Monday 31st

The wind dropped overnight and it was a good morning for ringing. Seventy six birds were caught of which 61 were new. Autumn is definitely here as Blackcap led the way with 45 and there were two each of Dunnock and Robin.

On checking it was even worse than I realised for Sedge Warbler with only eight new birds all month.

Friday 28th

Early showers did not bring in any birds and it was a fairly quiet morning before the wind picked up again. Out of 20 new birds a Redstart was the highlight as it was the first this year. There are still several ”common” species which we have not caught this year. This includes Grasshopper Warbler, Tree Pipit and Spotted Flycatcher. The biggest drop though is in the number of Sedge Warblers. The Observatory has a long history of ringing good numbers of these originally supplemented by big numbers at Stodmarsh NNR and then when we had access to maize fields in the surrounding area. Even without the numbers from these areas we still had a steady movement through the Estate but this year we have still not ringed 20.

The forecast for the next two mornings looks as if we will not be able to ring due to the strength of the wind.

Thursday 27th

As forecast the wind was too strong for safe ringing for two days but last night it dropped and birds took advantage of this. A calm, overcast, morning was a good start and the first significant movement of Blackcaps was noted. A total of 77 birds were ringed which is good considering we have a reduced team size at present. Forty four Blackcaps, nine Willow Warblers, seven Reed Warblers, seven Whitethroats, three Garden Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff were the migrant warblers ringed.

Monday 24th

Migration continues at a gentle pace with no clear big arrivals. Twenty nine birds were ringed including 12 Willow warblers and four Blackcaps. A Chaffinch which was first ringed as an immature bird nine years ago was retrapped.

It would seem that ringing is unlikely for the next couple of days if the forecast is correct and the storm passes through.

Sunday 23rd

The wind dropped enough for ringing to get going on another dry, sunny, day. Forty birds were caught of which 25 were new. Willow Warbler was most common with 10 but now autumn approaches Blackcaps are on the up and eight were ringed.

Saturday 22nd

Much too windy to open nets this morning which is just as well as some surprise showers crept in around 0700. The ground remains baked hard though.

Our RAS project on House Sparrows continues well despite a near total lack of sightings away from the Obs and Sandown Road. It is interesting that despite lockdown and people spending a lot more time in their gardens and the local area no-one has reported any of the colour ringed birds. A couple have been seen over at Worth by our Warden.

Friday 21st

Despite the wind whipping around there were a couple of sheltered spots and it was worth ringing as the first Whinchat since 2015 was caught. The lack of Whinchats is not just due to the fall in their population as the habitat here has changed as well. Around the ringing area there is more cover and the open areas are more on Worth where birds are more regular. If we had a bigger team the Crow Trap in the Oasis field could be used more and they used to go in their regularly to drink before the stainless steel tray was lost.

Thursday 20th

Last night was very unsettled and windy and so it was a surprise to have a calm morning which got hot as the sun got going. Unsurprisingly there were not a lot of new arrivals apparent. Eighteen birds were ringed. Reed Warbler led the way with six new birds, followed by three Whitethroats and three Blackcaps.

Wednesday 19th

With the approach of more unsettled weather and the breeze picking up it was a quiet morning (there is even a rumour of some rain). Twenty-one birds were ringed including six Willow Warblers, five Blackcaps, three Reed Warblers, a Sedge Warbler and a Chiffchaff.

Tuesday 18th

The dry spell continues but there was an important change – the wind moved to SW bringing in more UK migrants. Twenty one Willow Warblers (two of which were adults – a rare sight here in the autumn) were ringed before the increasing wind resulted in us finishing. A sure sign of autumn coming were the four Blackcaps. All of these had finished their post-juvenile moult and another had been ringed elsewhere in the UK.

Monday 17th

The sky cleared overnight and so the start was not as humid although it was misty. A hot sun soon removed the mist. Forty eight birds were caught of which 32 were new. This included another Pied Flycatcher. We have ringed more Pied Flycatchers than Sedge Warblers this August! Not to be totally outdone the only Sedge Warbler today was a control, the first control of any species this August – is this a reflection on the effect of lockdown on the number of birds ringed this year?

Sunday 16th

Another overcast morning with high humidity. Thirty three birds were caught of which 18 were new. Pied Flycatchers continued their excellent run with three more new birds. Willow Warblers increased to five. The Icterine Warbler caught on Friday had been lurking around somewhere as it was retrapped today. Birds in general do not seem to be in a hurry to move on.

Saturday 15th

It was an overcast humid start. Although not forecast this degenerated into drizzle and then light rain. Despite this and the ensuing early net closure an interesting variety of migrants were caught in a short time. Three Pied Flycatchers led the way and two very smart juvenile Lesser Whitethroats competed for attention.

A couple of weeks ago I thought Willow Warblers were heading for a good autumn despite the reduced ringing. However, this last week they have been down to two or three a day.

The drizzle did bring in the first adult Willow and Garden Warbler of the autumn.

Friday 14th

The temperature dropped to the mid-20’s and so it felt cool! There was also a cover of heavy, low, cloud but no rain. A quiet morning got off to an exciting start with an Icterine Warbler in the heligoland. There were only ones and twos of other species and most frustratingly the good numbers of hirundines around were too intent on feeding to grace our nets.

Thursday 13th

Although there was a bit of rain just before dawn it did not bring in a major fall. There were more Pied Flycatchers around and two of these were caught as part of a catch of only eleven birds.

Pied Flycatcher.J. Buckingham. 13/8/2020

Wednesday 12th

A layer of high, thin, cloud meant the sun did not feel quite as hot but the calm humidity remained. Twenty five new birds was an improvement on yesterday. This contained examples of the common warblers here led by five Reed Warblers. Three Lesser Whitethroats were a highlight.

A check of the House Martin nests was not as positive as last time. Two nests had failed. One nest contained a damaged dead adult indicating the hungry, in the drought, local Jackdaws might have played a part. Most of the broods were of three indicating the earlier windy conditions had limited the adults a bit, in good times the broods are four, or sometimes five, but there have not been any fives this year.

Tuesday 11th

Similar temperatures but much increased humidity as thunderstorms passed well to the south of us.

Only 16 new birds led by six Reed and three Willow Warblers.

Monday 10th

Another day in the mid 30’s soon quietened down bird activity but not before 27 birds were ringed. This included two more Pied Flycatchers, six Reed Warblers, four Willow Warblers, three Lesser Whitethroats, two Whitethroats and a Chiffchaff.

A noticeable absentee so far, with none being caught or heard, is Tree Pipit.

Sunday 9th

The heatwave continues and with a calm night it seemed most migrants kept going and only two new Willow Warblers were caught for instance. However, persistence paid off and as a gentle easterly started three Pied Flycatchers, the first of the year, were caught.

Saturday 8th

A calm, humid, start with some very light rain quickly cleared and the BBC forecast beat the Met Office forecast 2 vs 0. The former said no rain through the morning and the latter forecast 80% chance of heavy rain at 11 and 50% at 12. It did not rain.

Only a couple of ringers this morning and so 43 birds, 33 of which were new was a steady catch. There were 13 Willow and five Reed Warblers. The Willows seem in good condition and in no rush to move on there were six retraps.

Friday 7th

A calm start but with the heat forecast to increase rapidly it was pleasing to ring 23 birds before it got hot. Once again Willow Warblers led the way with nine, plus three retraps. Whitethroat came a close second with seven new birds.

Thursday 6th

A calm, cloudy, humid start yielded 32 new birds. Fifteen of these were Willow Warblers and eight Reed Warblers. other migrants included two each of Sand Martin, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat.

Wednesday 5th

A bright sunny morning with a strong breeze. It continued to increase but did not put a stop to some movement of birds. Twenty-five were ringed including eight Willow Warblers and four Whitethroats.

Tuesday 4th

After a clear night it was an almost autumnal feel to the morning but a bright sun quickly burnt off the bands of mist. Thirty-two birds were ringed before warmth and wind closed things down. Twelve Willow Warblers and seven Sand Martins made up more than half of this. Four more Reed Warblers continued to demonstrate successful local breeding.

House Sparrows and Starlings are getting on with moult, once broods have fledged, and two of each provided good practice in moult scoring for the trainee.

Monday 3rd

An unexpected calm, overcast, start lasted long enough for 39 new birds to be ringed including 21 Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff. Coal Tits have been seen and heard regularly this summer and a juvenile finally made it into the net today. Other warblers included five Reed, three Garden, two Whitethroats and a Lesser Whitethroat. The wind picked up quickly bring an early end to the session.

Sunday 2nd

Clear and sunny with the breeze getting up quickly. This time the migrants seem to have taken the opportunity presented by the clear night sky and moved on, there were no retrap Willow Warblers. Out of 14 new birds four were Willow Warblers and four Reed Warblers..

In spring 2019 we caught a hybrid Swallow/House Martin. It, or another, were seen again this spring and yesterday I saw a juvenile Swallow with a white rump being fed on the wing.

Saturday 1st

A calm, muggy, start with a narrow band of cloud arriving from the west followed by clear, hot, breezy conditions meant another early finish. Eighteen birds were ringed including eight Willow Warblers and four Whitethroats.

The most interesting bird was a retrap Woodpigeon and I do not think I have said that before! It was originally ringed as a bird of the year in September 2007, retrapped in May 2012 and again today. The oldest known BTO Woodpigeon is a bit older than this but to have survived the range of shooting interests around here is very good going.