Thursday, 28 February 2013

Please consider signing the e-petition asking for tighter controls on Grouse shooting in England to help put an end to raptor persecution

Read more about it at

Sunday, 20 January 2013

My absence on this blog

It's been a while since I posted anything but I see that people are still visiting the page regularly so I thought I would post something useful, some links to the interesting and informative blogs that I read regularly.

The wet weather resulted in a poor season in 2012 and often this meant I didn't take a camera when I was out but I hope to do so in 2013.

I have put a new website together for the Raptor Group I will keep this blog active but it will be more of a place to detail anything interesting that is non raptor related or that I personally wish to publish that might not fit with the aims or views of the raptor group.

And so to the blogs that I read on a regular basis.

 Mark worked for the RSPB for 25 years until standing down in April 2011 to go freelance.  He was the RSPB’s Conservation Director for nearly 13 years.

Dave Hallam, is a ringer with Sorby Breck Ringing Group and keeps a regular journal of his activities, always an excellent read.

John Armitage, Retired early after 20 years with the RSPB working in conservation. He writes a regular blog, often hard hitting and always interesting.

Kane Brides, another interesting and informative journal type blog, detailing all of Kanes ringing activities. Kane works in the Species Monitoring unit of the conservation department at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust HQ Slimbridge.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Pullus ringing and nest recording in West Yorkshire

We spent a great day over in West Yorkshire where we ringed this brood of Grasshopper Warbler, this was one of two nesting pairs in the area but unfortunately the other nest had been lost due to predation.

A visit to a Bullfinch we had discovered at an earlier date resulted in ringing 5 Bullfinch pullus, the weather unfortuantely meant that we visited too late to ring the Common Whitethroat and the Reed Bunting that were also recorded with eggs at that time .

There were a number of Common Buzzard nests to visit in the area so after meeting up with the owner of the woods we were visiting, we headed off to check on those.

It was apparent that the weather had had an impact on the productivity of the Buzzards we visited.

Of the 4 sites we visited,  2 nests had just one young, one nest with 2 young and a further nest had no young in it, despite being observed with young in the nest at an earlier date, there were no signs to suggest that this was down to anything other than natural circumstances, another nest visited later in the day sadly had two dead young in the nest and the parents still in the area.

This area has no history of persecution and doesn't have much of a shooting interest and so is generally a productive area for Common Buzzard.

I took the opportunity to get some climbing experience whilst in the company of experienced climbers. they make it look far less strenuous than I found it!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Common Crossbill

Last night we went to ring a brood of Common Crossbill pullus in South Yorkshire.

The first thing we had to do was ensure that we had a schedule 1 license to cover us for this species, in this area. Once this was in order we visited two nests in the wood.

Common Crossbill breeding facts

Specially protected Schedule 1 species

Clutch Size: 3 - 4 eggs
Incubation: 14- 15 days   
Fledging: 20 - 25days

The first nest had 3 young approximately 2-3 days old and were a little too small to ring, it was a bit of a surprise as 10 days ago the adult birds were thought to be bringing moss in to line the nest, the female must of been sat on eggs at that time.

The second nest had 4 young these were 10-12 days old and they were very lively, I would suggest from this experience that Crossbill would be better ringed at  an age of 7-8 days, with this in mind we are going to return to the other nest on Sunday/Monday

More photos to follow next week

I am making a real effort to produce nest record cards for every nest that we monitor and these two will be the first fully completed cards of 2012 (when we have confirmed the outcome)

Friday, 2 March 2012

February 2012 ringing at Mouselow Quarry, plus other activities

February has been a busy month.

We began by building 3 new Kestrel boxes which were used to replace some old Kestrel sites where the boxes had succumbed to the elements in the past, we are hoping that the birds return to use them this year.

It has been a while since Kestrels have been studied in the area so we thought that this year we would check to see how they are fairing.

A great deal of time has been spent checking and maintaining the Tawny Owl boxes/Barrels ready to be used for the 2012 breeding season, interestingly one of the boxes contained a roosting Barn Owl, a species that I believe has not been recorded breeding in this area since the 1980's , it will be interesting to see if this bird is successful in finding a mate and rearing young this year.

The weather has on occassion restricted my general ringing activities but I did manage a visit to Fairholmes where we ringed some 70 birds in a couple of hours with a single net, the majority of the birds were Coal Tits but we did manage to catch a handful of our target bird Siskin.

4 visits to the Mouselow Quarry site produced 60 birds, 36 new birds and 24 retraps.

As the table above shows 29 of the birds were Bullfinch, 20 new and 9 retrapped, of the new birds.

8 were Male and 12 Female

10 had a wing of 82 or above (max 84)
10 had a wing of 81 or under (min 76)

17 were birds born in 2011 and 3 were birds born before 2011.

Finally I did a short ringing demonstration at the United Utilities Wildlife Garden, at Bottoms Reservoir. Where a group of children (and a few adults) enjoyed seeing some birds in the hand as I explained how and why bird ringing and monitoring can play an important part in conservation. Afterwards we built some bird boxes to be put up in the garden.

As the breeding season begins to get underway we would be very interested in hearing about any sightings of displaying/hunting birds of prey in the area via email

Monday, 30 January 2012

Ringing at Mouselow Quarry - Hadfield

At the end of 2011 I was kindly given permission to ring at Mouselow Quarry, my thanks to the quarry owners Weinerberger.

The old access road comes in from Shaw Lane and is no longer used, I am hoping it will be a good spot for warblers later in the year.

In 2011 I visited the site 10 times and caught a total of 110 birds, 103 of these were new birds and 7 were retraps (there were no controls), it is worth mentioning that many of the visits are made midweek between 9am and 11am due to other commitments.

Sparrowhawk 1
Dunnock 5 
Robin 3 
Goldcrest 8
Long-tailed Tit 13
Coal Tit 4
Blue Tit 30
Great Tit 13
Treecreeper 2
Chaffinch 9
Siskin 1
Bullfinch 14
Total number of birds  103

Interestingly the pattern of very few retraps has continued into 2012, leading me to believe that there must be a reasonable passage of birds through the area.

It is worth mentioning the Bullfinches, many of the them are long(ish) winged. Of the 17 new Bullfinch  I have ringed in 2012 only 1 had a wing less that 82mm, the largest was 87mm, suggesting that these may well be migrant birds.

*****UPDATE*****  Some figures for anyone who like me enjoys seeing them.

Bullfinches caught from 26/11/2011 to 08/02/2012 (21 visits to the site)

37 new Bullfinch caught

16 female
21 male

32 Were birds in their first year (ie born in 2011)
5 Were birds that were born before 2011

25 had a wing length 82mm and above (87 was the max)
12 with a wing length under 82mm (77 was the min)

In this time I have also retrapped 13 Bullfinch, 5 were caught again within 7 days of being ringed, the other 8 at various times upto 72 days since the day the were ringed (I wonder where they have been in that time)

2012 will see me ringing at two new sites locally. The United Utilities Wildlife Garden at Bottoms Reservoir, and Etherow Lodge Park on the Derbyshire/Tameside Border. 

I would like to thank United Utilites, Tameside Council and The Friends of Etherow Lodge Park for allowing me to study birds in these areas.