Just a quick look back at an unusual August. 509 birds were processed of which 341 were new. Willow Warbler was the top species with 98 ringed, followed by 33 Reed Warblers, 28 Blackcaps, 25 Garden Warblers and 24 Lesser Whitethroats. Hirundines were noticeable for their absence with only three ringed (all Sand Martins). The wind often defeated attempts to catch more.

Tuesday 21st

A beautiful, clam, autumnal morning with the temperature down below 9°C for the first time for a while. There were plenty of birds on the move. We ringed 147 birds of which 103 were Blackcaps ( plus one UK control), 35 Chiffchaffs, two Lesser Whitethroats and a Reed Warbler. Three new Dunnocks and a Blackbird also indicated autumns arrival.

Monday 20th

After a delayed start due to the first rain for several weeks it was not a bad morning. There were 59 new birds – 48 Blackcaps, ten Chiffchaffs, and a Willow Warbler.

The main event was the first fitting of MOTUS tracking tags to Blackcaps at Sandwich. Lucy Mitchell (who holds the necessary licences) is with us at present and fitted the tags this morning. You may remember that we purchased the aerials with money from a bequest from Vida Maddell and they have already detected a couple of tags fitted on birds coming from Europe. Our tags are part of a trial run for fitting them in the UK.

MOTUS tagging Blackcaps by S.Walton

Sunday 19th

It remains dry and fairly calm. There is still a trickle of migrants but nowhere near the number usually seen at this time of year. Fifty-one birds were caught today of which 38 were new. The main event though was the capture of two controls-both ringed elsewhere in the UK. One was a Blackcap and one a Chiffchaff and they are the first controls we have had this year. This is a reflection of the effects of lockdowns on ringing activity early in the year and the effect of the cold spell in late spring on breeding migrants. We would normally had several controls by now.

Saturday 18th

Cloud gathered and it was a warm, calm start to the day. It remains dry. It will be interesting to see if this pattern of warm nights leading to quieter days continues. There were 43 new birds today – 22 Blackcaps, 19 Chiffchaffs, a Whitethroat and our first Meadow Pipit since 2019. A Hobby flying around was the excuse for us not catching hirundines today.

Friday 17th

Just a tiny bit more breeze but there were still 81 more Blackcaps (plus only one from yesterday was retrapped so they are moving quickly through). There was more variety today with 11 species in the 124 birds ringed. Chiffchaff increased to 34 but the highlight was two Jays – the first of the year.

When we set up the colour ringing project for House Sparrows and Collared Doves the hope was that our large membership would be able to contribute records. Although this has not happened the photo below shows you do not even need binoculars to contribute. Thanks to Andrew for the photo.

Two colour ringed House Sparrows. A. Lipcznski

Thursday 16th

A beautiful early autumn morning with no wind and small banks of mist coming and going. The temperature dropped below 10°C overnight for the first time this month. This was just the prompt the Blackcaps needed and there were lots moving around. A very small team of us sampled 120 of these. In fact these were the only A-size ring birds we caught. There were also 14 new Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and the first Firecrest to be ringed this year.

Monday 13th

The return to a warmer night reduced the catch to 34 birds, 28 of theses were new. Blackcap (14) and Chiffchaff (10) both made it into double figures. The highlight was the first Cetti’s Warbler of the year.

Sunday 12th

Clearer and breezier overnight made it feel a bit more autumnal first thing. This seemed to spur birds into action and the first reasonable arrival of autumn occurred. Seventy seven birds were ringed including 51 Blackcaps, 12 Chiffchaffs, three Robins, three Willow Warblers, and a Garden Warbler.

Saturday 11th

Overcast but calm again but the breeze got up. Having heard the first Goldcrest of the autumn on my morning walk the first one also showed up in the nets. It remained very quiet with eight other new birds – four Blackcaps and singles of Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler, and Chiffchaff.

Large numbers of hirundines continue to move south and continue to show no interest in getting ringed first.

Friday 10th

It is beginning to get worrying, where are the migrants? At this rate we will struggle to reach a quarter of the number of birds ringed in an average year. Today started calm but as the breeze got up a minute shower passed over. Although lots of hirundines were heading south it was too breezy and they avoided the nets. In the end there were 11 new birds and 11 retraps. New birds included five Blackcaps and single Great Spotted Woodpecker, Reed Warbler, and Lesser Whitethroat. Although there were no new Willow Warblers there were two retraps which is not what we normally find. The birds we are catching seem to be in good condition.

Thursday 9th

Calm and warm again and 18 birds were ringed. Blackcap returned to double figures, just, with 10. There were two each of Willow Warbler, Robin and Blue Tit plus single Blackbird and Great Tit.

Wednesday 8th

Calm and warm conditions overnight encouraged birds to move on and there seemed to be plenty of newly arrived Chiffchaffs in the nearby hedgerows. Only 17 birds were ringed. The first Spotted Flycatcher of the year was the highlight.

Tuesday 7th

Calm and warm and at first it seemed as if birds had moved on. However 36 were ringed including 21 Blackcaps and a Pied Flycatcher. In total seven species of warbler were caught – Reed, Garden, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Willow. The local Chiffchaffs are near to completing there moult and will probably be heading south soon. Still no hirundines caught this month.

Monday 6th

The warm, calm, spell is settling in and migrants continue to trickle through. As per normal the number of Blackcaps is increasing. There were 48 birds today of which 39 were new, 27 of these were Blackcaps, four Willow Warblers and three Chiffchaffs.

One of the Redwings reappeared, this time in the Whitehouse. Its wing moult is now almost complete. Will it hang around for the winter or head south?

Sunday 5th

The wind dropped overnight and it was a pleasant start to the morning with a slight increase in new birds. Twenty-eight were ringed with 14 Blackcaps, six Willow Warblers, and four Whitethroats leading the way.

Saturday 4th

Thick cloud meant there were plenty of hirundines around but the wind meant we could only watch and wish them ‘bon voyage’. The catch was 23 birds again but this time 17 were new. This included the first Redstart of the year and another Pied Flycatcher.

Friday 3rd

The wind persists and it started clear last night so birds moved on. Twenty-three birds were caught but only nine were new. This included two Willow Warblers and single Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat.

Wednesday 1st

The north-easterly and cloud persists but the high driving it is not over Scandinavia and catches remain low. There were 20 birds today of which 13 were new. Blackcap moved to the top of the chart but there were only four. It was nice to catch a third Pied Flycatcher. If the wind switches to south-west then Blackcaps will really get going.