Monday, 31 October 2011

Back to Kessingland

On Saturday I decided to visit Colin Carter and his team who were ringing at their regular haunt, Kessingland sewage works. Given that the clocks had yet to go back starting at 06:30 meant starting in the dark although this gave us the opportunity to try for a Tawny Owl but the bird wasn't giving our nets a first glance let alone a second.

Unbeknown to those convening at 06:30, Colin and Derek had already been onsite for an hour as Derek had felt it prudent to set a net next to the reedbed with a view to catching incoming Water Rails. A Blackbird and Wren were extracted before the net was moved to a prime Redpoll catching area.

Once the sun had come up the catch was a mixed bag including a few late summer migrants in the form of a Chiffchaff and a few Blackcaps. The highlight was definitely Lesser Redpoll with another 24 being caught adding to good catches from previous weeks. the birds were almost exclusively caught immediately over my iPod amplification system.

An interesting control was caught in the shape of a Great-spotted Woodpecker. The bird was age code 3 meaning that it had hatched and therefore been ringed this year but it was not carrying one of Colin's rings so where it came from is currently a mystery. LC29543 - any takers. It did however give Sophie, a new trainee the opportunity to handle a bird capable of inflicting pain!

Sophie gets to grip with her first Great-spotted Woodpecker.

1st winter (3) male Great-spotted Woodpecker

Totals - 55 new, (22) retraps including 1 control
Great-spotted Woodpecker - (1)
Wren - 1, (1)
Dunnock - (4)
Robin - 4, (1)
Blackbird - 8, (5)
Song Thrush - 3
Redwing - 1
Blackcap - 3
Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 4
Long-tailed Tit - (2)
Blue Tit - 3, (5)
Great Tit - (2)
Chaffinch - 2
Lesser Redpoll - 24
Bullfinch - 1, (1)


Despite the seemingly incessant south westerlies an early start in Paul's Burgh Castle garden produced a few more migrant thrushes with Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbirds being caught. Winter was also represented by three Siskins caught together in the same net.

1st Winter (3) Siskin

The highlight however, was finding the first Firecrest of the autumn in a net which had not caught a single other bird and was the last net to be opened. Interestingly the bird had not been heard calling so it came as a complete and very welcome surprise.

1st winter (3) Firecrest

Totals -  29 new, (27) retraps
Wren - (2)
Dunnock - (1)
Robin - 1, (2)
Blackbird - 7, (13)
Fieldfare - 2
Redwing - 6, (1)
Goldcrest - 2, (1)
Firecrest - 1
Blue Tit - 1, (6)
Chaffinch - 3, (1)
Goldfinch - 3
Siskin - 3

Monday, 24 October 2011


With the wind back in the south-west we all knew that it would be a quiet Saturday morning in Paul's Burgh Castle garden. It was however, with great surprise that Paul found himself extracting a Water Rail. It was probably an even greater surprise for Richard to find himself ringing his first Water Rail. Paul has previously ringed Water Rail in his garden but they have always been caught in traps.

Water Rail

Totals -  27 new, (13) retraps
Water Rail - 1
Wren - 1
Dunnock - (2)
Blackbird - 8, (6)
Song Thrush - 3
Redwing - 2
Blackcap - 2, (1)
Goldcrest - 1
Long-tailed Tit - (2)
Blue Tit - 3
Great Tit - 1, (1)
Chaffinch - 1
Goldfinch - 1, (1)
Siskin - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 2


Thursday morning was much colder than expected and the feeders that I had placed in the woodland ringing ride at Lound Lakes were soon attracting good numbers of tits and finches. Most birds were caught in the first couple of net rounds but later in the morning saw a greater variety caught with Goldcrests responding readily to the MP3 lures.  Sadly Redpolls didn't with only one Lesser Redpoll being caught and despite playing MP3 lures of winter thrushes only a single Redwing was trapped; several small flocks of Fieldfare responded well to the lure but remained well above net height chuckling as they flew over.

1st Winter (3) Lesser Redpoll

Not long before packing up it was a pleasant surprise to find a Jay that had somehow manage to become caught in the bottom shelf. Jays are a common feature in the woodlands surrounding Lound Lakes and screech loudly as they give chase or find a roosting Tawny Owl.

Ouch! This Jay is clearly unimpressed

One female chaffinch displayed a particularly interesting colour aberration with two primaries and a primary covert having been replaced with leucistic white feathers.

Female chaffinch with colour aberration

Totals - 41 new, (3) retraps
Robin  - 1
Blackbird - 1
Redwing - 1
Goldcrest - 6, (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 3
Blue Tit - 12
Great Tit - 12, (2)
Treecreeper - 1
Jay - 1
Chaffinch - 2
Lesser Redpoll - 1

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

What's the chance ...

... of catching a second Yellow-browed Warbler in a Burgh Castle Garden? Well it happened!

Last Saturday morning we met before daylight to open up Paul's nets with a view to targeting more thrushes. Redwing and Fieldfare were playing through one MP3 player and given that Paul had heard a Yellow-browed calling on Friday another MP3 was set to play the call of this tiny eastern gem. It was with much surprise that a Yellow-browed Warbler was extracted on the second or third net round. Given that I had ringed the previous bird caught on Thursday, Richard, Paul's younger trainee was given the honour. Not bad in his first year of ringing.

As expected a good number of thrushes were caught and whilst the emphasis on Saturday was Blackbirds a few Redwing and Song Thrushes were also ringed. Hopefully more easterly winds will see another good wave of Redwing and Fieldfare move across the North Sea into Norfolk and Suffolk.

Yellow-browed Warbler - ringed 15 Oct 2011

Totals - 56 new, (6) retraps
Wren - 1
Robin - 5, (4)
Blackbird - 26
Song Thrush - 2
Redwing - 8
Blackcap - 1
Yellow-browed Warbler - 1
Goldcrest - 2
Great Tit - 2, (1)
Chaffinch - 2
Goldfinch - 2, (1)
Siskin - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 3

Friday, 14 October 2011

Eastern Gold

Apologies are due for not providing regular updates but events today must surely warrant immediate coverage meanwhile I shall endeavour to catch up with reports on previous ringing sessions as soon as I can.

This morning was the morning that we had all been waiting for with baited breath. Conditions were ideal for Autumn migration with cloudy skies and light easterlies following a night of prolonged drizzle. At Paul's the nets were up and with players set all we had to do was wait while thrushes poured through, calling loudly as they flew over. Fieldfare, Redwing, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were all moving throughout the day.

Early rounds consisted almost entirely of Redwing and Fieldfare but with Fieldfare proving notoriously difficult to catch Redwing made up the bulk of the birds caught. As the morning progressed a few Song Thrushes and Blackbirds were also caught. Each time the nets were approached a small flock of Redwing and Fieldfare could be seen rising from the Hawthorn bushes surrounding the rides and inevitably some of these birds were caught. 

                                 Redwing                                                          Fieldfare

Today definitely felt as though winter may be on its way with Redwing flying overhead screaming and Fieldfare chuckling from nearby tree tops. Redpolls and a Brambling were also heard.

A real surprise was in store when a Yellow-browed Warbler was heard calling nearby after a lure had been set playing. When it stopped calling we thought that we had lost it but upon checking the nets it was with much surprise that I found myself extracting and ringing my first 'rarity' - a real privilege.

                                                           Yellow-browed Warbler

After checking Twitter it seems as though other local hotspots were holding their own gems with a Yellow-browed Warbler at Corton old railway track, five Great Grey Shrikes between Corton and Kessingland, Isabelline Wheatear at Lowestoft North Denes and a Red-flanked Bluetail at Minsmere. Further down the coast a Red-flanked Bluetail and Little Bunting were trapped and ringed at Orfordness - brilliant!

Totals - 64 new, (8) retraps
Robin - 1, (1)
Blackbird - 5
Fieldfare - 6
Song Thrush - 5
Redwing - 41
Yellow-browed Warbler - 1
Long-tailed Tit - (4)
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - (2)
Chaffinch - 2
Lesser Redpoll - 1