September 30th

The wind dropped and a frost formed at dawn. The settled conditions led to 173 birds being ringed. Blackcap returned to the top with 95. Chiffchaffs were calling all over the place but only 49 were ringed. As usual all bar one of these were birds of the year. Two Blackbirds and four Song Thrushes hopefully indicate the start of their movement and ten Siskins were the first to be ringed on the Estate this year.

September 29th

A calm and sunny day arrived a bit late to tempt many migrants and 42 birds were ringed. Chiffchaff ( 26 ) took over from Blackcap ( 10 ) but there was another control of the latter. A late Willow Warbler added variety.

September 28th

In October we look forward to NE wind with showers. But today the cause of it was not Scandinavian and no birds moved. The wind was very fresh and only a few nets could be used. Twenty four birds were ringed, 15 Blackcaps, eight Chiffchaffs and a Chaffinch.

September 27th

A second very busy day as the settled weather remained. This time 670 birds were ringed. Blackcaps increased to 238 and Chiffchaffs reduced to 107. There were 315 more House Martins. Blue Tits ( three) continue to trickle through and a Kingfisher added a splash of colour. Once again there were no retraps of birds from the previous days suggesting birds are continuing to move quickly south.

September 26th

More of the same conditions led to a brilliant day. Over the last two days birds did not arrive in numbers until after the first round but today they obviously decided to make the most of the very bright moon and were going in as the nets went up. Four Little Owls ( two new and two retraps ) were a surprise but the numbers of warblers were even more so. In the end there were 195 new Blackcaps plus one control, but no retraps of birds from previous days. Chiffchaffs almost kept up with 168 ringed plus a control. By mid-morning hirundines were moving and we were able to sample some of these with 361  House Martins ringed. Stonechat and Cetti’s Warbler were new for the year and contributed to a final total of 741 new birds.

September 25th

This time it was calm and it remained clear leading to our first frost of the autumn. Blackcaps continued to move through and the cooler weather seems to have got the Chiffchaffs on the move. Eighty seven of the former and 69 of the latter made up the bulk of the 165 birds ringed. Four new Blue Tits indicated they are on the move as well.

September 24th

After yesterdays wash out the ringers woke up to a clear, almost calm, and cool morning. Migrants made the most of the conditions and there was another big movement of Blackcaps. For the third time this month 97 were ringed. In total there were 116 new birds including 16 Chiffchaffs.

Hirundines were noticeable by their absence during the day althought here had still been plenty around yesterday evening.

September 22nd

It calmed down completely overnight and so migrants started moving again. One hundred and fifty-nine birds were ringed of which 153 were Blackcaps. They were mostly in excellent condition with plenty of birds around 20 grams and one reaching 26 grams. They are clearly still benefitting from the Blackberry crop. The leucistic female photographed below set hearts beating when first seen in the net from a distance.. Interestingly she was one of several adult birds, often we are lucky to get one in a day.

Leucistic female Blackcap. 22/9/18. I Hunter
Leucistic female Blackcap. 22/9/18. I Hunter

September 21st

No ringing possible due to the strength of the wind.

An interesting batch of recoveries has come in showing how important this SE corner is for departing migrants. Three were of Blackcaps ringed elsewhere. One from Devon 361km west, one from West Yorkshire 325 km NW and one from Beachy Head Sussex 99km SW.

September 20th

The breeze was strong from the start but the direction was such that some nets were okay.but there was very little to ring.

News of yet another Lesser Redpoll returning to a site in a north-westerly direction from here. This time it was ringed in November 2016 and controlled in Ayrshire this May, 633 km NW.

September 19th

It was not as breezy as expected and we could get some nets up. Thirty one birds were ringed. Swallow led the way with 13 and there were two late Willow Warblers and a Tree Pipit. A young male Sparrowhawk was the first to be ringed this year, it has been an unusually poor year for these.

September 18th

No ringing possible due to the strength of the wind. Instead two of us did the final check of nest boxes. So far it would seem Great Tits continued successfully and fledged their young whereas Blue Tits struggled to fledge later broods.

September 17th

Although it was calmer than predicted at first the sky quickly cleared as the breeze increased.. The unsettled weather to the west continues to discourage migration and only 25 birds were ringed. Eleven of these were Blackcaps and eight were Chiffchaffs. A pulse of a few hundred Swallows could be seen heading south along the dune line but only four could be tempted in for ringing.

September 16th

Although it was reasonably calm at first light the breeze picked up significantly and ringing ended by mid-morning. The unsettled weather to the west is apparently limiting migration and the number of new arrivals continues to decline. Fifty-five birds were ringed. Twenty-five Blackcaps, 15 Chiffchaffs, nine Swallows and singles of Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat and Great Tit. The latter was an adult and so probably not a breeder from the Estate.

Sad news about one of the Barn Owl pulli ringed on the Estate this year. It was found dead 79 days later nearby at Mongeham.

September 15th

It was clear and calm before first light and sounded quieter in the bushes as most migrants kept moving on. New Blackcaps were down to 45 but Chiffchaffs were up to 34 in a total of 94 new birds.

September 14th

A smaller team today and so less thn half the nets could be used.It did start calm before a strong breeze got up mid-morning. One hundred and forty two birds were ringed including 112 Blackcaps ( these were the only Sylvia warblers today). Chiffchaff increased to 23 and there was one Willow Warbler. None of yesterdays birds were retrapped apart from the Nightingale suggesting a steady onwards movement in the good conditions overnight. Firecrest and Redstart added colour to the proceedings.

September 13th

Excellent conditions, calm and cloudy at first, following on from two written off days resulted in a rush of birds.

An excellent 342 birds were ringed. Two hundred and sixty five were Blackcaps.It is not the first time there has been a big arrival of Blackcaps on this date. Although not on the same scale seven Lesser Whitethroats were good. There were three new species for the year- Meadow Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher and Nightingale. The latter perhaps reflecting reports of poor numbers singing in the spring.

September 12th

Today driving drizzle and yesterday strong wind has prevented any ringing.

September 9th

Even better conditions to start with resulted in a busy morning with 344 birds ringed. The morning started with Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs moving through and 97 Blackcaps and 31 Chiffchaffs were ringed. Suddenly there was a noticeable increase in hirundines and our attention turned to those. One hundred and seventy one House Martins were ringed plus a bird from the colony down the road and one from elsewhere in the UK was caught. More of a surprise were 31 Sand Martins plus a control, the majority of these have usually moved on by now. Although there were plenty of Swallows flying around we did not catch any.

September 8th

Good conditions early in the morning with cloud developing and very little breeze. One hundred and twenty birds were ringed. Ninety seven were Blackcaps, many of which were in good condition with high fat scores. Twelve new Chiffchaffs indicated their passage might be starting. The first Firecrest of the autumn was also ringed.

A retrap Chaffinch had been ringed ten years ago and was still looking in good condition.

September 7th

The NW breeze stiffened but it was still possible to use some nets. On a day dominated by 50 Blackcaps 65 birds were ringed. The large numbers of hirundines moving north were not interested in stopping in the clear, breezy, conditions but we did manage eight new Sand Martins plus one ringed elsewhere in the UK. There was also a control Blackcap.

Apparently one of the Mediterranean Gulls ringed by our team has broken the British longevity record for this species. We await details with interest

September 6th

A change in wind direction and a change in fortunes. There were clearly some new arrivals and 55 birds were ringed. This included a Tree Pipit (making it the best year ever for these), a Grasshopper Warbler, a Redstart, 28 Blackcaps and best of all five Pied Flycatchers.

September 5th

Waiting for the clear spells between belts of drizzle paid off with 25 birds ringed. The highlight was two more Pied Flycatchers.

September 4th

There had clearly been a big clear out overnight and thick cloud prevented new arrivals. I do not remember a ringable September day with so few birds. A total of six included four Blackcaps and a Song Thrush plus a retrap Great Tit. The breeze increased quickly and nets came quickly down.

September 3rd

A slight increase to 37 new birds, 30 of which were Blackcaps. The ticking of Robins is very noticeable first light and there were two new ones caught.

September 2nd

As the majority of birds moving south through here are of UK origin the easterly continues to reduce numbers. Thirty five birds were ringed, 31 of which were Blackcaps. Most of these birds have good fat scores indicating the rain after the heat wave arrived in time to save the berry crop.

September 1st

It is often the case that with clear nights and breeze from the East the number of birds decreases. The first couple of rounds suggested this would be the case but a pulse of Blackcaps pushed their numbers up to 59 and the overall total to 71. An immature male Redstart was starting to show some nice colours.