This is foreseen to be an occasional blog relating to bird ringing at Abbotsbury Swannery. The site has operated as a BTO Constant Effort Site since 1995 and has taken part in the BTO Swallow Roost Project. In recent years we have concentrated in the autumn with both Yellow and Pied/White Wagtails. In 2009 we joined the Woodcock Network.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tuesday evening

The high pressure made for a lovely calm evening. Just over 80 birds were caught - mainly Swallows and Sand Martins. This included a controlled Sand Martin. The hirundine roost just before dark must have numbered some 800 birds- mainly Sand Martins.Yellow Wagtail numbers were much lower and we caught just six birds which included a splendid male.

Willow Warblers continue to trickle through along with the last of the main Sedge Warbler movement.

Juvenile Sand Martin

Adult Sand Martin

Previous Sand Martin movements have involved birds from Llangorse Lake, Powys in Wales and Arkholme in Lancashire.

Monday, 29 August 2011

A week on

The breeze has been quite strong this past week which curtailed ringing activity but some 200 newly ringed birds were added to the yearly total. Birds were predominantly Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Yellow Wagtail. Almost 70 Yellow Wags were trapped at roost. The total would have been a lot more but the female Sparrowhawk paid several quick visits one evening, dispersing the hundreds of Swallows and Sand Martins and then giving the Yellow Wags a bit of a wobble. Not too worry- the wagtails should be about for another week or so. They seem to have done remarkably well this year with regular roost counts at Abbotsbury of over 200 birds and apparently a similar sort of count at Radipole some evenings.

Catching roosting Swallows
With the month coming to a close the numbers of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps will slowly increase. With light winds forecast mid-week perhaps another couple of stabs at the Yellow Wagtails. Don't tell the Sparrowhawk!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sunday Morning

The morning was going well until the rain, which wasn't really forecast, set in. It started  very light but soon things took a turn for the worse.
However 64 birds were trapped and ringed in just over two hours. Not a bad follow through from the previous evening.

First bird out of the nets was a Grasshopper Warbler. Other highlights were couple of Garden Warblers, Whitethroat and a steady stream of Willow Warblers up until the rain started.

Sedge Warbler weights are slowly increasing with fat scores regularly in the 30s and 40s


Garden Warbler

This Garden Warbler had been feasting on Elder Berries. Hence the purple around the gape, the purple stain left on the bird bag and the purple hand left after the bird had been released.

Grasshopper Warbler

Saturday, 20 August 2011

A busy evening

This evening we trapped and ringed exactly 100 birds in just over three hours. Species included Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Yellow Wagtail. Following on from my recent comments of numbers of Yellow Wagtails there was an interesting count of over 230 Yellow Wagtails going in to roost this evening. They were quite a sight mixed in with some 400 Swallows  and  200 Sand Martins. The Yellow Wagtails were all over the site prior to roost. They were even heard flying over the village from 17.00hrs onwards. With calm conditions forecast for the next few days hopefully more birds will be trapped and ringed.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Time to catch up

Shift work and weather plays a big part at Abbotsbury but we managed five ringing visits from 29th July to 6th August. The bird totals were 29th July (105) 30th July (83) 3rd Aug (76) 5th Aug evening only (22) and 6th Aug (79). The main species trapped as usual were Sedge Warblers with a total of 194 from these visits. The birds do not appear so heavy on average this year. So far only three birds over twelve grams and fat scores low- averaging 20. A couple of 30 and one of 40.

The evening visit on the 5th saw our first attempt at the Pied Wagtail roost- now numbering well over 130 birds. The roost has moved a little into some drier reeds where a 60 foot net was waiting for them. We will be continuing our colour ringing project of these birds this year. The split bi-coloured rings have been discarded now and we are using full colour rings. Please look out for these birds! After a couple of years of intensive colour ringing Pied Wagtails we have almost filled Scotland with red dots on the map and had a sighting in Britanny near Quimper and a bird caught in the Spring in the Netherlands..Hopefully from now on we will be targeting these along with Swallows and Yellow Wagtails with a peak of Swallow catching at the end of this coming week.

Sedge Warbler

Yellow Wagtail

Ten years ago  the Yellow Wagtail roost numbered several hundreds of birds but in recent years we have struggled to count over 100 with about 80 being the norm of a late August evening. A far cry from back in the early 1970's when Yellow Wagtails ringed at roost at nearby Radipole were 702 in 1970, 212 in 1971 and 798 in 1972. In 1975 there were 2279 Yellow Wagtails trapped and ringed there.We shall not see those days again!

Other highlights from the five visits included Garden Warblers on three of the visits and good numbers of Willow Warblers which do not really pass through the Swannery in big numbers. The total to date this year  is about 70 birds.

Reed Bunting (male)

Reed Buntings are also moving about a bit now. They are often drawn in, for some reason, to the Swallow roost.

With a weeks leave forthcoming hopefully more visits will be undertaken- providing the weather holds out.