Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ringing In The New

It’s official. The month of December 2015 was the wettest month ever in the UK since records began. But we’ve turned the corner, climbed the mountain and reached the end of the long, dark tunnel and everything is hunky-dory - for now. The daylight hours are already noticeably longer and at home in the garden there are Mistle Thrushes, Great Tits, Coal Tits and Nuthatches in song. Spring is within sight. 

And at last the weather relented enough to allow Andy and I to plan our first ringing session of 2016 at Oakenclough. After a few weeks of inaction the old pliers needed a dollop of WD40.

Oiling The Joints

We met up at 0815 and set just a couple of nets. By midday we had caught 51 birds - 36 new ones and 15 recaptures of five species only. Catching was steady but not spectacular with new birds comprising 17 Goldfinch, 8 Chaffinch, 6 Blue Tit, 3 Great Tit and 2 Coal Tit. The 15 recaptures from 2014/2015 proved to be 8 Coal Tit and 6 Blue Tit plus one other Blue Tit not of our ringing. 

It’s soon into the New Year that we hope to catch Chaffinches that may be of the “Continental” type, individuals that are typically bigger and brighter than our UK ones. One of today’s first winter males was noticeably “chunky”, not overweight but with a wing length of 91mm a potential visitor from Europe. 


Our seventeen Goldfinches did not include any recaptures, suggesting that there is still in midwinter a good turnover of birds using the site. 


A Blue Tit beginning Z625 was not one of our own ring sequences but had been ringed elsewhere and we will find its origins in due course. Blue Tits are a generally sedentary species and other than us the nearest ringer is a good number of miles from Oakenclough. 

Blue Tit

Andy and I recommenced ringing here at Oakenclough in late 2014 with the aim of monitoring the species using the site following the landowner’s programme of rhododendron clearance and replanting with native trees. 

I just looked at the ringing totals for here during 2015 and found that of the 802 new birds caught the most ringed species was Chaffinch at 132. This was closely followed by the ubiquitous Blue Tit with 93 and then not far behind came Goldfinch, Goldcrest and Lesser Redpoll at 92, 81 and 70 respectively. Bonus species came in the shape of Pied Flycatchers and Tree Pipits together with a couple each of Bullfinch and Sparrowhawk to enliven the days. We had a healthy total of 61 Redwings and a handful of Fieldfares and probably more to come until the weather put paid to our activities in November. 


All in all a very successful year. We hope to improve on that work during 2016, in particular by targeting finches again. 

Birds noted during today’s ringing session - 4 Mistle Thrush, one of which was in loud song. 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 1 Sparrowhawk, 40+ Wood Pigeon.

Linkin today with Anni's Blog and Eileen's Saturday.


Linda said...

Not everyone gets to see these birds as up close and personal as yourself, Phil. Your photos are gorgeous, thank you so much for sharing.

David Gascoigne said...

I'm glad to hear that imminent danger from flooding is an improbability - let's hope it stays that way. I hope you have a great year of banding - maybe you'll even snag a vagrant all the way from Canada. Now wouldn't that be something?

Stuart Price said...

Wow spring is in sight!?! The first heavy snow hit here!

Hope 2016 is much drier............

Margaret Adamson said...

Great last year was good for ringing and the weather cleared up for you to get some done now. Loved the birds shots especially the Sparrowhawk

Marleen said...

I have seen a goldfinch here once. Beautiful photos, Phil.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, our December was one of the warmest. I am glad your weather has cleared up and you back to ringing the birds. They are all beautiful closeups. The Sparrowhawk shot is awesome. Happy Birding. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

carol l mckenna said...

As always ~ wonderful bird photography and post ~ learn a lot from you ~

Wishing you a fun weekend, ^_^

Rajesh said...

Beautiful birds.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I'm glad your weather has turned the corner, hopefully it will not regress, And I too am so happy when it starts staying light a bit longer each day. I wonder what made that one blue tit go so far from its home territory p. Interested to read what you find out.

Anni said...

Amazing totals. I so wish I could be part of something as good and important as what you and Andy do. And, glad to hear the weather is improving it is here also [we're supposed to get another cold front by midnight and three days thereafter, but at least no rain is forecast! Yay].

Again, some fabulous photos Phil, and I especially like the Blue Tit Profile....but the reading today thrills me most.

Thanks for sharing this blog post with us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin'.

Kay L. Davies said...

Hi Phil
Sorry I haven't been posting for a long time, but glad to see you're still here for Camera Critters.
I'll be in Britain in October but don't know yet if I'll be out your way. I'll let you know.
Happy 2016

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Another Bird Blog has been included in our A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that we hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.

Marie C said...

Your bird ringing stats for the year are impressive! Love the closeup of the blue tit and that awesome sparrow hawk! Wow...December the wettest month in the UK ever! That had to be rough.

i beati said...


Lisa Comperry said...

Beautiful bird photos :-)

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Coongrats on a fine job and best of luck this coming year, Phil.

P.S. It is 60 degrees and sunny in Washington D.C. today. But I doubt if we will go all the way to spring without some setbacks for all the early flowers out there...

Mary Cromer said...

What are you doing to that beautiful Sparrowhawk Phil ;);) it looks quite upset! Too funny and all you are doing is something to help make their chances better by keeping up with them over the years and wow you and Andy have certainly handled many a bird. The Blue Tit is so beautiful, that eye, just amazing. Enjoyed the others as well.
I hope that you and your family are doing well and I am happy that the flooding in your area has finally gone down. My goodness from news reports, it was terrible for you all for a bit. We finally had our first spot of snow this morning and more on the way, but very light, just enough to look pretty.
I have been in a funk lately and have to bring myself up by the bootstraps and head into this year stronger than I am and end it much healthier.
Have a great week Phil~

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