Ringing: April 2022
More of the same conditions with warm sun and cold onshore wind, the latter will not give up. Seven birds were caught of which three were new – two Whitethroats and a Blue Tit.
With just two Willow Warblers ringed this spring it is a clear indication of how much climate change has affected some of our once common species.
A big THANK YOU to the local Bruderhof community who have made and donated four sturdy Kestrel nest boxes and three Little Owl/Jackdaw/Stock Dove nest boxes.
Hopefully numbers of migrants inland are healthy, there are certainly plenty of Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers in the hedges and ditches near here. It would seem migrants are heading straight to their nesting sites, no new ones were caught here. Sixteen birds were caught of which five were new. These were a Great Tit (where did a new adult appear from at this time of year?), Jackdaw, House Sparrow and two Goldfinches.
It was pleasant and warm out of the wind in the Middle Field. The tit boxes here faired a bit better with six active and four started nests in 20 boxes. It was the same ratio along Guilford Road with four active and two started nests in 12 boxes. Hopefully there will be enough caterpillars for the young when they hatch and they will not all have perished in the cold and dry.
The year ringing total for Blue Tit so far reflects the problems of last year with just 22 handlings involving four new and 11 retraps so far.
With the stiff easterly persisting we retired to the shelter of the Elms to check the nest boxes. The picture reflects the terrible breeding season the tits had last year. Of 25 boxes only five had eggs or an adult sitting tight. Only one of the three larger boxes showed a sign of activity with the start of a nest.
The skies remain clear and the spring sun is definitely warm if you can get out of the cold onshore wind. It remains dry I do not remember seeing the Haven so dry so early. With the wind ringing was hard work and no new migrants were caught. The new birds were a Wren, a Robin and good old House Sparrows made up the rest with four.
We seem to be heading towards a repeat of last springs conditions as cold onshore breezes start building and it remains bright and sunny during the day. There is no need for migrants to stop and we have not caught any Willow Warblers since the first couple. The first Whitethroat of the spring was ringed and there was another Blackcap.
A check of the nest boxes around the Observatory revealed plenty of activity brought on by the earlier warm spell. Only two boxes had nothing in and in fact two thirds of the Sparrow boxes had some eggs. Starling broods are also starting.
After yesterdays cold onshore breeze the wind shifted a bit more southerly and was warmer during the day. Night conditions remained cold and clear and there was little sign of migrants in the bushes. Fourteen birds were caught of which six were new – two Blackcaps and four Goldfinches. One of the retrap Blackcaps had been ringed last autumn.
A calm and misty start with a thick bank of mist forming and then burning off. often in these conditions birds fly over the top, not wanting to come down into poor visibility. There was no sign of any Willow Warblers but we did catch nine new migrants – seven Blackcaps and two Chiffchaffs.
Chiffchaffs can regularly have lumps of pollen and nectar around the base of their bills when they arrive but it is not so common in the Blackcaps we get here. Here is a photo of one which did have some. The most common pollen around at the moment is the sallow and pussy willow but this pollen looks a bit orange for that.
When I returned home today I could see an argument going on at the entrance to one of the Starling nest boxes. Eventually the Starling started dragging out a male House Sparrow. Once I retrieved the body I found it was a bird we had ringed last July as a nestling at the Observatory
Another lovely, calm, morning with the sun soon warming things up. The overnight cloud had not brought a noticeable arrival to the ringing area but seven new birds did include the first two Willow Warblers to be ringed this spring. There were also two Blackcaps, a Robin, a Great Tit and a House Sparrow. Retraps included a Chiffchaff which had remained from last autumn.
A couple of us continued with the maintenance but the crow trap actually yielded a corvid as we surprised a Jackdaw when we went around to bait the trap.
With a clear overnight sky it was not a surprise to have a frosty start. Soon the warm sun burnt the frost off. Migrants continued to arrive with another six new Blackcaps and two Chiffchaffs ringed. There was also a new Song Thrush and a new Great Tit but for once no House Sparrows. Even the commonest of birds can create an interesting story. For instance we retrapped a Blackbird today, it had been ringed as a juvenile last September and retrapped a few times in October but not seen since. So was it a local bird which had headed south or a migrant passing through?
At last another calm start and it was pleasing to catch 31 birds of which 20 were new. Seven were migrants new in – five Blackcaps (the first of the year) and two Chiffchaffs. New House Sparrows continued their impressive run with ten more (plus 3 retraps). The other new birds were a Dunnock, a Robin, and a Chaffinch. Dunnocks were clearly full of the joys of spring as there were five retraps.
Another interesting colour ring sighting has come in. A Mediterranean Gull was photographed on Worth marshes at the start of the month and its story has just been sent to us. It was ringed near Antwerp on May 20th 2018 as a bird more than three years old. It was noted at the same site in March 2019 before moving to Zwin, Flanders where it was seen in April 2019 and March 2020. The next sighting was at Icklesham, Sussex, in April 2020 before returning to Antwerp, where it was seen in March and April 2021. It was then sighted on Worth this April.
Although it remains a cold wind it dropped to give a bright sunny day. The effort was rewarded with the first Blackcap of the spring plus four more Siskins. Other arrivals were a Robin, a Song Thrush and six Chaffinches.