Wraysbury Ringing (CES 7)

Wraysbury ~ 12th July 2014 ~ 

Shamefully I hadn't managed to get out ringing to Wraysbury yet this year before today so it was very nice to be able to catch up with everyone in person and not just via the odd email or two. 

At a rather more civilised time than when I go to FP, my mum and I arrived at Wraysbury at 05.45 and after everyone else had arrived we headed over to our ringing area and proceeded to set up the nets. It took a while but time passed quickly and it was then time to do the first net rounds. 

I went with one other person to check nets 10 and 20. There was one bird in the first net so we extracted it and then moved on to the second net. At a glance it didn't look like there was anything in it but as we walked along it, I noticed a smallish bird in the bottom shelf near the end of the net so I made sure there was nothing else in the net before walking to the bird near the end. At first I thought it was just a Reed Warbler because it was a light, creamy brown colour and looked fairly pale underneath but as I looked at it a bit more closely it suddenly dawned on me that it definitely wasn't a Reed Warbler and was in fact a GRASSHOPPER WARBLER!!!!! I'm not sure I stopped grinning from the moment I realised what it was, until after I had ringed and released it! Before this morning I had never seen a Gropper, having only heard them reeling from deep within a reed bed. This made it even more special to be able to handle one and examine it so closely - especially the awesome undertail coverts!

Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
© Josie Hewitt  
Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
© Josie Hewitt 
Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
© Josie Hewitt  
Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
© Josie Hewitt 
Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
© Josie Hewitt  
Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
© Josie Hewitt 
When the time came to do the next rounds, I was summoned to go first around the rest of the nets: 30, 40, 50, 60, 75 and 80 and hope my good luck continued! We reached net 80 and there were a few birds in the net. We each headed to a bird so we could start extracting them and when I reached the one everyone else had walked past I had to do a double take and check with someone else to make sure I wasn't imagining the identification. I wasn't making it up and it was indeed a CETTI'S WARBLER (!!!), and a previously ringed one too (it had been ringed at one of the group's other sites about two weeks ago)!

Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti)
© Josie Hewitt
Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti)
© Josie Hewitt
Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti)
© Josie Hewitt
The rest of the session was fairly dull in comparison but then again, we were exceptionally lucky early on and I've never had such a session, nor do I expect to have one of such quality any time soon! The fun task of trying to age Garden Warblers kept us suitably occupied for the remainder of the session!

The totals from this morning are as follows (re-traps are in brackets):

Blackbird - 4 (2)
Blackcap - 19 (3)
Blue Tit - 1 (1)
Cetti's Warbler - (1)
Chiffchaff - 5 (2)
Dunnock - 4
Garden Warbler - 22 (3)
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Great Tit - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Linnet - 1
Robin - 4 (1)
Sedge Warbler - (2)
Whitethroat - 18 (3)
Willow Warbler - 1

Total: 83 (18)

Many thanks for reading - I hope you've enjoyed it! Don't forget you can keep up with my activity on my website hereFacebookTwitter and Flickr.

An evening of surprise

Chobham Common ~ 1st July 2014 ~ 

Yesterday evening I was invited by CL and DKL to join them and EP to try our luck at ringing Nightjars on Chobham Common.

The wind was low and it started off fairly warm - the conditions seemed perfect but there was just one problem...there were no birds about! None at all...not even a Blue Tit! As it started to get dark some birds did make their presence known, with a few Chiffchaffs belting out a few notes, a Blackbird making a brief appearance and a Woodcock flying over making the usual squeaky call that they do.

CL and DKL decided that if we hadn't caught anything by 11pm then we would start taking down nets as there wasn't much point keeping them up any longer. Time passed fairly quickly and before we knew it it was 20 minutes to 11pm so CL went to check some of the nets. He came back and we were all very pleased to see that in his hand was a Nightjar!!! I'm not sure I stopped grinning from that moment until I went to sleep!

The wing - used for ageing and sexing. Note the white patches on
the 3rd and 4th primaries which indicate this to be a male.

I always feel very privileged when out ringing as there are not many people that get to see our avian counterparts up close and personal in the way that ringers do. Being able to ring, hold and examine the Nightjar was especially amazing because not only was it my 6th time out trying to catch them, but also because I have had a long fascination with them and am lucky enough to have them breeding on my patch!

Apologies for the bad photo, but what a stunning
and bizarre bird nonetheless!

Unfortunately that was all we caught but in my opinion it was well worth the effort! The only other things of note were the two Roe Deer chasing each other around the heath early on in the evening and a Toad that was hopping about on the path (and EP's shoe) on our way back to the car park.

All in all a absolutely fantastic experience and not one I will be forgetting any time soon (and yes, I know I said that about the Gull and Tern ringing the other day too - they are both awesome experiences that I feel very lucky to have had)!!

Many thanks for reading - I hope you've enjoyed it! Don't forget you can keep up with my activity on my website here, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

Gulls, gulls, gulls (oh, and a few terns too)

Black-headed Gull and Common Tern Ringing ~ 30th June 2014 ~ 

Today I had the chance to go out to one of the islands on the pond next to our CES site to ring all the Black-headed Gull and Common Tern chicks we could find - and boy did we find a fair few!

Just to word of warning to all you ringers out there: if you are ringing Gulls/Terns they leave you lots of presents in the form of guano and regurgitated bits of fish so make sure your washing machine is empty for when you get home so you can just chuck all your clothes in asap!!

We (Terry the boat operator, MC and I) headed out to the main island at about 09.30 and didn't get back to shore until about 14.30. It was an incredible experience and one that I won't be forgetting any time soon!

Instead of writing any more, I will just let the photos and their captions do the talking:

This young Black-headed Gull still has its egg tooth (just visible on the tip of
its bill) and was too young to be ringed so we put it back where we found it.
Four Black-headed Gull chicks prior to release. 
This Black-headed Gull chick was almost fully grown and ready to fledge. 
A comparison between two different ages of Common Terns. The one on the left is older
and quite close to fledging, meanwhile the one on the right is only about two weeks old.
This is one of the the older Common Tern chicks we ringed.
This is one of the younger Common Tern chicks we ringed.

The totals for the day are:

Black-headed Gull - 104
Common Tern - 7
Mute Swan - 1

As always, thank you very much for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! Don't forget you can 
keep up to date with my activity on FacebookTwitter and my website here.