North Wilts Group

20th October 2013 - Kennet Valley

I have been monitoring Willow Tits since 2001 but one of the woods where we ring them has lots of other birds so today I was joined by ringers from across Wiltshire and also John Wells from deepest Gloucestershire to ensure that we kept on top of things. The rain was forecast to clear before dawn so we set nets in the rain and waited for it to clear before opening them, although it was windy within the wood all of the nets were completely sheltered.
This site has three feeding stations and we set a variety of nets around the wood playing Goldcrest song. We don’t know if the westerly wind has slowed migration or if Goldcrests have had a bad breeding season but the day total of 37 is much lower than we would normally expect. Coal Tits often prove difficult to age correctly because the colour difference of adult and juvenile greater coverts can be extremely subtle but we retrapped 3 birds from last autumn to be able to use as reference.
At 10:30 a monsoon swept in so all nets were closed immediately and just as we closed them it stopped but that curtailed the morning. MP, PA, PD, JW, PW, AB, NP
Willow Tit 1, Marsh Tit 1, Coal Tit 23 (3), Blue Tit 9, Great Tit (7), Chaffinch 5 (1), Robin 2 (1), Goldcrest 37, Wren 6, Treecreeper 1, Long Tailed Tit 2
IMG 3337

19th October 2013 - Swindon STW

With an ever changing forecast and the latest news being that rain would clear overnight Simon, Paul W and I decided to go for it and put up nets and open them as soon as it stopped raining. Fortunately the rain cleared early and we managed to get two wader nets up in addition to the usual passerine nets. We caught 3 Snipe and a Jack Snipe on the first net round and with Snipe bombing around all morning we caught 4 more Snipe regularly throughout the morning. There were at least 30 Snipe present, almost certainly as a result of the fantastic management work by both the ringing group and the fabulous Wiltshire Wildlife Trust volunteers.
A Green Woodpecker was a real bonus; they are ever present on site but in 14 years of ringing there this was only the third ever ringed on site, this is quite extraordinary but we are obviously not setting our nets in locations suitable for this species.
A Reed Bunting that we retrapped was originally ringed in Feb 2011 and so maybe back for another winter. All in all this was a cracking little session, how lucky is Paul W? On his first wader session he got to ring both Jack Snipe and Common Snipe. MP/SW/PW
Snipe 7, Jack Snipe 1, Green Woodpecker 1, Blackcap 5, Chiffchaff 3, Goldcrest 3 (1), Long Tailed Tit 5 (3), Wren 3 (1), Dunnock 7 (5), Robin 1 (1), Song Thrush 3, Blackbird 0 (1), Great Tit 3 (3), Blue Tit 1 (3), Goldfinch 1, Bullfinch 1, Greenfinch 2, Reed Bunting 2 (1), Kingfisher 0 (1)

14th October 2013 - Norway

I'm just back from a sucessfull week ringing at a new bird observatory set up by by friend Nigel at Herdla near Bergen.

For sheer numbers of birds and visible migration that goes on all day you won't see anything better. There were days when you could see 5000+ Fieldfares passing through and flocks of over 100 Redpoll's of all three species continually on the move. Large numbers of Crossbill's were also migrating so it's not suprising that Two-barred and Parrot have turned up in the UK when there are thousands on the move across the North Sea.

With over a thousand birds ringed in the week including a late Wryneck we did quite well. My ringing totals are below and with all the Redpoll's we caught it will be interesting if any turn up here. GD

Great Spotted Woodpecker 2, Blackbird 48, Song Thrush 3, Redwing 8, Fieldfare 4, Wren 9, Robin 8, Blackcap 4, Goldcrest 15, Blue Tit 21, Great Tit 27, Willow Tit 45, Coal Tit 4, Treecreeper 2, House Sparrow 2, Greenfinch 41, Brambling 63, Bullfinch 1, Lesser Redpoll 48, Common Redpoll 534, Arctic Redpoll 7, Common Crossbill 37, Parrot Crossbill 1, Two-barred Crossbill 1

Photos: Parrot & Common Crossbill, Two-barred Crossbill's, Arctic Redpoll




8th October 2013 - Salisbury Plain

Last Saturday showed migrants still passing through Salisbury Plain: 26 Blackcap, 46 Chiffchaff, 34 Meadow Pipit - so we decided to have one last session for the season this morning.

As expected migrants were present, but much fewer in number: 14 Blackcap, 24 Chiffchaff, 6 Meadow Pipit out of a total of 51 new and 3 retraps.

One of the last birds out of the net was our first Redwing, confirming the season has changed.

Ring-tail HH and Merlin f/juv passed through following the c50 Meadow Pipits we did not catch. Site closed for the winter, back next April to greet the first Nightingales.  Phil Deacon, Olly Fox, Andrew Bray

Saturday 5 October Two teams out today, at Salisbury Plain and at Swindon Sewage Works

Salisbury Plain (Centre Area) 5 October 2013 Phil Deacon, Olly Fox, Andrew Bray

Nets up and ready for dawn, but the overcast sky delayed first light until 07.00.

Then the rush hour of willing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs started hitting the nets – including two controls: Blackcap D683130 and Chiffchaff DPK535.

A single Whitethroat, probably the last we will see this year and a very late date Grasshopper Warbler added variety (Matt also had a Gropper at Swindon Sewage Works – see his report below).

From 09.00 Meadow Pipit took over as the predominant bird.

132 birds processed, 123 new, 2 controls and 7 retraps.

Blackcap 26 [1 control], Chiffchaff 46 [1 control] (1), Grasshopper Warbler 1, Whitethroat 1, Goldcrest 1 (1), Meadow Pipit (34), Chaffinch 1, Goldfinch 1, Blue Tit (1), Great Tit 2 (2), Long-tailed Tit 3, Dunnock 3, Yellowhammer 1, Wren 2, Song Thrush 1 (1), Blackbird (1)


Swindon STW 5th October   Matt Prior, Simon Wicks, Paul Aubrey

A shortish session before work saw us at the sewage works at quite a late time today of 05:10, this is the latest we have met for ringing since April. We were joined by volunteer supreme Mandy who made us the most delicious lemon and blueberry cheesecake to keep us going. It seemed that there were a lot of birds moving at dawn but we caught a lot less than it appeared were present and the second round was also quite quiet with Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs quite low for the time of year. This sort of migration monitoring can turn anything up though and today we were rewarded with a Reed Warbler and better still a Grasshopper Warbler which is the third latest ever for Wiltshire with the latest ever being on 12th. Overhead migration was well underway with a mix of summer and winter migrants including Swallow, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and our first Redwings of the autumn.

We ended up with 67 new, the Grasshopper Warbler and a retrap Kingfisher really made everyones day.

Blackcap 28, Chiffchaff 17, Reed Warbler 1, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Wren 1, Song Thrush 3, Blackbird 1, Great Tit 3 (1), Blue Tit 3, Dunnock 7, Reed Bunting 1, Robin 1, Bullfinch 0 (1), Kingfisher 0 (1)

28th September 2013 - Salisbury Plain (east)

Today I was joined by two Pauls which made for confusion as to who I was talking to. With the forecast for an east wind we were hopeful of a chance of something interesting turning up today but half way through setting nets it rained quite hard definitely having an impact on the number and diversity of birds caught. The rain cleared just before dawn and with our site being quite protected from the east wind by an adjacent plantation we were able to keep our nets open all morning. Reasonable numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs dominated the catch as usual but we were treated to a late Lesser Whitethroat and a paltry 4 Swallows of the hundred or so that went through. 29 Meadow Pipits was a low catch for the time of year but we did retrap a stunning adult male Sparrowhawk  that was originally ringed at the same site on 10th September 2012, I just love the madly aggressive eyes of adult sprawks.  Getting up at ridiculous times in the morning can always lead to the odd bit of forgetfulness but I thought it odd that Paul had a BTO logo on the back of his ringing smock as mine doesn’t, then I realised that Paul had his smock on back to front – I thought people stopped doing this after they were ten! MP/PA/PW
Blackcap 67 (1), Chiffchaff 29, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Goldcrest 1, Meadow Pipit 29 ,Reed Bunting 5, Yellowhammer 3, Swallow 4, Dunnock 4, Robin 1, Blue Tit 1, Song Thrush 2
sprawk face

23rd September 2013 - Salisbury Plain (east)

With my team unavailable and the prospect of a busy day on the Salisbury Plain I was joined by members of the West Wilts Ringing Group ie Mike, Rob and ultra keen Andrew. The day dawned overcast with a bit of mist. For the first time this autumn we set a Meadow Pipit net set, but our set is more than the usual triangle as it also has a sixty foot net sticking out from one end which works fantastically well for birds skirting the area and today it picked up all sorts of birds including a late adult Grasshopper Warbler. Meadow Pipits migrate in big numbers at this time of year with high open ground being favoured but the best conditions are fairly bright and sunny so this grey day meant that they were late getting going and in smaller numbers than normal. Being late September we didn’t expect much variety but we were very pleasantly surprised with a late Lesser Whitethroat, several Whitethroats, 3 Redstarts and what may turn out to be our last Whinchat of the year. Star bird of the day however was a control Reed Bunting, it will be very interesting to see where and when this was originally ringed.
All in all we had a fantastic enjoyable morning and once again we are amazed by what passes through the Salisbury Plain on autumn migration because if you went there bird watching you simply wouldn’t see this number of birds. 199 is a standard catch for this time of year and we had absolutely no inclination to make it 200! MP/RT/MH/AB
Blackcap 72, Chiffchaff 68, Whitethroat 6, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Meadow Pipit 28, Whinchat 1, Redstart 3, Goldcrest 1, Wren 1, Robin 2 (1), Dunnock 6 (1), Swallow 1, Goldfinch 3, Bullfinch 1, Reed Bunting 2 (1), Yellowhammer 0 (1), Jay 1

21st September 2013 - Salisbury Plain (centre)

We arrived on site good and early to get all the nets up with Blackcap/Chiffchaff tape lures on in the dark as this time of year if you don't make the effort you don't get a good catch.

Again like last week the catch was dominated with the common migrant species you get in late September with over 100 each for Blackcap and Chiffchaff as well as a nice sample catch of Meadow Pipit's. We even got a control Chiffchaff (ETJ173).

The species variety was well down on last week with Whitethroat the only other warbler species to make an appearance. During the morning we had Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Hobby buzzing around the pipit nets but failed to catch any of them since we are rather overdrawn at the luck bank after the Great Reed Warbler from the other week.

Another big morning with 270 new, 4 retrap. GD/PD/OF

Meadow Pipit 38, Dunnock 3, Robin 1, Song Thrush (1), Whitethroat 3, Blackcap 118(2), Chiffchaff 106 (1), Reed Bunting 1