NB. If you have missed recent August accounts you can go to the RINGING ARCHIVE and select the month you wish to look at


Wednesday 3oth September

Only a few nets were possible and so only 22 birds were ringed. Highlights were 2 Firecrests and a Coal Tit. There were no new Chiffchaffs but some seem to be hanging around as there were 5 retraps. Some migrants seem to be reluctant to leave the country as a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff we controlled towards the end of the month had both been ringed earlier in September along the coast in East Sussex.

Tuesday 29th September

The easterly continues to freshen and limit which nets can be used but this time a bit of the easterly quality was delivered in the form of 2 Yellow-browed Warblers. There was a noticeable difference in their size with one having a wing of 59mm and the other 54mm. According to Svensson the smaller is probably female and the larger a male. 17 other birds were ringed including the now seemingly daily Firecrest.

Monday 28th September

The stiff easterly limited which nets could be used but we still ringed 34 birds. This included 2 Firecrests, another Coal Tit, a quite late Garden Warbler and 2 Song Thrushes but no Siskin. The numbers of the latter being seen have also much reduced, it will be interesting to see if there are any more once the weather changes as we are only just reaching the normal time for their passage.

Sunday 27th September

When the wind turns easterly and the sky stays clear we know numbers of grounded migrants will reduce. 36 birds were ringed. This included 13 Lesser Redpoll and yet another Firecrest.

Saturday 26th September

It is always pleasing when the meteoroligists get it right and we read it correctly as well. As forecast it was a lovely calm night and morning. Migrants took full advantage of this and our small team were able to take collect a good sample. In all 290 new birds were caught along with 10 retraps but no controls. 100 Blackcaps and 96 Chiffchaff made up the bulk. 43 Lesser Redpoll were more than we rang in the whole of 2014. The daily new Firecrest appeared and Blue Tits continued to appear with 11 new birds.

Friday 25th September

A nice calm start to a sunny day meant birds were on the move again. 216 birds were ringed again headed by Chiffchaff (83) closely followed by Blackcap (70). There was a late Willow Warbler plus 11 more Goldcrests, 10 Blue Tits and a Coal Tit. Siskin numbers seem to be dropping but Lesser Redpoll are becoming more audible. Many birds moved on last night and so there were less retraps but a control Blackcap suggested there are still more birds to come.

Thursday 24th September

Despite the forecast rain lurking on the horizon nets were openned for a short time and 34 birds were ringed, 20 of which were Chiffchaffs. The wind and cloud overnight meant many of yesterdays birds were still around and there were 8 Chiffchaff retraps.

Wednesday 23rd September

Still breezy but we managed to ring 165 birds. Chiffchaffs again led the way with 51 followed by 40 Siskins. 13 Goldcrests take this year’s total to beyond last year’s before we even reach October which is the more traditional time to be catching them. It seems more birds did not leave last night as indicated by 10 retrapped Chiffchaffs.

Monday 21st September

A more unsettled look to the day brought ringing to a close by midday. Chiffchaff led the way with 108 new birds and one retrap from yesterday. The supporting cast included 45 Blackcaps, 41 Siskin and 9 Goldcrests contributing to 213 new birds. It is pleasing to note that most birds are in good condition with at least some fat stores.

Sunday 20th September

The forecast for today was even better than yesterdays and this time it was correct. The birds started pouring through. By the end we had ringed 494 new birds and this time there were actually 2 controls – both Chiffchaffs. The key species were: Blackcap (158), Chiffchaff (131) and Siskin (117). 35 Meadow Pipits, 10 Leeser Redpoll and a Firecrest added variety. This month’s total of Siskin is now 1111. For cricketing fans we are hoping this is not a massive Nelson. The Blackcaps appear to be benefitting from the good blackberry crop with plenty of plump birds.

Saturday 19th September

Sadly the meteorologists did not spot the fact that it would be breezy today. Despite this 171 birds were ringed. Once again Siskin led the way with 73 leaving us just short of 1000 for the month. They were closely followed by 61 Blackcaps. 3 Lesser Redpoll were the first for the autumn and it will be interesting to see if they have also benefitted from the bumper crops of seed reported from up north.

Monday 14th September

Once the rain cleared there were good condtions for a couple of hours before the next rain arrived. 86 birds were ringed including another Firecrest and 51 Siskin. The highlight was a control Siskin, our first from the 692 we have ringed this month. It will be fascinating to see how the autumn developes as we have not even reached the usual time for Siskin passage.

Sunday 13th September

The wind dropped and it remained overcast providing good ringing conditions until heavy rain arrived midday. A small team ringed 197 birds the bulk of which were 77 Siskin and 74 Blackcaps. Another new Sparrowhawk and a Firecrest added variety.

Saturday 12th September

With the wind moving towards west and dropping the only limit on ringing this weekend will be the number of ringers and the rain forecast mid-morning. This proved to be the case on Saturday when 110 birds were ringed including 23 Blackcaps, a Redstart and another 2 Firecrests. Siskin also returned with 49 ringed before heavy mid-morning showers.

Friday 11th September

The high pressure has moved far enough east to start adding some interesting birds to the totals. 96 birds were ringed including 4 Firecrests, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a stunning adult male Redstart and our first Whinchat for a couple of years. Siskin increased again to 31 and there was a control Blackcap.

Thursday 10th September

Numbers remained low as the high drifts eastwards. 32 birds were ringed today. A Firecrest was of interest but 3 Siskin reflected the lower numbers being seen. Chiffchaff numbers remain very low with only 2 today.

Wednesday 9th September

Although it came as no surprise that the weather did not follow the forecast overnight, drizzle and a stiffening breeze with east in it were a surprise. Unfortunately this was associated with high pressure coming from the west and so new arrivals were thin on the ground. 53 birds were ringed including 14 Siskin and 11 Swallows. The highlight was another Spotted Flycatcher.

Tuesday 8th September

The breeze was much stiffer than forecast and this reduced the number of new birds in the area. 99 new birds were caught but even Steve’s persistence could not get to the 100. The highlight was a Spotted Flycatcher. 54 Siskin waited for a mid-morning burst of sun before putting in an appearance in the nets.

Monday 7th September

143 birds were ringed today. It is not often Blue Tit and Great Tit get a mention but a further sign of autumn was the ringing of two of each of these. 3 Robins, 2 Jays and 2 Goldcrests added to this autumnal picture. The bulk of the birds were 70 Siskins and 54 Blackcaps

Sunday 6th September

Graham and Sarah were here to help Eugene along with various very welcome helpers. 233 new birds were ringed. This included the first Firecrest of the autumn and a control Blackcap. The bulk however were 193 new Siskin.

It is interesting none of the Siskin have been controls but maybe the return passage in the spring will give us more information about their travels.

In the last 60 years we have ringed 313 Siskins in total. This year we have already ringed more than this.

Saturday 5th September

Eugene was the sole flag-bearer today and so only a limited number of nets could be used. 79 Siskin contributed to a total of 118 new birds.

Friday 4th September

Writing this on Sunday we could not have imagined how things would develop. Friday was very busy day as autumn passage got firmly underway. A total of 181 new birds kept Eugene and Graham + team busy. 65 Blackcaps and 12 Chiffchaff were not unexected but a Grasshopper Warbler in the White House bushes and 2 new Sparrowhawks were more of a surprise. The icing on the cake were 65 Siskins, we have not ringed that many in a single year before.

Tuesday 1st September

Today's Tree Pipit - Eugene Hood
Today’s Tree Pipit – Eugene Hood

A good range of birds with mostly passage migrants and some dispersing resident species ( 14 Green Woodpeckers ringed in the last month), good numbers of Blackcaps and Willow Warblers once again, and Tree Pipit, Pied Flycatcher and Siskins as birds of particular interest. 58 new birds were: 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Wren, 2 Robins, 5 Reed Warblers, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Garden Warblers, 13 Blackcaps, 14 Willow Warblers, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Great Tit, 3 House Sparrows, 1 Chaffinch, 6 Greenfinches, 3 Siskins plus 3 re-traps.

The Tree Pipit has a very limited breeding population in Kent and we see them mostly as passage migrants in spring, and to a greater extent in autumn, when British breeding birds are on the move down our east coast with probably greater numbers of birds from the continent. There is very little evidence indicating where British Tree Pipits spend the winter, but Senegal and other West African countries are their probable destination.

Here in the UK they breed over a wide area, but in greater densities in the north and west. Breeding success depends on males holding strong territories requiring open song posts, usually the tops of trees, scattered throughout open woodland with a sparse field and shrub layer. This is provided by heavily grazed woodland in upland Britain, early stages and clear-felled areas of conifer plantations, lowland heaths and scrubby woodland. They nest on the ground and the male’s distinctive, parachuting song flight from tree tops down to the ground makes them very obvious and fascinating to watch and listen to. The Tree Pipit is yet another declining species with a dramatic 45% loss during 1995-2010.

Tree Pipit - short hind claw - John Buckingham
Tree Pipit – short hind claw – John Buckingham
Meadow Pipit - long hind claw - John Buckingham
Meadow Pipit – long hind claw – John Buckingham








Pipit species can sometimes be tricky to identify and differences between Tree and Meadow Pipit, apart from major habitat differences where Meadow Pipits are birds of open moorland and grassland, are fairly small. In Tree Pipit look out for slightly heavier bill, stronger head markings including bolder supercilium and broader, paler moustachial stripe with underparts showing more contrast between warm buff and thinly dark-streaked breast  and white belly. In the hand the Tree Pipit’s often much shorter, sometimes more curved hind claw is diagnostic