Monday, 20 October 2014

Bird Feeding and Barn Owl broods 18th October 2014

Hi, TODAY was the day I decided that I was going to give something back to the group. Thankfully I wasn't waking up at stupid times but getting up at 7:20 was somewhat a struggle! I met at Matt's house at 8AM. My first job was to bag up some feed...

Half a ton of bird feed was outside his house in a massive bag and needed moving and using. I filled up 6 bags in total while Matt was sorting out the car and trailer and... Off we went towards the Marlborough downs, while talking to Matt he told me that the NIA was willing to give 20 tonnes of arable crops away yes 20 tonnes. It really shows how nice the community is round there.

Wes topped off at 4 different sites dropping off more and more bird feed until we had let out at least 120KG! Matt had some work to do at a farm so I decided to have a birdwatch outside to keep me occupied. 30+ Redwing, 10+ Red Kite, 2 White Wagtail, 1 Mistle thrush and an incredible 50+ Jays!!!

Once Matt had completed a heck of a discussion we went over to one of the farms in search of some Barn Owls. As predicted for Matt a Barn Owl was sat on the ground inside this Barn. Just before this we found a Jay and male Sparrowhawk in the same tree and then to see it hunt a flock of Linnets, magical! 
This beauty managed to find its way onto the floor! the other who was in slighty better condition looked good as well. Matt told me that 2nd broods in barn owls is very rare and this is only his second occurence. 
Both chicks together was a ball of fluff! On the way towards our next nest we visited a huge farm that had an incredible 1100 tonnes of Rape seed oil!!! I've never seen so much, to make it even more amazing Matt had been given permission to take as much as he wants for Linnets
Another second brood of two Barn Owls followed. Matt showed me two key sites of the winter a lone hedge in the marlborough Downs and The Marlborough STW. Great Day!

Swindon STW 11th October 2014

Hi, every single day I've been ringing there has been one thing that has made my day. Today was no exception with 4 fantastic birds and 1 Difficult bird to catch. Our team Was Matt P, Paul A, Jack N and I Which was a solid lineup discounting me ;)

Today we set up Wader nets as well as the norm, this is because of Snipe and other migratory species which occur in the reeds and scrapes. A quick setting up of the nets and we were off... The first net round was good. The only worrying signs was the weather which was starting to drizzle, and there was a slight breeze. Not enough to take down the nets however, but still made life that bit more difficult! A Snipe was the first surprise/quality bird of the morning and amazingly the first one that Paul A had ringed! Even though he's ringed a Jack Snipe!!!
Stonking birds that just hit anreve for me, brilliant! on the next net round we were encouraged to hurry up as now the weather was picking up, you'll be glad to hear that the nets were taken down while at it. Just after ringing a Chiffchaff I went to pick up a bag then I felt this absolute lummox inside. A Teal! Even though it's the smallest duck in the UK it has a nice pot belly! It was a small challenge manging to get the ring on the bird due to the stiff ring, but I managed to after a bit of assitance...
Although not the cracking male (being a 1st winter female) it still had a charm... Thankfully the wind and rain cleared up but was a bit of pain as we had to close them at the peak hour!!! Just after setting them up we were onto the next round. A very hard bird to catch if not specifically targeting turned up... It was a chunky Moorhen that managed to crash into one of our nets like a cannon! Paul A ringed this and was yet another new bird for him! 
The next round was a good one with three beautiful birds, all the same ones!
This is my first time that I've taken a photo like this!

Yes Grey Wagtails, a suspected full brood of them that got drawn in by the appealing calls by an outflow pipe! Jack N had to go by this time, sadly he missed some good action! A Cetti's Warbler was up at the Bund, the third one this year. Which is a good sigh of colonisation, Paul even heard one calling in the reed bed in the morning. The only let down being that they were all juveniles, we just need them to hang on at this site for colonization.

Diagnostically large fan-tailed appearance and white supercillium, giving th impression of an enlarged  Wren, It is not very often you'll see these birds let alone handle them. I was amazed to get given the all green to ring it! More was to come but from a wader net and a continental bird. A Water Rail, the pig of the reeds!
Very unusual bird with incredible agility and powerful wings. Once again I was very lucky to be able to ring such a bird. The only other two birds of note was an old Reed Bunting and probably the last Reed Warbler of the season. 
THe full list below is thanks to

Water Rail 1, Teal 1, Snipe 2, Moorhen 1, Pied Wagtail 20, Grey Wagtail 3, Blackcap 13 (2), Chiffchaff 10, Cettis Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 1, Reed Bunting 2 (3), Robin 2 (1), Dunnock 6 (2), Wren 7 (2), Song Thrush 2 (1), Blue Tit 0 (1)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Swindon STW and Salisbury Plain (east) 20th and 21st September 2014

Hi, had another great weekend, sorry for the belated post but here it goes...

SWINDON STW 20th September 2014

I got up at 5:00 AM on Saturday and was picked up by Paul W. We had yet another nice long chat and both were very excited/interested in seeing what the reserve held today. Before the onslaught we set up some of the nets in the dark, quite a few had tape lures like the Chiffchaff and Blackcap. It took around half an hour to complete this task, then it began! Chiffchaff after Blackcap after Chiffchaff. it was great practice for my beginner hands, and really helped me progress.

The first top bird was left on its own until we managed to get through one of the manic rounds. It was a Cetti's Warbler! Only the 2nd bird ringed on site! Paul W was responsible through Simon's disgust! Simon later told us that he hasn't ringed one before, the joke lasted the whole day!!!

You can see on the first picture its diagnostic 10 feathered tail. It was amazing to see such a secretive bird up close, most ringers won't be privileged enough to ring this! Shortly after I noticed another bag that was hung up on its own. I queried about it they told me it was an unusual blackbird... I thought Ring Ouzel however they were completely fooling me. I fiddled around to try and pull this bird out, I noticed that it had an extremely long bill, can you guess what it is? Yes, a Snipe, just look at the bill...
It was my first ever Snipe! Unfortunately it already had a ring on it (for me), however, Matt told me that it had been ringed on this site last year! This shows that it is site faithful and proves the importance of this site. I did process it however so I was still smiling all the way through it, knowing that this is my favourite bird! So after an already eventful morning we were onto another net round, this time I went to the Bund a 300ft net that sits between two reed beds. I was now getting more confident in extracting. While extracting a Chiffchaff Paul W asked "Is this a Spotted Flycatcher?" I gave a little look and said "Yes, well done!" Back to base, Paul had another fantastic bird to his list the Spotted Fly!
It was a juvenile and yet another 2nd for this site. The week before Simon spotted a Pied Flycatcher on the weekend, which I think maybe the only one??? A quick scan through the bad revealed another Snipe, my one! I had to ring it and hold my baby!
You beauty!!!

List: Chiffchaff 112 (7), Blackcap 109 (7), Reed Warbler 8 (4), Sedge Warbler 6 (3), Whitethroat 1, Cettis Warbler 1, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Goldcrest 1, Swallow 5, Snipe 1 (1), Reed Bunting 2, Robin 2 (1), Blackbird 1 (1), Song Thrush 1,  
Wren 1, 
Dunnock 9 (1), Long Tailed Tit 2 (1), Blue Tit 1, Great Tit 1 THANKS TO

SALISBURY PLAIN (east) 21st September 2014\

The next day proved brilliant again, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps proved havoc around the nets. We did catch a lot of new things for me! 

Goldcrest started off my great big smile followed by 52 Meadow Pipits! A really enjoyable morning followed, with great birds here and there. While doing a net round on my own I stumbled across a gem of a bird. The colouration is so distinctive and recognisable. I brought the precious cargo back before I carried on. they called me a "hogger" or something like that (I'm sure they'll correct me on Saturday)! I didn't mind however this bird
is simply incredible! Who could ignore this beauty! Excuse the car...

List: Blackcap 85 (2), Chiffchaff 50, Meadow Pipit 52, Swallow 5, Willow Warbler 1, Whitethroat 1, Redstart 1, Goldcrest 8, Sparrowhawk 1, Robin 3 (1), Blue Tit 3, Great Tit 2, Long Tailed Tit 1 (3), Treecreeper 1 (1), Wren 2, Dunnock 2, Goldfinch 10, Chaffinch 2, Bullfinch 0 (1) THANKS TO