Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Chardonneret for LOTTIs

To say that Long Tailed Tits like cheese would be an understatement, and the modified Chardonneret in the photograph exploits this to target the species for ringing purposes.
The door for this active trap, triggered by the ringer, is clipped to the top of the trap when not in use. The small mesh box at the back of the trap is for the cheese. This is an effective method but if allowed these birds are high maintenance

Lostock Nursery Heligoland, N.E. Cheshire

Not everyone gets a Heliogoland trap for his 15th birthday; here is Jake's. The entrance has feeders, feeding table and the white box protecting the infra red CCTV camera.
The hoops are from a redundant greenhouse, and the entrance hoop supports a drop net shown furled.

A view towards the entrance shows the curtain release strings with the left one leading to the trigger.

To the rear of the trap is the double door running on a castor and concrete arc, which closes off the funnel and ramp and leaves an exit at the rear to allow any birds to escape should they enter the trap when not in use.

The catching box and extraction port from the rear. The box door is closed but the tipping plate and restraining screen are not visible.

Finally the control monitor, and release trigger (hanging from the blue tube behind the monitor)
The desk and seat were retrieved from a skip!
Just sit in comfort with a hot drink and select the birds.

Our ringing priority is Reed Bunting; wish us luck.

Sunday, 23 May 2010


The joy was short lived; within a day of laying the first egg the female Swallow was found dead in one of the water filled plant trays. The water was only a couple of inches deep but deep enough, so now as we process our birds we are no longer entertained by the singing male. With an early, for us, start at 0500 hrs Jake was smiling as our new net ride, quickly yielded 3 retraps, a fledged Great Tit, a Jay and a Blackcap. Nothing remarkable about the Jay, we do ten for every warbler, but the Blackcap was our first ever retrap, and when later in the morning we caught a male, we had trebled our best annual total of one. For the rest of the morning, Jake and I had to endure David gloating over his whoosh net catch, as the mist net catch dried up.
David finally weighed in with 17 Starlings of which 3 were retraps, one CollaredDove, one 3J House Sparrow and one 3J Dunnock.

Monday, 10 May 2010

One Swallow doesn't make a Century

We've ringed a Chiffchaff at the nursery, and in so doing we have equalled our annual best score.
David, the owner, has been burning the midnight oil over the winter planting wildlife habitat and maybe his efforts are paying off. We currently have 3 Chiffchaffs singing, and 4 Blackcaps (1 of these will also equal our site annual ringing total). In the meantime, all is not well with our Oldham Dippers, where a few birds have lost full clutches of 5 where all chicks have died within about 3 or 4 days of hatching; the adults are not returning to the nests with beaks full of food. Is this due to the unusually cold winter? Not all nests are failures and yesterday, which coincided with our first aphid hatch of the year, we ringed three decent broods of 5,5,4, well developed youngsters near Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire. Back at the nursery David has been watering his water plants to the apparent advantage of the Swallows. Up to twenty have been circling the nursery, a sight not seen for over ten years, they have been removing mud from the plant pots, and this has led them to realise that the pump house is a desirable nesting site; we are all delerious about this and David and Jake are fighting for the priviledge of ringing the first brood,

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Nether Alderley Ringing demo

The farm open day seemed less well attended than last year, but we still had scores of interested children watching the tits fly off to freedom. 91 birds for Jake to process, so by the time he is 16 his total will be 3000+. There were few birds of note; the Bramblings had all gone, uncomfortable numbers of Chaffinches with 'bumble foot', a single Goldfinch, a couple of retrap Nuthatches, and the group's first Blackcap of the year. The Cheshire Wildlife Trust next to us even ran out of 'Bats', which led us to an image of their Chairman burning the midnight oil making more for next year.
There was even time to pose for a photocall. 'Look what the cat dragged in'.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Holy Grail

We were hoping to start our Dipper pullus ringing today, but the five eggs were deserted, leaving us to curse those wild life 'lovers' who have inflicted Mink on us. Now Dippers are lovely birds with a confiding nature, and they don't desert their nests especially with well developed embryos; something had had the female. We have had them taken by cats in the past but the abundance of Mink in our rivers is causing concern. We trudged forlornly back to the cars, when the kee-keeing started, followed by the undulating flight and my first ever sound of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming. No consolation for the lost Dippers, but not bad. Will I live long enough to see another?
I doubt it. For the benefit of all you Cinclophiles, the second nest of 5 eggs and the female were fine.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Fat Chaffinches

After a morning Dipper nest recording there was still time to get a few hours in at the nursery. The highlight was ringing three Chaffinches with fat scores of 5. Totals as follows:-

LESRE 20/6

David was too busy to run the whoosh so no JAYs, but still 45 'new opportunities to learn', for Jake and me.