October 31st

The only downside of the wind dropping completely was that it was frosty, apparently the gritters were out in parts of Kent. The sun is still warm and the frost was quickly burnt off. It was the best day of autumn so far with 183 birds ringed of 17 species. Lesser Redpoll led the way with 76 plus two already ringed elsewhere. Accompanying them was the first Common Redpoll of the autumn, a big male with a 79mm wing. There were also nine new Firecrests plus a retrap, four Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs and 40 Blackbirds. The day finished witgh 27 Long-tailed Tits of which 21 were new.

October 29th

The wind was still strong but had more E than N in it, also it was drier, and so some ringing was possible. Forty eight birds were ringed including 28 Blackbirds, seven Robins , three Firecrests and a Brambling.

The newly arrived thrushes were all at the bottom of the fat scale so it is just as well there are plenty of Hawthorn berries for them. In contrast a Blackcap, possibly on its way south, was at the higher end of the fat scale and weighed more than 20g.

October 27th

A stiff NNE wind meant only a small amount of nets were viable. Some thrushes had arrived overnight but quickly moved on. Six Redwing, five Blackbirds, three Fieldfare and a Song Thrush were amongst 22 birds ringed. Some of the Goldfinches were anticipating the change in weather it is unusual to get birds with a fat score as high as 5 (out of 8).

October 26th

We could feel the air getting colder as the northerly picked up and pushed drizzle and showers ahead of it. Twenty-nine birds were ringed. The best being 20 more Lesser Redpolls, two Fieldfares and a Firecrest.

October 25th

Good calm conditions rewarded the one team member who could make it with 51 birds and no retraps. This included our tenth Yellow-browed Warbler, eight Fieldfares, six Redwing and 19 Lesser Redpolls.

October 24th

It was breezier and more northerly than forecast and this limited our activity. Forty one birds were ringed This included a Firecrest, six Blackbirds and 17 Lesser Redpoll. Frustratingly the Crossbills and Swallows moving were not interested in our attentions.

On a better note the tristis Chiffchaff from last November has been confirmed by DNA analysis. Thanks to Professor Martin Collinson and his team for their continued help.

October 23rd

The wind dropped and shifted enough for us to get more nets up.

One hundred and sixteen birds were ringed. Ninety-five were Lesser Repolls (plus one control) but there were also seven Blackcaps and two Chiffchaffs.

October 22nd

Welcome to autumn! A cool and strong NNE wind welcomed us this morning. This limited us to just one or two nets and only nine new birds were ringed. Namely four Blackbirds, three Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap and a Goldfinch. Three ringed Chiffchaffs were still around including one from the start of autumn.

October 21st

Probably the last of the calm, clear, nights for a while was followed by a beautiful warm, sunny, day.

Eighty five birds were ringed with 41 Lesser redpoll leading the way. Nine Goldcrests were joined by a Firecrest. The latter have been very scarce this autumn. A Bullfinch was possibly the one which has been heard for the last couple of days.

October 20th

Calm and clear overnight resulting in a frost first thing. Thrushes were moving overnight but the conditions meant most migrants kept on going. There were also plenty of Siskin and Lesser Redpolls around but they kept to the Alders and Birches where they were busy feeding. Twenty-nine birds were ringed with eight Redwing leading the way. Our ninth Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn was the highlight.

One of the Chiffchaffs we controlled was doing what some of the Blackcaps were doing and cruising along the south coast. It had been ringed at Durlston Country Park in Dorset, which is 246 km WSW of here.

October 19th

The morning started with a gentle north-easterly and cloud so hopes were high. This was added to when we flushed a Long-eared Owl as we went to put the nets up. Sdaly no more was seen of the owl but the day turned into a warm, sunny, one with little wind. One hundred and twenty five birds were ringed. This included the first Goldcrest arrival, with 54 ringed, and the first movement of Lesser Redpolls, with 24 ringed plus a Belgian ringed bird. There was a sprinkling of thrushes and a late Willow Warbler to add variety.

October 17th

The temperature is dropping slowly but it remains calm and warm during the day. Some more birds moved last night and certainly some small thrushes could be heard first thing. Fifty-nine birds were ringed with 19 Siskin leading the way followed by 14 Chiffchaffs.

October 16th

Another calm night followed by a foggy start being burnt off by a warm sun. It remained quiet apart from a few thrushes first thing. Seventeen birds were ringed including five Blackbirds and two Redwing. It is just as well the moths are doing so well and keeping us occupied.

October 15th

The day started calm and clear but after a very brief shower it got murky for a while before clearing for a hot ( in the 20’s), sunny, day. Sadly the shower did not bring any new arrivals. The only birds moving over the ringing area were a few Song Thrushes. Despite plenty of effort only 13 birds were ringed, including three Song Thrush and three Blackbirds.

October 14th

After yesterday was blown away it was good to find the BBC had got the forecast for this morning correct and it was a lovely, warm, morning. A small group of ringers were available to get some nets up and were rewarded with 28 new birds including the eighth Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn. It would seem that the Chiffchaffs are not moving on yet as there were four retraps along with the four new ones.

October 12th

Still very windy but a different direction so a small amount of netting was possible until the wind picked up more. Eight birds were ringed including two new Blackbirds.

I do not think the remaining migrants waiting to leave will be a a big rush as it is incredibly mild and there is still plenty of fruit.

October 11th

No ringing today due to the wind. However an interesting batch of Blackcap movements are shown by the latest recoveries.

The first ones are what you might expect-

A juvenile from here (June 6th) on its way out at South Foreland on August 25th.

A couple of birds moving along the south coast to here before leaving- One from Dorset (15/9) here on 27/9- 264 km east, one from Wiltshire (1/9) here on 24/9 – 217 km east

One from Falkirk (1/9 ) here on 30/9- 622km SSE.

Then we come to the slightly different-

One from here (14/9) to Stodmarsh ( 16/9) was maybe just wandering around and feeding. But what was the bird ringed here 24/9 doing 131km west at St Mary’s Reservoir, Surrey the next day? Is it an early arriving German bird coming in to overwinter?

October 10th

Calm and clear again and then very warm. Although Redwings could be heard overnight they did not stop.

An interesting first round- two re-trap Yellow-browed Warblers, a Mistle Thrush, and a Blackbird!

However there were not any other arrivals and 32 birds were ringed. Two of these were Yellow-browed Warblers taking us to seven for the year.

One of our Little Owl nest boxes was found to have a young, half grown, Stock Dove in it.

October 9th

Another cool, clear, night followed by a warm sunny day. Despite the good overnight conditions it would seem not all birds moved on and new arrivals were thin on the ground. We re-trapped two of yesterdays Yellow-browed Warblers plus four Chiffchaffs. All of them had moved the right direction in terms of weight. There was also another control Chiffchaff.

Fifty-five birds were ringed, 22 of which were Chiffchaffs. A Willow Warbler was late in the season for us but appeared of standard plumage. Another unexpected catch was one of last winters Yellowhammers, they do not usually show up until colder weather encourages them to the feeders.

October 8th

The wind dropped completely giving good ringing conditions and a slight frost.

One hundred and twenty birds were ringed plus a Chiffchaff was controlled. Siskins seem intent on moving through but we did catch 36. Chiffchaff and Blackcap drew on 20 each but three Yellow-browed Warblers stole the small passerine show. There were a few more thrushes first light and four Redwings, four Song Thrushes, three Blackbirds and our first Fieldfare of the autumn were ringed.

October 7th

Despite the strength of the breeze it was at least calmer than last night. It was possible to get a few nets up and 23 birds were ringed. The highlight was the first Brambling of the autumn.

October 6th

Another calm, clear, start with a hint of frost in the hollows. It did not last as a murky, misty, cloud moved in from the north ahead of this afternoons rain.

There were plenty of Song Thrushes around at dawn and Siskins started moving. Sadly they stopped as the mist built and we only caught two. Sixty seven birds were ringed with Blackcap just moving ahead of Chiffchaff, 25 v 20. Adding to the information we have had so far this autumn there were two Blackcaps with rings from elsewhere in the UK.

The highlight was our first Yellow-browed Warbler of the year.

yellow-browed Warbler. 6/10/18. I Hunter
yellow-browed Warbler. 6/10/18. I Hunter

October 5th

A cold but beautiful start to the morning. The bushes were quiet with only 37 new birds. Chiffchaff pipped Blackcap again, 14 to 13.

Sunrise over the Whitehouse. 5/10/18. I Hunter
Sunrise over the Whitehouse. 5/10/18. I Hunter

October 4th

Fifty seven new birds including 25 Chiffchaffs and 23 Blackcaps.

October 3rd

Unlike the forecast we found a stiff Northerly breeze welcoming us. Fortunately it dropped through the morning. Ninety birds were ringed but the make up was much more autumnal. Top species was Goldfinch with 20, then 17 Siskins. Blackcap was demoted to third with 14. Evidence of the continued movement of tits were seven new Blue Tits and six Great Tits. New for the autumn were two Redwing and new for the year was a Lesser Redpoll.

October 2nd

After the 1st was blown off it was disappointing to get up to light rain, however it cleared quickly and there was a pulse of migrants before the wind picked up. One hundred and fifty eight birds were ringed. One hundred and fourteen Blackcaps plus 34 Chiffchaffs provided the bulk.

October 1st

Too windy to ring but news of and unusual recovery. The ring of a Starling ringed in June 2005 was found four inches deep in the soil two kilometres away this September, perhaps metal detected?