North Wilts Group

20th July 2013 - Salisbury Plain (centre)

Despite a rahter windy night and the forecast for later in the morning for more wind we decided to give it a go in the hope of catching more juvenile warblers. The first net round produced yet another Redstart as well as the usual net happy male Grasshopper Warbler. This time of year usually results in catching large number of juvenile Whitethroats but today we caught lots of 3J Chiffchaffs including a very young looking control. 

A nice juvenile Green Woodpecker was the morning highlight and was a ringing tick for trainee Andrew. As predicted, the wind was at hurricane force by 0830 which meant an early end to the morning which was a real shame as we had already got to 57 new and 13 retraps by that time. GD/PD/AB

Green Woodpecker 1, Swallow 3, Wren 7, Dunnock 1, Robin 3, Redstart 1, Song Thrish 1(1), Grasshopper Warbler (1), Lesser Whitethroat 1, Whitethroat 7(2), Garden Warbler 1(1), Blackcap 7(4), Chiffchaff 10(2), Willow Warbler 3, Great Tit 3(1), Tree Sparrow 4, Linnet 1, Bullfinch (1), Yellowhammer 3


16th July 2013 - Salisbury Plain (east)

Following a crazy morning and a hot afternoon ringing Tree Sparrow nestlings, Simon, Jack and I found ourselves on the Salisbury Plain setting nets in the hot evening sunshine. Sadly, in line with everywhere else there were no Quail present. Paul joined us in the morning and two Grasshopper Warblers reeled at dawn and we caught them along with two juveniles thus proving breeding. The site was not alive with birds but we were really pleased with the number of Whitethroats, our first juvenile Lesser Whitethroat of the season and also three moulting adult Redstarts allowing a good bit of training on moult scores. Star bird of the day however was the juvenile Tree Pipit that is the first we have ringed on site within the breeding season. Notable by their absence were Blackbird, Robin, Long Tailed Tit, Blue Tit and Great Tit which is pretty worrying. What a great way for Jack to spend his 19th birthday. MP/JN/SW/PA
Whitethroat 28 (6), Lesser Whitethroat 1, Yellowhammer 2 (1), Grasshopper Warbler 4, Redstart 3, Dunnock 1 (3), Wren 5, Willow Warbler 1 (1), Blackcap 1, Linnet 1, Tree Pipit 1, Swallow 1

14th July 2013 - Swindon STW

With Autumn wader passage starting we thought it was the right time to set a couple of wader nets at Swindon STW and we were well rewarded with 4 Black Headed Gulls but best of all a retrap Green Sandpiper that was originally ringed in August 2010, this species is very difficult to catch and not many are ringed in the UK let alone retrapped at the same site in subsequent years. The normal passerine nets kept us occupied with Reed Warbler being the predominant species and a bonus juvenile Treecreeper which is a scarce visitor to the site but does typically turn up in July/August. On a net round to the wader net I saw a pair of Shoveler with three young that is the first successful breeding of the species on site, we had been seeing a pair until six weeks ago but they had ‘disappeared’ until today. My delight was short lived when the next net I checked had a female tufted duck in who took one look at me and decided to roll out and fly off.
65 new with 21 retraps was very respectable considering that we packed up an hour earlier than normal due to the heat. MP/JN/SW/PA
Green Sandpiper 0 (1), Black Headed Gull 4, Woodpigeon 1, Song Thrush 1, Reed Warbler 10 (12), Sedge Warbler 6, Blackcap 9 (3), Whitethroat 5, Chiffchaff 11 (1), Willow Warbler 1, Dunnock 3 (1), Wren 5 (1), Robin 0 (1), Great Tit 2, Blue Tit 4 (1), Treecreeper 1, Long Tailed Tit 2

13th July 2013 - Salisbury Plain (centre)

After weeks of mediocre catches at this site it was nice to actually ring a decent number of birds, the only problem was that none of them werew Nightingales. Even the family parties of juveniles calling from the scrub seem to know where all the nets are. The catch was made up mostly of young birds with warblers featuring predominantly but we did manage to intercept a roving tit flock which padded out the totals a bit. The best bird of the morning was yet another juvenile Redstart, the 6th ringed in the last 3 visits, and the local male Grasshopper Warbler which has started up singing again.

On the way home we checked all our Tree Sparrow sites but only found two broods to ring. It looks like the bad winter we had has badly affected this species as my sites look like they will be a good 60% down on last years pulli totals. At one of the sites is a good sized House Martin colony on the farmhouse and with plenty of time on our side it seemed rude not to have a go at them. A caught 5 in around 10 minutes before the rest of them figured out what was happening. 73 new and 20 retraps were not a bad days return. GD/PD/OF/AB

House Martin 5, Wren 2(1), Dunnock 6(1), Robin 4(1), Redstart 1, Blackbird (3), Song Thrush (1), Grasshopper Warber (1), Lesser Whitethroat 1(1), Whitethroat 10(2), Garden Warbler 4(2), Blackcap 9(5), Chiffchaff 4, Willow Warbler 6(1), Blue Tit 4, Great Tit 8, Tree Sparrow 8, Linnet 1, Yellowhammer (1)


13th July 2013 - Latest Recoveries & Controls

Details of the latest batch of recoveries from the BTO has arrived and are listed below:


Willow Warbler  Swindon STW  3 Aug 2012     to     Pouillon, France  5 Apr 2013   245 days, 888km

Blackcap   Nightingale Wood  7 Sep 2010    to    Woolhampton, Berks   11 Jun 2013   1008 days, 44 km

Goldfinch  Nightingale Wood  5 Nov 2011    to    Hednesford, Staffs   20 Jun 2013   593 days, 128km

Lesser Redpoll   Hens Wood  25 Mar 2012    to    Catterick, Yorks   21 Apr 2013   392 days, 328km


Lesser Redpoll   Wintersett Res, Yorks  13 Oct 2012     to     Axford  27 Apr 2013  196 days, 244km

Lesser Redpoll   Blackburn, West Lothian  20 Oct 2011     to     Axford   16 Apr 2013   544 days, 509 km

8th July 2013 - Swindon STW & Marlborough Downs

A full on day today starting at 4am at Swindon STW with Simon and Jack, we put up the basic ten nets as we knew it would be hot and an early finish. Young Reed Warblers and Chiffs predominated and it was particularly nice to retrap two of our nestling Reed Warblers from the previous couple of weeks.
Reed Warbler 9 (11), Sedge Warbler 5 (4), Blackcap 5 (1), Whitethroat 5, Chiffchaff 9, Willow Warbler 1, Great Tit 10, Blue Tit 2, Robin 2, Dunnock 2 (2), Blackbird (1), Song Thrush (1),  
A quick dash home to unpack and then pack the car and feed the troops and then off to the downs to meet Niamh. We got to the site ten minutes early which is virtually unheard of for our team, we were feeling rather pleased with ourselves until we realised that Jack had left the ringing box in the garage so a quick dash home and we were back to being fashionably late as usual. With the sun reflecting off of the gleaming white chalk of the downs it was particularly hot and all of the drinking pools were dry so that is the Yellow Wagtail catching opportunity gone until it rains. We are now motoring and we are half way through second brood sparrows and during the day we ringed 59 Tree Sparrow pulli but sadly missed a brood of Kestrels. Last action of the day was a brood of three Linnets that Jack found in a honeysuckle. I got home at 19:45, not exactly rested from my day off work.
Tree Sparrow 59
Linnet 3
DSC 2543

30th June 2013 - Marlborough Downs

An invitation to ring a brood of Spotted Flycatchers was too good an opportunity to turn down and so I invited Simon along who is progressing towards his nestling ringing endorsement. We met the landowner who is a very knowledgeable and really nice chap, but even better was the stunning location of a thatched cottage nestled in a beautiful wooded valley on the edge of the Marlborough Downs. Whilst chatting, we watched the adults which was a joy in itself. On to the nest and we were privileged to ring five very healthy nestlings at feathers short which is just about perfect. MP/SW

29th June 2013 - Salisbury Plain (centre)

With my usual team either on holiday or off ringing Puffins on Anglesey I was joined by Adam back from university inScotland and Andrew, my old trainers latest trainee. It was unfortunately another very quiet morning again with few birds around. The highlights were two 3J Redstarts which must have nested very close and another retrap Nightingale. A few of the Nightingales were still in full song at dawn when we were putting the nets up. Some were also giving the croaking alarm call which is a sure sign they have a nest somewhere nearby so hopefully there will be a good few juveniles to catch over the next few weeks to make up for the big zero from last years breeding season.

After packing up we went to check the artilery bunkers for Swallow and ended up ringing a respectable 27 pulli which more than doubled the days catch. GD/AC/AB

Stock Dove 2, Swallow 27, Wren (2), Dunnock 2, Robin 2, Nightingale (1), Redstart 2, Song Thrush 2(1), Whitethroat 2(1), Garden Warbler 1(4), Blackcap (2), Chiffchaff 7(3), Linnet 1, Bullfinch (1)