North Wilts Group

23rd April 2013 - Castle Eaton

We all know that spring or summer is about two to three weeks behind and tonight further proved the point. Jack and I went to the rookery where we usually ring the rooks on about 10th April but because we know the breeding season is behind we left it later than ever before. We managed to get to 14 nests to record their contents and thus start off our nest recording for the year. Most nests had warm eggs but we did find a couple of newly hatched chicks but it will still be 2 weeks before they are ready to ring which will mean that for the first time ever our rooks will be ringed in May which looks like three weeks late. MP/JN
mp rooking

22nd April 2013 - Salisbury Plain (east)

The 22nd April is normally the day when migrants really flood in and I often record my first Lesser Whitethroat on this day. Despite Grahams low number of migrants we set off for the Salisbury Plain at 3am. It soon became apparent that the site was virtually devoid of summer migrants but still we soldiered on to record a fairly meagre total of 31 new and 12 retraps. The highlight of the day was a Whitethroat that was ringed last summer. MP
Blackbird 0 (2), Robin 1, Dunnock 0 (4), Wren 1 (1), Treecreeper 1 ,Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 2, Blackcap 2, Whitethroat 1 (1), Blue Tit 1, Great Tit 5, Coal Tit 1, Long Tailed Tit 2 (1), Chaffinch 4 (2), Bullfinch 3 (1), Yellowhammer 5

21st April 2013 - Nightingale Wood

By putting some nets up the night before meant an extra half hour sleep, but with the first bird of the morning being a Cuckoo calling in the pre-dawn gloom we wished we had got there earlier to set nets for it. By the time all the nets were open it was too light and the bird could see the nets. As we had set nets around the lake and in the willow plantations the catch was dominated by warblers with good numbers of Willow Warbler and Blackcap. There were quite a few were old friends with 2 Willow Warblers from 2011 and a Blackcap from 2010 the best of the retraps along with a Treecreeper from 2010. After packing up and while checking on the uptake of some of our nest boxes, a Redstart proved a nice find.  A nice easy paced moringing with 37 new and 25 retraps. GD/PD/OF

Wren 1(4), Dunnock 1, Blackbird (1), Whitethroat 1, Blackcap 19(5), Chiffchaff 2(1), Willow Warbler 7(5), Long Tailed Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Treecreeper (1), Chaffinch 1, Goldfinch 2, Bullfinch 3(3), Reed Bunting (1)


20th April - Salisbury Plain (centre)

With lots of quality migrants being reported around the county and with Matt's large catch at Swindon STW yesterday hopes were high of taking a good catch of migrants today, so we put up 17 60's. The first net round produced a few warblers including a Grasshopper Warbler along with a retrap Nightingale, our target species, that was originally caught as a juvenile in August 2010. Unfortunately that proved to be the best of it as once again the fog came down down for 2 hours and by the time it cleared up, all the birds had cleared off. A singing Redstart managed to give us the run around in the sunshine by avoiding the cunning net we had set for it, and the other 5 singing Nightingale's decided not to contribute any data to science. The first Whitethroat's of the year added some cheer late on and two more Grasshopper Warbler's were caught at a favoured site as we drove off the Plain. In all 40 new and 21 retraps were processed, a disappointing total for the time of year. GD/PD/OF

Willow Warbler 5(2), Chiffchaff 3(5), Wren 1(1), Goldcrest 1, Long Tailed Tit 1(1), Blackcap 11(1), Chaffinch 1, Grasshopper Warbler 3, Dunnock 3(7), Robin 2, Blue Tit 1, Linnet 1, Whitethroat 4(1), Song Thrush 1(1), Blackbird 2(1), Nightingale (1)

1 New folder

19th April 2013 - Coleshill

3 nets up for a short afternoon session between 1200 and 1600 in the garden after the week's strong winds had abated as there were still a few Lesser Redpolls and Siskins around. Not many Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps around at this time of day but the first Redstart of the year was an unexpected bonus. OF
Great Spotted Woodpecker 0 (2), Redstart 1 (0) ,Blackcap 1 (0), Coal Tit 0 (2), Blue Tit 0 (6), Great Tit 1 (4), Chaffinch 2 (0), Greenfinch 4 (1), Goldfinch 5 (1), Lesser Redpoll 2 (1)
IMG 1359

19th April 2013 - Swindon STW

After a few days of strong westerlies and southerlies the wind died overnight as forecast and I was hopeful of a run of migrants. Simon and I met bright and early at Swindon STW, with the first bird heard being a Grasshopper Warbler reeling strongly. Willow Warblers were immediately evident and we ended up with 21 ringed and a breeding male retrapped for its third consecutive year, this is the highest spring day total for this species for the site and it was noticeable that many were carrying fat and that there were both males and females so it is fair to assume that many of these were migrants on their way further north. The second net round produced a real site rarity and one of my favourite birds in the form of a first year female Firecrest which absolutely made our day. Sedge Warblers were singing but were not prepared to leave the cover of the reeds.
With the sudden increase in temperature during the last week, breeding activity has started for real with Dunnocks, Robin, Reed Bunting and Great Tits all having early stage brood patches. We finished with 41 new birds and 35 birds retrapped. As ever we learn a lot from the retrapped birds and the four Reed Buntings have only ever been trapped in the breeding season so where do they go in the winter? The oldest bird of the day was a Dunnock that was originally ringed as a freshly fledged juvenile on 1st June 2008 and so is just short of 5 years old.
On our way out of the site, Simon spotted a superb male Whinchat and we saw 10 Whitethroats that had cunningly evaded our nets, but there is always next week. MP/SW

16th April 2013 - Kennet Valley

I was joined by Sarah for what was planned to be a short session targeting a few migrants. With 15mph southerly winds forecast we chose a very sheltered site in the Kennet valley which is a fantastic sun trap, it has a few feeders and we thought that we may still catch a few wintering finches. Migrants were well on show with Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs all in very good condition but they were completely outshone by a large flock of Lesser Redpolls. Lesser Redpolls are one of the species that has the highest recovery rates and today was no exception as we ringed 39 new birds but we also had 3 controls (ringed elsewhere). However it was the local movements and longevity that were probably more interesting with two birds ringed two years ago and one from last year but we also retrapped eight that were all originally ringed at a site about a mile away on 24th March and another ringed six miles away in January so is this a post migration flock building up?
All in all this was a brilliant spring session with 124 birds ringed and 40 birds retrapped with 19 species processed in the day, and in a few months we will learn where the controlled Lesser Redpolls were originally ringed..... MP
Lesser Redpoll 39 (16), Goldfinch 10, Siskin 1, Chaffinch 15 (2), Willow Warbler 8, Chiffchaff 5, Blackcap 6, Yellowhammer 1, Goldcrest 1, Marsh Tit 1, Blue Tit 6 (7), Great Tit 20 (8), Coal Tit 2, Long Tailed Tit 4 (5), Nuthatch 1, Treecreeper 1, Blackbird 1, Wren 2, Dunnock 0 (1)

13th April - Salisbury Plain (centre)

The first ringing trip to Salisbury Plain of the year after clearing net rides a few weeks ago. Hopefully my main study species, Nightingale, will have a better breeding season this year after not a single pair sucessfully fledged any young in 2012. Every type of weather possible this morning starting cold clear and frosty, then thick cold fog, then sunny, then cloudy and ending up with rain. Still, never mind when the first bird you hear singing when getting out the car is a Nightingale even if it did prove impossible to catch, singing from the densest patch of cover on site. The first net round produced 7 Willow Warbler's and a good few Blackcap's. As is often the case with migrants at this site that was more or less it with just a few birds each round afterwards. Some old friend were among the retraps, a 2012 Chiffchaff and a 2011 Blackcap. A flyover Swallow and Tree Pipit were the only other migrants noted. GD/PD

Dunnock 2(1), Song Thrush 2(1), Blackcap 12(1), Chiffchaff 5(1), Willow Warbler 7, Goldcrest 1, Long Tailed Tit (2), Blue Tit 1, Great Tit 2, Goldfinch 2, Bullfinch 2