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.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Back in the reeds....

Last week it was Iberian Chiffchaffs on Gibraltar but this morning it was a pleasant return to the usual Chiffchaffs. The first Spring session  was made today at the Swannery  - too many visits prior to CES are not encouraged.  This morning was more of a test run to see what was about.  The nets in the reed ride were set up yesterday.  The reed beds took a hammering this February in particular. The reeds on the Fleet side of the Swannery were completely destroyed and a load of rubbish was washed up into the reeds trashing them considerably but we managed to set up the usual net run - albeit with less reed surrounding it but it is growing well in the warm weather already.

Large areas of reed were completely  flattened but it is growing well

Helen's Hide- around where the Yellow Wagtails roost later in the year was particularly hit.  The reed screens disappeared and as can be seen the reed around the hide just gone.

Helen's Hide area
Steve G and his colleagues are already making good the hide and the tern island.

Back to the ringing.  It was a steady morning with 5 Cetti's Warblers trapped in the withy nets.  Four re-traps and one new bird.

Cetti's Warbler ringed in 2012

Several Chiffchaffs were ringed.  Willow Warblers were calling but none were trapped.


Deep in the withy bed a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling but it too did not venture into the run of mist nets. As the morning warmed up things slowed a little but on hearing and seeing a pair of Bullfinchs it was a delight to extract the male shortly afterwards.  Not a common bird here and probably only a dozen or so birds ringed since 1995.

Luke will probably do a Gib update later this week but there is one bird which is always a treat to catch there.  A fine and often feisty Woodchat Shrike

Ringed on Gibraltar last week - not the Swannery!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The big clean up!

Following the storms and flooding in back in February Abbotsbury Swannery was severely flooded- twice.  The staff  and interpretation buildings around the entrance bore the brunt of the floods but perhaps luckily the ringing hut probably got away lightly in comparison.  It is positioned off the ground but still over a foot of water got inside.  Opening the door last week saw the floor strewn with debris. From previous smaller floods lessons were learned and nothing of value was on ground level.  Despite this ringing poles had been dislodged.  The floor was covered with mud and a carpet of broken reeds.

The ringing desk survived but the cupboard doors have had it and will be removed next visit

Debris everywhere

Flood level shown three boards up -a green colour!

On friday afternoon our good friends from Kingston Maurward arrived with bow saws and loppers and started work on the management of the withy bed.  It was not coppiced last year as the weather was so poor.  The students made easy work of the job and after two hours had coppiced a good area.  This will help with the catching rate later in the year- in particular Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler.

Over the next few weeks the wildflowers will respond to the increase in light and campions and primroses will appear from the woodland floor.

The next job is to get the net rides in the reed bed sorted out and then get ready for CES which we hope to continue with this year.

Whilst working in the withy bed pairs of Blue Tits and Great Tits were chasing about and the Cetti's Warbler was sounding out from the nearby reed bed. A very vocal Wren was clearly disgruntled by our presence.

We will try for a couple of ringing sessions this week around the feeders now that the weather has at last calmed down.