Wednesday, 21 December 2016


The following is about winter ringing of farmland birds around Gifford in East Lothian. We have been posting reports of our winter ringing on BirdForum in the Bird Ringing and Banding forum for many years. 

and the reports are in threads titled Ringing near Gifford … , with a new thread started each winter.

Our project has aimed to gather information on farmland bird populations in this area. We have been ringing on three farms at different types of feed source aimed at providing food to granivorous birds. We only ring at two of those farms now.

2016 winter's ringing session's started in October. To read all 10 that have taken place so far this winter you can also follow this link.




Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Time for supplementary feeding!



Winter Ringing


I usually wait until we've had a few frosty mornings before setting up our 3 winter feeding stations on the reserve, this is when we know that the supplementary feeding comes into it's own, attracting our seed eating birds to head in to our ringing site for a free winter feast.  Feeding the site usually starts at the end of November through to the end of February. Along with these feeding stations there are plentiful berry and fruit bearing trees to provide food for a range of over wintering thrushes, insects and animals too: hedgehogs, badgers, mice, squirrels and even foxes will happily feed on them. I suppose it's more a takeaway "fly thru" rather than a "drive thru".

    One of our winter feeding stations (W.E)



The sunny north side where we chose to process our birds (W.E)
With our site located in a valley, the south side very rarely sees the sun during the winter time as it doesn't rise high enough to defrost this side, this is the side where the 3 feeding stations are located, our nets are erected along side these feeders. The sunny north side of the site is where we set up our ringing base, as you can see from the photo the reasons are self explanatory. Although, we also set out more nets up on the North side so that we can catch the birds that are flying down to the feeders. There are plenty fruit bearing trees in the reserve which attract Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbirds and Jay.




Sunday 27th November

Allan, Andy, Daniel, Laura & myself met at 07:00 at the Reserve car park, this meant we were able to set up our nets before the light started to come through. Although, we flushed a Woodcock in the process, it took off high above our net.
The morning progressed with a steady amount of new birds and re-traps from previous sessions this year, some from a few years back also. It was nice to see some old friends re-caught, a Blue tit that was first ringed in Jan 2012, then even more remarkable a Chaffinch that I had ringed on 10th of October 2009, it was aged as a "3" (born that year), so now over 7 year old! Longevity record for Chaffinch is 12yrs, 12 days (BTO records).


Laura hadn't ever had the pleasure of ringing Redwing before, so you can imagine her excitement as we approached one of the nets and there were 3 waiting for us. She duly ringed and carried out all the biometrics on her first Redwing. Laura had to leave before we packed up because of work commitments but I'm sure she left happy!


We finished the day with 79 birds.
SpeciesNewRetraps
Blackbird5

Blue Tit107
Bullfinch3
Chaffinch132
Coal Tit

1
Dunnock16
Goldcrest

1
Great Tit210
Long tailed Tit

3
Redwing3

Robin26
Wren22
12 Species4138

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Autumn Ringing

My first Common Crossbill ringed in Lothian.


It was down in Thetford Forest that I had first ringed Crossbill....that was nearly 6 years ago.

Having finished our CES visits for this year and recently gained permission to carry out ringing on a local estate, I thought I'd have a look to see if there are any Crossbills around a certain part of the estate, I have seen them here frequently while surveying in the past.

After a few hours over a few days of watching in various locations I was able to pin point where they were feeding and drinking, I finally decided on a area where they seemed to come down from the tree tops to a small ditch which they used regularly for a drink. I proceeded to set up 2 x 12m, 3 panel nets along the ditch line from where they had been drinking. I counted 18 altogether feeding on the pine cones above where I had set the nets, a lovely mix of male & females, the sun shining on the males made their stunning distinctive brick red plumage stand out amongst the greenish-brown females.

After an hour of having the nets set up and regularly checking them, I then noticed a bird in one of the nets, there it was, my first Common Crossbill ringed in Lothian, although I was slightly disappointed it wasn't a male I was very grateful that after all the hours I had spent watching them, I eventually managed to catch one.

Looking at the annual ringing records for Common Crossbill across Britain and Ireland in 2015,  a total of 82 were ringed, it's certainly been along time since any were ringed in the Lothian's.


W.E
Female Common Crossbill (W.E)

Saturday, 24 September 2016

CES Visit 12 Saturday 27/08/2016

Our 12th and final visit of the season started at our usual 05:30hrs. It wasn't until 07:00hrs before we had our first birds of the day which a pleasurable start with 3 juvenile wrens and chiffs. We just seemed to have that feeling that we weren't going to be inundated with birds, although we shouldn't be surprised as over the years visit 12 is almost always one of our lowest catches.

During the morning we caught another 6 Juvenile Chiffchaff.

We ended our final session with 27 birds, which I suppose was pretty reasonable.

All in all, over our 12 sessions we managed to catch 404 birds (including re-traps) of which 278 birds were new birds! The total species caught throughout the season was 18. It will be no surprise to hear what our most caught species was...yes you guessed Chiffchaff, with 16 adults and 65 juveniles.

One of our re-trap male Bullfinch from today was ringed on CES visit 6 2012 as a Juvenile. We're already looking forward to next season to see how many of our friends will come back to breed once again.

 
Our 58th and last Juv Chiffchaff from our 2016 CES season.
SpeciesTotalRetraps
Blackbird
1

Blackcap
1

Bullfinch
3
1
Chiffchaff
12
4
Dunnock
1

Goldcrest
1

Robin
4

Wren
4
1
8 Species
27
6


Lothian's other CES site had a much more productive visit on 17/09/2016. An extra visit to their site produced 43 birds, using 5 out of the 8 CES net locations. The highlight of their day was a trio of Great Spotted Woodpecker which were caught on one round - two of which were in the same net, along with a host of other species throughout the morning session.

SpeciesTotalRetraps
Blackbird
2

Blackcap
4

Blue Tit
2

Bullfinch
3

Chiffchaff
2

Dunnock
6

Great Spotted Woodpeckers
3

Great Tit
3

Goldcrest
6

Long Tailed Tit
3

Robin
8

Wren
1

12 Species
43


A family of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Will & Anne (A.Coates pic)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Inchcolm Gull Update

Our first foreign sightings have been reported of two individual lesser-black backed gulls ringed on Inchcolm island this summer. 019:F was reported at Arnela beach, Porto do Son, A Coruña through Antonio Gutierrez (http://gaviotasyanillas.blogspot.com.es/) and 074:F was reported at the nearby Santa Cruz beach, Oleiros La Coruña in northwest Spain by Antonio Lopez Porto.

074:F (Antonio Lopez Porto)

We've also had a much more local sighting, 008:F reported from Baron's Haugh, Motherwell, Scotland.

Thanks to all observers involved in reporting these birds. A great start to the project which will hopefully result in many further records across the wintering grounds of these Inchcolm birds.

Thanks to John Davies for passing on these sightings. 

Calum

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

CES Visit 11 Sunday 14/08/2016

Visit 11 was an improvement on visit 10 but still below our best catch from visit 9. On our previous 10 visits this season we have only managed to catch 2 adult female Chaffinch, today we managed to catch 5 juveniles, a few singing males earlier on in the season but unfortunately never managed to catch any yet, with only one visit left after this it's looking like we might not.

Another 7 new juvenile Chiffchaff were caught today, this now takes our total to 59 Juveniles caught. It'll be interesting to see our totals after our 12th and final visit of the season takes place.

Unknown to us the Midlothian Walking Festival was taken place from Friday 12th - Monday 15th August. One of the walks surprisingly took them around our ringing site, they all seemed very surprised and inquisitive to what we were up to and us with them as we never usually have many folk walking around our site, even though it's a SWT reserve there are very few visitors pass through.

After they had completed there walk around the reserve and before walking on to there next destination time was afforded to watch us processing some of the birds that we had caught, a few didn't recognise one of the birds in particular, as it was still in full juvenile plumage it didn't have it's distinct red breast, they never thought it could be a Robin. After thanking us to for an impromptu ringing demonstration they departed to continue there 5.5 mile walk along part of the Pencaitland Railway walk.
An unexpected Bird Ringing demo for Midlothian walking festival participants.
















Species
Total
Retraps
Blackbird
1

Blackcap
2
1
Bullfinch
2

Chaffinch
6

Chiffchaff
12
4
Dunnock
2

Great Tit
4
2
Robin
4
1
Whitethroat
1

Willow Warbler
1

Wren
7
2
11 Species
42
9

Thursday, 11 August 2016

CES Visit 10 Saturday 06/08/16

Visit 10 started at the usual time of 05:30. Very unusual for only 2 of us to manage along this morning. However, nets were duly erected and the first round of the morning began as soon as the last net was in position. Anticipation was high especially after visit 9 produced our best catch of the season. We were soon left wondering if this was going to be our worst session so far, by 10:45 over 5 hours later we had only caught 8 birds. The others that usually come out with us must have had some kind of premonition that this was going to be one of those days. The coffee out the flask was about empty when I suggested that we should really go and do another net round. Hallelujah, we more than doubled our tally of what we had caught all morning, this net round produced a grand total of 13, taking us to 21. We only managed to add another 5 birds by the time we had packed up at 12.30.

Another 8 new Chiffchaff with all but one being Juvenile, this now brings our Juvenile Chiff's up to 52.

SpeciesTotalRetraps
Blackcap
1

Blue Tit
3
1
Bullfinch
1

Chiffchaff
8

Dunnock
3

Robin
5

Wren
5
1
7 Species
26
2

Apart from 2013-14 being quite exceptional, I suppose there hasn't been a great deal of variation in totals over the years, since we started our CES back in 2008 visit 10 has produced:

2008 = 29
2009 = 30
2010 = 34
2011 = 28
2012 = 34
2013 = 68
2014 = 47
2015 = 26
2016 = 26