Monday, 23 April 2018

Marsworth - April 2018- Spring arrives at last!

April ringing 


At the beginning of April we were still suffering with the cold temperatures and lots of rain. On the plus side the high rainfall has filled the reservoir and with the addition of an extra board in the sluice the reed bed is wetter than it has been for three years.  The session on the 6th was quiet with just a few chiffchaff and blackcaps starting to arrive but by the 15th spring was well underway. The site was full of bird song: Blackcap, Sedge Warblers and the first Cetti's Warbler that has been heard for months. A Cuckoo was heard briefly at 6:45am and Common Terns were noisy. We did not put up net "A" because a Blackbird was on 3 eggs in a nest in the Blackthorn halfway down the ride. The nest was not well concealed and sadly when we came back on the 22nd we found the nest had been predated as is the fate of many of the earlier nests before there is more cover available.
Ringing on the 22nd followed a week of exceptionally warm and sunny weather and the Blackthorn was in full bloom.



The first bird out of the nets was a Blackcap with a Paris ring. We also caught three Willow Warblers, one of which had been ringed as a juvenile here last July. Reed Warblers had also arrived, we caught two, both retraps - one was a juvenile last year and the other had been ringed as a juvenile in 2014, so that is three trips to Africa and back already. Our new ringing table was a big success and should give us a bit more of a stable surface for the electronic scales (!).

New Table and new C permit holder!!

A Mallard with her head down led her brood of 6 ducklings quietly through the scrub behind where we sit, unfortunately too small for ringing. A few of the tit boxes had nests half built. Breeding has got off to a late start for many species with only 2 out of 17 out of female birds showing signs of breeding compared 16 out of 16 for the same two weeks last year.


06/04/2018
Blackbird
1
Blackcap
2
Chiffchaff
3
Goldcrest
1
Wren
1
Total 8
15/04/2018
Blackbird
1
Blackcap
8
Bullfinch
2
Cetti's Warbler
1
Chiffchaff
4
Dunnock
2
Great Tit
4
Reed Bunting
3
Sedge Warbler
2
Wren
4
Total 31
22/04/2018
Blackbird
1
Blackcap
8
Chiffchaff
1
Dunnock
1
Reed Warbler
2
Sedge Warbler
1
Willow Warbler
3
Wren
1
Total 18

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Meisen Wood - Silence of the Siskin



Date: 8 – 4 – 2018
Nets: 95m
Sounds: Chiffchaff and Blackcap
Weather: Calm, bright and sunny; 14°C at start rising to 24°C
Ringers: CS and EB

Species
Ringed
Re-trapped
Totals
Blackbird
1
1
2
Blackcap
4
1
5
Blue Tit

5
5
Bullfinch

2
2
Chaffinch
2

2
Chiffchaff
3

3
Coal Tit

1
1
Dunnock
1
1
2
Firecrest
1

1
G S Woodpecker

1
1
Goldcrest
3
2
5
Great Tit

3
3
Greenfinch
2
2
4
Hawfinch
1

1
Robin
3
3
6
S T Treecreeper

1
1
Siskin

2
2
Wren

2
2
Totals
21
27
48

On Wednesday the Woodland Choral had experienced a tonal shift with the departure of the Siskin singers.  Now the thoroughly delightful Woodland Chorus was composed of the melodious, trilling, whispering and fluting Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Goldcrest and Firecrest with some occasional percussion contributions from drumming Black Woodpecker and wing-clapping Wood Pigeon. 

The Siskin departure had been expected but such a sudden, almost complete, exit was a tad surprising.  In the last Siskin spring of 2016 there had been a gradual decline in their numbers.  Today there were just a few flashes of Siskin green and gold.  Consequently we were returned, almost shockingly, to a more normal spring ringing session with a total of 48 birds captured.

Pleasingly this total included, albeit in low numbers, more Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Firecrest and the year’s first Blackcaps.  Interestingly the five Blackcaps included two females.  In previous years female Blackcaps have been caught ten days to two weeks after the first males.  The re-trap Blackcap was a male originally ringed in spring 2016 and has not been caught since.

Firecrest are always a pleasure to admire: small bundles of feathery beauty.  Many bird names are derived from their appearance and the Firecrest is a classic example with its flaming yellow and gold crest.  The origins of other bird names are not so obvious.  The German name for Firecrest is Sommergoldhähnchen – a name almost longer than the bird – that roughly translates as: summer golden cock (banish those ribald thoughts).  As the name suggests the bird is a summer visitor and its arrival is traditionally considered to indicate spring is here and summer is coming.



The re-trap Goldcrest, a female, has an interesting ringing history, almost a partial biography, which goes: October 2016 originally ringed as a juvenile; March 2017 aged as a second calendar year bird; late September 2017 aged as an adult as she was today.  Clearly we are on this dame’s migration route; where its two termini are, is unfortunately an unanswered, though intriguing questions.  Many German captured Goldcrest originate from the Baltic States and points further north and east – a considerable distance for such a diminutive bird to travel.

With the temperature rising to 24°C by late morning and few birds, compared to the previous couple of weeks, our ringing was somewhat languid.  We were very content with this as we could enjoy the heat, after what has seemed like a long cold winter here on the north German Plain.  It also gave us time to watch the wildlife around us: long-tailed tits carrying feathers and hair; red squirrels dashing helter-skelter around the conifer trunks and boughs; a male wren singing with unbelievable gusto in front of its completed nest – magic!  And above all we had time to enjoy and appreciate the birds in hand – that wonderful privilege of bird ringing. 
Chris



Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Wilstone - March and April ringing



A resume of the month of March and the first two sessions of April at Wilstone.


The first Chiffchaffs of the Spring: On the 25th March we caught four Chiffchaffs, three were new and one was previously ringed as a juvenile at Wilstone during 2017. As of the 7th of April we now have six retraps and eight newly ringed birds.The two over-wintering individuals caught in the New Year have not yet reappeared after the intervening cold snap, hopefully they have survived somehow. Several of the spring Chiffchaffs show signs of feeding on fruit trees in recent weeks, see Jenny's photo. 

Chiffchaff with sticky residue on feathers above bill.
Over these last few visits we have also handled 19 Reed Buntings, two of which sported colour rings from Marsworth.
How will the clearances made last winter and the creation of the new ponds affect the results of our efforts this coming year? The ponds have already proved popular with Teal and Snipe, not to mention certain mammalian species. Reeds should spread into the area between net rides 4 and 5, as they have between rides 2 and 3, so improving conditions for warblers at the expense of tits.

MARCH 
New
Retrap
Total
Blackbird
1

1
Chiffchaff
3
1
4
Dunnock

1
1
Great Tit
1
1
2
Long Tailed Tit
5
7
12
Marsh Tit
1

1
Reed Bunting
8
6
14
Robin

1
1
Song Thrush
1

1
Treecreeper

1
1
Wren
3
5
8




Total
23
23
46









1st to 10th APRIL 
New
Retrap
Total
Blackbird
1

1
Blackcap
2

2
Chaffinch
1

1
Chiffchaff
5
5
10
Great Tit

2
2
Long Tailed Tit

4
4
Reed Bunting
2
7
9
Wren
2
1
3




Total
13
19
32



Johne