North Wilts Group

30th August 2013 - Swindon STW

We were not allowed on the Salisbury Plain due to military training so we opted for another session at Swindon STW. The day didn’t start well with a wasp stinging me on the head in an unprovoked attack, there have been a lot of people stung recently and this is before they get angry in the autumn. The first round was excellent but thereafter the morning was pretty quiet but the Lesser Whitethroats and Garden Warblers were very welcome. A new net across an open channel gave us a young Kingfisher but the best surprise of all was a Tree Pipit which was the first ringed on site. Green Sandpipers bombed around all morning amazing us with how they managed to miss some very cunningly positioned nets.
Blackcap 21 (1), Reed Warbler 11 (6), Garden Warbler 3 (1), Whitethroat 4 (1), Sedge Warbler 4 (1), Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 7 (1), Lesser Whitethroat 3 (1), Tree Pipit 1, Dunnock 4, Robin 1, Wren 2 (2), Blackbird 0 (1), Kingfisher 1

28th August 2013 - Swindon STW

Today was pretty different from yesterday with the distinct impression that we were catching mostly local birds. With 26 ringed, this may be the start of the Blackcap migration, variety was poor but we did ring only the second Spotted Flycatcher for the site. Simon and Sarah were able to enjoy some quality practice. MP, SW, SR
Blackcap 26 (5), Whitethroat 11 (4), Reed Warbler 9, Sedge Warbler 4, Garden Warbler 4, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Willow Warbler 4, Chiffchaff 8, Wren 1, Robin 1 (2), Bullfinch  1, Great Tit 1, Blue Tit 0 (1), Greenfinch 2, Song Thrush 1
In the evening I was joined by my wife Louise to try a Swallow roost at Swindon, STW. A lovely flock of c100 appeared quite quickly but disappeared before roost time but we had a really nice evening watching Green Sandpipers zooming round the site. Star bird of the evening was a juvenile Snipe.
Swallow 8, Reed Warbler 6, Sedge Warbler 1, Wren 1, Snipe 1
Differences in wear of adult and juvenile Garden Warbler
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27th August 2013 - Salisbury Plain (east)

A hard evenings work the night before once again ensured that we were ready for a smooth morning opening up. I was joined by Phil and Olly which is just as well because we were reasonably busy on the first round with the usual quality cast of Salisbury Plain migrants. The Plain is absolutely staggering as a migrant spot for birds and as a birder you can go there and see very little whereas we catch such quality birds at this time of year. The total of 9 Whinchats brings us to an amazing 21 in the last two sessions and there were still unringed birds around and we only had one retrap from four days ago. A few Tree Pipits flew over but missed our nets which was a shame. but after the evading tactics of last weeks Wheatears we were armed with spring traps today and we were well rewarded, we have found this species to be by far the most difficult chat type bird to catch. After Grahams recent success with Nightjars it was nice to also get in on the act and we ended up with a list of species that would grace any coastal migration site. Last net round of the day produced the star of the day in what we now call the eleven o clock bird – another magnificent Wryneck; these always seem to turn up late morning, quite what they do early morning is anyones guess.
148 new is a decent catch for the time of year and we all agreed that we had been blessed with a top days migrant ringing.
Wryneck 1, Nightjar 1, Wheatear 1, Whinchat 9 (1), Redstart 3, Whitethroat 35 (4), Sedge Warbler 23, Reed Warbler 4, Grasshopper Warbler 2, Blackcap 21 (2), Lesser Whitethroat 1, Garden Warbler 4, Willow Warbler 6 (1), Chiffchaff 4, Goldfinch 4, Linnet 3, Chaffinch 1, Yellowhammer 4 (1), Reed Bunting 5, Meadow Pipit 5, Blue Tit 3, Robin 2, Dunnock 1, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Wren 3 (1)

26th August 2013 - Salisbury Plain (centre)

Even though the predicted wind speed looked slightly marginal for rining we decided to give Salisbury Plain another go to make the best of migrant season and although numbers were rather disappointing there was plenty of quality.

While putitng up the last of the morning nets in the dark a Nightjar flew over so it was just as well we already had a tape lure going on a different net. The first net round of the morning found a juvenile female in the bottom shelf to make it two birds in two sessions at this site.

The first round also produced another Whinchat and another Redstart and by the end of the morning we had caught 4 of the latter as well as having 2 bounce while we were at the nets extracting. There will still plenty of Whitethroats and Willow Warblers around but Blackcap numbers are still strangely low as its now the time of year we should be getting catches of 50 or more rather than the 14 we got. We did however get a massive 3 Lesser Whitethorats, the highest day catch this year for this now virtually non-existant species.

One of the morings highlights was a juvenile Spotted Flycatcher. After catching two last week at Matt's site this species is now clearly on the move in the county.

We finished the morning with a rather poor total of 91 new and 8 retraps, almost half the average total for this week in August we usually get at this site. GD/PD/OF

Nightjar 1, Tree Pipit 2, Wren 1, Dunnock 1, Robin 4, Redstart 4, Whinchat 1, Blackbird 1(1), Song Thrush 2, Sedge Warbler 1, Reed Warbler (1), Lesser Whitethroat 3, Whitethroat 26(2), Garden Warbler 6(1), Blackcap 14(3), Chiffchaff 1, Willow Warbler 12, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Blue Tit 1, Great Tit 1, Goldfinch 1, Bullfinch 5, Yellowhammer 1



23rd August 2013 - Salisbury Plain (east)

I set up the nets the night before and all was going to plan until I went to a spot the other side of my site and came across a large flock of Linnets, quite a few warblers and best of all a mixed flock of Stonechats and Whinchats. This area looked excellent with tall grass mixed with umbellifers bordering onto a fodder bean crop and with this number of birds it should be a real hotspot. A couple of hours of hard work later and I had a ride cut with a long dog leg up consisting of 5 nets. I was assured of being organised today as I was joined by the OCD members of the group who seem to find new ways of tidying everything each time I see them. Today Paul proudly produced a new table and washing stand that will hold bird bags on and Graham took us through his bird bag counting procedure, these boys really do need to get out more.
The first net round produced an adult Spotted Flycatcher which was a great surprise as this is only the third I have ever mist netted in Wiltshire but later on we surpassed this by catching a juvenile as well. The nets by the crop were superb and supplied us with plenty of Whinchats and we ended up with our best day ever for this species. Despite the total of 105 new it was clear that there had been a bit of a clear out overnight after being held up by the rain of the previous night. We caught an adult female Redstart that we originally ringed on 16th July when it was 40% of the way through its moult but today it was 90% through moult; we know that Redstarts do use the Plain as a site to go through their moult.
It was great to share ideas and experiences of our different sites on the Salisbury Plain with Graham but poor Paul was stuck with two trainers quizzing him constantly about ageing and sexing techniques that he probably went home with brain ache. All in all this was a highly enjoyable day with most of the classic Salisbury Plain species. MP/PA/GD
Whinchat 12, Stonechat 2, Redstart 1, Spotted Flycatcher 2, Tree Pipit 1, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 2, Whitethroat 22 (1), Lesser Whitethroat 2, Garden Warbler 1, Blackcap 9, Willow Warbler 11, Chiffchaff 2, Wren 2 (1), Dunnock 1, Blue Tit 9, Great Tit 2, Linnet 6, Goldfinch 6, Greenfinch 2, Reed Bunting 6, Yellowhammer 2
After a couple of hours rest, I went out to check the remaining Tree Sparrow boxes. The farmers are racing through the harvest which will surely bring the season to a close but bless them, the sparrows are trying so hard and I ringed 15 tonight and there are still 10 pairs to check next week. I have never ringed Tree Sparrow nestlings after 16th August, so this is more evidence of what a late and unusual breeding season this has been. I saw a small group of Yellow Wagtails by a haystack and put up a quick two-shelf net and ended the day with a bonus juvenile Yellow Wagtail. MP
Tree Sparrow 15, Yellow Wagtail 1
Spotted Flycatcher - adult with worn plumage
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Spotted Flycatcher - juvenile, fresh plumage with buff fringes to coverts
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22nd August 2013 - Salisbury Plain (centre)

After the success of Tuesday's session we were joined again by Rob and Mike who were hoping to ring some more nice species.

However, once on site we had a slight issue with the weather. The overnight rain that was supposed to have cleared by mid-night was still coming down as the back edge of the weather front moved over us. Thankfully it had passed by 0600 but since there had also been rain further to the north of us the number of migrants was very much down compared to the last few visits. 

The first net round produced the best bird of the day, a Nightjar. I've not caught many of these and whenever I do there's always a trainee out with me that needs Nightjar for a ringing tick. As I was out today with 3 experienced 'A' permit holders I decided I was due a good bird so happily ringed it.

Even though migrants were down we still managed another 15 Willow Warblers and 24 Whitethroats with a good mix of other warblers. Interestingly, We only caught one Sedge Warbler today compared to 20 and 13 from the last two visits so it looks like the peak for this species may have passed. GD/PD/RT/MH

94 new, 10 retrap

Nightjar 1, Tree Pipit 1, Wren 2, Dunnock 3(1), Robin 4(1), Redstart 2, Whinchat 1, Blackbird (2), Song Thrush 3, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 2, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Whitethroat 24, Garden Warbler 7(2), Blackcap 18(2), Chiffchaff 5(1), Willow Warbler 15(1), Blue Tit 1, Bullfinch 1, Yellowhammer 1



20th August 2013 - Salisbury Plain (centre)

As I have the whole week off of work it was bonus session time on my Salisbury Plain site and were even joined by my old trainer Rob and Mike from the West Wilts group.

The hope was to catch a lot more migrant warblers and some other interesting migrants and we weren't dissapointed. The Whinchat net provided yet another 2 new Whinchats and also caught a stray Tree Pipit later no. Sedge Warblers were once again in numbers far higher than would be expected for a site many miles away from the nearest reedbed. We managed 5 Tree Pipits most of which came in to tape lures, the best day total for the year so far. We also caught two very recently fledged Grasshopper Warblers along with the adult we've been catching since April which was much nicer than catching migrants since these ones are home grown.  A shed load of new Whitethroats and Willow Warblers went some way to making up the poor numbers caught during the spring and yes, we caught yet anoth Redstart.

A good morning with 127 new and 13 retraps. GD/PD/RT/MH

Swallow 4, Tree Pipit 5, Wren 4, Dunnock (2), Robin 5, Redstart 1, Whinchat 2, Blackbird 1, Song Thrush 1, Grasshopper Warbler 3(1), Sedge Warbler 13, Reed Warbler 6, Whitethroat 36(1), Garden Warbler 8, Blackcap 9(4), Chiffchaff 1(3), Willow Warbler 18(1), Coal Tit 1, Blue Tit 1, Linnet 4, Bullfinch 2, Yellowhammer 2


19th August 2013 - Swindon STW

I met up with Matt and Welsh Paul at the works in the afternoon for a crafty go at a Swallow roost later in the evening. Beforehand though we put  a few finishing touches to the new duck trap. After negotiating a nettle bed we maneuvered it into position on one of the centre lagoons. Paul cursed the nettles and mud in a language Matt and I found difficult to understand. It will be good to see if the new trap pays dividends. The late afternoon and early evening were clear, and the first Swallows, House Martins and the odd Swifts started milling around. We set a crafty dog-leg in the reed bed and got the Swallow tape playing to set the ball rolling. Matt pointed out some Water Vole droppings at the edge of the reed. Evidence that they're using the site which is good. Paul was attempting to remedy a twist in one of the nets. From the stream of expletives issuing from deep in the reeds he wasn't enjoying the experience. Matt and I briefly toyed with the idea of offering assistance, but shrugged and continued discussing the finer points of reed bed management. After more expletives-in a language that probably hasn't been spoken in Britain since the Iron Age-the nets were ready. The first round caught us the odd Reed and Sedge Warbler with the Swallows showing increasing interest, but none in the nets. The second round brought no Swallows, but did deliver one of my favourite raptors of all time! A corking young male Sparrowhawk! A cracking piece of kit in my opinion. A first extraction tick for me, and a ringing tick for Paul. Our final round in the gathering gloom produced 22 Swallows with 2 Goldfinch as a bonus, which we haven't ringed on site for awhile. We processed the Swallows on site, and Matt roosted them overnight for release in the morning to resume their epic journey. Good luck to them.
All agreed what a good little evening session it was. Matt and I also agreed that it might be an idea to recruit a translator for the team, so we can communicate with Paul better. Isn't it.   MP/SW/PA
Swallow 22, Goldfinch 2, Whitethroat 2, Sedge Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 4(2), Sparrowhawk 1
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