Friday, 7 December 2018

Late Autumn ringing on campus

This autumn has seen a big up-tick in the amount of ringing happening within UEARG. Partially driven by the extra incentive of having two undergraduate projects in need of active ringing, and partially due to the arrival of two more C permit holders into the group (Stephen (Me) and Kirsty) who have started PhDs at UEA. We now have four active C permit ringers (Jen, Josie, Kirsty and Stephen) alongside the A permit holders, as well as a few experienced trainees.

Two final-year undergraduate students, Holly and Abi, have been undertaking projects looking at parasites in finches and tits respectively. Perhaps unsurprisingly with winter ringing at feeders, we’ve had great success at getting good numbers of faecal samples for them both.

By the end of October we were up and running with sampling and sites on campus. We’re pretty lucky at UEA, situated on a stunning campus with good habitat for ringing and the support of the school. We ring at two separate sites on campus, with feeders dutifully kept topped up by Holly and Abi at the moment. The greenhouses being the bigger site sees the larger ringing sessions as a group, with the rabbit enclosure being used for smaller more manageable sessions with smaller groups or when alone.

Between October 31st and December 4th, we managed to fit in 8 sessions on 7 dates with a grand total of 562 birds caught of 17 species. Tits make up the bulk of our catch (71.4%), followed by finches (16.4%). The greenhouse site and rabbit enclosure, whilst not dramatically different habitat and only 700m apart, see noticeably different catches. The greenhouse site does much better with finch catches, whilst the rabbit enclosure seems to do much better for coal tits. Highlighting how much location plays a part in what you catch, even on a small scale.
Highlights for these sites over the month include jays, redwings, bullfinch, and a young male sparrowhawk.

Species catch totals between October 31st and December 4th 2018.  
Greenhouse T(N/R)
Rabbit enclosure T(N/R)
Total (New/Retrap).

Blue tit
128 (62/66)
95 (81/14)
223 (143/80)
Great tit
88 (40/48)
61 (51/10)
149 (91/58
Coal tit
7 (3/4)
22 (15/7)
29 (18/11)
32 (28/4)
32 (28/4)
43 (39/4)
43 (39/4)
13 (11/2)
2 (2/0)
15 (13/2)
2 (2/0)
2 (2/0)
3 (3/0)
3 (3/0)
4 (3/1)
3 (3/0)
7 (6/1)
13 (6/7)
2 (2/0)
15 (8/7)
16 (8/8)
3 (3/0)
19 (11/8)
14 (12/2)
14 (12/2)
Song thrush
2 (2/0)
2 (2/0)
1 (1/0)
2 (2/0)
3 (3/0)
Great Spotted woodpecker
2 (0/2)
1 (1/0)
3 (1/2)
2 (2/0)
1 (1/0)
3 (3/0)
1 (1/0)
1 (1/0)

370 (222/148)
192 (161/31)
562 (383/179)

We do fairly well catching Jays on campus, reflecting the good numbers in the area.

Frosty mornings are more and more the norm as we move in winter. This adult male Great tit, ringed on campus in the nest, has reached a considerable size with an 81mm wing.

Redwings are always a treat. Fair numbers have been on campus this Autumn, but most have evaded our nets.

A very exciting catch, particularly for Kirsty and I for whom it was a first. A second calendar year male sparrowhawk. Retained juvenile feathers in the wing, tail, and rump the clues to its age. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

First Waxham visit of the spring brings Portuguese Control Willow Warbler

Earlier in the week the forecast had predicted the wind to swing round from the constant North-Easterly to have some southerly in it, alongside this a band of light rain was predicted... Ideal - a push of migrants then dropped by rain! With this prediction we arrived at Waxham early morning on the Friday ready to catch. Unfortunately the clear skies that greeted us, as far as we could see in every direction, quickly dampened our expectations. As we erected our nets it was clear there had been an arrival but it wasn't a fall, the Waxham breeding birds had simply returned. Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs sang around us but only in the small numbers we expect to breed. For the birds this is great, the good weather meant that everything had gone straight in to breeding grounds and not been grounded at the coast. This was confirmed by our birding friends on UEA Campus who had the first Reed warblers and Grasshopper Warbler back on campus that very morning. However for us it meant just a small catch was on the cards.

And that's what happened...

Total new birds / (retraps/control)

(3) Willow Warblers - 1 Portuguese control, 2 retraps (1 from 09/05/2012)
1 Chiffchaff
3 Whitethoats
1 + (2) Wrens
1 + (1) Long-tailed Tits
3 + (1) Great Tits
1 Chaffinch

The highlight was clearly the Portuguese ringed Willow warbler, but our own retraps were nice also knowing they've been to Africa and back.

The southerly wind meant vismig on the morning was better than recently with yellow wagtails passing over head (all seen were flavissima) and the first Tree pipits. A Ring Ouzel went north while another was on the camping field with 2 Wheatears. 7 local Cranes flew over calling and a Turtle Dove singing from the wood was also a pleasant and increasing rare addition to the day.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Incredible Goldcrest recovery

Just a few days ago we had our first session at our winter feeding site in Horsford Woods, three days later and we've just heard from the BTO about one of our Goldcrests ringed there last December. This bird was retrapped on the 11th September on the island of Eggegrund, on East coast of Sweden, an incredible 1334 km North East of us!

There is a bird observatory there which caught this presumably on its Autumn migration so I wonder how much further North East it has spent the summer! Wouldn't it be great to catch it again this winter...

The bird followed a similar trajectory (though in reverse) to our other long-distance Goldcrest as mentioned previously on the blog back in 2011 -

Sunday, 19 October 2014

This year so far at Waxham

It has been a pretty good year at Waxham so far. Due to work commitments and weather I think only one session was done in the spring and we have since ran 6 Sessions (4 in September, 2 in October) in the Autumn for a total of 412 birds.

A young female merlin, the first for UEARG, caught in the meadow pipit nets 

Our first of three Yellow-browed Warblers this Autumn
Waxham offers the group a real variety of species not caught at our other sights. This is very important for our trainees, handling a wider range of species and learning different aging and identification methods. We've had some real highlights this year including a Turtle Dove in the Spring and in the Autumn - Redstart, Pied Flycatchers, Yellow-browed Warblers and most recently Tree Pipit and Merlin, both new species for the group. One of the Autumn sessions was a ringing demonstration for new Masters students studying ecology and conservation at UEA.

First Tree Pipit for UEARG


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Cantley ringing 2014

Over late summer this year we made several visits to our ringing site at Cantley. It turned out to be particularly good for roosting birds this year, most likely due to the reed bed having much higher water levels compared to recent years. This high water appeared to attract much greater roosts of swallows and wagtails, presumably because it is safer for them, in turn we caught many more birds this year.
A fantastic 114 new yellow wagtails were ringed!
As well as the roosting birds we also caught good numbers of Acros and Beardies as we have come to expect from this fantastic site.

Totals for the sessions are as follow:

  New birds   Recoveries      Total
Kingfisher 5 0 5
Sand Martin 54 1 55
Swallow 1344 26 1370
Yellow Wagtail 114 7 121
Pied/White Wagtail 1 0 1
Wren 7 0 7
Blackbird 1 0 1
Cetti's Warbler 6 0 6
Sedge Warbler 241 29 270
Reed Warbler 411 46 457
Bearded Tit 35 11 46
Blue Tit 4 2 6
Great Tit 4 0 4
Linnet 4 0 4
Reed Bunting 94 8 102
Total: 2325 130 2455

Friday, 14 March 2014

Surprise Stodo

Its not often we catch adult Stock Dove's in mist nets so this was a nice surprise this afternoon whilst ringing on campus. Photo courtesy of IB.

Totals were: (retraps in brackets).
Lotti 1
Greti 0(14)
Lesre 3(3)
Dunno 0(3)
Blabi 2(1)
Robin 1(1)
Chaff 3
Bluti 2(2)
Goldf 2
Bramb 1
Comre 0(1)
Grefi 1(1)
Woodp 1
Stodo 1


Friday, 24 January 2014

More Mealies at the Feeders

A short morning session at the UEA feeders was quite productive, highlights being 2 Mealy Redpolls, a Jay and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Mealy Redpolls (left hand bird wing 77mm, right hand bird 75mm)
Mealy and Lesser Redpoll

This photo shows nicely how we ages this bird as a 5 (a bird hatched in the previous calendar year). Red arrows showing unmoulted 'Juvenile-type' feathers (the outer alula, all the primary coverts and the outer greater covert) Notice how the pattern of the bands across the primary coverts is the same on each feather showing they were grown at the same time. Green arrows show new 'Adult-type' feathers (second Alula and greater coverts).


New birds (retraps in brackets)
Blabi 6(3)
Lesre 5(4)
Comre 2
Grefi 4
Bluti 3(16)
Dunno 0(2)
Robin 2(5)
Grswo 0(1)
Bramb 1
Greti 2(11)
Jay 1
Lotti 2