Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Spring Ringing!

It has been another productive week, with a further 141 birds ringed.


Monday saw 66 water birds ringed, consisting mainly of Mute Swan but also a few Canada Goose and Coot for variety. I was joined by Julie and Christine (pictured above) to assist in the ringing of swans at Pontefract.

A netting session at Barlow gave me chance to put some nets up in the reeds, a first for this year. 26 birds were caught before the arrival of the rain. 


A Reed Bunting and Blackcap were caught, along with five Chiffchaff too.

Another netting session a few days later saw perfect weather conditions along with a catch of 49 birds. 10 Blackbird were caught and ringed,with other birds processed including Blackcap, Song Thrush and Woodpigeon.


One of the last visitors to the net was this beautiful Jay. These are quite shy birds, and as a consequence I haven't caught very many in the past so a very welcome visitor! A real stunning bird.


Five Willow Warbler were also caught on the same day, my first Willow Warblers processed this year. Both this species and Chiffchaff  were in great song all morning, so a wonder more of these birds didn't visit the nets. Welcome back!

Some sightings and recoveries for the last couple of weeks below. My thanks as always to those who have taken the time to report these birds;


 - Coot white FBA was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 08.01.16 at Doncaster Lakeside as a second calendar year female, and resighted at Swillington Ings on 02.04.16.


- Mute Swan red YO72 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 15.01.07 as a previous calendar year bird at Newburgh Priory, Coxwold, North Yorkshire, sighted 03.03.07 at Fairburn Ings, and sighted again on 02.04.16 at Swillington Ings

- Mute Swan W28591 was ringed by the South Notts Ringing Group on 20.03.10 at Cossall, Nottinghamshire as an adult female, and recaptured by myself/Sorby Breck on 10.03.16 at Strawsbridge, Ilkestone where a colour ring was added to the bird.

- Mute Swan yellow 292 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 31.05.15 as a second calendar year female at Pugneys Country Park, Wakefield, and resighted at Horbury on 13.04.16.

- Mute Swan yellow 294 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 31.05.15 as a second calendar year Male at Pugneys Country Park, Wakefield, and resighted at Horbury on 13.04.16.

- Mute Swan yellow 556 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 21.08.15 as a first calendar year female at Pugneys Country Park, Wakefield, and resighted at Horbury on 13.04.16.

- Mute Swan red Y613 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 18.08.10 as an adult male at Rother Valley Country Park, and found dead (hit by vehicle) on the M62 at Normanton  on 05.04.16.

- Mute Swan yellow 377 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 28.01.16 as an adult male at Thrybergh Country Park and resighted at RSPB Old Moor on 11.04.16

- Mute Swan yellow 495 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 18.09.15 on the River Wharfe at Otley as thirs calendar year male, and resighted on 10.04.16 at Swillington Ings.

- Mute Swan yellow 493 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 18.09.15 as a third calendar year female on the River Wharfe, Otley, and resighted 13.04.16 at Swillington Ings.

- Mute Swan yellow 220 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 24.01.15 as a second calendar year female on the River Wharfe, Otley, and resighred 13.04.16 at Swillington Ings.

- Mute Swan yellow 941 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 09.10.14 as a third calendar year male at Rother Valley Country Park, and resighted 05.04.16 at RSPB Old Moor.

- Mute Swan yellow 298 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 05.06.15 as an adult female at Thrybergh Country Park, and resighted 11.04.16 at RSPB Old Moor.

- Mute Swan yellow 982 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 25.10.14 as a first calendar year male at Renishaw, Derbyshire and resighted 05.04.16 at RSPB Old Moor.

- Mute Swan yellow 017 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 29.08.13 as a first calendar year male Pontefract Park, and sighted 02.04.16 at Swillington Ings.

- Mute Swan yellow 612 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 11.08.14 as a first calendar year female at Kippax Park Fishery, and sighted 02.04.16 at Swillington Ings.

- Mute Swan yellow 104 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 29.10.14 as a first calendar year male on the River Aire, Allerton Bywater, and sighted 02.04.16 at Swillington Ings.

- Mute Swan W34857 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 28.08.12 at Pugneys Country Park, and rescued 17.02.16 from Nostell Priory with a fishing line injury. The bird was released at the same site on 22.03.16.

- Mute Swan yellow 804 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 29.08.14 at Ravenfield, South Yorkshire, and put to sleep (sickness) by the RSPCA on 03.03.16 at Bawtry, South Yorkshire.



Thursday, 14 April 2016

I love this time of year!

It's that time of year when everything is beginning to show signs of life once again, the new summer migrants have begun to arrive in their droves, and the sun is shining... Well, just a little more than usual..!


A morning spent at Hemingbrough produced 33 birds in two nets, consisting of 5 Greenfinch, 5 House Sparrow, 5 Blackbird, 4 Dunnock, 3 Robin, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Wren, 2 Goldfinch and singles of Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Woodpigeon.


I joined Sorby Breck colleagues for a morning of ringing at Renishaw on Sunday. In addition to the usual mist netting, we also set our hopes on the heronry at the site, with the view to ring any Heron chicks.


We processed a total of 59 birds including 2 Long-tailed Tits, 4 Coal Tit, 5 Blue Tit, 5 Chaffinch, 5 Bullfinch, 4 Wren, 4 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackbird, 2 Robin, 10 Mute Swan, 2 Goldfinch and singles of Great Tit, Dunnock, Canada Goose, Woodpigeon, Treecreeper and Reed Bunting. 

In addition, a single Grey Heron pullus was ringed. This did seem a lot of effort for one single bird, but it gave us the opportunity to begin nest record cards for these birds as well as seeing which nests were accessible, so certainly worthwhile. Several nests contained live young which were sadly too small to ring, and several others contained unhatched eggs. We will return in the next couple of weeks with a view to ring the remainder.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Spring arrivals

It's very much a case of out with the old and in with the new these last few weeks, with the spring migration now underway. I've been delighted to personally see and hear the arrival of Swallow, Sand Martin, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler on the local patches, along with a variety of birds paying interest in my nest boxes too.


A netting session at Barlow on Sunday morning produced a good number of birds, including six Chiffchaff, these being the first warbler arrivals of the year i've ringed. I have ringed quite a number of Chiffchaff previously at this site, so it'll be interesting to see if any reappear over the course of the next few months.


Another visitor to the net was this Goldcrest. This is the smallest species to grace our shores, and I find them quite remarkable. You can only admire their survival even in our warmest of winters; this bird weighed in at just over 5 grams. In stark contrast is the Mute Swan, a bird I ring in high number, which is the heaviest species of bird weighing anything up to 12kg!


I have undertaken some netting in my garden this week. Thanks to the use of a lent perch trap (thanks to fellow ringer and friend Jon Middleton), I have been catching birds even in the strongest of winds including this male Reed Bunting. This was a first catch within my small garden of this species.


Finally, this beautiful Tawny Owl was brought through to me late one afternoon found downed, soaking wet and being harrased by corvids. I suspect the bird was effected by the recent bad weather. Given her huge brood patch, it was clear the bird needed to be returned back home to her awaiting family as soon as possible. I kept her overnight in a warm incubator, gave plenty of foods and by the morning she was raring to go. Here is colleague and friend Judy releasing the bird back home. Success!

Sightings this week;

- Mute Swan yellow 638 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 11.08.14 as a first year male at Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire and resighted 25.03.16 at Swillington Ings, West Yorkshire.

- Mute Swan yellow 493 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 18.09.15 as a third year female on the River Wharfe at Otley and resighted 25.03.16 at Swillington Ings, West Yorkshire.

- Mute Swan yellow 612 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 11.08.14 as a first year female at Kippax Park Fishery and resighted 25.03.16 at Swillington Ings, West Yorkshire.

- Mute Swan yellow 017 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 29.08.13 as a first year male at Pontefract Park and resighted 25.03.16 at Swillington Ings, West Yorkshire.

- Mute Swan yellow 672 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 12.08.14 as a first year male at Roundhay Park, Leeds, resighted 24.01.15 again at Roundhay Park, and finally last sighted 25.03.16 at Swillington Ings, West Yorkshire.

- Mute Swan red 019Y was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 19.02.16 as an adult male at Roundhay Park, Leeds, resighted 25.03.16 at Swillington Ings, West Yorkshire.

- Mute Swan yellow 490 was ringed by myself/ Sorby Breck on 18.09.15 as an adult male at Yeadon Tarn, Leeds, and reported dead on 25.03.16 on the Fleet Weir at Swillington (cause unknown).

- Mute Swan yellow 657 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 11.08.14 as an adult male at Doncaster Lakeside, and reported dead 29.03.16 at Almholme, Arksey (cause unknown).

- Mute Swan yellow 752 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 19.08.14 as a third year female on the River Tees at Stockton, and resighted 30.03.16 at Sutton on the Forest, York.

- Mute Swan yellow 268 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 16.04.15 as a second year male at Pugneys Country Park, Wakefield and reported dead on 01.04.16 at Calder Business Park, Wakefield (cause unknown).

My thanks as always to all those who have taken the time to report these colour ringed birds.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Another waterfowl week

With the poor weather and the strong winds of Storm Katie arriving in the UK this last week, I have been unable to undertake any mist netting. So, with any excuse to get my hands dirty, I have again turned my efforts to ringing waterfowl.


I managed to process a total of 168 birds this week. On Tuesday I managed to catch 3 Mute Swan, 8 Canada Goose, a Tufted Duck and a Greylag Goose, along with sightings of 61 colour ringed swans. I'm pleased to report the first sighting of five Swallows over the lake during my visit to Rother Valley Country Park.



Later in the week, a further 94 birds were processed. This included 6 new Mute Swans ringed, 40 colour ringed swans sighted, 29 Canada Goose, 10 Coot, 7 Greylag Goose, a Mallard and this single and most beautiful male Mandarin duck, as pictured below. The first of the year for our ringing group; most are females ringed in nest boxes intended for owls.


As promised in one of my previous blog posts, a bit of a bumper report on some recoveries here below;

- Mute Swan W35236 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 29.08.12 at Catcliffe Flash as a current calendar year female, and recaptured by myself on 07.03.16 at Parkgate, Rotherham and colour ring 043Y added.

- Mute Swan ZZ6829 was ringed by Geoff Mawson/Sorby Breck on 06.01.09 as a previous calendar year male at Rother Valley Country Park, and recaptured by myself on 07.03.16 at Parkgate, Rotherham and colour ring 044Y added.

- Mute Swan ZY1678 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 18.08.09 as an adult female at Doncaster Lakeside, and recaptured by myself on 14.03.16 at Thrybergh Country Park and colour ring 046Y added.

- Mute Swan ZZ9597 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 14.04.07 as an adult male at West Lodge, Huddersfield, resighted by myself on 02.10.14 on the River Aire at Fairburn, and recaptured 18.03.16 on the River Aire at Ferrybridge and colour ring 047Y added.

- Mute Swan Z40995 was ringed by Geoff Mawson/Sorby Breck on 23.03.11 at Renishaw Park as an adult male, and recaptured by myself on 22.03.16 at Marinswell Lake, Edlington as part of a family group, and the colour ring 048Y added.

- Mute Swan yellow 416 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 27.08.16 as a current calendar year male on the River Ouse, York and resighted 06.03.16 at Hay-a-Park, Knaresborough.

- Mute Swan yellow 170 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 29.08.12 as a current calendar year male at Barlby Carr, Doncaster, resighted by myself on 24.01.15 at Roundhay Park, Leeds, and resighted again on 11.03.16 on the Canal in Leeds City Centre.

- Mute Swan yellow 572 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 21.08.15 as a current calendar year female at South Kirkby and sighted 14.03.16 at Upton Country Park.

- Mute Swan yellow 406 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 25.08.15 as an adult female at Rother Valley Country Park, and resighted by Kevin Bower/Sorby Breck on 20.03.15 at Frecheville Lake.

- Mute Swan red 005Y was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 15.02.16 as an adult female at Parkgate, Rotherham and resighted on 17.03.16 on the wader scrape at RSPB Old Moor.

- Mute Swan yellow 398 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 14.02.16 as an adult male at Parkgate, Rotherham and resighted on 17.03.16 on the wader scrape at RSPB Old Moor.

- Mute Swan yellow 403 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 25.08.15 as an adult female at Rother Valley Country Park and resighted on 16.03.16 on the wader scrape at RSPB Old Moor

- Mute Swan yellow 546 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 20.08.15 as a third calendar year female at Thrybergh Country Park, and resighted on 16.03.16 on the wader scrape at RSPB Old Moor.

- Mute Swan yellow 490 was ringed by myself/Sorby Breck on 18.09.15 as an adult male at Yeadon Tarn, Leeds and resighted 15.03.16 at Swillington Ings.

- Mute Swan yellow 994 was ringed 18.07.15 as an adult male at Parkgate, Rotherham, sighted regularly at this location, and last resighted in November at RSPB Old Moor.

-  Mute Swan yellow 538 was ringed 20.08.15 as a first year female at Bolton Upon Dearne, and resighted in November at RSPB Old Moor.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Canada Goose

I have been fortunate to hand catch and ring hundreds of Canada Goose so far during 2016. On one of my recent ringing rounds, I was able to catch and read a rather old and worn looking ring on a Canada Goose at Roundhay Park in Leeds on 19th February 2016.

Example of a ringed Canada Goose

We have just received the ringing report on this bird, with the goose being ringed as a first calendar year bird at West Otley Gravel Pits in West Yorkshire, by the Food & Environment Research Agency on the 29th June 1998. Whilst this is only a short movement of 17km, the bird had been ringed 6444 days earlier, making this bird nearly 18 years of age!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Ringing this week

The last week has afforded a good number of birds, thanks to the calm weather conditions.


A visit around the local lakes on Monday found Nikky and I catching some good birds, including the usual Mute Swan along with Mallard, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Coot, Tufted Duck and Black-headed Gull.


During our visit to Thrybergh Country Park, I discovered a swan with a deep 'chinstrap' fishing line cutting in to the lower beak of the bird. The swan was soon caught and the line removed. I find it incredible the numbers of Swans we find with injuries, fishing hooks and or lines and the like whilst out ringing, which brings an extra purpose to the scientific ringing and study of these birds.


Our tiny garden at home measures in at around six meters by four, though despite this we do get a good variety of birds visiting the feeders. I have some short nets to ring in the garden from time to time, and decided to give it a go for the first time in 2016. Visitors processed at the nets included Wood Pigeon, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Starling, House Sparrow and the first ever Greenfinch. Sadly a Collard Dove bounced out the net, and the Reed Bunting found their way around the nets. Still, a good morning.


Finally, a morning well spent with fellow ringer and friend Jon Middleton at Barlow Common on Sunday produced a disappointing amount of birds. March is often a difficult time in terms of numbers, but an enjoyable morning was still had, and we caught a good number of Blackbirds among the other species too.


Sadly, this last week has seen the passing of one of our much loved family members, and the arrival of another on the same day, so it's been a busy as well as upsetting week. So, I hope to provide somewhat of a bumper report of recent recoveries and sightings of ringed birds in my next blog post.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Mute Swans and more!

Another busy week, with lots of Mute Swan processed over the last week or so. 34 new swans were ringed, with a further 140 colour ringed swans sighted too.


A mist netting session at Hagg Green produced a further 31 birds, consisting of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Goldfinch to name a few. The Fieldfare on site were creating quite a chorus all morning, but stayed high up in the tall trees. A magnificent sight and sound, nonetheless.


By far the most enjoyable session of the week was assisting with a ringing demonstration organised by our ringing group at Hardwick Hall, a National Trust property, on Sunday. It was great to see such a well attended demo, particularly with the numbers of young visitors interested in our work.



With the mist nets strung out, the lake provided me with a good opportunity to catch some of the Canada Geese on the site. This also provided experience for our trainee ringers (below) who were each able to ring a couple of geese each. 'L' rings used on Canada Geese aren't the easiest to fit and close, as the rings must be overlapped to comfortably fit the leg. These trainees soon had the hang of it! Thanks to all involved.