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, 25 December 2013

Two sides of the Chesil.....

Not much bird news this time. Another wind blasted few days with no hope of setting any nets. With the Reed Buntings now having moved elsewhere - I need to find out where - it was decided to take down the roost nets as deteriorating weather was imminent. When the outside of the beach looks like this

You can be sure that the reed bed inside the Swannery will look like this.

The water level had gone from wellington boots to waders. However the short lived net ride had done the job with just under 100 Reed Buntings trapped at roost.

Late afternoon skies are always spectacular on the Fleet - this afternoon was no exception

The weather does not look very inspiring over the Christmas break but maybe the wind will drop for a couple of hours and allow a few more birds to slip onto the end of year totals

Friday, 6 December 2013

Bunting bonanza!

Since the last post over 90 Reed Buntings have been trapped and ringed.  They drop in at 15.30 sharp and then move about the reeds.  The maximum counted coming into roost the other evening was 63.  This evening the visit caught just ten birds.  They have moved slightly nearer the water where the reed is possibly warmer which means that the nets will have to be repositioned for maximum effect.

A few Chiffchaffs are still moving about in the reeds and the ever present Blue Tits who seem to spend a lot of time over the winter months in reed beds.

This evening the sunset from the viewpoint was spectacular.

Hopefully the weather next week will permit some more visits to the roost.  Always the chance of something good in with the Reed Buntings!  About 50 Pied Wagtails are also roosting nearby in the reed bed so a chance there to get more colour rings on birds.

Monday, 2 December 2013

An Emberizidae experience

Following a quiet morning last Friday at the feeders and the withy beds when the most interesting bird caught was a Treecreeper- the first coincidentally for 2013 which was followed by a raucous Great Spotted Woodpecker a passing comment from Steve about a lot of Reed Buntings gathering out by the Fleet Pipe pricked my ears up.

Returning later that afternoon to see what what was happening it was clear that Steve's observations were very accurate. About 50 Reed Buntings in the reeds by the Fleet Pipe.  A quick measuring session would permit 3x15m nets.

Last evening a total of 29 Reed Buntings were trapped. Interestingly none of the birds which I had ringed during the year at the Swannery were re-trapped although the bird which Luke had ringed nearby at his private site the other week was re-trapped at the roost.

A second attempt is envisaged this evening as calm conditions prevail.  Always hopeful that something a little special is in with the Reed Buntings.  From previous experience Little Buntings are not unknown to roost with this species!


Monday, 18 November 2013

After the tristis....

After the delight of the evening before the following morning produced just under 50 birds.  There was no sign or sound of the tristis from the withy bed but a steady trickle of Chiffchaffs turned up and most of them were extracted from the nets in the reed bed not in the withy bed. Nine Cetti's Warblers have also been caught in the last two ringing sessions.  They are everywhere at the moment calling from just about anywhere in the Swannery.

A couple of Lesser Redpolls were trapped in the reeds but not in the numbers which had been hoped for on such a lovely calm morning.

Delightful birds

The usual species were trapped at the feeder including many new Great tits and a Blue Tit from 2008.  A nice re-trap.

The Chiffchaffs had predominatly longer wings than usually caught here most of them 61-62mm.  Different population no doubt. 

Finally my photographic offering of the tristis from the night before

A handsome bird!

Weather on the change this week so things might get put on hold after a golden run of a few days good ringing.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

A five star morning!

A morning session today proved to be very rewarding.  A slow start and then it took off big time. A lovely variety of Redpolls were trapped in the reeds.  Good reason for not taking in the wagtail nets yesterday!

This was followed by the surprise of the morning when four Bearded Tits were found in the same net run.  There had been no sounds heard from these birds all morning and certainly no typical 'pinging' as they moved about the reeds. Obviously they were in a stealth mode!

Also trapped were several Cetti's Warblers as they moved about the Swannery.  October and November often sees good numbers of these birds as they move through the area.

A few more Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were trapped and the last bird of the morning lived true to yesterdays suggestion.

A Siskin was extracted from the bottom shelf in the centre net of the withy bed- right above a small puddle of fresh water!

The weekend looks good so hopefully a few more calm mornings to follow.  Whether they will live up to this morning remains to be seen!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A change in the weather..

A week off and today saw a pleasant break from the misery which has continued for some while.  A lovely calm day so perfect for a ringing session!  The reeds are very quiet this time of the year.  Even the Pied Wagtails become harder to trap as they move from the outer fringes to a warmer and safer location in the centre of the reedbed.  This means that you can't get at them usually but this evening they were watched till they dropped down. There is a chance that a net can be repositioned!

Just prior to the sun disappearing over the beach a short inspection was made of the lagoon edge of the site and I flushed a small group, well about ten, Reed Buntings.  Next time I will be ready for them. The net is in position for them.  Reed Buntings never roost in big numbers here some some reason.

The nets in the reeds at Helen's Hide today caught just Cetti's Warblers and a single Wren. After this week they will be taken down until Yellow Wagtail time again next year.  In the withy bed though things were a little busier with a gentle flow of Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and Wrens. 

A delightful Wren

Spiders eye view of a Goldcrest!


On the last net round a Goldfinch was found in the bottom shelf- I suspect dropping down for an evening drink in the small puddle of fresh water under the net.  Siskins have done this on previous visits.

With more calm weather forecast on and off this week it looks promising for a few more visits.  Finally what better way to end a glorious day than to have two Marsh Harriers soar right over your head as you furl the nets!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The yellow mist has disappeared...

With the Yellow Wagtails now well on their way to West Africa attention  has moved to the Pied Wagtail roost.  Numbers slowly increase as the Yellow Wagtails disappear.  By the end of the last week the roost had reached about 80 birds and this should slowly increase until the winter really sets in and the birds move inland to a warmer place to spend the night.  A couple of years ago  we traced them in the roost at the Co-op in Bridport.

Male Pied Wagtails are very smart birds- as are all black and white birds.

The head pattern varies considerably but the adult male above has a particularly interesting appearance.  This week the weights of birds also started to show a gain and many birds were carrying fat scores of 30 and 40 suggesting perhaps that they do not intend to stay. 

Other black and white birds trapped included a small party of Long-tailed Tits returning through the withy bed to roost.  Chiffchaffs are still dribbling through in small numbers

Last night in perfect conditions  25 wagtails were ringed from the roost.  Windy weather looks like it will curtail activities for the next few days. 

Finally a couple of pictures from the ringing hut last night of a beautiful calm evening at the West Fleet.

With the wagtails safely extracted attention was turned to the setting sun. 

Please look out for the colour ringed wagtails.  There are no prizes but it is interesting to see where they are.  With luck the harbour roost will appear again soon.  After the big harbour rebuild this year it will be interesting to see if the birds have found a new place to roost.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Bit of a catch up.....

The Yellow Wagtail roost has just about dribbled to a stop although earlier this week about 25 birds dropped in just on dark but only half a dozen were trapped and ringed.  It doesn't look as if we will get our 600 birds but we must not complain with 583.  We hope now that some of the colour ringed birds will be sighted in places far and wide.  White Wagtails though in the nets are always welcome.  These are also colour ringed as part of the long term study.

The other morning we decided to go for a sunrise and get away from the wagtail and vivid sunset theme.  The nets were up just on first light and the first bird we caught was a ....... wagtail.  A Grey Wagtail though.

Meadow Pipits soon started to drop in. These are actually very attractive birds in the hand.  Never tire of handling  Meadow Pipits and also the chance of an exotic pipit.

In the withy bed usual fare turned up including Blackcap and Garden Warbler.  The first Garden Warbler of the year   It was photographed in the ringing hut so it  looks a little strange.

The winds look to be getting in the way over the next few days but we can finish with the sunrise that greeted us that morning..

Makes you feel good to be out of bed!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Still on a run.......

As we had hoped for, the last couple of sessions have provided the more interesting and challenging birds- as they did last year.  A greater number of  'flava' type wagtails as we call them and a really good 'thunbergi' type. See Lukes blog for the picture of the latter.. Each bird is examined very closely as we look  for clues and colouring around the head and nape. The eye stripe is also given close attention. For some reason 'thunbergi' types  are often bigger looking birds with longer wings and heavier weights.

This evening though we drew a blank. No Yellow Wagtails were caught and the roost was only about 20 birds.  We did catch a few Swallows  and a 1st year male Reed Bunting.  The Yellow Wagtail total is now 563 birds.  Perhaps hoping to round things off at 600 will be too much to ask for.  The weather looks better at the weekend so maybe there will be a slight window for us.

This evening as the sun set in the West the full moon was rising in the East. A spectacular sight from Helen's Hide. You can stay in glued to the television or you can be out taking in the splendour of the natural world.

Moon rising over Cuckoo Coppice

There can be no competition surely!