May 29th

House Martins

No ringing possible today due to heavy thunderstorms, which were actually forecast for tomorrow.

There has been much discussion about House Martins. Around here they were between one and three weeks late to arrive at the nests. However all 18 artificial nests are now busy and the ones checked have up to five eggs. As if the weather is not enough of a challenge I saw, for the second time, a Jackdaw throw itself at a nest and grab an adult. Both times it has been on cold, rainy, days. This time it dropped the bird when I shouted but the damage had been done to an egg-laiden female.

May 28th

The morning started on a sad note when checking the corpse of a Blackbird on Guilford Road. It had been ringed eight years ago and recorded annually mostly around the observatory.

The weather was calm and muggy but the nets yielded very little apart from yet another new male Blackcap.

The main business was from the observatory trap where 31 new and five retrap Starlings were caught. Three quarters were adults as the juveniles had not worked out how to get in yet.

May 23rd

It is an incredible spring for blossom. All the old sages are digging out their sayings and if you say it most years you could be right one year. Anyway photo below.

Hawthorn blossom 21 May 2018
Hawthorn blossom 21 May 2018

May 22nd

Starlings and House Sparrows are fledging and the House Martins are busy laying eggs.

May 21st

A pleasant, calm, morning saw nine new birds ringed. This included two more juvenile Robins. More of interest was the continuing arrival of birds we think of as April migrants. There was another Chiffchaff and four Whitethroats.

Great Tits seem to be doing well in the boxes and 18 more pulli were ringed.

May 19th

Although it was not as calm as forecast the wind was much lighter and ringing  went ahead. Twenty eight birds were processed of which 17 were new. Nine of these were Jackdaws. There was the first juvenile Robin and yet another new Blackcap,Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. All three of these we think of as earlier migrants but it looks as if the cold weather which persisted in Spain delayed some arrivals. The Chiffchaff still had the nectar marks around its beak which first arrivals often show.

One of the retrap Jackdaws had been ringed in 2015 in the nest,was retrapped later that summer, but not seen since.

May 18th

More boxes checked and 16 Great Tit, nine House Sparrows, two Jackdaws and two Stock Doves ringed.

News of an interesting movement today. A Blackbird, ringed here as a bird of the year on 4/11/16, was found this April in Grundsund, Finland. A journey of 1660 km NE which is presumably the fourth time it has covered that distance.

May 16th

With the activity in nest boxes all over the place regular checking is required. It was very pleasant in the sun and out of the wind in the Elms today. We actually got to ring our first couple of broods of Great Tits ( one of five and one of nine). It looks like plenty more will be catching up in the next couple of weeks. Fluorescent tennis ball fluff is the in decor at present!

May 13th

A Lesser Whitethroat caught in the heligoland had been ringed three years before on May 12th and not seen since.

May 12th

Due to the good numbers of warblers which have been singing and holding territory around the area it was a surprise to catch unringed examples of five species of warbler this morning, albeit only one of each, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Only the latter does not breed here. The most common songster, Whitethroat, did not join the party.

Following on from yesterdays comment about House Sparrows there was a nest today where the chicks will fledge in the next couple of days.


May 11th

A check of the boxes around the observatory found five healthy Starling broods. Despite all their activity The House Sparrows were much more of a mixed bunch with half not having laid eggs yet.

May 9th

The birds seem to be making the most of the improved weather. A round of the nest boxes checked two weeks ago revealed four new tit nests, three of which were not even started before. Also good news is the arrival of more House Martins and we are up to about 75% occupancy now.

May 8th

The glorious weather continues and today only eight birds were processed. This did include two returning Whitethroats we ringed as juveniles last autumn.

A couple of movements to mention. The first is a Willow Warbler ringed as a juvenile at Offordness, Suffolk in autumn 2016 and controlled here, having been to and from Africa twice, on the 11th April this year.

The other is of a Great Tit ringed here on April 8th and taken by a cat 11 km to the NNW on April 23rd

May 6th

Another quiet day at the office allowing time to enjoy the glorious weather. Amongst seven birds processed was a new adult Blackbird which is a bit of a surprise as one would expect to have caught most of the local birds by now. A Stock Dove was new for the year.

May 5th

Another beautiful but quiet morning. Like yesterday there was a new male Blackcap and a new female Whitethroat. The best bird was the first Rook of the year.

We continue to check nest boxes and it seems it is not just our resident tits who are struggling. Only about a third of the House Martin nests in our two local groups have birds present. Last year all the nests were used. We will keep our fingers crossed that some more turn up with the improving weather.

May 4th

A glorious,calm, morning meant there was no need for migrants to stop and encouraged the last few arrivals from a couple of days ago to move on. The nets were quiet with just four new birds including a Blackcap and a Whitethroat.

May 3rd

A busy morning of nest box checking. The picture emerging is a bit concerning. Of the 23 boxes in the area checked only six were occupied with eggs and another four had partial nests. As I saw a Great Tit carrying nest material today it maybe that there are going to be some late nests. Elsewhere Starlings and House Sparrows are starting to feed young and a fledged Missel Thrush was seen.

May 2nd

It is a reflection of how wet it was the other day that for the first time I can remember there is a duck swimming around in the field behind the ringing room! It was too windy to ring today.