied and interesting one but aside from the data, a catch of 75 Tree Sparrows is absolutely awesome. MP
Tree Sparrow 33 (42), Yellow Wagtail 2, Whitethroat 12, Blackcap 3, Reed Warbler 1, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1, Wren 3, Dunnock 0 (1), Robin 4, Goldfinch 1, Linnet 1, Chaffinch 1

16th July 2016 - Swindon STW CES session 8

Paul, Simon and I were joined by Anna who squeezed in a short session away from her young baby.
The first round produced a lot of Chiffchaffs mostly in one flock in net 1. Reed Warbler numbers were up but unfortunately these were mostly adults that have finished breeding already and they were building up to migrating back south. This is symptomatic of the poor breeding season that they have endured.
One of the few birds that seems to be faring well is Wren, we ringed another 8 today and they are prevalent in all of our recent catches.
Simon came back from one round particularly chirpy and revealed that he had a juvenile Reed Bunting, but that it was one of a brood that he had ringed a few weeks earlier. We have about 6 pairs of Reed Bunting on site, to find a nest is great but then to retrap one of the youngsters is even better.
We ringed 81 and processed 33 retraps which is virtually identical to last years catch for the same visit period. MP, SW, PW, AF
Chiffchaff 24 (1), Willow Warbler 3, Whitethroat 1, Blackcap 9 (2), Sedge Warbler 6, Reed Warbler 9 (11), Reed Bunting 0 (1), Robin 4 (4), Dunnock 5 (5), Blackbird 3 (2), Song Thrush 1 (1), Wren 8, Long Tailed Tit 1 (2), Great Tit 3 (2), Blue Tit 4, Bullfinch 0 (2)

9th July 2016 - Purton Wood

I have really taken to our new site at Purton Wood because it is showing how the River Ray parkway is connected by birds. This was once again proven by the recapture of a Chiffchaff that we originally ringed on a CES session at Swindon STW last summer. It also feels really worthwhile because we are feeding back our information to the landowner, The Woodland Trust. It is vital that they now own this area to prevent it from the ever continuing 'development' that is destroying green spaces around Swindon.
This session proved somewhat quiet compared with the previous sessions but I do think that it would be good in a better breeding season because it supports good numbers of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. All the captures are concentrated in the gaps between the ancient hedgerows and the presence of good numbers of Bullfinches shows that these hedgerows are excellent. MP, NW
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Willow Warbler 3 (1), Chiffchaff 9 (2), Blackcap 6, Whitethroat 0 (1), Reed Warbler 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Bullfinch 4, Chaffinch 2, Robin 6 (2), Blackbird 1, Dunnock 1 (1), Wren 8,  Song Thrush 2, Great Tit 4 (1), Blue Tit 2

3rd July 2016 - Swindon STW CES session

It was only Paul, Simon and me for CES session 7 and at last the weather was warm. As with our recent sessions the day comprised of a wide range of species (19) but with 32% fewer birds than the corresponding session last year. We caught our first juvenile Reed Warbler of the year and it was on this session last year that we caught our first one though on that day we ringed six. We ringed our first Treecreeper of the site for the year and it was no surprise that it was a juvenile. We ringed another juvenile Cettis Warbler and also a juvenile Lesser Whitethroat proving that they have bred again.
A Common Sandpiper teased Simon as it flew all around net 5 without having the grace to go in the net. Net 5 is an interesting net position, over water between two reed beds and we do keep hoping that it will turn up something a bit different but it is still making us wait for it. It did have one, well three surprises for us in that over two net rounds we caught three juvenile Kingfishers thus proving that they have bred nearby again. We don't catch Kingfishers that regularly but over the years we have ringed 74 of them on site and then checking back I note that we have caught two on a day on six occasions and we have ringed three on a day once before (also juveniles in July) so it seems that we catch most of our Kingfishers as recently fledged juveniles in the summer.
Another surprise from this morning was the capture of two immature Magpies in nets 9 and 10, these nets seem to have a good track record for catching Magpies. Star bird of the day was a fine adult male Redstart, they are always a lovely bird to see and we don't manage to ring them annually on the sewage works. MP, SW, PW
Kingfisher 3, Magpie 2, Redstart 1, Treecreeper 1, Chiffchaff 7, Willow Warbler 1 (1), Whitethroat 4, Lesser Whitethroat 2 (1), Blackcap 5 (5), Reed Warbler 3 (6), Cettis Warbler 1 (1), Wren 3 (2), Robin 5 (1), Dunnock 6 (7), Blackbird 0 (1), Great Tit 4 (1), Long Tailed Tit 1 (1), Bullfinch 0 (1), Greenfinch 1 (1)

25th June 2016 - Swindon STW CES session

Having finished his exams, Biff was able to join Simon and I for CES session 6. It is fast becoming clear that the continuing sub par temperatures are having an effect upon the breeding season and todays catch is 33% lower than the corresponding visit in 2015, Blackcaps seem to be faring particularly badly and todays total is 42% lower than last years session 6 but we did manage two controls. In recent years a pair of Treecreepers has bred on site and we retrapped one today that was originally ringed in 2013. Undoubted highlight of the day was a juvenile Coal Tit that is only the second ringed on site, remarkable when you consider how often we ring on site and also that we have ringed over 2300 in total at other sites.
After packing up, Biff joined me for a nest box safari and we checked 70 occupied Tree Sparrow boxes and ringed 32 nestling Tree Sparrows, 4 nestling Swallows, and 3 nestling Kestrels. MP, SW, BF
Coal Tit 1, Reed Warbler 3 (4), Sedge Warbler 1 (1), Cettis Warbler 0 (2), Blackcap 5 (5), Chiffchaff 6, Willow Warbler 2, Whitethroat 3, Dunnock 8 (2), Robin 6 (2), Blackbird 4 (2), Blue Tit 1 (1), Great Tit 4, Treecreeper 0 (1), Wren 5 (2), Greenfinch 2, Bullfinch 1  (1), Goldfinch 3, Chaffinch 1, Woodpigeon 1

18th June 2016 - Swindon STW CES session

With the youth element of the group tied up with exams it was left to the old wrinklies to complete this session and I so I was joined by Simon and Paul.
Reed Warbler proved to be the dominant species and we ringed five and retrapped ten, the retraps included one from 2013 and two from 2014 but we also controlled one bearing a French ring. Any foreign control is exciting but we do have to bear in mind that thousands of warblers are ringed in France at some large ringing camps in the Loire Valley.
The main highlight of the day was the capture of two juvenile Cettis Warblers. We had ringed the male in April and then in May we caught a female with a brood patch and we have been waiting for the youngsters to appear. This is the first breeding of Cettis Warblers on site and is very long overdue since the first capture on 6th March 2005, in fact it took 19 birds over the years before finally a male and female were present on site at the same time to be able to breed.
1J cettis
We processed 17 species of bird today which is very impressive but the total of 79 birds is 16% lower than the corresponding session in 2015 and it appears that this breeding season will not be as successful as last year. MP, SW, PW
Reed Warbler 5 (10), Cettis Warbler 2 (2), Sedge Warbler 2, Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 5 (1), Whitethroat 3 (3), Blackcap 3 (2), Blackbird 5 (5) ,Dunnock 7 (2), Robin 2 (1) ,Wren 2 (2) ,Great Tit 4 (1), Blue Tit 2, Long Tailed Tit 0 (1), Greenfinch 1, Goldfinch 2 (1), Bullfinch 0 (1)