October 2nd

After yesterdays wash and blow out the rain stopped today and it was possible to get a bit of ringing done in sheltered spots. Twenty-two birds were ringed including seven Chiffchaffs and seven Goldcrests. An indication of how successful a breeding season Blackcaps had  was that the total ringed in September ( which was just short of 2,000) was more than the total in the best ever year up until now.

Details of another Chiffchaff we controlled came through today, it was another bird ringed in Worcestershire.

September 30th

A calm, overcast, start meant it was a busy end to a busy month. One hundred and fifty six birds were ringed. Seventy-seven Chiffchaffs led the way followed by 64 Blackcaps. Goldcrests were down to seven. As often happens at this time of year all the birds were juveniles, once again suggesting an excellent breeding season.

A Chiffchaff we controlled on September 7th had been ringed in Worcestershire on August 2nd (271km WNW).

29th September

The unsettled conditions clearly did not encourage any overnight movement but ahead of forecast showers it was possible to ring some House Martins. Eighty nine birds were ringed including 58 House Martins.

28th September

Unfortunately the 6 (then 7) am end to rain did not fully materialise and it started again. Only a small amount of ringing was possible. It yielded 25 new birds, mostly 11 Goldcrests and nine Blackcaps.

27th September

The clear start to the night encouraged birds to move and the thick cloud by dawn induced plenty to stop here.It was clear that several waves of warblers headed south along the bush lines. By midday 220 birds had been ringed ,again mostly Blackcaps followed by Chiffchaffs. Six Song Thrushes had the darker, greyer, plumage associated with birds of continental origin. There were four more Firecrests and one Chiffchaff already carried a ring from elsewhere in the UK.

26th September

Although numbers were reduced the variety was very interesting. The first round included late in the season Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat, a Firecrest and a Sparrowhawk. The next round included a Spotted Flycatcher, two more Firecrests and two Reed Warblers.

In the end 78 birds were ringed.

Another colour ring sighting from the Scrape which was traced rapidly due to websites and email. This time it was a Black-headed Gull seen yesterday. It had been ringed as an adult in Holland on 19/4/2014 and recorded there several times since.

25th September

The sound accompanying us towards the nets was of Goldcrests and the occasional thrush. Blackcaps again led the catch with 43 closely followed by 37 Goldcrests and 21 Chiffchaffs. There were three more Reed Warblers. Four Blackbirds and three Song Thrushes were newly arrived. Two Firecrests did not do justice to the nine seen elsewhere on the Estate.

Dawn at the ringing area.25/9/2017. I Hunter
Dawn at the ringing area.25/9/2017. I Hunter

24th September

The shift to easterly had its usual effect and the number of birds dropped a bit. There was a marked drop in Blackcaps ringed, to 21, and an increase in Goldcrests to 19. Two new Blackbirds were the first of the autumn and lifted the total of birds for the day to 86.

23rd September

We are fortunate in having this run of clear, calm, nights at least every other night. One hundred and fifty birds were ringed including 67 Chiffchaffs and 60 Blackcaps. Goldcrests continue to increase in number with 13 today.

An interesting House Martin recovery today. One of our birds ringed as a pullus in a nest on Sandown Road on June 16th this year went on a journey along the south coast. It was caught at Ballard Down, Dorset on August 23rd. A movement of 241 km WSW.

22nd September

A pleasant start to the day meant the usual suspects continued moving through. Ninety-nine birds were ringed mostly made of 61 Blackcaps, 26 Chiffchaffs and eight Goldcrests. We continue to catch single figures of new Blue Tits further confirming our observations of small groups moving along the coast.

21st September

We were welcomed by a noticeable breeze which continued to freshen through the morning. This limited the time for ringing and so a catch of 50 new birds was not bad. A Garden Warbler was the first for a few days as was the 600th Willow Warbler of the year.

20th September

The clear sky and no wind might have resulted in the temperature dropping overnight but it meant there was the possibility of lots of migrants heading our way. This proved to be the case and there were clearly plenty of warblers in the bushes first thing. The highlight however was the positive answer to my question a few days ago about where are all the Hirundines? Well they moved through en masse this morning. There was a continual stream of hirundines.

In the end we had one big attraction of House Martins but no Swallows stopped. We rang 675 birds before things quietenned down in the afternoon. This included 342 House Martins, 202 Blackcaps and 106 Chiffchaffs. Only one of these birds was a control- a Blackcap.

19th September

The weather ignored the forecast and the morning started breezy and overcast. The wind was not promising but a Redstart in the heligoland for first light suggested otherwise. The Blackcaps continue to come even though we passed our best ever total yesterday. Eventually the breeze made us take down some nets and the last bird out of one of these turned out to be the observatories first ever Blyth’s Reed Warbler.

Blyth's Reed Warbler.19/9/2017. I Hunter
Blyth’s Reed Warbler.19/9/2017. I Hunter

In all 123 birds were ringed including 88 Blackcaps, three Lesser Whitethroats and the first Whitethroat for a few days. One of the Firecrests ringed on Sunday was retrapped.

18th September

It was overcast again before first light but the threatenned rain only amounted to a few drops. The main limiting factor was the increasing breeze. One hundred and nineteen birds were ringed including 74 Blackcaps. 32 Chiichaffs and seven Goldcrests.

One of the few Blackcaps already with a ring had been ringed eight days earlier at Stanford Reservoir, Northamptonshire- 214 km north-west.

17th September

Another cold night but when we arrived it was overcast and there was some impressive lightning across the channel. Blackcaps moved ahead of Chiffchaffs, again, with 56 and 32 respectively out of 102 new birds. Two male Firecrests were the first of the autumn and the first Coal Tit of the year showed continental plumage traits. I wonder if the three new Sedge Warblers, along with yesterdays new Reed Warblers, reflect the fact that the surrounding farms have started harvesting the maize and thus removing surrogate reed beds.

16th September

It was some curiosity we arrived in a cool, clear, morning. An intense squall had passed through in the middle of the night and what sort of affect would it have had? Well the answer was no discernable affect. One hundred and thirty four birds were ringed. Chiffchaff led Blackcap 64 to 47 but this often happens around now. Seven Blue Tits, three Great Tits and three Dunnocks reflected the increased activity of these species in the surrounding hedgerows.

15th September

The cold start to the morning, helped by a clear sky, seemed to restrict bird activity and the first round was very quiet. As the sun warmed things up activity increased quickly and more warblers pushed through. One hundred and forty one birds were ringed consisting mostly of 75 Blackcaps and 52 Chiffchaffs. The earlier than usual trickle of Goldcrests continued with seven birds.

The biggest mystery is where are the hirundines? Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin adults ringed are all only in single figures.I cannot remember an autumn when I have seen so few passing through so far.

14th September

The wind slowly lessened and the sky cleared bringing in more migrants on their way south. Blackcaps continue to lead the way and 57 new ones were ringed before the increasing breeze put a halt to proceedings. Twenty four Chiffchaffs and four Goldcrests helped raise the total to 87.

It is interesting to compare the fat scores of the Blackcaps, many fours and fives, with those of Chiffchaffs, which are mostly one or two.. Blackcaps are piling on the fat with the good berry crop. Chiffchaffs here rarely reach fat score four and possibly rely on picking up insects along their journey.

12th September

After a damp, breezy, start to the night the hoped for calm and clear arrived and so did some birds. As per norm at present it sounded to mostly be Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. They moved through very quickly but not before 94 Blackcaps and 48 Chiffchaffs were ringed. The forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning leads me to think we will not be ringing tomorrow.

11th September

No ringing possible this morning due to the strength of the wind and occasional showers. Keeping our fingers crossed for tomorrow as it looks as if it will clear and the wind drop a bit overnight. There are still lots of House Martins pushing into the nest boxes in the evening and so we could still be lucky and get a big movement of these.

10th September

The promise of another clear, dry, and calm night meant we arrived with high hopes. Once again good numbers of migrants arrived and 143 were ringed. Blackcaps again dominated with 89 but Chiffchaffs have got going and 42 of these were ringed. Much to our surprise there was also a rarity amongst this arrival and Artic Warbler was added to the observatory ringing list.

Arctic Warbler.10/9/2017.Ian Hunter
Arctic Warbler.10/9/2017.Ian Hunter
Arctic Warbler
Arctic Warbler it is notable how different cameras highlight different hues.

9th September

Another calm, clear, dawn and another pulse of Blackcaps. The ringing team was smaller and so less nets were used but we still ringed 166 birds including 142 Blackcaps. The latter continue to be mostly good weights and fat scores. Two Blackcaps had rings from elsewhere in the UK.

8th September

A very unsettled day with stiff breeze and drizzle at times meant only a few nets could be used. Chiffchaff led Blackcap ten to nine in a total of just 21 new birds.

The most interesting and puzzling recent recovery is of a young Sedge Warbler, ringed here on August 16th, and caught at Nosterfield, North Yorkshire on August 20th. It had moved 384 kilometres NNW, almost the opposite direction one would expect of a bird leaving for Africa!

7th September

Hopes were realised. The wind dropped and it was a very clear, bright moonlit, start to the night. This is just right for birds of British origin to start moving and Blackcaps took up the challenge. Two hundred and seventy three were ringed by 1030 when it dried up as quickly as it started. Thirty seven Chiffchaffs and a Spotted Flycatcher contributed to the final 327 total. As usual nearly every bird was a bird of the year. Two Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff already had rings from elsewhere in the UK.

We have been getting some more interesting recovery news and these will probably appear in these pages in the next few days as the forecast next week returns to unsettled and very windy.

6th September

It can be described as more of the same. This time 69 new birds included 48 Blackcaps. Willow Warblers just outnumbered Chiffchaff 4 v 3, hopefully there are lots of the latter still to come. Once again there were no hirundines once the locals had left their roosts. The forecast for tomorrow looks a bit better with the wind dropping.

5th September

The unsettled weather continues but despite the threat it did not rain. The effort of an early start was not rewarded and 60 new birds were ringed.Forty six Blackcaps led the way and three Lesser Whitethroats added variety. Despite the cloud hirundines were not in evidence and only one Swallow was ringed.

4th September

Overnight rain and drizzle did not stop first light and so ringing was much delayed. In the end about 40 birds were ringed. There were a lot of hirundines around at last but they were only interested in feeding and moving on. Two House Martins were the first on the estate this autumn.

3rd September

Another lovely morning although a bit more breeze got up. A few more nets were possible today and the effort was rewarded with 100 new birds. This included 74 Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs and two more Goldcrests.

Whitethroat. S.Smith
Whitethroat. S.Smith

2nd September

Most of the team were busy elsewhere and so only a small number of nets could be used. A catch of 53 new birds included 39 Blackcaps and two more Goldcrests.

1st September

It is beginning to feel like autumn and the cool slightly misty start emphasised this. Once again Blackcaps showed in good numbers with 84  ringed in a total of 107 birds. Other early migrants are still trickling through with seven Willow Warblers and three Garden Warblers. On the early side were  three more Goldcrests.

The one notable absentee this autumn are hirundines. Local House Martin nests had their worst year on record and some seem to be leaving already. Where are the Swallows?


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