Tuesday 30th

Although rather delayed news of a Blackbird ringed here on November 15th 2016 and ring read in the field in Liepaja, Latvia (which is 1410 km ENE) on March 3rd 2017 was very interesting and will take some explaining. Was it already heading back far east?

Monday 29th

There is a good hint of warmth in the air now the wind is trying to head away from the north. Although there were only two new birds one of these was the first Sedge Warbler of the year, the other was a Dunnock.

Another of the recent batch of movements was a Redwing, ringed here on October 11th 2022 and found freshly predated at Carlow, Ireland on February 26th this year (591kmWNW). Redwing will vary where they winter each year but we usually think of them moving west when there is severe cold weather here. There was was nothing significant this winter.

Saturday 27th

With the wind down it was warm at times when the sun was out. Only two birds were caught, both breeding residents, a new Robin and Wren.

House Martins increased to at least eight around the nest boxes.

Friday 26th

It remains cold but the wind dropped. Seven birds were ringed and nine retrapped. The new birds were another Moorhen, three Goldfinches and singles of Chiffchaff, Blue Tit and Chaffinch. The Chaffinch raised eyebrows as it weighed in at 29 grams, several grams above the normal good weight.

Wednesday 24th

The persistent, cold, northerly continues to encourage birds to fly straight over and onto their breeding places, preferably with sheltered woodland or reedbed for instance.

The only new bird today was a Chiffchaff. As it did not show any signs of breeding condition externally it was probably newly arrived.

Tuesday 23rd

It is not looking good for nesting birds at present. A check of the tit boxes along Guilford Road found less than half occupied. The House Sparrows around the Observatory have put things on hold. Plenty have done a bit of building but only a couple had completed building and none had eggs. We did, eventually, manage to find two adjacent Starling boxes with five eggs in each but the rest were empty.

Maybe the fact they have not started will mean a late rush if it gets warmer.

Saturday 20th

Despite a very cold NW wind there were one or two sheltered spots and 12 birds were caught. Four of these were new - two Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler.

We have recently received an interesting batch of movements of birds. Here are a couple to start with;

Redwing - ringed here on 11/10/22 and predated at Carlow, Ireland 26/2/24-591 km WNW. It may have wintered that way previously and just been ringed by us as it arrived, before moving on.

Goldcrest - ringed here 30/9/23 and caught 122km west at Coldharbour Common, Surrey on 20/3/24. Again we might have caught it on its arrival before moving inland.

Thursday 18th

A good illustration of how everyone can contribute to our knowledge of the life histories of birds comes from this Black-headed Gull report. The bird and ring were photographed in Herne Bay harbour on February 11th this year. It had been ringed nearby on January 30th 2012, as an adult. The possible challenge now is to see how many more years it can be seen.

Wednesday 17th

It was a shock to the system to have such a cool feel to the morning after the recent mild spell, particularly as the Golden Oriole flew past us. Fourteen birds were caught but only three were new - singles of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and House Sparrow. Four retrap sparrows were useful as the RAS project recording period is in full swing and we really need observers to step up and record colour rings.

Tuesday 16th

Still much to windy to ring but we took the opportunity to start checking nest boxes as some birds (Moorhen, Robin, Blackbird have young) and others are displaying away. We put the shelter of the Elms and the Middle Field to good use. It was a very mixed picture with no clear pattern and small groups of active nests and small groups of empty ones. We located 13 nest boxes with Blue or Great Tits sitting on eggs. Lets hope this cool spell will not cause problems.

Away from this area the first House Martins showed up over a week ago but now show only occasionally around the nests.

Monday 15th

In case you wondered if we ringed today the image below explains why not. It was taken from the shelter of the Observatory. At first the misty blur was the top soil and sand blowing off the new asparagus field being prepared near the Observatory. Then it merged with a blanket of hail bouncing up as the squall passed through.

Squall Sandwich April 15th 2024

Sunday 14th

A pleasant, calm, start but a bit cooler. There were eight new birds and six retraps. The new birds were four Blackcaps and single Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Chaffinch. The retraps provided interest as one was a Mallard and another a Whitethroat. The latter had been ringed here in 2019 and so has covered a few thousand miles so far. No Blackcaps were retrapped which suggests they are still moving through and that the local singing males know which bits to avoid.

Saturday 13th

A mild, calm, start before a stiff breeze mid-morning ended activities. There were eight new birds - two each of Long-tailed Tit and Blackcap, plus single Song Thrush, Willow Warbler, Chaffinch and Chiffchaff. The Willow Warbler was the only one of these not yet in full breeding condition and not showing a brood patch or a cloacal protuberence.

Friday 12th

It remains mild and although the breeze got up unexpectedly it had the advantage of keeping the fog away. Fourteen birds were caught and ten of these were new. The new birds included the first Willow Warbler of the spring, yet another Moorhen, two Wrens, a Dunnock, two Blackcaps and three Chiffchaffs.

Monday 8th

A mild morning with just the hint of a breeze at first allowed some ringing. The eight new birds were all migrants - six Blackcaps and two Chiffchaffs. Only one of these was a male and he had clearly had his head in some flowers as there was pollen and a bit of sticky sap on his forehead,

One of the retraps was a colour-ringed Blackbird, the first we have seen this spring.

Saturday April 6th

The weather continues to thwart thoughts of ringing but two interesting stories have come to light recently from ringed birds.

There are a good number of Moorhens around, taking full advantage of the wet conditions. Sadly one, ringed the week before, was found dead below power lines on the road down to New Downs.

The second involves a Mediterranean Gull whose colour ring was read when it visited Restharrow Scrape on March 15th this year. It had originally been ringed as a chick near Leipzig, Poland on June 23rd 2020. Since then it has been sighted nearly 50 times mostly moving between Poland and Cap Blanc Nez, France. It had one visit to the UK on August 15th 2022 when it was sighted at Chichester Harbour. Six days after being recorded on our Scrape it was sighted back at its favourite colony in Poland.